While the bombing of Pearl Harbor caused many of the pro-fascist groups such as America First to go underground or change their tactics, corporate America continued to drag its feet in gearing up for full wartime production. By mid-1942, the news was truly dark. Rommel's Panzers had raced across North Africa and were within sixty miles of the Nile. On the eastern front, Hitler's forces were at the gates of Stalingrad. The Luftwaffe was pounding London into rubble. Ships from the United States bound for England were disappearing under the waves of the Atlantic at an alarming rate. The Philippines had fallen to the Japanese.
It was at this time, our darkest moment of the war, that the most devastating blow was struck. No ships were sunk in this assault, no planes were lost and no soldier was killed from this blow. This was a different type of assault. It would open the third front of the war on the home shores. It was a battle for the minds of Americans. It would be a battle that free people could hardly afford to lose.
For wrapped up in an electioneering jingle and cloaked behind a false flag of patriotism, Lamont du Pont had concealed the very heart of fascism. Hidden behind this thin veil of false patriotism of free enterprise was the root of fascism, corporate rule. Thus began the most blatant fraud ever perpetrated against the American people; in effect, du Pont had dressed up fascism with a smiley face to appeal to the American people. To accomplish this horrific swindle of freedom and liberty, all resources were to be deployed. It would become a full-scaled assault on the rights of the American people for the remainder of the century. This was the forgotten third front of the war, the battle for the minds of the American citizen. Under the banner of this new feckless goddess of free enterprise, a multiprong attack was launched against our freedoms. One prong would question the patriotism of anyone not subscribing to unbridled corporatism, another prong would attack unionism and the third prong would be launched against socialism and communism.
This often forgotten event launched by one of the most notorious fascist of his time is imperative to the understanding of fascism in America following the war. It clearly marks the beginning of the adoption of the fascist ideology by the right-wing in the country. Before Eisenhower's troops ever started to march across North Africa and before the Marines ever started island hopping one bloody atoll after another toward the Japanese homeland a third front of the war was raging in the American homeland, for the control of the people. Tragically, the heroic efforts of the war against fascism were lost as quickly as the Third Reich crumbled into ashes. While our armies were victorious on the battlefields of Europe and the South Pacific, the battle for the homeland would be lost. The new goddess of free enterprise would replace democracy in America. The war against fascism would be lost. Instead of corporations serving the general interest of society, society would now be forced to serve the general interest of corporations.
The American lexicon was expanded in 1942, never before had the term free enterprise been used. There is no such right listed in the constitution nor does the constitution grant any rights to corporations. While the founding fathers believed in an economy based on capitalism, they were hardly the fools to allow trade to go on unregulated. With one-third of the populace at the time of the revolution being former indentured servants to British corporations, corporations were closely regulated as the chapter on corporate law detailed. However, unregulated corporationism was precisely what Du Pont envisioned in his call for free enterprise. The best summary of free enterprise as envision by Lammont du Pont comes from his speech before a secretive meeting of the resolution committee for the National Manufacturers Association (NAM) on September 17, 1942.
"The way to view the issue is this: Are there common denominators for winning the war and the peace? If there are, then, we should deal with both in 1943. What are they? We will win the war by reducing taxes on corporations, high income brackets, and increasing taxes on lower incomes, by removing unions from any power to tell industry how to produce, how to deal with their employees or anything else, by destroying any and all government agencies that stand in the way of free enterprise."18
Du Pont's words are clearly treasonous as he calls for the destruction of any government agency that may stand in his way. It is the same agenda followed by Hitler on assuming power. In addition, as we enter the 21st Century it is the same agenda being put forward by the Republicans and the right-wingers.
The media immediately began extolling the virtues of free enterprise and singing its praises. No mention was ever made of the du Ponts funding of the pro-Nazi Liberty League or the Black Legion. No mention was made of the du Ponts involvement in the fascist plot against the White House a decade ago. This was a full-scale assault against the New Deal and responsible government. The timing of this campaign for free enterprise coincided with the upcoming election. The election would reduce the majority of Democrats considerably. In effect, it left Congress under the control of the Republicans and conservative "Dixiecrats."
Throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s the du Ponts and other munitions makers were embroiled in congressional investigations into war profiteering. Thus as the battle for Midway raged the du Ponts were already covering up their crimes of war profiteering and their dealings with the Nazis during the war. Once again, no mention of war profiteering was ever made in the media, nor was there any mention of the repressive nature of free enterprise as envisioned by du Pont.
Instead, the major media chains flaunted free enterprise as the new goddess to be worshipped. However, it should be clear after the previous chapter and the beginning of this chapter that the major newspaper chains and media outlets were openly pro-fascist, as evidenced by the Hearst papers publishing the most notorious Nazi propaganda unedited. Likewise, the Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion and the National Association of Manufactures (NAM) quickly adopted the false goddess of free enterprise, particularly NAM with its mouthpiece Fulton Lewis broadcasting over the air waves. Lewis was one of Hoover's media allies and often the recipient of leaked information from the FBI and Hoover. This became a standard form of attack by Hoover and the FBI against a group or an individual. Lacking information to convict, Hoover would seek to destroy the individual by leaking rumors to his press allies.20 A tactic quickly adopted by the likes of Nixon and Joe McCarthy.
Central to propagandizing this message was the NAM. Seldes, arguably the best investigative reporter of the 20th Century devotes two chapters in exposing NAM and its mouthpiece Fulton Lewis.17 NAM was headed by Frederick C. Crawford, who during the 1930s was director in Associated Industries, a strikebreaking agency. NAM was investigated by at least three congressional committees. The Garrett Committee exposed its lobby as secretive and reprehensible. The lobby functioned to defeat Congressmen who opposed its policies of illegal strikebreaking and other activities. The findings of the La Follette committee were already presented in the previous chapter and will not be discussed further. The O'Mahoney Investigation showed that 200 industrial firms and 50 financial families owned, controlled and ruled the United States. Of these families, thirteen were the most powerful.
At the same secret meeting of the resolution committee in which du Pont was quoted above, NAM hammered out its agenda for the future. The platform included were a fight against any management-labor committees. These committees were a prominent part of war-time contracts. They were indispensable in over coming obstacles and bottlenecks in production. Freeing Wall Street from all restrictions and driving women out of industry after the war both figured prominently in the NAM platform. Note the eerily similarity of du Pont's call for forcing women out of the workplace to Hitler's opposition to women in the workplace.
More disturbing was the call for a launching of a propaganda program in high schools and colleges and the elimination of all social programs of the New Deal. Even more ominous was a threat to sabotage war production and to undermine Roosevelt's prestige unless NAM's demands for taxes to make the poor pay for the war were met.
A quick look at the officers of the National Industrial Information Committee, the propaganda arm of NAM reads like a who's who list of fascist. J.H. Rand president of Remington Rand used newspapers to propagate lies about big labor during strikes. Walter D. Fuller president of Curtis Publishing and the man responsible for the pro-fascist attitude of the Saturday Evening Post. The pro-Franco and pro-fascist H.W. Pretis president of Armstrong Cork was listed by Attorney General Jackson as an un-American. Howard Pew of Sun Oil was exposed by Senator Gillette as the main subsidizer of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania. Pew was also a large financial contributor to the Sentinels, Crusaders and other profascist groups. With his threat to pull a big ad contract Pew was responsible for the New York Times going Republican in 1940. Colby Chester and William Warner respective heads of General Foods and McCall Corporation headed NAM during the period in which the La Follette investigation found NAM guilty of employing spies.
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, the Sentinels of the Republic, and the National Economy League. In the Senate report produced by Senator Black entitled "Special Committee to Investigate Lobbying Activities" letters from members of the Sentinels stating: "the old line Americans of $1200 a year want a Hitler," "the New Deal is communist," and "the Jewish treat is a real one."70
The power behind NAM was the Special Conference Committee. Twelve corporations comprised the Special Conference Committee, a secretive business organization dedicated to destroying unions and promoting the agenda of NAM. 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, U.S. Rubber, United Steel and Westinghouse.68 They met in the offices of Standard Oil, 30 Rockefeller Plaza. 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". They met in the offices of Standard Oil, 30 Rockefeller Plaza.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.
According to Seldes, the thirteen most powerful families in the United States and members of NAM 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.67 With the possible exception of three, all of these families had close connections with fascism and arming Hitler.
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. The legions
of brown shirts making up the majority of the Nazi membership came from
the lower classes however, they were controlled and directed by the
upper classes that charted the party’s policies. 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 membership of the Black Legion in Michigan's Oakland county were mostly unskilled and semi-skilled workers, who had migrated to the Detroit area from the hill country of the south. They were unused to an urban environment. The insecurity and monotony of factory work, rendered them eager to join an organization that promised power and adventure. The following quote characterizes the average Black Legion member.
"He came from a small farm in the South. He had gone through grammar school, though he had not received a high school diploma. Married, the father of two children, working on construction or as unskilled labor in a steel plant or auto assembly line, he never came to reconcile himself to city life or industrial work. His greatest concern was obtaining and holding a job for his family's sake. To the general insecurity of the times was added the fear that alien labor might displace him. Detroit had a large immigrant labor population and this offered further justification for the traditional nativist dislike of alien groups."30
The upper levels of NAM made references to the alien nature of unions, calling unions un-American and anti-American and playing on the very fears foremost in the mind of the average the Black Legion member. 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 acting as a bridge group. 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. With the Birch Society, NAM created 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. Unlike the direct connection between the Birch Society and NAM, the Black Legion was independent of NAM. However, the Black Legion was directed and controlled to a large degree by the automakers in the Detroit area.
With almost unlimited power corporations were able to create and fund numerous fronts to hide their support for fascism. Often times these fronts 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. Recall from the chapter on the 1920s that under the direction of Pa Watson of IBM the Chamber of Commerce took on a fascist character and was supportive of both Hitler and Mussolini.
The Chamber of Commerce authored the 1934 report, "Combating Subversion Activities in the United States," a report that became the blueprint for the repression of the left in the 1950s and the McCarthy Era.13 The report demanded the passage of an anti-subversive legislation, including a sedition law and urged that a special agency within the Justice Department be created to investigate subversive activities with special attention to Communists.
In 1948, the Chamber of Commerce published a pamphlet entitled "Program for Community Anti-Communist Action." This pamphlet contained detailed instruction for developing and maintaining a file system which was nothing more than a blacklist.14 Such file systems have their roots in nativism and serve as a vital ideological resource for the promoters of corporate America. Such blacklists are common among the various groups that comprise the far right since the end of the war. The Church League and the American Security Council were two of the largest compilers of such blacklists. A later chapter on the various right-wing groups will provide a more detailed accounting of such blacklists.
By most regards, du Pont's campaign for free enterprise was an overall success. Even more remarkable is the relativity short time in which it was accomplished. The press suppressed all efforts opposing this fascist campaign. One such example was the suppression of Roosevelt's State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944 in which FDR proposed an economic bill of rights, as given below:
"The right of a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation.
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.
The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.
The right of every family to a decent home.
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.
The right to a good education."42
Nevertheless, the media suppressed this speech just as it did the "Century of the Common Man Speech" by Roosevelt's Vice President, Wallace. Note how successfully the Republicans and the hard right has been in denying these basic freedoms to the American people. Sixty years later the American people still have not gained a single one of those freedoms. The right-wing actively opposes increases in the minimum wage law; the family farmer is rapidly being replaced with the corporate farmer and social welfare has been reduced to inadequate levels. We still have no national healthcare plan that ensures everyone's basic right to adequate medical treatment. The former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, even adopted a program in which if the homeless refuse to work they will be denied shelter and their children will be taken from them and made wards of the fascist state. The economy is dominated by big business, large corporations collectively controls the economy. In addition, the Republicans and right-wingers are feverishly trying to destroy one of the most successful programs created under FDR, Social Security. George W. Bush has even eliminated overtime pay. This is the sad state of America today. Where the Republicans can grant billions in corporate welfare to corporations but are unable to spare a red cent for a poor man, effectively condemning millions to a life of poverty with no hope of ever bettering themselves.
In the 1946 election, the Republicans gained a majority in both the Senate and the House. They immediately set out to attack labor and unions on all fronts; at one time, there were no fewer than 200 antiunion bills in the house. The Taft-Hartley Act emerged out of the fray and was passed over President Truman's veto. Republican Fred Hartley from New Jersey proposed the bill in the House. Hartley had been more than friendly with the Hitler regime and Japan if not an outright fascist right up to the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.26 The act severely restricted the activities of unions and also gave corporations the right to interfere with union organizing drives and to propagandize their employees. The bill was written by lobbyists for large corporations such as General Electric, Allis-Chalmers, Inland Steel, J.I. Case and other large industrials. Numerous amendments favoring small businesses were added to ensure passage over Truman's veto. It soon became known as the Slave Labor Act. Thus, in four short years the fascist agenda of the du Ponts was marching swiftly forward obliterating the rights of labor and setting a course for corporate rule. Additionally, the pro-fascist group, Christian America was successful in passing right to work laws in several Midwestern and Southern states in the second half of the 1940s.
The passage of the Taft-Hartley Act was closely associated with the Allis Chalmers strike of 1946 and 1947. The Local CIO 248 had succeeded in uniting its workers through tough times and had solidified the support of labor. Members of the local could look forward to increasing wages and better working conditions. Allis-Chalmers had anticipated the end of the war and was spoiling for a confrontation with the union to break unionism in Wisconsin.
Just as the media played a major role in the union busting during the Red Scare of 1919 the media would once again fan the flames of another red scare. The Milwaukee Sentinel, a Hearst newspaper would play a critical role. On September 23, 1946, the Sentinel launched a series of articles with an expose of Communist in Local 248. An Allis-Chalmers speechwriter secretly wrote the article. Company management soon got another boost from Charles Wilson, the head of General Electric and former vice chairmen of the War Production Board stated.
"The problem of the United States can be captiously summed up in two words: Russia abroad and Labor at home." Charles Wilson October, 1946.
Allis-Chamlers would combine elements of communism and labor to break one of the nation's most important post war strikes. The extreme right-wing, Maz Babb and Walter Geist headed Allis-Chalmers’ management; successive presidents were leaders of the pro-Nazi America First group. Harold Story was head of labor relations at Allis-Chalmers and was instrumental in writing of several of the provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act. After leaving the company Story was elected to the Milwaukee School Board and led the anti-integration forces.
The post war period was marked by a spate of anti-unionism from the pro-fascists. Several states passed right to work laws from intense lobbying pressure from the fascist group, Christian America centered about the Kirby family of Texas. By 1950, labor had clearly lost, although it would be another eight years before union membership peaked.
By the time the Freedom Train began to roll across America in 1947 one of the freedoms it touted in an exhibit was the right to free enterprise, two of the freedoms that FDR held dear were replaced with this non-existent freedom. Before the Freedom Train had completed its journey across the country, the right of unions to assemble had been severely curtailed with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act. No mention was made of FDR's Economic Bill of Rights. Ironically one of the other freedoms, that of free speech would be trampled the most in the following years by the feet of Joe McCarthy. The remaining freedom of religion would be employed in the war on the home front for free enterprise and fascism. The inclusion of this exhibit in the Freedom Train could serve no other purpose other than to spread the propaganda for the false god of free enterprise.
The second prong attack on communism was even more of a success. The adoption of the basic tenets of fascism in 1942 by the right-wing in America would propel the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust during the Cold War. It would lead to one of the most repressive decades in the history of the country, the 1950s and the McCarthy Era. This embracing of fascism by the right was led by two factions, the rich industrialists within this country and the CIA's reliance on Nazi war criminals in the post-war era. A later chapter will detail the role of Wall Street, the CIA and the Nazi war criminals, the remainder of this chapter concentrates on the role of the domestic fascists.
This plot against freedom by du Pont would not have succeeded
without the aid of the pro-Nazi congressmen. It was a pro-fascist House
member, Fred Hartley, who was one of the authors of the anti-union
Taft-Hartley Act. In addition, it would be another pro-fascist
congressmen who would head up the attack against communism, which was
really an attack on any ideology to the left of fascism, just in the
Great Red Scare of 1919.