In Sunday’s Boston Globe, University of Pennsylvania professor Stephen Hahn reviews Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900 by Jack Beatty. Hahn describes the book as a history of American capitalism, which Beatty portrays as “a history that has compromised, if not undermined, our democracy and set us on a course of social and political crisis.” Beatty pins the betrayal of American society on an “alliance between government and business,” with courts playing a leading role in whittling away “the promises of freedom, citizenship and independence” handing them instead over to corporations.
In contrast to Beatty’s view of corporations as an engine for the demise (or at least the compromise) of American democracy, a book recently featured on the Colbert Report credits the corporation with the birth of American democracy. Bob Deans appeared with Stephen Colbert last week to plug his book, The River Where America Began, on the history of Jamestown. Here is the (very funny) clip.