The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview

10
The Corporations

The corporation is today recognized as a basic force in American life but also as a major problem. It is challenged to answer for its failure to produce enough to meet the needs of the nation. It is challenged for its failure to produce safe and economical products. It is challenged to answer for its waste and its pollution of air, water, and earth. It is challenged for its influence on education, on culture, on politics, and especially on the politics of war.

This examination is long overdue, for the corporation has developed into a separate center of power. It is one which was not anticipated by or provided for in the Constitution. It is one which has not been subject to the general laws dealing with business and financial practices. And it is one which has assumed functions that go far beyond its original economic purposes.

What we have allowed to develop is a kind of corporate feudalism, one that fits the schoolboy definition of feudalism as a system in which everybody belongs to someone and everyone else belongs to the king. In its modern form, nearly every worker belongs to some corporation. Everyone else -- in civil service, on welfare, on workmen's compensation or social security -- belongs to the government.

A great corporation might be viewed as a self-contained feudal manor or barony. General Motors, for example, has its own financial institutions, its own distribution system, its own labor policy and social welfare program, its own security system and special investigators, even its own foreign policy. And the foreign policy of ITT in the case of Chile included an effort to have the United States government prevent the election of a certain presidential candidate in that country. Other multinational corporations run their own foreign policies.

I would hesitate to make a direct comparison between today's

-61-

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The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction by Tom Wicker vii
  • Preface xix
  • Part I - Institutions 1
  • 1 - Toward a More Responsible Presidency 3
  • 2 - The Vice President as Crown Prince 15
  • 3 - Changes in the Congress 19
  • 4 - The Courts, the Last Appeal 28
  • 5 - Court of Ideas 32
  • 6 - A Kind Word for the Bureaucrats 35
  • 7 - A Kind Word for the Military 45
  • 8 - A Warning About the Military Establishment 49
  • 9 - The Cia and the Inner Ring 58
  • 10 - The Corporations 61
  • 11 - The Universities 68
  • 12 - The Democratic and Republican Parties 75
  • 13 - Alternatives to the Major Parties 80
  • Part II - Operations 87
  • 14 - A Hard Look at the Primaries 89
  • 15 - Personality Cults 96
  • 16 - The Cult of the Expert 97
  • 17 - A Good and Becoming Exit 100
  • 18 - Listen to Mr. Parkinson 104
  • 19 - The Sst: Object Lesson in Dynamics of Opposition 106
  • 20 - The Lobbyists 109
  • 21 - Grant Park, Chicago 116
  • 22 - Marching on Washington 118
  • 23 - Changing America 122
  • Part III - Principles 125
  • 24 - Innocence in Politics 127
  • 25 - Language and Politics 130
  • 26 - Poetry and War 135
  • 27 - Ares 144
  • 28 - Intellectuals and Politics 148
  • 29 - Out of Phase 155
  • 30 - Trouble in the Economics Community 158
  • 31 - Constitutional Amendments 165
  • 32 - Five Systems of Justice 170
  • 33 - The Enemies List 173
  • 34 - Censorship 182
  • Part IV - A Good Person is Not So Hard to Find 185
  • 35 - John Bennett 187
  • 36 - Emerson Hynes 189
  • 37 - John Kennedy 190
  • 38 - Dan and Doris Kimball 193
  • 39 - Robert Lowell 196
  • 40 - Wayne Morse 197
  • 41 - Lewis Mumford 203
  • 42 - Eleanor Roosevelt 205
  • 43 - Frank Rosenblatt 207
  • 44 - Adlai Stevenson 208
  • Notes 215
  • Index 223
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