Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions

By Henry Etzkowitz; Peter Schwab | Go to book overview

Conclusion
The ideas, the strategy, the politics for a new socialist party exist. The potentiality for mass response, the objective economic conditions, and the disillusionment with the American political apparatus have set the stage for tremendous possibilities. What is absent is a left that is willing to move and provide leadership. Every national and nearly every local institution of the left is dominated by people who see themselves as powerless and defeated. When new people come into contact with the left they are overwhelmed by this sense of futility and cynicism. Those who think something can and must be done are quickly driven away Those who remain become socialized into the spirit of despair, vicariously reliving the defeats of the sixties through those who experienced them. My own conclusion is that no matter what the world's objective possibilities, nothing can be accomplished until this subjective sense of powerlessness has been overcome. For that reason, I have begun to work in psychology, studying Reich, Gramsci, and others who would give us some clues as to how to deal with mass psychological disorders, and I have begun working as a therapist with people who are daily living their powerlessness. Whatever objective factors may be contributing to people's sense of powerlessness, there seems to be a clearly irrational element holding people back and which is holding back the left at this historical moment. A high immediate priority is to develop a psychology and a therapy that can deal with the collective neurosis of the American left.I used to believe that winning concrete victories would be sufficient for overcoming people's sense of powerlessness. But the way the left continually interpreted its successes as defeats in the past decade has convinced me that political achievement is only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. And this points toward another major activity that a party must see as its immediate concern: the struggle against powerlessness is not restricted to the left, but is central for the entire working class, and must be fought not just on the political level, but also through the development of a socialist approach to mass psychology, culture, organizational life, and the family. Important contributions have been made already by the women's movement, but the struggles in these arenas are only beginning, and a party would have to view this as something integral to the task of putting socialism on the agenda. The historical split between the personal and the political must be challenged within the party, and to do this we must take very seriously the personal problems of our members, and of our potential members. When people do not feel good about themselves, they easily lapse into political defeatism and irrational behavior that can destroy any political movement. While personal struggle cannot ultimately occur independent of the political struggle, neither can a party that seeks socialist revolution fail to develop, within itself, forms for nurturing support and development of the individual's self-realization. At the same time, the party must create forms for dealing with these problems that are outwardly generalizable, so that its very concern with the psychological well-being of its members becomes a further reason why people outside it, from all sectors of the working class, are attracted to it.
Notes
1. This is a dialectical process: it can't be big until it first exists, and starts addressing questions in a way that could reach millions of Americans. It must start small, given the present realities of who would initially hear about and be attracted to such a party. But it must be "mass" in conception: allowing for tremendous growth through its program and structure.
2. Socialization equals nationalization plus workers' control. This demand should include putting directly to the people the question of national politics in particular industries, of the election by the people of the board of directors of a socialized industry. Workers' control must ensure that the industry being socialized begins to provide a model for what work would look like in a worker-controlled society.

The demand for workers' control is a central part of the demand for socialism--but only a constituent part, because socialism will include a national and later an international plan for the allocation of resources and human time. A further discussion of how to balance the needs of local control with the needs for rational planning

-410-

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Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One 15
  • 1 - Where Do I Stand? 17
  • Conservative 21
  • Conclusion 28
  • Socialist 44
  • Notes 46
  • Part Two 57
  • 2 - The Presidency 61
  • Conservative 67
  • Socialist 79
  • Notes 85
  • 3 - The Pentagon 101
  • Conservative 107
  • Socialist 117
  • 4 - The Secret Police 133
  • Conservative 139
  • Socialist 152
  • Notes 160
  • Part Three 167
  • 5 - Elite Clubs and Associations 169
  • Conservative 173
  • Notes 184
  • Notes 192
  • 6 - Multinational Corporations 209
  • Conservative 213
  • Socialist 221
  • Notes 244
  • 7 - Organized Crime 257
  • Conservative 259
  • Socialist 264
  • Part Four 283
  • 8 - Congress 285
  • Conservative 289
  • Socialist 296
  • Notes 303
  • 9 - The Courts 315
  • Conservative 319
  • Socialist 330
  • Notes 337
  • 10 - Regulatory Agencies 347
  • Conservative 349
  • Socialist 361
  • Notes 369
  • Political Parties 385
  • Conservative 387
  • Liberal 396
  • Conclusion 410
  • 12 - Academia 413
  • Conservative 416
  • References 427
  • Notes 434
  • Part Five 449
  • 13 - The Media 451
  • Conservative 453
  • Liberal 467
  • Notes 474
  • 14 - Banks 483
  • Conservative The Great Banking Retreat. 485
  • Socialist 489
  • Notes 497
  • 15 - Unions 511
  • Conservative 513
  • Notes 519
  • A Critical Issue 537
  • 16 - The Economic Crisis 539
  • Conservative 542
  • Socialist 544
  • Notes 550
  • Part Seven 557
  • 17 - Political Programs 567
  • Louis Banks. the Mission Of Our Business Society. 568
  • Ralph Nader and Donald Ross. Toward an Initiatory Democracy. 576
  • Stanley Aronowitz. On Organization: A Good Party Is Hard to Find. 581
  • Mass Parties and Reformism 587
  • Notes 596
  • Fred R. Harris. Up With Those Who'Re Down. 602
  • Part Eight 613
  • Appendix 621
  • Note 644
  • Index 649
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