Author: expatter

The Power Elite [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2010-1-8 14:03:42 |Display all floors
Candidates: Insiders and Outsiders

Since the early 1970s when politics really began to develop a bad name--a negative reputation over and above the traditional distrust of politicians (see the essay on general-welfare liberalism or the quotes about politicians and parties)--candidates for national office frequently tell voters that they are outsiders, that they are not part of the "establishment," that they will bring fresh faces and new ideas to Washington. Aspirants to office in the 1990s have been especially noteworthy for making this claim. What is interesting to note is that more often than not these candidates and the individuals they work with or appoint to office are themselves insiders, as the recent cabinet appointments suggest.

Distribution of Political Power

Having seen how the governing elite derives its strength, it is important to consider how this power is exercised in the political arena. What roles do the three parts of the pyramid--the elite, the middle level, and the masses--play in American politics?

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Post time 2010-1-8 14:06:03 |Display all floors

The Public.

What disturbs power elite theorists most, however, is the demise of the public as an independent force in civic affairs. Instead of initiating policy, or even controlling those who govern them, men and women in America have become passive spectators, cheering the heroes and booing the villains, but taking little or no direct part in the action. Citizens have become increasingly alienated and estranged from politics as can be seen in the sharp decline in electoral participation over the last several decades. As a result, the control of their destinies has fallen into the lap of the power elite.

Today, of course, it is hard to deny the apathy and disinterest among average citizens. But whereas pluralists view this passivity as understandable (people are too preoccupied with other concerns to take part in public affairs), if not beneficial (too many individuals placing demands on government can clog the system), elite theorists see it as the inevitable consequence of important decisions being made at the highest levels. People lose interest to the degree that they lose control. Moreover, in spite of Independence Day platitudes about good citizenship, the elite does not really encourage mass participation. Such involvement would make its control too uncertain.

The containment strategy adopted after World War II illustrates this point. As noted previously, the initial policies, which were developed largely behind the scenes, called for drastic changes in the way the United States conducted foreign affairs. In the years after 1947 the United States fought a major war in Korea and began spending billions and billions of dollars at home and overseas for national security.

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Post time 2010-1-8 14:06:59 |Display all floors
In order to obtain public approval for these undertakings, the Truman administration mounted a huge public relations campaign to create the needed support. As it and subsequent administrations emphasized the seriousness of the threat, the people were led to believe that they faced a ruthless enemy determined to take over the world by subversion if possible and by force if necessary. Yet they had almost no opportunity to hear a full debate between the proponents of containment and alternative policies. Nor did they decide the matter themselves. That the outcome might have been the same is not the issue. What matters is that the chance to make a trunk decision was effectively lost. Americans were consumers, rather than creators, of the policy.

Herein lies a supreme irony of American politics, Mills and his supporters claim. Foreign policy is a trunk. From it grow a host of decisions with far-reaching political, economic, social and moral implications. Since foreign relations affect everyone every day in every way, how can a country be democratic if it takes these matters out of the hands of its citizens? How can people be free unless they discuss and debate the things that affect them the most? The B-1 controversy, for all of its thunder and lightning, is not nearly as important as containment, which at the most critical moments was hardly mentioned in the halls of Congress or in election campaigns.

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Post time 2010-1-8 14:08:17 |Display all floors
Elite theory tells us why this silence has lasted for so long: The power elite establishes the basic policy agenda in such areas as national security and economics. Of course, since it only sets the general guidelines, the middle level has plenty to do implementing them, but the public has been virtually locked out.

Its main activities--wearing campaign buttons, expressing opinions to pollsters, voting every two or four years--are mostly symbolic.


The people do not directly affect the direction of fundamental policies.

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Post time 2010-1-8 14:18:24 |Display all floors
Not sure if your posts are a 'counter' reply as I was only trying to counter in response to ztoa789's post on the topic.

Originally posted by ztoa789 at 2010-1-8 10:51
By the way, the most powerful people under democracy are thos rich and syndicates, not govenrment, and they control media, hence you people are brainwashed to believe having the freedom.

Did your media offend the rich and syndicates ?

You are brainwashed and being dumbed as a north korean..


If anything, what I was saying to him, was why knock democratic countries for having an elite when non-democratic ones, such as China can just as bad? That he uses this kind of argument to knock democratic countries (and defend China's system as superior). In addition, I quoted survey published by X i n h u a where 97% of Chinese people satisfied with their government...& he claims 'we' are brainwashed....

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Post time 2010-1-8 14:25:55 |Display all floors

zhiran

In that case my article would support your theory.

And I just thought that you brought up an extremely interesting topic about ruling elites.

I think that all countries have them.

Hidden or open.

It is still a very good topic.



In China 97% of Chinese people satisfied with their government.  


Speaking from my own personal point of view from what I have seen.

I believe the figure to be well in excess of 60 or more %.

So I suppose that would still be quite high with regard to other places.

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Post time 2010-1-8 14:36:39 |Display all floors
Originally posted by expatter at 2010-1-8 14:25
In that case my article would support your theory.

And I just thought that you brought up an extremely interesting topic about ruling elites.

I think that all countries have them.

Hidden o ...


I have doubts about opinion polls carried out by China Daily and published by X i n h u a on the popularity of the government.

Liuyedao clearly doesn't. He quotes these surveys as often as he can. No surprise!

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