1st Edition

Myth of Liberal Ascendancy Corporate Dominance from the Great Depression to the Great Recession

By G. Williams Domhoff Copyright 2013
    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    320 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Based on new archival research, G. Williams Domhoff challenges popular conceptions of the 1930's New Deal. Arguing instead that this period was one of increasing corporate dominance in government affairs, affecting the fate of American workers up to the present day. While FDR's New Deal brought sweeping legislation, the tide turned quickly after 1938. From that year onward nearly every major new economic law passed by Congress showed the mark of corporate dominance. Domhoff accessibly portrays documents of the Committee's vital influence in the halls of government, supported by his interviews with several of its key employees and trustees. Domhoff concludes that in terms of economic influence, liberalism was on a long steady decline, despite two decades of post-war growing equality, and that ironically, it was the successes of the civil rights, feminist, environmental, and gay-lesbian movements-not a new corporate mobilisation-that led to the final defeat of the liberal-labour alliance after 1968.

    Introduction The Myth of a Postwar Liberal-Labor Ascendancy 1 Demonstrating Corporate Dominance 2 The Rise and Sudden Decline of the Liberal-Labor Alliance, 1934-1938 3 Leadership for Corporate Moderates, 1939-1945 4 The Postwar Years and the Truman Administration 5 Corporate Moderate Frustrations: The Eisenhower Years 6 Corporate Moderate Successes in the Kennedy Years 7 Corporate Moderation and More Success: The Johnson Years 8 New Sources of Conflict between Corporations and Unions 9 Corporate Policy Success and Economic Failure in the First Nixon Administration 10 The Rise of the Business Roundtable and Tension within the CED, 1973-1976 11 Corporate Triumphs during the Carter Administration 12 The Reagan Culmination, 1981-1984 13 The Road to the Great Recession


    G. William Domhoff is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus and a Research Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has taught since 1965. He is the author or coauthor of fifteen books on power, politics, and social change in America, starting with Who Rules America? (1967) and The Higher Circles (1970), along with The Powers That Be (1979) and The Power Elite and the State (1990). His most recent books are The Leftmost City: Power and Progressive Politics in Santa Cruz (with Richard Gendron, 2009); Class and Power in the New Deal: Corporate Moderates, Southern Democrats, and the Liberal-Labor Coalition (with Michael J. Webber, 2011); The New CEOs: Women, African American, Latino, and Asian American Leaders of Fortune 500 Companies (with Richard L. Zweigenhaft, 2011); and Who Rules America? The Triumph of the Corporate Rich (seventh edition, 2013).

    "The sociologist G. William Domhoff has long been a leading analyst and critic of corporate power and economic inequality in the United States. The Myth of Liberal Ascendancy builds on his previous work and offers his broadest historical narrative of what he sees as continual corporate dominance over American public policy since the late 1930s...[it]represents one of the most comprehensive and persuasive historical overviews available...""
    —The Journal of American History

    “Domhoff makes a convincing case that business leaders were more influential in the development of public policy during these decades than most other accounts would have it. VERDICT Whether or not they agree with him, historians and political scientists will need to reckon with the reach of Domhoff’s argument, the depth of his research, and the controlled passion underlying both.” –Library Journal

    ""Domhoff reminds us in his latest masterpiece, The Myth of Liberal Ascendency, the class war perpetrated by corporations and their owners against the rest of America predates the Reagan Era and, in fact runs all the way back to the New Deal and earlier."" –Jewish Currents

    ""No one who wants to claim understanding of the nature of American economic policy can ignore this work. Domhoff has meticulously scrutinized dozens of episodes over the last half century in the endless political battle to achieve a semblance of economic fairness and social justice. As the story unfolds, we see the ways that corporate power has profoundly restricted the capacity of government to promote equality of opportunity and economic security—even when some headway was being made. Those who think they know that story will find in this work a great deal of news and much to challenge their presuppositions.”
    —Richard Flacks, University of California, Santa Barbara

    ""Domhoff's exhaustive review of national policy-making from 1939 to the Great Recession inflicts major damage on studies that find periods of liberal ascendancy alternating with periods of conservative dominance. Students will find abundant evidence in his research.""
    —John F. Manley, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stanford University

    ""This is a beautifully written inquiry into how the United States moved so far to the political right in recent decades. Professor Domhoff provides a careful analysis of one of the most dramatic and important transitions of our times: the transformation from relative equality during most of the years immediately before and after World War II, to a world in which a well-organized and politically-engaged corporate community accelerated a movement to the right, starting in the 1970's. In addition to making an important contribution to understanding historic political shifts, this book also contributes to our understanding of patterns of inequality and the concentration of social and financial resources in the hands of a small portion of the population. The book is a must-read for sociologists, economists, political scientists, historians, and anyone who cares about inequality.
    —Lisa A. Keister, Duke University

    ""In his most recent book, Domhoff debunks the view that the United States moved toward greater equality during the New Deal and that it wasn't until decades later that the power elite began its rise to power. Instead he convincingly demonstrates, contrary to the ""fairy tale"" of a liberal-labor ascendancy, that the large corporations have been well-organized and politically mobilized since the late 1930s and that the U.S. has experienced increasing corporate dominance ever since.""
    —Jill Quadagno, author of One Nation, Uninsured : Why the U.S. Has No National Health Insurance, Oxford University Press (2006)