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Socialist Appeal, 19 October 1940

Who Owns This Country?


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 42, 19 October 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


“Get down to work! Work faster and harder! Work longer hours for the same pay!” This is the theme-song of all the bosses these days.

“Get ready to fight! Defend yourselves against foreign aggression!” The chorus of the superpatriots chimes in. Day in, day out, both together call upon the workers to make all kinds of sacrifices for the national defense program.

Now, unlike the plutocratic parasites, John Jones and Minnie Jones have to work in order to live. No job, no food for the family. While the speed-up artists shout for “more work,” over eleven millions still can’t get a job. Most of the rest suffer from insecure, underpaid employment.

As a rule, workers don’t object to fighting – provided they’re convinced that they’re fighting for a worth-while cause. The trade-unions’ struggles prove that. Moreover, the military forces for every war in history have been recruited from the poor workers. That includes the present war.

But the workers want to be sure – and they ought to know – who and what they’re being called upon to fight for. Are they to labor and risk their lives for their own benefit – or for the sake of enriching their exploiters? That’s the question posed by the national defense program.

Light on Who Owns America

A floodlight has been cast on this question (by the report just issued by Senator O’Mahoney, chairman of the Temporary National Economic Committee, which has been investigating monopolies for the past two pears without doing anything about it. But the information they have gathered should interest every worker. Here’s what they’ve found.

  1. Three American family groups, the Rockefellers, the DuPonts and the Mellons, own shares worth almost $1,400,000,000 which are “so placed as to give them considerable influence, if not control” over fifteen of the 200 largest non-financial corporations in America.
  2. Thirteen family groups, including these three, have holdings worth $2,700,000,000, representing eight per cent of the stock of these 200 corporations. The twenty largest shareholdings in each of the 200 corporations accounted on the average for nearly a third of the stock. In the average corporation the majority of the voting power was concentrated in about 1 per cent of the stockholders.
  3. These 200 corporations account for the bulk of manufacturing, mining, electric and gas utilities, transportation and communication.
  4. 10,000 persons (0.008 per cent of the population) own one-fourth of all corporate stock in this country; 75,000 (0.06 per cent of the population) own one-half of the stock held by individuals.

The people are being urged to make sacrifices and militarize themselves in order to save “America for the Americans.” But the official Monopoly Committee informs us: “Foreign investors have a considerable stake in the ownership of the 200 largest non-financial corporations. At the end of 1937 their holdings of common stock totalled $1,800,600,000 and of preferred stock $200,000,000.” Capitalist exploitation, you see, is international in scope. But working class relations, according to the bosses, must remain within national boundaries!

According to O’Mahoney, “the committee is not trying to prove any preconceived thesis.” But the facts tell their own story. Any thinking person can draw the necessary conclusions from these figures – if he hasn’t any material motives for concealing them.

Die for These Plutocrats?

The bulk of the productive facilities of the United States are owned and controlled by a small band of multi-millionaires, with the princely families of Rockefeller, DuPont and Mellon at their head. These families,’ which number about 60 in all, are the real rulers in this Democracy of the Almighty Dollar. These findings of the Monopoly Committee officially confirm the picture of “America’s 60 Families” presented in Ferdinand Lundberg’s book of the same name.

It is for the sake of this bunch of plutocrats that the working people are being asked to work and to fight for in the present war. These profiteers will be the principal beneficiaries of the extra labor and the blood shed by the working masses. The national defense program is the program of these millionaire monopolists who seek to use the workers to maintain their hold over their present fields of enrichment and to extend them throughout the world.

That’s why we’re opposed to that patriot’s and profiteer’s program. If the workers must work and fight, let them do so for a country that belongs to them, with an army they can control, commanded by people they can trust – their own labor representatives.

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Last updated on 18 August 2020