Economics/Class Relations

Who Owns America?

It looks like Ralph might have been reading ATS.

By Ralph Nader

The American Conservative

illustration by Michael Hogue

illustration by Michael Hogue

There was a time in the Depression of the 1930s when conservative thought sprang from the dire concrete reality of that terrible era, not from abstractions.

They did not use the word “conservative” very often, preferring to call themselves “decentralists” or “agrarians.” Eclectic in background, they were columnists, poets, historians, literary figures, economists, theologians, and civic advocates. In 1936, Herbert Agar, a prominent author, foreign correspondent, and columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal and Alan Tate, poet and social commentator, brought a selection of their writings together in a now nearly forgotten book: Who Owns America? A New Declaration of Independence.

In his 1999 foreword to the reissued edition, historian Edward S. Shapiro called Who Owns America? “one of the most significant conservative books published in the United States during the 1930s” for its “message of demographic, political, and economic decentralization and the widespread ownership of property” in opposition “to the growth of corporate farming, the decay of the small town, and the expansion of centralized political and economic authority.”

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