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The hymnal of the brainwashed worker: IBM’s 1937 corporate songbook
10:08 am



This fellow appears to be doubting the greatness of Big Blue’s “supreme leader.” We can’t have subversives here at IBM!
Nowadays tech is pretty discreet about indoctrinating their labor force into a corporate cult. You have Google, of course, who lets you bring your dog to work while providing free food, community gardens, massages and sleep pods—but how did they keep your ass happily at your work desk without such “perks” in ye olden tymes? Well, IBM decided to use rhythmic, melodic chanting—some might even call them “songs,” but I think the propaganda is explicit enough to make note of the North Korea-type brainwashing techniques therein.

The 1937 booklet, Songs of the IBM starts out with some rote patriotism—“The Star-Spangled Banner” and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” though only the first of the 13 verses of the latter. Then there are five songs dedicated to IBM President, Thomas J. Watson, some with multiples verses and a chorus. That is to say three more songs than employees were expected to sing about America!

Here’s an example from “To Thomas J. Watson, President, I.B.M. Our Inspiration:”

Thomas Watson is our inspiration,
Head and soul of our splendid I.B.M.
We are pledged to him in every nation,
Our President and most beloved man.
His wisdom has guided each division
In service to all humanity
We have grown and broadened with his vision,
None can match him or our great company.
T. J. Watson, we all honor you,
You’re so big and so square and so true,
We will follow and serve with you forever,
All the world must know what I. B. M. can do.

Then, there are two songs for the Vice-President (though one has six verses), five verses for the Vice President and General Manager, one for the Vice President in Charge of Manufacturing, and so on and so forth, down the masthead, until they get to what I assume is middle management, before finally just singing the praises of the company itself. Here’s part of a sweet little IBM loyalty oath!

We don’t pretend we’re gay.
We always feel that way,
Because we’re filling the world with sunshine.
With I.B.M. machines,
We’ve got the finest means,
For brightly painting the clouds with sunshine.

Don’t you feel more dedicated already? All of these were sung to the tunes of well-known songs, like “My Old Kentucky Home,” or “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” The former ode to Thomas Watson used the melody of “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,” and the latter simply a rewrite of “Painting the Clouds with Sunshine.” Don’t know it? Well listen below and try singing along! Or aren’t you a team player? Check out the rest of the songbook here, but don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

Via Ars Technica

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment