David R. Henderson  

Did Gabriel Kolko Make His Case Well?

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Our authors say no.

Murray Rothbard's estimate of Kolko's business-government historiography was too hasty, perhaps because its anti-Big Business conclusions were simple and congenial for a libertarian worldview. Subsequent classical-liberal praise of Gabriel Kolko as "a socialist but nonetheless an historian with a respect for facts" is also unjustified. All historians need to be extremely wary of quoting Kolko.

This is one of two closing paragraphs of this month's Econlib Feature Article "Gabriel Kolko's 'Political Capitalism': Bad Theory, Bad History," by Robert L. Bradley, Jr. and Roger Donway.

I learned a lot while editing this article. Both major sections of the piece,"Mistaken Theory" and "Distorted Evidence," are well worth reading.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Jon Murphy writes:

Very interesting reading. I really hadn't known much about Kolko until reading this.

What I also find interesting is the same battles fought in the late 1800's and early 1900's are the same ones being fought today.

Daniel Klein writes:

Great piece, thanks.

Lee W. writes:

Kolko was long ago shown to be be sloppy and/or deceptive. See Robert James Maddox' book, The New Left and the Origins of the Cold War (1974). Kolko is not the only member of the New Left who played fast and loose with foot notes.

Anonymous writes:

Great article on Kolko. Nevertheless, is it not still true that the ICC was a case of regulatory capture?

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