Why Charles Beard Lied: Britain's War on the Constitution
by Kathleen Murphy
from the November 1978 edition of The Campaigner (12 MB PDF image-file)
page numbers from source included to facilitate comparison
In 1913, an aspiring historian by the name of Charles Austin Beard published a savage assault on American republicanism in the form of an "economic interpretation" of the U.S. Constitution. Timed to coincide with the presidential inauguration of that shameless Anglo-Ameriphile Woodrow Wilson, the publication of Beard's lying account of the Constitution's origins quickly accomplished what it had set out to do: to trigger a demoralizing national controversy over the spurious question, "Is the Constitution 'democratic' enough to meet the needs of a modern 'mass society'?" -- a debate which would pave the way for the wholesale subversion of the American System.
An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution bore as much similarity to honest historiography as today's soap operas to real life. Stripped of its flimsy academic pretenses, Beard's book was an hysterical diatribe against the great men who brought the United States into existence. Overflowing with distortions, innuendo, and outright fabrications, manifesting no concern whatever for historical accuracy, An Economic Interpretation nevertheless self-righteously insisted that the Founding Fathers had been a clique of greedy, self-interested proto-aristocrats who had secretly drawn up the Constitution and then conspired to impose it illegally upon the rest of the population for the sole purpose of consolidating political and economic control over the new nation in their own "money-grubbing" hands.
It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that the young Columbia University professor who penned this prize specimen of black propaganda was consciously acting on behalf of a power hostile to the United States. Despite his hypocritical protests of nonpartisanship, Charles Beard was serving the interests of the British oligarchy when he wrote this most infamous of his many books had served them, in fact, since at least 1900 and continued to do so until his death in 1948.
Beard's deliberate distortion of one of the most decisive turning points in America's development as a sovereign republic represented a significant escalation in an ambitious campaign, launched by London in the early nineteenth century, to rob the U.S. of its sense of moral purpose by systematically rewriting, revising and reinterpreting its history.
Premised on the British oligarchy's perception that the United States would never succumb to its plans for re-conquering its former colonies unless all traces of the Neoplatonic world view which had given rise to the victorious American Revolution were first obliterated from the historical record, the British campaign to undermine the American System put hired hist-whorians such as the "renowned" George Bancroft and Frederick Jackson Turner to work churning out a stream of fictionalizations purporting to represent and interpret the history of America. (1)
The story of how Beard came to figure so prominently in this Big Lie deployment against the United States begins at Oxford's Balliol College. Long the key training center for Britain's topmost intelligence agents and ruling elite, Balliol also played a prominent role in seducing American intellectuals into the Crown's employ a process institutionalized with the creation of the Rhodes Scholarship Fund in 1904.
Sent to Balliol by his Anglophile professor at Indiana's DePauw University, Beard was taken under the wing of Fabian Society and related Round Table networks immediately upon his arrival there in 1899. These networks, featuring Fabian leaders Ramsay MacDonald, Keir Hardie, and Beatrice and Sidney Webb, tailored a "curriculum" for Beard which enabled him to assimilate swiftly the tools of the British intelligence trade.
One of Beard's first assignments, carried out under the direction of Balliol's Regius Professor of History F. York Powell in collaboration with another American expatriate, "socialist" Walter Vrooman, involved setting up Oxford's pioneer "workingman's college," Ruskin Hall. Named in honor of arch-racist John Ruskin, spiritual godfather of Round Table founder Cecil Rhodes and one of Beard's lifelong idols, Ruskin Hall became an important element in the Round Table's strategy for infusing new blood--in this case, from the labor movement--into the Empire's dangerously anemic administrative apparatus.
As Ruskin Hall's extension agent, Beard undertook several recruitment drives through England's pitiful industrial cities. He also published his first book under its imprint. An anti-industrial tract misnomered The Industrial Revolution, Beard's first exercise in the Big Lie school of historiography blamed Europe's food production crisis on its "craze" for industrialization, and recommended, among other measures, that "if the soil of Europe were tilled and managed like that of China, it would support one thousand millions of human beings instead of its three hundred and sixteen millions." (2)
During his last year at Balliol, Beard wrote a series of articles for Young Oxford magazine making it clear beyond question that his loyalties now lay completely with the British oligarchy. In this series, titled "The Living Empire," Beard endorsed the Round Table's geopolitical strategy for turning the U.S. into the Empire's "dumb giant" by inveigling it into an "Anglo-Saxon alliance" against Germany, Japan, and Russia -- the Ruskin-Cecil Rhodes strategy for preserving the British Empire.
"Imperialism is the world-creating process," Beard began.
The average rational healthy man who does not suffer from Imperial word phobia will agree that the Imperialism which produced the United States and the colonies is good....
Then, in an open appeal to the United States to help consolidate and extend Britain's worldwide looting policies -- the same policies against which the United States had already fought three bloody wars -- Beard wrote that if the two countries could integrate their own political, economic, social and educational programs,
vast settlements from various white countries would be transplanted, not as individuals, but as communities, over the rich plains of northern and central Asia and Southern South America, while the United States and England would use the same methods in distributing much needed populations over the great western plains of America and of South Australia and South Africa.... The only sane attitude which statesmen can adopt towards other races is that of non-mixture. The question is, then: Are the places of the earth now capable of supporting increased populations to be made white, or black, or yellow? It is not a question of death; it
is a question of birth. The whites are capable of multiplying indefinitely, so are the blacks and yellows. Some life must be repressed. Which shall it be? [Emphasis original.] (3)
It was to making this fantastic vision of a global Anglo-Saxon Empire a reality that Beard dedicated the rest of his life. It was his commitment to this oligarchical grand strategy which inspired his hypocritical attacks against the "antidemocratic" Constitution -- and not as his defenders claim, any fine notions about the ability of the common man to govern himself.
Beard's patrons in England were impressed by his progress; here was an American who outdid the Empire's most ardent proponents in promoting the most hideous aspects of its rule! Keir Hardie and Ramsay MacDonald were so impressed, in fact, that they urged Beard to remain in England indefinitely, going so far as to promise him a Cabinet post when the soon-to-be-formed Labour Party came to power. (4)
"THE CONSTITUTION ... IS GROTESQUE"
But Beard's plans to become the first U.S. citizen to hold a Cabinet portfolio were altered abruptly in September 1901 when William McKinley, the last American president to identify himself consciously as a Hamiltonian, was murdered by a London-controlled assassin.
Under McKinley's infantile, pro-London successor, Teddy Roosevelt, a legion of British agents and agents of influence was activated in the United States in a concerted effort to wipe out America's republican institutions and replace them with a Fabian/populist-modeled British colonial regimen.
Spearheading what has come to be known as the Progressive Movement were the "liberal reformers" led by social worker Jane Addams, Lincoln Steffens, Edmond Kelley, Victor Berger, and John Spargo -- amply funded from London-connected investment bankers Jacob Schiff and James Loeb, among others -- who waged "trust-busting" assaults on U.S. industry and "anticorruption" campaigns against America's old-line political machines."
Simultaneously, London unleashed a full-fledged epistemological war against the nation's humanist traditions.
John Dewey a lifelong friend of Beard set about destroying American education and, with it, the minds of generations of American youth. Roscoe Pound, Louis Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes worked to overthrow the natural-law foundations of America's legal system in favor of nominalist doctrines typified by "sociological jurisprudence," while in economics, Richard Ely, Thorstein Veblen, and E.R.A. Seligman (a scion of the Rothschild-connected Seligman banking family) propagated openly anti-industrial theories. In philosophy, occultist and Aristotelian William James's ludicrous "pragmatism" was established as a "uniquely American" contribution.
Above all, this Tory fifth column was determined to savage the U.S. Constitution, and it was to this task that Beard, who returned to the United States in 1902 to a teaching post at Morgan-connected Columbia University, devoted his efforts.
To London, the very existence of the Constitution presented a constant reminder of its humiliating defeat by the American revolutionists and, as her agents were constantly complaining, the principal obstacle to "social progress." To the United States, on the other
hand, the Constitution served as the living embodiment of its framers' intent to build a nation committed to the perfection of its citizens through scientific and technological progress. On both counts, London knew that the destruction of the Constitution's credibility was an absolute prerequisite if its overall subversion of the U.S. was to proceed successfully.
Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution represented the culmination of this assault. Since the turn of the century, British conduits had been flooding the U.S. with virulent attacks on the Constitution and the men who created it. The opening salvo was fired in 1898 by the American branch of the Fabian Society. In the inaugural issue of its magazine, the Society vowed to replace the U.S. Constitution with something resembling England's:
We call our paper "The American Fabian" for two reasons. We call it Fabian because we desire to make it stand for the kind of educational Socialist work which is so ably done by the English Fabian Society.... We call our paper "The American Fabian" because our politics must in a measure differ from those of the English Fabians. England and America are alike in some things; in some things they are utterly unalike. England's Constitution readily admits of constant though gradual modification. Our American Constitution does not readily admit of such change. England can thus move into Socialism almost imperceptibly. Our Constitution being largely individualistic must be changed to admit of Socialism, and each change necessitates a political crisis. This means the raising of great new issues. [Emphasis added.] (5)
Within weeks, the same line was being retailed in London by Ramsay MacDonald -- who, not accidentally, was soon to become one of Beard's principal patrons at Balliol. Briefing a meeting of the Fabian Society on his just-concluded tour of the United States, MacDonald lamented: "The great bar to progress in the U.S. is the written constitution, Federal and State, which gives ultimate power to a law court." (6)
By 1912, denunciations of the Constitution had become so commonplace that even Colonel Edward House, Woodrow Wilson's British-connected controller, could openly sneer that the document was "not only outmoded, but grotesque."
In order to provide some shred of credibility to this treachery, a slew of sensationalist books smearing the Constitution were circulated. Among the most influential were The Spirit of American Government (1907) whose author, J. Allen Smith, said he wanted "to call attention to the [Constitution's] inherent opposition to democracy" (7) -- and self-styled "Marxist" Algie Simons' Social Forces in American History (1911), which charged that:
The organic law of this nation was formulated in secret session by a body called into existence through a conspiratorial trick, and was forced upon a disenfranchised people by means of a dishonest apportionment in order that the interests of a small body of wealthy rulers might be served. (8)
By the time Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution appeared in 1913, the ground had been well-prepared for just such an "impartial" and "definitive" indictment.
Beard's role in these attacks on the Constitution, exemplified but by no means limited to An Economic Interpretation, was based on his study and conscious replication of the political theory of the bestialist Aristotle. Against the Founding Fathers' goal of an urban-centered, industrialized United States, Beard posed Aristotle's vision of "democracy" based on small farmers condemned to rural idiocy and powerless against the rule of oligarchies. Against their Neoplatonic humanist commitment to the development of human minds guided by reason and the necessary interest of humanity as a whole, Beard championed Aristotle's heteronomic individual self-interest and greed.
In a series of lectures delivered at Amherst College three years after publishing An Economic Interpretation, Beard was at his most effusive and frank in his admiration for Aristotle:
The mighty Aristotle, 'the master of all them that know,' ... rightly deserves to called 'the father of political science,' because he took it out of the sphere of utopian idealism where Plato left it and placed it on the strong foundations of natural history ... he sought to combine the idealism of ethics with the realism of historical research....
Aristotle combines economics, politics, and ethics.... How sound is this, how wise, how much more scientific than our modern practice of dissection and distribution among specialists.
... When he approaches the heart of the matter, namely, the causes of variation in the form of the state, he immediately relates "economics and politics.... It can hardly be doubted that Aristotle ... looks upon the character and distribution of wealth in society as the chief determining factors in fixing the form of state....
When Aristotle takes up the problem of finding the best material for a democracy he is no less insistent upon the economic element as the fundamental factor. The safest and most enduring form of democracy is, in his opinion, that based upon agriculture. In such a state the people are compelled to work hard for a livelihood, they have little time for political intrigue and combinations, they do not covet the property of others, and they will endure in patience oligarchies or tyrannies if they are allowed to work and are not deprived of their lands or cattle. [emphasis added]. Next to an agricultural democracy, that of a pastoral people is best.... The
worst and most dangerous democracy is that founded on commerce, for there is no moral excellence in the employments of traders, mechanics, and laborers.... (9)
Hypocritically, Beard, who was later to explicitly espouse just such an agrarian democracy for the United States, had denounced the U.S. Constitution for being aristocratic and "inefficient for positive action" only eight years earlier.
Beard based his own views on government on Aristotle's conception -- against Plato's insistence on "the greater the unity of the state the better" that no individual or group of men is capable of transcending the boundaries of his or their own immediate self-interest to act in the interests of the human species as mediated, for instance, through a state as a whole. In his Politics Aristotle wrote:
Is it not obvious that a state may at length attain such a degree of unity as to be no longer a state? Since the nature of a state is to be a plurality, and in tending to greater unity, from being a state, it becomes a family, and from being a family, an individual; for the family may be said to be more one than the state, and the individual than the family. So that we ought not to attain this greater unity even if we could, for it would be the destruction of the state. (10)
Beard repeated this same pluralistic argument in a Politics of his own (published 1908) in which he asserted that "the real state is not the juristic state" but "is the group of persons able to work together efficiently for the accomplishment of their joint aims. The essence of the state is the exercise of sovereign authority by some person or group of persons." (I1)
Five years later, in his lying "interpretation" of the Constitution, Beard drew Aristotle's argument to its ultimate antihumanist conclusion: "It does not follow," Beard cynically declared,
that the vague thing known as "the advancement of general welfare" or some abstraction known as "justice" was the immediate, guiding purpose of the framers [of the Constitution]. The point is, that the direct, impelling motive in both cases was the economic advantages which the beneficiaries expected would accrue to themselves first, from their action.
This view, together with Aristotle's espousal of "rural democracy," is both the underpinning and the purpose of Beard's "analysis" in An Economic Interpretation that the fight over the Constitution represented an irreconcilable split between "agrarian special interests" and "capitalist special interests."
"ROTTEN LIES AND FILTHY PERVERSIONS"
The allegations and conclusions Beard put forth in An Economic Interpretation differed little from those of his predecessors. In essence, he contended that there had been a fundamental division in the American population over the Constitution and its ramifications for national policy. On the one hand, Beard maintained, stood the
overwhelming majority of the population, the "debtors and small farmers," constituting a "popular party based on paper money and agrarian interests"; on the other, "a conservative party centred in the towns and resting on financial, mercantile, and personal property interests generally." (12)
"The movement for the Constitution," Beard claimed, "was originated and carried through principally by four groups of personal interests which had been adversely affected under the Articles of Confederation: money, public securities, manufactures, and trade and shipping." (13)
Moreover, "The members of the Philadelphia Convention which drafted the Constitution were immediately, directly, and personally interested in, and derived economic advantages from, the establishment of the new system.... " (14)
As for the Constitution itself, Beard deemed it essentially an economic document based upon the concept that the fundamental private rights of property are anterior to government and morally beyond the reach of popular majorities. (15)
Beard charged that the convening of the Constitional Convention amounted to a virtual coup d'etat in itself since "no popular vote was taken directly or indirectly on the proposition to call the Convention which drafted the Constitution"; that "a large propertyless mass was ... excluded at the outset from participation (through representatives) in the work of framing the Constitution" by prevailing suffrage qualifications; and that "the Constitution was ratified by a vote or probably not more than one-sixth of adult males." (16)
Beard's treatment of the entirety of American history -- from the dispute over the Constitution, through the
split between Hamilton and Jefferson, to the Civil War -- was based on the false premise that the principal dynamic in the development of the nation was the struggle for domination between "capitalist" (manufacturing, commerce, finance) and farming interests.
This false dichotomy was simply Beard's method of diverting attention from and obscuring the real battle that has characterized every major crisis in American history: the fight between the American System, with its commitment to scientific progress and the application of new technologies to both agriculture and industry, and the British System, based on Aristotle's bestial vision of pastoral idiocy -- a vision which Beard openly urged the United States to adopt.
Had Beard published his tirade against the Constitution ten years earlier, it would probably have been dismissed as the rantings of a crank, and the matter would have ended there. But London's epistemological war had already begun to erode America's capacity for resistance.
Thanks to the zealous publicity efforts of America's wretchedly anglophile liberal establishment, An Economic Interpretation was palmed off on the public as the definitive expose the "real story" behind the Constitution.
As the following quotes from two establishment spokesmen suggest, the damage which Beard's book wrought on the American System was incalculable.
According to the Nation magazine, founded by E.L. Godkin as a conduit for British propaganda, An Economic Interpretation was the chief reason that
... We know today that the Constitution is a scheme devised by a land-holding and rum-selling oligarchy for the enslavement of a democracy. There was a group of people and an epoch commonly described as the Fathers. We know today that they were not parents to be proud of.... The Fathers in their graves stand in the way of a great many desirable things of the present. Therefore, they must be shown up. The movement once under way, impetus does the rest. There ensues a chronic irritation with the past; a chronic suspicion that the past was just the opposite of what patriotic sentiment has usually pictured. (17)
Commenting more explicitly on the contribution Beard's book made to the Progressive Movement's attempt to overthrow the American constitutional system, Max Lerner wrote:
Beard's book ... brought the theory of group interests and of class conflict into the center of the study of American politics; it dealt a blow to the conservative Supreme Court majorities and to their apologists, for if it was true that even the founding fathers were human beings governed by their sense of economic interest, it was a fortiori even truer of the Supreme Court justices who passed on the validity of federal and state legislation that sought to control Big Property. Thus it dealt a blow to the strongest panoply in which property in Beard's day clothed itself -- the inviolate panoply of Constitutional "due process of law." At the same time, it gave the coup de grace to the mechanical jurisprudence of the time, the rebellion against which was one of Beard's strongest motivations.... (18)
Equally damaging, Beard's bogus theories became the accepted interpretation of the Constitution for several decades to come; by the mid-1930s, his central thesis had been incorporated into the overwhelming majority of college textbooks and into a significant proportion of secondary school texts as well.
And when the New Republic conducted a survey of "books that changed our minds" during the same period, An Economic Interpretation ranked second out of a hundred, prompting Walter Lippmann to praise it for marking "a turning point in the interpretation of American history." (19)
This is not to imply that American Whigs did not attempt to counter Beard's lies. Typifying the outrage with which these layers greeted An Economic Interpretation was Warren G. Harding's Marion (Indiana) Star. "Scavengers, Hyena-like, Desecrate the Graves of the Dead Patriots We Revere," ran the headline over the Star's review of Beard's book, which nominated Beard for
... the place of Chief Hyena. His book is libelous, vicious and damnable in its influence, and every patriotic citizen of the United States, every lover of liberty in this land should rise to condemn him and the purveyors of his filthy lies and rotten perversions. (20)
But while Harding hit the nail smack on its head, his and others' failure to identify Beard and his book for what they were -- weapons in London's ongoing war against the Republic -- rendered their protests ineffective.
THE "NEW HISTORY": LYING WITH A CLEAR GONSCIENGE
As Harding said, An Economic Interpretation was basically a pack of lies. Research done subsequently by Robert Brown, Nancy Spannaus, Forrest McDonald and others (21) has indisputably demonstrated that the "facts" which Beard marshaled to support his attack on the Founding Fathers were either downright fraudulent, or ambiguous at best.
Even Beard's major "evidence" for charging that the Fathers were materially motivated in framing the Constitution -- the fact that several of them held U.S. Treasury Bonds -- is both questionable and ludicrous. Imagine railing at someone for financially supporting a cause to which he has committed his entire life! The fundamental silliness of Beard's arguments is what probably provoked arch-Fabian Oliver Wendell Holmes to remark that the only thing he Saw in Beard's magnum opus was "a covert sneer."
Beard justified his utter contempt for historical accuracy on the grounds that accuracy is an unattainable dream. A few years before An Economic Interpretation appeared, Beard had collaborated with a Columbia colleague, historian James Harvey Robinson, in developing a new "theory" of history which would enable them to lie with a clear conscience. Dubbed the "New History," this modernized version of Aristotle's doctrine of mythmaking contended that, since it was impossible to know with any certainty what had actually occurred in the past, history should be written from the standpoint of contemporary prejudices and geared principally toward shaping the future. Specifically, the New Historians argued, history should be used for furthering the goals of the Progressive Movement.
This was the theory which enabled Beard -- an ardent proponent of U.S. entry into World War I -- to write an account of the American Revolution, on behalf of the notorious Creel Committee of World War I, which asserted that the only argument the American colonists had had with England was the fact that King George III was a German! (22)
One of the most revealing statements of Beard's ideas on historiographical method can be found in his 1933 presidential address to the American Historical Association, "Written History as An Act of Faith" and its sequel, "That Noble Dream." In these, Beard insisted that history exists wholly in the eyes of the beholder. "History as it actually was is not known and cannot be known," Beard declared, adding that writing history is first and foremost "a question of cutting off connections to the universal." (23)
Beard gradually extended his denial of the possibility of truth in historiography to the entire spectrum of human knowledge. In the mid-1930s, when the Depression had begun to undermine Americans' belief in the idea of willfully determined progress, Beard began a sweeping attack against the scientific method. Claiming that the economic collapse had ushered in a fundamental "crisis in Western thought," Beard wrote that this crisis
may be said to spring from the disconcerting recognition of the fact that science cannot of itself provide the certainty, understanding and unequivocal direction to policy and practice profoundly expected after theological supremacy and assurance were disrupted in a conflict extending through several centuries. (24)
Elsewhere, Beard contended that:
The contrast between the ideal that seems possible and the real [reality] that oppresses us is painfully evident to contemporary knowledge; and it is increasingly understood that science, which once supplanted theological assurance, can furnish no unequivocal prescriptions for national policy and action.... Despite all the sayings, declarations, and prognostications .., unequivocal explanations and guidance are denied us. Deprived of the certainty which it was once believed science would deliver, and of the very hope that it can in the nature of things disclose certainty, human beings must now concede their own fallibility and accept the world as a place of trial and error.... (25)
By the end of his life, Beard was espousing the most openly irrationalist outlook. In a speech to the American Political Association in 1948 he announced:
I have come to the conviction that we have no justification whatever for regarding our universe as a unified process under law and hence reducible to an exact science, either physical or political; and still
less justification for supposing that, given the nature of our minds, we can grasp the scheme of things entire in its three-dimension fullness. (26)
BRINGING FASCISM TO THE U.S.
Beard's deliberate lies concerning the origins and development of the United States cannot be attributed simply to the workings of an amoral mind given to pathological lying. Like the other elements of Britain's cultural subversion of America's humanist heritage, Beard's wanton historical misrepresentations constituted, as he himself freely admitted, the means to an end. That end, as Beard made absolutely explicit time after time, was the transformation of the United States from the world's premier industrial power into a replica of Aristotle's "perfect state" a zero-growth nightmare, inhabited by men-turned-sheep tending sheep, and ruled over by a feudal aristocracy capable only of looting, plundering, and pillage: in modern terminology, a fascist state.
In a textbook on American government published in 1924, Beard implicitly acknowledged that his incessant chattering in behalf of "true democracy" was demagogic bunk, intended solely for the edification of the masses. "For the present," he wrote, "we shall accept the dictum of Lord Bryce that the world is governed by active minorities who originate ideas and compel the attentions of the multitudes." (27) In other words, it is the elites, not "the people," who actually rule.
Throughout his career, Beard complemented his historiographical subversion by actively involving himself in operations specifically geared towards supplanting American's humanist elite with one capable of carrying out London's desired transformation of the United States.
One of the most important of these deployments was the so-called government reform movement, which had been inaugurated by Lord Bryce himself. (28) A key component of the Progressive Movement, government reform, was the noble-sounding name which London applied to its attempt to seize America's government institutions by replacing democratically elected, constituency-oriented leaderships with "nonpartisan experts" or "technocrats."
Sold to the public on the grounds that American institutions had been corrupted beyond repair, the government reform movement aimed not merely at planting a layer of top-level agents in key policymaking positions, but at overhauling the entire structure of U.S. government and refashioning it along explicitly British lines.
The spate of mini-Watergates which proliferated during the early twentieth century, largely provoked by the "exposes" of "corruption in government" uncovered by the British-controlled muckraking press, provided the
justification for the wholesale destabilization of American government institutions, as one after another urban machine toppled before the "reformers' " onslaught.
Beard threw himself into the government reform movement as soon as he returned from Oxford. Under the tutelage of Frank Goodnow -- the chairman of Columbia University's political science department -- and spurred on by the vision of "bringing about the reconciliation of democracy with efficiency" through the "new science of public administration," Beard concentrated on two strategic areas: training the new class of technocrats, and reworking state and local constitutions.
In 1906, Beard joined the faculty of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research, where he helped establish its pioneering Training School for Public Service, becoming director of the Training School in 1912. Funds for the Training School came from Mrs. E.H. Harriman who, returning from a trip to England in 1910, was so enthusiastic about the caliber of the British Civil Service, that she wished to replicate it at home.
Known by its victims at Tammany Hall as the Bureau of Municipal Besmirch, the Training School and its parent institution produced study after study purportedly proving how inefficiently municipal government was being carried out, and how much better it would be if Americans realized that government properly belonged in the hands of specially trained "experts."
As New York public works czar Rober Moses, one of Beard's prize Training School pupils, put it in a dissertation he wrote at Oxford University while preparing himself for a career in municipal reform back home: "The Civil Service of Great Britain" is "brilliant" and "farsighted" because it recognizes that only a few, select "university trained" individuals should be permitted to hold important government positions. (29)
Through Beard's efforts, the Bureau and its Training School rapidly established themselves as the paramount institutions of their kind and the model for the thousands of others which were set up across the country over the next two decades. Through these institutions -- of which the Brookings Institution (founded in 1916) is one of the most notorious -- government policymaking and administration on all levels were systematically wheedled out of the hands of elected officials.
Recognizing, as his mentor Ramsay MacDonald had stressed years earlier, that state as well as federal constitutions presented formidable obstacles to the drastic changes he and his cronies wanted to wreak on American governance, Beard spearheaded an ambitious, nationwide campaign to "reform" them.
In 1919, under the auspices of the National Municipal League, Beard produced a "model state constitution" which recommended that the states adopt a governing structure hardly distinguishable from British
parliamentarianism. In this document, the man who attacked the U.S. Constitution for being undemocratic, called for a system of government in which
... the governor would be elected by the people, with absolute power to appoint and remove heads of departments, would prepare the budget which the legislature might reduce but not increase; and would have the power to dissolve the legislature when it defeats any of his measures. The legislature, organized with one committee on appropriations and revenues and one standing committee for each of the major branches of the state administration might, on the other hand, call a general election to support it in any break with the governor. There would also be introduced the recall principle." (30)
Beard also advocated the consolidation of all government departments into a few superagencies, with the governor as the "czar," and the adoption of the "short ballot" -- a technique for drastically reducing the number of elected officials by making most administrative positions appointive.
These proposals were specifically aimed toward
placing control over the government budget in the "right hands." "The budget is the very heart of the governing process" he wrote in one of his tracts,
It involves fundamental problems in administrative organization, in public policy, in legislative responsibility and in political leadership. Sound budgetary procedure ... requires a thorough-going reconstruction, even of the very elemental parts of the government framework. (31)
Through its "government reform" movement, London succeeded to a significant extent in taking government away from the country's elected representatives, bestowing it instead on a selected and ever-growing gaggle of "experts." The massive influence wielded today by the Brookings Institution and other thinktanks, together with the proliferation of such strategically situated government policy institutions as the Office of Management and Budget and the General Accounting Office, is only part of the anticonstitutional legacy bequeathed to the United States by "radical democrat" Charles Beard.
Beard's commitment to turn the U.S. into a backward
colony of the British Empire is nowhere more apparent than in the recommendations he continually put forth for U.S. economic and foreign policy.
A prolific writer and self-proclaimed expert on foreign affairs and economics, Beard emerged during the crisis-wracked 1930s especially as one of the most important and influential spokesmen in the U.S. on behalf of Britain's attempt to turn the U.S. into an explicitly fascist entity.
It is entirely lawful that Beard should have become the leader of the band of anglophile liberals, centered around the New Republic, which championed fascism and organized for its triumph in America. Anyone who finds it difficult to reconcile Beard's ardent support for fascism and his outspoken adulation for British puppet Benito Mussolini with his defense of "democracy" does not yet understand the profound similarities between the dionysian doctrine of "radical democracy" and that of Nazism.
Beard made no secret of his fascist proclivities. In a
review he wrote for the New Republic in 1929 of Herbert Schneider's The Making of the Fascist State, Beard declared that Italian fascism was
beyond question an amazing experiment.., an experiment in reconciling individualism and socialism, politics and technology.... This is far from the frozen dictatorship of Russian Tsardom.... It is more like the American checks and balance system; and it may work out in a new democratic direction....
"It would be a mistake," Beard admonishes any possibly queasy readers,
to allow feelings aroused by contemplating the harsh deeds and extravagant assertions that have accompanied the Fascist process (as all other immense historical changes) to obscure the potentialities and lessons of the adventure -- no, not adventure, but destiny riding without any saddle and bridle across the historic peninsula that bridges the world of antiquity and our modern world.
Then, in an outrageous attempt to invoke the Founding Fathers in support of this rubbish, Beard continues:
In the fascist condemnation of democracy there is nothing new ... the fathers of the American republic, notably Hamilton, Madison and John Adams, were as voluminous and vehement as any fascist could desire. (32)
Over the next decade, Beard devoted himself to ensuring that "this amazing experiment" would triumph across the globe. Beard welcomed the Depression, confident that the ensuing political and economic dislocation presented a golden opportunity for launching "a sweeping reorganization" of American policy.
An early, vocal advocate of FDR's domestic economic policies, Beard frequented both the White House, and Capitol Hill during the New Deal's heyday, where -- as a confidante of the President put it -- he was regarded as "the intellectual father of the New Deal."
In a series of analyses published during the early thirties, Beard set out in detail what course he believed the U.S. should take.
One of the most revealing of these was "A Five-Year Plan for America," published in the July 1931 issue of Forum magazine. An unabashed blueprint for creating a fascist state in the U.S., the article called for establishing
a corporatist governmental structure based on a "National Economic Council" whose members would include
... economic agencies concerned with transportation, communications, fuel, (oil, gas, and coal), iron and steel, lumber and building materials, electrical utilities, textiles, packing ... agriculture, wholesaling and retailing. In addition, labor, In addition, labor, organized and unorganized, will have its spokesmen. The exact weight to be assigned to each element can be evolved and in the process the experience of Germany with economic councils may be studied with profit.
"In short," Beard continued,
there will be established for the fundamental industries of the country ... a small national body charged with the function of coordinating these divisions of economy and working out the project of their inner relations -- financial, operative, and distributive.... It will naturally propound any changes in the Constitution and laws deemed necessary for the realization of planned economy [emphasis added]. (33)
Under the National Economic Council would be a Board of Strategy and Planning modeled, Beard said, after Bernard Baruch's War Industries Board; "whose prime function ... will be to make a survey of the country and forecast the production of consumer and capital goods...." (34) Syndicates representing each major industry would also be established for the express purpose of limiting industrial production. Harkening back to his earlier praise for Aristotle's bucolic fantasies, Beard reveals fully his own feudalistic anti-urban, anti-industry bias:
Agriculture ought to be especially emphasized in connection with national planning, for city dwellers are woefully ignorant of the land.... Yet it is fundamental. If agriculture perishes, as in parts of China, civilization sinks down in ruins. Rome likewise furnishes an example: our scholars well know the intimate relations between the decay of Roman agriculture and the decline of the Empire. (35)
There is also another side to the problem, Beard asserted:
The overgrown urban agglomerations of the United States, with their millions pounding pavements, toiling listlessly in poorly lighted offices and factories, and living in sunless tenements need more of the country, not less. And a rational system of industrial planning will dissolve the absurd and unwholesome slum areas of cities, carry industries out into air and sunlight, and institute a fine balance of rural and urban life. (36)
As to those city-dwellers not dispersed to the countryside by this city-wrecking scheme, Beard proposes that they
be channeled into "the Building Materials and Housing Syndicates ... [which] will enroll an army of two or three million men to tear down the cities" and rehabilitate them, along the lines of the "sweat equity" and related labor-intensive "full employment" schemes pushed by today's "liberals." (37)
Beard's plan also stipulated that a Marketing Syndicate be set up to control the distribution of all industrial and agricultural output through the economy. Regarding foreign trade which he identified as "the most fruitful source of international rivalries and wars" -- Beard proposed that a Syndicate comprising all export/import firms be set up in order to slash U.S. trade to a bare minimum, and that to be carried on chiefly through barter. "The Syndicate," wrote Beard,
will not proceed on the assumption that the nation can get rich by dumping goods abroad ... [but] will be a powerful aid to diplomacy, bringing the reason of commodity exchange to bear on the vagaries of ministers plenipotentiary.
Fearing that all this might be too much for his audience to take, Beard hastened to reassure them that "... the scheme here outlined is no foreign concoction or importation. It is a purely native product. Even now it lies partly completed before us." (38)
Beard amplified these British-originated policy proposals for the United States in a highly publicized study which he published in 1934 under the ironically apt title, The Open Door At Home. Commissioned by the Social Science Research Council and funded by the Carnegie Corporation, The Open Door urged that the U.S. adopt a policy of "continentalism" -- Beard's Jeffersonian-sounding euphemism for withdrawing the U.S. from the world arena and preventing it from challenging Britain's strategic gameplan for the 1930s.
Arguing that U.S. national interests could best be served if more emphasis were placed on domestic policy "than on an effort to wrest new 'benighted' areas from Great Britain, France or Japan for the purpose of securing more moral obligations to other races," Beard assailed the Hamiltonian tradition of outward industrial and commercial expansion "which assumed that American prosperity depended upon the expansion of foreign markets."
It was imperative, moreover, Beard continued, that an immediate end be put to the "outward thrust of commercial power" supposedly forced on the U.S. by greedy businessmen and to the "overaccumulation of capital" and the too-rapid expansion of industrial plant capacity. If these measures were taken, then the nation's attention could be focused on achieving a "wider distribution of wealth"-- even if the absolute decline in overall national wealth brought about by these measures caused a decline in the standard of living.
In a section sharply redolent of his racist Young Oxford articles, Beard also prescribed that the American government impose drastic restrictions on immigration in order to maintain the "racial homogeneity" of the American stock he deemed so crucial to achieving his insane vision of an autarkical United States. "By universal consent," he wrote, the "U.S. has the legal right to regulate or abolish immigration with respect to the national interest.... As a matter of physical limitations, it is impossible for the U.S. to take care of the pullulating surplus populations of the earth." (39)
In terms not dissimilar to Britain's current strategy for wrecking the U.S. economy, Beard concluded The Open Door by laying out the following summary proposals:
By domestic control over all foreign trade, by the relaxation of the capitalistic pressure of the United States on world markets in standardized manufactures and commercial investments, by concentrating national energies on the development of national resources and the efficient distribution of wealth at home, by deliberately withdrawing from the rivalries of imperialist nations, the United States would take its official nose out of a thousand affairs of no vital concern to the people of the United States, would draw back its defense lines upon zones that can be defended with the greatest probability of victory in case of war, and would thus have a minimum dependence on the "strategic products" indispensable to war.... [The U.S.] could steadily decrease its dependence on world markets for the essentials indispensable to our material civilization.... (40)
In December 1934, Beard surveyed the devastation wrought on the U.S. economy by FDR's Keynesian-inspired corporatism measures and was satisfied: "The fundamental idea of the New Deal," he ruminated, "is the coordination of classes and maintenance of balance by regulation and by a certain control over the distribution of wealth." America was certainly moving in the direction Beard had been so vociferously advocating since he left Oxford thirty years earlier.
Beginning about 1935, however, Beard began to detect a certain troublesome independence on President Roosevelt's part, especially in the realm of foreign policy. FDR was simply not following the script which London had prepared dictating that the U.S. pursue a thoroughly isolationist role. Indeed, Beard had expressed some of these fears in his Open Door: "if Roosevelt has a foreign policy appropriate to the trend of his domestic policy, he has not yet revealed it."
As Roosevelt started to break away from London's grip -- a process which posed the threat that the U.S. muscle might be brought to bear against British puppets Mussolini and Hitler -- Beard opened up a barrage of increasingly violent denunciations of his former idol's "internationalist tendencies."
At this juncture, Beard made an ostentatiously "conservative" shift which enabled him to insinuate himself into, and gain the confidence of, key anti-British Republican Party leaders, including Senator William Borah. In a Kissingeresque operation, Beard used this leverage to manipulate their fears of being tricked into fighting yet another war for the British into an hysterical denial of reality.
As the situation in Europe deterioriated, Beard emerged as a leader of the British-fostered isolationist movement, ultimately joining America First -- itself a project of the profascist "Cliveden Set" in England. (41)
In a book published in 1940, Beard argued vehemently that the U.S. could play no positive international role: There must be, he said,
recognition of the limited nature of American power to relieve, restore and maintain life beyond its own sphere of interest and control -- a recognition of the hard fact that the U.S., either alone or in any coalition, did not possess the power to force peace on Europe and Asia, to assure the establishment of democratic and pacific governments there, or to provide the social and economic underwriting necessary to the endurance of such governments. (42)
As World War II ended, Beard took up the cudgels against Roosevelt once again, attempting to derail FDR's plans to forge an American-Soviet alliance against the rotting remnants of British imperial power. In his President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War, Beard launched into a cold war frenzy, berating the now-dead Roosevelt for involving the U.S. in a war which produced nothing but
the triumph of another totalitarian regime no less despotic and ruthless than Hitler's system, namely, Russia, possessing more than twice the population astride Europe and Asia, employing bands of Quislings as terroristic in methods as any Hitler ever assembled, and insistently effectuating a political and economic ideology equally inimical to the democracy, liberties and institutions of the United States.... (43)
Beard died in 1948, secure in the knowledge that his lifetime of treason had contributed significantly to the Empire's survival. Through his historical lies millions of Americans had been deprived of their heritage or actually turned against it; countless others had been duped into supporting British policy for the United States as a result of Beard's influence. His death prompted an outpouring of eulogies from his British friends, returning the favor. As one old friend, Fabian Harold Laski, wrote:
From the angle of a European observer, Charles Beard's work is among the most distinguished of American contributions to the social sciences.... Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution
and its sequel, the Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy, were ... books that laid the foundation of a new and creative approach to the subjects with which they dealt. But even more important than the brilliant use of the material that went into their making was the value of the solid foundation they offered to the criticism of those who sought to see American history in realistic terms....
Charles Beard has always been a man of progressive ideas. We in Britain are not likely to forget that ... he was one of the founders of Ruskin Hall, Oxford, ... which has had a vital part in shaping the character of the British Labour Party generally, and of many of its members, especially since 1915, who have entered the House of Commons.... (44)
Notes & References
1. George Bancroft (1800-1891) and Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1931) were both extremely influential in "revising" American history according to the changing tactical requirements of the British oligarchy. Considered to be the foremost historian produced by the United States in the nineteenth century, Bancroft portrayed the course of the nation's development as the triumph of "the people's democracy" in his multivolume History of the United States. An ardent Jacksonian and Transcendentalist, and an intimate friend and collaborator of August Belmont, the House of Rothschild's chief agent in the U.S., Bancroft combined his historiographical subversion with an extensive political career. These included his capacities as political advisor to Martin Van Buren --the man whom London installed in the White House to oversee its destruction of the U.S. economy in the aftermath of Andrew Jackson's sabotage of the Second National Bank; as official counselor to British puppet James K. Polk; as ghost writer to Andrew Jackson; and as U.S. Ambassador to Bismark's Germany and to the Court of St. James. Bancroft thus participated at the highest levels in Britain's post-American Revolution deployment to derail attempts by European and American humanist networks to revive the Grand Design which had brought the United States into existence. Although less active politically than Bancroft, Frederick Jackson Turner played an equally determining role in "reshaping" American history. Turner is best known for his "frontier thesis," which maintained that westward expansion and "free land" had been the chief sources of democratization and social stability for the United States. During the London-inspired 1890-1920 campaign slash the flow of immigrants into the United States, Turner's theory provided crucial back-up for the absurd argument that the closing of the "frontier" made it impossible for the U.S. to assimilate large numbers of new immigrants, especially those of the "mongrel races" of Asia and southern Europe. Trained at John Hopkins University by Woodrow Wilson, and at the University of Wisconsin, where he helped Robert LaFollette and other "progressives" make Wisconsin a model Fabian state, Turner frequently is credited with popularizing the avowedly Aristotelian "economic interpretation" of history among American academics. Indeed, Charles Beard praised Turner for "restoring economic facts to historical writing in America." That Bancroft and Turner -- two of the most renowned U.S. historians --were fully complicit in London's schemes for undermining the United States as a sovereign nation, bears shocking witness to the astounding success Britain achieved in penetrating American historiography. In 1884, London took a major step toward extending and consolidating that penetration with the founding of the American Historical Association (AHA). From its beginnings, the AHA exhibited a distinctly pro-British bent. Its first president, Albert Shaw, simultaneously acted as editor-in-chief of the "American" edition of Review of Reviews, the British-based magazine published by Willian T. Stead, co-organizer with Cecil Rhodes of the British Round Table! Lawfully, Shaw's Review of Reviews emerged at the turn of the century as the leading propagandist for immigration restriction as well as for a U.S. alliance with Britain under the guise of "Anglo-Saxon" unity.
2. Charles A. Beard, The Industrial Revolution (London, 1927), p. 44.
3. Charles A. Beard, "The Living Empire," Young Oxford (November, 1901).
4. Cited in Eric Goldman, Rendezvous with Destiny (New York: 1952), p. 116.
5. Quoted in Rose L. Martin, Fabian Freeway (Belmont, Mass.: 1966) p. 136.
6. Ibid., pp. 136-37.
7. Quoted in Goldman, op. cit., p. 119.
8. Quoted in Ibid., pp. 109-110. Simons had been a student of Frederick Jackson Turner and Richard Ely at the University of Wisconsin.
9. Reprinted in Charles A. Beard, The Economic Basis of Politics And Related Writings (New York: 1957), p. 25.
10. Aristotle, Politics, reprinted in Justin D. Kaplan, ed., The Pocket Aristotle (New York: 1%0), p. 283.
11. Cited in David W. Noble, Historians against History (Minneapolis: 1965), p. 60.
12. Charles A. Beard, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution (New York: 1913), p. 292.
13. Ibid., p. 324.
14. Ibid., p. 324.
15. Ibid., p. 324.
16. Ibid., p. 324.
17. The Nation, January 1915.
18. Quoted in Goldman, op cit., p. 118.
19. For the impact of An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution on U.S. textbooks, see Maurice Blinkoff, The Influence of Charles A. Beard upon American Historiography, in the University of Buffalo Studies, Monographs in History, XII (May, 1936), No. 4, Ch. II.
20. Quoted in Goldman, op cit., p. 119.
21. Cf. Robert E. Brown, Charles Beard and the Constitution: A Critical Analysis of "An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution" (Princeton: 1965); Nancy B. Spannaus and Christopher White, eds., The Political Economy of the American Revolution (New York: 1977); and Forrest McDonald, We The People: The Economic Origins of the Constitution (Chicago: 1958).
22. Marcus Cunliffe and Robin Winks, Pastmasters (New York: 1969), pp. 136-38. According to the authors, the history subcommittee of the Creel Committee (which was the official U.S. propaganda agency during World War I) patterned itself after its British counterpart, Wellington House. This subcommittee, whose members included Frederick Jackson Turner, Carl Becker, Charles Beard, and other eminent historians, "wrote and disseminated tons of history, distorted history, and open lies called history, for purposes of war propaganda ... in general the idea was to depict the Germans as barbarians, militaristic but second-rate in actual warfare, and to show that Anglo-American relations had always been friendly and that American relations with Germany had always been bad."
23. "Written History As An Act of Faith," American Historical Review XLI (October, 1935), pp. 73-87; "That Noble Dream," American Historical Review XLII (April, 1937), pp. 460-483. It is important to note that Beard appended to the former a copy of a letter written to him by Italian philosopher and historian, Benedetto Croce, on historical method. Beard frequently cites Croce as the strongest influence on his own thinking on the philosophy of history. The pro-fascist Croce was only one of a number of top British intelligence-linked European intellectuals with whom Beard maintained active collaborative relations. Among them were the Frankfurt School networks. Beard was a member along with Sidney Webb, Felix Warburg and Jean Piaget of the Frankfurt School's board of directors, and was instrumental in relocating the School to Columbia in the 1930s, from where it proceeded to manufacture rock music and other atrocities.
24. Charles A. Beard, "Limitations to the Application of Social Science Implied in Recent Social Trends," Social Forces 2 (May, 1933), p. 506.
25. Charles A. Beard and G.H.E. Smith, The Open Door at Home (New York: 1934), pp. 19-20.
26. Quoted in Cunliffe and Winks, op. cit.
27. Charles A. Beard, American Government and Politics (New York: 1924).
28. Bryce's well-known treatise on American institutions, The American Commonwealth (1888), provided both the impetus and the rationale for the municipal reform movement. Essentially an intelligence profile of weak flanks within the U.S. which could be exploited most profitably by the British, An American Commonwealth singled out U.S. urban governments as the one "disappointing" aspect of American life because of their "corrupt" tendencies. Several individuals who were to play powerful roles in the urban reform movement as it subsequently evolved actually wrote chapters for Bryce's book. Seth Low, the famous "reform" mayor of Brooklyn, wrote the chapter on municipal reform, while Frank Goodnow, an expert on administrative law and government reform wrote the chapter on the Tweed Ring. When Bryce (who was British Ambassador to the U.S. from 1907-1913) appealed to his American friends for help in revising An American Commonwealth in 1908, Seth Low, then president of Columbia University, lent him the services of a young Columbia professor, Charles Beard.
29. Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Rober Moses and the Fall of New York (New York: 1974), p. 53.
30. Charles A. Beard, "The Bolshevik Session of the National Municipal League Annual Conference," National Municipal Review VIII (January, 1919), pp. 26-33.
31. Charles A. Beard, "The Budgetary Provisions of the New York Constitution," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science LXIV (March, 1916), pp. 215- 226.
32. Charles A. Beard, "Making the Fascist State," New Republic LVII (January 23, 1929), pp. 277-78.
33. Charles A. Beard, "A Five-Year Plan for America," Forum LXXXVI (June, 1934), p. 5.
34. Ibid., pp. 5-6.
35. Ibid., p. 8
36. Ibid., p. 8.
37. Ibid., p. 10-11.
38. Ibid., pp. 9-10.
39. Charles A. Beard and G.H.E. Smith, op. cit.
41. Beard's pre-war denunciations of FDR included Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels: An Estimate of American Foreign Policy (New York: 1939); The Old Deal and the New (New York: 1940); plus numerous articles.
42. Cited in Cunliffe and Winks, op. cit., p. 434.
43. Charles A. Beard, President Roosevelt and The Coming of War (New Haven: 1948), p. 577.
44. Beale, op. cit., pp. 9-24.
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