How Powerful Is Business?
Charles Lindblom’s thesis of the power of business in democratic societies is a familiar one: business exercises excessive power. First of all, Lindblom confuses business—namely, the for-profit sector that encompasses the large majority of the American workers—with a small group of top executives in large corporations. He argues that business exercises its power not only through economic blackmail and political shenanigans but also by somehow capturing the minds of the rest of us. Businessmen are portrayed as the dominant elite of our society. Since for-profit business enterprise is the most prevalent activity, persons who rise to the top decision-making positions in that sector do play a very important role in our society. Lindblom recognizes that businessmen do not agree about everything. However, there are, he says, certain “grand issues” on which “business tends to speak with one voice.” Businessmen, he maintains, are, apart from government officeholders, the most powerful persons in our society.