Turning the Century: Essays in Media and Cultural Studies

By Carol A. Stabile | Go to book overview

with the "politicization of think tanks." 70 Instead, the invention of think tanks in the Progressive Era, which signaled the fully conscious entrance of business interests into the political realm, was itself the turn to advocacy. The incorporation of expertise into public administration may take different forms in different historical eras, but the fundamental structure (so far) has tended to remain the same: Political authority is arranged in ways that largely (though not entirely) benefit elites by promoting the idea of "America" as a safe system for international economic development. With the end of the Cold War, policy planning organizations have groped for new frameworks within which to understand and manage global processes. U.S. President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have each tried to develop a set of ideas within their respective think tanks under the heading of "third way" politics. This phenomenon is in many ways a fitting culmination of corporate liberalism -- at once a last ditch effort to keep pro-statist principles alive, and a capitulation to the New Right free-marketeers of the 1970s.


Notes

My thanks to Carol Stabile, Paul Bove, John Lyne, and the graduate students and professors of the Rhetoric and Communication Department, and the Program for Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Thanks also to Dilip Gaonkar, Larry Grossberg, Joe Wenzel, Tom Conley, John Nerone, and Barbara O'Keefe, who helped me during my master's studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This chapter is dedicated to Grandma and Grandad.

1.
Useful studies of modernity include Foucault 1970, Schorske 1981, Habermas 1987, and Calinescu 1987. If we think of the Modern in terms of the Enlightenment, then the history of think tanks exemplifies to some degree the familiar "Dialectic of Enlightenment" described by Horkheimer and Adorno as the tendency for the emancipatory motives of social analysis to get turned into their opposite.
2.
Williams ( 1959 and 1978) has described the corporate liberal approach to twentiethcentury history. New Left historians in the 1960s, such as Gabriel Kolko, Martin Sklar, and James Weinstein, argued against "consensus school" historians such as Arthur Schlesinger, claiming that liberal reform had not increased democracy and social justice but had enhanced the power of private corporations over government and individuals.
3.
In other words, in transition to a "mass society" -- accompanied by advances in productive capacity, urbanization, the rail system, and nationally oriented periodicals and readerships.
4.
An analysis of hegemony in public address would presumably trace the ways in which opinion leaders and other knowledge workers drew on received political traditions in order to change or manage relations between and among the state, civil society, and the market. Whether the rhetoric brought about or merely reflected conditions of the time may not be so important as the fact that an adequate idiom developed that brought the popular, governmental, expert, and corporate into alignment. My argument here is that the creation of a coherent discourse legitimated new institutions and pro-

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