Southern History Series: Sen. Huey Long’s Share Our Wealth Society

In my view, the Right doesn’t need to reclaim socialism from the Left so much as it needs to embrace economic populism for moral, political and economic reasons. We need a broad redistribution of wealth in this country like we had in the 1930s to crush the oligarchy, stabilize capitalism and reduce extremes of income inequality. The New Deal was conservative and fully consistent with the Jeffersonian tradition and the alternative was far worse.

Jacobin:

“But it was impossible for socialists to deny that Long’s charisma and criticism of the wealthy struck a chord with working-class Americans in a way that organized revolutionaries could not. In an era when socialists struggled to achieve even the smallest electoral foothold, Long drew on Americans’ mass dissatisfaction with capitalism to establish a powerful political machine, turning Louisiana into something of a private fiefdom and fashioning himself into a real presidential contender. …

But not all of those who diagnosed capitalist crisis as the source of society’s ills drew revolutionary conclusions, or even socialist ones.

Populists like Long relied on the support of small producers — mostly farmers who owned plots of land and sold goods at market, all of whom were severely affected by the scarcity of the Great Depression. These populists offered an analysis that charged big banks and tycoons with betraying capitalism’s supposedly egalitarian promise.

Their mission wasn’t to dismantle capitalism, but to rearrange the economy in favor of their popular constituents — market-reliant farmers and small entrepreneurs.

Buoyed by mass resentment towards the wealthy, populist administrations launched rhetorical attacks on powerful capitalists, but stopped short of threatening the class structure at the root of capitalism. As a result, the relationship between organized workers and populist administrations was often unpredictable, and could be contentious. …”

The following excerpt comes from T. Harry Williams book Huey Long:

“On February 23, 1934, Senator Long spoke over a national radio hookup for thirty minutes. He had exciting news for his listeners. The fight to decentralize wealth in America had entered a new phase, he proclaimed: it had achieved the advantage of organization. The organization had been created by people whom he identified only as “we,” and it had a name, the Share Our Wealth Society and a slogan, Every Man a King. He exhorted his hearers to join the society, to get together in their communities and form local chapters. If they needed instructions on how to proceed, they should write him. He emphasized that in the society there would be no national dues.

Huey was being prudently modest when he indicated that other persons had joined with him to form the society. It was completely his own creation, the idea for it coming to him, according to one account, at three o’clock one morning in his rooms at the Mayflower Hotel. Excited and wanting someone to discuss the idea with, he telephoned his secretary and another assistant to come over immediately. He explained his plan to them and then sat down and sketched on sheets of yellow foolscap paper the whole design of the society – its name, motto, structure, and the principles it would advocate.

The principles were not entirely new. They were essentially the same proposals that Huey had been advancing in his Senate speeches since 1932, with the addition of some features that were the result of his recent reading. The federal government would impose a capital-levy tax that would prevent a family from owning a fortune of more than five million dollars, or more than three hundred times the fortune of the average American family. The government would impose an income tax that would prohibit a family from earning more than one million dollars in a year, or more than three hundred times the income of the average American family. From the revenue derived from these taxes the government would provide every family in the country with a “homestead” of five thousand dollars, or “enough for a home, an automobile, a radio, and the ordinary conveniences.” The government would further guarantee that every family would receive an annual income of two thousand to three thousand dollars, or one third of the average family income. Other benefits would be furnished by the government. It would give pensions of thirty dollars a month to the aged (this figure was later deleted and the world “adequate” substituted), finance the college education of youths of proven ability (Huey eventually suggested that the federal government and the state should jointly bear the costs of educating also children below the federal level), and pay generous bonuses to veterans. Lastly, the government would exercise greater regulation over the economy. It would limit the hours of labor to thirty hours a week and eleven months a year, thus increasing the need for workers. And it would purchase and store agricultural surpluses, thus balancing farm supply with demand.

Huey’s announcement of the Share Our Wealth Society received wide publicity. It also set off an extensive discussion by commentators and critics as to the nature of the society’s program. Was Share Our Wealth a radical formula or did it only seem radical? Was it compatible with capitalism or would it subtly transform the American system into something quite different? Some critics denounced the plan as a form of socialism, charging that the rate of taxation would eventually have the effect of eliminating all fortunes and reducing all persons to approximately the same income level. This charge Huey repeatedly and indignantly denied. The socialists advocated government ownership of wealth, which was equivalent to the destruction of wealth, he said. He, on the contrary, would retain the profit motive. His plan, by preventing the concentration of great incomes in the hands of a few men, would actually create more, not fewer, millionaires. Moreover, by redistributing wealth it would remove the worst abuse of capitalism and really strengthen the system. Once he made this argument to a reporter from a leftist magazine, who suggested that the senator must mean to save the magnates who he denounced. “That would be one of the unfortunate effects of my program,” he admitted. “I’d cut their nails and file their teeth and let them live.”

Grasping at all opportunities to disassociate Share Our Wealth from socialism, Huey accepted in March 1934 an invitation to debate the leader of the Socialist Party, Norman Thomas. The request came from a New York City group, which intended to sell tickets to the meeting and, to entire Huey, offered him a fee of five hundred dollars. The crowd that turned out must have astonished the sponsors – twenty-five hundred persons assembled to hear the debaters discuss the questions: “Resolved, that capitalism is doomed and cannot now be saved by redistribution of wealth.”

Thomas spoke first and advocated his philosophy of moderate socialism. His remarks were well received by the audience, which was largely made up of Socialists and urban leftists. Huey realized the mood of the crowd, and to disarm it he affected when he began a Southern rustic pose. He didn’t understand what Thomas had said, he claimed, but when he did, he would write his rival a letter. Striding back and forth, he bellowed that all debts should be “ipso facto remitted.” “Maybe you don’t know what I mean by ipso facto,” he continued. “Well, I don’t neither.” The audience roared with appreciative laughter. A perceptive reporter noticed that in this phase of the speech he made studied grammatical errors but that when he launched into an analysis of Share Our Wealth he talked like a college professor. At the end of the debate a mob of autograph seekers followed Huey out of the building, but no one attended Thomas.”

The choice is populism or socialism:

Let’s keep millionaires.

We don’t need a proletariat of gig economy workers drowning in debt or billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and Michael Bloomberg. There needs to be a ceiling on capitalism.

About the Author

Hunter Wallace
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

26 Comments on "Southern History Series: Sen. Huey Long’s Share Our Wealth Society"

  1. J. R. Chloupek | December 2, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Reply

    Alright, I’ll bite: the answer to the socio-political-economic conundrum identified by both the Kingfish and our host is to share the (social) wealth created by the combination of capitalist dreams and consumer materialism through a sovereign wealth fund created by an application of modern monetary theory called monetary finance, that is, quantitative easing, where the Federal Reserve “prints money” sufficient to buy up 50% share of all businesses in America, then pay out $25,000 per year to all non-incarcerated legal citizens 21 years old and above, all done after a general strike by all workers for as long as it took to get the oligarchs to submit to that mechanism.
    I’ve laid out the same plan in other threads here at OD, and reaped the whirlwind of abuse on different grounds. I will not reargue the merits and demerits of my thoughts on why I am right on this subject. Instead, let’s hear from the detractors what they would suggest as a better plan of action to actually escape the wage slave chains that envelop us all. Not partition, which cannot work in a modern interconnected society and economy because radicals and traditionalist coexist in jobs,families, and all other human groups that no one wants to exit. And no, not the Benedict Option or other MYOB arrangments-we all know the establishment will not allow us to live in peace, because a living example of another way to live cannot be tolerated, lest the normies revolt. Finally, crying “kill the Jews” is facile analysis: Jews control nothing,rich people do. Non-rich Jews are employed as ilusionists and propagandists because the are genetically endowed with dishonesty and amorality, but they are no more able to control the rich then a sexy secretary. Proximity to power is not the exercise of power.
    With those caveats, let’s hear the alternatives to my vision for peace and prosperity . You too Hunter, no hiding as host administrator of OD. Everyone lay their cards on the table for discussion.

    • @J. R. Chloupek

      Nobody said “kill the Jews.” Keep your nazi-hysteria to yourself please.

      Jews control nothing,rich people do.

      It was a lot easier for you before the internet, when Jews had complete control of the media, huh?

      It must really get your yarmulke in a twist, all these goys getting uppity, huh?

      Non-rich Jews are employed as ilusionists and propagandists because the are genetically endowed with dishonesty and amorality, but they are no more able to control the rich then a sexy secretary. Proximity to power is not the exercise of power.

      I get it, you think we’re stupid. But we’re not. You might try to up your game, Chaim. If you were really on our side you wouldn’t be freaking out that maybe Bloomberg and Adelson might have to pay taxes.

      • J. R. Chloupek | December 3, 2019 at 10:23 am | Reply

        Dude, you really need to get over your jewish hysteria, and come up with a better insult then “Chaim.” If you want to believe in the eternal boogeyman JEW, hey, whatever. I asked the tisk tiskers like you to explain what specifically should be done to change the course of social disintegration, as compared to the UBI or some other method of sharing social security between citizens, not just the rich accumulating security while the rest suffer. I’m still waiting. What should be done besides hoping for a civil war so bigots like you can indulge your petty hatreds in a “just cause? ” If the boogaloo starts, I’m shooting both liberals and phonies like you. Up your game, sir.

        • J. R. Chloupek | December 3, 2019 at 2:21 pm | Reply

          Oh, for you policy geeks who want a scholarly explanation of my “social security for all ” UBI fixation, read it and weep: http://www.nasi.org/sites/files/research/FinalCopyAssuredIncome- or just Google “assured income, ” the term the National Academy of Social Insurance calls an income paid throughout life to combat idiosyncratic risks to income. Really this is for Hunter; the rest of you will cry “jew,” ” nigger,” ” spic,” ” bitch, ” or whatever epithets you find comforting in lieu of having to think. Contemplation is not for Real Americans , I know.

          • J. R. Chloupek | December 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm |

            Or see “Exploring Universal Basic Income: A Guide to Navigating Concepts, Evidence, and Practices,” a 2019 World Bank 337 page compendium in downloadable PDF format. Who says learning isn’t fun?

        • @J. R. Chloupek

          come up with a better insult then “Chaim.”

          But why would I need to do that? “Chaim” isn’t an insult at all. Are you “insulted” because I suspect you’re a Jew, because you post Jewish talking points? Is it an “insult” because I assume your attempt at attacking White people for noticing Jewish anti-whiteness is because you’re Jewish?

          If I were a Jew, I’d do exactly what you are doing.

          What’s wrong with being a proud Jew? If I were a Jew, I’d also try to distract from Jewish anti-whiteness. If I were a Jew, I’d be ultra-super pro-White.

          It’s always amused me that Jews can’t figure that out.

          Hell, now I think you’re a self-hating Jew. What’s wrong with being a Jew?

          what specifically should be done to change the course of social disintegration

          Oh, I’ve been fairly consistent for ten years now, which is why I was banned from Jewpress and all other social media, thanks to the ADL.

          Methinks thou protest too much.

          Again – what’s wrong with being a proud Jew?

          • J. R. Chloupek | December 6, 2019 at 12:10 pm |

            Stop hiding behind the fashionable Jew baiting Hippy Man. Neither I nor anyone else here has any idea what you are referring to by citing your “banishment” from “jewpress.” I asked a simple but profound question: aside from complaining about the actions of other people which you do not agree with, what would you do to change things? What policy would you adopt, either personally or through government action, and what steps would you take-personal, political, organizationally- to achieve these goals? If the answer is “nothing” or “I don’t know,” fine. But if you can’t or won’t do anything, pardon some of us for trying to eliminate the chains of materialistism and idiosyncratic income risk.

  2. Again, it’s the rural peasants vs the urban proletariat. Long appealed to the “peasants.” I know these are terms that are more used in socialist circles than websites like this.

    My stance is that the two need to find some common ground or puppets of the 1% will just continue to play one against the other. While I oppose enforced equal outcomes or mass immigration, I do also support urban unrest.

    Huey long appeared to get the “peasant” voter. Outside of America, that’s the big difference between Mao and Lenin/Stalin. Mao based his revolution around farmers and peasants with a little help from the urban worker instead of the reverse. So did the guy I suport (sic).

  3. The only way Populism will work is if we can get rid of the Jews and their ostensibly White, SJW stooges. Otherwise, forget it.

  4. Impose a Judentax. All Jews need to renounce Israeli dual citizenship, any Jew who has over $1Million in assets has to pay a 50% ‘usury tax’ on their estates, and no Jewish person may remit money outside of the USA.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket. Oh, and abolish fractional reserve banking, jewish ownership and membership of any and all banks, credit unions, and financial institutions.

    • We definitely need to get rid of the kosher tax imposed on the goyim on all food and other products.

      Two percent of the population is literally leaching off the other ninety-eight percent.

  5. Huey long, killed by a )ew, mfkrs!

    Betcha, if Long had been President, there never would have been WWII.

    I could see Long and Hitler being best of friends.

  6. There needs to be a ceiling on capitalism.

    NO !!

    Let the Fords and Edisons and Morgans etc. keep their millions.

    There needs to be a ceiling on )ews, like zero.

  7. Speaking of such,

    We need a list of )ewish assassin’s who have wrecked world history.
    Killers of Archduke Ferdinand, wwi: czar Nicholas: czar Alexander II: Huey Long and many I can’t recall.

    A list to be widely circulated.

  8. Riiiight.

    THIS time, Socialism will work.

    This is why we’re doomed to repeat History.

    Taking from others is THEFT. Doesn’t matter if you’re taking it from MY paycheck or some millionaire you despise.

    Stop coveting and start working. Stay away from booze, drugs and whatever television is telling you that you “need” and you’ll do just fine.

    • Socialism was pretty successful in Sweden when the country was compromised of ethnic Swedes.

      It can work, but the conditions have to be fine tuned to the population.

    • @Gunny

      Taking from others is THEFT.

      OK, so why is it ok when Wall Street hedge funds steal from everyone?

      I didn’t see you out in the street protesting against that?

      The Federal Reserve just did another “stealth bailout” of hedge funds.

      Surely, you are up in arms?

      Oh, wait, no, you only care when we try to claw back what was stolen from us?

      In case you haven’t noticed, “socialism” works great for guys like Bloomberg and Adelson.

      • “OK, so why is it ok when Wall Street hedge funds steal from everyone?”

        I’ll wait for you to review my post and show me where I said any theft was ok.

        I’m guessing you’re one of the ones that Wall Street hedge fund managers held a gun to your head and forced you to invest your money, right?

        I’ll bet you blame the casino when the house wins too, amiright? Those darn casino managers just plucked you off the street and “stole” your hard earned money.

        Did the University Industrial Complex “steal” from you too? Let me guess, they FORCED you to take out thousands of dollars in student loans for a worthless degree in “Hipster Studies”?

        • @Gunny

          held a gun to your head and forced you to invest your money, right?

          Um, yes? I was FORCED to invest my money in a 401k, because unless I invested my money in Wall Street hedge funds, the government took out more than half. The ONLY way I was allowed to invest was putting my paycheck into Wall Street.

          Then, Wall Street and the government decided that they would steal my money and bail out bankers with it.

          I mean, do you have ANY idea how this works at all?

          Let me guess – you’re a “conservative” right? LOL.

  9. J. R. Chloupek | December 2, 2019 at 11:43 pm | Reply

    Still waiting Hunter.

  10. Price controls? That’s socialism!

    I mean, unless it’s price controls on money – interest rates, which the Federal Reserve does. Then it’s ok, that’s “capitalism.”

    It’s ok when banks form a cartel like the Federal Reserve. But it’s commie when small businesses form a cartel, or Walmart and Amazon workers form a union.

    So, banker money-cartel = good free market capitalism.

    Labor-cartel = bad commie socialism.

    Also, Huey Long was a racist anti-seeemite! “Banker” and “George Soros” are just anti-semitic dog whistles. Didn’t you learn anything from the ADL?

    • J. R. Chloupek | December 4, 2019 at 4:05 pm | Reply

      Capitalists/business owners have an inherent need to reduce labor costs, that is, salaries of Labor/employees, in order to maximize profits from a given level of sales of their products or service. In doing so, they have an inherent supply/ demand advantage over employees- there is always more people who can do the grunt work actually producing the firm’s output then who can supply the capital investment, both initially and thereafter. From that numbers advantage flows their accumulated wealth, which they then eventually use to stabilize, then increase, their supply/demand advantage with tax breaks, subsidies, and regulatory relief, and further manipulation of supply/demand with open borders, trade deals opening up foreign markets to add customers, etc. No one plays in a free market unless they are too weak to escape.
      Huey recognized that capitalism was more effective in generating material wealth but the winners would inevitably use their advantage to render their accumulation permanent, immiserating the less in demand factor of production, labor, unless collective action was taken through the political system to shift supply and demand factors back towards labor.
      Share the Wealth is exactly the point of my sovereign wealth fund UBI proposal. I am not dogmatic in that particular mechanism, and am open to persuasion that another way would work better in light of human realities and motivations. That is why I asked genuinely for alternative suggestions on how to achieve social security for all, as I style my UBI plan. So again, any other suggestions?

      • @J. R. Chloupek

        grunt work

        Excel spread-sheet jockeys are just grunt-work now.

        OK.

        It’s just an organizational problem. We have PLENTY of White computer programmers who can craft a more efficient algorithm for that.

        We actually don’t need any Ashkenazis for that anymore. They were, early on in the 20th century, useful. But now we don’t need them. They are just so many buggy-whip manufacturers.

        They can always move to Israel.

        • J. R. Chloupek | December 6, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Reply

          WTF are you babbling about now, Banned Dipstir? Jews behind every tree? Repeat after me: JEWS CONTROL NOTHING. They are the linguistic handmaidens to the persons whose organizations supply products or services that most people most of the time covet. Supply and demand rules. Clever liars are a dime a dozen. People who can conceive the future desires of the masses, and those technicians who can bring the vision of the entrepreneur into reality, are the ones who command the market for consumerism. Until you accept that reality, and drop the yid obsession, you will be easily manipulated and distracted from Oligarchy Rule. Too bad, since you otherwise have a firm grasp of the nature of our wage slavery.

  11. AnonymousForObviousReason | December 4, 2019 at 11:45 pm | Reply

    @Gunny | December 2, 2019 at 11:07 pm
    ***********

    Wow. Just…wow. Thanks Gunny for this comment, direct live from year 1830.

    Another dummy which, apparently, never heard about socialist nightmare shithole countries like
    Iceland
    Denmark
    Sweden
    Norway
    Australia
    Austria
    New Zealand
    Netherlands

    How dare those countries (when they were white) dared to refuse the wonderful land of Perfect Classical Liberalism, accorded to the Holy Books of Adam Smith, Bastiat, Friedman, Hayek and all the other apostles?

    Frankly, you should go back to Mitt Romney’s herd.

  12. The only way socialism works is by National Socialism. With an ethnically homogeneous populace. Anything else is just a bandaid to slow the collapse. I can not even believe people are still arguing about this. America is dead. But that’s ok it needs to die.

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