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The Political Capitalism of Gabriel Kolko: Revising the Revisionist

By William D. Burt -- April 10, 2015

[Editor note: Political capitalism, aka crony capitalism, is a major theme at MasterResource because special government favor enables three major energies: ethanol, wind power, and on-grid solar power. Gabriel Kolko, a socialist-leaning historian, popularized the term political capitalism — and concluded, with few exceptions, that business led government, rather than government (reformers) led industry, into interventionism. Kolko overstated his case, however, as this post contends, misleading free-market proponents of Kolko and political capitalism.]

“Bradley and Donway closely analyze Gabriel Kolko’s contention that nineteenth-century railroad officials sought regulation, identifying mistaken notions about private property and capitalism, as well as Kolko’s uncritical reliance on railroad statements that were coerced by the threat of legislation, weak citations, and misquotes.”

We can thank New Left historian Gabriel Kolko for the modern concept of “political capitalism” and its offspring, “regulatory capture.”…