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The IndustrialistsHow the National Association of Manufacturers Shaped American Capitalism$
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Jennifer A. Delton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167862

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167862.001.0001

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Conservatives vs. Managers

Conservatives vs. Managers

(p.187) 8 Conservatives vs. Managers
The Industrialists

Jennifer A. Delton

Princeton University Press

This chapter highlights the fissures among and between corporate capitalists and conservatives in the mid-twentieth century. By the 1950s, businessmen and journalists alike regarded the National Association of Manufacturers' (NAM) ideological “backwardness” as a hindrance to business's interests and unrepresentative of the business community. Partly, this was about corporate liberals criticizing NAM to highlight their own enlightened and reasonable moderation. But mostly, this criticism was fairly earned by a group of “ultraconservatives,” whose control of the purse strings and ties to far-right groups like the John Birch Society were increasingly at odds with NAM's internationalism, professional goals, and membership quandaries—areas overseen by NAM staff. It would be wrong to call the NAM staff “liberal,” but its outlook was more pragmatic, more influenced by business and management schools, and less committed to “rugged individualism” than that of NAM's conservative leaders. The tensions created by ultraconservatives would lead to a restructuring of NAM that sidelined the “old guard” and gave NAM its first full-time paid president and a more pragmatic, issues-based approach to its work.

Keywords:   corporate capitalists, conservatives, business community, corporate liberals, ultraconservatives, staff, restructuring, National Association of Manufacturers

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