American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in the Twentieth Century (Politics and Culture in Modern America)
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At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the legitimacy of American capitalism seems unchallenged. The link between open markets, economic growth, and democratic success has become common wisdom, not only among policy makers but for many intellectuals as well. In this instance, however, the past has hardly been prologue to contemporary confidence in the free market. American Capitalism presents thirteen thought-provoking essays that explain how a variety of individuals, many prominent intellectuals but others partisans in the combative world of business and policy, engaged with anxieties about the seismic economic changes in postwar America and, in the process, reconfigured the early twentieth-century ideology that put critique of economic power and privilege at its center.
The essays consider a broad spectrum of figures—from C. L. R. James and John Kenneth Galbraith to Peter Drucker and Ayn Rand—and topics ranging from theories of Cold War "convergence" to the rise of the philanthropic Right. They examine how the shift away from political economy at midcentury paved the way for the 1960s and the "culture wars" that followed. Contributors interrogate what was lost and gained when intellectuals moved their focus from political economy to cultural criticism. The volume thereby offers a blueprint for a dramatic reevaluation of how we should think about the trajectory of American intellectual history in twentieth-century United States.
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arguments handed d o ~ v ni n time from o n e intellectual cohort to another-at each step replicated, deployed i n neJv ways, or reshuffled, recast, and supplemented by neJv additions. This set o f themes, motifs, and so forth included characteristic notions regarding t h e changing nature o f economic organization and o f property; so-called "silent revolutions" transforming t h e old order; t h e cultural malady o f competitive individualism and t h e expanding scope o f social solidarity that
regarded as economistic, either market ideology or-~vhat actually took m o r e o f his fire-left-wing theories focusing o n inequality o f ~ v e a l t hand power as t h e lzey dimensions o f analysis.84 O n a visit to Germany i n 1979, intended by his hosts to celebrate t h e fiftieth anniversary o f his doctoral dissertation o n t h e concept o f capitn1'ism i n Sombart and Tl'eber, Parsons died, leaving T/~eArtlnicanSocietal Cort~~~rfunitj unfinished. During t h e same year, another scholar o f
i n 1960, the groning importance o f lzno~vledgeproduction to t h e economy ~ v o u l dencourage t h e business enterprise t o become more like t h e universit!; ~ v h e r ecollaboration and consensus, rather than hierarchy and c o m m a n d , were t h e n o r m . This may sound preposterous i n t h e face o f t h e S e w Left image o f Kerr as a technocrat, a charge that Mario Savio made famous o n t h e Sproul Hall steps i n t h e fall o f 1964. Yet m u c h o f Kerr's ~vorlzsuggests an
adverse effects o n "personal freedom." T~VllileParsons highlighted Durkheimian elements o f TlVeber stressing t h e significance o f social cohesion, Gerth and Mills highlighted Marxist elements o f TlVeber's thought, stressing t h e compulsive character o f largescale economic, military and political institutions. Against Parsons's idealist interpretation o f Tl'eber that concentrated o n t h e significance o f shared values, Gerth and Mills put forth a materialist interpretation stressing that