National Association of Manufacturers
Besides funding pro-fascists groups like the Silver Shirts, corporate America sponsored several other groups that maintained a speck of respectability. One such organization that figured prominently in spreading the propaganda was the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The first president of NAM was Samuel Bush, father of Prescott and grandfather of George H. W. Bush [great grandfather of George W. Bush]. Such organizations as NAM would serve as bridge groups between the rich corporate owners and the public.
NAM along with the National Industrial Information Committee picked up the banner of du Pont's free enterprise dogma. It was Fulton Lewis Jr. a former employee of NAM, who became the mouthpiece for NAM. Using his radio program on the Mutual Network, Lewis spread the NAM propaganda to roughly three million people daily. Lewis denied the truth put forth by the La Follette and the Truman committees and instead aired NAM's propaganda under the guise of "Your Defense Reporter." At their 1942 convention, NAM went on record of supporting du Pont's Free Enterprise fully. The convention adopted a plank of full support for free enterprise, even if it hindered the war effort. In contrast, the 1942 CIO convention went on record for winning the war first, ahead of any union issues. In other words labor was willing to make the sacrifices needed to win the war, while big business wasn't, and put profits ahead of the war effort.
NAM was only one group of many that was used to propagandize America. Another was the Chamber of Commerce. Both the Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion served as bridge groups breaching the gap between the workers and the American elite during the 1920s . NAM served a similar role in the 1930s and into the 1950s. The top officials of the John Birch Society in the 1950s were all former officials of NAM. The Birch Society also acted as a bridge group.
Source: The Nazi Hydra in America: The 1930s:
Nazis Parading on Main Street, Part 4: The Press Sells Out to
In congressional hearings held on March 2, 1938 evidence was
entered showing that NAM was controlled and financed by 207 firms.
Leading the list of firms were General Motors, du Pont, Chrysler,
National Steel and the Pennsylvania Railroad. The leading contributors
to NAM were also the leading contributors to a number of pro-Nazi
groups such as the American
Liberty League, the Crusaders,
of the Republic, and the National Economy League.
The power behind NAM was the Special Conference Committee. Twelve corporations made up the Special Conference Committee, a secretive business organization dedicated to destroying unions and promoting the agenda of NAM. They met in the offices of Standard Oil, 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The twelve firms are listed as follows: ATT, Bethlehem Steel, E.I Du Pont de Nemours, General Electric, General Motors, Goodyear Tire, International Harvester, Irving Trust, Standard Oil of N.J, US Rubber, United Steal, Westinghouse. With one possible exception all of the corporations listed supplied the Nazis with arms.
In 1943, Colombian University Professor Robert Brady described the Special Conference Committee as follows:
"The most important line of policies within NAM, in short, seems to be traceable directly or indirectly to this inside clique within the inner councils of the organization...Nowhere else is shown so clearly the dominating positions in the NAM of concerns such as those which are members of the Special Conference Committee. Public relations techniques were born, nurtured and brought to flower within these ranks"69.
The Civil Liberties report produced by a Senate committee led by La Follette and Thomas described the Special Conference Committee as a secret coalition in direct furtherance of the specific forms of company union by Colorado Fuel and Iron, the Rockefeller corporation involved in the Ludlow massacre.
The thirteen most powerful families in the United States and members of NAM as listed by [George] Seldes are as follows: Ford, du Pont, Rockefeller, Mellon, McCormick, Hartford, Harkness, Duke, Pew, Pitcairn, Clark, Reynolds and Kress. Of these, five were involved in the plot of against Roosevelt: du Pont, Mellon, Pew, Pitcairn and Clark. With the possible exception of three of these families all had close connections with fascism and the arming of Hitler.
The reader should understand that NAM was more than just a mouthpiece for the fascist elite. It was also a bridge group between classes. Just as in Germany the real power behind the Nazi movement were the rich financial backers but the masses of brown shirts came from the lower classes. The same was true of the fascist movement in the United States. The following example of how NAM bridged this gap between classes with the Black Legion and even more importantly between the nativist groups and fascism.
The upper levels of NAM made references to the alien nature of unions. Calling unions un-American and anti-American thus playing on the very fears foremost in the mind of the average member of the Black Legion. In this way, NAM became a gateway between classes and between various nativist groups with fascism playing on the fears of the unorganized worker. Nor is this the only example of NAM being a bridge group. The reader should be aware that many of the top John Birch officials including Robert Welch himself were officers of NAM. This association will be revealed in more detail in a later chapter. In this case setting up a group of far right wing extremists controlled by former NAM officials that appealed to the poor and middle class. The John Birch Society's chain of bookstores in the late 1950s and early 1960s were directed specifically at these classes of people and served as propaganda centers for the hard right. Again we see how NAM functions as a bridging group between the elite and the lower and middle classes.
With almost unlimited power corporations were able to create and fund numerous fronts to hide their support for fascism. Often times these fronts groups would have a claim to respectability such as, we saw in the chapter on the 1920s and the American Legion. While NAM was at the forefront of propagandizing the new feckless goddess of free enterprise, other groups figured prominently as well particularly the Chamber of Commerce.
Source: The Nazi Hydra in America: Chapter 6,
The War Years, Part 3: The Battle for the Home Front