Attack on American Free Enterprise System
The Powell memorandum was written by Lewis F. Powell, Richmond attorney to Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr. to provide a more balanced view of the American economic system. The memorandum discusses some of the attacks made against the American economic system and suggests a range of possible approaches to help address some of the concerns raised by those attacking the American economic system. This essay analyzes the conspiratorial nature of the memorandum, the extent at which it has been successfully implemented today, how the memorandum frame the role of the government and business in the economy, and how the memorandum fulfills its role as a “neo-liberal” blueprint.
In the memorandum, Powell talks about the attacks on the American economic system from different groups including extremists, socialists and respectable elements in the society including the media, the church, colleges, intellectuals and literary journals, and from politicians. According to Powell, the extremists and socialists attack the American economic system with the intents of destroying American both economically and politically. Another thing that is conspiratorial about the memorandum is the claims by Powell that the American enterprise system participates or tolerates its own destruction. For example, some of the media houses are owned and supported by the enterprise system and corporations that depend on profits in order to survive (Korten, 2001). And the same media that depend on these enterprises is attacking the activities of the enterprises and the entire American economic system. The memorandum is also conspiratorial because it gives instances on how extremists and leftists have engaged in activities that have destroyed business. For instance, the Bank of America has been attacked several times with explosive devices and fire bombs. Powell also suggests that attack on the American economic system is basically of the rich against the poor or the businesses against the people which Powell claims is not true.
According to Powell, there are different ways in which the US Chamber of Commerce, the enterprises and the American economic system can respond to the criticisms and attacks from the different groups. Some of these suggested avenues for action include having the business executives protect and preserve the American economic system, having qualified scholars who believe in the American enterprise system teach in campuses, balancing faculties in campus, monitoring of the messages being broadcasted by the media, having more scholarly journals being published by people who believe in the system, having paid advertisements that support the enterprise system, use the court system to support the enterprise system, and having stockholders promoting a genuine understanding of the American economic system.
Some of these suggestions have been successfully implemented. For instance, the business community founded a legal center known as Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) in 1973 whose main role has been to promote the interests of businesses in courts (Fein, 2009). American businesses now play a more active role in forming organizations that support the activities of businesses and encourage more fair business practices and corporate responsibility. There have also been more scholarly journals and other published content that is published by scholars who support and believe in the system.
According to the paper, the government and businesses have different roles to play in supporting and preserving the American economic system. As for the business, executives do not only need to ensure that their corporations grow profits remain socially responsible, but also actively support the enterprise system. This could be through countering the attacks by stating and demonstrating what the American enterprise system stands for and how it benefits the American people. Businesses could also come together to form organizations that support the interests of enterprises in both the political system and the legal system. Businesses could also join efforts with politicians and the government to counter the attacks and insist on the importance of the enterprise system. The government should also play a role in supporting the enterprise system by protecting businesses from arson and other violent attacks from extremists. There should also be some form of control on the opportunities and airtime given to communists and other groups who openly oppose the American economic system. Further, there should be equal chances and opportunities for both those who support the system and those who criticize the system to give talks in campuses and other audiences.
The memo acts as a blueprint or guide in neoliberalism as it favors free market capitalism in several ways (Beland, 2007). Firstly, the memo condemns the attacks on the American economic system by suggesting that attacks are not justified and that the different stakeholders are not doing enough to protect the free market economy. Secondly, the memorandum offers suggestion and different course of actions that the enterprise system could take to protect the American economic system which is mainly based on the free market capitalism. The memorandum calls on support from different stakeholders including the business community and the government to counter or control the attacks from extremists and other groups that want to change the American enterprise system.