Big Business, Theory of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Big Business, Theory of


an American bourgeois theory that arose in the 1940’s, which is aimed at justifying and embellishing the power of the giant monopolies and their merciless exploitation of the entire society. The most prominent representatives of this theory are the American bourgeois economists H. Moulton, D. Lilienthal, A. D. Kaplan, C. Randall, J. Worthy, W. Withers, and F. Machlup. According to this theory, big corporate business is not only the natural result of the concentration of capital and a necessary factor for technical and economic progress, but also the final, higher form of production development aimed at satisfying the needs of modern society. From the end of the 1950’s and in the 1960’s, the apologists of the theory of big business elaborated with particular care theses that maintained that the most important role and purpose of big business and a large corporation are the “social good.” The representatives of this theory have worked out a new “business philosophy,” according to which big business is guided by “moral motives.” Certain theoreticians (Lilienthal) deny the monopolistic character of big business on the basis that it does not destroy competition. This contradicts actual relationships. As was noted by V. I. Lenin, the monopolies, in growing out of free competition, do not eliminate competition, but rather exist above and next to it. The intertwining of monopoly and competition constitutes a most important feature of monopolistic capitalism. Linked with the broadening of state intervention in the economy, the representatives of the theory of big business emphasize the importance of big business as the defender of the “corporate,” or “semicollective” principle. They describe the USA as the state of the large corporation but with the interests of the entire society purportedly being served at the same time, yet they depict the merging of big business with government as “planned capitalism.”


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Al’ter, L. B. Burzhuaznaia politicheskaia ekonomiia SShA. Moscow, 1961.
Lilienthal, D. Big Business, A New Era. New York, 1952.
Machlup, F. The Political Economy of Monopoly. Baltimore, 1952.
Kaplan, A. Big Enterprise in a Competitive System. Washington, 1964.
Worthy, J. Big Business and Free Men. New York, 1959.
Berle, A. Power Without Property. New York, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.