, 22 tweets, 10 min read
My Authors
Read all threads
I really enjoyed this left-wing review of #Goliath. @NicoleAschoff read the book and accurately conveyed the narrative, and her disagreements are cogent and useful. I'll be responding later because I think she raises important points.
@NicoleAschoff My book Goliath is a political story, but it's also a business story. It is about how and why business and financial leaders operated the way they did. I go in depth into Walter Wriston at Citibank and conglomerate raider Saul Steinberg. I'm interested in what these men thought.
@NicoleAschoff I'm also interested in what the battles in the 1930s and 1970s were about, by the people who fought them. And why did populists win in the 1930s and lose in the 1970s? What happened?
@NicoleAschoff has the left-wing narrative, which is a set of grand forces and conspiracies.
@NicoleAschoff For @NicoleAschoff, the 1930s New Deal were a result of sit-down strikes at General Motors and increased bargaining leverage for workers. But those strikes happened in the late 1930s. And farmers, engineers, veterans, and business leaders had their own battles much earlier.
@NicoleAschoff What I show in Goliath is not just that worker movements were crushed in the 1920s, but that the people themselves *lost faith in democracy.* In the 1930s political leaders and protesters animated by veterans concerns started with a fight over monetary policy and corruption.
@NicoleAschoff The sit-down strikes are important, but they came later, and happened in the context of a wave of antitrust suits by an administration elected by those veterans. The industrial unionism was a part, and a relatively small part, of the struggle against monopoly power.
@NicoleAschoff "For genuine labor advocates, the focus on big corporations was rooted in a struggle to build lasting working-class power."

This is a flattening history to 'industrial unionism' versus not. But American labor history is mostly about farming and small business.
@NicoleAschoff Of the sit-down strikes... "For the first time, working people got a heady taste of their potential power if they worked together toward a shared goal."

That's just not true. The Bonus Army was the first big successful mass movement of the depression.
@NicoleAschoff "By the 1960s, the limits of this strategy were clear. The fundamentally contradictory position of unions in capitalism, the Cold War, and the hard line taken by companies toward anything beyond bread-and-butter offerings limited the transformative potential of organized labor."
@NicoleAschoff This is far too deterministic. As late as 1980 business leaders simply expected to cut organized labor into core decisions. And there were massive battles *within* the corporate world over finance and labor.
@NicoleAschoff "Stoller’s dismissiveness of the value of an anti-capitalist critique also causes him to write off the social movements of the 1970s as a bunch of misguided, affluent “babies.”"

By going over the details, what I found is that the anti-capitalist critique won. That's the problem!
@NicoleAschoff "The antiwar movement was intertwined with a constellation of other movements, made up of rank-and-file workers, people of color, women, students, the elderly — ordinary people from all walks of life."

This is romanticism.
@NicoleAschoff "These movements were trying out new strategies in the face of an entrenched racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-worker status quo."

What I saw from the radical movements of the 1970s were people who were well-meaning but with bad ideas. They stopped seeing power.
@NicoleAschoff "The limitations of the “old left” pushed these movements in new directions, some fruitful and some decidedly not. But chalking up these attempts as little more than a bucket of mistakes isn’t all that helpful."

But they were a bucket of mistakes! The world is on fire!
@NicoleAschoff Then there's this romanticism.

"Why were antitrust principles, despite showing strong results and being enshrined in US law, already coming under attack by the 1950s, and ultimately incapable of constraining the power of capital?"

The struggle for democracy never ends. Ever.
@NicoleAschoff "The failure of antitrust wasn’t simply because people forgot that these laws were a useful tool. Antitrust failed because it didn’t fundamentally alter the drives of corporations, nor was it part of a broader project to democratize the economy and the state."

It didn't fail.
@NicoleAschoff The socialist view of history is basically a romantic series of titanic forces in which free will is largely absent. By looking in detail at business people, political leaders, and mass movements, I realized this narrative is silly. There are lots of ways to do business.
@NicoleAschoff We can't flatten history and imagine that there is always a utopian ever shimmering in the distance. We also can't assume every worker is wonderful and every business leader is an unthinking automaton under the whim of capital. The world is just not that organized.
@NicoleAschoff In this populist narrative, I show the left made a bunch of serious errors in the 1970s. Rather than building on the New Deal, they rejected it in favor of utopia and anti-business rhetoric. That was a catastrophic choice, and we still haven't reckoned with it.
@NicoleAschoff Doing the painstaking detailed work of institution-building is hard, and structuring markets to prevent coercion and fraud takes curiosity and respect for commerce, production, and competition. It's also the only way we've ever achieved any semblance of justice.
@NicoleAschoff At any rate, I appreciate @NicoleAschoff's thoughtful review and I encourage you to read it. jacobinmag.com/2019/11/monopo…
@NicoleAschoff I'll say, as an aside, the great tragedy of the antitrust movement was Don Turner's refusal to break up General Motors in the 1960s. American history might have gone down a very different path. The New Deal just didn't go far enough.
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Matt Stoller

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!