Glotzer Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Carl Davis

Ford’s Flunkey Finances
Gerald L.K. Smith

(October 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 42, 16 October 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The White House Campaign Expenditures Committee is having one helluva time trying to find out who are the financial backers of America’s fascist-minded rabble-rousers, anti-labor racketeers and avowed fascists and their organizations.

Already, Joseph Kamp, noted supporter of fascist doctrines and professional labor-baiter dealing in red scares (he makes his living digging up the “dope” for wary industrialists) has been cited for contempt for his refusal to disclose his source of financial support. Frank Gannett, owner of a large number of newspapers and a notorious truth-raper, is another of a long string of reactionaries whose stock-in-trade is anti-labor propaganda bought and paid for by big business. He, too, refused to reveal his sources of financial support, which runs into millions of dollars.

A small sensation, however, was caused by that demagogue, Gerald L.K. Smith, who, while he refused to list all his financial backers, did say that among them was Harry Bennett, former head of the Ford Company service squad, now a vice-president and reputed to be running the Ford empire. Smith stated that he received $2,000 from Bennett to aid his struggle against “communism and labor racketeering” (read: unionism).

Bennett’s Feelings Were Hurt

Bennett, employer of thugs and organizer of goon squads to fight unionism, was hurt no end by Smith’s disclosure. What a dirty thing to do! He only gave this fascist scum and wearer of the cloth money so that he could finance radio talks against “communism and racketeering.” And what does old Reverend Smith do but tell a story that gives the impression that Bennett was supporting him politically. Ain’t true, says this ex-football player and ex-pug, now turned “industrialist.” Smith is just picking on him because he wouldn’t support the political beliefs of America First.

Bennett went on to say:

“I do not support Smith’s political beliefs. I have told him so publicly and privately and in no uncertain terms. He was given no money by me for his own political purposes. As a matter of fact, no one suspected that, at the time I gave him the money, he had any political ambitions such as have been evidenced of late.”

He only gave him the money to help break the back of the rising Automobile Workers of America (CIO): And that, according to Henry Ford’s servant, makes the contribution justifiable.

But there is more to this story. Bennett said that he gave Smith names of others in the automobile industry who were also interested in a little union busting campaign. What moneys he received from these other auto barons, Smith has so far not revealed. But there is no doubt that he received “aid” from them, too.

Whose Money Was It?

Whose $2,000 was it that Bennett gave to Smith? Well, the facts on this aren’t too clear. The Ford public relations officials told reporters that they weren’t sure whether the money belonged to Bennett personally or to the Ford Company. They “assumed” the money was Bennett’s.

But, Labor Action reader, can you imagine Bennett, who was personnel director of the Ford Motor Company at the time he gave the m0ney to Smith, shelling out $2,000 of his own funds in the interest of the Ford Company? And that Mr. Ford knew nothing about this? That’s just about too much to expect!

Labor has often charged that Ford was one of Smith’s backers. It could never document this charge. But Smith’s testimony is a living proof that this charge had its basis in fact. Lest anyone try to dissociate Henry Ford from Harry Bennett, just remember that Bennett is Ford’s employee. In the many years during which he served his master for good pay, he carried out the policies of the head of the Ford empire.

Bennett is no free individual acting on his own behalf, especially where it was a case of combating the militant Auto Workers Union. He acted in the interests of the Ford Company when he instructed his goon squads to beat up union organizers; and he acted in the interests of the company when he gave money to Fascist Gerald L.K. Smith for the same purpose. What Bennett is really boiled up about is that Smith mentioned his name as a contributor. If the Reverend hadn’t said a word, Bennett would not, of his own accord, have admitted giving him any money.

It isn’t only a matter of “Ford’s $2,000 ... thrown down a rathole,” as R.J. Thomas says. What is important is that Smith’s testimony showed that when it comes to material support to an individual fascist or fascist movement you will always find big business as its financial mainstay.

Fascism does the work of big business. It did it in Italy. It did it in Germany. It will do it wherever it has the chance. That is why it is silly to think that big business, the industrialists and financiers of America will ever fight fascism seriously. The bigger and stronger the labor movement, the more direct becomes the link between big business and fascism. The labor movement must organize the fight against fascism.

Top of page

Labor Action 1944 Index | Writers’ Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 18 February 2016