Episode

1/31 The “Gangsters” That Made American Empire w/ Jonathan M. Katz

January 31, 2022

Sam and Emma host journalist Jonathan M. Katz, author of The Racket newsletter, to discuss his recent book Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, The Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire, which explores the founding and expansion of US imperialism in the wake of manifest destiny, as the US military looked towards Latin America and the Pacific for the future of their economic exploitations. Telling the story through the awakening of one Smedley Butler, who would go on to write “War is a Racket”, Katz begins by situating his entrance into the military, joining the Marines on the eve of the Spanish-American War in Cuba, and rising up the ranks of Imperialism throughout the beginning of the 1900s, getting increasingly insider perspectives in countless colonizations and coups until ultimately reaching a breaking point with the obvious and exclusive economic interests at play. Katz, Sam, and Emma then dive into Butler’s developing roles, looking at his entrance into imperialism with the invasion of Cuba, setting up a century defined by US intervention (but totally not colonialism…) in the region, and touch on how his role in Nicaragua and the Philippines greatly clarified the true purposes of dollar diplomacy, before the military action inched closer and closer to genocides, and the specter of fascism looked more and more like the US military. After diving into the lasting impact of slaughter and exploitation in the regions Smedley fought in, the three of them look to Smedley’s return to the US, taking on a role of speaking out against the mistreatment of veterans by the government, and how this led Gerald McGuire and the Liberty League to see him as an anti-establishment ally, rather than the anti-fascist, anti-imperialist he had become. They wrap up the interview by looking at Butler’s whistleblowing on the League’s coup attempt on FDR, and some greater notes on US fascism that the Business Plot brought about. Sam and Emma also touch on Biden ONCE AGAIN politicizing the Courts by wanting to NOMINATE a JUDGE that is a BLACK WOMAN in PREPARATION for a DIFFERENT JUDGE’s retirement.

And in the Fun Half: Jason from Columbus dives into Smedley Butler’s legacy in the marines, Paul from College explores how long COVID has been devastating young people, and Joe Rogan reminds us that the true misinformation was the knowledge that evolved along the way. Julie Banderas talks about the failure of bipartisanship, Matt Lech explores Peter Thiel’s work with the law firm that led the Guatemalan coup in the 50s, and Ben Shapiro finally finds the audience for his killer jokes about taxes (six-year-olds) Brad from Sarasota explores the Green New Deal as a step in the right direction, plus, your calls and IMs!

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