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A Contest of IdeasCapital, Politics, and Labor$
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Nelson Lichtenstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037856

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037856.001.0001

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Tribunes of the Shareholder Class

Tribunes of the Shareholder Class

(p.47) Chapter 4 Tribunes of the Shareholder Class
A Contest of Ideas

Nelson Lichtenstein

University of Illinois Press

This chapter focuses on the book The Modern Corporation and Private Property, published in August 1932 by Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means. The book instantly became a controversial classic, provided an ideological rationale for New Deal planning, consumer activism, labor organizing, and financial regulation of the large corporation and by extension of all American capitalism. Berle and Means argued that America's two hundred largest corporations, which then controlled one-third of the national wealth, had themselves abridged the fundamentals of a liberal capitalist order. Berle and Means were not Brandeisian “small is beautiful” trustbusters. Something more fundamental was wrong in that the immense power of those who ran America's largest corporations was essentially unfettered, not only by the state but also by those who were their ostensible masters: the shareholder themselves.

Keywords:   New Deal, American capitalism, The Modern Corporation and Private Property, Adolf Berle, Gardiner Means, corporations

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