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In relation to America's nineteenth-century power dynamic how does Zinn describe the...

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turtles316 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 28, 2012 at 3:48 AM via web

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In relation to America's nineteenth-century power dynamic how does Zinn describe the relationship between democracy political office and private capital?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 28, 2012 at 7:29 PM (Answer #1)

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I think Zinn makes the argument that the government became used as an extension of the industrial capital base being built in America of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  For Zinn, the need to use government as a tool to protect the entrenched interests of the wealthy in America became critical.  In "Robber Barons and Rebels," this dynamic is explored in its entirety.  Zinn makes the argument that most of the "fortune building" was done with the permission of the courts and the government.  Bribes and favorable stock options were granted to those in the position of power to ensure that legal guardianship and protection could enable greater economic power.  Zinn makes the argument that the democratic political office was, for the most part, used to protect those in the position of economic control and was made to ensure that greater wealth could be developed.  Zinn uses the analysis of how the Supreme Court used the 14th Amendment, something constructed to protect the rights of former slaves, to protect corporations and companies.  In one of the first instances of "corporations are people, too," the court ruled consistently in favor of big business and against the rights of the worker and the consumer.  Zinn also details how presidential elections were deliberately geared towards focusing on salacious gossip and silly rumor- mongering in the realm of triviality as opposed to a serious and open discussion about the allocation and reallocation of wealth in a more equitable manner.  In these examples, Zinn makes clear that the relationship between democratic political office and private capital was one in which the former developed and protected the nuturing of the latter.

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