Cronyism and Corruption: Then and Now

I want to call everyone’s attention to two excellent recently published books by superb authors on Rothbardian power elite analysis. The first is Cronyism: Liberty versus Power in Early America, 1607–1849, by Patrick Newman. The later book is Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy, by Jonathan Marshall. Newman is the masterful editor of the concluding fifth volume of Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty history of colonial America, Conceived in Liberty, Volume 5: The New Republic, and what I believe to be Rothbard’s finest, definitive historical work, The Progressive Era. Marshall is the author of Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy.

Jonathan Marshall is a widely prolific investigative journalist, author of numerous path-breaking books dealing with the dark, clandestine under belly of covert operations, the international narcotics trade, and institutional criminal network structures and elite alliances of regimes throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.  He has written hundreds of acclaimed articles in an incredibly wide range of publishing venues across the political spectrum. Older readers may recall some of his marvelous contributions to the Journal of Libertarian Studies, INQUIRY magazine, Journal of Intelligence History, and Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. Read these glowing assessments about his latest book:

For those who wish to gain an intimate knowledge of the nexus among organized crime, business, and politics, Dark Quadrant is a fascinating and jolting journey into the abyss. There is something for everyone—the organized crime buff, the political scientist, and most certainly, the historian who often gives short shrift to the invisible hand. Simply put, money now and forever has and will rule American politics. The evidence marshalled here proves the case beyond any doubt. ― Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

For decades the exposure of dark alliances between politicians and criminals has been a weapon in U.S. party polemics. Jonathan Marshall, well-trained as a non-partisan historian as well as a journalist, has raised this under-researched field to a higher level. At first, he shows how organized crime figures like Mickey Cohen fostered the careers of preferred politicians like Richard Nixon. Later he illustrates how U.S. organized crime has been intertwined with U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Caribbean and Far East. In his final chapter he writes how “Organized crime today… is a form of big business,” accompanied by the unprecedented role of “dark money” in shaping American politics. He closes with a quote from Freedom House that American democracy is now “on a level with Greece, Croatia, and Mongolia.” Corruption has become a major political crisis, and Marshall’s objective study of it is unparalleled. This book should be widely read by the public and in high places, and swiftly included in academic curricula. — Peter Dale Scott, author of The Deep State, American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan, and Dallas ’63: The First Deep State Revolt Against the White House

Investigative journalist Jonathan Marshall’s Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy might be the first serious examination of the influence of moneyed interests on our elections and on public policy. . . . Marshall’s unsparing history begins with Harry Truman and works its sobering way to our own time. ― Public Affairs Council

Corruption in government has been a problem for as long as there have been governments. Here, journalist and historian Marshall takes a look at the problem as it applies to modern American government. Few will doubt the premise that corruption has always been a factor in American politics to some extent, but the assumption has also been that it has been kept (somewhat) in check by the assiduous effort of American law enforcement. Marshall’s historical examination reveals that, since the mid-twentieth century, political corruption has been widespread thanks to the efforts of organized crime and the largesse of big business. The influence of organized crime has been largely staunched, but, in recent decades, changes in laws have allowed the proliferation of corrupt cash in American government, threatening the function of modern democracy—as readers who followed the news during recent elections have seen. Marshall’s detailed analysis paints a distressing picture, but hopefully also provides a useful roadmap to the idealized future envisioned by reformers seeking to genuinely drain the swamp. ― Booklist

A unique blend of magma-deep research, dramatic revelations, and judicious conclusions. Marshall tells some frequently gobsmacking tales while steadily keeping his eye on the larger historical context. Readers will come away with an enlarged sense of the meaning and methods of corruption—and with a fresh perspective on what makes modern America tick. — David M. Kennedy, emeritus, Stanford University, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945

A deeply troubling history of corruption in the United States, from Truman’s presidency to Trump’s. Marshall charts the ‘swamp’ that Trump fatuously claimed he would drain, exposes the fetid reality, and warns that it is a cancer in the heart of democracy.– Anthony Summers, Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History, 2012

Jonathan Marshall’s newest couldn’t be more timely. As America struggles to hold together its fragile democracy, many wonder how this could be happening. Marshall skillfully reminds us that we should have seen it all coming, showing how we have ignored the ‘dark quadrant’ of systemic political corruption for far too long. Everyone must read the deeply researched, sobering Dark Quadrant and decide for themselves if it’s finally time to get serious about corruption in America. — Gus Russo, author of Supermob and The Outfit

Jonathan Marshall, a courageous and respected investigative historian, explores our country’s corruption in the latter part of the twentieth century. He then documents how corruption became more sophisticated in the twenty-first century and, via the rise of the corrupt and dishonest Donald Trump, jeopardized America’s basic institutions, as well as our fundamental rights and freedoms. . . . Marshall has given America a wake-up call. — Dan E. Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars

Jonathan Marshall’s new book . . . effectively challenges this narrative [of a golden age of U.S. democracy] and the myth of the ‘greatest generation.’ The book details the largely neglected story of how well-protected criminals organized the corruption of U.S. politics and business at a national level after World War II. . . . The presidents featured in Dark Quadrant . . . ultimately governed in the interests of their corporate and mob-linked donors, betrayed democratic values, and corroded the nation’s moral fabric. With a new Cold War heating up, U.S. leaders now strive to present U.S. global leadership as necessary to save the world from Russian and Chinese autocracy. Marshall’s study reminds us, however, that the United States evolved after World War II as a corrupted dollarocracy. Its rhetoric about promoting democracy around the world as such rings hollow. ― Covert action

“Dark Quadrant: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy, from Truman to Trump” is a revealing new book by Jonathan Marshall, a courageous and respected investigative historian whose work I’ve followed for years. Drawing on a wealth of original sources, his latest work explores the hidden role of organized crime in the corruption of our country’s national politics in the latter part of the 20th Century.

Among other topics, he covers mob infiltration of the Truman administration, the role of organized crime in the rise of McCarthyism, the near-derailment of Vice President Johnson’s political career owing to two mob-related national political scandals, and how Richard Nixon’s career-long association with underworld figures culminated in the Watergate scandal.

Jonathan’s story closes with a 21st Century look at Donald Trump’s many connections to leaders of both the traditional American Mafia and newer transnational gangs like the Russian Mafiya.

His book is both an engrossing history and a wake-up call to action. . . . I highly recommend it. — – Dan E. Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars



3:38 pm on January 28, 2022

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