Saturday, February 24, 2018

Will Corporate America Make The Same Mistake As It Did In The 1960's? ... by gimleteye

The historical record is clear. In response to perceived threats to social order in the 1960's, corporate America was lead into a wilderness -- to blindly support right-wing, Republican think tanks and message machinery -- that pointed the nation to exactly this outcome: a democracy severely deformed by an extraordinarily narrow group of wealthy, special interests. Donald Trump, the most incompetent and disliked president in modern US history, is a manifestation of that outcome.

Today, the first cracks are appearing: big American corporations have withdrawn support for the NRA, the organization that fronts for billionaire manufacturers of guns.

Earlier this week, longtime NRA kingpin Wayne LaPierre affirmed this point of view when he reached to the back of the bag of dirty tricks and darkly summoned the image of "socialism's return" if AR-15's were banned. An NRA spokesperson looked even loonier, brandishing automatic weapons in a photo like a terrorist.

LaPierre is working from the same story line that motivated corporate America to support the Powell Memorandum in 1971. An attorney at the time, before his appointment to the US Supreme Court, Powell sincerely sucker punched logic:
In all fairness, it must be recognized that businessmen have not been trained or equipped to conduct guerrilla warfare with those who propagandize against the system, seeking insidiously and constantly to sabotage it. The traditional role of business executives has been to manage, to produce, to sell, to create jobs, to make profits, to improve the standard of living, to be community leaders, to serve on charitable and educational boards, and generally to be good citizens. They have performed these tasks very well indeed. But they have shown little stomach for hard-nose contest with their critics, and little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate.
In rejecting sponsorship of the NRA, corporate America is breaking with a long, dejected history that lead the United States to the point of putting military-grade weapons in American schools. It also appears to be recognizing that the Trump White House and the GOP Congress is making Russia look good in comparison. No sane nation arms its teachers. No sane businessman reads about indictments of top campaign officials of Donald Trump and skips past the conclusion that when the nation wobbles, so do business profits.

There is always a likelihood that herd instinct will corral American businesses back into line. The US Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups, like Associated Industries and the builders' lobby, are made for that. But when Russian schools seem safer than ours in the United States, something has to break.

Even corporate America chieftains remember how hard it was to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

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