Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution: The Remarkable True Story of the American Capitalists Who Financed the Russian Communists
In a courageous investigation, Antony Sutton establishes tangible historical links between Russian communists and US capitalists. Drawing on US state department files, personal papers of key Wall Street figures, biographies, and conventional histories, Sutton reveals:
- The role of Morgan banking executives in funneling illegal Bolshevik gold into the US.
- The co-option of the American Red Cross by powerful Wall Street forces.
- The intervention by Wall Street sources to free the Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, whose aim was to topple the Russian government.
- The deals made by major corporations to capture the huge Russian market a decade and a half before the US recognized the Soviet regime.
- The secret sponsoring of Communism by leading businessmen, who publicly championed free enterprise.
Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution traces the foundations of Western funding of the Soviet Union. Dispassionately, and with overwhelming documentation, the author details a crucial phase in the establishment of Communist Russia.
This classic study―first published in 1974 and part of a key trilogy―is reproduced here in its original form. The other volumes in this trilogy are Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler and Wall Street and FDR.
About the Author
Antony C. Sutton (1925-2002) was born in London and educated at the universities of London, Gottingen and California. He was a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford, California, from 1968 to 1973, and later an Economics Professor at California State University, Los Angeles. He is the author of 25 books, including the major three-volume study Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development.
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Clairview Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 2012) (First Edition, 1974)
“Sutton comes to conclusions that are uncomfortable for many businessmen and economists. For this reason, his work tends to be either dismissed out of hand as ‘extreme’ or, more often, simply ignored.” ―Richard Pipes, Baird Professor Emeritus of History, Harvard University (from Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America’s Future)
Very, very informative!
I keep finding these books by Antony Sutton and I wonder why I have never heard of him or his work. This book explains in detail how the wall street devils with help from others in the government help to overthrow what was the first, rocky steps that Russia was taking towards a democratic society. I really wish they would have told us about this in high school. I recommend this book and all of Mr. Suttons books as they are clearly written and well researched (with evidence in the actual cable transcripts!)…unlike lots of over-hyped books of today.
Manipulations of Deceit
For years now I’d heard rumours of American capitalism playing a double game by assisting its official enemies with technical, financial and industrial expertise; the American subsidiary to I G Farben of zyklon B fame, or the idea that Henry Ford was a Nazi (covered in Sutton’s third volume Wall St and the Rise of Hitler) are among two of the more well known examples. Well, finally, here is the smoking gun to a whole lot more.
My first impressions of this double game were formed in the most surreal manner by an earlier book I read on Russian affairs: Fitzroy MacLean’s Eastern Approaches. MacLean was an eye witness diplomat to the Russian show trials orchestrated by Stalin and his henchman to eliminate rivals or just indulge in political revenge for its own sake. The process was surreal as many of the accused came from the tightly knit group of the Bolsheviks themselves where they were invariably labelled `Trotskyite Capitalists’ who were out to ruin the revolution and bring down the State. Hence `Trotskyite Capitalists’ were by their very nature either `Counterrevolutionaries!’ or `Double Agents’. These were the beginnings of the Stalinist purges that would engulf so much of Russian society for years to come.
We all know of Lenin’s re-entry into Russia in a sealed train that was given special access across Germany but just prior to Lenin’s arrival, Trotsky and his entourage made their way from New York where he was feted upon by Wall Streeter’s. Sutton provides evidence that Trotsky could not have maintained a chauffeur driven life style for himself and his family, nor paid for first class travel tickets on a meagre income generated from a few journalistic articles, the proceeds of which, Trotsky claims, he donated away. Trotsky was also sprung from his incarceration in Canada to enable his free passage by some well-connected private interests.
Sutton’s thesis that these endeavours by private American Wall Street elites to facilitate the Bolshevik cause was with an eye for the main prize; a centrally controlled socialist state that was in need of virtually everything as it continued to collapse, thus providing the Wall Street cartels with their cherished of all working environments – a monopoly – and one of an extraordinary size. The Wall Street ideal of ‘getting society to work for the few’ while the cartels of the few are protected behind the power of the state, could hopefully be introduced for the benefit of the few. Of course Sutton’s thesis doesn’t rest upon the Trotsky narrative alone, we read about the American Red Cross Mission to Russia that was a front for financial interests. Once the minority of Doctors finally realised the ruse for what it was, they left in disgust. There are other converging threads to enlighten and enrage, making Sutton one of the loneliest voices in the wilderness. After providing the smoking gun, modern histories pass over his evidence in silence. Perhaps Sutton’s work represents too much of a hot potato, as bound in with all of these events is the unfortunate (for the allies) withdrawal of Russian troops from the eastern front and the transfer of German troops and equipment to the West. Was Trotsky a double agent, working for German interests to help undermine Russia?
Wall Street backed many opposing players during those fluid times, but one thing is sure, they greatly assisted the Bolshevik bid for power, as the Bolsheviks were a violent minority who gained power by coup d etat and were generally despised by the Russian majority.
Antony Sutton’s Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution is the first volume to a trilogy of books that should be more well-known than they are. The following two are . . .
Wall Street and FDR.
Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler.
Review of Antony Sutton’s Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution
As an American libertarian, Sutton believes in individualism, competition, and laissez-faire economics unfettered by governmental meddling. These values seem very American, and one might presume that those who prospered most under these conditions would be champions of these same values. But though lip service may be paid to the ideal of an economy unfettered by government intervention, it seems the tycoons of Wall Street see the world very differently.
“…it may be observed that both the extreme right and the extreme left of the conventional political spectrum are absolutely collectivist. The national socialist (for example, the fascist) and the international socialist (for example, the Communist) both recommend totalitarian politico-economic systems based on naked, unfettered political power and individual coercion. Both systems require monopoly control of society. While monopoly control of industries was once the objectives of J P Morgan and J D Rockefeller, by the late nineteenth century the inner sanctums of Wall Street understood that the most efficient way to gain an unchallenged monopoly was to ‘go political’ and make society go to work for the monopolists – under the name of the public good and the public interest.” P. 16
Whether it was in railroads or oil, the big tycoons learned that the surest way to maximize profits was through monopoly, and so they did their best to do away with competition. But an essential element to establishing and maintaining a monopoly was through influence of government. (In 1913 a private banking cartel was able to influence congress enough to establish the Federal Reserve, a privately held money monopoly.) Competition and democratic processes were obstacles to be overcome. The elite class, then, viewed economics and politics differently than the rest of us – and their perspective was not one they cared to be honest about.
“Consequently, one barrier to mature understanding of recent history is the notion that all capitalists are the bitter and unswerving enemies of Marxists and socialists…. In fact, the idea is nonsense. There has been a continuing, albeit concealed, alliance between international political capitalists and international revolutionary socialists – to their mutual benefit. This alliance has gone unobserved largely because historians – with a few notable exceptions – have an unconscious Marxian bias and are thus locked into the impossibility of any such alliance existing. The open-minded reader should bear two clues in mind: monopoly capitalists are the bitter enemies of laissez-faire entrepreneurs; and, given the weaknesses of socialist central planning, the totalitarian socialist state is a perfect captive market for monopoly capitalists, if an alliance can be made with the socialist pawnbrokers. Suppose – and it is only hypothesis at this point – that American monopoly capitalists were able to reduce a planned socialist Russia to the status of a captive technical colony? Would not this be the logical twentieth-century internationalist extension of the Morgan railroad monopolies and the Rockefeller petroleum trust on the late nineteenth century?” P. 17
This is the context Sutton provides for understanding the underwriting of the Bolshevik Revolution by Wall Street financiers in 1917. He presents astounding assertions, but with strong evidence. And his evidence is very detailed. He doesn’t just summarize his findings in a historical narrative, but often has you reading original cables, letters, committee transcripts, and the like. Because of the sensitive nature of much of the evidence, it is amazing he has been able to uncover what he has. There were people in high places who would want to see these sorts of things suppressed, after all.
What was it that motivated Wall Street financiers to become involved in the Russian revolution? Sutton examines the role of William Boyce Thompson, Federal Reserve Bank director who went to Russia in 1917.
“From the total picture we can deduce that Thompson’s motives were primarily financial and commercial. Specifically, Thompson was interested in the Russian market, and how this market could be influenced, diverted, and captured for postwar exploitation by a Wall Street syndicate, or syndicates. Certainly Thompson viewed Germany as an enemy, but less a political enemy than an economic or a commercial enemy. German industry and German banking were the real enemy. To outwit Germany, Thompson was willing to place seed money on any political power vehicle that would achieve his objective. In other words, Thompson was an American imperialist fighting against German imperialism…” P. 97
Germany, at war with Russia at the time, also tried to influence the revolution. It is well established that the German government financed and organized “the return to Russia of Lenin and his party of exiled Bolsheviks, followed a few weeks later by a party of Mensheviks…” The dual German objectives were “(a) removal of Russia from the war, and (b) control of the postwar Russian market.” P. 169
Wall Street’s motivation for involvement in the Bolshevik Revolution had less to do than Germany’s as to the outcome of the world war, and more to do with the postwar Russian market.
“Russia was then – and is today – the largest untapped market in the world. Moreover, Russia, then and now, constituted the greatest potential competitive threat to American industrial and financial supremacy.” P. 172
“In the late nineteenth century, Morgan, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim had demonstrated their monopolistic proclivities. In Railroads and Regulation 1877-1916 Gabriel Kolko has demonstrated how the railroad owners, not the farmers, wanted state control of railroads in order to preserve their monopoly and abolish competition. So the simplest explanation of our evidence is that a syndicate of Wall Street financiers enlarged their monopoly ambitions and broadened horizons on a global scale.”
“In other words, we are suggesting that the Bolshevik Revolution was an alliance of statists; statist revolutionaries and statist financiers aligned against the genuine revolutionary libertarian elements in Russia.” P. 173
“The question now in the readers’ mind must be, were these bankers also secret Bolsheviks? No, of course not. The financiers were without ideology. It would be a gross misinterpretation to assume that assistance for the Bolsheviks was ideologically motivated in any narrow sense. The financiers were power-motivated and therefore assisted any political vehicle that would give them an entrée to power: Trotsky, Lenin, the tsar, Kolchak, Denikin – all received aid, more or less. All, that is, but those who wanted a truly free individualistic society.” P. 173-4
Money is power, and power corrupts. In reading this volume, as well as the other two books in the trilogy, Wall Street and FDR and Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, the reader obtains a view of the profound influence big money has had on modern history. The big money players are without ideology, and without morals. The influence of big money continues to this day, and Sutton is the rare author who shows it to us for what it is.