Capitalist Democracy on Trial: The Transatlantic Debate from Tocqueville to the Present

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Taylor & Francis, 2022 M10 15 - 248 pages

First published in 1990, Capitalist Democracy on Trial explores the long transatlantic debate on capitalist democracy. It examines the conflicting verdicts of writers and politicians in the USA and Europe. The first section focuses on democracy and the rise of big business. It discusses the views of Tocqueville, Mill, Carnegie, Chamberlain, Bryce, Ostrogorski, Veblen and Hobson. The second section covers capitalism and the rise of ‘big government’. The writers represented are Laski, Lasswell, Hayek, Schumpeter, Galbraith, Friedman, Miliband, Brittan, Piven, and Cloward. Using a historical and comparative framework Dennis Smith argues that the transatlantic debate on capitalist democracy has passed through three phases. By World War I the early nineteenth century ideology of ‘participation’ had been replaced by a conception of capitalist democracy as ‘manipulation’. Between the wars this was superseded by an ideology of ‘regulation’. Then the drift has been towards the need for ‘conservation’. His systematic approach demonstrate the dynamics of an unfolding debate and combines theoretical insight with clarity of exposition. This book will be an invaluable text for students of political science, sociology, social theory, and the history of political economy.

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Three challenges
Tocqueville and Mill
Principles of political economy
Carnegie and Chamberlain
Ostrogorski and Bryce
Veblen and Hobson
Who rules?
Laski and Lasswell
Schumpeter and Hayek

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Dennis Smith

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