Whose Business Were the New Dealers Minding?

Peter A. Swenson

in Capitalists against Markets

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780195142976
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199872190 | DOI:
 Whose Business Were the New Dealers Minding?

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Submits additional evidence for the cross‐class alliance theory of welfare state development in order to challenge competing theories, especially those that deny the positive role that capitalist power plays in determining the timing and shaping of reform. It shows, contrary to influential institutionalist theory, that the New Dealers did not act in bold defiance of monolithic opposition from capitalists, for in fact business organizations were internally divided; that corporate progressives were not disappointed with the New Deal; and that the New Dealers were not interested in building or defending state institutions that would endow bureaucrats and policy experts with the autonomous power to execute progressive policy without regard to capitalist interests. The discussion also challenges other theories that focus on the following: the loss of capitalist power due to the Depression and therefore politicians’ supposed new freedom to ignore business confidence; horse trading between internationalist business interests with little to lose from progressive legislation, and labor groups with little to lose from free trade; and direct pressure from capitalists for regulatory social reform.

Keywords: business organizations; corporate progressivism; interests; New Deal; policy experts; politics; power; social security; state institutions; theory; United States; welfare states

Chapter.  11173 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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