Sunday, May 4, 2008

Deadline 1946: Part 1

video
from the prelinger archives
How left-wing labor unions engaged in political activism to combat corporate influence on the U.S. Congress in the years following World War II.
Producer: United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - 4 out of 5 stars - March 13, 2004

Subject: Not the history you get in school
At one time, labor unions were not so in line with big business and big government that they actually tried to promote the idea of helping democracy and produced films like this. We get a history of the collusion between business and government, and a great feeling of loss that FDR is no longer in the White House. The fighting spirit of unions in this film is completely absent from post-Reagan America. 16-20 minutes into the film the interconnection of supposedly different big businesses and the concentration of weath is illustrated. The collusion of the government with international business and industry under Nazism is equated to the "American Century". (Those interested in how those these ideals not only survive but occupy the highest levels of the US Government 2001-2004 should check out the "Project for a New American Century" http://www.newamericancentury.org/)
In part 2, we hear how Churchill diverted an invasion of Nazi-held France so that troops could be sent to suppress a democratic uprising against the Greek Royal family. Injunctions are cited by a union official with a heavy accent as a tool companies use to have the police power of the state break strikes. Footage of police beating up strikers in Philadelphia is the highlight. The result was a win for labor, but only to be followed by business counterattack. We are told it will become a company town, state, nation "and ultimately" BANG (illustration of an atom) war!
Ends with a patriotic call to democracy at the Republican president Lincoln's memorial.

Reviewer: Christine Hennig - 4 out of 5 stars - January 8, 2004
Subject: Death to the Scary Octopus of Big Business!
This film, made by the electrical workers union of the CIO in the late 40s, gives the other side of all those pro-business films also made during that time. It criticizes big companies like GE for cutting paychecks after the war, ostensibly because they could no longer afford to pay wartime wages. However, the unions research showed that production and labor costs to the company had actually gone down and that the pay cuts were done to increase profits. But it goes a lot further than just that issue, pointing out how American big business is getting bigger and bigger and more and more powerful. It also points out the links big American companies had with Axis companies during the war, and equates big businesses dream of an American Century with the Nazi goal of world domination. The answer is shown to be participating in strikes and voting the union ticket. This is actually pretty scary to watch, because Im sure things are ten times worse now in terms of big business dominating government. Of course, its hard to tell without doing your own research how accurate the film is, just as with the pro-business films of the periodits obviously meant to be propaganda. It is a fascinating account of union political views of the period. It also has lots of great propaganda graphics, including smashing fists and a giant octopus to represent big business. And theres a memorable, though somewhat puzzling, scene to represent the concept of 31 million dollars (how much of Americas assets are controlled by Morgan interests): They dont just talk about laying that much money in $100 bills end-to-end; they show a guy discovering the line of bills on the sidewalk and trying to pick them all up. A memorable film overall.
Overall Rating: ****.

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