While later renaming it to "Soulcraft," based on a "pyramid" date, in 1936 W.D. Pelley intended to propel his "Siver Shirt" followers into positions of political authority. Spearheading this campaign was his own candidacy for president.
On the night of May 28, 1928 at his bungalow in Altadena, Pelley underwent a mystical experience that led him to focus his energies and writings on metaphysics.
While much of Pelley's later career calls into question the sincerity of many of his religious pronouncements, it is clear he underwent a life-changing conversion event that day.
In most of his writings Pelley, in an attempt to demonstrate how surprising his conversion was, downplays any prior experience with spiritualism. However, furtive references to pre-1928 encounters with psychic phenomena do appear in some of his works. Pelley admits to communicating to his deceased brother-in-law through a ouija board in 1925 and reading a work on reincarnation by Sir Oliver Lodge. (1)
Lying naked on a marble slab, with two men in white uniforms attending to him. they told Pelley to neither be aftaid nor try to see everything in the first "seven minutes."
One of the white-clad individual, "William," explained to Pelley that he "went ovee, while stationed at a military camp in 1917.” He told Pelley that everyone has lived hundreds of times before, because earth is a classroom where souls learn and move up the spiritual hierarchy. This hierarchy accounts for human races, which are simply "great classifications of humanity epitomizing gradations of spiritual development, starting with the black man and proceeding upward in cycles to the white." (Pelley, Seven Minutes To Eternity p. 15)
Pelley decided that the "fleshpots" of Hollywood could not help him understand his metaphysical experience, so he traveled to New York to meet with friends there.
While crossing New Mexico by train, he underwent a second experience. As he was reading Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on the "Over Soul," a brilliant shaft of white light poured down on Pelley. A disembodied presence explained to Pelley that Jesus Christ was an "actual Personage."
In New York, Pelley met with his friend Mary Derieux, fiction editor for the American Magazine. Deeply immersed in spiritualism herself, Derieux excitedly joined Pelley in exploring his new powers. During the summer of 1928 they spent two weeks engaged in automatic writing.(2)
Within this universe there is no force but love; hatred and evil are merely the absence of love. These beings also explained to Pelley and Derieux that they dwelled on the "harmonious plane” (which is the next level above the earth) and communicated with certain earth-dwelling souls to promote love and harmony.
In the western esoteric tradition this view of evil is largely derived from Neoplatonism.
Plotinus argued that God emanated into all levels of reality, but his presence weakened the closer one came to the lowest depth of reality - the level of matter. In this bottom level his being (and purity) was no longer present, leaving matter evil. As man's divine spark was encased in a material skin, he was a participant in the process of evil. Accentuating the material side of being rather than the spiritual one, therefore, increased the evil one did.
As chair of the publications committee of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR), Derieux provided Pelley with entree into New York spiritualist circles. These contacts garnered Pelley exposure to current theories and writings on psychical research, and undoubtedly helped him develop his own ideas. Further, Pelley's account of visiting another plane made an immediate splash in the psychical community, as it placed him squarely within the debate over the most divisive spiritualist issue of the period - reincarnation.
Established in 1884 by, among others, physicist William Barrett and psychologist William James, the ASPR staggered through a tumultuous early career. Unlike the older English Society for Psychical Research, the ASPR faced chronic underfunding and a lack of full-time psychical researchers. Due to financial difficulties, the ASPR was absorbed by the English society in 1899, only to reappear as an independent organization in 1909, thanks primarily to the dynamic leadership of Columbia professor James Hervey Hyslop.
Although Hyslop died in 1920, the Society reached the pinnacle of its public success in the ensuing decade, propelled by vigorous researchers such as Walter F. Prince and Lamarckian psychologist William McDougall.
A spate of best-selling books, including Sir Oliver Lodge's Raymond and Baird T. Spaulding's five volume Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, successful speaking tours by Lodge, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, and the publicity surrounding annual international congresses helped push psychical research into the news spotlight. In the early 1920's even Thomas Edison became involved, spending parts of his final years working on a spiritual communication machine.
J.B. Rhine, in a lab at Duke University initially studied the question of life after death but, realizing the pitfalls of this line of inquiry, quickly restricted his focus to "corporeal parapsychical” material. (3)
Although never a member, Pelley found a great deal of interest in the debates swirling within the ASPP Society.
Paid $1500 for it Pelley's tale of travel to other planes appeared in the March 1929 issue of American, and Pelley's tale became one of the most widely read accounts of paranormal activity in American history. (4)
Pelley developed invaluable contacts within the New York spiritualist community, thanks to the "seven minutee' article and also garnered a positive review in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (XXIV, January 1930,35-38), which gained him attention among metaphysical researchers across the United States and England.
In New York Pelley made the acquaintance of trance medium George Wehner who established a name for himself in Hollywood by channeling messages from the spirit of Rudolph Valentino, who, while living, followed the advice of a spirit guide named "Meselope." Wehner often held seances in Pelley's apartment, where, allegedly, Valentino frequently materialized.
Pelley eventually began contacting many of these same people during his own sessions. While he claimed that Robert Louis Stevenson provided him with an unused chapter, Pelley asserted that Joseph Conrad clairaudiently dictated an entire novel to him.
Pelley posited that his clairaudient messages occasionally came to him in Sanskrit, and that the automatic writings flowed from him backwards, requiring a mirror to translate them. (5)
In the spring of 1930 Pelley decided to begin publishing his own magazine. Pelley's New Liberator, under the imprint of the Gallahad Press, appeared in May.
It accepted advertisements from organizations like the AMORC that blends Christianity with Kabbalism and Hermetic theories, with the ultimate goal of transcending material form.
The AMORC deserving an article series of his own soon on SESN was established by New York advertising man H. Spencer Lewis, and represents one of several Rosicrucian groups active in the United States. All of these groups claim that their teachings am based upon writings ascribed to the mythical seventeenth-century mystic Christian Rosenkreuz. Lewis, however, went on to posit that his organization's teachings actually dated from the reign of Thutmose III, circa 1500 B.C.
Lewis skillfully mixed in Theosophical elements to separate his version of Rosicrucianism from his competitors (completing a circle begun with Theosophy founder H. P. Blavatsky, who earlier swiped elements from European Rosicrucianism for her books on ‘Theosophy’).
During the 1930’s Lewis oriented much of his teachings toward the spiritualist mecca of Mount Shasta. His 1931 volume Lemuria: The Lost Continent of the Pacific placed the Atlantis myth in the Pacific Ocean, with Mount Shasta as the continent's highest peak and current home of cavern dwelling Lemurian surivivors. Lewis’s book however was freely borrowed from an earlier writer Selvius, "Descendants of Lemuria: A Description of an Ancient Cult in America."
In the mid-19th Century paleontologists coined the term 'Lemuria' to describe a hypothetical continent, bridging the Indian Ocean, which would have explained the migration of lemurs from Madagascar to India. Lemuria was a continent which submerged and was no longer to be seen. By the late 19th Century occult theories had developed, mostly through the theosophists, that the people of this lost continent of Lemuria were highly advanced beings. The location of the folklore 'Lemuria' changed over time to include much of the Pacific Ocean. In the 1880s a Siskiyou County, California, resident named Frederick Spencer Oliver wrote A Dweller on Two Planets, or, the Dividing of the Way which described a secret city inside of Mt. Shasta, and in passing mentioned Lemuria. Edgar Lucian Larkin, a writer and astronomer, wrote in 1913 an article in which he reviewed the Oliver book.
In 1925 Selvius wrote "Descendants of Lemuria: A Description of an Ancient Cult in America" which was published in the Mystic Triangle, Aug., 1925 and which was entirely about the mystic Lemurian village at Mt. Shasta. Selvius reported that Larkin had seen the Lemurian village through a telescope.
Although Pelley borrowed liberally from the AMORC in developing his own religious system, he later broke with Lewis and claimed the AMORC leader utilized Pelley's name without permission.
Another advertiser in Pelley’ periodical was Frank B. Robinson established Psychiana in 1929 after undergoing a conversion process while living in Hollywood. In an experience very similar to Pelley's "seven seconds."
Robinson's work mixed New Thought with Theosophy (he described himself as an "Adept"), and posited that God worked through an evolutionary process in which salvation is achieved through a developing relationship with the individual, bringing peace, happiness, and health through His cosmic powers. Robinson's heavy New Thought influence derived from intensive study of Robert Collier's work, particularly The Secret of the Ages. Like the AMORC, Psychicana was essentially a mail-order religion. Robinson utilized modem marketing techniques to spread knowledge of his organization (often placing ads in popular magazines with headlines such as I spoke to God!"), and estimated that more than one million people received information on his group by the end of the 1940's. (6)
The Atlantis myth as also in the case of split -of organizations from Theosophical Society like Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposphy for example, is popular with racist groups because it established a material and spiritual dominance of a white race over others since the beginning of time.
Also Pelley, borrowed the notion of ancient, advanced civilizations. According to Theosophical teachings Lemuria housed the third root-race (the first race to possess physical bodies, reproduce sexually, and bear responsibility for good and evil), while the fourth root-race, the last remnant of whom perished a few thousand years ago, called Atlantis home. The Atlantians are especially significant to Theosophists, because they were the alleged composers of the "Stanzas of Dyzan," the book of knowledge upon which all world religions were based."
Esoteric myths of superior ancient civilizations are generally tied to doctrines of the fall of man. These theories usually argue that some eleven thousand years ago a flood wiped out civilization, with survivors taking refuge in Iran, the Himalayas, Ethiopia, Peru, and the Rocky Mountains. The four great races (white, red, black and yellow) then began repopulating the world. The white race (from Iran and Central Asia) migrated and split into three branches: in Europe, where they forgot their ancient wisdom and regressed into crude cults; some moved cast and established India; and a third group who settled in the Mediterranean basin, assimilated with other races, and established Assyria. and Egypt. For groups like the Theosophists the goal was to reintroduce the "Secret Doctrine" preserved in the east to western whites.
For Pelley tangible proof of the existence of these ancient civilizations could be found by studying the time-tine preserved in the Great Pyramid of Giza. ‘Egyptososphists’ believed the passageway from the pyramid's entrance to the king's chamber is a prophetic account of the history of humanity.
Utilizing this measurement, some Egyptososphists determined that the time-line runs from. 2624 B. C. to 2001 A.D. For most of its course the time-line is one inch per year, but, at the year 1909, it becomes one inch per month, thereby giving even more specific prophetic messages. Although pyramidism reaches back into the nineteenth century, Pelley developed his ideas on the matter from David Davidson who claimed that May 29, 1928, represented a significant date in human history. This, of course, was the night of Pelley's "seven minutes in eternity."(7)
Following this lead, Pelley promoted the idea that this date began the "Time of Tribulation," which would end on September 16,1936. Pelley placed great significance upon these dates as well as several other "pyramid dates," such as January 31, 1933 (the day Hitler took power), August 20, 1953 (the potential end of the Piscean Age), and September 17, 2001 (the end of the pyramid time-line, which Pelley believed denoted the date of the Second Coming).(8)
Throughout his career, Pelley steadfastly maintained his belief in the imminent return of Christ. Currently (7 August 2003) a former student of Alice Bailey Benjamin Crème, continues to claim since more then 20 years that Christ as Bodhisattva Maitreya is to appear any day on TV. Other groups quite apart from Arcane School, are Meditation Mount in southern California, others have set up their own "triangle groups" and "full moon meditation" and might ore might not believe in Crème’s claims of Maitreya.
Anthroposophists instead believed that Rudolf Steiner was the Bodhisattva /Maitreya (see Karl-Heinrich Meyer-Uhlenried, Rudolf Steiner und die Bodhisattva-Frage, 1994) , but then some Anthroposohists claimed it was Tomberg, who wrote meditations on the Tarot. As a result pro- and anti- Tomberg books among Antroposophists to date remain very heated.
The leading anti-Tomberg writer for the Anthrosophical Society is Sergej O. Prokofieff, who recently ‘revealed’ that Tomberg in fact had contacts to “French Occultists like Papus”…
Theosophists of course claimed the Bodhisattva /Maitreya was already there in the form of Krishnamurti until he abdicated.
Bolstering his theories with astrological "evidence," Pelley posited that the rapidly closing Piscean Age and impending dawn of the Age of Aquarius heralded the Second Coming.
Like another writers also claimed in regards to Annie Besant, a pre-millenialist strain of millenarianism seem to have ran through Pelley's career.
Pre-millenialists hold that Chrisfs return will precede the creation of the millennium, or Kingdom of God, and he will personally rule the earth for a thousand years. Premillenialists, then, stress both immediate personal purification and vigorous proselytizing to prepare for Christ's immanent return. Typically less emotionally charged in their rhetoric, post-millenialists believe Christ's Second Coming will occur only after godly men establish a thousand years of paradise on earth to welcome his return. Given his increasing concern over the condition of human society, it is not surprising that Pelley, troubled by changing social mores and economic dislocation, adopted the pessimistic, premillenarian version of millennialism, which holds that conditions on earth will become increasingly nightmarish before Christ's return.
There was a strong linkage between ‘Egyptosophy’ and Anglo-Israelism.
But unlike Israelism in the nineteenth century, which developed into the racist Christian Identity movement of the twentieth. Pelley, never was a fan of the British people and refused to acknowledge that the lost tribes of Israel ended up in the British isles.
But a few of Pelley's former followers helped to develop Identity doctrine, which substitutes the "Two Seed Doctrine" for the pre-Adamite theory of the British-Israelites. Rather than claiming God that created non-white races before Adam and Eve, Identity followers argue that Satan, posing as the serpent, seduced Eve, producing Cain (while Abet was the son of Adam). Cain then married a "pre-Adamite," thereby starting the satanic seedline (of which, Identity theories posit, Jews belong), while Abel began the godly, white, "Adamic" line. Pelley, had little use for such theories, particularly as they ran counter to his "three caste” system of humanity.
And despite Pelley's objections to Anglo-Israelism, the Los Angeles Silver Shirt branches had numerous members.
Pelley's apocalyptic faith helped propel his attacks on existing churches. His constant claims that early church fathers corrupted the true teachings of Christ underpinned his assaults on faulty belief systems and ecclesiastical structures. Fearing the immanent return of Christ, Pelley felt compelled to exhort Christians to turn their backs on these ungodly churches and follow the righteous path.
Pelley believed the worsening conditions around him demonstrated the ever-present existence of the Antichrist. Like most millenarians, Pelley inhabited a world of absolutes, in which compromise equated with damnation. Pelley's writings during the Liberation period frequently referred to a world in which the forces of Christ squared off with the minions of the Antichrist over the soul of humanity. Although Pelley later equated Jews, Communists, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Bernard Baruch with the Antichrist, his Liberation writings got no more specific than pitting the "Sons of Light" against "Dark Souls."
Pclley's Egyptosophical beliefs undergirded his millenarian views. He believed that, according to the Great Pyramid, the "Time of Tribulation" would end in 1936 (although the current depression would not abate until the mid l960's) and be followed by a period, ending in 1953, in which Christ's faithful servants received protection from the forces of evil. To Pelley the end of the pyramid's time-line held only one possible meaning: the dawn of the Age of Aquarius inaugurated by Christ's Second Coming. After Christ's victory the forces of good could look forward to continued spiritual development and eventual immaterialism and godhood, while the "hosts of darkness" would descend into Everlasting Namelessness.
Pelley's dogged faith in the pyramid prophecy, however, raised something of a dilemma. With human history mapped out and the victory of the "Sons of Light" assured, vigorous attacks and calls for change seemed unnecessary. Liberation students needed only to continue their studies and wait. As with most of this type of Theosophical/New Age inconsistencies, Pelley chose to ignore this difficulty rather than drastically revamp his eschatology.
Throughout his public career Pelley always maintained a religious system to augment his political and economic teachings. He adopted different names for his theology and made minor alterations, but the basic beliefs remained unchanged. The Liberation doctrine served Pelley very well during the 1930's; it gave him a spiritual explanation for the evidence of tribulation he perceived around him.
Like the Theosophists who saw the next sub-race arriving (in Southern California) in 1932 Pelley began to explore the economic condition of America in the light of his religious beliefs. A truly profound development arose from Pelley's increased concern over secular affairs, and the shadowy -Dark Souls gradually gained Jewish faces.
Pelley's political writings from early in the decade exhibit his longstanding concerns over Communism, but do not explicitly refer to Jews. Still, these articles present the basic tenets of his anti-Semitic world view in embryonic form. Pelley warned Now Liberator Weekly readers that the "Dark Souls" were marshaling Communist forces, under the guise of "peaceful hunger and nonemployment" demonstrators, to march on American cities, thereby bringing the government to a standstill. These Communist elements worked in concert with "vast international financial groups" to control the economic and political life of the United States.
This strange combination of Communism and international finance remained a lynchpin of Pelley's political thought throughout the 1930's. He maintained that the Communist hordes were but the visible vanguard of the -money barons" who possessed the "Mark of the Beast." Beyond the inherent inconsistencies of linking two groups in obvious conflict, Pelley's reliance on William H. Schmaltz, Hate: George Lincoln Rockwell and the American Nazi Part., Pelley's business manager George Anderson clearly recognized the marginalization associated with open anti-Semitism. and warned Pelley to proceed with caution.
After reading Subversive Movements, 1924, by Nesta Webster who believed the five powers behind the world conspiracy were Grand Orient Masonry, Theosophy, Pan Germanism, international finance, and social revolution. Pelley asserted that he received a clairaudient message that he should create a paramilitary organization. Heeding this rather dubious inspiration, Pelley established the Silver Legion of America on January 31, 1932.
Pelley's decision to support Hitler most likely derived from a late 1932 meeting with Paul Lilienfield-Toal of the North German Lloyd shipping line. Lillienfield-Toal presciently predicted Hitler's swift rise to power and advised Pelley of this. Pelley maintained a long relationship with the German, who eventually became the Silver Shirt chiefs "foreign adjunct."
The creation of the Silver Legion benefited immensely from the prior establishment of Pelley's operations in North Carolina. He simply converted his spiritualist organization into a paramilitary political group with religious underpinnings. Pelley dissolved the League for the Liberation, Galahad College became the Liberation Fellowship, and New Liberator Weekly became Liberation, the official organ of the Silver Legion. Pelley's new publication was subsequently dubbed "the most pro-Nazi and racist publication in the United States.
Pelley, throughout the 1930's, loudly trumpeted his claim to being Hitler's first American follower. While Pelley did slightly precede a host of other American right wingers in establishing organizations, the pro-Nazi Teutonia Society, with a membership consisting predominantly of German nationals, was established here in 1925. The Society eventually changed its name to the National Socialist Labor Party of Germany in America, dissolved in April 1933, and served as the institutional framework for the far more successful League of Friends of New Germany.(9)
To generate the Legion's initial membership Pelley bombarded his mailing list with announcements concerning the new group. He attempted to convince these followers that the Legion represented merely a more active, militant version of the League for the Liberation. Pelley maintained that the Legion would maintain the religious teachings of the League, but the addition of open anti Semitism to the prior group's esoteric Christianity alienated many supporters. Fortunately for Pelley, the remnants of the League provided enough support to continue Legion operations until new followers began joining.
As with the earlier League for the Liberation, Pelley outlined a grandiose plan for the Silver Legion. The Legion was to be headed by the national cornmander (Pelley), treasurer, and secretary. Pelley was to be assisted by the General Staff, consisting of the chief, the chamberlain, the quartermaster, the sheriff, and the censor. Elected for ten year terms, the General Staff possessed the authority to appoint Divisional Executive and Local Executive Staffs. The Legion maintained its headquarters in Asheville and divided administrative duties, handled by the Divisional Executive Staff (DES), into nine Divisions. Each DES was presided over by a Divisional Commanding Officer, assisted by a treasurer and clerk.
In anticipation of the Legion serving as the foundation of a new theocratic state, Pelley also created Departments to handle specific issues. Although answerable to officials at the national headquarters, each Division maintained Departments of Local Posts, Silver Rangers, Industrial Relations, Junior Activities, and Foreign Affiliates. The Silver Rangers, consisting of a paramilitary bands of one-hundred "actionists," would, in particular, cause Pelley future difficulties.'
Membership in the Legion was open to all non-Jews and blacks over the age of eighteen who could afford the $10 annual dues. Prospective members submitted a photograph and personal information including racial heritage, military experience, financial records, and the exact hour and minute of their birth to the Legion, and signed a document agreeing to abide by the organization's principles. These "Christian American Patriots" pledged to respect and sustain the sanctity of the Christian Ideal, to nurture the moral tradition in Civic, Domestic and Spiritual life and the culture of the wholesome, natural and inspirational in Art, Literature, Music and Drama; to adulate and revere an aristocracy of Intellect, Talent and Characterful Purpose in the Body Politic; to organizational plan for his contact with local members.
Due to their distinctive uniforms, Legion members became known to friend and foe alike as the Silver Shirts. Their outfits consisted of leggings, blue corduroy pants, a tie with the individual's personal membership number stamped on it, and a silver shirt with a scarlet "L" stitched to the breast. The "L" signified love, loyalty, and liberation. The letter was also found on the Legion's otherwise solid white flag. The adoption of a uniform and name specified by color of attire was a conscious decision on Pelley's part to connect his organization to the Nazi and fascist "shirt" movements in Europe - a connection his critics quickly latched upon.(10)
New recruits attended nine weekly indoctrination meetings. Local Councils of Safety directed die proceedings at these meetings. The recruits No More Hunger detailed Pelley's program for establishing the Christian Commonwealth. With moderate alteration, Pelley maintained this governmental plan, like his religious system, throughout his public career. The Commonwealth, then, should be considered, along with the Liberation/Soulcraft doctrine, one of the twin pillars of Pelley's thought. He never let the book go out of print during his lifetime, and claimed it sold over 80,000 copies by the early 19501s
Pelley claimed that the Commonwealth was "a social system that is neither Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism, or Communism." In fact, the Commonwealth blended elements of all these ideas into a composite not unlike the ideas expressed The system meshed a theocratic, corporate state, centralized production control of government-owned industry, and civilservice-style employment protection with private ownership of personal property and an all-encompassing social welfare program.
To assuage fears that he planned to overthrow the government (concerns easily deduced from his other writings), Pelley staunchly maintained that the Commonwealth was consistent with the Constitution. Pelley claimed that the sheer nationality of the Commonwealth made its benefits obvious to all Christian Americans. Once all gained knowledge of the plan, it could be put into effect immediately and without "physical violence." According to Pelley, the plan was economic, not political. Therefore, all current political structures and offices would continue to exist. Only those involved in the "present Moscow-inspired federal bureaucracy" need fear losing their jobs.
Just like it is difficult the pin a specific generic name on esoteric tradition and neo-New Age groups today, the same is with Pelley and like-minded. Some have called them national radical revolutionary, quasifascists, counter-subversives, Old Christian Right, but SESN will call these particular branch of New Age groups from now on ‘fascist’ rather than ‘Nazi’.
In the USA during the WWII period, only the National Liberty Party was advocating genocide, Pelley and related groups where like the Italian term, with its more muted form of, anti-Semitism. Donnell Portzline found the Silver Shirts to be little more than a carbon copy of European fascism and liberally applied that label to the group. John Werly, dubbed them "millenarian rightist.”
Pelley was happy to use the word "Nazi" however. For a period the masthead of Weekly Liberation read: "Washington was a Fascist because he led an insurrection against tyranny, and Lincoln was a Nazi because his issue of greenbacks smashed the control of Jewish financiers."
While Pelley's support for Lincoln (his "patron saint) seems odd, it actually is a logical development of his world-view. He believed Lincoln should be celebrated not only for smashing the "Jewishs bankers”, but also for freeing the slaves who could then move to segregated communities or repatriate to Africa, thereby eliminating the spiritual damage done to whites forced to live among them.
To Pelley, then, Lincoln's actions were laudable; it was the policies of Reconstruction that were appalling.
The inability of the federal government to answer the challenges of the Great Depression left many Americans frustrated and open to previously marginalized political ideologies. Seeming to offer both solutions to the grinding impoverishment of the Depression it was convenient to cause scapegoats (Jews, liberals, Communists).
American right-wingers formulated emotional appeals calculated to attract the disgruntled and dispossessed. Pelley and a host of organizations played upon the fears of Americans with surprising success.
Theses factors melded with the strong nativist impulse of the previous decade and older remnants of Populist rhetoric decrying the power of "Wall Street” bankers and international financiers to creme a contingent of domestic
Morris Schonbach noted that the emotionally well adjusted rarely joined domestic proto-fascist groups. Rather, typical followers were "nihilistic, cynical, and harsh, with religious-proudiced overtones.” (Schonbach, Native American Fascism During the 1930s and 1940s.- A Study off its Roots, 1985, 22.)
The massive economic upheaval of the 1930's made the rise of American fascism possible. Interesting also now (Aug.10,2003) with irrational beliefs in the US on the rise, interesting similar to 1933 unemployment is also on the rise today.
With President Herbert Hoover seemingly unable (this might not be the case with Bush) to address the nation's difficulties, radical alternatives to democracy and capitalism offered extraordinary solutions to extraordinary difficulties.
The groundswell of support for extremists at both ends of the political spectrum demonstrated by a rise in populist leader with even the now elderly, Lyndon la Rouche, running for president in 2004.
Conservative Americans looked aghast at the wave of "hunger riots" during 1930-31 and the "Bonus Army" encamped in and around the national capital during the spring and summer of 1932. Reports of Communist support for these incidents heightened fears of a left-wing threat and rekindled memories of the unrest resulting in the postwar Red Scare. Rumors of Communist direct action might frighten, but they could be disputed.
Extremists on the right, however, pointed to electoral gains as factual indicators of the -red menace. By 1930 Socialist candidates began achieving significant success in municipal and state elections and ended a decade-long decline in their popular support. In the 1932 presidential election the Socialist and Communist presidential candidates together garnered almost one million votes. That was a small fraction of the number cast for Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, but the significant gains over left-wing candidates' 1928 results provided fodder for right-wingers looking for evidence of a Communist insurgency. The government's official recognition of the Soviet regime in 1934 and "socialist” New Deal policies only buoyed support for these claims.
Benito Mussolini's successes in Italy and Adolf Hitler's startling ascension to power in Germany served as models for American extremists with delusions of grandeur. Their images as uniformed autocrats reorganizing their nations with martial spirit fed the ambitions of men such as Pelley, who saw themselves as potential leaders of a reformed United States. Also, the European dictators' hatred of Communism (and Hitler's explicit anti-Semitism) made them heroes to much of the American right.
The development of American fascism was aided by the establishment of domestic organizations supported by Italy and Germany. In 1925 both the Fascist League of North America and the National Association of Teutonia were established in the United States. While the Italian-backed organization struggled to build a base of support in the 1920's and staggered toward inconsequentiality during the 1938’s, the Teutonia Society served as the launching pad for a series of increasingly successful Nazi-oriented groups in the USA.
In 1932 those belonging to the Teutonia Society automatically became charter members of the American branch of the German Nazi party, headed by Heinz Spanknoebel. See Leonard Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America, 1994, 112-113. And or a statistical analysis of how right-wing extremists exaggerated the Communist threat in America, see “Organized Anti-Semitism in America”, 17-20, by Strong.
Due to concerns over the potential protests arising from the creation of an official political party in the United States, the group was reorganized in the summer of 1933 and renamed the Association of the Friends of the New Germany.
A subsequent shake-up gave the group its most famous name, the Amerikadeutscher Volksbund (German American Bund). The Bund served as a conduit between Nazi Germany and American right-wingers throughout the decade. Most domestic fascists, including Pelley, had connections to the Bund, and almost all gave the group.
While Hitler's rise to the chancellorship in 1933 spurred a number of individuals to organize, several of the leading domestic extremists of the 1930's had already established religious, economic, or political groups during the preceding decade. In 1925 Elmer Garner began publishing his anti-Semitic newspaper the Malvern Review and Gerald Winrod founded his Defenders of the Christian Faith.
Two years later "espionage expert" Harry A. Jung of Chicago established the American Vigilant Intelligence Federation, an ostensibly private security outfit that specialized in attacking "Jewish-Bolshewist” trade unions. By the dawn of the 1930's the nation was littered with right wing groups such as the American Patriots, the Paul Reveres, and the Crusaders for Economic Liberty (the White Shirts) -organizations that used Hitler as a signat to ignite their own antidemocratic, anti-Semitic campaigns in the US.
One of the more interesting domestic extremist groups, the Paul Reveres were incorporated in 1932 by Edwin Marshall Hadley and the infamous "Mrs." Elizabeth Dilling. Although their politics were no less extreme or paranoid that organizations like the Silver Shirts, the Reveres focused their energies on attracting the wealthy and well-bred. The group's members were highly educated, highly visible professionals. Dilling is best remembered for her book “The Red Network-- A Who's Who” and “Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots” , 1934.
Thus the spring of 1933 saw the creation not just of the Silver Shirts but also the White, Blue, and Khaki Shirts and the refocusing of older groups such as the Anglo-Saxon Federation, the Industrial Defense Association of Edward Hunter, and Winrod's Christian Defenders. By the end of that year more than one hundred domestic fascist groups were vying for attention.
Pelley developed connections to a number of these extremist groups. He cultivated relationships with, among others, C. Leon de Aryan of The Broom magazine, American White Guard leader Henry D. Allen, Gerald Winrod, Gerald L.K. Smith, Colonel Edward Emerson, Harry Jung, James True, Royal Scott.
C. Leon de Aryan is chiefly remembered for his campaign to write in Jesus Christ for president in 1952.
Colonel Emerson and Royal Gulden served as go-betweens for Nazi agencies and domestic anti-Semites. Gerald Winrod, the "'Wichita Fuebrer," published the anti-Communist, anti-New Deal magazine “ Defender.”
James True who edited his own newsletter carried ads for his "kike killer," a modified billy club. True actually received patents for two different sizes of the device. The smaller version of the "killer" was to be used on women. By the end of the decade True was so paranoid that had the phone taken out of his office and he kept the doors locked at all times, having his mail hurled through the transom. (see Stanley High, "Star-Spangled Fascists," Saturday Evening Post, May 27, 1939)
The Anglo Saxon Federation (currently based in Haverhill, Massachusetts), although totally unassociated with Pelley, promoted a very similar world-view as the Silver Shirt chief. The Federation was organized by W.J. Cameron, former editor of Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent, and Howard Rand, also an Egyptosophist. (Archeologists the past decade when books by Robert Bauval, Hancock, and followers started to become popular called them less graciously ‘Pyramidiots’, we find this unfair as most of them are not idiots, SESN therefore like fascists in stead of ‘Nazi’, uses the term Egyptosophist today)
Pelley's relations with domestic extremists suffered a blow when they refused to back the Union party in 1936 and ran for president on his own Christian party ticket. (See Suzanne G. Ledeboer, "The Man Who Would Be Hitler" California History, VI, June 1986, 133.)
For his part, Winrod frequently assailed spiritualism and Theocracy and attacked Pelley because of his involvement in those movements.
Early in their existence the Silver Shirts received substantial financial backing from, among others, Marie Ogden and Doctor John R. Brinkley. Ogden ran the "Home of Truth" cult in Dry Valley, Utah. She gained national attention for claiming to be the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. Ogden later faced legal difficulties when authorities discovered she had kept the corpse of a deceased follower in her home for a year while trying to revive him. A similar occurrence has been reported on SESN to have taken place earlier in 2003.
Brinkley made a fortune, and made an abortive attempt to create a political machine in Kansas, selling goat-gland treatments and surgeries to impotent men.
Dubbing Pelley "a mysterious demagogue who promises to ennoble," some writers linked him with obvious frauds as Art J. Smith of the Khaki Shirts, his group fell apart after an abortive march on Washington in October 1933.
Despite Pelley's vocal championing of Hitler in early 1933, the Silver Shirts had no sustained contact with Nazi Germany until the middle of the decade.
While Pelley's reputation among rightists may have improved by celebrating and imitating Hitler, it also gained the attention of the authorities. Concerned over these purported linkages between domestic fascists and Nazi Germany, various state and federal governmental agencies began investigating American extremists in 1934.
Conflicting figures developed from the proliferation of extremist organizations and fascist leaders purposefully inflating membership numbers to appear stronger. Many of these new groups were of the "one member and a postal box" variety, and weeding them out from those with legitimate memberships proved difficult. As a result, reporters surveying this hazy landscape arrived at wildly disparate figures. Some investigators put the total number of domestic proto-fitscist groups at no more than 100, while others cited more than 800. (see Britt, The Fifth Column Is Here, 1940, 117)
Determining who joined these groups also proved problematic. Many commentators at the time believed that the extremist groups attracted followers just as disturbed as the leadership. Unwilling to concede that educated Americans might turn to anti-Semitism and authoritarianism, reporters, with little or no evidence, posited that proto-fascist followers were drawn from among the urban lower class and criminal elements. More recent scholarship places most members in the middle socio economic class, with a smaller proportion drawn from the lower class and an even smaller percentage from professional trades.
The most comprehensive study of national Silver Shirt membership was undertaken by John Werly. Although Pelley dreamed of "a million Silver Shirts by 1939," total membership figures never approached that lofty number. The best estimates are that the group had approximately 15,000 members in 1934-35. Additionally, the Silver Shirts had an estimated 75,000 non-affiliated sympathizers. At its zenith, then, the Silver Shirt Legion was among the largest of the militant domestic extremist groups and only slightly smaller than the Bund America (which reached a membership of 25,000).
Counting for the fact that the population in the US has more then tripled since that time, about 3-4 times the above amount would reflect a current perspective.
While Pelley's membership paled in comparison to the number of followers attracted by Coughlin and Winrod, his actionised cadre provided a far more visible threat than the "passive" supporters of those two theologians. As one commentator noted, the Silver Shirt Legion was the "most vocal, most wild-eyed, and in some ways most dangerous" of all extremist groups.,,
Studying surnames on membership rolls, Werly determined that British and German names predominated, ans nationally the group had almost equal numbers drawn from the lower and middle classes. Approximately 15 percent of members came to the Legion from professional backgrounds (most of these were physicians). Eighteen percent were women, who were allowed to attend regular Legion meetings. (Werly, "The Millenarian Right" 219-220)
While Pelley claimed Silver Shirt branches in all 48 states, this statement is no more accurate than his membership figures. By late spring 1933 there were branches in twelve states. Eventually more or less active units organized in twenty-two states. However, membership was not evenly distributed among the states. The Silver Shirts were found predominantly in the midwest (primazily Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania) and in the far west (Washington and California).
While membership tolls are non-existent for most local midwest branches, newspaper accounts of mass meetings attracting 100-300 people are common. In his study of Pennsylvania right-wingers, Philip Jenkins estimated 2,000 active members in a variety of extremist groups in the Philadelphia area alone, with 20,000 less-involved supporters.
The Silver Shirts were helped immeasurably in Pennsylvania by the presence of Paul Lillienfield Toal and Louis T. McFadden in that state. Pelley's "foreign adjunct," Lillienfield-Toal, an exiled Estonian aristocrat, worked for the North German Lloyd shipping line in Philadelphia. He helped the nascent Silver Shirt movement gain entre into German American circles.
The Silver Shirt Legion in the Pacific northwest has been studied in more detail. Karen Hoppes found 1,600 members spread throughout twenty-six local branches in Washington state. While some of the local units had only ten active members, those in larger, urban areas attracted more than 400 active members. Hoppes found the membership in the Evergreen state, like that nationally, divided almost equally between the middle class and manual laborers. The Washington unit was among the largest in any single state and highly organized (with its base at the Silver Lodge in Redmond).
See Karen Hoppes, "William Dudley Pelley and the Silvershirt Legion”,Ph.D. dissertation, City University of New York, 1992.
Pelley was very proud of his Washington branch and found much common ground with McFadden and the two developed a deep friendship. He also reprinted the Congressman's speeches in Liberation. To this day McFadden remains in the pantheon of Congressional heroes for the antiSemitic right.
Pelley however found it difficult to recruit former Ku Klux Klansmen or coordinate activities with that organization because he did not share the Klan's anti-Catholic stance.
Of all the large state organizations, California created the most problems for Pelley. The first Silver Shirt branch opened in Los Angeles in 1933 and met with surprising initial success, with statewide membership reaching a peak mid 1934 of 3,000.
Pelley was so pleased with the progress in southern California that in February 1934 he moved the Silver Ranger, his newest magazine, from Oklahoma City (which had become the organization's "second head quarter’s to Los Angeles. That city eventually housed six different local branches.
This concentration of units in one city, the most in the country, allowed Pelley to organize the branches with specializations. For example, there was an L.A. branch for those most interested in Pelley's religious system (the astrologyminded Nazi William Kullgren was associated with this group) and another unit for the "actionists," headed by "Captain" Eugene Case."
However in 1934 Case and a few of his closest followers incorporated their own Silver Legion of America, California, Inc. While Case made this move to avoid sending money generated by the California branch back to Pelley, he claimed it was an attempt to thwart a Jewish takeover of Pelley's organization. Case quickly reconstituted the Silver Ranger as his own publication and sank deeply into debt Pelley eventually bought out Case and his associates by assuming their debts and restarted it.
While the Los Angeles branches created internal strife for Pelley and his organization, the San Diego branch brought much larger complications down on the Silver Shirt chief The San Diego group leader, Willard Kemp, had little use for Pelley's esoteric writings and focused his members on preparing for armed struggle with Communist invaders.
Not content to wait for the Communists to strike first, the San Diego chief proposed a series of violent schemes to his followers. In anticipation of bloodshed, Kemp armed his 200 followers with rifles allegedly bought illegally from unscrupulous attendants at the North Island Naval Base armory and drilled them at a heavily fortified ranch near El Cajon. To insure that his men were ready for action, Kemp hired two U.S. Marine Corps drill instructors (Virgil Hayes and Edward T. Grey) to train his men in military tactics and offered to buy any stolen weapons the two could procure.
Kemp's indiscretions proved costly. Hayes and Grey reported Kemp's offer to their superiors, who instructed the two to infiltrate the Silver Shirts and report their flndings to Naval Intelligence. The two Marines and a number of Silver Shirts eventually testified about the San Diego unit's actions before an executive session of the Special House Congressional Subcommittee on UnAmerican Activities (the McCormick-Dickstein Committee) in August 1934.
The notoriety of the Silver Shirts, Pelley's increasing focus on political and economic matters at the expense of his religious teachings, and a general disillusionment following the "blue sky" trial pushed the remnants of the League out of Pelley's orbit. Most of these dissatisfied spiritualists joined the rapidly expanding Mighty I AM group.
The Blue Sky Trial proceedings lasted only thirteen days, and, as Pelley correctly noted, the jury of local farmers was clearly befuddled by him and by the prosecution's case. The testimony of disgruntled former Pelley business manager George Anderson, shed some light on the confusing business practices of his former boss but did far more service to the prosecution by painting a lurid picture of Pelley's character.
And although angered by what he perceived as the ignorance of the jury, Pelley took comfort in clairaudient messages he received from Christ that he would be protected from future Jewish persecutions and the fact that the court lifted the ban on his publishing career.
Pelley paid off his fine, by issuing a circular (which actually netted more than the $ 1000 needed).
Established by former Chicago fortuneteller Guy Ballard and his wife Edna, the Mighty I AM ( the "inner reality of the divine") achieved startling success during the 1930's. It melded Christian Science, Unity, Rosicrucianism, and Pelley's teachings (which they borrowed freely) with Theosophy.
In 1930 Guy Ballard claimed he met the legendary magician Comte de Saint Germain on Mount Shasta. But in reality Ballard swiped most of Helena Blavatsky's religious system placing St. Germain and Jesus Christ at the top of a pantheon of Ascended Masters. While Guy Ballard developed ideas from Theosophy (and a few meetings with Psychiana's Frank B. Robinson), Edna Ballard began holding esoteric classes based on material she lifted from Pelley's League for the Liberation writings. The attracted more than 6,000 devoted followers.
At the end of the nineteenth century, for those describing outer space travel (or contact), Venus replaced Mars as the most popular contact planet Reflecting this trend Blavatsky had, among her Masters, the "Lords of the Flame," who lived on Venus. An idea borrowed by Ballard to the utmost, and thus actually build a religion on “contact with extraterrestrials. Countless later contactee religions, including the Church Universal and Triumphant, Aetherius Society, and Astara Foundation plus many others, borrowed this idea.
Wiktor Stoczkowski so far wrote the best book pointing out the link between Theosophy and the Extraterrestial UFO myth today. Focusing among others on Erich von Daniken and later authors, he called it "The History of an Epidemic" in his book "Des homes des dieux et des extraterretres." (1999)
Guy Ballard's death in 1939 and a series of fraud trials against Edna, beginning the next year, spelled the end of their prominence. The I AM Foundation continues to this day, but only as a shadow of its former grandeur.
Their writings included references to "Christian Democracy:' citations of No More Hunger, and a decidedly Pelley-like, anti-New Deal, conservative political perspective. Part of the Ballards' appeal was the nationalist overtones of I AM doctrine. They argued that the Masters lived in the United States (primarily in the far west), that humanity began in America, and that this country would be the vessel of spiritual light. The Ballards; essentially filled the void (with admittedly much greater success) left by Pelley when he formed the Silver Shirts.
Their doctrine was almost interchangeable, and the Ballards promoted a pro-American, conservative agenda very similar to Pelley's pre-and-Semitic position.
As a tribute to Pelley, Guy Ballard, in his second book of I AM doctrine, even named a lesser Master "Pelleur." (See Donald Warren, Radio Priest. Charles Coughlin, 1996)
The Ballards attracted both rank-and-file League for the Liberation veterans and close Pelley associates. For example, Harry Sciber, the man who burned the Galahad Press's records in anticipation of the bankruptcy proceedings in the Blue Sky Trial, left his post as Silver Shirt treasurer in the wake of Pelley's trial to become the associate director of the St. Germain Activities.
Pelley’s legal difficulties and the resultant loss of followers fed Pelley's theories of a governmental conspiracy to silence true patriots and end free speech. Pelley argued that Roosevelt served as a tool of international "Jewish Bolshevism." Seeking to put a positive spin on his own problems with the authorities, Pelley posited that the attacks on him demonstrated that the government feared the Silver Shirts and hoped to eliminate them through the machinations of a corrupted legal system.
Pelley believed that most of the people involved in the New Deal were Jewish Communists, citing the figure of ‘2,500 Communists’ serving in New Deal agencies. ("Left wingers" in the USA however also leveled criticisms at Roosevelt's New Deal.)
Pelley scrutinized employee lists for individuals with Jewish sounding names in New Deal agencies, and when this failed, claimed that New Dealers' names were aliases.
Pelley posited that Roosevelt sought to create a dictatorship in the United States; the New Deal represented the heart of this Jew-backed plot. New Deal program - the National Industrial Recovery Act loomed large in Pelley's theory gave handouts to desperate Americans to make them both compliant and under government control. Those who rebelled against this program of dominance faced persecution by the courts and, if this quasi-legal method failed, darker ends at the hands of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Pelley, "Where We Stand," Liberation, V , September 9, 1933)
While Roosevelt was the "first Communist president," the influential financier Bernard Baruch was "the real leader of international Jewry in the western hemisphere." Pelley posited that the Communist conspiracy would eventually order Baruch to replace Roosevelt “another Kerensky", with an openly Jewish dictatorship. (Pelley, "Compare the Protocols and Roosevelt" )
Based upon his reading of pyramid prophecy, Pelley believed that Jewish control would end quickly, thanks to the Christian guardianship of the Silver Shirts. (Pelley, Our Secret Political Police, 4-5)
Based on a "pyramid" date, W.D. Pelley created the Christian Party of America (CPA), planned as the third national party it intended to propel his followers into positions of political authority, from which they could protect the interests of the "forgotten man." Spearheading this campaign was his own candidacy for president in 1936. (Pelley, "Know America After Collapse," Pelley's Weekly, I ,April 1, 1935 and Pelley, "Nations Await Jewish Coup," June 10, 1936)
While in Washington in February 1936, Pelley organized the Christian party convention and selected fifteen candidates for state and federal offices.
Pelley claimed on at least one occasion to have Christian party groups active in 40 states. Transcription of Pelley speech at Seattle Moose Hall, October 11, 1936, in Silver Shirt Legion of America, Inc., Washington State Division, Correspondence and related material of Orville W. Roundtree, liaison officer for the state division, 1933-1940, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington.
Pelley however appeared on the ballot only in the Silver Shirt stronghold of Washington state. Refusing to acknowledge defeat Pelley launched a national speaking tour, called "Silver Cavalcade" campaign.
He gave speeches almost every other day to crowds of up to 1,000. Buried in his public excoriations of Roosevelt, Jews, bankers, and Communists were references to his esoteric beliefs.
To facilitate party growth, Pelley organized nine-person Councils of Safety. Each member was instructed to organize nine new followers into another Council in a political Ponzi scheme.
However "bonus march" organizer Frank W. Clark fell out with Pelley and established the even more violently anti-Semitic National Liberty party.
Pelley tried to rally his wavering followers disappointed by his inability to get on the ballot in forty-seven states by frequently noting the spate of impending "pyramid" dates (particularly Silver Shirt entrance into the "king's chamber”, on September 16, 1936). He noted that these dates portended monumental events which would foist the Christian party into national prominence and end Communist conspiracies. (Pelley, "Enter King's Chamber Today.")
While the Silver Shirt chief boasted of his political connections (and occasionally wrote positive articles about other domestic fascists), he found it impossible to attract the active support of like minded organizational leaders. These difficulties derived partly from the decentralized nature of the extreme right wing, which teemed with tiny independent minded groups. Many extremist leaders corresponded with Pelley but balked at giving public support to the candidacy.
Pelley's campaign was also undercut by the creation of the Union party, headed by Father Coughlin, Gerald LK. Smith, and the advocate for the elderly, Dr. Francis Townsend. They nominated the North Dakota congressman William Lemke for president.
Having built much of his movement on the pyramid timetable, Pelley next faced the dilemma of all failed prophets. Initially Pelley lashed out at American voters and blamed them for letting him (and the country) down. Later he promoted the idea that the forces of Communist evil in America were so strong that they even overwhelmed the pyramid time-line.
To support this theory, he cited a victory by General Francisco Franco over Spanish Communists on that date as the possible "signal" for work to begin in earnest. Pelley also suggested that his defeat reflected that he was "thinking approximately six years in advance of the rest of the nation." (Pelley, "Why You Should Keep Your Faith in Pyramid Prophecy," New Liberation, January 1937, 7)
For spiritualists he issued the monthly "magazine of practical esoterics," Reality.
And in “Earth Comes” 1939, Pelley's attempted to reconcile science and his religious system. In it Pelley rams through a survey of astronomical findings, then melds his "star guests" cosmology to recent scientific findings, and to provide "historical" underpinnings to the work Pelley and his group did.
Belying his New England heritage, Pelley partially rehabilitated the hopelessly wedded to Jewish scripture Puritans by noting that they were "made the victims of an attempt to cross-breed the Jewish theological system with a strain of ultra-conscientious Nordics," while the Pilgrims represented "the Silver Shirts of the period."
1) William Dudley Pelley, Why I Believe the DeadAre Alive , 1942, 18-29; Pelley, Seven Minutes, 8; Pelley, Door to Revelation, 247-255.
2) For Derieux's views, see Mary Derieux, "Starting a New Era," Psychic Research, January 1928, 1-5.
3) See Denis Brian, The Enchanted Voyager.- The Life of JB. Rhine, 1992.
4) See Brad Steiger and Sherry Hansen Steiger, Hollywood and the Supernatural, 1990.
5) Pelley, The Door to Revelation , 1939.
6) See Gordon Melton, Biographical Dictionary of American Cult and Sects.
7) For David Davidson’s Egypthosophy and the above quoted dates see; The Great Pyramid, Its Divine Message . His "scientifie' proof of the pyramid's prophetic message is a remarkable work, that must be seen to be believed.
8) Pelley, "What Do You Know about the Pyramids, New Liberator, 11, August-September 1931
9) See Donald M. McKale, The Swastika Outside Germany, 1977, 13-1.7.
10) John J. Smertenko, "Hitlerism Comes to America," Harper's, CLX-VU November 1933, 663Department of Commerce would be created. This agency would manage all importing, exporting, and domestic economic activities. As all means of production belonged to the Commonwealth, Commerce officials would oversee all manufacturing, labor assignments, and business transactions. To guarantee an adequate supply of goods, annual surveys and inventories were mandated."
As part of their citizenship rights, all Americans would be stockholders in the corporate state. Each "native-born citizen of proper racial qualifications" received one share of common stock. This entitled them to the franchise and a guaranteed annual income. Pelley claimed that citizens could also took forward to deriving dividends from stock ownership, but, as the Commonwealth system eliminated capitalist "'profiteering:' it was unclear how this would occur. By undertaking particularly beneficial endeavors for the state, individuals could also obtain merit stocks, redeemable for goods and services beyond the regular annual income."
Pelley frequently attacked the notion of democracy, but called for regular plebiscites to determine Christian Commonwealth policies. He reconciled these apparently contradictory ideas by limiting the franchise to Gentiles (after the United States had been purged of Jews and their henchmen). Pelley, then, found democracy palatable once the country underwent the proper political of the closing of the American frontier, and, like many social reformers, he feared the corrupting influences of urban areas. Therefore, he promoted the razing of congested cities, the elimination of apartment complexes, and advocated spreading the populace out to give citizens adequate natural space. To ensure these social advances, realty stock guaranteed citizens of the resources to purchase their own homes. The state owned all real estate, but willingly sold land, at reasonable prices, to citizens, utilizing the freely granted realty stocks and a paycheck direct withdrawal system.
The Commonwealth plan outlined a rigid financial system for every American. Under the plan all citizens received checking accounts at the Commonwealth Bank (as part of their status as "stock holders in the sovereign corporation"). With the adoption of this system, paper money would disappear. To prevent hoarding and its concomitant creation of predatory wealth, all bank balances were to be canceled at the end of each year. For the same reasons all inheritance, with the exception of family homes, was prohibited. Pelley hoped this system would eliminate "money crimes" (kidnaping, embezzlement, robbery),
Pelley was but one of many domestic right wing extremists who decried the growth of urban areas in America. Morris Janowitz, "Black regions on the March," in Daniel Aaron, ed., America In Crisis.- Fourteen Crucial Episodes in American History, 1952, 318.