The Political Process in Trade-unions
THE conditions of democracy within various countries have been the basic problem of this book. But the problem of politics does not simply concern nation-states, since every group within a nation must also find mechanisms which make decisions for the group and distribute power within it. All organizations, be they athletic clubs, men's fraternal lodges, the National League, the American Legion, or the Teamsters Union, have formal constitutions which define the political process within the organization. Study of these private governments can teach us much about the ways in which political life in the national society may be organized, since there is a great range of political forms among them, running the gamut from semi-anarchistic communes to one-party absolutist dictatorships.
Private governments, of course, lack the sovereignty and control over the use of legitimate force which define the unique character of public government, but many of them acquire the right to act for the state in specific areas, or are assigned actual monopolies. The real powers of many private governments -- the associations which control licensing and admission to a profession, the unions which acquire dominant representation rights, the veterans and farm organizations which practically control access to state aid -- illustrate the difficulty of maintaining the separation between public and private government.
In this final section I want to illustrate the importance of pri-