Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Ol' Perfesser 'Splens It ALL, Lucy! (Or: Why Does Nobody Read C.Wright Mills Anymore?)

Not for nothing do they call it "The Ruling Class"!

Questions and Answers

Q: So, who does rule America?

A: The owners and managers of large income-producing properties; i.e., corporations, banks, and agri-businesses. But they have plenty of help from the managers and experts they hire. You can read the essential details of the argument in this summary of Who Rules America?, or look for the book itself at

Q: Do the same people rule at the local level that rule at the federal level?

A: No, not quite. The local level is dominated by the land owners and businesses related to real estate that come together as growth coalitions, making cities into growth machines.

Q: Do they rule secretly from behind the scenes, as a conspiracy?

A: No, conspiracy theories are wrong, though it's true that some corporate leaders lie and steal, and that some government officials try to keep things secret (but usually fail).

Q: Then how do they rule?

A: That's a complicated story, but the short answer is through open and direct involvement in policy planning, through participation in political campaigns and elections, and through appointments to key decision-making positions in government.

Q: Are you saying that elections don't matter?

A: No, but they usually matter a lot less than they could, and a lot less in America than they do in other industrialized democracies. That's because of the nature of the electoral rules and the unique history of the South.

Q: Does social science research have anything useful to say about making progressive social change more effective?

A: Yes, it does, but few if any people pay much attention to that research.

Q: Is connected to the site called "Who Rules America?" on

A: No! That site (and many others with documents purporting to tell you "who rules America") is run by a white supremacist/neo-Nazi organization.
Addendum, re. C. Wright Mills, who already in 1956, had it "wright":
Via WikiPedia:The Power Elite (1956) describes the relationship between the political, military, and economic elite (people at the pinnacles of these three institutions), noting that these people share a common world view:

* the military metaphysic: a military definition of reality
* possess class identity: recognizing themselves separate and superior to the rest of society
* have interchangeability: they move within and between the three institutional structures and hold interlocking directorates
* cooptation/socialization: socialization of prospective new members is done based on how well they "clone" themselves socially after such elites

These elites in the "big three" institutional orders have an "uneasy" alliance based upon their "community of interests" driven by the military metaphysic, which has transformed the economy into a 'permanent war economy'.
Nobody could EVER anticipated...


notwatchingtelevision said...

I really liked C. Wright Mills when I read him long ago. I was kind of an autodidact so I think the ideas of various thinkers shaped me in semi-unconscious ways since I wasn't reading them in a structured setting.

I know you see Obama as one of those socialized clones of the ruling elite, but have you read about some of his proposals for making government processes more accessible to voters as a means of keeping "we the people" more actively involved in policy decisions?

He's already sponsored legislation that will put government spending data online for all to see. As a candidate he's proposed having government agencies hold meeting over the web so voters can see how they operate and provide feedback about what they hear and see.

I think he has some pretty important concrete proposals to back up his call for an end to the DC status quo.

I just wish he'd get hold of a media forum to talk about this stuff. I haven't heard him go into his technology proposals in depth during any debate yet.

Take care out there, Woody G. -- SP

Woody (Tokin' Lib'rul/Rogue Scholar & O'erall Helluvafella!) said...

i truly appreciate your faithful watch on the you also check in on the Lamb??
i wouldn't be averse, if you find sumpin to ponder in either place, if you'd hang a lil notice surreptitiously on Lite Blue, if you still frequent the place.
It was suggested by a few wags that I should have attended E-con II this month. I thought about it. It woulda been grand political theater to show there in a gag with casts on my hands...
be well, dahlin...