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The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916 Paperback – March 1, 1977

ISBN-13: 978-0029166505 ISBN-10: 0029166500

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (March 1, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029166500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029166505
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Mike Baum on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
In this reinterpretation of the Progressive Era, Gabriel Kolko marshalls a host of historical sources from the National Archives, the Library of Congress and other great outposts of scholarship to advance a bold thesis: that the Progressive Era was a "triumph of conservatism," the business reforms of the time having been fought for and shaped by not only the reformers but also the very business interests that were to be regulated. Kolko is a socialist, and his case is actually more radical than I have indicated. But it is his dispelling of many widely believed myths that I find the most enticing.
Take the "merger movement" at the turn of last century. It was and is popularly believed that competition was at an all-time low, monopoly an all-time high and Theodore Roosevelt's trust-busting the necessary and proper response. But Kolko proves this conventional belief false. In case studies of the big powerhouse industries of the time, he shows that, in spite of (or because of) the merger movement, they were more competitive than they had ever been. Whether the industry was steel, oil, automobiles, agricultural machinery, telephones, copper or meat-packing--Kolko's conclusion is the same: mergers, if anything, decreased companies' efficiency relative to their competitors. In the new century's first decade, the total number of competing firms in each industry grew; market shares of the dominant players, meanwhile, shrunk. As Kolko states, "There was *more* competition, and profits, if anything, declined. Most contemporary economists and many smaller businessmen failed to appreciate this fact, and historians have probably failed to recognize it altogether" (emphasis Kolko's).
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71 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Greg Nyquist VINE VOICE on January 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
No book details the historical relationship between big business and the Federal government better than this one. Though confined merely to the so-called Progressive Era in American history (1901-1914), Kolko manages to overturn all the misconceptions about the formation of government regulation in America. Instead of accepting the standard view that federal regulation of business was inspired by the Progressive intellectuals and activist political leaders eager to put a check on the rising power of big business, Kolko shows that it was really inspired by the drive of businessman to limit competition and bring "stability" into the market. The result is what Kolko calls, appropriately enough, "political capitalism." Some earlier reviews have attempted to draw an ideological lesson from this book. This is a mistake. If there is a lesson to be drawn from Kolko's work, it is the failure of all ideologies (whether from the right, left, or center) to adequately explain the rise of political capitalism in America. Both the right and the left share the common assumption that government regulation hurts big business. Kolko proves that this isn't the case, that Big Business is in favor of regulation and the throttling of competition. Kolko's book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand what capitalism and politics is really all about.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ross Nordeen on December 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
Kolko does an excellent job of making the case that business regulations enacted during the Progressive Era (1900-1916) were due not to liberal reformers, but big business itself! From meat industry regulations to the FTC and the Federal Reserve Board, Kolko shows over and over again how industries sought Federal regulation in order to protect themselves from competition or secure other advantages.
Whether you're liberal, conservative or libertarian, this book is a must-read for understanding the relationship between government and big business.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By New Age of Barbarism on October 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_The Triumph of Conservativism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900 - 1916_, subtitled "A radically new interpretation of the Progressive Era which argues that business leaders, and not the reformers, inspired the era's legislation regulating business", published in 1963 by the Free Press, by economic historian Gabriel Kolko, is a radical new interpretation of the reforms of the Progressive Era which attempts to show that the leaders of big business and not the reformers sought to regulate business to counteract the effects of competition and economic decentralization and to achieve concentration and monopoly. Gabriel Kolko (1932 - ) is a leading historian who has made an extensive study and reinterpretation of economic regulation and American militarism and was frequently associated with the New Left. Kolko's claims challenge the conventional wisdom which see business leaders as promoters of laissez-faire economics, by arguing instead that business leaders sought to regulate business so as to concentrate their power and avoid competition. This behavior has been termed "corporatism", but Kolko defines it to be "political capitalism" in this work. This book will focus primarily on the role of such business leaders and the corporations in the furthering of their interests through the power of the state. In another work, _Railroads and Regulation: 1877 - 1916_ (1965), Kolko focuses on the situation with the railroad monopolies so that is left out of this work. Kolko maintains that progressivism rather than being a fundamental movement for reform was actually a conservative movement aimed at furthering the goals of big business and for this reason he refers to the triumph of regulation as the "triumph of conservativism" and the "triumph of political capitalism".Read more ›
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