Wolfgang Karrer

Upton Sinclair and Fascist America

In Money Writes! (1927) Upton Sinclair claims, that the mass media in the USA have fallen under the control of big corporations, and that this has turned many writers into willing or unwilling propagandists for corporate America. He calls this "Fascist America." 

His muckraking books:

- The Goose Step.  A Study of American Education. Pasadena: U. Sinclair, 1923.

- The Goslings. A Study of American Schools. Pasadena CA: U. Sinclair, 1924.

- Mammonart. An Essay in Economic Interpretation. Pasadena: U. Sinclair, 1925.

- Money Writes! New York: Boni, 1927.

- The Profits of Religion. An Essay in Economic Interpretation. New York: Vanguard P, 1928.

are largely forgotten. Most of them were self-published  and are hard to find  today. Some are available, again, under


 Many details seem dated, but the books contain a coherent socialist interpretation of US culture that has largely disappeared from public debate.

 They also form a useful background to his novels that are still in print. I propose to abstract these non-fiction books in the following pages, making his ideas more widely available. I hope that more of these books will appear in digital versions in the internet. 

Abstracts and Outlines

 Sinclair 1923

Higher education in the USA:
many university presidents were educated in Gernany (Butler, Smith, Lowell etc), leading to  Prussian regimentation of higher learning.
1.-4. Sinclair's personal experience with schooling: from CCNY to Columbia (lit. under Trent, Carpenter, B. Matthews)
5. THESIS: US. Plutocracy controls the  Universities (18-23), mainly through
interlocking directorates, as revealed by Pujo Committee 1913,
especially dominated (<)  by 5 NY groups:
- J. P. Morgan
- First National
- National City Bank
- Guaranty Trust (Morgan)
- Equitable Trust 19
6. Columbia U < Morgan (23)
board of directors and presidents:
  7. Butler 29 as president
        8. as scholar probusiness (34)
        9. as administrator 40
       10. as pacifist (Carnegie) 44
    11. Columbia standing and ranking in science 49
    12. Columbia opposition Cattell) 49
    13. Col. alumni network = machine 58
14. Harvard < Lee Higginson & Co (ally of Morgan in Boston) 62
15-19. All three banking groups in Boston allied with Morgan 63;
Morgan Jr influence; MIT (DuPont) 64;
vs. (//) liberals at Harvard 67, banning of free speech 72;
interference with presidency 77
Harold J. Laski 82
summer class tear 88
20. Philadelphia < Drexel (= Morgan) 91, United Gas Improvement Co. a chain 94
chief investment banker; UGI executive 97 // rebel: Nearing Scott; vs. Billy Sunday, revivalist 102  ranking of Philasdelphia 107
25. Princeton (111) = snobbery 112 < National City Bank + Cyrus McCormick 112,
also < NBC = Rockefeller; Frick Steel money 113;
slum lord 116, censors speakers 117, "National Security League" professors 120
26. Yale (121) < slave trade money, mixed directorate (Boston, NY)
is Princeton's rival + secret societies for millionaires' sons "Skull and bones"; Prof. Sumner 122-24
27. Berkeley (126) < Equitable Life Trust + Crocker (S. Pacific), Fleischhauer
has a Vigilante "Better America Federation" = black hand of the rich; David Barrows president, secret service agent in SU 137, fired Witter Bynner for signing a petition; regimentation
32. Stanford (152) < Big Four Railroad kings (165) Stanford's widow via Timothy Hopkins, mixed directorate (Morgan + Rockefeller) Pacific Union club (incl. Hoover); // Th. Veblen  163, "Higher Learning in America", rev. by Brander Matthews, a henchman of Butler 163, Regent corruption w. Steel Trust "Pacific Improvement Group"
35. U of Oregon (168) < lumber companies + Reed College
36. Seattle 174 < Col. Blethen "Times"
37. U of Montana (179) < Anaconda (runs the state of montana); Idaho < Copper Trust
38. U of Utah (184)
39. U of Denver (188) Trust + mining, Simon Guggenheim
40. U of Boulder (192) Smelter Trust (also runs Colorado College)
41. U. of N. Dakota (197) < land grant + Rockefeller, also farmer education and Grand Forks
44. Minnesota (209) Steel trust + lumber trust, presidents
46. Wisconsin (Madison) < La Follette.socialist students // reactionary board; censorship 235
50. Chicago (240) < Rockefeller S.O. 243, outside speakers 249
43. Northwestern (254) < US Steel corp
46. Pittsburg (271) Steel trust = Mellon + Heinz
47. Syracuse (277) Rockefeller + Steel
52.Johns Hopkins (302) Quaker foundation, take over by railroad and copper, now closer to Episcopal -church
53. Cornell (306) George F. Baker First National Bank + Schwab (Steel) + Westinghouse
54. New York U. (313) < Advertising association "Jabbergrab" also invades other universities  Harvard 320 etc.; also introduced journalism studies (Columbia first 323, endowed by Pulitzer, others follow)
67. City College NY (329) only university admitting Jews in NY 329 and other city colleges
68. State Universities 334
69. Small Colleges 339
70. Religious colleges 346 mammon art; Duke < Tobacco Trust
71. Fundamentalists 351 William J. Bryant KY; TX 352; TE 354
72. Antisemitims in admission 356 + racism 359
73. Snobbery 363 of alumni
74. Athletics 370
75. Climbers 377 ideology
76. Presidents as liars 382
77. Faculty 390 fraternities ; competition
79. Self-censorship 399
80. Foundations 407 Carnegie pension scheme 408, Rockefeller 409
81. Left Hunters 412 "National Security League" propaganda 413, + 79 other organizations, "National Civic Federation" (418), "KKK" 423
84. A Few Free Colleges 428: theological colleges Oberlin, Amherst, Swarthmore
85. Academic Rebels 436 socialists
86. Workers' Education 440 Bryn Mawr 445 Rockefeller (mieducates workers), colleges in NY
89. Professors' Unions 454 + societies: Intercolegiate Socialist Society 464,
sequel in The Goslings (1924)
Sinclair 1924
Intro: "The purpose of this book is to show you how the 'invisible government' of Big business which controls the rest of America has taken over the charge of your children." (ix)
1. The Gang of Big business (1-22).
"Better America Federation" // unionism
2. Example L.A. schools (22-59)
3. New York schools (59-93)
4. Chicago 94-109
5. Other cities 109-224
State Machines 224-75 + national machines
Big Business Organizations 275-329
Catholic Church 330-49
General survey 349-417
the mechanisms of control (>) [to be updated]

Sinclair 1925
a popular socialist survey of art, based on the thesis that big money runs artists, exc. the rebels

1-2- intro 1-10, six lies about art: l'art pour l'art, snobbery and esoteric lie, art as tradition, art as entertainment, art without morality, art without propaganda 9 (= propaganda lies)

"All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes inconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda." 9
" The bulk of the successful artists of any time are men in harmony with the spirit of that time, and identified with the powers prevailing." 16
"Art is play, having for the purpose the development of human faculties, and experiments with the possibilities of life." (19)
"Art is play to the extent that it is instructive; it is propaganda when it becomes mature and conscious. " (20)
"The artist is a social product, his psychology and that of his art works being determined by the economic forces prevailing in his tume. The established artist of any period is a man in sympathy with the ruling classes of that period, and voicing their interests and ideals." 21

Old Testament = propaganda 33, William Randolph Hearst 45-46 = propaganda (PR)
GREECE 46-56
ROME 56-68 Aeneis = pr, so is Horace
US EMPIRE difference (68-74): has printing and labor unions 69, split between
Art of Beauty (= ruling class, ins) vs. Art of Power (rising class, outs) 71-74
ITALY 74-88 Dante pr, Raphael too + Papal paymasters of Michelangelo
Spain 88-92 rebel Cervantes
ENGLAND: Bacon, Shp ? 95, Milton pr, Bunyan pr, Dryden = Art of Beauty 113
FRANCE: Corneille, Racine, Molière, Voltaire all pr, Rousseau, too
    > Harvard debate around Babbitt (139-41)
18c: Swift, Richardson 144, Fielding, 146
Austen 160, Scott Tory romance 163, Coleridge 167, Southey Tory whip 171, Ww Tory turn after rebellious youth 173, Byron 175, Shelley 181, Keats 183
Balzac predatory artist 190, Hugo 194, Gautier 199 ... Flaubert 207 Mme Bovary = Main Street
Heine, Wagner 211,
Carlyle 217, Tennyson 220, Browning 225, M. Arnold 228, Dickens 231, Thackeray 233, Ruskin 236, Morris 237

AMERICA 239-37
colonizers split into Mass // Va, but little art 239
early writers copy Addison Steele, Burke; Dryden 246
Emerson = rebel 240-241
Longfellow pr (defensive) 242
Whittier 244 the "Burns of NE" rebel
Hawthorne 247
Poe 250 excludes morality
Whitman 253
·H. James 316-22 the "cultured-class historian" all patriotic stuff 320
M. Twain 326-33 double life pressure, Am capitalists got him, 369
Howells 334-36 sold out to Harpers "the pr department of J. P. Morgan and Company" 335
Bierce 337-41 anti-socialist, l'art pour lart 338-9,  100% Am boobery = belief in the media 339
R. H. Davis 341 ruling-class glorifier
·    "The capitalist system sets up its colossal slander-mills, with a staff of secret agents, forgers and safe crackers and confidence men, a devil's crew. The people of course have no conception of this machinery for the manipulating of their minds ..." 339

St. Crane 345 rejected by Century and editor Gilder 347
F. Norris 349
D. G. Philips 353
O. Henry 357 sold out, and Big Business shows, alcohol
J. London 363 sold out, alcohol + $ 36.000 contract with Hearst papers 369, Am capitalist got him, like Twain 371
two others:
J. Conrad 372 shows capitalist shipping
A. France turned socialist late

RUSSIA 258 (attack on Yale as Tsarism 268-71
FRANCE and naturalism, as coined by Goncourt 276 ...

Sinclair 1927
"a study of American literature from the economic point of view"  (intro, n.p.)
1. Chrysotropism 7 - 10 [= paid propaganda]
tropism in biology: "an impulse to move in a certain direction" eg heliotropism,
"the arts of producing social tropisms" 8 in public opinion advertising 8, prizes, sports, national antipathies 9
2. Economy of inequality in US 11:
 the rich set up Sunday supplements and tabloids to manipulate the poor with fear and crime stories 13
3. Celebrities 14
promising to make readers celebrities as reward 14
4. Adv agencies  17
make mass lit, they select authors eg Z. Grey a.o.
5. What the public wants 21
Glorification of depravity as "what the public wants"
6. Muckraking 24
eg. Tom Lawson Frenzied Finance proves that the public wants other things 24,
big business bought up muckraker magazines to stop it (details in The Brass Check),
WW I brought Federal propaganda 25 based on British prop conducted by novelist Gilbert Parker 26,
US subsidizes Mussolini 27 Child "tells his friends how Mussolini came to ask him whether the American bankers would subsidize the march on Rome; they would, of course - and so we have a "stable government," which has crushed every vestige of modern thought in Italy." 27
7.  Fascist America 28-33
Control system: Supreme Court + big business >  publishing
Constitution and Bible worship instead of realism 32
"And what is the purpose of all this new idolatry? Simply that the money-masters may keep the power to give orders and be obeyed, Constitution worship means that a group of elderly corporation lawyers, known as a Supreme Court, have power to make the law of the land anything that the corporations want it to be ... Behind this regimen of the dead hand, works the living fist of big business, collecting from a pious and diligent working-class the heaviest tribute .. This fist is armored with the clubs of policemen and the rifles of militia ... Such is Fascist America; and these masked forces confront the young writer ..."32
8. Artificial selection 34
in magazines, rejections by "leisure class manner," "tests of gentility" 34, examples, alcohol and the saloon lobby 36 in American Mercury; all writers opposing privilege are excluded 37, also subsidizing Fascism throughout the world 37 "There are no independent magazines of big circulation left in America - they are all "chains" now -  the Curtis chain and the Butterick chain and the Hearst chain and the Capper chain and the Medill-Patterson chain and the  Crowell chain - all of them run exactly like depertment stores and shoe-factory chains, the same principles of standardization and mass production. They know what they are going to want a year from now, and they order their stories as they order their trainloads of paper from the mills; they even order their writers ..." 38
[9-11 Other selections and rejections:]
9. Young America 39-42
autobiographical readings: the Kipling craze (upper class and colonial elite) 40, Richard Harding Davis 41 in Scribner's, H. James in Scribner's: "It is upon property that bourgeois society is  built, and it is property that decides whether people are worthy of having their scandals pried into and exposed by great geniuses like Mrs. Humphrey Ward and Henry James." 42
10. Episcopal thinking 43
later St. Crane and prostitiutes, Robert W. Chambers commercial writer 43,victim of the Collier set, Robbbie Collier corrupted his writers by booze and country club access 44, W. Churchill 44, early review bound by the same episcopalian morality as the Churchill novel 45
11. Social antitoxins 49-
the rebels against hypocrisy: Norris etc (taken from Mammonart)
12. Newspapers  52
censorship during the war 53 Bosheviks publishesd secret Tsar papers treaties with allies, selling out; papers suppressed the Versailles treaties exc. The NY Evening Post, was driven to the wall and bought up by Morgan 54 = "Sisson documents forgeries, leaked by the Russians and published 54
"At any time in the future that it becomes necessary for us to validate bonds held by the House of Morgan, we will go to war with any nation ...and when that times come, the greart chains of newspapers and magazines and publisheing housess and moving picture producers and exhibitors, all now tied up with the finacial system, will see to it that you, the writers and artists of America regard it as a war to make the world safe for demoncracy ... "55
13. Russian Revolution 56
propaganda machine used against the Russian Rev. "All thee great capitalist institutions are now agencies of propaganda" 57
anti-communist henchmen: Joseph Medill Patterson 57, master-Fascist, owner of the Chicago Tribune a. o. like esse L. Lasky 58 movies, Thomas Buchanan 59 publicity agent for Lasky, Coolidge writing in the Hearst papers, Gen. Charles Dawes 60 banker and radio board mogul, a future Mussolini 61
14. A Fascist Career 62-68
R. w., Child, Wall Street lawyer, assistent to Frank Vanderlip in war finance work, took over Collier's Weekly to agitate for the deportation of reds: Harding nomination was work of the oil lobby and the Ohio gang 62; Child organized a writer banquet for the Republicans in NY (Ade, Ferber, Rinehart, Tarkington et al), Harding appointed him ambassador to Italy 63; Mussolini comes to ask for money:
"Mussolini'a proposition is the simplest possible. He will raise a slogan, and gather a band of young assassins, annd seize Italy for the bankers; only he must have money for the job, and wiul the Americans give him  a loan? The Americans are just then in the business of subsidizing assasins all over the world - Kolchak, Denikin, Judenitch, Wrangel, Semenoff, Petlura, Horthy, Pilsudski, Mannerheim, I can't remember all the names. It takes but a few minutes to settle such a question in those days of cables and high powered executives. Mussolini gets his loans, and,  more loans ..." 64, murder reigns in Fascist Italy 64 f-
Child returns in made Fascist-in-Chief in the Curtis publications
15. Curtis Publication Sat Ev Post 67-72 ed. Lorimer
"the great central power-plant of Fascism in America" 67, Lorimer comes from the Armour truat in Chicago 67 , the Post pays well and promptly, a dream for any young writer "the most corrupting force in American letters" 68, propaganda writers in Post 68 all corrupted in spite of earlier muckraking
16- Art and the Trader 73-
play-brokers, writers forced to be journalists, where the money for written words is 76
17. Incense to Mammon 78
 reprints a reply to G. Atherton on Bourgeois Literature, she belongs to it, although trying not to
18, Romance and Reaction 85-91 [THE NOVELISTS]
in Tories like Tarkington, Rupert Hughes, Elinor Glyn, Wallace Irwin 87, Stewart Edward White 88, Zane Grey and his anti-wobbly romance The Desert of Wheat  89, Harold Bell Wright 90
19, Hergesheimer in his Philadelphia ivory tower 92-99
20 Cabell 100-103 Episcopal Tory from Va
21. G. Sterling (a friend), Van Vechten
22. Pornography 110
23. ex- muchrakers turned around 115:
Churchill, Wharton, Poole, Brand Whitlock
24. Anderson muddled 119
25. Dreiser 124
26. Mencken 129
27 Huneker 136 and Brooks
28 Amy Lowell 141 poet and monopolist [THE POETS]
29. A rebel poet M.C.S. 146 a socialist
30. Robinson 152
31. Masters 156
32. J. London 158
33. other alcoholics
34. S. Lewis 171
35. O'Neill 175 praises Emperor Jones
36 Boston censorship 178
37. Floyd Dell, a friend 135 REBELS
39 tramp poets 194, ex socialist Sandburg198
41. socialists Edwin Markham, Arturo Giovannittti, John G. Neihardt, Sam Dewitt
42. Wrecks 205
44. Rebels 210:
Clement Wood, John Dos Passos, W. E. Woodward ... Louis Bromfield, A Good Woman
45. New playwrights 214 JDP, O`N
46. Socialism 216-23
47. prophesies in 1927:
"For the moment we are  on the crest of a wave of prosperity, and we think that all is well. But this prosperity is based upon the shipping of our surplus products abroad, taking on return unlimited paper promises which can never be redeemed. When the time comes that men realize the worthlessness of these debts, our system of credit falls like a house of cards, and our people are out of work again. The remedy is another war to take away the markets from some rival nation." 221

Sinclair 1928
1. Supernatural and the priests 21
then (caveman) and now =always "priestly empires" 33 using inquisition , hell fire 41
2. Church and the upper class 47
God + astronomy 47, ally in war 50, medicine man 52, "canonization of incompetence" 55, rule of the aged 62 (=submission)
(History: Anglican Church + landholding Bishops 73 // education 88, pro child-labor 84, exported to US 89, God = monarch),
profit motive "an integral and essential part of a gigantic predentatory system" 94; defense of property 97 in spirtitual interpretation
3. The servant girl 105
Catholic church charity 105 + slave ethics 107, menace to America 125, does not defend Catholic workers 137; tax exemption (Bismarck example) 152
4. Church of the slaves 161
Protestant churches: "The thesis of this book is the effect of fixed dogma in producing mental paralysis, and the use of this mental paralysis by Economic  Exploitation." (161)
(Hist. Luther-WW I 163-67; Southern slavery 167, women subordination 170; Lyman Abbott hio bible interpretation in The Outlook (New Haven) "clerical camouflage" 197
5. Church of the Merchants 201
justify trade 205: Billy Sunday, patent medicine, birth contriol
6. Church of the Quacks 235
sects, cults:
Adventists, Pentecostal, mormons 239
Holy rolling 242 "apostolic Church"
bible prophecy 245 Millennium
Koreshanity 248 vision (250 years of Pisces has concluded, the Aquarian Age begins Jan 15, 1981 250)
Otto Hanisch 250 develop senses
Black magic 253 Theosophists 254
Mental malpractice 257 Xian scientists 258
New Thought 264 magazines for $
7. Church of social Revolution (281)
proletarian stream on christianity; E. Goldman 287, coming revolution