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American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in the Twentieth Century / Edition 1

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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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The intellectual history of capitalism finally gets its due in this volume of fresh, arresting essays. This book marks the willingness of a new generation of scholars to open up issues rarely addressed by the labor and business historians who until now have been our leading historians of capitalism."—David A. Hollinger, author of Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism

"American Capitalism is an important contribution to our understanding of postwar American thought and culture. It will force historians to revise their pantheon of important thinkers for the period. This book reminds us how, in the postwar era, the triumph of a capitalist worldview remained open to serious questioning and alternatives."—George Cotkin, author of Existential America

"An impressive and thought-provoking compilation of essays from political and national figures on recent and continuing American social and economic issues."—MBR Bookwatch

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812219401
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Series: Politics and Culture in Modern America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Nelson Lichtenstein is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for Work, Labor, and Democracy. He is the author of Walter Reuther: The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit and State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, and editor of Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism.
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Table of Contents

Introduction : social theory and capitalist reality in the American century 1
1 The postcapitalist vision in twentieth-century American social thought 21
2 To Moscow and back : American social scientists and the concept of convergence 47
3 Clark Kerr : from the industrial to the knowledge economy 71
4 John Kenneth Galbraith : liberalism and the politics of cultural critique 88
5 The prophet of post-Fordism : Peter Drucker and the legitimation of the corporation 109
6 C. Wright Mills and American social science 135
7 C. L. R. James and the theory of state capitalism 157
8 Oliver C. Cox and the roots of world systems theory 175
9 Feminism, women's history, and American social thought at midcentury 191
10 The road less traveled : reconsidering the political writings of Friedrich von Hayek 213
11 The politics of rich and rich : postwar investigations of foundations and the rise of the philanthropic right 228
12 American counterrevolutionary : Lemuel Ricketts Boulware and General Electric, 1950-1960 249
13 Godless capitalism : Ayn Rand and the conservative movement 271
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