An extraordinary, detailed, well-referenced portrait of the United States oligarchy and its history at a crucial period in world history, on the eve of the Second World War.
IN THIS work we are not concerned with the methods, legal or illegal, by which the great American fortunes of today were created. These fortunes exist. Their potentialities for good or evil are not altered whether we accept Gustavus Meyers' account of their formation or whether we give credence to the late John D. Rockefeller's simple statement: "God gave me my money."
What this book purports to do is to furnish replies, naming names and quoting book, chapter, and verse, to two blunt questions: Who owns and controls these large fortunes today, and how are these for- tunes used? To answer this second question it is necessary, of course, to examine the role of great wealth in politics, industry, education, science, literature and the arts, journalism, social life and philanthropy.
The reader is warned that this work is not predicated on the premise of James W. Gerard, who in August, 1930, named fifty-nine men and women that, he said, "ran" America. In Mr. Gerard's list were many persons deemed by the author of slight importance, many of them merely secondary deputies of great wealth and some of them persons whom Mr. Gerard undoubtedly flattered by including in his select list. The factor determining the inclusion of persons in this narrative has at all times been pecuniary power, directly or indirectly manifested.
This work will consider incidentally the various arguments brought forward by the apologists of great fortunes. These arguments arc to the effect that huge fortunes are necessary so that industry may be financed; that the benefactions of great wealth permit advances in science, encourage writers and artists, etc.; that the lavish expenditures of wealthy persons "give employment" to many people; and that in any case these big fortunes are dissipated within a few generations.
More and more it is becoming plain that the major political and social problem of today and of the next decade centers about the taxa- tion of great wealth. It is hoped that this book, the first objective study of the general social role of great fortunes, will shed at least a modicum of light upon this paramount issue.