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Book Chapter

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Although the labor movement and the antimonopoly movement both oppose concentrated economic power and bemoan rising inequality, their projects are frequently viewed as divergent, if not incompatible. According to the conventional account, the labor movement has historically lacked an affirmative antimonopoly agenda, instead focusing its demands on achieving a labor exemption to the antitrust laws. This chapter shows, however, that left-leaning industrial unions from the late nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century repeatedly and insistently used the language of antimonopoly to argue that private concentrations of economic power posed a grave threat to workers and to democracy. But labor’s vision differed from that of prominent antimonopolists. In labor’s view, the cure for monopoly power was not necessarily decentralization or smaller business organization. Rather, antimonopolism demanded that firms’ autonomy and power be democratically constrained by the firm’s workers and by a more democratic state. Ultimately, a commitment to antimonopolism meant a commitment to a more democratic political economy.


Antitrust and Trade Regulation | Economic History | Labor and Employment Law | Law

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