By Mark Anderson / Stop the Presses News Association
[This article is sneak peek at a book in the works about Taylor Caldwell. It originally ran on a now-outdated “Steemit” site]
Janet Taylor Caldwell (pictured above in her prime) is perhaps the most forgotten of the truly superlative novelists that the world has ever known. She was outstanding in her writing and ungodly brave in her activism, which is why we must not allow her legacy to be cast into the dungeon of perpetual silence.
Indeed, as it now stands, few remember her, largely due to the efforts of the “powers-that-be” to sweep clean any references to her in the literary and general press. The power structure that wants the population to forget all about Caldwell remembers her high peaks of popularity, borne of the masterful way that she weaved real political intrigue into her works of “fiction.” This tapestry was so skillfully woven that most of her books became a trenchant lesson in political science—carrying with them the reality that many “conspiracy theories” are often conspiracy facts. Caldwell wrote and basically proved that there is a power behind the thrones of the world—which gave literary and political critics severe temper tantrums.
Novelist Ayn Rand frequently is cited in almost legendary terms among lady novelists as an assumed “freedom writer.” To an extent, she was such a writer. But in most respects, Caldwell topped Rand not only in sheer output, but also in so richly and accurately describing the root causes and hard realities of political corruption. Rand was much more the libertarian, especially in espousing an ideology of “free markets” and accordingly creating intrepid characters who were heroes and heroines in skilled trades and business: Howard Roark the architect in “The Fountainhead” and railroad owner Dagny Taggart and metallurgist Hank Rearden in “Atlas Shrugged.”
Caldwell was markedly different—a Constitutional Republican in the spirited sense of defending “The Republic”—who was more at home writing about principled statesmen like Cicero and Pericles, although her books did feature business tycoons, both good ones and bad ones, who themselves sought or secured political office, or financially backed and controlled those who did so.
Rand’s novels, which many found inspiring, would pit the heroic high-achieving individual against the mundane status quo. Caldwell would often touch on that same theme, but with an extra dimension showing that there was something much deeper at stake—that is, a free society versus the evil agenda of a “deep state” comprised of major bankers, wicked industrialists and other corrupt corporate captains, operating in league with the politicians and press that they owned. Rand (born Alice Rosenbaum, a Russian-born Jewess) was a good writer to be sure, but she couldn’t quite match Caldwell’s plots in their richness and their mirroring of reality.
Born Sept. 7, 1900 in Manchester, England, Caldwell moved to America with her family as a child and grew up defending her adopted nation with reverence and pride, combined with principled criticism in areas where it was sorely needed, instead of the blind allegiance that too many native-born Americans practice. After working a string of jobs and becoming a young mother, in the early 1930s she began a nearly 50-year writing career that produced just over 40 novels, scores of non-fiction articles in that appeared in several political journals, along with what she called an “irreverent memoir” entitled “On Growing Up Tough.”
While Taylor Caldwell passed away Aug. 30, 1985, just before her 85th birthday, by 1980, one paperback house alone had published 25 million copies of her books, including “The Captains and the Kings,” which sold 4.5 million copies. Back in 1946, “This Side of Innocence”—as her New York Times obituary acknowledged despite the newspaper’s institutional liberal bias against the conservative novelist—“set a record for Literary Guild selections, selling more than one million copies.”
All told, “The Captain and the Kings” (1971) was her crowning achievement. In 1976, it became a television mini-series starring, among other notables, Richard Jordan, Vic Morrow and Jane Seymour. It’s the saga of an Irish patriarch (Jordan portraying Joseph Armagh) who, as a young man, flees famine at home and heads to America with his family. Dirt-poor at first, he becomes determined to learn the ways, and achieve the means, of the ultra-wealthy. He does so in order to support his family, make one of his sons president and stand tall against the old-money aristocracy—the “powers-that-be,” who are useful allies for a time— until the patriarch positions himself to strike back at them.
Caldwell’s recurrent theme of super-rich bankers, munitions makers and assorted industrialists running society and fomenting wars from behind the curtain was, at first, part of her ticket to fortune—as readers were intrigued by her plot constructions along those lines. But eventually, as the press, including literary critics, became ever-more spineless, corrupt, compromised and biased, Caldwell and her books were very nearly swept into the dustbin of literary and general history.
And so it was that, in 2015, during the 30th anniversary of her death, I first pondered putting together a compendium about Caldwell, combining the main highlights and challenges of her life with samplings of her best writings. Some personal and professional setbacks have delayed my efforts but as my quasi-retirement years get closer, that is quickly changing. And forgive me for relying on my own judgment, and that of my awesome mother, Catherine Delores Anderson (and not on the “critics” and the librarians) for deciding which of Caldwell’s books shone the brightest and which parts of the books were particularly well written and insightful.
As of this writing and update on Feb. 5, 2022, my still-living mother, bless her heart, bequeathed to me her entire collection of Caldwell’s books, which covers most of the titles the author produced. For this I am eternally grateful.
Taylor Caldwell deserves nothing less, in light of the near-total blackout to which she and her works have been subjected since her death.
By the way, I remember, in 2013, sitting next to a gentleman on a train from Chicago to New Buffalo, Michigan, who looked at the cover of a Caldwell book I was reading and exclaimed, “Taylor Caldwell. Nobody talks about her anymore!” And when I told him that I had entertained the idea of writing a book about her, he loudly said, “Do it!”
Stay tuned for the compendium book about Taylor Caldwell that’s under development, along with other anthological, compendium-type works about other intriguing figures.
TAKE NOTICE: To get a flavor of Taylor Caldwell’s writing and worldview, what follows is one of her many non-fiction essays:
The Middle Class Must Not Fail
By Taylor Caldwell
[First published May 29, 1974 in The Review of the News and subsequently reprinted in The New American magazine, among other journals and websites—Ed].
With the rise of the Industrial Civilization in the world, about 200 years ago, there also arose a social body which we know as the middle class. Before that, most of the world suffered under a feudal system in which the people were truly slaves of their governments in all things. There was no strong buffer between them and their despotic rulers, no assurance of freedom to pursue commerce and to live decently, to keep the fruits of their labor and hold the paying of tribute at a minimum. The middle class made the dream of liberty a possibility, set limits on the government, fought for its constitutions, removed much of governmental privilege and tyranny, demanded that rulers obey the just laws as closely as the people, and enforced a general civic morality.
Sound leaders looked to the experience of Rome, the first to encourage a middle class, noting that Rome had been a strong and prosperous republic, with much public virtue, a large degree of freedom for every citizen, and a constitution (the Twelve Tables of Law) on which our own is based. After the fall of Rome, governments had everywhere destroyed the middle class, returned to despotism, and entered the Dark Ages. It had been centuries since a rising middle class resolved to keep government at a minimum and to force respect for the people and eschew tribute except for such absolute necessities as armed forces, street protection, and the guarantee of the authority of contracts in commerce.
AN INTERNATIONAL ELITE
Those who for centuries had ruled their nations, from father to son, in total despotism, realized that they were threatened. Were they not the elite, by divine right? Were they not by birth and money entitled to rule a nation of docile slaves? Did the people not understand that they were truly inferior dogs who needed a strong hand to rule them, and should they not be meek before their government?
Little wonder that the elite hated the middle class which challenged them in the name of God-given liberty. And little wonder that this hatred grew deeper as the middle class became stronger and imposed restrictions through which all the people, including the most humble, had the right to rule their own lives and keep the greater part of what they earned for themselves.
Clearly, if the elite were to rule again, the middle class had to be destroyed. It had to be destroyed so despotism and the system of tribute could be returned, and grandeur and honor and immense riches for the elite — assuring their monopoly rule of all the world. For you see the elite of all nations, then as now, were not divided. They were one international class, and worked together and protected each other. But the middle class laughed and said “we will bind you with the chains of our Constitution, which you must obey also, lest we depose you, for we are now powerful and we are human beings and we wish to be free from your old despotism.”
The elite did not give up. While it profited from the Industrial Revolution which under liberty of enterprise freed the people from the feudal and despotic systems, and which gave a new birth to the middle class, it also hated the threat to its own authority. It did not wish to destroy the Industrial Revolution; it wished to use it for its exclusive purposes. In the early 19th century this elite looked for a way, once and for all, to regain its power and extort tribute from the people and so destroy the burgeoning middle class which stood in its way, and to subdue the populaces again to their proper role as slaves of government by the elite.
Through the “League of Just Men,” elitist conspirators sought a fanatic to cloak the point of their purpose in slogans and cant. The man they hired was Karl Marx. Certainly Marx was no worker; he had never soiled his hands with labor. He hated the middle class, which he contemptuously called the bourgeoisie, for he considered himself superior in mentality and breeding to what he called “the gross merchants of commerce and exploitation.” He did not attack the waiting despots, no indeed. They were of one mind with him. Rather he proposed in his books and pamphlets the return to government of the total power to exact tribute from the people in order that the government might better direct every phase of the people’s lives, as he asserted, “for their own welfare.” The elite, in turn, would control the governments.
Marx began to accuse the middle class of heinous crimes and aroused the workers against their benefactors. He labored to create envy and malice among the workers — all aimed at the entrepreneurial middle class which had raised them from serfdom, restored their human dignity, and given them liberty for the first time in nearly 2,000 years. Karl Marx was made to order by the self-styled elite. They financed the propagation of his sedition all over Europe and in America. They bled France and Germany with it. They financed sedition in Russia.
And the plan began to succeed. By 1910 the Scandinavian countries had already fallen to the socialism of Karl Marx. Only three nations stood between the elite and their ambitions — the British Empire, Czarist Russia, and the United States of America.
Much is now made of supposed Czarist tyranny. But the fact is that the Czar of Russia had already granted his people a greater measure of freedom. A constitution had been established, and a parliamentary system. Russia, too, was well on her way to nourishing and encouraging a middle class.
HATE AND ENVY
The elitists were anxious to promote the Marxist notion of demanding tribute from the people, for only through forced tribute could freedom be destroyed and the people reduced again to forced labor for the benefit of the elite. Only thus could the middle class be eliminated. So, we have Karl Marx’s infamous notion: “To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability.”
That is a foundation for slavery and tribute. Marx and the elite had a juicy bait for the workers, who were deluded to envy and hate the middle class which had freed them. If the riches were taken away from the middle class, then the workers would become their equals. Marx called this redistribution of wealth. Not wealth from the elite, with their vast fortunes in every country of the world — inherited fortunes which would not be taxed as income — but wealth from the strong middle class, which would be robbed in the name of the people. Only earned income would be vulnerable to seizure.
But in the way of all this happiness for the conspiring international elite, and the slavery of the people, stood the United States, the British Empire, and Czarist Russia. They would have to be destroyed. Britain had only a small income tax, used for the armed forces, for roads, for the maintenance of law and order, and for the payment of a tiny body of bureaucrats.
Over and over, in America, the elite tried to establish their federal income tax, but they did not succeed. The people were too vigilant, too jealous of their freedom, too proud, too respectful of themselves. They embraced the ancient proverb, “To work is to pray,” and they guarded the fruits of their labors.
No, America had no graduated income tax to drain the capital of the hardworking middle class, and so she became strong and rich and powerful, the envy of nations which exacted tribute and forced labor from their people. Attempts were made to exact such tribute from Americans during the Civil War and the war with Spain, but each time the Supreme Court declared that our Constitution prohibited it.
As late as 1902 the graduated income tax was again declared unconstitutional, and the Chief Justice observed: “It is a method to enslave our people, and deprive them of their liberty and right to the fruit of their labors.”
The conspiratorial elite fumed. How best, now, to institute their system of tribute and slavery? The solution was war. During wartime, governments were better able to tax the people, harnessing their patriotism to maintain enlarged armed services.
And so the elite began to prepare America for war, and conspirators of the French and German and Russian and English elite worked with them — for the destruction of their own nationals and the elimination, once and for all, of the defiant middle class. The American elite, under advice of their brother conspirators in other nations, proposed an amendment to the American Constitution—a graduated income tax, just as Karl Marx had proposed.
To support this the elite were very busy, through their henchmen, the socialists and the [liberal] populists, and through their secret communists, in arousing the envy of the workers against the middle class. They told the workers that they would never be taxed, “only the rich,” and even then the highest rate would be only two to three percent. And the taxes would go to “our exploited workers,” through all sorts of governmental benefits. The unthinking, the envious, the stupid, and the malicious thought this was wonderful. They supported the 16th Amendment — the federal income tax — and it was passed into law in 1913.
Now the stage was set for war, the attack on the British Empire, Czarist Russia, and the German Empire. The major thrust of the effort to destroy the freedom of the whole world, and reduce it to total control by the elite, had begun.
The rest is sad contemporary history. Few in America heeded what Thomas Jefferson had said long ago, that when we are taxed on our earned incomes, in our food and our drink, in our coming and going, in our property, we would face the return of slavery and the reestablishment of an all-powerful and despotic elite. So it is that we of the middle class are being destroyed through the exaction of tribute, resulting in an ever-increasing power and despotism of a central government controlled by a conspiratorial elite, and everlasting wars to subdue us and drive us to our knees.
Do not believe for an instant that the world’s conspiring elite in every nation have so much as a serious quarrel among them. They have just one object: control through tribute. Your slavery, through tribute, and mine. And they use wars for their purposes just as they use the inequities, harassments, bullying, capriciousness, and extortion of their graduated income tax. The system of taxation with which they have yoked us is really forced tribute from the hardworking, and especially from the middle class, who are slowly being eliminated.
Behind this attack are the self-styled elite, secure in their own power and riches. Most of them have huge fortunes which are tax-exempt. But every man and woman of us — we of the middle class — are taxed in our food and drink, in our property, in our incomes, in our comings and goings. The harder we work, the more tribute we have to pay, for the elite are determined that never again will the middle class challenge them, and never again will we be able to save money and so rise to power, and never again will we protest the slavery they have planned for us.
But many of us still dare to protest, and will continue to do so while God gives us breath. To be effective we know we must direct our attacks on the real criminals, the wealthy and powerful and secret elite of all the world — the conspirators laboring night and day to enslave us. Even our own government is now their victim, for it is the conspiratorial elite who choose our rulers, nominate them, and remove them by assassination or smear.
I have fought these enemies of liberty in every book I have written. But too few have listened to me, as too few have listened to others who have warned of these conspirators. The hour is late. Americans must soon listen and act — or endure the black night of slavery that is worse than death.