Publication Details

Beder, S, The Role of “Economic Education” in Achieving Capitalist Hegemony, State of Nature, 2, September/October 2006. Original article available here here.


Free enterprise has become the prevailing idea of our times, an idea without serious rival although not without critics. This paper examines two major campaigns during the 20th Century that were aimed at maintaining capitalist hegemony by promoting free enterprise values. The first was after the second world war when American business interests felt threatened by government intervention and controls on the one hand, and union activity on the other. They responded with a massive ‘economic education’ program, aimed at school students and employees, which taught the fundamentals of free enterprise economics. Business values, such as the rewards of hard work and enterprise and the benefits of capitalism were equated with patriotism and American values. A similar economic education campaign was undertaken when capitalism came under attack during the late 1960s and early 1970s when a proliferation of public interest groups challenged the authority of business and sought government controls over business activities. This time the campaign spread to Australia.