Lawrence Dennis (December 25, 1893 – August 20, 1977) was an American diplomat, consultant and author. He advocated fascism in America after the Great Depression, arguing that capitalism was doomed.
Dennis was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was of mixed race, though he concealed this until later in life. Following a notable career as a child evangelist, he was sent to Phillips Exeter Academy and then to Harvard.
The turning point of Dennis' life came when he served in Nicaragua. He resigned from the foreign service in disgust at the U.S. intervention there against the Sandino rebellion. He then became an adviser to the Latin American fund of the Seligman banking trust, but again made enemies when he wrote a series of exposes of their foreign bond enterprises in The New Republic and The Nation in 1930. These exposes propelled Dennis into a national public intellectual career, publishing his first book at the height of the depression in 1932, Is Capitalism Doomed?. The book submitted that capitalism was, and by all right should be, on its death knell, but warned of the grave dangers of a world devoid of its positive legacy. Dennis' two later books detailed his sense of the system that was emerging to replace it, which he believed to be fascism. The Coming American Fascism in 1936, detailing the system's substructure, and The Dynamics of War and Revolution in 1940, on the superstructure. In 1941 Life called Dennis "America's No. 1 intellectual Fascist".
Dennis was an editor at The Awakener for some time. Later he founded his own publication, the Weekly Foreign Letter, and he wrote for Today's Challenge, published by the pro-German American Fellowship Forum of George Sylvester Viereck and Friedrich Auhagen. He tried to enlist in the American Army during World War II, but the Army rejected him after the media ran stories about him.
In 1944, he was indicted in a group that ranged from genuine progressives to pro-Nazi agitators, in a sedition prosecution under the Smith Act. The case ended in a mistrial after the judge died of a heart attack. Dennis co-authored with Maximilian St. George an account of the trial, which appeared in 1946 as A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944.
In his later years Dennis repudiated his views of the 1930s and early 1940s, became a critic of militarism and the Cold War, and propagated his views through a modest newsletter, The Appeal to Reason, which maintained a prominent circle of readers, including Herbert Hoover, Joseph P. Kennedy, William Appleman Williams, Harry Elmer Barnes, and James J. Martin. Dennis' last book, Operational Thinking for Survival, was published in 1969.
- Is Capitalism Doomed? (Harper & Brothers, 1932)
- The Coming American Fascism (Harper & Brothers, 1936)
- The Dynamics of War and Revolution (Harper & Brothers, 1940)
- A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 (1946)
- Operational Thinking for Survival (Ralph Myles, 1969)
- The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States(New York University Press, 2006)
- The fascist who 'passed' for white by Gary Younge in The Guardian, April 4, 2007.
- "Boy Evangelist Here". The Washington Post. March 14, 1901. p. 11.
- "The Ism of Appeasement". Life. January 20, 1941. p. 26. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
- "Sees His Duty Done". The New York Times. April 21, 1942. p. 10.
- Lawrence Dennis and Maximilian St. George, Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 (National Civil Rights Committee, 1946)
- Justus D. Doenecke, "The Isolationist as Collectivist: Lawrence Dennis and The Coming of World War II" Journal of Libertarian Studies 3 (Summer 1979): 191–208.
- Justus D. Doenecke, "Lawrence Dennis: Revisionist of the Cold War," Wisconsin Magazine of History 55 (Summer 1972): 275–86.
- Justus D. Doenecke, "Weekly Foreign Letter, 1938–1942," in Ronald Lora and William Henry Longton, eds. The Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America (1999, 287–294.
- Justus D. Doenecke, "Appeal to Reason, 1946–1972" in ibid., 295–303.
- Younge, Gary (April 4, 2007). "The fascist who 'passed' for white". The Guardian.
- "The Color of Fascism: Lawrence Dennis, Racial Passing, and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States", New York University Press webpage for the book by Gerald Horne
- Ronald Radosh, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism (1975)
- "Tales of a Seditionist: The Lawrence Dennis Story" by Justin Raimondo, antiwar.com, April 28, 2000
- "Lawrence Dennis and a Frontier Thesis for American Capitalism" by Keith Stimely, The Occidental Quarterly, Fall 2001