Offering a startling look at how concentrated financial power and consumerism transformed American politics, Stoller explains how authoritarianism and populism have returned to American politics for the first time in 80 years, as the outcome of the 2016 election shook faith in democratic institutions.
Stoller’s insightful analysis shows how the composition and values of members of Congress on both sides of the political divide have allowed monopoly power to dominate American business and politics ... This book will strike a chord with those who lived through the Great Recession and experienced frustration at the injustice of bankers and corporations being bailed out while so many lost their homes and livelihoods.
Stoller arranges this potentially dry story of anti-monopoly politics into a series of dramatic set pieces. From street brawls to legislative legerdemain, from fiery rhetoric to intellectual double-dealing, the book is full of virtuous populists defending the little guy against dastardly monopolists and their enablers, the 'paranoid red-baiting corporate right' and the 'corporate left.' Readers will learn fascinating details about the inner workings of New Deal policies, banking regulation, the conglomerate movement and the rise of the Chicago school and its intellectual assault on antitrust law. Full of righteous and riveting writing, Goliath provides an important overview of a vital history ... Yet as an argument about political economy, the book relies on melodrama and caricature, leaving much asserted but little proved ... Readers already disposed to the premise will cheer, but those seeking to understand why monopolies grew and retained such political power will be left confused ... Stoller is angry, and with good reason...His book is looking for villains, not just among the plutocrats who make a mockery of democracy but among the well-intentioned liberals, from the Clintons to Barack Obama, who pay weak-tea lip service to the dangers of corporate power even as they enrich themselves at its teat ... The result is that Goliath is punditry posing as history. Stoller writes with the cocksure confidence of someone who believes he has uncovered the secret origins of America’s woes ... Yet history is not a self-righteous morality play, and it cannot boil down to heroes and villains ... To achieve real reform, we must do more than recycle 100-year-old platitudes about shopkeepers and family farms and rescue long-dead Texas congressmen from obscurity. Rather than look for heroes in a bygone economy, we must see the past as the violent, racist and oppressive time that it was. Perhaps then we can marshal our collective power to regulate capitalism in the public interest.
... highly relevant to the primary race ... Stoller strafes targets across political and ideological spectrums ... Goliath also does a deep-dive on the rise of what has become known as the Chicago School and market conservatism ... Stoller’s shout-outs are eclectic ... Based on the 2016 election, Stoller may be on to something ... Unfortunately, Goliath comes up short in addressing the intersection between culture and economics ... McGovern’s redistributive economics coupled with unvarnished social liberalism and foreign policy dovishness managed to alienate organized labor, a Democratic mainstay.