Foreword by Ralph Nader. In Corporation Nation Derber addresses the unchecked power of today’s corporations to shape the way we work, earn, buy, sell, and think—the very way we live. Huge, far-reaching mergers are now commonplace, downsizing is rampant, and our lines of communication, news and entertainment media, jobs, and savings are increasingly controlled by a handful of global—and unaccountable—conglomerates. We are, in effect, losing our financial and emotional security, depending more than ever on the whim of these corporations. But it doesn’t have to be this way, as this book makes clear. Just as the original Populist movement of the nineteenth century helped dethrone the robber barons, Derber contends that a new, positive populism can help the U.S. workforce regain its self-control.
Drawing on core sociological concepts and demonstrating the power of the sociological imagination, he calls for revisions in our corporate system, changes designed to keep corporations healthy while also making them answerable to the people. From rewriting corporate charters to altering consumer habits, Derber offers new aims for businesses and empowering strategies by which we all can make a difference.
“Sophisticated, vividly written, and convincing . . . A work of generous imagination that looks wisely to the future and lays out a sober plan of action for Americans committed to a truly just and equitable social order.”—Jonathan Kozol, author of Amazing Grace and Savage Inequalities
""It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the issues addressed in this thoughtful and well-informed study of modern corporations. A substantial and very timely contribution.""—Noam Chomsky
“An important book in the current economic boom, Corporation Nation will seem prophetic the next time the economy cycles into a recession or depression.”—George Ritzer, author of The McDonaldization of America
""A valuable contribution, with concrete proposals for ordinary citizens to effect real change, strengthen our democracy, and reclaim our populist heritage.""—Senator Paul Wellstone
""A rising tide should lift all boats. But too often in our modern society, as Charles Derber skillfully points out, millions of Americans are left out or left behind . . . Derber's analysis and recommendations should be read and heeded by all who believe that free enterprise can be fair enterprise too.""—Senator Edward M. Kennedy
""An invaluable, on-target contribution to redefining the political debate. Corporation Nation provides a depth of data and analysis useful in building a case for change. A guiding beacon for those committed to restoring democracy and economic justice.""—David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World
""This exceptional book has the best description anywhere of how corporations erased from public memory the notion that the public can control them. Must reading.""—Business Ethics
""Americas in deep trouble—corporate oligopoly is seizing our money and stealing our humanity, too. Derber (Sociology, Boston College) diagnoses the problem and prescribes a cure. Writing 100 years ago at the height of the Gilded Age, John P. Davis concluded his seminal study, Corporations, by noting that citizenship 'has been largely metamorphosed into membership in corporations and patriotism into fidelity to them.' Now the situation is no better, claims Derber. He says we've entered another Gilded Age at the turn of a century just as problematic as the last one. His tract compiles complaints against big business and how it blights our lives. Acquiescent politicians, autocratic CEOs, and huge mergers enable corporations to act as a new branch of government, and we confront businesses bigger than nations. The top 200 transnational companies enjoy more income than four fifths of the world's population; their combined income is greater than the combined economies of 182 countries. Corporate plunder thrives; countervailing forces are weak. It's time to rethink what a corporation is supposed to do beyond rewarding shareholders. It's time to fix things. Derber's answer: populism. But not the hayseed, xenophobic populism of William Jennings Bryan, nor the prejudiced populism of Father Coughlin, nor the reactionary populism of Pat Buchanan. Instead, the professors sermon considers and reconsiders what he calls 'positive populism.' This new version of an old idea is global, embracing labor, grassroots community groups, multiculturalism, and the environmentalist agenda in a broad movement where corporations must serve people, not the reverse.""—Kirkus Reviews