Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal

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9780393337662: Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade Against the New Deal

“A compelling and readable story of resistance to the new economic order.”―Boston Globe

Invisible Hands tells the story of how a small group of American businessmen succeeded in building a political movement. Long before the “culture wars” of the 1960s sparked the Republican backlash against cultural liberalism, these high-powered individuals actively resisted New Deal economics and sought to educate and organize their peers. Kim Phillips-Fein recounts the little-known efforts of men such as W. C. Mullendore, Leonard Read, and Jasper Crane, drawing on meticulous research and narrative gifts to craft a compelling history of the role of big and small business in American politics―and a blueprint for anyone who wants insight into the way that money has been used to create political change. 16 black-and-white photos

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About the Author:

Kim Phillips-Fein won the Bancroft Dissertation Prize for her research on Invisible Hands. She has written for The Nation, The Baffler, and many other publications. She is an assistant professor at the Gallatin School of New York University and lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Looking beyond the usual roster of right-wing Christians, anticommunist neo-cons and disgruntled working-class whites, this incisive study examines the unsung role of a political movement of businessmen in leading America's post-1960s rightward turn. Historian Phillips-Fein traces the hidden history of the Reagan revolution to a coterie of business executives, including General Electric official and Reagan mentor Lemuel Boulware, who saw labor unions, government regulation, high taxes and welfare spending as dire threats to their profits and power. From the 1930s onward, the author argues, they provided the money, organization and fervor for a decades-long war against New Deal liberalism—funding campaigns, think tanks, magazines and lobbying groups, and indoctrinating employees in the virtues of unfettered capitalism. Theirs was also a battle of ideas, she contends; the business vanguard nurtured conservative thinkers like economist Friedrich von Hayek and his secretive Mont Pellerin Society associates, who developed a populist free-market ideology that persuaded workers to side with their bosses against the liberal state. Combining piquant profiles of corporate firebrands with a trenchant historical analysis that puts economic conflict at the heart of political change, Phillips-Fein makes an important contribution to our understanding of American conservatism. Photos. (Jan.)
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