Divine Right of Capital

The Divine Right of Capital:
Dethroning the Corporate Aristocracy


Berrett-Koehler Publishers

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William Greider writes in the Foreword, “Can we imagine an economy in which firms are typically owned in large part by the people who work there? In which corporate boards of directors are required to exercise broad fiduciary obligations to all of the stakeholders in the company — employees and community as well as absentee owners? Can we imagine a broader, more inclusive understanding of property rights? Kelly believes these are possible. And she shows how in beginning ways they are already becoming reality.”

In the traditional model, the corporation is a piece of property owned by shareholders and responsible only to them. Kelly writes that a new way corporation are being seen is as human communities. We think of shareholder primacy as the natural law of the free market, much as our forebears thought of monarchy as the most natural system of government. In The Divine Right of Capital, Kelly argues that this corporate design is becoming outmoded. She articulates the six principles of economic aristocracy on which corporations are now built and proposes six principles of economic democracy, showing how in beginning ways these principles are already at work in a variety of projects.

Praise for The Divine Right of Capital

“Marjorie’s book will exhilarate you, because it is such a thorough de-masking of the indefensible.”  Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability

“I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know. This is a marvelous, wise, artful, and moving contribution to our world.”  Frances Moore Lappe, author, Diet for a Small Planet

“This is the back story in the Enron fiasco, the one the mainstream media won’t touch. Sure, we care about shareholders who lost their life savings. But what about the rest of us, our communities, and the planet? Kelly takes a reader through heavy conceptual territory with a deft, irreverent touch.”  Jonathan Rowe, YES! Magazine

“Kelly has a way of taking the complex concepts of economics and explaining them in a way that even people who can’t balance their checkbooks can understand.”  Terri Foley, Minnesota Monthly

“As the global decision-makers search for answers, they should read Marjorie Kelly’s recent book, The Divine Right of Capital. The book is an intelligently written, challenging romp through history, philosophy, and economics.”  Patricia Panchak, Editor-in-Chief, Industry Week

“To read it is to feel present in an Ivy League lecture hall at one moment, only to be transported to your best friend’s kitchen table the next. Downright fun.”  Susan Wennemyr, SocialFunds.com

  • Excerpted in Utne Reader, San Francisco Chronicle, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tikkun, Earth Island Journal, Harvard Business Review, and elsewhere.
  • Chosen for monthly book club by Minnesota Monthly Magazine.
  • Selected as a “recommended book to read” by Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge.
  • Chosen as a “favorite book” by Wharton faculty and staff, Warton@Work.
  • Featured in BusinessWeek online.
  • Used in classrooms at University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, the University of Massachusetts, and many other places.
"A primary bias built into financial statements is the notion that stockholders are to be paid as much as possible, whereas employees are to be paid as little as possible. Income for one group is declared good, and income for another group is declared bad."
From The Divine Right of Capital,
chapter one, "The Sacred Texts."

Divine Right of Capital released in Korean in February 2013

Divine Right of Capital by Marjorie Kelly - Korean release February 2013
Upcoming events

Money Talk - Financial Literacy Conference

October 15, 2016, Roxbury Crossing, MA

Marjorie Kelly joins John Barros (Director of Economic Development for Boston), Melvin Miller (Publisher Bay State Banner), and other experts to discuss building community wealth. Specifically, the panel will focus on concrete strategies for Black families to build wealth in Massachusetts.

Vermont Employee Ownership 2017 Conference

June 2, 2017, Burlington, VT

Marjorie Kelly will keynote the annual conference held by the Vermont Employee Ownership Center. Check back soon for more details.

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