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

By Henry Etzkowitz; Peter Schwab | Go to book overview

PART TWO
The visible power elite

The typical American Government textbook describes the operation of the political system in terms of checks and balances of the three major organs of government--executive, legislative, judicial--and attempts to analyze how they function. Individual leaders and their actions are paid great attention while the operation of underlying institutional and historical forces are neglected. The traditional approach to the study of American government is an analysis of powerful leaders and official institutions.

Very recently alternative analyses to the traditional approach have appeared.1 Although they offer a broad overview of unofficial, as well as the official institutions which comprise the American political process, they seldom incorporate a detailed accounting of the institutions and their inner workings.

The following chapters of this part of the book offer contrasting analyses of the three institutions that we believe are the most important, powerful, and presently most visible in the American political system. In 1956, C. Wright Mills published The Power Elite2 in which he argued that three institutional structures, in coordination, determined the goals of American society. They were the military (the Joint Chiefs of Staff), the polity (the Office of the Presidency), and the economy (heads of major corporations). We feel that in the succeeding years other institutions have emerged as major visible power centers in American society. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), often thought of as adjuncts to the exercise of American power, have now shown themselves to be capable of setting the direction for American and foreign societies. The uncovering of their operation permits us to include them as full-fledged members of the political elite. This is not to say that other institutions that Mills identified, such as the corporations, are less powerful. They may, in fact, be more so. We only feel them to be currently less visible.

The structure of this book does not set forth in order the more powerful and then the less powerful political institutions. Rather, it operates from the principle of moving from the more obvious to the less obvious political institutions, at least insofar as we view these institutions. We recommend that students keep this in mind. We recommend further that students keep the purposes of this framework in mind as they read the following articles. We hope that students reach their own conclusions as to which individuals or institutions are the most important in running

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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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