Big Business, we are frequently advised, is the enemy of our natural biosphere, forever seeking new ways to sidestep its responsibilities to the environment and to dirty it at will. This assumption is, in the main, difficult to contest, its evidentiary support inescapably confronting anyone paying even the least attention. This popularly-understood fact, however, is attended by another assumption regarding the relationship between power and the natural world, that the state is the great taming influence on the evil corporation.
As historian Gabriel Kolko demonstrated in his groundbreaking account of the Progressive Era, absolutely nothing in political life could be further from the truth. “[T]he federal government,” reveals Kolko’s The Triumph of Conservatism, “rather than being a source of negative opposition, always represented a source of economic gain” for Big Business. The state, in conflict with the widely-accepted story we get from “respected” outlets, allowed corporate powerhouses to “solve their economic problems by centralization.”
It doctored the economic system, introducing cartelizing regulations, to displace any trace of free market forces that — if genuinely left to themselves — would tend to shake the giant companies at their substrata. In her study of the French free market radicals, Joanna Kitchin similarly identified their view of the free market as a system that “prevents excessive enrichment due to monopolies” and “diffuses very widely the profits of industry.”