HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Arts & Humanities » American History (Group) » Power, Propaganda, and Pu...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Fri Jan 20, 2012, 12:00 PM

Power, Propaganda, and Purpose in American Democracy

One central facet to the development of the modern institutional society under which we live and are dominated today, was the redefining of the concept of ‘democracy’ that took place in the early 20th century. This immensely important discussion took place among the educated, elite intellectual class in the United States at that time, and the consequences of which were profound for the development of not only American society and democracy, but for the globalization that followed after World War II. The central theme that emerged was that in the age of ‘mass democracy’, where people came to be known as “the public,” the concept of ‘democracy’ was redefined to be a system of government and social organization which was to be managed by an intellectual elite, largely concerned with “the engineering of consent” of the masses in order to allow elite-management of society to continue unhindered.

The socio-economic and political situation of the United States had, throughout the 19th century, rapidly changed. Official slavery was ended after the Civil War and the wage-slave method of labour was introduced on a much wider scale; that is, the approach at which people are no longer property themselves, but rather lend their labour at minimal hourly wages, a difference equated with rental slavery versus owned slavery. While the system of labour had itself changed, the living conditions of the labourers did not improve a great deal. With Industrialization also came increased urbanization, poverty, and thus, social unrest. The 19th Century in the United States was one of near-constant labour unrest, social upheaval and a rapidly growing wealth divide. And it was not simply the lower labouring classes that were experiencing the harsh rigors of a modern industrial life. One social critic of the era, writing in 1873, discussed the situation of the middle class in America:

"Very few among them are saving money. Many of them are in debt; and all they can earn for years, is, in many cases, mortgaged to pay such debt… the unmistakable signs of their incessant anxiety and struggles to get on in life, and to obtain in addition to a mere subsistence, a standing in society… The poverty of the great middle classes consists in the fact that they have only barely enough to cover up their poverty… their poverty is felt, mentally and socially, through their sense of dependence and pride. They must work constantly, and with an angry sense of the limited opportunities for a career at their command."

As immigrants from Europe and Asia flooded America, a growing sense of racism emerged among the faltering middle class. This situation created enormous tension and unease among middle and working class Americans, and indeed, the industrialists who ruled over them. Yet many in the middle class viewed the lower class, which was increasingly rebellious, as well as the immigrant labourers – also quite militant – as a threat to their own standing in society. Instead of focusing primarily on the need for reorganization at the top of the social structure, they looked to the masses – the working people – as the greatest source of instability. Their approach was in attempting to preserve – or construct – a system beneficial to their own particular interests. Since the middle class survived on the backs of the workers, it was not in their interest as a class to support radical workers movements and revolutionary philosophies. Thus, while criticizing those at the top, the call came for ‘reform’, not revolution; for passive pluralism not democratic populism; for amelioration, not anarchy.

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2012/01/20/power-propaganda-and-purpose-in-american-democracy/

5 replies, 714 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply Power, Propaganda, and Purpose in American Democracy (Original post)
BridgeTheGap Jan 2012 OP
amfortas the hippie Jul 2012 #1
bemildred Jul 2012 #2
amfortas the hippie Jul 2012 #3
amfortas the hippie Jul 2012 #4
robk6295sie Jul 2012 #5

Response to BridgeTheGap (Original post)

Sat Jul 14, 2012, 01:15 PM

1. Howdy

Newb, here.
Very interested in this sort of thing..
I've been toiling away on a research frenzy, for a decade...attempting to understand the American Right.
Something beyond mere Party, as they've changed so much, in 200+ years. Most of the stuff I've come across has been simplistic, and only really useful, if viewed through various colored lenses.
Even read Leo Strauss(ugh).
Currently, I'm thinking about the various "Party Systems"...whether we're in the 5th, 6th, or even 7th...lol.
I detect big changes happening on the Right, at the moment.
I lean, as this art. seems to, towards a Class System, that masquerades as Classless Ideology...informed by CW Mills, and a whole bunch of others.
Good Article.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to amfortas the hippie (Reply #1)

Sat Jul 14, 2012, 01:28 PM

2. Welcome to DU.



A few authors/books to consider:

Anything written by Walter Karp (he has a point of view).
"A Necessary Evil" -- Gary Wills
"The Cousin Wars" -- Kevin Phillips

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to bemildred (Reply #2)

Sat Jul 14, 2012, 01:58 PM

3. Thanks

will look into Karp.
The latter 2...done that. I like Phillips.
I'm currently into this whole collectionhttp://jah.oxfordjournals.org/content/98/3/723.full)
I see it, standing on the Moon, as a continuation of a Philosophy War. You could extend it back 5000 years,lol...but that's a large task.
It's the same fight, between "dominators" and "cooperators"...authoritarians, and egalitarians.
Hard to talk about, in polite society, without giving a class.
My focus has been a bit narrower...Enlightenment, on.
The recent work on psychology and neuroscience are cool to plug into this...and makes me think of Erich Fromm.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to BridgeTheGap (Original post)

Sat Jul 14, 2012, 02:56 PM

4. I first

Became interested in this, in 02. I originally set out to determine "who the hell are these people?!"...Bush, etc
As a simple search of history indicated that parties were malleable and temporary(GOP claims Lincoln as their own)...I went, instead to Philosophy, Economics and Religion.
All of these are a fractious mess, too....but trend lines can be determined, often involving individuals and groups from very different places.
Perhaps I'll write a book, in 20 years.lol

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to BridgeTheGap (Original post)

Mon Jul 23, 2012, 02:20 AM

5. excellent

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread