REMAKING AMERICAN VALUES: Challenge to A Business Society by Neil W. Chamberlain

REMAKING AMERICAN VALUES: Challenge to A Business Society

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Author of The Limits of Corporate Responsibility (1973), Chamberlain here offers a thoughtful appraisal of America's business-rooted system of values, which, he contends, is no longer sufficiently adaptive to cope with altered social, political, technological, and economic circumstances. The sketchily documented conclusion--that a new generation of ""social entrepreneurs"" will emerge from executive suites to manage the requisite changes--appears less a likely prospect than an exercise in wishful thinking. In context, however, Chamerlain's application of Hegelian dialectic to the nation's socio-economic past and present leaves little hope of alternative solutions. Already, he maintains, the public has become conditioned to constraints on economic growth. Perceived as well is the reality that: ""Initial distribution of rewards through organizational competition, and an illusory redistributive egalitarianism through government deficit spending, both lead to rates of inflation and unemployment which are socially unacceptable."" Given the current crisis of confidence, individuals seem willing to accept certain abridgments of their autonomy, while many embattled corporations now profess as much interest in so-called social audits as in the bottom line. Chamberlain's shopping list of initiatives for tomorrow's recruits includes more sticks than carrots for today's executive class; centralized economic planning and resource allocation; credit rationing to assure ""preferred uses"" of capital; income minimums and maximums, for union members and corporate executives alike; price and profit controls, or ceilings for returns on investment; and mandated distributions of earnings. Whether Young Turks will act to overhaul what Chamberlain views as a perilously irrelevant and unresponsive system of social values, restoring community if not consensus, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, his work addresses issues of import to all Americans in lucid and readable fashion.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1976
Publisher: Basic Books