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Gabriel Kolko and ‘Political Capitalism’

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 21, 2014

“Political stabilization … allowed men to relax, to hope that crises might be avoided, to enjoy the bountiful fortunes they had already made.”

– Gabriel Kolko, The Triumph of Conservatism (New York: The Free Press, 1963), p. 285.

“Ironically, contrary to the consensus of historians, it was not the existence of monopoly that caused the federal government to intervene in the economy, but the lack of it.”

– Gabriel Kolko, ibid., p. 5.

Gabriel Kolko, a New Left historian who popularized the term political capitalism, and documented the role of business in initiating and furthering government intervention in the free-market economy, died this week at age 81.

I have mixed feelings about Kolko (1932–2014) as a scholar. (I never personally met him.) I grew up taking his work at face value, following my intellectual mentor Murray Rothbard.…