What is The Annual Meeting?
My name is Kyle Edward Williams. I’m a writer, editor, historian of the modern United States, and author of Taming the Octopus: The Long Battle for the Soul of the Corporation. I’m interested in the large business corporation and how this powerful institution stands right in the middle of our deepest political and cultural conflicts. People are asking new questions about the purpose, social responsibilities, and cultural authority of the most powerful corporations in the world—and pushing back against business leaders riding a wave of so-called Woke Capitalism.
My argument in short: Only by understanding what a corporation is—and what it is good for—can we begin to make our way out of these conflicts—or at least to know where genuine disagreements lie. That’s why this Substack covers our corporate culture war with an eye both on contemporary debates over big business and on the history of American political and economic life. The point is to undercover the meaning of our economic lives and the expectations we bring to corporate capitalism.
In the old popular imagination of big business, the annual meeting of shareholders was imagined as a once-a-year opportunity for all of those who had a stake to debate, vote, and weigh in on the purpose and direction of the company. This newsletter is called The Annual Meeting because we debate such things more openly and regularly now. That’s why I’ll offer updates 2-4 times a month with critical examinations of how we reckon with corporate power and responsibility.
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