Glotzer Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Sam Adams

Pappy O’Daniel Passes the Biscuits – to Big Business!

(November 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 45, 6 November 1944, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In recent days, some of the papers in the country reported on the testimony given, by Senator W. Lee (Pappy) O’Daniel before the Senate Campaign Expenditures Committee. That no wider publicity was given to this testimony by the yellow press is easily understandable. There is a great lesson for labor in the disclosures of the Senate committee about politics, propaganda and big business.

Pappy O’Daniel is an ignorant rogue, a reactionary, labor-baiting, two-bit politician from the state of Texas. He’s a singer of ditties and a player of the banjo. But that isn’t why he was selected to run for office. That’s only the way he runs his campaigns. He was selected to run for office by the reactionary big business forces who run the Democratic Party in Texas because he is the perfect flunkey, the best kind of office boy the profiteers could find. With a good press, good propaganda agents, with plenty of money, O’Daniel swept several elections. Big business put him into office and big business gets its returns – and plenty.

Since being a governor of his state and now a senator, O’Daniel has used his office for these principal reasons: to organize all reactionary forces in an effort to curb the labor movement; to hamstring the unions; to force them into courts, knowing that most unions do not have funds for extensive litigation; and to bar labor from organizing workers by all kinds of legal restrictions passed in state legislatures by other reactionaries mobilized by this Bourbon from the South.

When the Christian American Association began its campaign in several Southern states to legislate out of existence the trade unions it was learned that Pappy O’Daniel was one of the prime movers of the organization. He used his political office and his big business support to push this anti-union movement forward. Everyone knew who was behind this anti-union legislation and everyone who understood the struggles of the workers knew that Pappy O’Daniel was a nobody who became a somebody only because there were powerful forces backing him, namely, some of the big monopolies and corporations of the North and the South. Make no mistake about it, it isn’t only Southern corporations who stand behind O’Daniel. The Northern corporations and monopolies are there too. As a matter of fact, big business in the North controls industry – in the South. Wall Street stretches its fingers into that part of the country just as it does everywhere else.

O’Daniel’s campaign against the New Deal and Roosevelt arises not because he thinks Roosevelt is a “socialist.” It is not because he believes Roosevelt is fighting “capitalism,” or “free enterprise.” He knows this isn’t true. But he feels that Roosevelt plays ball too much with labor, makes a concession here and there when it isn’t necessary. What the big business forces behind O’Daniel object to is playing ball at all with labor. They believe they are powerful enough to resist any of the demands made by the great union movement. They want to smash the labor movement by direct and brutal methods. They are against smothering it to death with honeyed words – which takes a longer period of time.

That is why they conceived of the Lee O’Daniel News, a paper devoted to fighting the New Deal and Roosevelt and fostering the reactionary policies that interest them. And who could tell, maybe the biscuit-eating Pappy might turn out to be a pretty good second-hand man-on-horseback. You don’t believe that? Well, just take a look at the men and-the companies Which back his foul rag:

These two men contributed almost half of the $109,000 raised by Pappy to put out his paper!

Who else is on the list?

As a matter of record, $80,000 of the $109,000 O’Daniel reported he had raised through contributions, came from wealthy business interests in denominations of $1,000 or more.

The Seeds of Fascism

This fact alone shows that his movement and his paper are not supported by “the people.” They are supported by big business interests who will always organize and finance anti-labor agitation and organization.

There is the real lesson in the Pappy O’Daniel affair. We have always said that if you want to know how the reactionaries, the labor-baiters, the semi-fascists and the real fascists come into existence, carry on their work and finance themselves, the Pappy O’Daniel affair is an example. Big business is behind them. It was behind fascism in Italy; it was behind fascism in Germany. It has backed every anti-labor, reactionary and fascist movement that ever came into existence.

There is a warning to labor in this case. It is: on guard, against all these reactionaries, semi-fascists and outright fascists. Organize labor defense against them. Labor has the power, the numbers, the ideas and the will to defeat fascism wherever it raises its head.

Top of page

Labor Action 1944 Index | Writers’ Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 18 February 2016