The Power Elite

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Tom Palven
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The Power Elite

Post by Tom Palven » Mon Jun 20, 2016 12:48 am

The Power Elite by Columbia sociology professor C. Wright Mills, PhD, was first published by Oxford University Press in1956, SIXTY YEARS ago, yet it could have been yesterday.

Here are some brief snippets from the 1959 paperback edition::

p. 27 The view that all (history) is blind drift is largely a fatalist projection of one's own feelings...
The view that all of history is due to conspiracy of an easily located set of villains, or of heroes, is also a hurried projection from the difficult effort to understand how shifts in the structure of society open opportunities to various elites and how various elites take advantage or fail to take advantage of them. To accept either view --of all history as conspiracy or of all history as drift -- is to relax the effort to understand the facts of power and the ways of the powerful.

p. 171 In the Twentieth century...All over the world, the warlord is returning...and in America, too, into the political vacuum the warlords have marched. Along side the corporate executives and the politicians, the generals and admirals --those uneasy cousins within the American elite-- have gained and have been given increased power to make and to influence decisions of the gravest consequence.

p. 175 A young country whose nationalist revolution was fought against mercenary soldiers, employed by th British and quartered in American homes, would not be likely to love professional soldiers.

p. 177 ( But) In fact...From Shay's Rebellion to the Korean War there has been no period of any length without official the very least, it must be said that violence as a means and even as a value is just a little bit ambiguous in American culture.

p.186 The most dramatic symbol of the scale and shape of the new military is the Pentagon...The world's largest office building, the United States Capital would fit neatly into any one of its five segments...
This office building, in this intricate architectural and human maze, is the everyday milieu of the modern warlords.

p. 197 What will the future warlord do in the Pentagon, where there seem more admirals than ensigns, more generals than second lieutenants?

p. 224 Our answer to the question , "Is there now a military clique?" is: Yes, there is a military clique, but it is more accurately termed the power elite, for it is composed of economic, political, as well as military men...

p. 275 In so far as the structural clue to the power elite today lies in the economic order, that clue is the fact that the economy is at once a permanent-war economy and a private-corporation economy. American capitalism is now in considerable part a military capitalism.

p. 354 When questioned recently about a criticism of defense policies made by the leader of the opposition party, the Secretary of Defense replied, "Do you think he is an expert in the matter?" When pressed further he asserted that "the military chiefs think it is sound, and I think it is sound... In some cases all you can do is ask the Lord."

p. 355 More and more the area of the official secret expands, as well as the secret listening in on those who might divulge what the public, not being composed of experts, is not to know.

In 1961, five years after the publication of this book President and Five-Star General Eisenhower gave his farewell address in which he warned Americans of in influence of the military-industrial complex. ... ll_address

Interestingly, neither Eisenhower, nor Mills seem to have provided any ideas on how to prevent increased power by the power elite, and 60 years later, here we are with the Patriot Acts, the NSA, and so on.
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Re: The Power Elite

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:13 pm

I just now saw this. I have been looking for this book, off and on, in libraries for a couple of years. I remember having read it some 50 years ago, and, like you, I have recently thought about how Mills got it exactly right. So now, I resume my search, having been too lazy to look for it at alibris or other places where it is certainly available.

Along the same lines, a few years ago, I wrote an autobiographical article for a book that was published in 2015, and discovered later that, without knowing it, I had described myself precisely as one of the cases that Sennett wrote about in The Hidden Injuries of Class. I've been neglecting sociology too long!
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: The Power Elite

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:55 pm

Interestingly, neither Eisenhower, nor Mills seem to have provided any ideas on how to prevent increased power by the power elite, and 60 years later, here we are with the Patriot Acts, the NSA, and so on.
Tax policy.

((The capture of our society by the Wealthy (read new Aristocracy) has "always" been a constant force in society. Marxs...also as relevant today as ever...........certain base issues will always be "alive" as long as people need to eat and have a place to sleep.))
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