Great Depression secret societies, gangs, illuminati, etc.

Patrick and I were discussing the conditions for the formation of black markets this morning. So this anecdote stuck out.

“Why Detroit?” asked Bingay of the Free Press, ” that question has been asked throughout the world for the past twenty-five years….Chicago was inevitable. Chicago grew like a callous on a hand….Detroit was unique….Word swept over America about a new strange thing that was happening….A group of Detroiters were making wagons that could run without horses.”

Automotive jobs drew tens of thousands to the city. Newcomers came from other parts of Michigan and the Midwest, from throughout the country. “In the South they had labor trains bringing people north,” recalled one Alabama native. Immigrants came from Europe. Between 1920 and 1930 Detroit’s population not only added more than half a million people, rising to 1.5 million, its mix changed substantially. Fewer than 60 percent of Michigan residents had been born in the state. Eighteen percent had come from another country, 9 percent from Ohio or the South. Blacks accounted for more than 7 percent and their presence was growing. In ten years the black population had tripled to 120,000. The result of this broad influx was a city divided by ethnicity, faith, race, economics, political beliefs, and complicated allegiances.

-Tom Stanton
Terror in the City of Champions;
Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit

That reminds me, I need to add Glubb to the prerequisites.

When the Depression hit, those divisions grew sharper. Detroit was a cauldron. “It is a city of strangers,” observed writer Forrest Davis. And then the market crashed and the taloned beast of the Great Depression grabbed hold of the great city.

On a visit novelist John Dos Passos found thousands of jobless men living on the streats and in parks, fretting over their futures, debating the right paths, and pondering revolt amid men hawking copies of the Labor Defender. “They are everywhere, all over the vast unfinished city, the more thrifty living in shacks and shelters along the waterfront, in the back rooms of unoccupied houses, the others just sleeping any place…,” he wrote. “In the evening they stroll up and down Woodward Avenue and look at the posters on the all-night movies and cluster around medicine shows and speakers in back lots where you hear the almost forgotten names of old-time labor parties like the Proletarian Party and the Socialist Labor Party.”

Switch out Humphrey Bogart for anime and that sounds a lot like /pol/.

The interesting bit is that I’ve been asking random strangers all day about this, including a librarian who’s lived in Michigan since 1950, and not one of them has even heard of the part that comes next.

The Black Legion was a Militia group and a white supremacist organization in the Midwestern United States that splintered from the Ku Klux Klan. It operated during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and according to historian Rick Perlstein, the FBI estimated its membership “at 135,000, including a large number of public officials, possibly including Detroit’s police chief.” In 1936 the group was suspected of assassinating as many as 50 people, according to the Associated Press, including Charles Poole, an organizer for the Works Progress Administration.[1] At the time of Poole’s murder, the Associated Press described the organization as “A group of loosely federated night-riding bands operating in several States without central discipline or common purpose beyond the enforcement by lash and pistol of individual leaders’ notions of ‘Americanism’.”

black_legion_uniforms_with_skull-and-crossbones_insignia

Wikipedia

For reference, that’s more than three times the current Arab population of Dearborn, which is the largest population of Arabs in the US and effectively living under Sharia law. That’s a pretty big political movement to memory-hole. My understanding is was that the only real estate conspiracieslanded gentry still operating out this way are the Lions and they’re all dying off. (Please also note that the Wikipedia page is significantly different from the Infogalactic page. Somebody out there is still flying the ol’ Jolly Roger.)

Initially, the Black Legion was part of the Klan. It was founded in the 1920s, in the Appalachian region of East Central Ohio, by William Shepard, who formed a paramilitary force called the Black Guard. Its original mission was to protect regional officers of the Ku Klux Klan. The Black Legion formed chapters all across Ohio, and it expanded into other areas of the Midwestern United States. One of its self-described leaders, Virgil “Bert” Effinger, lived and worked in Lima, Ohio.

Like the KKK, the Black Legion was largely made up of native-born white men in the Midwest, many of whom were originally from the South. Having been displaced from the culture and economy of the rural South, these men felt increasingly alienated as they were consigned to unskilled labor on the lower rungs of the industrial economy of major cities such as Detroit. They resented having to compete for jobs and housing with black migrants and Jewish and Catholic immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. Their enemies list “included all immigrants, Catholics, Jews and blacks, nontraditional Protestant faiths, labor unions, farm cooperatives and various fraternal groups.”[3] Membership was concentrated in Michigan and Ohio.

Black Legion members created a network for jobs and influence. In addition, as a secret vigilante group, the Black Legion members operated in gangs in order to enforce their view of society, sometimes attacking immigrants to intimidate them at work, or to enforce their idea of moral behavior. They generally opposed socialism and union organizing, and had a reputation for frequent violence against alleged enemies, whether political or social.From 1933 to 1936, they were rumored to be responsible for some unsolved deaths, which had been officially attributed to suicide or unknown perpetrators.

In 1931, a chapter of the Black Legion formed in Highland Park, Michigan by Arthur F. Lupp, Sr. of Highland Park who styled himself its major general. Throughout and perhaps fueled by the economic and social upheaval of Great Depression, the Black Legion continued to expand across Michigan until the mid-1930s, when its estimated membership peaked at between 20,000 and 30,000. In general, Black Legion members were native-born Protestant men, many of whom had previously migrated from the South. One-third of its members lived in the city of Detroit, which had also been a strong center of KKK activity in the 1920s. The Michigan Legion was organized along military lines, with 5 brigades, 16 regiments, 64 battalions, and 256 companies. It boasted a membership of one million Legionnaires in Michigan, but observers estimated that it only had between 20,000 and 30,000 members.[4] One-third of them were located in Detroit, with many of them living in Highland Park.

Just to show that my associative horizon isn’t just getting out of hand, Highland Park and Woodward are effectively the same thing (Highway 1 on this map):

2018-08-04 22_47_52-Highland Park - Google Maps - Pale Moon

A big difference between then and now is that the industrialists fought financial wars with their pocketbooks, whereas today cosmopolitans fight culture wars with memetics. So where men of the Great Depression starved in the old fashioned way, men today are starved for religious community, answers to the most important existential questions, artistic representation, intellectual stimulation, and the concomitant desire to survive and thrive (i.e. libido), these being innocent casualties of the culture war. The dark enlightenment and the Alt-Right could be compared to the Purple Gang, except instead of liquor we’re bootlegging illegal Murdoch Murdoch cartoons and Stormfront articles.

When did earth become such a gay place? At least when Sicilian secret societies operating in New York were kidnapping children back in the 1920s they had the decency to call themselves something cool like the Black Hand. I doubt Podesta ever even dreamed of a name as cool as that. On the other hand, between the proto-Nazism and all the flogging I’m getting a distinctly gay vibe from this Black Legion crowd. Official word is that the movement broke up after fifty odd members were arrested, but that sounds like bullshit. More likely they rebranded and reformed into something a bit looser and more mature.

Unrelated but interesting, there’s an obscure Humphrey Bogart movie about this movement that I want to check out.

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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3 Responses to Great Depression secret societies, gangs, illuminati, etc.

  1. vejiortan says:

    Good find. Maybe the lack of historical memory about it has to do with its relevance, membership and radicalism having been exagerrated by later authors.

    What this thing tells us is:
    – the men who formed most of this movement had several things in common: Heritage (mostly english, with probably some germans and scots-irish and scandinavians), denomination, authochtony
    – they were not thinking along racial lines, the three aforementioned aspects were what determined their perception of ingroup and outgroup – catholic italians, for example, would have been rejected because of their ethnicity, denomination and immigrant status. (They weren’t “wh!te n4tionalists”)
    – despite having some kind of common identity, a lot of unemployed frustrated young men and an (allegedly) enormous overall number of members, including many with local elite status, this movement was so ineffective that it isn’t even properly remembered today.
    – it was neither centralized, nor effective at building local structures (ie. real communities) – instead, the loose local branches seemed to just dissolve into thin air a few years later. This sounds more like a fad than a serious movement (note the similarities to its parent movement).

    A further point: Movements like this and its parent-movement developed out of a position of weakness, as a crisis cult (there’s a famous american indian example of that). It was a reaction to the ongoing destruction of their culture and communities by a capitalistic system. The men who “revolted” were already uprooted and atomized – they had already left their homes and rural communities to work in some factory, the masses of immigrants were already there.
    But instead of going against the system that produced this situation, they were occupied with local conflicts with other groups (which were often as much victims of this process as they were).

    I think that this movement and its parent movement was merely the last reflex of a crumbling old world, not the beginning of a new one. Most of the “alt-r!ight” should be seen in a similar light.

  2. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    I had two thoughts relative to this. First, a lot of things went by the wayside once the economy got going again with the onset of WWII. Second, it is no surprise that J. Edgar kept a close watch on this bunch. They define what a domestic terrorist organization is. Just guessing, but they tend to lose popularity fast when innocent people start getting killed.

  3. Boneflour says:

    This stuff is insane. A Klan offshoot that wore pirate hats and had people up to the Chief of Police in on it? Really? And no one remembers it?

    Truth really is stranger than fiction. I agree, great find.

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