Saturday, November 26, 2016

20th-century libertarian beginnings traced by anti-;ibertarian group

from "Against the Libertarian Party" | Jacobin - Branko Marcetic:

November 4, 2016 - "The modern libertarian movement has its roots in the 1930s, when a host of business leaders, terrified by Roosevelt’s New Deal, set up a series of overlapping organizations to oppose what they saw as a government incursion.

"One such group was the American Liberty League, founded in 1934 by executives from General Motors, US Steel, and other corporations, as well as three members of the du Pont family (who owned the DuPont Chemical Company).

"Another was the Volker Fund, a charitable trust set up in 1932 by Kansas City businessman William Volker (who put his nephew Harold Luhnow in charge). The fund sponsored various right-wing initiatives, such as the Mont Pelerin Society, an annual summit of pro-market scholars, journalists, and businessmen. It also helped subsidize the careers of various free-market intellectuals, such as Ludwig von Mises (“the fountainhead of modern libertarianism”) and, even more importantly, Friedrich von Hayek (whose 1947 book Road to Serfdom is widely viewed as kickstarting the free-market right’s intellectual resurgence).

"Two of the nascent movement’s most important backers were also drawn from the ranks of corporate America: J. Howard Pew, president of Sun Oil, and Jasper Crane, the former executive vice president of DuPont Chemical.

"Both had helped lead the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a vehemently anti-union business organization. Pew went on to bankroll the Liberty League, as well as conferences, advocacy groups, and the conservative Christian organization Spiritual Mobilization, which put out the Christian libertarian magazine Faith and Freedom in the 1950s. Crane helped organize, and used his business connections to fund, the Mont Pelerin Society and a whole host of other initiatives. He, along with the du Pont family, would go on to donate to Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964.

"Perhaps the most important libertarian cause Pew and Crane were involved in was the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), an organization that sought to teach the public about libertarian ideas.

"Both acted as trustees, joined by an array of corporate executives: Donaldson Brown, a former executive of both DuPont and General Motors; Erle P. Halliburton, the founder of Halliburton; A.C. Mattei, the president of Honolulu Oil Corporation; Hughston McBain, president and chairman of Marshall Field & Company; W.C. Mullendore, executive vice president of the Southern California Edison Company; Charles White, president of Republic Steel; and B.E. Hutchinson, chairman of Chrysler’s finance committee. (The Volcker Fund’s Harold Luhnow was also a trustee.)

"Pew and Crane’s participation in the libertarian movement and its corporate circles didn’t end there. The pair sat on the board of the Freeman, the movement’s flagship magazine, alongside a smattering of businessmen.

"Major firms bankrolled the Freeman through advertising that doubled as ideological propaganda. Instead of touting their products, major firms like Chrysler, DuPont, Republic Steel, Marshall Field, General Motors, and Sun Oil — whose executives, past and present, were involved in the FEE and older anti-New Deal groups — took out ads promoting the virtues of business and the free market. (During the 1950s and 1960s, General Electric — also a frequent Freeman advertiser and a member of NAM — featured the publication on its anti-union reading list for managers and supervisors as part of its effort to delegitimize labor leaders.)"

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