U.S. Politics and the Global Economy: Corporate Power, Conservative Shift

By Ronald W. Cox; Daniel Skidmore-Hess | Go to book overview

support liberal interventionism in the domestic economy as long as it led to trade and international monetary, and fiscal policies consistent with their interests. In the postwar period, these business groups, while still broadly supportive of liberal spending policies and even a degree of planning, found that they could also achieve their interests within the context of a militarized budget and an anticommunist version of U.S. globalism. Indeed, for some industries, such as aeronautics and electronics, the shift to Cold War liberalism presented a more direct subsidy than did social welfare liberalism.

By 1951, the agenda of Fair Deal liberalism had been displaced by the “consensus” internationalism of the Cold War. Labor had been resubordinated within the liberal bloc and the left that briefly seemed to flourish in the Popular Front period effectively eliminated. Organized labor would remain at or near its postwar strength of 25–30 percent of the workforce until the crises and structural changes of the 1970s would sharpen the rate of its decline, but it had already passed its brief flourish of growth and heightened influence. Other new social movements, in particular civil rights, were still marginal at best.

Rather than develop toward a social democratic—style welfare state, the United States had made the fateful shift toward a permanent war budget, a change that would have determinate influence on the global position of the U.S. political economy in the decades ahead. Business nationalism had rallied from its New Deal and World War II era defeats and had been to a degree successful in its attacks on labor and the left. Yet business nationalism in its more isolationist forms had not been able to defeat the internationalist bloc's fiscal, trade, or international monetary policy preferences. The development trajectory of the U.S. political economy toward the capital export end of the product life cycle was furthered, with military spending in Europe and Asia playing no small part in that process.


NOTES
1
For a good overview of how international relations literature has dealt with these terms, see Greg Nowell, “International Relations Theories: Approaches to Business and the State, in Ronald W. Cox, ed., Business and the State in International Relations (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996), pp. 181–197.
2
The leading accounts of the origins and development of the Bretton Woods regime emphasize state autonomy from business interests. See, for example, John Odell, U.S. International Monetary Policy: Markets, Power and Ideas as Sources of Change (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982); Joanne Gowa, Closing the Gold Window: Domestic Politics and the End of Bretton Woods (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983); and Fred Block, The Origins of International Economic Disorder (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977).
3
The term “interest bloc” is borrowed from James H. Nolt, “Business Conflict and the Origins of the Pacific War, unpublished dissertation, University of Chicago, 1994. Note that our use of the term differs from that used by Nolt.

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