The Steel Crisis: The Economics and Politics of a Declining Industry

By William Scheuerman | Go to book overview

cumulation process often use history to illustrate different theories rather than as an inherent part of the analysis itself.63

Hopefully, by now it has become apparent that the mode of analysis taken here attempts to circumvent the methodological pitfalls of the approaches above. Rather than assuming a functional harmony between state form and function, the present analysis of the crisis in steel explores the contradiction between state form and function as mediated by concrete struggles over and within state structures.64

This method internalizes the historical dimension by unveiling the derivation of state structures and the relationship those structures have to the accumulation process and vice versa. This is crucial because the state is a dynamic entity. Its structure changes according to changing economic and social realities, and so too does its function, as seen concretely in specific public policies. But state policies in turn act dialectically on economic and social relations, thus increasing the need for still more adjustments within the state sector, and there are never any guarantees of success. In others words, the crisis in steel provides a laboratory to examine the extent to which the historical mode of analysis used here-a method that focuses on the dynamics of the relationship between concrete struggles and changes in our political structures during the current epoch of the giant corporation-explains the parceling out of public authority to private interests.

While we can use the example of steel to analyze the continuing integration between private corporate interests and the public authority, we must confront the problem of the case study approach: the legitimacy of forming general principles of universal applicability from the particulars of the case investigated. Consequently, any conclusions must be approached with caution. Even though it is difficult to make generalizations based on the conclusions of a case study, the virtue of the case study approach, however, lies in its capacity to disprove existing ideas. This study attempts to avoid the abstractness of the state theory debate and raise fundamental questions concerning the legitimacy of existing explanations concerning the role of the capitalist state and the ongoing attack on procedural democracy.


NOTES
1.
Theodore Lowi, The End of Liberalism, p. 125 ( New York: Norton, 1979).
2.
To Friedrich Hayek, for instance, law means that "government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand." The Road to Serfdom ( Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1944).

-39-

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