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Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Culture

NAM's 1930s Campaign

  1. Daily newspapers.—Realizing that public thought is shaped to a large degree by a country’s newspapers, the National Association of Manufacturers’ Public Information program regularly covers the newspaper field to industry’s advantage.
    1. Bulletin to newspaper editors—at regular intervals publishers and editorial writers of every daily newspaper in the country are furnished with an authoritative explanation of industry's viewpoint on current topics through the ‘Voice of American Industry.’
    2. Daily comic feature—(Uncle Abner Says)—one of America’s most popular comic features. Uncle Abner knows that if he can make his neighbors smile with his homely homespun comments on current problems, he can make them think.
    3. You and Your Nation’s Affairs—popularizing economics for the masses. A group of outstanding authorities write this daily column for newspapers.
    4. News Stories—Industry’s position on vital questions of the moment is explained to the public through spot news releases to local newspapers, press associations, radio stations and news syndicates.
  2. Weekly Newspapers.—To weekly newspapers go the following services carrying industry’s story into the smaller cities and towns… reaching back to the grass roots:
    1. Weekly news clipsheet (the nation’s largest news feature syndicate) containing (1) Washington column (2) news and editorials on timely subjects (3) weekly article on Constitution.
    2. The country’s largest cartoon service drawn by Nate Collier, one of America’s ace cartoonists—cartoons with a punch on current problems
  3. Business Papers.—a) Bi-monthly clipsheet. b) News releases. c) Special articles.
  4.  Advertising.—a) A series of full page newspaper advertisements telling the facts about American industry and promoting community harmony. b) Outdoor advertising—proclaiming on the billboards of the nation that ‘There Is No Way Like the American Way with Its ‘World’s Highest Standard of Living,’ ‘World’s Shortest Working Hours,’ ‘World’s Highest Wages’.’
  5. Radio.—Good will for industry is being engendered over the air in numerous ways.
    1. The N.A.M. program ‘The American Family Robinson’—the nation’s largest dramatic radio program, combining entertainment with simple facts about the American industrial system through a series of 15 minute electrical transcriptions used for more than two years on stations from coast to coast.
    2. Foreign language transcriptions—carrying the story of the accomplishments of American industry to the millions of Americans who listen to foreign language programs.
    3. Speakers for special occasions—giving the radio public an opportunity to listen to the views of leading industrialists on topics of current interest.
    4. Materials to news commentators.
  6. Public Speeches.—Speeches are one of the most effective ways of presenting the facts to the public. The N.A.M.’s InformationProgram includes:
    1. Speakers Bureau—handling requests for speakers before conventions, clubs, on local radio programs, etc.
    2. Special material for use by speakers wherever needed.
    3. Professional speakers to carry industry’s message before groups of all types.
  7. Motion Pictures.—
    1. N.A.M. 10 minute shorts. Each picture has its own theme. One entitled ‘America Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ with narration by John S. Young, tells the story of progress under the American industrial system. Another, ‘Men and Machines’ with narration by Lowell Thomas, banishes the myth that machines are the principal source of unemployment. These films have been widely shown in (1) theatres (2) schools (3) industrial plants (4) clubs, etc.
    2. Newsreels—carrying statements of the industrialists and others to the motion picture audiences of America through regular news-reel channels.
  8. Direct Mail.—
    1. ‘You and Industry’ library—a series of booklets to educators, professional men and women, schools and libraries and others throughout the country… the first attempt to popularize the facts about industry, making them attractive and entertaining.
    2. Shareholders’ letter—giving the owners of American industry—the shareholders—the facts about situations affecting the welfare of industry.
  9. Foreign Language Contacts.—
    1. Foreign Language News service—millions of workers in American industrial plants are readers of foreign language newspapers, and each week this program reaches newspapers printed in four foreign languages.
    2. Radio programs in six languages.
  10. Employee Contacts.—Believing that a fully informed employee is industry’s greatest asset, the N.A.M. supplies employers with a many-sided program of employee information:
    1. Leaflets—a complete series telling employees the real facts about American industry.
    2. Bulletin board posters—for use on plant bulletin boards.
    3. ‘Industrial Facts’—carrying truth and knowledge to group leaders in industry—foremen, junior executives, superintendents—who help to shape the thinking of others.
    4. Sound slide films—One of the most effective mediums for employee information has been found to be sound slide films. Visually presenting the facts about the American industrial system, a series of N.A.M. films has been seen by thousands of employees through the country. They are also used in schools and civic meetings. New films are ready for showing.
    5. Plant publications—a regular monthly editorial and news service reaching house organs which are read by employees from cover to cover.
Source: ‘Violations of Free Speech and Rights of Labor.’ Senate Committee on Education and Labour. 14 August 1939, pp. 160-1.
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Distribution of NAM Propaganda

According to a 1939 Senate committee this propaganda material reached millions of Americans (see table below).

Publication Circulation/Distribution
Uncle Abner Says cartoon 2 million
You and Your Nation’s Affairs 4.5 million
Foreign Language News Service 2.4 million
Employee leaflets 11 million
Motion pictures – Let’s Go America and Men and Machines 6 million
Source: ‘Violations of Free Speech and Rights of Labor.’ Senate Committe eon Education and Labour. 14 August 1939, pp. 162-6

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