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Socio-economic system in which large businesses exert influence over and benefit from government policies

Corporate capitalism is a term used in social science and economics to describe a capitalist marketplace characterized by the dominance of hierarchical and bureaucratic corporations.


Atlas Shrugged and the Corporate State, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 12 Oct 2007
Explains how Ayn Ran's Atlas Shrugged properly depicted some businessmen as privilege seekers, but some of her non-fiction was mistaken about big business being a "persecuted minority"
This is the origin of the Progressive-Era "reforms" ... Well-connected corporate leaders favored measures that would cartelize their industries and inhibit competition in the manner of FDR's later, short-lived National Recovery Administration ... Who stands to gain most from the subsidies, tax preferences, and market manipulations ...? ... The energy companies, which have never stood on their own, independent of government. And who is pushing hard for deeper government intervention in medicine and pensions? Big corporations, which are competitively burdened by the obligations they've taken on over the years.
Barack Obama: Corporatist, by Sheldon Richman, 17 Apr 2012
Reviews Obama's corporate-friendly actions, particularly regarding donors and lobbyists and towards banks like Bank of America, while saying that government needs to be "responsive to the needs of people, not the needs of special interests"
Six months earlier, she had visited the White House, bringing with her a "top entertainment industry lobbyist" ... when a big brouhaha was erupting between that industry and Internet companies over online piracy ... Like his predecessors, Obama has been a good friend to big companies, especially banks ... Obama reveals himself as a friend of big, well-connected business interests — that is, as an advocate of the corporate state. Considering that Mitt Romney also favors having government as business's ally, we can look forward to an election between two variations on this corporatist theme.
Related Topics: Banking, Barack Obama, Politics
Bernie Is Not a Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist, by Marian Tupy, The Atlantic, 1 Mar 2016
Clarifies the meaning of various terms which young people tend to misunderstand, including socialism, communism, capitalism and corporatism, and then discusses the relative levels of economic freedom in the United States and other countries
Capitalism is often confused with "crony" capitalism—an odious nexus of corporate and political power that crushes the worker and cheats the consumer. Close linkages between big business and the government have existed before ... However, most academics do not refer to such systems as exhibiting "crony capitalism," but "corporatism." In any case, few would argue that the power of big business in the United States today is comparable to the power of big businesses in, say, fascist Italy, though it might be argued that "crony capitalism," if left unchecked, could one day lead to "corporatism."
Big Business and the Rise of American Statism, by Roy Childs, Reason, Feb 1971
Originally a speech given at the first convention of the Society for Individual Liberty, 15-16 Nov 1969
In any case, we have seen that (a) the trend was not towards centralization at the close of the nineteenth century–rather, the liquidation of previous malinvestment fostered by state action ...; (b) there was, in the case of the railroads anyway, no sharp dichotomy or antagonism between big businessmen and the progressive Movement's thrust for regulation; and (c) the purpose of the regulations, as seen by key business leaders, was not to fight the growth of "monopoly" and centralization, but to foster it. The culmination of this big-business-sponsored "reform" of the economic system is actually today's system.
Big Pharma and Crony Capitalism, by Wendy McElroy, 9 Jul 2012
Examines the ways in which large pharmaceutical companies influence government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Most of the time, the state and big pharma are in an uncomfortable partnership that benefits both of them. Adversarial events occur between them, but the bottom line is a partnership. They both act to suppress any drugs or people who compete with their monopolies. Both the state and big pharma promote specific products, with the state pushing drugs through various social-services agencies and programs like Medicaid. Both of them victimize anyone who wishes to have choice over their own medical care and drug use. They also victimize those who blindly trust the almost mystical authority that the medical world creates for itself ...
The Death of Politics, by Karl Hess, Playboy, Mar 1969
Discusses libertarianism, contrasting it with both conservatism and modern liberalism, including specific policy differences
Big business in America today and for some years has been openly at war with competition and, thus, at war with laissez-faire capitalism. Big business supports a form of state capitalism in which government and big business act as partners. Criticism of this statist bent of big business comes more often from the left than from the right these days, ... making it difficult to tell the players apart ... The left's attack on corporate capitalism is, when examined, an attack on economic forms possible only in collusion between authoritarian government and bureaucratized, nonentrepreneurial business.
Does Freedom Require Empire?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 5 Sep 2014
Critiques Daniel McCarthy's "Why Liberalism Means Empire" (July 2014), which attempts to justify British and American imperialism by insisting that "power is the basis of the peaceful order upon which liberal democracy rests"
My first reaction was that McCarthy has a rather liberal notion of liberalism—so liberal that it includes the illiberal corporate state, or what Albert Jay Nock called the "merchant-state," that is, a powerful political-legal regime aimed first and foremost at fostering an economic system on behalf of masters, to use Adam Smith's term. (... Thomas Hodgskin, not Marx, was the first to disparage "capitalists" for their use of the state to gain exploitative privileges.) ... Had McCarthy argued that empire is indispensable to (state, political, or crony) capitalism, he'd get no argument here.
Election 2014: The Good News and Bad, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Nov 2014
Sobering comments on elections, governments, democracy and why voting is of so little consequence to the individual voter
Republicans talk about shrinking government, but don't believe it. They certainly have no intention of shrinking the American empire, much less dismantling it. Quite the contrary. And while they talk about freeing the economy, that usually means removing restrictions on privileged economic interests without also eliminating the privileges. Republicans give the free market a bad name, because too often their policies amount to unabashed corporatism. But, then, the Democrats are no different. Both parties have a vested interest in the essential status quo, whatever their differences at the margin.
Related Topics: Democracy, Ethics, Government, Voting
Fascism, by Sheldon Richman, The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, 2008
Defines fascism, contrasting it with other ideologies, identifying Mussolini's Italy and Nazi Germany as its two main exponents and discussing its influence on the New Deal
Fascism embodied corporatism, in which political representation was based on trade and industry rather than on geography. In this, fascism revealed its roots in syndicalism ... The government cartelized firms of the same industry, with representatives of labor and management serving on myriad local, regional, and national boards—subject always to ... the dictator's economic plan. Corporatism was intended to avert unsettling divisions within the nation, such as lockouts and union strikes. The price of such forced "harmony" was the loss of the ability to bargain and move about freely.
Full Context, by Sheldon Richman, The Freeman, Apr 2006
Explains why, when arguing against government interventions, such as an oil windfall-profits tax or labor market regulations, it is essential to be aware that the existing corporatist economy does not equate to the free market
[T]he business elite historically supported labor laws ... "Respectable" union leaders would be brought to the corporate-state table as responsible junior partners who would discipline their unruly elements ... [I]ndustry-wide collective bargaining would have a cartelizing effect on American industry ... It is reasonable to believe that workers would have more bargaining power if all corporate privilege were abolished ... [T]he current threat to liberty is the centrist corporate state [thus] a top priority is the repeal of all corporate subsidies, even the most subtle kinds.
Related Topics: Free Market, Adam Smith
A Hit Man Confesses, by Christopher Westley, Mises Daily, 12 Dec 2006
Comments and criticizes John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004)
With [the second [popular path to wealth in the private sector], you work in an industry that stands to make billions of dollars through contracts for infrastructure development with foreign governments. Since these countries are often quite poor, the key to success is in getting World Bank and IMF loans into the coffers of these foreign governments ... We know of companies that would be shells of their present selves were it not for their hounding of contracts funded by such loans, and that these companies provide lucrative incomes to politicians when they are out of office.
Hobby Lobby Ruling Falls Short, by Sheldon Richman, 2 Jul 2014
Dissects the good and bad parts of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, ruling against the Affordable Care Act provision that required employers to pay for contraceptives
[Justice] Ruth Bader Ginsburg worries that the ruling puts the country on a slippery slope: If religious employers can opt out of paying for contraception coverage, why not other things, such as blood transfusions and vaccinations? ... This controversy would not exist if government didn't privilege employer-based insurance or mandate "free" services, which are not really free because the expense is made up by reducing future wage increases. Indeed, this controversy would not exist were it not for licensing, patents, regulatory insurance and medical cartels, and other features of the corporate state.
How to Help Fast-Food Workers, by Sheldon Richman, 1 Aug 2013
Discusses contemporaneous strikes by fast food workers seeking a doubling of the minimum wage, the economic realities behind wages and alternatives that would truly help the workers
What workers need is greater bargaining power, and that comes primarily from having options. Unfortunately, the corporate state, which people mistake for the free market, closes off options ... What's wrong with simply doubling the minimum wage? The answer is that wages are not arbitrarily set. Even in a corporatist economy, they result from supply and demand ... governments at all levels do this routinely, usually by protecting the well-connected from market competition ... Taxes and regulations impose greater burdens on would-be entrepreneurs than on large, established businesses.
Libertarianism: Left or Right?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jun 2007
Examines the origin of the political terms "left" and "right" and makes the case that libertarianism is "planted squarely on the Left"
When state socialists attacked the market ("capitalism") ..., the conservatives, defended economic freedom rhetorically (while usually ignoring the corporatist features of capitalism in order not to alienate their business allies) ... [L]ibertarians ... too often defend particular actions by particular businesses (oil companies, for example), forgetting that business today is the product of years of corporatism ... The classic example is Ayn Rand's much-ridiculed essay, "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business." (But it is clear from Atlas Shrugged that she understood what corporatism is.)
Lincoln-Worship Overlays the Corporatist Agenda, by Kevin Carson, Future of Freedom, Mar 2014
Review of Rich Lowry's Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream—and How We Can Do It Again (2013)
[Lowry] sees the corporate economy of our day, at least in its broad outlines, as a logical outgrowth of Lincoln's vision, and one Lincoln would very likely embrace if he saw it today ... The American—like the global—corporate economy lives, moves, and has its being in dependence on government. It is a creature of the state ... [Segregation] and the Gilded Age model of corporate capitalism were both part of the same grand bargain in 1877. The corporate capitalists secured their uncontested control of the national polity in return for giving Southern Redeemers a free hand in setting up an apartheid system in the South.
The New Deal Made Them 'Right', by Damon Root, Cato Policy Report, Sep 2009
Discusses how various "prominent liberals" (Mencken, John T. Flynn, Al Smith, Burton K. Wheeler and Nock) found themselves categorized on the political right as a consequence of their opposition to Roosevelt's New Deal
[The] NRA [National Recovery Administration] sought to micromanage the economy through more than 500 wage-, hour-, and price-fixing "codes of fair competition," mandating everything from the price of food to the cost of having a shirt hemmed ... historian Arthur Ekirch has pointed out: "Little attention was paid to the fact that it was industry itself that had largely prepared the regulations governing prices and production ..." ... [Flynn] had long worried about the growing power and influence of the big corporations. Now FDR and his so-called brain trust were climbing into bed with them!
Obama and King, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 30 Aug 2013
Contrasts Martin Luther King Jr.'s April 1967 speech condemning the Vietnam War with Obama's actions (planning to bomb Syria) on the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech
King went beyond Vietnam and called for an end to U.S.-sponsored corporatist imperialism in the developing world. He quoted John F. Kennedy: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." This section of the speech might be mistaken for a criticism of free markets until one remembers that the U.S. government wasn't promoting freed markets at all. It was promoting, at bayonet point, rigged-market plutocracy friendly to the U.S. government and its well-connected corporate cronies. (See U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler's War Is a Racket.)
Related Topics: Militarism, Vietnam, Vietnam War
The Pope Dabbles in Economics, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 20 Dec 2013
Examines the economic premises of Pope Francis' 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, explaining where the Pope has a point and where he is wrong
In an important sense, we do have "an economy of exclusion and inequality." But it is not the free market; rather, it's interventionism, corporatism, crony capitalism, or just plain capitalism—that is, the abrogation of the free market on behalf of special, mostly business, interests ... There's not too much competition, but too little, because suppressing competition is how those with access to political power keep potential rivals at bay ... [T]hese restrictions make low-income people (and others) ... more vulnerable to the caprice of politically protected oversized and hierarchical firms ...
Related Topics: Free Market, Government, The State
A Real Free Market Benefits Workers, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Nov 2006
Discusses The State of Working America: 2006/2007, a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and arguments from both progressives and their opponents as to whether workers are losing ground in spite of increased productivity
When government imposes taxes and regulations, it favors large incumbent firms over small firms yet to be started ... Worker-consumers are harmed by any measure that protects incumbent firms ... Whatever the trend in living standards for average workers in the reigning corporate state, we know that they'd be better off in a free economy ... It is intervention ... that is biased against workers ... [R]ising living standards do not compensate for the injustice of the corporate state ... The corporate state, by design, inhibits competition and makes average workers worse off than they'd otherwise be.
Related Topics: Capitalism, Free Market, Government
Road to Empire, by Justin Raimondo, 28 Nov 2007
Discusses the "Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America" signed on 26 Nov 2007, after the U.S. Congress went into recess
What stands out is the stated intention of the Iraqi government to give what news accounts describe as "preferential" treatment to U.S. investment in the country, which presumably means the vital oil production sector. One imagines that the bidding process is already taking place, with all sorts of sub rosa agreements being made to divvy up the country's potentially lucrative oil reserves. For an administration ostensibly devoted to "free markets," this sort of crony capitalism is a disgrace. ... In return, favored American corporate interests will be allowed to strip the country bare.
Smedley Butler and the Racket That Is War, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 27 Jun 2014
Reviews U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler's writings, particularly War Is a Racket (1935) and the constitutional "Amendment for Peace"
[I]n 1935 ... [Butler] wrote ...:
I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and ... spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism [corporatism]. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in ... I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Related Topics: Foreign entanglements, War
The State Is No Friend of the Worker, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 24 Oct 2014
Discusses how the state interferes with setting wage rates and quotes Thomas Hodgskin on how to reward workers properly
[W]e who believe in freeing the market from privilege as well as from regulation and taxes should be careful not to imply that we have free markets today. When we declare our opposition to [wage] legislation, we must at the same time emphasize that the reigning corporate state compromises the market process in fundamental ways, usually to the detriment of workers. Therefore, not only should no new interference with the market be approved, but all existing interference should be repealed forthwith. If you omit that second part, you'll sound like an apologist for the corporatist status quo.
Taxation Is Robbery, by Frank Chodorov, Out of Step, 1962
Chapter XXII, previously published in 1947 as a Human Events pamphlet; starting with the historical origins of taxation, proceeds to examine its indirect and direct forms and the rationales behind it
Any farmer can make whiskey, and many of them do; but the necessary investment in revenue stamps and various license fees makes the opening of a distillery and the organizing of distributive agencies a business only for large capital ... Likewise, the manufacture of cigarettes is concentrated in the hands of a few giant corporations by the help of our tax system; nearly three-quarters of the retail price of a package of cigarettes represents an outlay in taxes. It would be strange indeed if these interests were to voice opposition to such indirect taxes (which they never do) ...
Variations on a Corporatist Theme, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Apr 2012
Contrasts the rhetoric on both sides of the 2012 U.S. presidential contest, finding it fundamentally alike
Genuinely freed markets won't make the list of feasible options. That will leave us with mere variations on a statist theme, namely, corporatism. How will voters choose ...? Most of those who abhor "socialism" (however they define it) will rally round Republican corporatism because of the pro-market rhetoric, while most who abhor the cruel "free market" ("Look at the hardship it created!") will rush to Democratic corporatism because of its anti-market rhetoric. And the winner will be: Corporatism. (That is, the use of government force primarily to benefit the well-connected business elite.)
Warfare/Welfare/Corporate State: All of a Piece, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 24 Jan 2014
Dissects article by Princeton professor Sean Wilentz criticizing Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange due to their libertarian sympathies
Neoliberalism is corporate statism, not the freed market ... The welfare state, warfare state, and corporate state are of a piece. The government interventions needed to assist well-connected economic interests and to carry out world hegemony create permanent structural economic problems and hardships for the most vulnerable in society. To buy off the victims and reduce the chance of civil strife, the power elite builds an intrusive welfare bureaucracy designed to toss crumbs to the trapped population. In other words, the welfare state is a mechanism of social control made necessary by the corporate-welfare/warfare state.
What Is the Enemy?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Apr 2006
Discusses why corporatism, also known as state capitalism or political capitalism, is the "the great institutional threat to liberty"
[T]he great threat to liberty is the corporate state, otherwise known as corporatism, state capitalism, and political capitalism. (The Therapeutic State falls into this category, because the prime beneficiaries are corporate medical providers.) ... The foreign-policy component of the corporate system can't be elaborated here, but its importance cannot be overstated. Most of U.S. foreign policy can be understood only if one grasps that business interests have looked to the government to secure foreign markets and foreign resources ... "Gunboat diplomacy" was one of those ways.
When What's Costly is Cheap—and Vice Versa, by Kevin Carson, 6 Jul 2013
Explains how the corporate state programs subsidize big business at consumer expense, and on the other hand creates artificial scarcities to again benefit corporate interests
Consider the share of industry's total inputs that are artificially cheap thanks to the state. The state preempts ownership of vacant land and gives privileged access to oil and coal companies, preempts civil liability for oil spills and pollution with its "environmental" regulations, fights wars to guarantee American access to foreign oil reserves on American terms, and spends many tens of billions on a Navy whose main function is to keep the sea lanes open for oil tankers—all to keep energy artificially cheap. It subsidizes long-distance transportation, artificially increasing market areas and firm size.
Related Topic: The State
Where Free-Market Economists Go Wrong, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 1 Feb 2008
In view of the early 2008 economic stimulus proposals, admonishes free-market economists and libertarians who fail to point out that the current economic system is not truly a free market but rather a corporatist, government interventionist system
What we have is corporatism, an interventionist system shot through with government-granted privileges mostly for the well-connected (yes, who tend to be rich). This system is maintained in a variety of ways: through taxes, subsidies, cartelizing regulations, "intellectual property" ..., trade restrictions, government-bank collusion, the military-industrial complex, ... restrictions on workers, and more. As a result, people can get rich at the expense of the government's victims. Even some who have prospered apparently by market means have actually done so through government intervention.
Will 2016 Be a Good Year for the Corporate State?, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Dec 2013
Considers the prospective 2016 U.S. presidential contenders preferred by "Wall Streeters", Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, and how they line up with the aims of the corporate state, and further comments about South Africa under Mandela
The corporate state's roots go quite deep, having had a couple of hundred years to spread. It's easy to discount its pervasiveness because of the chronic public feuding between business, particularly big banks, and some politicians, but don't be fooled by this. The feud is more superficial than it appears. Roderick Long explains,
... ["Right-wing" statism] generally seek to shift the balance a bit farther in favour of corporatism and plutocracy. (In the U.S., the reigning versions of liberalism and conservatism are arguably both more corporatist than state-socialist ...)


The Plowboy Interview: Karl Hess, by Karl Hess, Anson Mount, Mother Earth News, Jan 1976
Karl Hess interview in issue No. 37, Jan/Feb 1976, shortly after his book Dear America (1975) had become a bestseller, questions him about the switch from right wing conservatism to the New Left
PLOWBOY: And you no longer feel that the right ran deliver such values?
HESS: No. Not since it was captured by corporate capitalism. The right still talks about ... free enterprise ... but it delivers ... bureaucracy and collectivism. Corporate capitalism, in fact, is the worst enemy that free enterprise currently has in this country. To be quite blunt about it, the big guys are very deliberately using our "free enterprise" system to stamp out the little guys. But don't take my word for it, look at the statistics: There are fewer and fewer independently owned businesses — per capita — here in the United States every day.

Cartoons and Comic Strips

OK ... Every day you guys ah in heah complainin' about how corrupt politicians ah ..., by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 26 Sep 2012

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Corporate capitalism" as of 12 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.