A. Elites in the Political Economy
1. Strategic-hegemonic elites
2. Provincial & regional elites
3. local elites
B. Elites and Constituencies
the "people"--a term that must be deconstructed--are of secondary significance in politics, an object to be manipulated rather than a force of the first order (but as a force of the second order can become an element in a web of power that gives regional, provincial and local elites great leverage against strategic-hegemonic elites--i.e., the "Tea Party")
Thus, Mayberry Machiavellis as seen by Paul O'Neill. See also Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt and Main Street; Veblin's "The Country Town"; Miles Odyssey of the American Right. These are primitive bourgeois, as compared to Jones, Industrial Enlightenment: Science, Technology and Culture in Birmingham and the West Midlands 1760-1820, or the Taylor Society.
In this regard I differ to some degree from the inclination to consider the educated and professional classes as a "third force." When the cognitive dimension of technology and property is considered, and a more general systems view is utilized, the concept of capital is expanded to include what is today called human capital, and technology, organization, and cognitive development are seen as moments in the unfolding of something I prefer to call bourgeois society. I do this because, when the new approaches of complexlity and emergence are folded into thinking about class and development, it becomes the "natural" thing to do. Thus, the technocrats of the state apparatus are bourgeois, as are the corporations they regulate.
Obviously this argues that the category bourgeois covers an extremely broad range of entities--but it already does, if one calls the corner store and venture capital firms capitalist formations, then one should not find much difficulty in working with this expanded concept of bourgeois.
For that matter, consider the hitory of collelctive bargainingin the clothing industry, and the Murray Body minutes.
|The purpose of this page is to assemble interesting stuff on the vexed question of the nature of elites and their role in politics and policy-making. My comments will be kept to a minimum. This should be viewed as a working notebook, rather than a finished product. It is meant to suggest of lines of inquiry.|
"Mayberry Machiavelli" is a satirically pejorative phrase coined by John J. DiIulio Jr., Ph.D., a former Bush administration staffer who ran President Bush's Faithbased Initiative. After he quickly resigned from his White House post in late 2001, DiIulio told journalist Ron Suskind, describing the administration of the Bush White House as published in Esquire: "What you've got is everything--and I mean everything--being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
The phrase is meant to invoke infamous Machiavellian style power politics coupled with a sense of incompetent regional backwardness as supposedly exemplified by the fictional rural town of Mayberry, R.F.D., from The Andy Griffith Show, which ran on CBS, an American television network, from 1960 - 1968.
|Elites vs. Elites: cosmo vs. provincial
John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (The Penguin Press, 2011)
Ron Suskind, The Politics of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill (Simon & Schuster, 2004)
Michael W. Miles, The Odyssey of the American Right (Oxford University Press, 1980)
Richard M. Freeland, The Truman Doctrine and the origins of McCarthyism: foreign policy, domestic politics, and internal security, 1946-1948 (New York University Press, 1985)
Walter Issacson and Evan Thomas, The wise men: six friends and the world they made : Acheson, Bohlem, Harriman, Kennan, Lovett, McCloy (New York : Simon and Schuster, 1986)
Martin Weil, A pretty good club : the founding fathers of the U.S. Foreign Service (Norton, 1978)
Don E. Carleton, Red scare! Right-wing hysteria, fifties fanaticism, and their legacy in Texas (Austin, Tex. : Texas Monthly Press, 1985)
Arno J. Mayer's Persistence
of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War.
Blurb from Amazon.com: "In this classic work which analyzes the context in which thirty years of war and revolution wracked the European continent, the great historian Arno Mayer emphasizes the backwardness of the European economies and their political subjugation by aristocratic elites and their allies."
from Arno J. Mayer, The Persistence Of The Old Regime : Europe To The Great War (Pantheon Books, 1981)
Scholars of all ideological persuasions have downgraded the importance of preindustrial economic interests, prebourgeois elites, predemocratic authority systerms, premodernist artistic idioms, and 'archaic' mentalities. They have done so by treating them as expiring remnants, not to say relics, in rapdily modernizing civil and politial societies. They have vastly overdrawn the decline of land, noble and peasant; the contraction of traditional manufacturing and trade, provincial burghers, and artisanal workers; the derogation of kings, public service nobilities, and upper chambers; the weakening of organized religion; and the atrophy of classsical high culture. p. 5
As for the class formations of this precorporate entrepreneurial capitalism, the owners of small workshops were the backbone of the indepenedent lower middle class. In turn, proprietors of medium-sized as well as larger plants, especially in textiles and food processing, constituted a bourgeoisie that was predominantly provincial rather than national and cosmopolitan. This bourgeoisie, including commercial and private bankers, acted less as a socal class with a comprehesive political and cultural project than as an interest and pressure group in pursuit of economic goals. (20)
Mayer critiques Marxist (and liberal) assumptions of a triumphal modernism, pointing out that the world of capital is really a world of a multitude of capital formations, from the petty to the local provincial to the regional and national provincial (the backing of Taft vs. Eisenhower in the GOP fight of 1952 for the Party's presidential nomination). Elsewhere on this site I will discuss present-day capital formations, using resources available over the Internet. The point here is to point out the grave weakness in Arno's analysis when he turns to an explanation of why the masses fell for the Aristocratic claptrap of the ancien regime. Ressentiment . . . is an attempt t such an explanation
One must add that the new financial forces on Wall Street represent a profound break with the capitalism of the 1850s to the 1970s. (see Financialization, Wikipedia) While the economic side of this process is far beyond my competence (but thank the gods for Wikipedia!), the question of the persistence of archaic structures in putatvely modern social formations is more pressing than ever. The kind of obsession with ostentation and power that dominates the new predatory financial sector is characteristic of barbarism not capitalism. Michael Lind makes the point that much of the industry of the American South is really dominated by the old aristocratic families whose barbarian ethos persists. (This is what the southern Progressives were up against.)
(See Michael Lynd, Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics, Basic Books, 2002
Arno leaves out two fundamental characteristics of the human-primate in modern societies. The first, ressentiment, is the better known, and I have nothing to add to work of my predecessors. The second, is the implications of Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees, by Richard W. Wrangham and Michael L. Wilson (in www.academia.edu)
|Megadonors by state
The rhetorical performances of the far right are complexly related to the data in Figures 1, 2, and 3. Hedge funds, roving billionaires, and right-wing think tanks have engineered the subversion of the public schools of non-elite America. These powerful political actors manipulate the "base" of the far right, but they are not like them. They have a real, not a symbolic, agenda. They want to escape regulation, lower their own taxes while raising everyone elses, and above all raid the public trust, whether in the earlier failed attempt to raid Social Security, or the currently successful strategy of raiding the fiscal territory of education. The Koch brothers are acting rationally. The fact that the effects of their actions are destroying America is not their concern.
The Stupid Party that we see in Congress, and that controls many state legislatures, is different. It is the base unmediated. It has no real agenda. Everything is symbolic: floating signifiers and performative cues, rather than interests as rationally conceived.
It's praxis is not agenda driven; its praxis is a residue of earlier strategies, an unintended consequence of the strategy of others. (See NYT article on 2009 debt crisis) What others (national chamber of commerce members) saw as a merely cynical use of Tea Party fervor turned iinto a its Frankenstein monster
It is racism
, in control of is greed and cynicism personified.
In Michigan, "The public is told that this funding drought is a result of Michigan’s current difficult economic situation," Ferndale school board member Karen Twomey writes. "This simply is not true. The disinvestment in our state public schools is a choice. In 2011, state legislators chose to cut schools by a billion dollars; in the same budget they also chose to give $1.8 billion dollars to corporate special interests. They financed these business credits through an unprecedented transfer of money out of the K-12 School Aid Fund . . . "
This kind of predation, this subversion of America's future, is made possible by the cultural, historical and psychlogical character of the "base," which functions, in a political context, on a much more primitive and brutish level than they are given credit for. "America is the home of by far the most deep, widespread and conservative religious belief in the Western world, including a section possessed by wild millenarian hopes, fears and hatreds," writes Anatol Lieven. The purpose of this page is to simply take well-known recent political performances of the far right, and to show that there is no other way to look at them.
|Ontological, Structural, Situational Elements of Historical Model
Christopher Browning, The origins of the Final Solution : the evolution of Nazi Jewish policy, September 1939-March 1942; with contributions by Jürgen Matthäus (University of Nebraska Press, 2004)
Ressentiment and Enlightenment
political-institutional elements (papacy, knights, securities bloc, etc
Lionel B. Steiman, Paths to Genocide: Antisemitism in Western History (Macmillan Press, 1998)
the Debt Ceiling Crisis (July 2011)
1. Financial elite supports raising debt ceiling
A Mobilization in Washington by Wall Street, By Eric Dash and Nelson D. Schwartz, New York Times, July 30, 2011
re. above See letter signed by 14 elite bankers (Financial Services Forum)
On Increasing the Debt Limit: Joint Trade Letter to Members of Congress 1-30-14
2. U.S. Chamber of Commerce/Business Roundable Letter to Congress and the President
from "Congress hears outcry from business lobby on debt ceiling and deficit," by Jia Lynn Yang and Dan Eggen, Washington Post, July 12, 2011
A sprawling coalition of Wall Street and Main Street business leaders sent an unmistakable message to lawmakers Tuesday: Enough squabbling. Get the debt ceiling raised.
The message, sent in a letter [n=400+] to President Obama and every member of Congress, puts pressure on GOP lawmakers, who have staked out an uncompromising stance against raising taxes in the partisan wrangling over the country’s borrowing limit.
Republicans rely heavily on corporations for political support and have regularly cited the opinions of these “job creators” in their opposition to new tax revenue. Many of the House GOP freshmen most opposed to a compromise were swept into office with the help of financial support from groups behind the letter.
But the business community, which has largely kept quiet on the issue until now, does not uniformly share the Republican orthodoxy on taxes, according to some lobbyists who helped craft the statement.
. . . .
"The developments underscore the increasingly awkward marriage between corporate leaders and the ambitious House GOP freshman class, which has joined the business lobby in opposing Obama’s health-care law and financial regulations but has shown no sign of budging on the debt ceiling."
Lobbying groups for Wall Street — a sector that would take a direct and devastating hit if the debt ceiling is not raised — have largely avoided public statements on the issue. That is in contrast to their vehement campaigning against parts of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill, including the limits on the fees they can charge merchants for debit transactions.
Wall Street lobbyists and other business groups preferred private meetings with GOP members to educate them on the consequences of a default. Several lobbyists also met Monday afternoon with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to repeat their concerns.
Hands: the Making of
the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan
(W. W. Norton, 2009), pp. 142-3
Failing to get support from businessmen in the months leading up to the [1964 Presidential] election, the Goldwater campaign decided to try a new tactic: finding ways to translate the conservative message into rhetoric that could mobilize working class voters. Even though Goldwater's low-tax, non-union vision for economic growth won the support of some union members in Arizona, Cliff White [who conceived and masterminded the conservative dominance of the 1964 Republican National Convention and its nomination of Barry Goldwater for President] thought that his surveys about reactions to the civil rights movement indicated the potental for success with a different strategy--one that focused on fearrs of racial integration and on a broad call for morality in politics.
As the election approached, the New York offices of Citizens for Goldwater-Miller . . . saved a survey of forty white ethnic voters in Queens--mostly first- and second-generation Americans, some recent immigrants, mostly lower middle class--that a supporter sent into the office. About half were for Goldwter and half either for Johnson or still undecided. The issues the Goldwater supporters felt most strongly about were "rising crime" and "fear of integration"; even Johnson supporters were agitated about these problems. Nearly everyone opposed busing children from one neighborhood to another to integrate the public schools. "Most of those voting for Johnson thought Goldwater was right with respect to the 'racial issue,' but thought he was anti-union or would weaken social security," according to the survey. The most striking aspect of the poll was the finding that the economic elements of the conservative program--"'right-to-work' and voluntary social security"--made an "almost universal negative impression" on the Queens voters. But these cold be trumpoed if the Republicans changed their platform to capitalize on racial fears. And that's eactly what the Goldwater supporte suggested. "Signs should not simply read 'Vote Goldter' but rather 'Make our meighborhood safe again. Vote Goldwater.' Or 'Streets must be made safe again. Vote Goldwater' or 'Don't experient with our children. Keep neighborhood schools. Vote Goldwater' or 'Our children want education--not transportation. Vote Goldwater.'"
The letters coming into the Goldwater campaign offices from political allies and supporters made similar suggestions. In September one political consultant wrote that on Long Island the busing program was known as the LBJ program, for "Let's Bus Juveniles," and suggested that "race riots" might sway New York City voters. Another Goldwater supporter, a Wall Streeter who wrote to the campaign while on a business flight, argued that "much more must be done to exploit the white backlash," saying that whites feared that "Negroes will move into their neighborhoods." The white backlash, he declared, "was the biggest single reservoir of votes that Goldwater can tap into but you will have to get more to the point, if you are going to get these votes."
Will to Power, § 863
“The values of the weak prevail because the strong have taken them over as devices of leadership.”
Kim Phillips-Fein, Top-Down Revolution: Businessmen, Intellectuals, and Politicians Against the New Deal, 1945–1964,￼Enterprise & Society, Volume 7, Number 4 pp. 686-694
"Historians frequently treat the conservative movement in the United States as a populist movement in its origins, which grew primarily in response to cultural conflicts over the civil rights, feminist, and gay rights movements in the 1960s and 1970s. During the postwar period, business and labor are thought to have been unified on basic political and economic questions, the common cause of the Cold War overriding conflicts in an era of economic expansion. My dissertation suggests that this unity has been overestimated by historians and that in fact many businessmen remained sharply critical of the political economy inaugurated by the New Deal. Instead of looking at conservatism primarily as a populist revolt driven by the cultural conflicts of the 1970s, or as a social movement, historians need to be aware of the elite components to organizing against liberalism."
Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad, by Kate Zernike and Jim Rutenberg (New York Times, August 20, 2004) an elite in action
Right-Wing Harassment Strategy Against Dems Detailed In Memo: ‘Yell,’ ‘Stand Up And Shout Out,’ ‘Rattle Him’ By Lee Fang on Jul 31st, 2009 at 2:28 pm, thinkprogress.org
Right Wingers Wreak Havoc on Philadelphia Town Meeting, by Denise Dennis, Posted: August 3, 2009 10:09 AM Huffington Post
Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.
by Jane Mayer, New Yorker, aug 30, 2010
The Tea Party Movement: Who's In Charge?, the Atlantic, APR 13 2009, 6:07 PM ET
The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party
By FRANK RICH, August 28, 2010 NYT
MONDAY, AUG 16, 2010 07:01 ET
How the "ground zero mosque" fear mongering began
BY JUSTIN ELLIOTT
re. elites: from Tea Partiers Bring Cause to Washington, by KATE ZERNIKE
(NYT, September 12, 201)
Ginni Thomas, a founder of the Tea Party group Liberty Central and the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court, continued the theme of anti-elitism, declaring, “Every day citizens make a difference, it’s not the elitist rulers.”
Betsy McCaughey Pt. 1 The Daily Show
Betsy McCaughey Pt. 2 The Daily Show
Hannity’s Super-Accurate Bachmann Tea Party Footage
» 40 comments
by Rachel Sklar | 9:42 am, November 11th, 2009
DC ‘Tea Party’ Crowd Estimate: How Did Thousands Become Millions?
September 14, 2009 3:24 PM