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Suicidal Corporation (Touchstone Books) Paperback – February 15, 1989

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Weaver, "convinced that business is the innocent victim of the excesses of liberal government," left a job at Fortune to work in public affairs for Ford Motor Co. He discovered that "Ford was less a victim than a sponsor of the regulatory state that was crushing it." It was hard for him to accept that most large corporations were promoting policies with adverse effects on their own bottom lines. He reveals his disillusionment, problems he had explaining this to other neoconservatives, and recommendations for what corporations ought to be doing. A controversial work recommended for all business collections. Michael D. Kathman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Collegeville, Minn.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Touchstone Books
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (February 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671675591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671675592
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,936,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robert A. Williams on September 11, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The final reason why the United States might convert to capitalism is that Americans are highly sensitive to the flaws of the corporate state, which are many, and powerfully attracted to the moral virtues of capitalism, which are profound"p252.
When I read Weaver's seemingly paradoxical statement above, I viewed it as a puzzling contradiction. Was there not consensus that the American economic system is dominated by capitalism? Why does Weaver say the U.S. might convert to capitalism? When has there been any other economic system in America other than capitalism and what is that? Weaver revealed that it is the corporate state which is that alternative and entirely antithetical to capitalist society.
Weaver, a former professor at Harvard University, related how he came to confront some startling revelations concerning corporations and their relationship to free enterprise only after participant observation at the Ford Motor Company. After becoming an insider, Weaver learned how corporations really work:
"Corporatism accepts private ownership of business but sees economic life as a mainly institutional activity that occurs under a bureaucratic supervision rather than in a free marketplace. It likes oligopoly and mistrusts competition. It accepts representative democracy but sees political life as a process dominated by economic, ethnic, and other interest groups rather than with individual citizens...What I witnessed at Ford was corporatism up close and personal - the doctrine of raw business advantage as seen from the viewpoint of the intended beneficiary". p183
There is nothing else on the subject of corporations fronting behind the rhetoric of the free market with this ethnographic richness.
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Format: Paperback
At the time this book was published in 1988, Paul Weaver was a fellow at the Hoover Institution, and had been assistant managing editor of Forture magazine, and professor of government at Harvard.

He notes in the first chapter, "This book... shares with conservatism a belief in the marketplace and limited government but parts company from conservatives when they refuse to admit that business has been a major backer and beneficiary of the government intervention that harms the economy. The book shares with liberalism the belief that business has been a major source of the nation's economic problems, and that business efforts to escape the discipline of the marketplace should be deplored and resisted. But it parts company with liberals where they go on to accept government intervention as the cure for most economic problems..." (Pg. 22)

He states, "The technical term for the philosophy that guides business in its dealings with the state is corporatism---broadly, the management of a nation's markets and politics by companies, unions, and/or other producer groups in their own interest, backed up where necessary by the power of government... it has lived a parasitic existence, hiding behind, grafting itself onto, and generally subverting both socialism and liberal democracy... Its function is to advance special interests under color of the common good." (Pg. 182-183)

He argues that "Hostile takeovers and today's incessant financial reshuffling have nothing to do with production. They are highly beneficial elements of an elaborate and sophisticated system of corporate governance. They are a powerful bulwark of the market motives and mechanisms that make the big corporation safe for a free and democratic society." (Pg. 201-202)

Although set in a different economic era than the current one, some of the arguments and ideas in this book retain their vitality and relevance in the modern scene.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a godsend for anyone who wants to understand American politics from 1980 to the present day. The author worked at Ford, in academia, the government, and saw all sides of how the process works. His basic conclusion is that the US economy is actually fascistic (government regulation with nominal private ownership) in nature. His analysis reveals people like Reagan are nominal defenders of limited government, (by extension conservatives are light-weight socialists).
The process he describes is one of business lobbying for anti-competitive policies, talking about competition, but at the last minute bad-mouthing everyone involved and letting the law pass. Businesses became so anti-capitalist not just out of malice, but by the nature of their business structure.
Though one can focus on the businesses themselves, he also chronicles the transition of American politics toward neo-conservatism (restrained fascism) and the ascension of people like Irving Kristol, the godfather of the movement. He predicts the next 25 years of American politics without laying any emphasis on it. A reader need only change the dates and places to see nothing has changed fundamentally.
He ends with a devastating analysis of Reagan, Reaganism, and conservatism, with their inadequacies for the modern world. But for all the bleakness, he leaves the reader with an 18 point agenda for real change and making the US competitive globally. Perhaps then, he hopes, the US will finally get the capitalism it deserves.
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