UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper: May 1, 2006, 7:00 p.m.

Kevin Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002). Preface. The roots of this book lie in development of earlier interests, but also “in my increasing turn to history, not least economic history, during the 1990s” (vii). The Republican Party used to be fear the domination of the rich, but the party is now guilty of “a narrow-gauge betrayal of the legacy of the two greatest Republican presidents, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt” (viii). Introduction. In 2001, concerns about “a reemergent plutocracy” and “[t]he increasing reliance of the American economy on finance (xi). U.S. history has alternated between suspicions of the rich and “optimal periods of broad-based prosperity in which economic opportunities far outweighed these qualms” (xi-xii). U.S. now returning to the former due to developments that were already visible when Phillips published The Politics of Rich and Poor (1991) (xii-xiv). Claims this is “the first political history of the American rich. Gustavus Myers’s History of the Great American Fortunes is now a century old” (xv). Polls show that the public senses the danger of plutocracy (xvi-xvii). Structure of the book (xviixxii). Notes that the fading from the American vocabulary of words like plutocracy, plutolatry, plutology, and plutomania, show Americans were unduly optimistic about the danger of plutocracy had been evaded (xxii). PART I: THE GREAT WAVES OF AMERICAN WEALTH Ch. 1: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: From Privateersmen to Robber Barons. The growth of great fortunes in the U.S. to 1900 (3-46). Ch. 2: Serious Money: The Three TwentiethCentury Wealth Explosions. Autos & oil; oil, commodities, and real estate; and technology (47107). Ch. 3: Millennial Plutographics: American Fortunes and Misfortunes at the Turn of the Century. Who is winning (millionaires, financiers, corporations, technology) and who is losing (ordinary American households) as the 21st century began (108-68). PART II: THE ORIGINS, EVOLUTIONS, AND ENGINES OF WEALTH: GOVERNMENT, GLOBAL LEADERSHIP, AND TECHNOLOGY Ch. 4: The World Is Our Oyster: The Transformation of Leading World Economic Powers. Historical theories of the economic evolution of great powers (Brooks Adams) (17174). Spain, Holland, Britain (175-89). Earlier periods of globalization (189-91). Weaknesses in U.S. economic ascendancy: debt (191-94). Internationalism (and dependency on foreign powers) as the Achilles’ heel of world economic powers (194-98). Ch. 5: Friends in High Places: Government, Political Influence, and Wealth. Government has often been “harnessed to shift wealth from one group, sector, or region to another” (204). Analysis of the series of wealthiest individuals over 1,000 years (205-10). “Wealth realignments” in American history (210-14). The influence of wealth on tax policy (214-29). WTO (229-32). Industry’s relation to politics in the early Republic (232-36). The lock millionaires had on the U.S. Senate in the Gilded Age (237-42). Technology as a source of wealth (242-48). Ch. 6: Technology and the Uncertain Foundations of Anglo-American Wealth. The role of technology in upsetting established patterns of wealth (249-90). PART III: WEALTH AND DEMOCRACY: THE RHYTHM OF POLITICS AND CONFRONTATION Ch. 7: Wealth and Politics in the United States. Twelve common characteristics of periods of wealth accumulation (295-303). Banking, railroads, monopolies, and “the money power” as political whipping boys (303-13). American leaders have generally resisted these forces, but this tradition is

weakening and suggests that American exceptionalism may we ending (313-16). Ch. 8: Wealth, Money-Culture Ethics, and Corruption. The corruption that comes with accumlated wealth, and its influence on ethics; social Darwinism (317-46). Ch. 9: The Cup Always Runneth Over: Greed, Speculative Bubbles, and Reform. The history of speculation, the bubbles it brings, and their social and political effects (347-71). Ch. 10: Great Economic Power Decline and the Politics of Resentment. The “popular politics of disillusionment and recrimination in the Netherlands of the 1760s, 1770s, and 1780s,” and in Britain in the first half of the 20th century (374-78). The pattern of angry “Middle American radicalism” (cf. The Radical Center: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation [1976]) (377-89). The political theme of revitalization as a response to economic decline (389-97). Ultimately, these emotion-fueled political movements give way, but “the economics will out” (397-401). Afterword. Wealth and Democracy: The United States and The New Century. U.S. public opinion is slow to mobilize (406). Today’s populists have not made the connection between corruption and the

massive accumulation of wealth per se (407-08). Globalization is anything but certain and irreversible (409-11). The power of corporations has grown so much that the “loss of national sovereignty has become a popular concern” (41114). The tendency for the unelected to exercise political authority is growing worldwide: bankers, judges; cf. the European Union (414-16). “Democracy and market economics are not the same thing” (417). “[C]apitalism and democracy, while easily overlapping and allied, must be kept separate. They cannot be confused” (419). Americans face a choice: either reassert democratic politics of accept “the end of American exceptionalism” (420). Appendix A: U.S. Historical Price Indexes, 1790-1991. 4 pp. Appendix B: 1929 Revisited: The Rising Top One Percent Share of Total U.S. Income. Notes. 18 pp. Select Bibliography. 9 pp., organized by chapter. Index. 16 pp. Acknowledgments. Archivists and librarians.

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