The Racketeer's Progress: Chicago and the Struggle for the Modern American Economy, 1900-1940

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Cambridge University Press, May 3, 2004 - Business & Economics - 333 pages
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The Racketeer's Progress explores the contested and contingent origins of the modern American economy by examining the violent resistance to its development. It explains how carpenters, teamsters, barbers, musicians and others organised to thwart ambitious national corporations. Unions and associations governed commerce through pickets, assaults and bombings. Scholars often ignore this defiance, painting modernisation as a consensual process and presenting craftsmen as reactionary, corrupt and criminal. This is ironic, for the tradesmen's reputation derives from their successful struggle to control modernisation and the emerging consumer economy. Their resistance redirected American law. Progressive-era courts rebuked the craftsmen for attempting to govern trade. In the 1920s, the tradesmen inspired new criminal concepts, such as 'racketeering'. But the Great Depression reversed harsh laws. The craftsmen became a model for New Deal recovery statutes and a focus for constitutional debates. Meanwhile, the state began protecting unions against gangsters like Al Capone.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Modernization and Its Discontents 1900
13
Ruling the Urban Economy
59
The Struggle for Order
99
The Progressive Reaction
121
Rhetoric into Law
157
Containing Mass Society and the Problem of Corruption
195
From Conspiracy to Racketeering
233
The New Deal Order from the Bottom Up
265
Policing the Postwar Consensus
297
Bibliography
303
Index
315
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