Posts Tagged ‘Martin J. Sklar’

Martin J. Sklar on corporate liberalism

November 30, 2014

The giant business corporation is a type of institution which has made possible economic growth and creation of wealth on a scale never before seen in history.  It also is a concentration of economic and political power that is dangerous to a free and democratic nation.

One of the great issues of American public policy, for more than a century, has been how we the people can get the benefit of the corporate form of organization without allowing it to swallow up everything else in American life.

sklar.corporatereconstructionMarty Sklar, a college classmate of mine at the University of Wisconsin in the 1950s, went on to become a historian whose field of study was this issue.  I didn’t keep in touch with him after college, but I recently read magazine articles paying tribute to him as a historian on the occasion of his death.  I was intrigued enough to get a copy of his major book, which is out of print.

The Corporation Reconstruction of American Capitalism, written in 1988, is about the debate over corporate monopoly and anti-trust law in the era when corporations first came to dominate the U.S. economy.

It covers roughly the same period and issues as Altgeld’s America, but in a very different way.  Ray Ginger’s book is about the hurly-burly, corruption and violence of street-level politics and labor struggles in Chicago, while Sklar’s book is about high-level discussion of public policy.

American statesmen saw that corporate trusts and monopoly represented a dangerous concentration of power, which farmers, laborers and independent business owners could not withstand.  But at the same time, these same corporations increased economic efficiency and productivity and raised the American material standard of living to a level never before seen.

I remember Marty in his college student days as a strongly committed left-wing radical.  But in his book, he seems well-content with the workings of American capitalism and American statesmanship.

(more…)

The passing scene: November 5, 2014

November 5, 2014

Voting rights groups challenge electoral purges by Greg Palast by Al Jazeera America.

One of the techniques for depriving black people and other minorities of the right to vote is by means of the interstate Crosscheck program, in which voters are removed from the rolls if a voter of that name is recorded as voting in two different states in the same election.

The problem is there are many people of the same name.  “Phil Ebersole” is not so common a name as “John Smith,” but a Google search turns up the names of more than half a dozen Phil Ebersoles in different states, most or all of whom presumably voted in the same election.

Crosscheck assumes “double voting” even if the voters have different Social Security numbers, different middle initials or one is “Jr.” and the other is “Sr.”   Investigative reporter Greg Palast, who’s been writing about voter suppression and election fraud for more than 10 years, said millions of voters, mostly Democrats and mostly minorities, were disqualified during the current election.

Israel’s desire to remake the Middle East challenges the Obama presidency by Geoffrey Aronson for Al Jazeera America.

Geoffrey Aronson, a former adviser to the World Bank and European Union on Palestinian issues, wrote that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a long range goal to reshape the Middle East in ways that enhance Israel’s power and weaken the surrounding Arab states.

Netanyahu believes that the boundaries of existing Arab states, which were drawn by Britain and France following World War One, are unnatural, Aronson wrote; Israel’s leader would like to see an independent Kurdistan, a breakup of Syria and many small states reflecting the ethnic divisions among Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and other groups.

This is compatible with the goals of the Islamic State (ISIS), which wants to unite Sunni Arabs in Syria and Iraq.  It does not fit the desire of President Obama for a united and stable Iraq.

(more…)