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How the Truman Doctrine Lead to the Demise of Liberal Capitalism and the Building of the Warfare State

September 4, 2014

In the 1930s and 40s the United States government was so concerned about the configuration of power on the international scene in the specter of communism and what it might do to liberal capitalism yet it was the New Deal policies of Roosevelt and then the further building of the garrison state under the Truman Doctrine which led to the demise of liberal capitalism.

It is during 1947 through 1950 that the United States government began taking on its role of world police and sending financial aid to other nations under the Marshall Plan which was also known as the European Recovery Program. Keep in mind that not long before that the United States had suffered through the Great Depression. Now of course by 1947 Franklin Delano Roosevelt had passed away two years prior but the damage he left to our liberal capitalist way of life was already done.

The Marshall Plan was not supported by most members of the Republican Party because back in this era the Republican Party was still against big expenditures that were not conducive to the prosperity of the United States. They reluctantly supported the Marshall Plan because Republicans knew that the people saw communism as an alien and poisonous ideology.

So how is the United States government able to provide financial aid known as the European Recovery Program right after suffering through the Great Depression? Well, in 1917 they were able to get a law passed to create the Federal Reserve and we should all know by now that they are only good for one thing and that is money printing. Also, in 1947 you had the creation of one of the most evil anti-liberty spy organizations in the world known as the Central Intelligence Agency who along with the State Department used secret funds to intensify splits brewing in the French and the Italian labor movements. Truman implored Congress to pass the European Recovery Program and to enact universal military training and selective service. He declared that the United States had to keep its occupation forces in Germany until the peace in Europe was secure. These policies would cost more money and would continue as with all garrison state U.S. policies, indefinitely. Truman asked Congress for an increase of $3 billion in military spending. The money was to be used for additional military personnel, the procurement of aircraft, the reactivation of bases, and military research and development. Republicans remonstrated against the costs, but passed the Marshall Plan. Republicans objected to universal military training, but passed the Selective Service Act. Republicans lambasted the administration for not reducing taxes, but then appropriated even more funds than Truman requested for a military buildup. It is around this time period that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is formed.

Truman solidified the tyranny begun by Roosevelt by fighting domestic subversives with the support of Republicans. The president instituted a loyalty program requiring all federal employees to pass an investigation by specially created boards in all of the departments of the federal government. General Tom Clark and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued a list of subversive organizations and initiated a campaign to deport aliens who were Communists. Truman’s commissioner for education launched a crusade to reassess high school curricula in order to ensure that North American youth were adequately prepared to combat communism.

Even the film industry was targeted by the government as harboring communists and indictments went out until leaders in the film industry had to promise to the government that they would not employ communists or anyone threatening to overthrow the North American government. Thereafter, the film industry hesitated to make movies with a serious social message and concentrated on war films, escapist fantasies, and anti-Communist pictures. For example, take a look at the film Yankee Doodle Dandy which you can purchase to the right of this article here.

So it can be argued that the Truman Doctrine became the final demise of liberal capitalism and the birth of the United States government as the policeman of the world. Different groups supported this role for different reasons. Some shared the beliefs of Truman’s advisors and who were his advisors anyway? There was James F. Byrnes, his Secretary of State. Byrnes was a former senator, supreme court justice, and overlord of the wartime economy. There was also Averell Harriman, the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union and Secretary of Commerce. Averell Harriman was the son of a railroad tycoon named E. H. Harriman who had recently set up a merchant bank. Averell Harriman was also a member of the Skull and Bones society and graduate of Yale University. These advisors believed if the United States did not take action, the Kremlin could gain preponderant power in Eurasia, thereby threatening U.S. security and forcing it to become a garrison state with a governmentally-controlled economy, which it did anyway, but the Harrimans who were using their political office and manipulating Truman and the public for their own ends never really cared about freedom anyway.

So you have Truman, a farm boy from Missouri, World War I veteran, parochial senator from Missouri, fiscal conservative have his doubts after listening to the den of vipers he had for advisors: Clifford, Acheson, Lovett, Marshall and the Bonesman Harriman, who told him that the containment of communism and Soviet power was essential to preserve an open world economy and democratic capitalism in the United States. Truman had his doubts and wondered whether the responsibilities and obligations entailed by hegemonic power might themselves impose burdens that would hurt the North American economy, unnecessarily augment the military establishment, poison the political atmosphere, and undermine its democratic system. Paradoxically, the steps required to contain Soviet/communist power and forestall a garrison state might themselves lead the United States toward becoming a garrison state. President Truman if you had only listened to your instincts more and your evil advisors less. This can be considered a cautionary tale to presidents since Truman including our current one.


From → History

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