THROUGHOUT the course of American history, the nation's political elite, including presidents, cabinet secretaries, and Supreme Court justices, for example, have steadfastly pursued the preservation of both the national government and, whenever possible, the contemporary economic system upon which it was based. In their discourse, they have often boasted of an American revolutionary heritage characterized by liberty and democracy. In practice, however, they have frequently cast their lot with the established governments of the world and those who controlled them to thwart revolutionary change overseas, thereby preserving the concept of elite control. Their conservatism has been rooted in the fear that either failure to find foreign markets or the emergence abroad of attractive alternatives to the American political and economic system could lead to domestic unrest and loss of their political dominance.
The desire of the national leadership for domestic and international stability has been so great that often the United States has actively supported the colonial systems of nations with which it enjoyed or sought to enjoy profitable relations. As a result, this nation has, over the years, opposed the emergence of revolutionary and democratic movements as near as Haiti and Cuba and as far away as China.
Political control is, of course, a central problem for the leaders of any society. The issue is particularly critical when lines of communica-