World War II’s ‘Cartel Menace’: International Cartels as Private Governments & Fascist Weapons of Economic Warfare

Tue, Apr 5, 2022, 12:00 pm to 1:20 pm
Zoom (virtual)
Virtual only
Princeton University faculty, staff, and students
Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance (JRCPPF)
Economic History Workshop, History Department

Liane Hewitt is a Ph.D. student in the History Department specializing in the history of Modern Europe from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century. Her interests broadly lie at the intersection of economic and international history, while also incorporating insights from business, labor, political, legal, and consumer histories. Her current research continues to examine how changes in national and international corporate organization affected transformations in European society, politics, and culture from the 1890s through the 1950s. Her dissertation is particularly concerned with what contemporaries grappled with bewildered amazement as the "new industrial revolution" (Meakin, 1928) or the "new industrial system" (Levy, 1928): that is, the rise of multinational corporations, the massive concentration of industry and banking into a few hands, and the international cartel movement that swept the industrialized world beginning after the downturn of the 1880s. Liane is especially interested in tracing how, contrary to received wisdom, a popular anti-cartel movement in Europe--led by the consumer co-operative movements--created the institutional groundwork and vocabulary for post-1945 governments and the European Economic Community to delegitimize and illegalize cartel capitalism. 

As unprecedented trends toward business concentration draw significant attention and raise concerns in some quarters, Liane hopes to connect her historical work with current public policy debates on economic inequality, competition law, and the concentration of economic and political power more generally. Monopolistic organization served as the pivot for Europeans’ contestation of global capitalism in the early twentieth century, and the resolution of these struggles after 1945 produced a consensus that may now be disintegrating and in need of revitalization.

The Economic History Workshop (EHW) is a monthly seminar series for Princeton students and faculty interested in the study of economic history. Co-sponsored by the Center for Collaborative History and the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance, the workshop provides a forum for scholars to present their findings and receive feedback on their research in a wide array of subfields, such as financial, business, labor, legal, intellectual, technological, and social history. Open to faculty, scholars, and students of Princeton University, Rutgers University, and the Institute for Advanced Study.