BIG BUSINESS IN A DEMOCRACY by James Truslow Adams

BIG BUSINESS IN A DEMOCRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A not very long book with a lot of neat -- a certain spice of challenge -- and much food for thought. Adams maintains that Big Business is an essential factor in the United States, part of our very texture, and that inherently Big Business, when properly operating with a ""two way flow"" is much more democratic than small business. To prove his point -- and within certain limitations he does it effectively -- he surveys the pattern of history, the ""timetable"" as he calls it, he shows the beginnings of real business some 5-10000 years ago in Sumeria and Babylonia -- as money lenders, exchange of goods, distribution took their place in progress. When the idea that rights must be balanced by duties came into the picture, social responsibility was born. Queen Elizabeth introduced the idea of risk and individual profit; the Industrial Revolution bore different fruit in England here, where the expanding new world made possible an expanding and yet a unified type of market, with a persistent frontier challenge, and a levelling of social lines. Mass production resulted -- rooted in rapid transportation, line conditions, and a machine world. This in turn led to high wages, cheaper goods, the purchase power of the messes, higher standards of living. At this point he takes General Motors, the world's greatest example of Big Business, and uses it as his guine pig. (All right, if all Big Business were as comparatively progressive and construction but is it?) Facts and figures and personalities, decentralization policies and his vaunted ""two way flow"", relations to employees and to consumers -- all to prove that Big Business is Democracy. He analyses the contribution made to the war through size and ""know how"" -- and quotes figures to prove that the chief profits are going to the workers not the top executives and owners. This is the American Way. Modern government must make it practicable to continue, it can help and guide but not run. Else scientific progress, invention, research, and improved relations with labor will cease. A popular presentation for a buying public.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1945
Publisher: Scribner