Economics/Class Relations

Antony Sutton’s Inconvenient Research

By Anthony Flood

I’m not an expert on the works of Antony C. Sutton (1925-2002), but I hope to be one day, and this post will explain why.Image result for antony sutton

Deep within the second volume of his magnum opus, Sutton posed the following alternative:

To subsidize and support a system that is the object of massive military expenditures is both illogical and irrational. . . . it calls into question not only the ability and the wisdom but indeed the basic common sense of the policymakers. The choice is therefore clear: either the West should abandon massive armaments expenditures because the Soviet Union is not an enemy of the West, or it should abandon the technical transfers that make it possible for the Soviet Union to pose the threat to the Free World which is the raison d’être for such a large share of Western expenditures. Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development, 1945-1965, Stanford, Hoover Institution, 1968, p. 400.

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  1. So I think Sutton made too much of certain specific groups. They’re really more just clubs for the elite than definitive themselves. But other than that I would say Sutton is very good. He came to believe that one a decentralized, voluntary society could end the pervasive problems in politics and economics that he had researched. Many people call him a conspiracy theorist or whatever but nobody’s ever really disputed that the evidence he used on Soviet economy, the activities of Wall Street, etc were false. You can dispute elements of his interpretation but most of the time kf he said this or that happened at a certain time the citations he makes do support his narrative.

    He was a hardcore private property, freer market guy. He has sort of conservative, but not especially religious that I can tell and he had an old right sort of libertarian view, he was an individualist.

    I started reading Anthony Sutton shortly after I heard about libertarianism. Rothbard, Alexander Cockburn and Sutton all tend to synthesize well, and give you an impression of the Soviet Union as a primitive, demoralized society which was not a likely threat, as opposed to the much wealthier and more competent quasi-capitalist America and its vassals around the world. The Soviet Union is the biggest welfare queen in history, and exists primarily due to Anglo dislike of Germans and the piratical behavior of the Anglos themselves. After the second world War they were a convenient faux enemy to rationalize an expansion of the police state and military empire.

    • I saw an old interview with Sutton once where he was talking about his views on the traditional royal dynasties. He was arguing that for about 200 years since the rising of liberalism, capitalism, modernity, the Enlightenment, etc. the world has been controlled by the global financial powers, with the implication that fascism, communism, and Western capitalism and/or social democracy are involved in an intramural competition with each other, when they are all puppets or at least subordinates of the global financial system. Similar to sports teams who are in genuine competition with each other, and with much different players or strategies, but with all the teams ultimately being part of the same league. I’m probably butchering his arguments but that’s what he seemed to be saying from what I recall. I don’t know that this is fundamentally different from Hardt and Negri’s “Empire” thesis, although Sutton extends the trajectory a lot further back in time, to the dawn of modernity not just to the emergence of globalization.

      I grew up during the second half of the Cold War, and the USSR still existed when I was a young adult. So I was always interested in what made Communism tick. I got into Marx when I was in my early 20s, not so much as a fan but more as a matter of curiosity. I developed a decent understanding of Marxist theory and reading Chomsky and other icons of the modern left helped me better understand some of the limitations of the conventional Cold War narrative. That was actually strengthened by reading the critiques of Communism by old rightists like Rothbard and Lawrence Dennis. For instance, Rothbard’s “Myth of Monolithic Communism” pretty much confirmed what I suspected anyway. Kevin Carson helped me to develop better arguments concerning the limitations of conventional libertarianism. And while I am a long way from being an expert on Sutton, he seems to have a meta-level paradigm that I think is interesting, although my surface impression is that he seems to overstate his case quite often.

      • I think the problem with Sutton is that he tends to put all this stuff – Commies, CFR, NWO – into a very conscious sort of model. While I agree with the practical outcome and most of his examples of this financial imperialism I don’t think that the crooks running it are as well coordinated or self conscious as his explanations tend to run. But when it comes down to it, yes, corporate America built the Reds and the Cold War was a scam. Everything else people criticize him for is just bit picking.

        Antony Sutton is the Final Form of the Bircher, one who’s stripped away lair after lair of Establishment Republican propaganda and narrative until it forms a bridge between the dissident right and the most radical liberal traditions in American history. The Conservatism Inc types know nothing about Sutton, although he has far more of a claim to the principles of ’76 and hardcore America Firster stuff than they could ever hope to be. If there was any kind of meritocracy in American politics the right would be Antony Sutton and the Left would be Norman Mailer. Instead we get a gang of corrupt priests and geriatric jackals feeding on the corpse of America.

    • I usually agree with Maupin’s political analysis, particularly his views on US foreign policy and the “synthetic left.” But, of course, I would also agree with Bakunin’s and, later, Bookchin’s anarchist critique of Marxism, and the general anarchist critique of Leninism/Stalinism/Maoism. To me, Sutton is basically just an individualist-anarchist, or might as well have been.

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