Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution Paperback – Unabridged, January 1, 1981
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As an American libertarian, Sutton believes in individualism, competition, and laissez-faire economics unfettered by governmental meddling. These values seem very American, and one might presume that those who prospered most under these conditions would be champions of these same values. But though lip service may be paid to the ideal of an economy unfettered by government intervention, it seems the tycoons of Wall Street see the world very differently.
“…it may be observed that both the extreme right and the extreme left of the conventional political spectrum are absolutely collectivist. The national socialist (for example, the fascist) and the international socialist (for example, the Communist) both recommend totalitarian politico-economic systems based on naked, unfettered political power and individual coercion. Both systems require monopoly control of society. While monopoly control of industries was once the objectives of J P Morgan and J D Rockefeller, by the late nineteenth century the inner sanctums of Wall Street understood that the most efficient way to gain an unchallenged monopoly was to ‘go political’ and make society go to work for the monopolists – under the name of the public good and the public interest.” P. 16
Whether it was in railroads or oil, the big tycoons learned that the surest way to maximize profits was through monopoly, and so they did their best to do away with competition. But an essential element to establishing and maintaining a monopoly was through influence of government. (In 1913 a private banking cartel was able to influence congress enough to establish the Federal Reserve, a privately held money monopoly.) Competition and democratic processes were obstacles to be overcome. The elite class, then, viewed economics and politics differently than the rest of us – and their perspective was not one they cared to be honest about.
“Consequently, one barrier to mature understanding of recent history is the notion that all capitalists are the bitter and unswerving enemies of Marxists and socialists…. In fact, the idea is nonsense. There has been a continuing, albeit concealed, alliance between international political capitalists and international revolutionary socialists – to their mutual benefit. This alliance has gone unobserved largely because historians – with a few notable exceptions – have an unconscious Marxian bias and are thus locked into the impossibility of any such alliance existing. The open-minded reader should bear two clues in mind: monopoly capitalists are the bitter enemies of laissez-faire entrepreneurs; and, given the weaknesses of socialist central planning, the totalitarian socialist state is a perfect captive market for monopoly capitalists, if an alliance can be made with the socialist pawnbrokers. Suppose – and it is only hypothesis at this point – that American monopoly capitalists were able to reduce a planned socialist Russia to the status of a captive technical colony? Would not this be the logical twentieth-century internationalist extension of the Morgan railroad monopolies and the Rockefeller petroleum trust on the late nineteenth century?” P. 17
This is the context Sutton provides for understanding the underwriting of the Bolshevik Revolution by Wall Street financiers in 1917. He presents astounding assertions, but with strong evidence. And his evidence is very detailed. He doesn’t just summarize his findings in a historical narrative, but often has you reading original cables, letters, committee transcripts, and the like. Because of the sensitive nature of much of the evidence, it is amazing he has been able to uncover what he has. There were people in high places who would want to see these sorts of things suppressed, after all.
What was it that motivated Wall Street financiers to become involved in the Russian revolution? Sutton examines the role of William Boyce Thompson, Federal Reserve Bank director who went to Russia in 1917.
“From the total picture we can deduce that Thompson’s motives were primarily financial and commercial. Specifically, Thompson was interested in the Russian market, and how this market could be influenced, diverted, and captured for postwar exploitation by a Wall Street syndicate, or syndicates. Certainly Thompson viewed Germany as an enemy, but less a political enemy than an economic or a commercial enemy. German industry and German banking were the real enemy. To outwit Germany, Thompson was willing to place seed money on any political power vehicle that would achieve his objective. In other words, Thompson was an American imperialist fighting against German imperialism…” P. 97
Germany, at war with Russia at the time, also tried to influence the revolution. It is well established that the German government financed and organized “the return to Russia of Lenin and his party of exiled Bolsheviks, followed a few weeks later by a party of Mensheviks…” The dual German objectives were “(a) removal of Russia from the war, and (b) control of the postwar Russian market.” P. 169
Wall Street’s motivation for involvement in the Bolshevik Revolution had less to do than Germany’s as to the outcome of the world war, and more to do with the postwar Russian market.
“Russia was then – and is today – the largest untapped market in the world. Moreover, Russia, then and now, constituted the greatest potential competitive threat to American industrial and financial supremacy.” P. 172
“In the late nineteenth century, Morgan, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim had demonstrated their monopolistic proclivities. In Railroads and Regulation 1877-1916 Gabriel Kolko has demonstrated how the railroad owners, not the farmers, wanted state control of railroads in order to preserve their monopoly and abolish competition. So the simplest explanation of our evidence is that a syndicate of Wall Street financiers enlarged their monopoly ambitions and broadened horizons on a global scale.”
“In other words, we are suggesting that the Bolshevik Revolution was an alliance of statists; statist revolutionaries and statist financiers aligned against the genuine revolutionary libertarian elements in Russia.” P. 173
“The question now in the readers’ mind must be, were these bankers also secret Bolsheviks? No, of course not. The financiers were without ideology. It would be a gross misinterpretation to assume that assistance for the Bolsheviks was ideologically motivated in any narrow sense. The financiers were power-motivated and therefore assisted any political vehicle that would give them an entrée to power: Trotsky, Lenin, the tsar, Kolchak, Denikin – all received aid, more or less. All, that is, but those who wanted a truly free individualistic society.” P. 173-4
Money is power, and power corrupts. In reading this volume, as well as the other two books in the trilogy, Wall Street and FDR and Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, the reader obtains a view of the profound influence big money has had on modern history. The big money players are without ideology, and without morals. The influence of big money continues to this day, and Sutton is the rare author who shows it to us for what it is.
Top international reviews
In this meticulously researched work [the author draws on numerous cables and unclassified documents and provides copious footnotes] Sutton explains how American capitalists financed the Bolshevik putsch and supported the formation of the Soviet Union. This, he argues, they did for commercial and not ideological reasons. Their overall motivation was the capturing of the post-WW1 Russian market, then as now, the largest untapped market in the world. Their decision to support Bolshevism was apolitical and amoral. The mercenary businessmen of Wall Street recognised early on that, because of the arrested development inherent in socialistic, planned economies they are, essentially, a captive market for capitalistic big business to exploit at their leisure. Also, as Sutton points out, Bolshevists and bankers also share significant common ground – internationalism. Revolution and international finance are not at all inconsistent if the result of revolution is to establish more centralised authority as international finance prefers to deal with central governments.
Forty-four years after the book’s publication and sixteen years after the author’s death, this pernicious international alliance of big business and big government now has the world in its collectivist grip and is crushing freedom and democracy everywhere. According to Sutton, the only solution to prevent this collectivisation of humanity is that "a majority of individuals declares or acts as if it wants nothing from government, declares it will look after its own welfare and interests" and/or "a majority finds the moral courage and the internal fortitude to reject the something-for-nothing con game and replace it by voluntary associations, voluntary communes, or local rule and decentralized societies."
Antony Sutton was born in London in 1925 and is the author of 25 books, the most notorious books published are Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler & Wall Street and FDR, both published in 1976. Sutton was educated at the University of London, California and Gottingen. Sutton dedicates Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution to the hundreds of thousands of Green soldiers, who in 1919 fought against the Reds and the Whites for a free Russia.
This book was first published in 1974, since the whole book has been published online and is free to access. A quick Google search will take you to the website. I am however glad that I have a copy in my library.
The very first picture in the book is a cartoon from Robert Minor in St Louis Post-Dispatch of Karl Marx surrounded by Wall Street bankers, including John D Rockefeller, John D Ryan of the National City Bank, J.P. Morgan and George W Perkins.
The first chapter starts off with a quote from William Lawrence Saunders (Chairman, Ingersoll-Rand Corp; director of American International Corp & deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank). Saunders states that he is in support of the Soviet form of Government; this was in a letter sent to President Woodrow Wilson.
After the first chapter, it is very hard to put the book down. Sutton uses a whole range of sources from State Department records in the USA and United Kingdom, biographies and diaries to tell us a shocking story.
This book also goes into great detail on the Red Cross Mission to Russia in 1917, which had more bankers and financiers than doctors. The book also goes into a good bit of detail on William Thompson, who was New York Fed Director. He was in the city of Petrograd from July 1917 until November 1917, where he raised $1Million for the Bolsheviks "for the purpose of spreading their doctrine in Germany and Austria" (Washington Post, February 2, 1918).Sutton also shows us how the Wall Street bankers did business with the Communists at 120 Broadway.
The main reason Wall Street Bankers and corporations supported and funded the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, was to destroy Russia as a future economic force and turn Russia into a "a captive market" that was to be exploited by the greedy, fat cat money barons.
I could write a review on this book all day long, but I do recommend this book to all of those who have a genuine interest in economic history. 5 stars from me!
Antony Sutton explique l'ensemble de ces connexions entre les entreprises de Wall Street et les personnages clés ayant amené la révolution bolchévique à éclater, par le fait que les entreprises de Wall Street ont pour objectif de s'implanter dans le marché soviétique afin d'exploiter commercialement la Russie. Cette implantation s'effectuera notamment au travers de l'American International Corporation qui est une organisation regroupant en premier lieu les intérêts de J.P. Morgan, de James Stillman le président de la National City Bank of New York, et des Rockefeller. D'ailleurs ces financements ont été annoncés par Lénine lui-même, avant le dixième Congrès du Parti Communiste Russe du 10 mars 1921, comme étant une nécessité tant la situation économique du pays était catastrophique et que le système ne pouvait perdurer sans ces fonds. "Without the assistance of capital it will be impossible for us to retain proletarian power in an incredibly ruined country in which the peasantry, also ruined, constitutes the overwhelming majority -- and, of course, for this assistance capital will squeeze hundreds per cent out of us. This is what we have to understand. Hence, either this type of economic relations or nothing ...".
Suite à l'ensemble des faits exposés par l'auteur sur l'implication d'un pouvoir économique et politique, américain notamment, pour promouvoir intentionnellement la révolution bolchevique, Antony Sutton a surtout voulu expliquer les moyens dont jouissaient les entreprises de Wall Street pour mettre en place cette révolution. Ces entreprises ont en effet, d'après les travaux de l'auteur, provoqué la révolution bolchevique par l'intermédiaire de certaines sphères des pouvoirs politiques et économiques. Antony Sutton a également voulu explorer la théorie selon laquelle Trotsky était un élément clé pour faire naître cette révolution, et qu'il ne fut en fin de compte qu'une création de certaines entreprises de Wall Street, dans le sens ou sans leur soutien, Trotsky n'aurait jamais pu avoir l'influence qu'il a eue pour faire éclater la révolution bolchevique. C'est le même cas pour Lénine qui fut financé par le gouvernement allemand. Au final ce sont les partis bolchéviques et menchéviques qui ont pu avoir autant d'importance grâce aux financements américains et allemands. L'auteur évoque enfin les intérêts qui ont poussé ces entreprises à vouloir faire naître cette révolution, qui sont des intérêts purement financiers en surface, du fait de l'opportunité de voir naître de nouveaux marchés. "The gigantic Russian market was to be converted into a captive market and a technical colony to be exploited by a few high-powered American financiers and the corporations under their control". De plus les financiers internationaux profiteront davantage d'un pouvoir centralisé et international afin de pouvoir négocier plus facilement avec le pouvoir en place, c'est ce que permet le communisme, notamment au travers de Trotsky qui est avant tout un internationaliste. Toutefois lorsque l'on met en relation l'influence dont jouit la sphère économique sur la sphère politique aux États-Unis notamment, il est envisageable d'évoquer l'hypothèse selon laquelle la révolution bolchevique avait également pour intérêt de permettre d'étendre cette domination sur le territoire russe. C'est tout du moins ce que va vouloir démontrer Antony Sutton sur l'ensemble de son oeuvre.