The Social Elite

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The Social Elite by Mind Map: The Social Elite

1. Introduction

1.1. Thesis

1.1.1. Initially, it is impressive and unnerving to discover that this 55-year-old analysis of American society appears to be (shamefully) familiar. On the surface, many elements of the hierarchical social system Mills outlined in his 1959 text: "The Power Elite" are quite similar elements present in the modern American power structure. The grim image of a discreetly stratified caste system reinforced by varying levels of ideological confusion, false consciousness, and complacently could easily be applied to America's current class divisions.

1.1.2. In spite of its many common general traits, however, modern manifestations of power, as well as the motivations, means, manipulations, and MEN involved differ from Mills' Power Elite model in a number of specific (subtle) and significant ways. The bittersweet reality is that the ways in which American society in the Millennial Epoch deviates from the world described by Mills are not associated with any improvements or averted consequences. The modern Power Elite system only an equal, not an upgrade.

1.2. 1959

1.2.1. Military

1.2.1.1. The military order, once a slim establishment in a context of distrust fed by state militia, has become the largest and most expensive feature of government, and, although well versed in smiling public relations, now has all the grim and clumsy efficiency of a sprawling bureaucratic domain.

1.2.1.2. Mills wrote about the military and America as an obsessed, excessive a war power. It was an era of escalation of force and of firepower that may not have been as prolific the advent of metal weapons or guns, but was no less consequential--giving world to a new, incomprehensible, reason to worry along with a heightened awareness of one's absolute powerlessness to prevent "it" or escape. Coming out of the Second World War and then hurdling swiftly back into an ideological war against communism; which could at any moment could spill into an actual conflict (which it did in Korea), or (in the post Hiroshima world) potentially bring on the end of the world. This backdrop of global conflict would have appeared increasingly inescapable and unending. While this atmosphere of eternal war could certainly have strongly influenced Mills' concern about the path into constant conflict that US leaders seemed to be steering towards, but the implications of from what he seems to be suggesting are much more disturbing. Any traces of the image of America as the reluctant and isolated ally were effectively vaporized 1945. Overnight, the United States became the first and only global super power. Wisdom's such as "heavy is the hat that wears the crown," and "with great power comes great responsibility." Many believe that America assumed the position of global overseer and peacekeeper with a sober sense of duty. Mills’, however, believed that many of the most powerful decision makers were far more motivated by the incredible economic and political opportunities (rather than consequences) that come with a WAR economy or a WAR presidency. It is clear from his repeated references to and descriptions of the military as an overgrown organization that relies on conflict or at least the looming threat of it, to sustain and justify its existence. He claimed that the mutually beneficial results of enemies and an ever-present threat is what brought the military elite into his Power Elite Trifecta

1.2.2. Politics

1.2.2.1. Steven Lukes has argued that a commitment to liberal values does not necessarily entail a commitment to the individualist and capitalist forms of social organization with which they have been linked historically. “Taking equality and liberty seriously implies seeking to ascertain the conditions under which they can be realized, maintained, and increased,” writes Lukes. Mills did not reject liberal, humanist values. Rather he thought that contemporary liberalism had become disembodied, failing to specify the social, political, and institutional conditions that would make possible the realization of liberal, democratic ideals.

1.2.2.1.1. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

1.2.2.2. C. Wright Mills was neither a businessman, nor a soldier. While he outlined (accused) the corporate and military elites of being manipulative, self-serving, unethical, unfair, exclusive, and self-perpetuating sell-outs he was free to be as critical, harsh, intense and unrestrained as he was able to put into what was an otherwise legitimate, and extensive, modern sociological text. Though he had no allegiances to those elite groups, it is appears that Mills also did not have very high expectations or personal interest or affinity toward in either “breed” of American adult. At times, the innate foreign-ness, particularly of military culture, was evident in his descriptions. Beyond the ways in which the tactics of these elite contributed to the big picture bad behaviors that are the focus of The Power Elite, he would otherwise been indifferent. It is worth noting this un-invested and detached personal attitude towards the executives and officers because it so sharply contrasts with Mills’ very disappointed and at times desperate discussion of the downfalls of American Democracy. He was not content to merely expose and condemn the ways and means used by the political elites to disfranchise actual America in order to amass power (and wealth) of Super America. Clearly, the politics was personal. Not because Mills was himself a politician, but because at the very least, he was a CITIZEN; and the democratic process is the domain, above all, of the public not the private and with only one form of currency: the vote. In a legitimate democracy, every citizen “owns” the right to have his or her preference of candidate and policy counted if he or she chooses to express it via casting a vote when given the opportunity. In America, the only power and authority that any single individual is guaranteed (until convicted of a felony) is that which is wielded by voting in elections free of corruption. Mills knew that in the due course of his life, neither he nor anyone around him was likely to obtain or exert any real direct authority within the militaristic or economic domains. Despite the insistence of many business and market interests, that the each decision to purchase or pass made by a consumers is the economic equivalent of a vote. It is not difficult to recognize the fallacies present in this claim: (i) The inherent inequality in means-based voting that permits those with more purchasing power the ability to “cast more votes.” (ii) The necessity of some purchases means that some “votes” are more compulsory than voluntary—elections are not compulsory in American democracy. (iii) The most glaring difference—normatively forbidden* in politics and freely, discreetly, and even secretly permitted in the free-market—is the ability of corporate deciders to completely disregard choices indicated by consumer spending and act with regard only to that which will yield the highest benefit to the organizations elite interests or even to themselves only. *No individual or combination of candidates, political parties, elected officials or bureaucrats are allowed to exercise discretion with regard to altering the outcome of an non-primary election, though technically the electoral college can (but they don’t). One particularly noticeable sign the apparently escalating American political crisis was the growing number of voters somebody has been successfully dissuading from “bothering with politics” because they have either lost faith, interest or both in the political process. A view that seemed to spread like an apathetic disease was that ultimately “who wins” and “who loses” an election is functionally inconsequential to most people in most ways most of the time. Unfortunately, any tangible individual and aggregate power and authority that can be brought to bear in an election depends on details: who is running, for which offices, which issues are also on the ballot; as well as the significance and scope of the outcome and the composition of the electorate. Thus, it is hard to approximate with any certainty how much influence any one person can or should be able to exert. This makes it hard to produce the sort of clear, simple, overwhelming proof or direct correlation that the American viewer was quickly coming to depend on for guidance on everything from kitchen supplies, to laundry detergent, to family sedans. Meanwhile, there are always going to be uneventful elections and disappointed voters that can be incorrectly cited as proof of the pointlessness of participating—OR EVEN PAYING ATTENTION—to politics. A dip in voter turnout potentially affecting the outcome of an election is serious, but to Mills it was more “canary in the coal mine” that the actual, biggest, baddest “this is how democracy dies” blow to the American political tradition. His desperate, preachy-manner is most palpable as he insists again and again that in addition to accurate, transparent, fair, elections with high voter turnout, it is critical that an engaged electorate is cultivated at all levels of society and encouraged to participate in the public political discourse by contributing opinions and insights to the debate. The by-product of taking part in the conversation is that not only do voters become more informed as they listen to the others, but very often those who is intends to speak even infrequently find themselves feeling compelled to educate themselves at least enough to avoid appearing uniformed and clueless or unintentional offensive due to ignorance. Everyone in the community becomes more connected and familiar with one another—being particularly aware of the interests that inform the political priorities of others can be valuable for getting things done. When all these elements are present and thriving, the benefits of American democracy permeate out from the electorate and help to improve and strengthen all sorts of social institutions at every level of the social, educational hierarchies, and even across the lower echelons of the economic and defense communities.

1.2.3. Economics

1.2.3.1. #1

1.2.3.2. The economy-once a great scatter of small productive units in autonomous bal-ance-has become dominated by two or three hundred giant corporations, administratively and politically interrelated, which together hold the keys to economic decisions.

1.2.3.2.1. C. Wright Mills, Alan Wolfe The Power Elite(New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)

1.2.4. Society

1.2.4.1. Ultimately, perhaps, only the "power elite" defines the significant issues of the time and by their definition they make the issue significant.

1.2.4.1.1. “The Political Philosophy of C. Wright Mills” Jay A. Sigler Science & Society , Vol. 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1966), pp. 32-49 Published by: Guilford Press

1.2.4.2. The independent artist and intellectual are among the few remaining personalities equipped to resist and to fight the stereotyping and consequent death of genuinely living things. Fresh perception now involves the capacity continually to unmask and to smash the stereotypes of vision and intellect with which modern communications swamp us.

1.2.4.2.1. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

1.2.5. Power

1.2.5.1. #1

1.2.5.2. #2

1.3. Present

1.3.1. Military

1.3.1.1. #1

1.3.1.2. #2

1.3.2. Economics

1.3.2.1. #1

1.3.2.2. #2

1.3.3. Politics

1.3.3.1. #1

1.3.3.2. Today, Mills looks even better than he did 50 years ago in his characterization of the benefactors of American capitalism as a corporate rich led by the chief executives of large corporations and financial institutions, who by now can clearly be seen as the driving force within the power elite. His analysis also remains right on target as far as the nature of the political directorate, who circulate between corporations, corporate law firms, and government positions in the same way they did 50 years ago (and well before that, of course).Liberals and progressives often underplay the implications of this analysis in their accounts of contemporary American politics, clouding the sources of growing inequality and perhaps understating the obstacles to reform. At this writing the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama has excited much of the left, for very understandable reasons. But at the least Mills would encourage us to take into account Obama’s campaign contributors, key advisers, and actual policy statements, along with his populist and reformist appeals, in order to have a realistic view of what kind of changes an Obama presidency would and would not bring.

1.3.3.2.1. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

1.3.3.3. Liberals and progressives often underplay the implications of this analysis in their accounts of contemporary American politics, clouding the sources of growing inequality and perhaps understating the obstacles to reform. At this writing the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama has excited much of the left, for very understandable reasons. But at the least Mills would encourage us to take into account Obama’s campaign contributors, key advisers, and actual policy statements, along with his populist and reformist appeals, in order to have a realistic view of what kind of changes an Obama presidency would and would not bring

1.3.3.3.1. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

1.3.4. Society

1.3.4.1. #2

1.3.4.2. #1

1.3.5. Power

1.3.5.1. #1

1.3.5.2. #2

2. Military

2.1. 1959

2.1.1. Warlords

2.1.1.1. Quote Text

2.1.1.1.1. Explain text

2.1.1.2. Quote Article

2.1.1.2.1. Explain quote

2.1.2. Military Ascendancy

2.1.2.1. Quote Text

2.1.2.1.1. Explain text

2.1.2.2. Quote Article

2.1.2.2.1. Explain quote

2.2. Present

2.2.1. Warlords

2.2.1.1. Quote Text

2.2.1.1.1. Explain text

2.2.1.2. Quote Article

2.2.1.2.1. Explain quote

2.2.2. Military Ascendancy

2.2.2.1. Quote Text

2.2.2.1.1. Explain text

2.2.2.2. Quote Article

2.2.2.2.1. Explain quote

2.3. Comparison Same, More, Less?

2.3.1. My conclusion

2.3.2. Article Conclusion

3. Economics

3.1. 1959

3.1.1. Chief Executives

3.1.1.1. Quote Text

3.1.1.1.1. Explain text

3.1.1.2. Quote Article

3.1.1.2.1. Explain quote

3.1.2. Corporations

3.1.2.1. Quote Text

3.1.2.1.1. Explain text

3.1.2.2. Quote Article

3.1.2.2.1. Explain quote

3.2. Present

3.2.1. Chief Executives

3.2.1.1. Quote Text

3.2.1.1.1. Explain text

3.2.1.2. Quote Article

3.2.1.2.1. Explain quote

3.2.2. Corporations

3.2.2.1. Quote Text

3.2.2.1.1. Explain text

3.2.2.2. Quote Article

3.2.2.2.1. Explain quote

3.3. Comparison Same, More, Less?

3.3.1. My conclusion

3.3.2. Article Conclusion

4. Political

4.1. 1959

4.1.1. Directorate

4.1.1.1. Executive

4.1.1.1.1. Quote Text

4.1.1.1.2. Quote Article

4.1.1.2. Congress

4.1.1.2.1. Quote Text

4.1.1.2.2. Quote Article

4.1.1.3. Parties

4.1.1.3.1. Quote Text

4.1.1.3.2. Quote Article

4.1.1.4. Outsider

4.1.1.4.1. As types, party politicians and political bureaucrats are the professionals of modern government, if only in the sense that their careers are spent mainly within the political orbit. But not all men who are in politics are professional politicians either in the party sense or in the bureaucratic sense: in fact, today the men at the political top are much less likely to be bureaucrats, and rather less likely to be party politicians than political outsiders. The political outsider is a man who has spent the major part of his working life outside strictly political organizations, and who— as the case may be—is brought into them, or who forces his way in, or who comes and goes in the political order. He is occupation- ally formed by nonpolitical experience, his career and his connections have been in other than political circles, and as a psychological type, he is anchored in other institutional areas. In fact, he is usually considered by the professionals as a representative or as an agent within the government of some non-governmental interest or group.

4.1.1.4.2. Quote Article

4.1.2. Balance

4.1.2.1. Quote Text

4.1.2.1.1. Explain text

4.1.2.2. To some extent, Mills possessed a political program. He proposed that the privately incorporated economy be made over into a publicly responsible economy because concentrated corporate power is undemocratic. He stressed the need for nationally responsible political parties, a skilled senior civil service free of corporation interests, an active intelligentsia, genuine controversial media of communication and "free associations linking families . . . and publics with the state, the military establishment, the corporation.” He gave no specific indication of how these reforms would be instituted.

4.1.2.2.1. Explain quote

4.1.2.2.2. “The Political Philosophy of C. Wright Mills” Jay A. Sigler Science & Society , Vol. 30, No. 1 (Winter, 1966), pp. 32-49 Published by: Guilford Press

4.1.2.3. Far from regarding the post-modern world as a delightful era of the endless subversion of codes, Mills was concerned that the Enlightenment belief in the unified progress of reason and freedom, along with the ideologies of liberalism and socialism, “have virtually collapsed as adequate explanations of the world and ourselves.” This did not mean that Mills was fatalistic about American democracy. He urged the recreation of genuine publics and urged Americans to “take democracy seriously and literally.”

4.1.2.3.1. Explain quote

4.1.2.3.2. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

4.1.3. Ideology

4.1.3.1. Liberalism, as a set of ideals, is still viable, and even compelling to Western man. That is one reason why it has become a common denominator of American political rhetoric; but there is another reason. The ideals of liberalism have been divorced from any realities of modern social structure that might serve as the means of their realization. Everybody can easily agree on general ends; it is more difficult to agree on means and the relevance of various means to the ends articulated. The detachment of liberalism from the facts of a going society make it an excellent mask for those who do not, cannot, or will not do what would have to be done to realize its ideals.

4.1.3.1.1. Explain quote

4.1.3.1.2. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

4.1.3.2. Quote Text

4.1.3.2.1. Explain text

4.1.3.3. [Mills’] analysis of the US power structure was deeply at odds with self-congratulatory interpretations of American democracy. His critique of liberalism differed from that of conservatives because it was rooted in egalitarian democratic values and because it made clear the close relationship of the post-New Deal liberal state to the sophisticated wing of the corporate business community.

4.1.3.3.1. Explain quote

4.1.3.3.2. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

4.2. Present

4.2.1. Balance

4.2.1.1. Quote Text

4.2.1.1.1. Explain text

4.2.1.2. Quote Article

4.2.1.2.1. Explain quote

4.2.2. Directorate

4.2.2.1. Executive

4.2.2.1.1. Quote Text

4.2.2.1.2. Quote Article

4.2.2.2. Congress

4.2.2.2.1. Quote Text

4.2.2.2.2. Quote Article

4.2.2.3. Parties

4.2.2.3.1. Quote Text

4.2.2.3.2. Quote Article

4.2.2.4. Outsider

4.2.2.4.1. Quote Text

4.2.2.4.2. Quote Article

4.2.3. Ideology

4.2.3.1. Quote Article

4.2.3.1.1. Explain quote

4.2.3.2. Quote Text

4.2.3.2.1. Explain text

4.3. Comparison Same, More, Less?

4.3.1. My conclusion

4.3.2. Contemporary democratic discourse is full of well-meaning nostrums about rediscovering the values of community, deliberation, and civil society. Mills challenged his fellow Americans to think more clearly and critically about the real forces undermining democracy and what must be done to challenge them. For Mills a modern state required several conditions to be democratic: a public sphere in which real issues are debated; nationally responsible parties with clear positions; an engaged intelligentsia of genuine independence; a media of open and genuine communication; civic associations linking families and smaller communities and publics on the one hand with the state, the military, and the corporation on the other. Mills provokes us to “address the central issues of power and resource allocation that must be at the heart of public deliberation in a democracy.” Citizens who are committed to a more just, equitable, and participatory America would do well to consider the legacy of C. Wright Mills.

4.3.2.1. Joseph G. Peschek (2008) C. Wright Mills and American Democracy, New Political Science, 30:3, 393-403, DOI: 10.1080/07393140802305700

5. Society

5.1. 1959

5.1.1. Power Elite

5.1.1.1. City/Region

5.1.1.1.1. Rural

5.1.1.1.2. Metro

5.1.1.2. Celebrity

5.1.1.2.1. Quote Text

5.1.1.2.2. Quote Article

5.1.1.3. Rich

5.1.1.3.1. Very

5.1.1.3.2. Corporate

5.1.2. Publics

5.1.2.1. Intellectuals

5.1.2.1.1. Quote Text

5.1.2.1.2. The situation is not hopeless, but the drift to war continues, partly as a result of the cultural default of the intellectuals. They must form a group, movement, organization or a party which would influence the "power elite" to turn away from its militaristic policies. Unilateral disarmament, reduction of nuclear stockpiles, abandonment of overseas bases, the creation of a public Science Machine, subject to public control and other such steps would be necessary to create the politics of peace. Apparently, the elite can be forced to respond to public pressure generated through the ass public by the intellectuals. Put in a nutshell: "If men hope that contemporary America is to be a democratic society, they must look to the intellectual community for knowledge about those decisions that are now shaping human destiny.

5.1.2.2. Middle Class

5.1.2.2.1. Interests

5.1.2.2.2. White Collar

5.1.2.2.3. Education

5.1.2.3. Masses

5.1.2.3.1. Wage Worker

5.1.2.3.2. Unions

5.1.2.3.3. Education

5.1.2.3.4. Media

5.2. Present

5.2.1. Power Elite

5.2.1.1. City/Region

5.2.1.1.1. Rural

5.2.1.1.2. Metro

5.2.1.2. Celebrity

5.2.1.2.1. Quote Text

5.2.1.2.2. Quote Article

5.2.1.3. Rich

5.2.1.3.1. Very

5.2.1.3.2. Corporate

5.2.2. Publics

5.2.2.1. Intellectuals

5.2.2.1.1. Quote Text

5.2.2.1.2. Quote Article

5.2.2.2. Middle Class

5.2.2.2.1. Interests

5.2.2.2.2. White Collar

5.2.2.2.3. Education

5.2.2.3. Masses

5.2.2.3.1. Wage Worker

5.2.2.3.2. Unions

5.2.2.3.3. Education

5.2.2.3.4. Media

5.3. Comparison Same, More, Less?

5.3.1. My conclusion

5.3.2. Article Conclusion

6. Power

6.1. 1959

6.1.1. Authority

6.1.1.1. Elites

6.1.1.1.1. Quote Text

6.1.1.1.2. Quote Article

6.1.1.2. Public

6.1.1.2.1. Quote Text

6.1.1.2.2. Explain text

6.1.1.2.3. As his friend Ralph Miliband put it, Mills’ “political point of reference... was the need for democratic participation at all levels and at all points of decision making, industrial as well as political, on the job as well as in the polling booth.”

6.1.2. Manipulation

6.1.2.1. Intentional

6.1.2.1.1. Quote Text

6.1.2.1.2. Quote Article

6.1.2.2. Passive

6.1.2.2.1. Quote Text

6.1.2.2.2. Quote Article

6.1.2.3. Below/Fringe

6.1.2.3.1. Quote Text

6.1.2.3.2. Quote Article

6.1.3. Coercion

6.1.3.1. Violence

6.1.3.1.1. Elites

6.1.3.1.2. Below/Fringe

6.1.3.2. Non-Violent Threats

6.1.3.2.1. Elites

6.1.3.2.2. Below/Fringe

6.2. Present

6.2.1. Authority

6.2.1.1. Elites

6.2.1.1.1. Quote Text

6.2.1.1.2. Quote Article

6.2.1.2. Public

6.2.1.2.1. Quote Text

6.2.1.2.2. Quote Article

6.2.2. Manipulation

6.2.2.1. Intentional

6.2.2.1.1. Quote Text

6.2.2.1.2. Quote Article

6.2.2.2. Passive

6.2.2.2.1. Quote Text

6.2.2.2.2. Quote Article

6.2.2.3. Below/Fringe

6.2.2.3.1. Quote Text

6.2.2.3.2. Quote Article

6.2.3. Coercion

6.2.3.1. Violence

6.2.3.1.1. Elites

6.2.3.1.2. Below/Fringe

6.2.3.2. Non-Violent Threats

6.2.3.2.1. Elites

6.2.3.2.2. Below/Fringe

6.3. Comparison Same, More, Less?

6.3.1. My conclusion

6.3.2. Article Conclusion