The NAM and Democracy

The National Association of Manufacturers opposes the Trump mob that violently stormed inside the U.S. Capitol after the president spoke to them on January 6. Later that day, the NAM issued a press release, “Manufacturers Call on Armed Thugs to Cease Violence at Capitol.”

What does the NAM mean in terms of the classic formation of fascism in which big business supports imperialist, racist and sexist leaders such as Trump? I ask in terms of a Trump rioter shouting out inside the Capitol: “It’s our house.”

I agree with that. However, I disagree in the way the shouter intended, e.g., for white supremacy to reign. Think of Trump scapegoating racial minorities. Take his support for the Confederate monuments and other lethal symbols of black slavery.

Let us return to the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and before that eye-opening day, when white supremacists killed and were shot dead by police who shared a similar complexion. In ways big and small, the place is the corporate lobbyists’ house. I hold that corporate groups such as the NAM want to keep it that way.

To ensure such an order, consider the NAM, which has a history as a propaganda machine to sway public opinion that dates to 1913. In Alex Carey’s 1995 book Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty, he writes that the NAM fought popular democracy, e.g., self-rule, via “the mass dissemination of propaganda … for the purpose of influencing legislation by influencing public opinion.”

Currently, the NAM continues that anti-democracy project. Its federal campaign contributions to the two monopoly political parties are an example. We turn to The Center for Responsive Politics based in Washington DC.

The NAM spent $14.6 million on federal lobbying in the 2020 election cycle. At the top of the recipient list is President-elect Joe Biden. Following him are two GOP lawmakers from the upper house of Congress, Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Massachusetts.

Members of the small business and working class for or against Trump that disrupt the NAM’s corporate relations with Democratic and GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill get in the way of the campaign donor-to-lawmaker status quo. I conclude that anti-corporate influence that disrupts its rule in the U.S. Capitol is the enemy.

Such social relations can be a bit hard to see. Recall that Trump, like the broken clock that tells good time twice a day, campaigned against corporate rule in part by bashing the North American Free Trade Agreement and other falsely named trade pacts that harm people and help investors. Recall that the NAFTA and more recent trade pacts such as the Trans Pacific Partnership have had broad bipartisan congressional support that extended to the Oval Office, e.g., ex-President Obama.

Activist, author and journalist Paul Street summed up how the rule of capital over citizens functions. He points to “The judicially sanctioned domination of American politics by the superior campaign finance weight of concentrated wealth (under two plutocratic Supreme Court decisions – Citizens United [2010] and Buckley v. Valeo [1976]). This “combines with numerous other mechanisms of ruling class domination (please see the chapter titled “How They Rule” in my 2014 book They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy) to further ensure that the policy preferences of the nation’s working-class majority are regularly trumped by those of the wealthy Few.”

As I see it, the NAM favors corporate democracy, the status quo. Its hold on the two monopoly political parties is a symptom of that reign of capital over citizens. Movements for justice and peace in and out of the workplace face corporate democracy in the fight for sovereignty.

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Email