John Thomas Flynn

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John Thomas Flynn (October 25, 1882 – April 13, 1964) was an American journalist best known for his opposition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and to American entry into World War II.

Quotes[edit]

  • Regimentation of American life means forming society into regiments, subjecting it to orders, drills, commanders… Regimentation of business means, in the minds of those who use the term, forming businessmen into regiments, bringing business under regulation, controlling production, prices, trade practices, the rules of the game. For seventy years at least business men have been, in varying degrees, in favor of this. The government has been against it.
  • It would of course be a grave injustice to Mr. Roosevelt to say that he is a militarist in the sense that Mussolini is a militarist. Mussolini is a lover of war. Mr. Roosevelt is not. But he is a lover of the instruments of war. There was a time when he favored universal military training-the corrosive curse of Europe.
    • “The War Boom Begins,” Harper's Magazine (July 1937)
  • We're going to talk about billions and we might just as well know what a billion is. To begin with, it's a lot of money… If you were to save a dollar a day every day and had been doing this every day since Adam was created in the Garden of Edin, you wouldn't have a billion dollars. In fact, to have a billion dollars you would have had to start saving 2,735,726 years before Adam was born.
    • ' “Forgive Us Our Debts,” Collier's (September 25, 1937) [2]
  • So that we find the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), one government bureau, borrowing money from the banks and appropriating to other government bureaus. Of course this practice brings to an end the ‘power of the purse’ by which parliaments in free democracies control executives. And so you find these bureaus supplying one another with money as part of this new system of eliminating Congress from its historic role of controlling the purse strings.
    • “Forgive Us Our Debts,” Collier’s (September 25, 1937)
  • We may seem to be a long way from the kind of Fascism which we behold in Italy today, but we are not so far from the kind of Fascism which Mussolini preached in Italy before he assumed power and we are slowly approaching the conditions which made Fascism there possible. All that is needed to set us definitely on the road to a Fascist society is a war. It will of course be a modified form of Fascism at first. But Fascism cannot continue in a modified form… Thus, though Hitler will never come here to impose his Fascist abomination upon us, we may go to him to impose it upon ourselves.
    • “Can Hitler Beat American Business?” Harper's Magazine (February 1940)
  • They think that to be a Fascist you must have some sort of shirt uniform, must drill and goose-step, must have a demonstrative salute, must hate the Jews, and believe in dictatorship. Fascism is not the result of dictatorship. Fascism is the consequence of economic jam and dictatorship is the product of Fascism, for Fascism cannot be managed save by a dictator.
  • One of the first facts we must face when we discuss the United Nations is that its members are in no sense united. The United Nations is not an instrument for preserving the peace of the world. It is an instrument for protecting a few powerful nations, chiefly Russia and Great Britain, in a dangerous racket that has led to almost all the wars in the last 150 years.
  • We must rid this nation of the United Nations, which provides the communist conspiracy with a headquarters here on our own shores, and which actually makes it impossible for the United States to form its own decisions about its conduct and policies in Europe and Asia.
    • “Two Rackets of the UN,” The Freeman (March 1955)
  • Another oily illusion fostered by the politicians is that the ‘government needs the money.’ You will do well to keep in mind that the ‘government’ is merely a collection of rules and regulations and authorizations. It is not a human, living thing you can see or touch with your fingers. In itself it is something you can describe as a tremendous authority—a group of powers. But this authority and these powers are all in the hands of men—politicians. The government is a vast army of politicians equipped by the Constitution with great and dangerous powers.• Among these powers the most dangerous is the power of these politicians to put their hands in your pocket or your bank account or your pay check and take away a very sizeable chunk of your dollars.
    • “The Hand in Your Pocket,” broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System (January 22, 1956), published by America's Future, Inc., in 1956
  • This dangerous grant of powers to the politicians may be said—as I shall show—to be at the bottom of all our troubles-our entanglement in the brawls of other nations all over the globe, our own oppressive national debt, the swarms of political hirelings consuming our substance in every part of the country and—most serious of all—the slow but quickening creep of this great free nation into the toils of something called the Collectivist State, which is a pretty name for socialism. It may be well to remind the reader that Karl Marx, the father of modem socialism, put the income tax high up on his blueprint for destroying private enterprise and building the socialist State.
    • “The Hand in Your Pocket,” broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System (January 22, 1956), published by America's Future, Inc., in 1956

The Road Ahead: America’s Creeping Revolution (1940)[edit]

New York: NY, Devin-Adair Company, 1940 [3]

  • We have, as a consequence, been making war on the Communists. This has had one very serious by-product. It has dramatized the American Communist Party and its dupes as the chief internal enemy of our economic system and our form of government. And it is widely feared that a crisis here would present our native Communists with their great opportunity.
    • pp. 8-9
  • I insist that if every Communist in America were rounded up and liquidated, the great menace to our form of social organization would be still among us. I do not mean to underestimate the danger from the Communists. They are interested at the moment in serving the purposes of the great enemy of the whole western world—Russia. They are a traitorous bloc in our midst and they have frightening potentialities for harm in our foreign relations.
    • p. 9
  • We can match every one of these blunders among our American planners. When they occur the critics point to the stupidity of the planners. But I think the fault lies rather in the fact that the mind of man, which is after all a very limited instrument, is utterly inadequate for comprehending the vast amount of data and all the innumerable conditions which would have to be grasped in order to make plans for a whole nation. It simply cannot be done. It is conceivable that it may be done in some half-bungling way in a society where an absolute dictator runs the show and has the means not only of enforcing complete compliance but of shutting off all criticism. It can never be done in a society of free men where criticism cannot be silenced and where compliance cannot be enforced.
    • p. 46
  • There is another frightful blunder which the Socialists have committed. In taking over the railroads, the coal industry and others, they have bought the properties outright from the corporations and stockholders who owned them. They have paid for them with British bonds paying three per cent interest. With each new industry taken over, the government has added another mass of obligations to its already crushing national debt. Now the folly of this lies in the fact that, under the old order, the stockholders had no claim for profit if none were made by the industry. But all these stocks—pure risk investments—have been converted into government bonds—which are a fixed charge upon the government, whether the industry makes a profit or not. And as all these industries have been operating at a greater or lesser loss, the government has had to find in taxes the means of paying this debt.
    • pp. 46-47
  • Norman Thomas, in particular, has won a unique place for himself in the good opinion of the American people because of his courage, his complete honesty and his great power on the platform as a champion not merely of the Socialist philosophy but of many fine human causes. At one time it had built a considerable propaganda ma-chine. It had the People's House in New York with its large Socialist library and the Rand School which was the center of its educational activity. But it was an honest movement run by honest men who offered socialism to the people and called it by its true name. But Americans made it plain they did not want that. In England the old Fabians, as we have seen, never offered socialism as such. They peddled one product at a time, always omitting the Socialist label.
    • pp. 60-61
  • This odd effect was due to the fact that a new Socialist enterprise entered the market. It took over Fabian socialism as its product, but it found a new and attractive brand name for its goods. It was called the Planned Economy.
    • p. 61
  • Mr. Chase does not say so and perhaps would not agree, but what they add up to is British Fabian Socialism and American National Socialist Planning, which are precisely the same under different names. The most extensive care is observed to get away from the word ‘socialism.’ This is the advice George Bernard Shaw gave the English. He admitted the English could not nationalize everything. He believed it more likely that nationalization would become the rule and private enterprise the exception. And he urged that we stop talking nonsense about socialism and set to work to nationalizing various things and make an end of insisting on what it shall be called.
    • p.65
  • The Communist, in our domestic affairs, is a menace to the extent that he is the partner—and often a very effective partner—of the Fabian Socialist. The real enemy we must identify and fight at every cross-road and at all points is the American edition of the British Fabian Socialist, who is engaged in a sneak attack here as his comrades were in England, who denies that he is a Socialist and who operates behind a mask which he calls National Planning.
    • p. 67
  • But the ringleaders in that organization are the men who must be identified as infinitely more dangerous to the civilization of this country than the small group of Red birds of passage against whom they were fulminating. For it is they who are plotting to wipeout the traditional political and economic civilization of this country and to supplant it with a system of organized social life on the Fabian model. They wrap themselves in a mantle they call anti-communism. But they are pro-Socialist. They are not willing, of course, publicly to concede that. They are Planners. That is, they are Socialist Planners—and unless they are identified, recognized for what they are and are stopped they will destroy this country.
    • p. 67
  • All the government planning involved government spending. And that involved heavy taxation and debt. Taxes and debt were supposed to be an evil and were certainly unpopular. But now came the new theory that governments could borrow al-most indefinitely, that government borrowing was a good thing, that government debt was not a burden, did not have to be paid and was, literally, an unmixed blessing.
    • p. 68
  • Why is the Communist so deeply stirred about the Negro? Is he trying to correct injustices suffered by the Negro in order to improve his lot here and make him love America more? We know that the Communist has one supreme interest and that is to excite and stimulate the hatreds of every class in the country.
    • p. 98
  • Sooner or later this country must face the problem of the Negro. It is simple enough in New York. It is not so simple in Mississippi, where the Negroes almost equal the whites in number, or in Georgia, where Negroes outnumber whites in probably half the counties of the state. White supremacy is a phrase encrusted with unpleasant connotations in the North.
    • pp. 98-99
  • The old Socialists, with their luminous dreams, got power in Germany after World War I, and operated a society not greatly different from that now in effect in England—partially nationalized and partially planned. It ended in fascism and Hitler, for the line between fascism and Fabian socialism is very thin. Fabian socialism is the dream. Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator.
    • p. 149
  • Indeed to my mind the great, decisive factor in the choice between socialism and capitalism is that the system of production by private enterprise in a severely restrained republican-government is the only one in which men can enjoy the inestimable blessing of freedom. Socialism is impossible under any condition, but if it can be made to work at all it must be under an all-powerful State with the vast powers necessary to enforce its decrees governing every sector of our lives.
    • p. 150

As We Go Marching (1944)[edit]

New York: NY, Free Life Edition, 1973 [4]

  • The test is—how many of the essential principles of fascism do you accept and to what extent are you prepared to apply those fascist ideas to American social and economic life? When you can put your finger on the men or groups that urge for America the debt-supported state, the autarchical corporative state, the state bent on the socialization of investment and the bureaucratic government of industry and society, the establishment of the institution of militarism... and the institution of imperialism under which it proposes to regulate and rule the world... and proposes to alter the forms of our government to approach... absolute government—then you will know you have located the authentic fascist.
    • p. xii
  • There is a difference between a fifth columnist working in America for Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin , and an American who would give his life for his country but would also like to see its social and economic life changed in the direction of the fascist pattern. You will get no such American to admit that what he believes in is fascism. He has other and more agreeable names for it. He would be provoked to knock you down if you called him a fascist. That is because he does not know what fascism is and makes the mistake of supposing that a fascist is one who is on the side of the Führer or the Duce. Dollfuss was a fascist and so was Schuschnigg, but neither of them was noticeably on the side of Hitler and one was assassinated and the other seized and imprisoned by Hitler.
    • pp. 1-2
  • When the fountains of government abundance began to dry up, when through lack of funds and the impossibility of negotiating fresh loans the state was forced to check the extension of bureaucracy and to put a stop to [Public works |public works]], then and then only did the Italians realize what it meant to have allowed themselves to be made one of the most heavily taxed nations in the world.
    • p. 16
  • You may hear any day angry discussions of the course of events in Washington. You will hear ardent New Dealers assert that the government is building a great buttress around the crumbling walls of democracy. Others tell you, with equal assurance, that the order being fashioned there is obviously National Socialism, while still others are quite as sure that it is communistic.
    • p. 3
  • Political leaders, embarrassed by their subsidies to the poor, soon learned that one of the easiest ways to spend money is on military establishments and armaments, because it commands the support of the groups most opposed to spending.
    • p. 18
  • The old socialists had argued for the taking over of the instruments of production by the state which would manage them for the benefit of the people. Sorel saw in this an evil worse than capitalism. It was, in fact, state capitalism or statism. The tools of industry should be owned, not by the state, but by the workers.
    • p. 30
  • The commonly accepted theory that fascism originated in the conspiracy of the great industrialists to capture the state will not hold. It originated on the Left. Primarily it gets its first impulses in the decadent or corrupt forms of socialism—from among those erstwhile socialists who, wearying of that struggle, have turned first to syndicalism and then to becoming saviors of capitalism, by adapting the devices of socialism and syndicalism to the capitalist state.
    • p. 68
  • Fascism is a leftist product—a corrupt and diseased offshoot of leftist agitation.
    • p. 68
  • But alas, the most terrifying aspect of the whole fascist episode is the dark fact that most of its poisons are generated not by evil men or evil peoples, but by quite ordinary men in search of an answer to the baffling problems that beset every society. Nothing could have been further from the minds of most of them than the final brutish and obscene result. The gangster comes upon the stage only when the scene has been made ready for him by his blundering precursors.
    • p. 75
  • The German states held investments in numerous enterprises— railroads, power companies, municipal transport, mines, forests, and some industrial enterprises. This has led to the impression that the empire had diluted its capitalism with a good deal of socialism. The empire had but little of these enterprises. They were held by the several states. But even here it was not socialism but rather state capitalism, if such a term is permissible. The German states made a point of operating their enterprises for profit as a source of state revenue.
    • pp. 81-82
  • Probably one of the most completely misunderstood of all modern institutions is militarism. While military organizations take their origin in man's lust for war, militarism is something more than a mere war machine. By militarism I mean that institution in which the nation maintains large national armies and navies in time of peace, usually raised on the principle of conscription.
    • p. 98-99
  • Labor, of course, subjected industry to its controls through organized pressure. In Germany, as in Italy, labor and socialism were closely intertwined. And here, too, socialists were deeply implicated in the doctrines of syndicalism. The official party program did not countenance it but, just as in Italy and France, the idea of the syndicalist society as distinguished from state socialism was making headway among the rank and file of the party.
    • p. 110
  • But when the socialist and, even more, the syndicalist, began to propose his nostrums as medicine for the capitalist system, there appeared a diseased and corrupted form of socialism which found its neophytes in the oddest quarters.
    • p. 111
  • Military men, when confronted with the mutterings of disaffected taxpayers, always pointed out how good these government military expenditures were for business.
    • p. 104
  • The so-called Christian virtues of humility, love, charity, personal freedom, the strong prohibitions against violence, murder, stealing, lying, cruelty—all these are washed away by war. The greatest hero is the one who kills the most people. Glamorous exploits in successful lying and mass stealing and heroic vengeance are rewarded with decorations and public acclaim.
    • p. 120
  • Hitler said: ‘We shall banish want. We shall banish fear. The essence of National Socialism is human welfare. There must be cheap Volkswagen for workers to ride in, broad Reich Autobahns for the Volkswagen. National Socialism is the Revolution of the Common Man. Rooted in a fuller life for every German from childhood to old age, National Socialism means a new day of abundance at home and a Better World Order abroad.’
    • pp. 153-154
  • Hitler liked to think that he was ‘making a front against the entire public opinion’ and that national socialism must never become the bailiff of public opinion, never its slave but its ruler. But actually Hitler was forever feeling around for the pulse of the great controlling minorities. He played with them all, coddled them all, promised all, and lied to everyone. He courted the old nationalist Hugenberg while he pampered the socialist Gregor Strasser. He cajoled his old comrade Feder, the enemy of the ‘bond slavery of interest,’ while he made terms with Schacht the banker. He made ambiguous promises to labor while he dealt with Thyssen for funds. He sent Goering to Rome to assure the Vatican that national socialism was rooted in Christianity while Rosenberg attacked religion and preached his weird forms of paganism. He played every card, worked every side of every street until he was able to put his finger on what may be called the great mass pulse and say: here lies power.
    • p. 156
  • When fascism comes it will not be in the form of an anti-American movement or pro-Hitler bund, practicing disloyalty. Nor will it come in the form of a crusade against war. It will appear rather in the luminous robes of flaming patriotism; it will take some genuinely indigenous shape and color, and it will spread only because its leaders, who are not yet visible, will know how to locate the great springs of public opinion and desire and the streams of thought that flow from them and will know how to attract to their banners leaders who can command the support of the controlling minorities in American public life. The danger lies not so much in the would-be Führers who may arise, but in the presence in our midst of certain deeply running currents of hope and appetite and opinion. The war upon fascism must be begun there.
    • p. 163
  • It is not necessary here to go into the details of the National Recovery Administration (NRA). It was based, not consciously but in fact, almost wholly on the principle of the guild or corporative system which Mussolini was in process of perfecting at that very time... It suspended the anti-trust laws which the President had vowed to enforce.
    • p. 198
  • The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine, and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims while incidentally capturing their markets, to civilize savage and senile and paranoidal peoples while blundering accidentally into their oil wells or metal mines.
    • p. 222
  • Imperialism is an institution under which one nation asserts the right to seize the land or at least to control the government or resources of another people. It is an assertion of stark, bold aggression.
    • p. 213
  • We have now managed to acquire bases all over the world—islands as distant as the Australian Archipelago which President Roosevelt seized in 1938 without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress. There is no part of the world where trouble can break out where we do not have bases of some sort in which, if we wish to use the pretension, we cannot claim our interests are menaced. Thus menaced there must remain when the war is over a continuing argument in the hands of the imperialists for a vast naval establishment and a huge army ready to attack anywhere or to resist an attack from all the enemies we shall be obliged to have. Because always the most powerful argument for a huge army maintained for economic reasons is that we have enemies. We must have enemies. They will become an economic necessity for us.
    • pp. 225-226
  • However, a great deal may be done without constitutional amendment. Here is another point at which we will do well to choose our words with caution. The words dictatorship and totalitarianism are used very loosely as perfectly synonymous. This is not so. The totalitarian government is one which possesses in itself the total sovereignty of the nation. In our government that total sovereignty resides in the people. Only parts of it are delegated through the Constitution to the federal government. A very great part of it— indeed the greatest part—is reserved to the states. And very vital portions of the sovereignty are delegated neither to federal government nor to states but are held wholly by the people.
    • p. 229
  • In 1933, suddenly, with little or no consideration in the great disorder and fever of the collapse, Congress passed the National Recovery Act. That act authorized the President to bring about a complete and comprehensive organization of industry and to make rules and regulations governing every phase of its activities. Under practically every category of industry and finance the entire nation was organized into what the Italians would call ‘corporatives’; what we called code authorities. These code authorities, under the authority of the President, were empowered to make rules, to regulate production, prices, distribution, competition in all its phases. These regulations had the force of law and under them men could be hauled into court on civil and criminal liabilities. Some men were actually jailed for violating them. It is, I think, a fair statement that the President, under the NRA, exercised the right to make laws over at least half, if not more, of the domain within which Congress ordinarily legislates. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared this law unconstitutional and based its opinion entirely on the proposition that Congress had delegated its legislative power to the President, who in turn had delegated it to the code authorities.
    • p. 248
  • If we will look over the scene in America we will see clearly enough that, despite many differences in the character, customs, laws, traditions, resources of the peoples of Italy, Germany, and America, we have been drifting along identical courses and under the influence of the same essential forces. We have been moving away from free enterprise and from the essential features of constitutional government… We have, without knowing it, been turning first to one and then another of those devices for escaping our economic difficulties to which Italy and Germany turned before us.
    • p. 251
  • Fascism will come at the hands of perfectly authentic Americans, as violently against Hitler and Mussolini as the next one, but who are convinced that the present economic system is washed up and that the present political system in America has outlived its usefulness and who wish to commit this country to the rule of the bureaucratic state; interfering in the affairs of the states and cities; taking part in the management of industry and finance and agriculture; assuming the role of great national banker and investor, borrowing billions every year and spending them on all sorts of projects through which such a government can paralyze opposition and command public support; marshaling great armies and navies at crushing costs to support the industry of war and preparation for war which will become our greatest industry; and adding to all this the most romantic adventures in global planning, regeneration, and domination all to be done under the authority of a powerfully centralized government in which the executive will hold in effect all the powers with Congress reduced to the role of a debating society. There is your fascist. And the sooner America realizes this dreadful fact the sooner it will arm itself to make an end of American fascism masquerading under the guise of the champion of democracy.
    • p. 253

The Roosevelt Myth (1948)[edit]

Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2008 [5]==

  • This was a plan (NRA and AAA) to take the whole industrial and agricultural life of the country under the wing of the government, organize it into vast farm and industrial cartels, as they were called in Germany, corporatives as they were called in Italy, and operate business and the farms under plans made and carried out under the super-vision of the government. This is the complete negation of liberalism. It is, in fact, the essence of fascism. Fascism goes only one step further and insists, logically, that this cannot be done by a democratic government; that it can be done successfully only under a totalitarian regime.
    • p. 78
  • Roosevelt, through a combination of events and influences, fell deeper and deeper into the toils of various revolutionary operators, not because he was interested in revolution but because he was interested in votes.
    • p. 84
  • Mussolini and Hitler, of course, realized that a system like this, which undertakes to impose a vast complex of decrees upon a people while subjecting them to confiscatory taxes to support the immense activities of the State cannot be operated save by an absolute government that has the power to enforce compliance. Actually this system had spread over Europe. For nearly 70 years all the countries in Europe, with Germany in the lead, had been experimenting with the baleful idea of the security State, the State which attempts to provide its people with jobs and protection from all the hazards of life. After World War I, the dominance of this idea over the populations of every European state became complete and every state in Europe was riding, before World War II, hell-bent for bankruptcy under the impossible burden of meeting these obligations.
    • pp. 152-153
  • In the presence of a government which had enlarged its power over the lives and the thoughts and opinions of citizens and which did not hesitate to use that power, the whole citizenry was intimidated. Editors, writers, commentators were intimidated. Men whose opinions did not conform to the reigning philosophy were driven from the air, from magazines and newspapers. While American citizens who were moved by a deep and unselfish devotion to the ideals of this Republic—however wrong-headed that may be in the light of the new modes of ‘freedom’—were forced into silence, the most blatant and disruptive revolutionary lovers of the systems of both fascism and Communism and that illegitimate offspring of both—Red fascism—were lording it over our minds.
    • p. 331
  • That was a perfect description of Europe in the years immediately preceding and following the First World War. And out of these vexations and dislocations came Communism in one place, fascism in others and social-democracies, so-called, in others, which were really societies one-fourth socialist, three-fourths capitalist, administered by socialist ministries winding the chains of bureaucratic planning around the strong limbs of private enterprise.
    • p. 206
  • These two baleful mistakes gave Franklin Roosevelt a power which he used ruthlessly. He used it to break down the power of the states and to move that power to Washington and to break down the power of Congress and concentrate it in the hands of the executive. The end of these two betrayals—the smashing of our economic system and the twisting of our political system—can only be the Planned Economic State, which, either in the form of Communism or Fascism, dominates the entire continent of Europe today. The capitalist system cannot live under these conditions. Free representative government cannot survive a Planned Economy. Such an economy can be managed only by a dictatorial government capable of enforcing the directives it issues. The only result of our present system—unless we reverse the drift—must be the gradual extension of the fascist sector and the gradual disappearance of the system of free enterprise under a free representative government.
    • p. 415
  • Fascism has departed from Germany, but a hybrid system of socialism and capitalism in chains has come to England, which is called social democracy but is on its way to Fascism with all the controls without which such a system cannot exist. And in America the price of the war is that fatal deformity of our own economic and political system which Roosevelt effected under the impact of the war necessities.
    • p. 417

Quotes about Flynn[edit]

  • John Flynn and other America Firsters believed that government should regulate business by preventing monopolies and cartels from controlling large sectors of the economy. However, Flynn and his colleagues did not think that government itself should become a large economic power. This condition would restrict individual freedom, which was the essence of their definition of liberalism.... Flynn and his colleagues rejected Franklin D. Roosevelt’s brand of liberalism, in which government entered the economic community as a large employer and customer.
    • Michele Flynn Stenehjem, An American First: John T. Flynn and the America First Committee, Arlington House Publishers (1976) p. 15
  • I have watched John T. Flynn during these many years and the net answer in my mind is that he has always, with practically no exception, been a destructive rather than a constructive force. Therefore, Q.E.D., John T. Flynn should be barred hereafter from the columns of any presentable daily paper, monthly magazine or national quarterly, such as the Yale Review.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt, July 1939 letter to Yale Review, as quoted in Right Turn: John T. Flynn and the Transformation of American Liberalism, New York: New York University Press (2005) p. 104

External links[edit]

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