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

By Henry Etzkowitz; Peter Schwab | Go to book overview

Finally, the issue of the party's attitude towards trade unions, as discussed above, has to be confronted.

Although the party should welcome all who support its program, it should demand confrontation with the connection between the personal and the political, between work and extracurricular activity, between private and public life. Just as the women's movement has demanded that family life and sexual relations be considered "politics," so should the party ask that professionals examine their own relation to the life of society. No communist or socialist party has understood the pernicious role of professionalism as ideology and as political and social practice. The popular-front periods of the communist party and socialist party in the United States and elsewhere were marked by the mass recruitment of professionals and their elevation to leading positions in mass organizations (e.g., the Progressive Party, the American Labor Party, the National Negro Congress of the 1930s, etc.). There is no distinction between trade- union and party bureaucrats and doctors and lawyers; they are all professionals. And, as the record shows, the stratification and the division of labor within the movement based on categories such as sex, prestige and social class reflects the hierarchical social divisions in society as a whole.

As a social category, managerial personnel, even if not owners of industries, are professional servants of big industries and institutions and their interests are those of the owners. All "professionals," however, are not managers. Many are merely technicians working for a wage or salary who have little or no control over their own labor or the labor of others. The party should be active among technical workers such as teachers, medical workers, engineers and scientists who labor in industrial, government or university bureaucracies. It should encourage the self-organization of these groups around their social and economic interests.

One measure of a successful effort to build a mass party of social change is its capacity to attract "the best minds of our generation," in the words of Allen Ginsberg.

But intellectuals must not be regarded as an elite destined to direct the fortunes of the popular movement; rather, educators, journalists, social theorists and artistic workers must forge organic links to the base of the party and the working class. This is not to say that art or theory should be subordinate to the policies and practice of the movement. On the contrary, the independence of the intellectuals is the most precious plank in the party program in this regard. Intellectuals do not wish to exchange one set of masters for another. The experience in all Western and Eastern European countries has been that the most creative, militant and courageous intellectuals have systematically left the orthodox socialist and communist parties precisely because these parties have insisted on the subordination of their work to party doctrine. The party needs theory, good newspapers and a rich cultural life, but these cannot be purchased on the grounds of political agreement alone. The party itself must constitute a conducive atmosphere for dissent and criticism. This type of linkage is always difficult in a country and a left political movement that are profoundly anti-intellectual. Nevertheless, a party of opposition can only thrive on the originality and the strength of its social ideals and practice.


G. William Domhoff. Blueprints for a new society.

As the sixties were coming to an end, there was hope in some Left circles for imminent revolutionary change in corporate America. Then, almost as suddenly as the revolutionary enthusiasm appeared, it was gone, and the American Left was once again at a low ebb. By late 1971, the turbulent years which saw the rapid growth of a New Left already seemed like ancient history, and even in the ambiguous political landscape of 1974, any discussion of social change on a scale large enough to qualify as revolutionary still seems wildly out of place. Even so, I think such discussion is worthwhile if the Left is to be better prepared for the next

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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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