The Situation

Magazine cover reading "Southern Exposure: The Military and the South," with a drawing of a soldier

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 1 No. 1, "The Military & the South." Find more from that issue here.

The following article contains anti-Black racial slurs.

Come inside seminar room University of California, Berkeley. Sign on door says, “Reserved for Military Use Only.’’ Man at the head of the table only one in non-military uniform. Twelve Generals, Admirals; Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines, all represented at the table. Mahogany. Board of Directors chairs. Meet the man at the head of the table. He is a professor . . . Zantzinger. Dr. William Zantzinger.

Maybe middle-aged Anglo-Saxon, blue serge suit, heavy brown-rimmed glasses, reserved know-it-all smile somewhere between banker and undertaker on social scale, physiognomy at midpoint too. Or maybe funky old Jew, ex-socialist, or secret socialist (see Portnoy’s Complaint for in-depth profile). Really revolutionary at heart, but now in drag, middle class coat and old dark narrow tie disguise. Writing equations on green blackboard-courtesy National Science Foundation, or DoD-different name, same soul-which formulae explain the marginal utility of regrouping refugees from occupied Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in safe areas of Thailand. He calls it “planned urbanization.” Of others in room, Admiral Rickwalt, clearly, in physique and mystique, dominates. But Air Force General C. Letme has much favor among straight talking Texans and other civilians. (He mumbles under breath, “Urbanization, hell, just roundin’ up the Gooks.”)

Of course, the idea of planned urbanization is not Zantzinger’s. It comes from other men, other institutions, other long histories that some say are much heavier than either Zantzinger’s or the men from the Pentagon. These are the Texans. Let me tell you about them.

These particular Texans run the TPD Corporation (short for Texas Pen Designers). These are the ones who invented, perfected and sold to the military the concept of Refugee Ranches as asylums in Thailand for “friendlies.” They are direct descendants of the Texans who won the Alamo, recruited Africans for cotton picking chores and Mexicans for lettuce picking, who got aircraft industry for supporting Roosevelt’s war mobilization, and aerospace from their home-grown Vice President, home-made President. (“I have seen the future, and it is Texas,” John F. Kennedy, Dallas, November 22, 1963.)

TPD's coordinated Pen development, or Asian Acres as it would be called, was bringing Texas entrepreneurial skills up to date, maintaining full employment economy with Pentagon bucks and modern technology. They manufacture means to cut down, keep down, population explosion in Asia, which, while cutting down Gooks, keeps Crackers working. At the same time they conserve scarce resources of Asian and Texas oil for Texas and New York Cadillac drivers of 1990’s, build Model Cities for our Asians, and develop (also under DoD contract) long range, quick-fattening, pen-to-plate cattle raising processes for beef export to Asia-preferably using large transport planes or quick refrigerated ships (cf. Lockheed C-5A or Litton FDL) to simultaneously aid balance of payments, economic development in Georgia, Mississippi and California, primarily, but 43 other states secondarily-while increasing protein intake in our Asians, integrating them not only economically but nutritionally into American Way of Life so they can ultimately beat their Asians.

This particular charity also helps Texans maintain and increase city-building technology developed in sixties by defense-dependent corporations (threatened by conversion) to meet problems in daily living encountered by darker residents of dingy inner slum areas. Now that Terminal Final Solution clear pattern of response to Black Rebellion, quiet grows in ghettoes. Like only disturbance now swish swish of junkie head nodding in corner quiet room. Sometimes sounds of silence disturbed only by rat eating passed out junkie carrion flesh. Logic of Nixon-CIA game plan: fly in free dope, give out needles at schools. (Watch Government Men in Cadillacs.) They pick up loads from low-flying helicopters of local bank cooperating with CIA dope-runners bringin’ it into Ft. Benning. . . . Meanwhile Government eliminates rat control funds so solve half-dozen problems at once: what to do with black junkie carrion, what to feed rats, how to cut nigger money, how to keep em quiet, distracted, etc. Swish, swish, gnaw, gnaw, swish, swish, gnaw, gnaw. The sound of our Civilization. (There’s no nigger like a dead nigger, they say, and anyway, Asians got oil and niggers ain’t.)

Anyway, that sums up Texas Ruling Class in their present, past relation to culture, economy, politics of Nation-and don’t forget, future: Top TPD director now figuring out which Party should be honored by his assured Presidential victory.

But Dr. Zantzinger is quite different from these unruly and crude and materially determined Texans. For he is interested in cooperative developmental economics. He thinks the critical need of the 20th Century is a theoretical alternative to the Calvinistic individualism which drives the Capitalist World, or the Marxian socialism which has developed as its alternative. The search for this middle course is his own professional preoccupation. So it is not oil lust, or profits, that is on his mind when he taps the long line of equations on the seminar board with his professional pointer, or stops and steps back to reflect, while twirling the cane round his Harvard ringed finger.

Yes, Harvard, class of ’36, major math, then Ph.D. in economics, Columbia '42. A member Young Socialists at Harvard, then the Communist Party U.S.A. briefly during the anti-Fascist United Front days. He went with O.S.S. after Columbia, then taught at newly formed National War College. When Truman began poking into political pasts of government employees under prodding from big business militarists and Americans for Democratic Action, a friend who knew about his past suggested he move into C.I.A. Later he took one year out from Agency to teach at Center for International Studies at MIT.

Because he enjoyed working with young people, and they seemed to enjoy him, Zantzinger took another leave ‘outside’ Agency teaching at the University of North Carolina, but actually acting as ‘unofficial’ advisor to newly formed National Student Association. Of course, the Agency arranged for a foundation grant to cover his salary at U.N.C. and gave him expense money to travel. He was widely attacked in the southern press along with N.S.A. as ‘communistic’ on the race question. It was one of the most exciting years in his career. In many cases he was working on campus with veterans just returned from Korea who had had the experience of fighting with Negro G.I.’s for the first time in American history, and many of them agreed that it was time the country live up to its commitment to all its citizens. The Agency felt that developing a group of young southerners committed to peaceful and positive change in race relations in the South was absolutely essential to maintaining our worldwide image-especially in Africa and Asia-of the possibilities within our system for democratic change. Dr. Zantzinger preferred being in the South, anyway, working as it were, on the front lines of Freedom, rather than doing intelligence and logistics work as he had for the Agency during the Korean campaign.

Actually, after Korea, he had been assigned by the Agency to work on logistics planning to remove the communistic Arbenz government in Guatemala. When he discovered that Arbenz was actually more of a socialist like himself, and had been democratically elected, he prepared a memorandum arguing against the coup. This caused a number of his colleagues to begin to mutter about his ‘loyalty to the team,’ so Zantzinger shut up and went ahead on the Action Plan, although he did hear that some parts of his memo were used by a higher official in arguing against the invasion in a presentation to Eisenhower. That made him feel better. After all it wasn’t his decision, and by staying in he’d gotten The Other Side of the issue presented to the President.

It affected him though. He had to admit it did. So when the Supreme Court ruled in May of ’54 that school segregation was no longer legal, and he heard some talk around the Agency that many of the social change techniques they had been developing around the world were probably applicable in the South, and the Agency might get involved, he let it be known that he was interested in the project. By the time Arbenz was successfully overthrown by the Agency in June, Zantzinger was already making plans to move to the University of North Carolina as a “Visiting Professor in Developmental Economics.’’

After he’d already made his decision to move and the details had been worked out, he was offered a full professorship at Harvard. He was certainly flattered by the offer. Afterall, Harvard was the most prestigious University in the United States, perhaps the World. It was also his Alma Mater.

Filled with nostalgia at the possibility of returning to the University to which he had just barely gained admittance, but from which he had emerged as one of the most distinguished students in mathematics and economics, he was very crestfallen, and even a little insulted, when he discovered that the United Fruit Company, which controls most of the Guatemalan economy and is headquartered in Boston, had approached Harvard and offered to establish a chair for him because of his virtuoso planning work on the Guatemalan invasion. The Company Representative made it clear to him that he would be guaranteed substantial fees in addition to his generous salary at Harvard for consulting with them on maintaining the security of their banana properties in the Caribbean. The Company wanted to prevent the necessity for future violent coups.

Despite his immediate disappointment that it was business recognition of his skills, rather than his professional colleagues' respect for his theoretical contributions to the discipline, which had resulted in the job offer, he had to admit that he was tempted. For he too abhorred violence. There were better ways to get things done. There was that middle course of development, and a position at Harvard would be an ideal place to pursue his research.

But his role in planning the Guatemalan invasion still did not sit well with him. He talked the Harvard offer over with his wife. She much preferred the idea of moving to Boston, with its large academic and cultural community, than to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But, as he explained to her, he thought his theoretical work on Alternatives to Communist Development in the Third World would be more credible if he wasn't Professor of the United Fruit Chair for Social Change. His wife reluctantly agreed with him. (She’s always been wonderful that way, sacrificing her own interests to his career.)

So Zantzinger went to Carolina to work with the exciting young students across the region who wanted to build a More Progressive South, and saw Student Action through the United States National Student Association as the way to achieve it. He also ran a graduate seminar on Developmental Economics. It was a busy, fulfilling time. Though he was at U.N.C. for only a few years, his erudite and up-to-date conversation, not to mention his widespread contacts-became very well known throughout the campus. In fact, he helped put together a proposal to fund a major regional economic study, the first really since the work of Howard Odum’s regionalism school at U.N.C. back in the '30's. He helped pick the people who wrote the major pieces, and, of course, through his contacts at the Agency was very instrumental in getting a large Ford Grant.

Zantzinger's insistence that the racial problems of the South could never be solved without forward movement to ameliorate the existing and persisting economic discrepancies between the various races, ethnic groups in the region, and his superb salesmanship in accumulating and presenting data to this effect to the right people at the right time gave him a reputation for dynamic leadership of academic and social problem-solving not only in the South but back at Agency headquarters. Having certain problems with integrating diverse ethnic groups into a dynamic and forward moving new Nation, etc. in South Vietnam, the Agency asked Zantzinger if he would come back to Washington, maybe spend some time in Asia, apply knowledge of integration, forward economic movement, etc. learned in underdeveloped South to underdeveloped South Vietnam. His wife wanted to move back to metropolitan USA and he was ready for a Bigger Challenge so back they went to D.C. And shortly Zantzinger was working on interdisciplinary, inter-college combined Agency-A.I.D. Team for Forward Movement in Vietnam—which group provided many of the most innovative and humanistic ideas which led the new and dynamic Kennedy administration to make the Commitment to Save Vietnam from Communism.

But as the effort in Vietnam slowly disintegrated from Nation Building, to shoring up an ever-more-obvious police state with ever-increasing military power, Zantzinger’s confident continence turned slowly into a determined resignation that the Salvation of Vietnam was not possible. Indeed, so discouraged did he become with the massive destruction of that land, he increasingly turned his analytical attention to the problems of refugees. It was not a position at the center of an evolving policy dynamic, but he had come to the conclusion that a successful resolution of the situation was impossible; that, in fact, the policy, as it came to be dominated by increasing American military power, was a counterproductive use of American energy, treasure and blood. So he was content with trying to minimize the pain of a failed policy, rather than shouldering the burden for revising or resuscitating that which he felt to be beyond either positive revision or ultimate success.

But while he tried to cope with the refugees of Nation Building abroad, the Rebellion against the Vietnam effort grew at home. And he found himself watching in wonder at the TV images spun across the Pacific, of fires in central cities and assassinations in unending numbers. And always as he watched the "lone” assassins do their work, the memory of the Arbenz incident ate an uneasy illness in his insides. But it seemed increasingly there was no one to talk to, there were only more problems, more refugees to plan for. And if his work was not the progressive, hopeful thing for Asians as he had hoped it would be, neither, he reconciled himself, was his role primarily destructive, like some. Someone had to be there to put America’s best foot forward even if the world seemed increasingly to think we had given up our ideals. If sometimes he almost felt the same way, he cautioned himself against the mistake of confusing the exigencies of the exercise of power, that the United States must maintain to demonstrate a consistency of policy, with criminal or malicious intent, or action, as the more irresponsible war critics increasingly suggested was the corrupt core of our effort.

So at times it was with a great reluctance, a great sense of the difficulty, even tragedy of his role, that he persisted. For the moderate alternative within a misconceived policy may seem irrelevant to outsiders, but for the refugees he had known and helped, he knew his work was worthwhile. And besides it was an important, intellectually stimulating problem to solve. So it is in this role that we find Zantzinger standing at a DoD/NSF green board running down his calculations for neat, very neat, and modern New Cities (of 100,000 population each) to be built just inside Thai border, well sealed off by electronic fences and ultraviolet scanners (more products of TPD Corp. via Pentagon contract).

Here’s Zantzinger: “According to my calculations these New Cities can be created at a cost well within our National Capacity for Foreign Aid, South East Asian Region Fiscal Year 75. I let this total figure be signified NCFASEAR-FY 75. Divide the number of Asians per city by the number of acres available to each new development to get the Asian acre number. Let that be signified Aa. Now the sum of the Aa ...”

Air Force General rudely interrupts: "The hell with this regroupin’ stuff. We've done that already twenty times. I say bomb the muthafuckers off the face a’ tha earth. That’s all they understand. How the hell you think we ever got ’em to the table anyway. Let’s just say they ain’t keepin’ up the agreements. Wipe those yellow card carryin’ slanteyes off the face of the earth once and for all. And it doesn't cost a penny more. Anyway you know we’ve got all this unemployment in Seattle. The more B-52’s we use in Asia, the more we gotta make in Seattle. And I’ll tell you somethin’ else too. A guy like Scoop Jackson’ll stand by you when the goin' is tough. Them Model Cities type moderates, guys like this Tunney from California, or Hart from Michigan, they’re for ya as long as you’re payin’ Lockheed or GM to build these Modular units for these New Cities. But what do they do when the fuckin' commies start burnin’ the damn camps? They start burnin’ the military! Yappin’ about cuttin’ the military budget, givin’ us hell, for what was their doin’ in the first place! I say bomb ’em now and get it over with.”

Zantzinger: “Well, General, I think you’re underestimating our ability to stabilize the situation given the new world balance of power, our new negotiating strength vis-a-vis the Soviet Union and Red China which will prohibit them from encouraging or supporting any rash new tactics by the North Vietnamese. Also there is the factor that this camp will be totally within a country that is a) stable and b) totally controlled by us, therefore limiting the amount of outside attacks that might be mounted. Also, as you quite properly point out, the B-52’s should not be forgotten, but the factor of critical importance is to use them in a surgically precise and controlled manner.” 

AF General: “Oh, bullshit, Doc! You guys think you got an answer for everything.”

Navy Admiral (A Southern Gentleman Villain, large smile, low persuasive voice, like blond band leader in “Lady Sings the Blues”): “Now, General. I don’t see any need to be rude about this. I think we could carry on our differences in a more civilized manner, don’t you? After all, this is the greatest University in the West, the University of California at Berkeley, and if we can’t resolve our differences here, where can we? (searching slow smile around room) Dr. Zantzinger has worked very closely with Dr. Kissingher and has a very good sense of what direction the President and his Top Assistant want to move toward. And we all agree, of course, that it is the proper role of the military to fit our needs and plans into the overall evolving strategic concepts of the civilian sector of our society and not impose our own Service Interests in any way that might conflict with the National Interest as Dr. Kissingher and the President, (smile again and pause) are evolving in their unprecedented and innovative New Strategy for World Order (smiles again directly at Zantzinger who nods back weakly).

Admiral continues: “And as everyone knows our role is chiefly to com ple ment (draws out syllables emphasizing each one) the plans of the Commander-in-Chief. It’s a big job to integrate the solution of the enormous social and economic problems at home with our responsibilities abroad. In my own case, for instance, I feel that the work Litton is doing for the Navy in Mississippi is critically important, and not least for the ships which are being built there and which will ultimately be our last and most impregnable line of defense in Asia. We should never forget that most of the oil in Southeast Asia is offshore and while rubber can be synthesized, Tungsten can be gotten from our secure ally in South Africa, and we could even remove our Asians from the mainland if necessary, oil, gentlemen, on which our whole economy depends-not to mention our Navy and Air Force too (smiles at the Air Force General whose brow is now knotted and teeth gritting in jealousy at his colleague's virtuoso performance)-is an irreplaceable resource which we cannot and shall not, be denied.

Admiral continues: “And in the context of that resource and of the civilian sector's plans, and needs, we should think of our own contribution. In that light I would like to mention to Dr. Zantzinger that the new technology that Litton is developing in its Mississippi shipyard of modular synthesis of shipbodies, is not only of particular application there, but may very well be the basis for mass produced housing which in the short run could very well dovetail with your evolving plans for New Cities in Thailand. Of course I think we could get substantial support for such an expansion of Litton’s contract from Senator Stennis, and although Roy Ash clearly will make no direct move to help in this regard, I think the prestige of his position would do nothing but help your plan for modular development of New Cities in Asia for the Temporary Solution to the Asian question (smiles at Dr. Zantzinger).

“And I think the liberals who might be tempted to attack Ash could easily be satisfied if some of the business could be allocated to them, to California for Tunney for instance, and also if we had a vigorous recruitment program for blacks in Mississippi, that would even appeal to that community. This could be seen as a necessary forerunner to domestic development. I think many Negroes would see such a development as very positive. They have a great sentiment for Mississippi, you know, and Progress there through Private Enterprise, would be viewed as Progress for Negroes all over this Nation. I think such a budgetary increase, going as it would to the private sector, and moreover to a region of high unemployment and low development, would very much complement what the President is trying to accomplish both at home and abroad.’’

Fade out: Zintzanger smiling faintly, AF General frowning . .


If one can read only one book on militarism, see Leonard S. Rodberg and Derek Shearer (eds.), The Pentagon Watchers: Students Report on the National Security State (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1970). In it, Robert Borosage’s essay, “The Making of the National Security State,’’ is the best analytical summary of ‘the situation.’ Especially good is his discussion of the historical and sociological causes of the elimination of critical (i.e. Marxist, socialist or anti-imperialist) scholarship in the post-WWII US.

That the problem is much deeper than either the critics of capitalism or the “National Security State’’ may realize can be best discerned from the Black perspective on American history. See, for example, W. E. B. Du Bois, “The White Masters of the World,’’ in John A. Williams and Charles F. Harris (eds.), Amistad 2 (New York, Vintage 1971).

Of special interest to southerners, or sociologists of dying or threatened societies, is the analogy between the elimination of intellectual opposition to slavery in the ante-bellum South, and the purging of American society of critics of capitalism during and after World War II as described by Borosage and lived by Zantzinger. For the story of the Old South purges see Clement Eaton, The Freedom of Thought Struggle in the Old South (New York, 1964).

Academic economists are only now realizing, and recanting, their role in supplying the ‘crackpot Keynesian’ rationale for the warfare state. See James L. Clayton’s introduction in his The Economic Impact of the Cold War (New York, 1970), for a summary of the history of academic thought on the subject. A collection that emphasizes more radical perspectives, no less ‘intellectual,’ but definitely less academic, since many of the authors either have been kicked out of, left, or were never allowed in the American ‘academy’ in the first place, Michael Reich and David Finkelhor, among others, argue that the Military-Industrial Complex is essential to American capitalism’s stability. See their essay, “The Military-Industrial Complex: No Way Out,’’ in Up Against the American Myth, A Radical Critique of Corporate Capitalism Based Upon the Controversial Harvard College Course, Social Relations, edited by Tom Christoffel, David Finkelhor, Dan Gilbarg (New York, 1970), pp. 148-149. For the most thorough and profound discussion of all these views see Richard Barnet, The Roots of War (New York, 1972), esp. Part II, “The Political Economy of Expansionism,’’ pp. 137-240.

The best introduction to the institutional interests and ideological inertia propelling the economy of war can be found in David Horowitz (ed.), Corporations and the Cold War (New York, Monthly Review Press, 1969).

For the role of big capital in the population control issue see Steve Weissman, “Why the Population Bomb Is a Rockefeller Baby,’’ in Ramparts’s special ecology issue, May 1970. See Barry Weisberg (ed.), Ecocide in Indochina: The Ecology of War (San Francisco, Canfield Press, 1970), and back issues of Ramparts for color pictures of the many means the Military-Industrial Complex has invented to kill Asians, Africans, etc.

For a discussion of the most important of the economic interests (namely oil), which fuels the American Empire, see Barry Weisberg, Beyond Repair, The Ecology of Capitalism (Boston, Beacon, 1971), especially Chap. 5, “Oiling the Machine: Automobiles and Petroleum." On oil and Southeast Asia in particular see pp. 140-145.

For an inside view of how the Pentagon views the socio-political impact of a major weapons system, the C-5A, see Jack Raymond, “The Growing Threat of Our Military-Industrial Complex,’’ Harvard Business Review, vol. XLXI (May-June, 1968), pp. 59-60. The essay is included in James L. Clayton’s The Economic Impact of the Cold War (New York: Harcourt, 1970).

On the incentive for, and difficulty of, converting Defense Industry see Seymour Melman (ed.), The War Economy of the United States, (New York, 1971), especially the article “Whither California” by Martin Gellen.

On heroin traffic in the South see Gene Guerrero, “Heroin Epidemic Takes Southern Toll," in South Today, Oct. 1972. Robert Browning and the editors of Ramparts have collected a great group of magazine articles called Smack (New York, 1972). The CIA tried to suppress Alfred W. McCoy’s The Politics of Heroin in Asia (New York; Harper & Row, 1972).

Texas, because of its size, has played the most critical role in national Democratic Party politics in this century. Since the industrialization of the South has been carried out largely through Federal War Contracting, under Democratic auspices, Texas has gotten an outsized share of the boodle. See William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal (New York, 1963), esp. p. 71 for the role of Jesse Jones. See also Eliot Janeway, The Struggle for Survival (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951), p. 167, which is a good warfare liberal interpretation of the WW II mobilization. It should be read with I. F. Stone, Business As Usual (New York, 1941), and Bruce Catton, The War Lords of Washington (New York, 1948), to understand how the class struggles of the 30's ended in the warfare state.

Anyone who has a problem with the concept of ‘the ruling class’ should read periodicals of this period, both liberal, like The New Republic and The Nation, and conservative, like Fortune

For the CIA/USNSA connection read Ramparts, February, 1967.

To the author’s knowledge no one has yet explored the role of the CIA in the civil rights movement. Most of my black friends active during that period suspect the Agency was involved in the assassinations of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin King, among others.

The Guatemala episode is detailed in Richard Barnet, Intervention and Revolution (New York: Meridian Books, 1968), pp. 229-236.

A Ford funded study edited by Melvin Greenhut and W. Tate Whitman, Essays in Southern Economic Development (Durham, 1964), features a lead essay, “Four Decades of Thought on the South’s Economic Problems,’’ by Clarence H. Danhof from the crackpot Keynesian perspective including a debunking of the very important “Report to the President on the Economic Conditions of the South’’ by the National Emergency Committee (Washington, 1938).

The inadequacy of liberal Congressmen to deal with the power of the Pentagon is well analyzed in Derek Shearer’s “Reorganizing the Lines of Power," The Nation, May 17, 1971. Generally The Nation has the best continuing critical coverage of Pentagonism of any publication in the country. Robert Sherrill, its present Washington correspondent, has written the best book on southern politics, Gothic Politics of the Deep South (New York, 1969), done to date. The Nation’s previous Washington correspondent, I. F. Stone, also does an adequate job on these topics in The New York Review of Books.

On Roy Ash and Litton see Les Aspin, “Another Pentagon Bailout: the Litton Ship Fiasco," The Nation, December 11, 1972. Also Les Aspin, “The Case Against Roy Ash,” The Nation, February 26, 1973.