Bureaucratic Collectivism

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The term bureaucratic collectivism was used by some Trotskyists to describe the nature of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, and other similar states in Central and Eastern Europe and elsewhere (such as North Korea). But it is also applcable tot he environment of a large corporation.

The elite of the organization ("nomenklatura") get lion share of benefits and profits. Also, most importantly, it is the bureaucracy. not nominal owners,  who controls the corporation.

"Bureaucratic collectivism" was first used as a term to describe a theory originating in England, shortly before the First World War, about a possible future social organisation.

This theory was first taken up within Trotskyism by a small group in France around Craipeau. It was also taken up by Bruno Rizzi, who believed that the Soviet, German and Italian bureaucracies were progressive and celebrated "the class which has the courage to make itself master of the state". It was with Rizzi that Leon Trotsky debated in the late 1930s. Trotsky held that the Soviet Union was a degenerated workers state and that if it did not undergo a new workers' political revolution, it could move towards a new form of society, such as bureaucratic collectivism. However, Trotsky doubted that a state of pure bureaucratic collectivism would ever be reached; he believed that, in the absence of a proletarian revolution to return the Soviet Union to socialism, a comprehensive counter-revolution would return the nation to capitalism instead.

Soon after the Workers Party in the United States (later the Independent Socialist League), led by Max Shachtman, split from the Fourth International, it adopted the theory of bureaucratic collectivism and developed it. As a result, it is often associated with Left Shachtmanism and the Third Camp. This  version was mainly developed by James Burnham and Joseph Carter. George Orwell's famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four describes a fictional society of "Oligarchical Collectivism". Orwell was familiar with the works of James Burnham having reviewed Burnham's Managerial Revolution prior to writing Nineteen Eighty-Four.

In 1948, Tony Cliff argued that it is difficult to make a critique of bureaucratic collectivism because authors such as Shachtman never actually published a developed account of the theory. He asserted that the theoretical poverty of the theory of bureaucratic collectivism is not accidental and tried to show that the theory is only negative; empty, abstract, and therefore arbitrary. Cliff proposed “state capitalism” as an alternative theory that more accurately describes the nature of the Soviet Union under Stalinism.

In a 1979 Monthly Review essay, Ernest Mandel argued that the hypothesis that the Soviet bureaucracy is a new class does not correspond to a serious analysis of the real development and the real contradictions of Soviet economy and society in the last fifty years. He asserted that conflict of interest turns bureaucracy into a cancer on a society.

Accordingly, bureaucratic management is not only increasingly wasteful, but it also prevents the system from operating effectively.


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Neither Capitalism Nor Socialism: Theories of Bureaucratic Collectivism [Paperback]

This anthology is a small sampling of the work of those socialists who tried to think through what was happening in the "post-capitalist: societies; beginning with Stalin's Russia and the fascist states.

The analysis was extended to include the new states that arose in the post WWII era, particularly Mao's China and Tito's Yugoslavia. Perhaps of more contemporary importance is the attempt to understand what was happening to modern capitalism. Of particular interest is the discussion of the "Permanent Arms Economy" and its effect on capitalism.

James Burnham, The New Class, And The Nation-State By Sam Francis

Although James Burnham was best known during his life as an anti-Communist theorist of the Cold War and a founding editor of National Review, his political thought remains important to those interested in the main theme of VDARE.com, the "National Question."

Burnham's pre-Cold War political theory revolved around the idea of elites as socially natural and inevitable groups and reflected the influence on him of the "classical elitist" school of political sociologists, which he treated in The Machiavellians (1943). His best-known book, The Managerial Revolution (1941), analyzed and prophesied many of the trends in American and other Western societies toward the emergence into power of a "new class" (a phrase he repeatedly used) that has little commitment either to traditional social and political institutions or to the very existence of the nation-state. [VDARE comment: Click here for a "conservative" example – Wall Street Journal Editor Bob Bartley.] Although immigration and the movement toward a globalist "One-World" order in which the nation-state no longer exists and borders have vanished were not major issues during Burnham's writing career, much of his work focused on the early manifestations of such thinking and warned against it, while explicitly defending the concept of the nation.

"In real life," Burnham wrote in 1967, "men are joined on a much less than universal scale into a variety of groupings -- family, community, church, business, club, party, etc. -- which on the political scale reach the maximum significant limit in the nation.

Since there is at present time no Humanity or Mankind (socially and historically speaking), there cannot be a World Government - though conceivably there could be a world empire."

Burnham was also notable for what is often described as his "cold-blooded" and realistic analysis of power relations -- among nations but also among social classes, political parties, and individuals. Despite the end of the Cold War and the passing of the anti-communism that Burnham espoused, many aspects of his thought remain relevant to political and social affairs of the present day. In James Burnham, a revised and expanded version of my earlier treatment of his thought in Power and History (1984), I have tried to address these and other themes that readers of VDARE.com will regard with interest. (Or directly from Claridge Press)

James Burnham Thinkers of Our Time

Amazon.com

Steve Jackson "stevejackson100atyahoocom" (New England)

A Neglected Thinker of Our Time, May 26, 2003

This review is from: James Burnham: Thinkers of Our Time (Paperback) Samuel Francis is the premier theoretician of the paleoconservative movement and has for years studied and applied the thought of James Burnham to today's politics.

Burnham was unique among conservative thinkers. Unlike conservatives who based their theories on religion, tradition, or natural law, Burnham was rigorously empirical in his approach to political problems. Nonetheless, this led him to conservative conclusions. Heavily influence by the so-called "realist school" of politics (Machiavelli, Michels and Pareto), Burnham sought to discover universal laws of politics and apply them to foreign policy and cultural change.

This is an enjoyable introduction to Burnham's thought and a model of organization. Francis discusses Burnham's overall philosophy and analyzes his thought chronologically, book by book. Francis also refutes a couple claims widely made about Burnham. First, he shows that (contrary to Rothbard) Burnham did devote considerable time to objecting to the growth of state power.

Although Burnham was hardly a libertarian or even a minimal government conservative, he was generally supportive of free enterprise and limited government. Second, contrary to contemporary neoconservatives (and libertarian foreign policy writer Justin Raimondo), Burnham was not a proto-neocon. Burnham supported an "interventionist" foreign policy to fight the Soviet Union and communism, but his writings in this area can hardly be seen as a blueprint for a neocon New World Order.

This book should be supplemented by Kelly's recently published biography of Burnham, JAMES BURNHAM AND THE STRUGGLE FOR THE WORLD, which presents the neocon "take" on Burnham.

Amazon.com The Managerial Revolution What is Happening in the World (9780837156781) James Burnham Books

Burnham's Managerial Revolution was published in 1940, almost 20 years before J.K. Galbraith's more famous The New Industrial State (1958), but contains most of the important ideas concerning the rise of a managerial class with loyalties more to its own class than to the owners of the enterprise (capital, shareholders), which later made Galbraith famous. Other than the fact that Burnham (once a leftist philosophy professor who broke with the left over Stalin's crimes) was a conservative, there is no rational explanation why this is not the famous book and Galbraith an epigonal footnote. Dated of course, but Burham was insightful and prescient. Especially in view of recent evidence of members of the new managerial class looting their companies despite attempts to align their interests more closely with the owners (stockholders) through stock incentive schemes. Read Burnham!

Dr. Janet Spitz (Albany NY)

The Source of Business Contempt, August 7, 2007 By - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?) This review is from: The Managerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World (Hardcover)

Burnham begins seemingly in a rational, fair, and balanced way. He explores the rise of managers as a group of skilled individuals, meeting the growing need for organization in a complex society as well as in increasingly complex businesses. It seems perfectly appropriate that people specially trained to organize business and government, should have access to information that lets them do the job well, and also should be paid enough to attract additional people to that difficult set of tasks: the tasks of guiding, administering, managing, directing and organizing the processes of production or service delivery.

Soon, however, Burnham's voice becomes more sincere: In the

"drive for social dominance, for power and privilege, for the position of ruling class, by the social group or class of the managers.... This drive will be successful ... against the masses, who, obscurely, are a social force tending against oppression and class rule of any kind."

[The mechanism is] "propaganda and ideologies, all under a bewildering variety of slogans and ostensible motivations" (Burnham, p. 166, 1941):

"The managers, the ruling class of the new society, will for their own purposes require at least a limited democracy. When the ruling group becomes more and more liable to miscalculate, a certain measure of democracy makes it easier for the ruling class to get more, and more accurate, information. Second, experience shows that a certain measure of democracy is an excellent way to enable opponents and the masses to let off steam without endangering the foundations of the social fabric.

Democracy, freedom for public minority political expression within a class society, must be so limited as not to interfere with the basic social relations whereby the ruling class maintains its position of power and privilege.

"When the vote has been extended to wide sections of the population, including a majority that is not members of the ruling class, that problem is more difficult. In spite of the wider democracy, however, control by the ruling class can be assured ... when major social institutions upholding the position of the ruling class are firmly consolidated, when ideologies contributing to the maintenance of these institutions are generally accepted, when the instruments of education and propaganda are primarily available to the ruling class...." (Burnham, p. 168, 1941).

This is an important book to read and share because it reveals, plainly spoken, the contempt business managers have, and are taught to have, for the citizens of our nation and the world, as well as the strategies they use to control our actions and even our thoughts.

Cheri Montagu "Writer" (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)THE BELL TELEPHONE HOUR,

May 13, 2008 By - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) This review is from: The Managerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World (Hardcover) James Burnham's

THE MANAGERIAL REVOLUTION was the inspiration for George Orwell's famous novel 1984, and despite a number of errors owing to the author's Marxist bias, it is a brilliant book.

Writing at the outset of World War II, Burnham maintained that that war represented a revolution away from both capitalism and parliamentary democracy as we knew them to a totally new form of society. His errors themselves actually support this thesis. For instance, he is wrong when he asserts that total war cannot end unemployment. In fact it did, and the new bureaucratic elite liked that solution so much that it decided to keep America on a permanent war footing by creating the National Security State. He is wrong when he asserts that the managers of industry, who know better than the owners how to coordinate all the varied and complex functions of a high-tech corporation, will dominate the bureaucrats, to whom Congress has surrendered most of its sovereignty. But the two groups now have enough in common to work together for sinister ends, in contrast to the old capitalists and the old parliamentary democracy, which so often found themselves in conflict. What Burnham does not say, though it is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from his book, is that in this new, high-tech form of society, BOTH POWER AND WEALTH STEM FROM THE POSSESSION NOT OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, BUT OF INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY INFORMATION WHICH HAS ANY MILITARY APPLICATION.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the way that American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) has allowed its facilities to be used by the National Security Agency (NSA). AT&T is specifically mentioned by Burnham as the classic example of the management-run corporation (p. 88).

In 2006 a man named Mark Klein, who had worked for that corporation as a technician for some 22 years, made public his discovery that it was electronically "splitting off" records of the activities of private individuals on the net-- e-mails, websearches, and reviews such as this one-- and sending them to the NSA. As he said, "This potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of internet communications of countless citizens."

He took his allegations to the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, which filed suit against AT&T, as did the ACLU. So far the results of these suits have been inconclusive. But even if they succeed, one must remember that intelligence agencies have consistently refused to subordinate themselves to the rule of law. If a method exists for doing what they want to do they will do it, regardless of whether it is legal or not.

Meanwhile, the man who was in charge of this program, a despotic bureaucrat of Orwellian stamp, was making progress in his career. General Michael Hayden was director of the NSA from 1999 to 2005. During this time, he developed a strategy to increase the government's use of private industry for domestic surveillance. By the end of his tenure in that office, the government had collected enough information from the internet to nip in the bud any organized protest against drastic new measures, such as the use of weapons of mass destruction against Iran, or the declaration of martial law.

And for such dangerous work, he has been amply rewarded, being made Director the CIA, America's premier intelligence agency and the chief promoter of terrorism and lawlessness throughout the world. It is impossible not to think that the repressive methods it has been perfecting-- including torture-- will not be used against the dissidents whose names have been collected through the NSA-AT&T collusion. When one contemplates the horror that the new bureaucratic-managerial elite has unleashed upon our society, it seems very appropriate that the CIA-run PHOENIX program in Vietnam called electrical torture "The Bell Telephone Hour".

THE BELL TELEPHONE HOUR, May 13, 2008 By

Cheri Montagu "Writer" (San Francisco Bay Area, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

This review is from: The Managerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World (Hardcover)

James Burnham's THE MANAGERIAL REVOLUTION was the inspiration for George Orwell's famous novel 1984, and despite a number of errors owing to the author's Marxist bias, it is a brilliant book. Writing at the outset of World War II, Burnham maintained that that war represented a revolution away from both capitalism and parliamentary democracy as we knew them to a totally new form of society. His errors themselves actually support this thesis. For instance, he is wrong when he asserts that total war cannot end unemployment. In fact it did, and the new bureaucratic elite liked that solution so much that it decided to keep America on a permanent war footing by creating the National Security State. He is wrong when he asserts that the managers of industry, who know better than the owners how to coordinate all the varied and complex functions of a high-tech corporation, will dominate the bureaucrats, to whom Congress has surrendered most of its sovereignty. But the two groups now have enough in common to work together for sinister ends, in contrast to the old capitalists and the old parliamentary democracy, which so often found themselves in conflict. What Burnham does not say, though it is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from his book, is that in this new, high-tech form of society, BOTH POWER AND WEALTH STEM FROM THE POSSESSION NOT OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, BUT OF INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY INFORMATION WHICH HAS ANY MILITARY APPLICATION.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the way that American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) has allowed its facilities to be used by the National Security Agency (NSA). AT&T is specifically mentioned by Burnham as the classic example of the management-run corporation (p. 88). In 2006 a man named Mark Klein, who had worked for that corporation as a technician for some 22 years, made public his discovery that it was electronically "splitting off" records of the activities of private individuals on the net-- e-mails, websearches, and reviews such as this one-- and sending them to the NSA. As he said, "This potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of internet communications of countless citizens." He took his allegations to the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, which filed suit against AT&T, as did the ACLU. So far the results of these suits have been inconclusive. But even if they succeed, one must remember that intelligence agencies have consistently refused to subordinate themselves to the rule of law. If a method exists for doing what they want to do they will do it, regardless of whether it is legal or not.

Meanwhile, the man who was in charge of this program, a despotic bureaucrat of Orwellian stamp, was making progress in his career. General Michael Hayden was director of the NSA from 1999 to 2005. During this time, he developed a strategy to increase the government's use of private industry for domestic surveillance. By the end of his tenure in that office, the government had collected enough information from the internet to nip in the bud any organized protest against drastic new measures, such as the use of weapons of mass destruction against Iran, or the declaration of martial law. And for such dangerous work, he has been amply rewarded, being made Director the CIA, America's premier intelligence agency and the chief promoter of terrorism and lawlessness throughout the world. It is impossible not to think that the repressive methods it has been perfecting-- including torture-- will not be used against the dissidents whose names have been collected through the NSA-AT&T collusion. When one contemplates the horror that the new bureaucratic-managerial elite has unleashed upon our society, it seems very appropriate that the CIA-run PHOENIX program in Vietnam called electrical torture "The Bell Telephone Hour".


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CapitolHillCoffeeHouse Totalitarian Collectivism Part 9 -- CORPORATE STATE by James Hall - May 18, 10

Totalitarian Collectivism: Part 9 -- CORPORATE STATE

By James Hall on (May 18, 10)
Sartre Commentary
The Corporation and the State form the worst synergism. Proponents would have you accept that Corporate Governance can direct, administer and control this alliance for the public good. Do-gooders and naive well-intentioned reformers lack the ability to learn the lessons of the corporate machine, the depths of human nature or the extent of government corruption. Without the semblance of a real free market economy, the merger of big business with unmitigated government is now the norm.
 

The American “TC” Saga progressively eliminates individual liberty, while securing the shackles of a regimented political and economic society. Daniel McCarthy, the Tory Anarchist, in the American Conservative agrees that the negative consequences of corporate parenthood led to sinister results. In Origins of the Corporate State, he reasons.


“Power fled the people in the states and was absorbed and amplified by the institutions of the federal government — first by the Supreme Court, to a lesser extent by Congress, but ultimately and to the greatest extent by the executive branch, whose agencies, in the name of rights, can now seize property (the DEA), kill (the CIA), interfere in business (the FTC), censor communications (the FCC), and manipulate elections (the FEC) with nary a thought to “representation” or the legislative process. The corporate state turns out to be the executive state — which probably in the end becomes the military-security state.”


The government of the United States was designed to be a republic with separations of power and states’ rights. To any objective observer, the notion of a balance or counterweight to executive federal administration is a myth. Congress is systemically irrelevant, the courts are statist enablers and individual states are feudal districts. As for citizens, their natural rights are ignored, while their subsistence becomes a reward for obedience.


The Axis of the Corporate/State concludes: “Now consider what happens when this governmental culture meets the monopolists? Their interests often are the same. Elimination of business competition allows for consolidation and dominance of the economy. Growth in big government expands control over the entire society. Both have the goal of dictating to the public. Setting prices and discouraging upstarts benefits corporate commerce, all the time with the blessing of the State. The government enlarges their roles and intensifies their regulation of business, while favoring their cabal collaborators and contributors. Power shifts from a diffused economic base and the consumer is served up as the main course on the dinner table of the manipulation feast.”


Executive branch agencies are the arbitrators of administration. Legislative codes are incidental guidelines and court decisions become bureaucratic refinements. Dominant corporation insiders, wired to political patronage through lobbyist policy formation, rule the political process. How is this system different from the classic definition of fascism?


If you think that holding shares in a corporation make you the owner of that business, you are vastly mistaken. Capitalist Owners of the Corporate Economy argues, “Those that adopt the culture of the Capitalist/State axis, surrender their independence of market competition, for the safety of a government approved protection racket. In the process, the owners of these companies are deposed from any effective control of the companies that they own.”


Then, who controls the corporations? The bureaucratic careerist provides the function of disciplinarian to upstart pretenders. Legislators bark at CEOs for the cameras, but never control the conglomerates. Corporations spend their way into opulence. Actual competition becomes extinct when the business plan is to be first in your industry. Finance is the key to market share success, and the ability to borrow is the path to economic dominance.


Since all elections are intended to crowd out all but the richest or the most beholding, it should be no surprise that most legislators are measly busboys for the corporate interests. Presidents can jawbone all they want, while the regulators dole out special favors to financial backers of every administration. The point is that the electoral franchise is no solution, since candidates are selected far in advance for their loyalty to the corporate charter.


Laurence W. Britt in, It’s the Corporate State, Stupid lists the following conditions of the corporate/state.


Power of corporations protected - Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.


Power of labor suppressed or eliminated - Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless.


Rampant cronyism and corruption - Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism.


Note that not all unions are equal. Public employee unions are foot soldiers of the state and produce little of material benefit. Trade unionists and blue-collar workers are subject to economic conditions and the needs of their corporate employers. Government employees are parasites of the productive, insulated from economic down turns.


Since government never creates wealth, privileged corporations must provide the cash flow to generate tax revenue to fund public employees. Tax policy is intended to suppress individuals and workers, while granting effective exemptions for transnational corporations.


Enforcement is essential for keeping the corrupt cronyism cycle going. The State uses its phony legitimacy dominance to feed the insatiable appetite of the fascist alliance. Law enforcement has little to do with keeping the peace, but has everything to do with paying homage to the system.


The “TC” face of the Corporate State does not need to have the look of Il Duce or the crudeness of Uncle Joe. Huey Long was correct when he said, “When Facism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the American flag.” The dramatic loss of civil liberties since 911 as seen in the sinister Patriot Act and the despotic Homeland Security agency are all examples of the Statist mindset that have drained all rational fidelity from the true purpose of this country.


State Capitalism is more commonly associated with the European experience, but is now entrenched on this side of the pond. Government in control of the economy always fails. Corporations in partnership with the State are less obvious in their despotism than the familiar totalitarian regimes. However, the collectivism of their control is just as pervasive.


Gerald Celente believes that the merger of corporate and government powers in modern America is plain and simple fascism. He predicts, “You’re gonna start see people taking to the streets, like they do in other countries. People have had it, they are fed up. They can’t afford it anymore. Look at what is going on. Ten major states are raising taxes again as people are losing their jobs, income is going down, they are losing their pensions, they are losing their investments – and the government is saying: more taxes, more taxes, more taxes…”


Will Americans really take to the streets and follow the Greek model for messing with their collectivist benefits? On the other hand, will Americans just adopt the lead of their stiff upper lip Brit cousins? The Corporate/State does not care either way. Government control thrives with social unrest and plugs along with silent desperation.


Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton or Papa Bush makes no difference, the axis advances and the evil empire expands. The Extinction of the Middle Class provides this account. “The federal tempest is far worse than any hurricane, foreign foes or imaginary bogymen. If the middle class ever gathers their individual dignity, their focus should be to re-establish the supremacy of local governance. Meaningful solutions start with local initiative based upon individual inventiveness. The unmistakable lesson of the last several years is that a dominant federal government is lethal. This same conclusion has been true for over two centuries, but today the extent and reach of the propaganda, destructive technology and widespread apathy allows the DC monster to trash any community. For the middle class to save itself urgent action is needed to renounce the heresy that Washington authoritarianism is a government for and by the people.”


The Corporate/State is a reality that cannot be ignored any longer.


SARTRE – May 16, 2010


"Proponents of corporate libertarianism regularly pay homage to Adam Smith as their intellectual patron saint… Smith had a strong dislike for both governments and corporations… The classical political economy of Adam Smith was a much broader, more humane subject than the economics that is taught in universities today."
-- David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World , 1995


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Totalitarian Collectivism

Gerald Celente believes that the merger of corporate and government powers in modern America is plain and simple fascism. He predicts, "You’re gonna start see people taking to the streets, like they do in other countries. People have had it, they are fed up. They can’t afford it anymore. Look at what is going on. Ten major states are raising taxes again as people are losing their jobs, income is going down, they are losing their pensions, they are losing their investments – and the government is saying: more taxes, more taxes, more taxes…" Will Americans really take to the streets and follow the Greek model for messing with their collectivist benefits? On the other hand, will Americans just adopt the lead of their stiff upper lip Brit cousins? The Corporate/State does not care either way. Government control thrives with social unrest and plugs along with silent desperation.

Obama, Bush Jr, Clinton or Papa Bush makes no difference, the axis advances and the evil empire expands. The Extinction of the Middle Class provides this account. "The federal tempest is far worse than any hurricane, foreign foes or imaginary bogymen. If the middle class ever gathers their individual dignity, their focus should be to re-establish the supremacy of local governance. Meaningful solutions start with local initiative based upon individual inventiveness. The unmistakable lesson of the last several years is that a dominant federal government is lethal. This same conclusion has been true for over two centuries, but today the extent and reach of the propaganda, destructive technology and widespread apathy allows the DC monster to trash any community. For the middle class to save itself urgent action is needed to renounce the heresy that Washington authoritarianism is a government for and by the people." The Corporate/State is a reality that cannot be ignored any longer.

SARTRE – May 16, 2010

"Proponents of corporate libertarianism regularly pay homage to Adam Smith as their intellectual patron saint... Smith had a strong dislike for both governments and corporations... The classical political economy of Adam Smith was a much broader, more humane subject than the economics that is taught in universities today."

David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World , 1995

 

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