Richard Marens


Previously, Northern Italian, Dutch, and then English entrepreneurs had dominated global trade in turn, and when after a century or so their respective hegemonies began to show cracks, each group refocused its efforts in the service of tapping already-accumulated wealth through financial speculation and, in the process, also financed the rise of their successors.20 If Dahrendorf was correct, and American capital was managed during the era of American industrial dominance by “a class of career bureaucrats, whose primary loyalty lay with their employer rather than with a class of property owners,”21 there are good reasons to believe that that has ceased to be the case. “Property owners,” meaning in the American case those who control and stand to benefit from financial activity (leaving aside the question as to whether shares of corporate stock should be defined as “property”), have absorbed these onetime “career bureaucrats” into their ranks. And as this subsumption has occurred, corporate executives have had no reason to either identify themselves as a distinct political grouping or proactively embrace civic responsibilities once thought necessary for maintaining a productive society. This Article will cover these issues in five Parts. Part II lays out Arrighi’s theory of hegemonic rise and decline in detail. Parts III, IV, and V apply Arrighi’s model of a three-stage hegemonic cycle to the assumption, application, and abandonment of corporate social responsibility on the part of American corporate leaders: first, when the United States became the world’s dominant manufacturer; then, in the post-war years when it became militarily and politically hegemonic as well, and finally, during this last generation, as the hypertrophy of the American financial sector masked the nation’s hegemonic decline. Part VI concludes by solving, in more detail, Mizruchi and Hirschman’s paradox.