Business nationalism

Business nationalism is an economic nationalist ideology held by a sector of the political right in the United States.[1]

Business nationalists are conservative business and industrial leaders who favor a protectionist trade policy and an isolationist foreign policy. Locked in a power struggle with corporate international interests, business nationalists often use populist rhetoric and anti-elitist rhetoric to build a broader base of support in the middle class and working class.[1]

In the past, business nationalism has also been the main sector in the US from which union busting has emerged. There have also been sectors of business nationalism that have promoted the Red Scares, nativism, and allegations of Jewish banking conspiracies.[1]


Ultraconservative business and industrial leaders who saw the New Deal implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936 as proof of an imagined sinister alliance by international finance capital and communist-controlled labor unions to destroy free enterprise became known as "business nationalists".[2] In the middle of the 1930s Gerald L. K. Smith carried the banner for business nationalists, many of them isolationists who would later oppose the entry of the United States into World War II. Smith received public and financial support from wealthy businessmen who were concentrated in "nationalist-oriented industries". These included the heads of national oil companies Quaker State, Penzoil, and Kendall Refining; automakers Henry Ford, and John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge. Business nationalists who networked other ultraconservatives included J. Howard Pew, president of Sun Oil, and William B. Bell, president of the chemical company American Cyanamid.[3]

Pew and Bell served on the executive committee of the National Association of Manufacturers. Pew also funded the American Liberty League (1934–1940), Sentinels of the Republic, and other groups that flirted with fascism prior to World War II. After World War II Pew funded conservative Christian evangelicals such as Reverend Billy Graham.[3]

The John Birch Society, founded in 1959, incorporated many themes from pre-World War II right-wing groups opposed to the New Deal, and had its base in business nationalist circles. The society heavily disseminated an ultraconservative business nationalist critique of corporate internationalists networked through groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations.[1][4]

As of 2007 business nationalism was represented by ultraconservative political figures such as Pat Buchanan.[3]


According to progressive scholar Mark Rupert, the right-wing anti-globalist worldview of business nationalists “envisions a world in which Americans are uniquely privileged, inheritors of a divinely inspired socio–political order which must at all costs be defended against external intrusions and internal subversion.” Rupert argues that this reactionary analysis seeks to challenge corporate power without comprehending the nature of “capital concentration and the transnational socialization of production.” The reactionary analysis absent this understanding breeds social alienation and intensifies “scapegoating and hostility toward those seen as outside of, different or dissenting from its vision of national identity." As alienation builds, more overtly fascistic forces will attempt to pull some of these angry people into an ideological framework that further justifies demonization of the chosen "Other."[1]

Investigave reporter Chip Berlet argues:

When populist consumer groups, such as those led by Ralph Nader, forge uncritical alliances with business nationalists to rally against GATT and NAFTA, an opportunity emerges for the anti–elite rhetoric of right wing populism to piggy-back onto a legitimate progressive critique. Why is this a problem? Business nationalism carries with it its right-wing baggage. Pat Buchanan’s rhetoric is an example of this baggage. His racist, antisemitic and xenophobic inclinations reflect business nationalism’s right-wing national chauvinism. At the core of right wing populism is the "producerist narrative" where the main scapegoats are people of color, especially Blacks. This narrative diverts attention from the White supremacist subtext. It uses coded language to mobilize resentment against people of color through attacks on issues immediately relevant to them, such as welfare, immigration, tax, or education policies. Women, gay men and lesbians, abortion providers, youth, students, and environmentalists are also frequently scapegoated in this manner.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Berlet Chip; Lyons, Matthew N. (2000). Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-562-2.
  2. ^ Berlet, Chip (2007). "The New Political Right in the United States: Reaction, Rollback, and Resentment". In Thompson, Michael (ed.). Confronting the New Conservatism: The Rise of the Right in America. New York: NYU Press. p. 75. ISBN 9780814783290. Retrieved 2016-08-27. Ultraconservative business and industrial leaders 'saw the New Deal as proof of a sinister alliance between international finance capital and communist-controlled working-class organisations to destroy free enterprise.' [...] This sector of the U.S. political Right became known as 'business nationalists[...]' [...].
  3. ^ a b c Thompson, Michael (2007). Confronting the New Conservatism: The Rise of the Right in America. NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-8299-X.
  4. ^ Berlet, Chip (2000). "John Birch Society". Retrieved 6 October 2010.

Autarky is the characteristic of self-sufficiency; the term usually applies to political states or to their economic systems. Autarky exists whenever an entity can survive or continue its activities without external assistance or international trade. If a self-sufficient economy also refuses all trade with the outside world then economists may term it a closed economy. The term "closed economy" is also used technically as an abstraction to allow consideration of a single economy without taking foreign trade into account – i.e. as the antonym of "open economy". Autarky in the political sense is not necessarily an economic phenomenon; for example, a military autarky would be a state that could defend itself without help from another country, or could manufacture all of its weapons without any imports from the outside world.

Autarky as an ideal or method has been embraced by a wide range of political ideologies and movements, especially left-wing creeds like African socialism, mutualism, war communism, council communism, Swadeshi, syndicalism (especially anarcho-syndicalism) and leftist populism. It has also been used in temporary, limited ways by conservative, centrist and nationalist movements, such as in the American system, Juche, mercantilism, the Meiji Restoration, social corporatism, and traditionalist conservatism. Fascist and far-right movements occasionally claimed to strive for autarky in platforms or in propaganda, but in practice crushed existing movements towards self-sufficiency and established extensive capital connections in efforts to ready for expansionist war and genocide while allying with traditional business elites.Autarky may be a policy of a state or other entity when it seeks to be self-sufficient as a whole, but also can be limited to a narrow field such as possession of a key raw material. For example, many countries have a policy of autarky with respect to foodstuffs and water for national-security reasons. By contrast, autarky may be a result of economic isolation or external circumstances in which a state or other entity reverts to localized production when it lacks currency or excess production to trade with the outside world.

List of political ideologies

In social studies, a political ideology is a certain set of ethical ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class or large group that explains how society should work and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order. A political ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power and to what ends it should be used. Some political parties follow a certain ideology very closely while others may take broad inspiration from a group of related ideologies without specifically embracing any one of them. The popularity of an ideology is in part due to the influence of moral entrepreneurs, who sometimes act in their own interests. Political ideologies have two dimensions: (1) goals: how society should be organized; and (2) methods: the most appropriate way to achieve this goal.

An ideology is a collection of ideas. Typically, each ideology contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best form of government (e.g. autocracy or democracy) and the best economic system (e.g. capitalism or socialism). The same word is sometimes used to identify both an ideology and one of its main ideas. For instance, socialism may refer to an economic system, or it may refer to an ideology which supports that economic system. The same term may also be used to refer to multiple ideologies and that is why political scientists try to find consensus definitions for these terms. While the terms have been conflated at times, communism has come in common parlance and in academics to refer to Soviet-type regimes and Marxist–Leninist ideologies whereas socialism has come to refer to a wider range of differing ideologies which are distinct from Marxism–Leninism.Political ideology is a term fraught with problems, having been called "the most elusive concept in the whole of social science". While ideologies tend to identify themselves by their position on the political spectrum (such as the left, the centre or the right), they can be distinguished from political strategies (e.g. populism as it is commonly defined) and from single issues around which a party may be built (e.g. civil libertarianism and support or opposition to European integration), although either of these may or may not be central to a particular ideology. There are several studies that show that political ideology is heritable within families.The following list is strictly alphabetical and attempts to divide the ideologies found in practical political life into a number of groups, with each group containing ideologies that are related to each other. The headers refer to names of the best-known ideologies in each group. The names of the headers do not necessarily imply some hierarchical order or that one ideology evolved out of the other. Instead, they are merely noting that the ideologies in question are practically, historically and ideologically related to each other. As such, one ideology can belong to several groups and there is sometimes considerable overlap between related ideologies. The meaning of a political label can also differ between countries and political parties often subscribe to a combination of ideologies.

Protectionism in the United States

Protectionism in the United States is protectionist economic policy that erected tariff and other barriers to trade with other nations. This policy was most prevalent in the 19th century. It attempted to restrain imports to protect Northern industries. It was opposed by Southern states that wanted free trade to expand cotton and other agricultural exports. Protectionist measures included tariffs and quotas on imported goods, along with subsidies and other means, to ensure fair competition between imported goods and local goods.

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