As I have argued, conservative free enterprisers depicted the state and the trade union as the only forces constraining freedom. They underemphasized corporate power or denied it altogether by imagining even large business firms as agglomerations of individuals. /1
This worldview, in which their were only individuals acting in a free market and states limiting their freedom, has left them ill-prepared to mount a serious critique of corporate power and makes their current freakout seem hypocritical./2
Here’s an example from my book (p. 187) of free enterprisers describing the economy “as consisting of individuals only...whose ability to proper faced only one menace: the ever-present threat of ‘government strangulation’”/3 Image
They effaced the corporation (and the state) in favor of an understanding of the economy as powered by “the creative, risk-taking, profit-seeking, competitive individual,” as Fortune noted in Dec 1942, when government's centrality to the wartime economy was undeniable./4

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More from @LarryGlickman

14 Jan
I’m not a historian of fascism but the idea that we shouldn’t use the term because it only makes sense in the context of its origins seems like an overly restrictive view of how political language (which I do study) works. /1 Image
Many political phrases and ideologies outlast their original use. As Peter Gordon argued in @NYRB, the notion of restricting political terms to their context of origin becomes incoherent./2…
“Free enterprise” was popularized by abolitionists as part of their critique of chattel slavery. Conservatism was first employed in response to the French Revolution. Like many other political terms, they have been contested and evolved./3
Read 6 tweets
11 Jan
The claim that “the way [Trump] handled himself in the last 60 days" marks some sort of dramatic change in his actions and rhetoric is not credible. He has employed violent language & explicitly called his supporters to violence since his 2016 campaign./1…
In 2019 he said, "I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad/" /2…
Here's an article from _March 2016_, well before he got the nomination, about "all the times Trump has called for violence at his rallies."/3…
Read 10 tweets
7 Jan
Since Reconstruction, variants of the claim that "our freedom is being stolen" has been used to justify white backlash.
In a fairly anodyne version in 2016, Phil Gramm said, "I’m afraid that if we don’t win this election and overturn Obama’s programs now, my five grandchildren will never know the America I knew....our freedom is being lost."…
Gramm was, of course, evoking Ronald Reagan's 1961 claim that, if Medicare passed, we would spend “sunset years” telling “our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."/3
Read 4 tweets
7 Jan
Query: Has anyone compiled a comprehensive list of the prominent people, politicians, media outlets, and organizations (ranging from the National Association of Manufacturers to the NAACP) calling for Trump's immediate removal from office?
How about an article on the growing list of diverse group of people, media outlets, and organizations calling for Trump to be immediately removed from office? @politico @nytimes @washingtonpost @thehill @WSJ @bpolitics
In 1998, there were many articles that cataloged the newspapers calling for Bill Clinton to resign.…
Read 4 tweets
31 Dec 20
Why does nearly every article about the GA Senate race start with the Republicans groundless charged about the “extreme socialism” of the Democratic candidates? And why is the not only real but self-proclaimed extremism of the GOP never mentioned? /1…
I provided a brief history of the socialism charge from the New Deal to the present in this @DissentMag article and have more to say about it in my book, FREE ENTERPRISE: AMERICAN HISTORY./2…
Here is a passage from the introduction about the “slippery slope from reform to totalitarianism” that was central to the anti-New Deal playbook and to all subsequent reform efforts. /3
Read 5 tweets
21 Dec 20
In FREE ENTERPRISE, I discuss a group that condemned advocates of a robust welfare state as daydreamers who promised "something for nothing." Yet these people, who, like Paul, depicted themselves as hard-headed realists, posited the miraculous, faith-based nature of free markets.
Paul’s critique, founded upon a kind of inverted producerism, has a long genealogy.
In 1950, Robert Bremen’s noted the “semantic somersault” of the phrase “something for nothing”: it had become “a missile by the spokesman of big business and political conservativism to hurl at what they called the ‘gimme’ attitude of the common folk toward government.”
Read 5 tweets

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