Gabriel Kolko (born August 17, 1932) is an American historian and author. His research interests include American political history, the Progressive Era, and foreign policy in the 20th century. He has been called "an incisive critic of the Progressive Era and its relationship to the American empire."
Background and education 
Kolko is of Jewish heritage, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, attended Kent State University (B.A. 1954) and the University of Wisconsin (M.S. 1955), and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1962. Following graduation he taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at SUNY-Buffalo. In 1970 he joined the York University History Department in Toronto and is now an emeritus professor of history there.
Kolko was considered a leading historian of the early New Left, joining William Appleman Williams and James Weinstein in advancing the corporate liberalism idea whereby the old Progressive historiography of the "interests" versus the "people" was reinterpreted as a collaboration of interests aiming towards stabilizing competition. Kolko argued that big business turned to the government for support because of its inefficiency and inability to prevent the economy veering between boom and bust, which aroused fears that the concomitant discontentment amongst the general public would lead to the imposition of popular constraints upon business. Its embrace of government led to their intertwinement, with business becoming the dominant strand. Kolko, in particular, broke new ground with his critical history of the Progressive Era. He suggested that free enterprise and competition were vibrant and expanding during the first two decades of the 20th century; thereafter, however, "the corporate elite—the House of Morgan, for example—turned to government intervention when it realized in the waning 19th century that competition was too unruly to guarantee market share." This behavior is known as corporatism, but Kolko dubbed it "political capitalism." Kolko's thesis "that businessmen favored government regulation because they feared competition and desired to forge a government–business coalition" is one that is echoed by many observers today. Former Harvard professor Paul H. Weaver uncovered the same inefficient and bureaucratic behavior from corporations during his stint at Ford Motor Corporation. As one profile put it:
For Gabriel Kolko, the enemy has always been what sociologist Max Weber] called "political capitalism"—that is, "the accumulation of private capital and fortunes via booty connected with politics." In Kolko's eyes, "America's capacity and readiness to intervene virtually anywhere" pose a grave danger both to the U.S. and the world. Kolko has made it his mission to study the historical roots of how this propensity for intervention came to be. He was also one of the first historians to take on the regulatory state in a serious way. Kolko's landmark work, The Triumph of Conservatism, is an attempt to link the Progressive Era policies of Theodore Roosevelt to the national-security state left behind in the wake of his cousin Franklin's presidency. Kolko's indictment of what he calls "conservatism" is not aimed at the Southern Agrarianism of Richard Weaver or the Old Right individualism of Albert Jay Nock. In fact, Kolko's thesis—that big government and big business consistently colluded to regulate small American artisans and farmers out of existence—has much in common with libertarian and traditionalist critiques of the corporatist state. The "national progressivism" that Kolko attacks was, in his own words, "the defense of business against the democratic ferment that was nascent in the states." Coming of age in the '50s and '60s, Kolko saw firsthand the destruction of the "permanent things" as the result of the merging of Washington, D.C. and Wall Street. A sense of place and rootedness lingers just beneath the surface of his work.
Kolko is also an important contributor to the historiography of the Vietnam War. In The Roots of American Foreign Policy (1969), Kolko contended that the American failure to 'win' the war demonstrated the inapplicability of the US policy of containment. Later, in The Anatomy of a War (1985), Kolko became, along with writers such as George Kahin, a leading writer of the postrevisionist, or synthesis, school, which suggested, among other things, that the revisionist school was wrong in speculating that the United States could have won the war.
Political Views 
Kolko is a Leftist and an anti-capitalist, writing that, although "socialism—whether as a theory or as a political movement—is essentially dead", although its analysis and practice have both been failures, and although it "simply inherited most of the nineteenth century's myopia, adding to the illusions of social thought", capitalism is neither a rational nor a stable basis for a peaceful society. "Given its practice and consequences, opposition to what is loosely termed capitalism—the status quo in all its dimensions—is far more justified today than ever. Precisely because of this, a more durable and effective alternative to capitalism is even more essential." As noted by Georgetown historian David S. Painter, "while very critical of Marxist and Communist movements and regimes, Kolko also counts among the human, social, and economic costs of capitalism the 'repeated propensity' of capitalist states to go to war." Kolko condemned Lenin's dismissal of anti-authoritarian socialism—what the Bolshevik leader variously described as an "infantile disorder", "old and familiar rubbish", and "'Left-wing' childishness"—in his Politics of War, where he was similarly dismissive of Stalin's dictatorship and summarised Mao as follows:
What Mao called theory, with the intense vanity which made him manipulate the [Chinese Communist] party into passing encomiums to him, was nothing more than tactics, tactics designed to lead a national revolution of a reformist character. What is less important than the superficiality of the thought is its intent—designed to make a coalition and victory politically possible. Mao was a great strategist and tactician in the acquisition of power, but in fact below even Stalin as a thinker. His ideology was derived, intellectually crude, and strictly relegated to this desire and passion to use the dynamics of China in chaos to attain power. He never rose to even Stalin's sterile level of generality and abstraction, or above homilies that took more from Sun Yat-sen than Lenin. He always knew what was right for the moment, and in this regard he was a genius. . . . [Mao]'s obsession with being confirmed as the Great Sage made him dogmatic about a theoretical line so nebulous and pragmatic that it was always successful as a tactical armory.
His Jewish heritage has not prevented his being harshly critical of Zionism and Israel. Kolko regards the result of the creation of Israel as "abysmal": Zionism produced "a Sparta that traumatized an already artificially divided region", "a small state with a military ethos that pervades all aspects of [it]s culture, its politics and, above all, its response to the existence of Arabs in its midst and at its borders". Overall, his conclusion is that there is "simply no rational reason" that justifies Israel's creation.
Kolko is a regular contributor to the political newsletter CounterPunch.
Personal life 
Books by Kolko 
- World in Crisis: the End of the American Century. London: Pluto Press. 2009.
- After Socialism: Reconstructing Critical Social Thought. Abingdon: Routledge. 2006b.
- The Age of War: The United States Confronts the World. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. 2006a.
- Another Century of War?. New York, NY: The New Press. 2002.
- Century of War: Politics, Conflicts, and Society since 1914. New York, NY: The New Press. 1994.
- Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience. New York, NY: The New Press. 1985.
- Main Currents in Modern American History. New York, NY: Harper & Row. 1976.
- (Co-author with Joyce Kolko). The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy 1945–1954. New York, NY: Harper & Row. 1972.
- (Co-editor with Richard Falk and Robert Jay Lifton). Crimes of War: A Legal, Political-Documentary, and Psychological Inquiry into the Responsibility of Leaders, Citizens, and Soldiers for Criminal Acts in Wars. New York, NY: Random House. 1971.
- The Roots of American Foreign Policy: An Analysis of Power and Purpose. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. 1969.
- The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943–1945. New York, NY: Random House. 1968; 1990 ed. with new afterword.
- Railroads and Regulation, 1877–1916. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1965. (BASED ON HIS PHD DISSERTATION).
- The Triumph of Conservatism. New York, NY: The Free Press. 1963.
- Wealth and Power in America: An Analysis of Social Class and Income Distribution. New York, NY: Frederick A. Praeger. 1962.
- Distribution of Income in the United States. New York, NY: Student League for Industrial Democracy, (SLID research tracts #5). 1955.
Books about Kolko 
- Boyd, Kelly (1999). Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing, Volume 1. Taylor & Francis.
- Chandler, Alfred D.; Licht, Walter (2000). "The Triumph of Capitalism: Efficiency or Class War?". In Francis G. Couvares; Martha Saxton; Gerald N. Grob; George Athan Billias. Interpretations of American History: Patterns and Perspectives, Volume 2: From Reconstruction (7th ed.). New York, NY: The Free Press.
- Iggers, Georg G.; Wang, Q. Edward; Mukherjee, Supriya (2008). A Global History of Modern Historiography. Harlow: Longman.
- Novick, Peter (1988). That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Painter, David S. (1995). "Century of War: Politics, Conflict, and Society since 1914. By Gabriel Kolko. (New York: New Press, 1994. xx, 546 pp. $29.95, ISBN 1-56584-191-3". The Journal of American History 82 (2): 794–795. JSTOR 2082342.
- Weaver, Paul H. (1988). The Suicidal Corporation. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
- Iggers, Wang & Mukherjee 2008, p. 256.
- Dylan Hales (1 December 2008). "Left Turn Ahead". The American Conservative. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- Gabriel Kolko (25 August 2009). "Israel: A Stalemated Action of History". counterpunch.org. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- Contemporary Authors: First Revision, Volumes 5-8, p. 655.
- Novick 1988, p. 439.
- Chandler & Licht 2000, p. 65.
- Sheldon Richman (3 February 2011). "Libertarian Left". The American Conservative. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- Weaver 1988.
- Kolko 2006b, p. 1–3.
- Painter 1995, p. 495.
- Vladimir Lenin (1920). "Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder". marxists.org. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- Kolko 1990.
- Boyd 1999, p. 653.
Further reading 
- Divine, Robert, "Historiography: Vietnam Reconsidered" in Walter Capps (ed), The Vietnam Reader, New York, 1990.
- Kahin, George, Intervention: How America Become Involved in Vietnam, New York, 1986.
- US Government 'White Paper' (February 1965)