Political Sociology; Weeks 1 - 10

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Chuck O' Connell

Political Sociology – Week 1 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM Theories of Political Power 1. The Pluralist Model  Power is distributed among a plurality of interest groups  No person, group, or organization holds absolute power in American society  The pace of political change is slow  Federalist Papers  The state is neutral in the Pluralist Model Interest Groups: Associations or groups of people who have circled around a specific interest.  Those with higher socio-economic statuses participate in interest groups more often. 2. The Power Elite Model  The idea that modern organizations of society are oligarchical  Oligarchy: Ruled by a few  Robert Michels, studied the most democratic organization (The Social Democratic Party) in the late 19 thcentury Germany. This organization fought for the lower classes, believed in the equality of people. Marx was among it’s members. He studied how decisions were made, who advocated, and when the party gathered to made decisions, who actually made them. Turns out only a select few made the main decisions.  Whomever says “organization” says “oligarchy.”  Society have smart people, “The Elites.” Society should be run by them. – Vilfredo Pareto  C. Wright Mills – The Power Elite  Power Elite theorists believe only a few make critical decisions for the masses. For the most part, the masses don’t care about these decisions. 3. The Class-Conflict Model  Predominant power is in the hands of those families that control the means of production. These families have power because thy won the means of production, this power is used to amass wealth by exploiting the labor of those who do not won the means of production.  Those who control the means of production control what is needed for human survival.  Surplus Theory of Value – Making commodities, and receiving payment not equal to the value of the commodity. Joe Carlos and Tommy Smith decided to raise their fists to the air after they won the bronze and gold medals. They were taken off the track team and sent home. Adam Smith and Karl Marx, Labor Theory of Value claims that almost all of the value of stuff comes from the value of the human labor that’s expended in making the stuff. Political Sociology – Week 2 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM The Power Elite Continued  Mills is an optimist when it comes to the Power Elite theory.  C. Wright Mills makes the argument that the masses want democracy, people want to participate, they believe power should be shared, but many don’t participate.  He believes the reason the masses are apathetic is because the elite deliberately confuse them. The Elite control the flow of information and intentionally confuse the masses. By controlling the flow of information, are controlling how political issues get explained to them. Workers sell their labor power to owners. Workers want to decrease the working day and increase the wages.  Disposession – Taking away the means of production Capitalists Interests  Increase the working days  Decrease the wages Wages in the 1960s – $16.00/hr Two-tier contract  Older generations are agree to cutting wages of newer generations as long as their wages remain constant. Capitalist rule because they dominate  The Economy  The Ideological Apparatus  The State Political Sociology – Week 3 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM The working class has potentially great power. The potential power of the working class lies in its ability to organize collective disobedience to the order of the ruling class. Social systems, especially hierarchical ones, rest on obedience. If the people receiving the orders don’t listen, things don’t get done. The Bourgeoisie are a ruling class because they rule three distinct areas of our social system  The Economy o The Mean of Production  The Ideological Apparatus o The ability to get the mass population to engage in wars and have shared ideological beliefs. o The pursuit of economic should be needed in society; greed is needed for survival o Societies consists of nations, cultural and ethnic groups, rather than classes, thus they have national interest transcending the interest of particular interest groups such as Capitalists v Workers.  Nationalism – “We’re all Americans.” Capitalists try to get people to see that they’re Americans and blind them to the idea that we have a class.  False Consciousness – One’s inability to see their own class position  The State o The state represents or operates in the interest of the American people in what is known as the “national interest.”  State - The institution of power by which one class dominates another. The state can take different forms. In the United States, it’s a democratic-republic. In China, there’s a one-party rule. In Russia, they have a royal dictatorship or a monarchy.  Government – The form that the State takes  Elections are structured around who has the most money, over 70% of the money used in elections comes from the upper class. Labor Theory of Value  Value originates in labor  Surplus Value = Profit Primitive Accumulation  Also known as “Original Accumulation” is the idea that the Bourgeoisie accumulated their wealth by hording most of the resources. In the uprising of the African American Studies, the Ford foundation decides to dispense money to establish black programs, in order to sustain and contain the control of information. An architect of the Vietnam War, Mac Bundy was chosen to oversee the project. Using Ford money, his job was to ensure that the African American studies department doesn’t get to radical. Political Sociology – Week 4 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM Peripheral Targets U.S. Military Spending  The United States spends more than 5 times the combine totals of the next 5 country’s spending. When Theodore Roosevelt took the Panama Canal for himself, he exemplified the principle of Primitive Accumulation Provocation  U.S. justification for going into Kuwait to “protect” Kuwait citizens from Iraq  U.S deploys troops into Panama to “instigate” an attack on U.S. soldiers, thus justifying a war with Panama Boston Massacre v Texas Fertilizer Explosion  Texas explosion not seen as important as Boston Massacre because companies were responsible for the explosion. Social Systems rest on obedience, and obedience rests on the control of information. Imperialism  Resources are finite, labor is finite. The competition for the right to these resources becomes increasingly intense.  In order to better position themselves economically, France took over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. School of the Americas (SOA)  Provides counterinsurgency training; provides techniques in preventing rebellions.  Although the Panamanian invasion engaged in counterinsurgency to maintain dominance, most of the counterinsurgency takes place with U.S. funded and managed proxy counterinsurgencies o U.S. Military trains local governments so that they’ll prevent rebellious behavior on behalf of the U.S., all of which is funded by the American tax dollars. United States funds the destabilization of countries to the point where the people have no where to go. Latin America produces masses of unemployed. These unemployed travel to the United States to find work. U.S. receives cheap labor. Political Sociology – Week 5 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM Capitalism and Fascism It’s claimed that Capitalism and Democracy go hand in hand. Capitalism has had a contradictory past however, especially in association with Fascism. Robert Paxton – The Anatomy of Fascism None of the Fascist hierarchies altered the system in the way Capitalism does. Fascist regimes were intensely nationalistic. Germany was known for being racist, nationalistic, and devoted to purging weakness. Hitler and the Nazis come to power in 1933. They’re militaristic, imperialistic, anti-labor, anti- communist. Ironically the United States and Germany are alike  Pro White Supremacy  They are militaristic  They are imperialistic  Anti-Labor and Anti-Communist  They both claim the rights to imperialize other countries When a nation is in a depressed economy, there are two ways to get profits back:  Reduce Wages  Expand Your Markets o Markets for Labor, Raw Materials, and Export for Commodities U.S. Britain and France have colonies (places to export commodities and cheap labor), whereas Germany, Italy, and Japan have no colonies. Furthermore, Axis Powers don’t have an energy source (Oil) in the ways the Allied Powers do. U.S. gets it’s oil from Texas and California. After WWI, Britain and France acquired the Middle East, giving them access to oil fields. Royal Dutch Shell (British Oil Company). Japan invades Indonesia to seize British Royal Dutch Shell oil refineries. According to General Douglass Macarthur, if the German’s had gotten to Iran and Iraq, they would have had the resources to fight a protracted war for the next 10 years. Fascism  A response of the Capitalist class to perceive economic and/or political crises such as a fall in the rate of profit or the threat of political rebellion. A crisis demands ruthless measures for its solutions, the subordination of the individual to the national group, the silencing of descent, the greater expropriation of wealth from the working class, and preparation for war.  Preparation of the people for war. Militarization of the mass psychology. Why did it take so long for the United States to get involved, especially if the Axis Powers were dipping into U.S. profits? The difference between Dictatorships and Fascism is that fascists are imperialistic; they seek to dominate other countries.  EX: Iraq is a dictatorship, but it’s not a fascist regime. Dejure Racism  The covert, underlining racism in societies  EX: Refusing to see someone during office hours because of one’s race De facto Racism  Open, unambiguous racism  EX: Giving someone a good grade based on one’s grade White Man’s Burden  It’s the White Man’s responsibility to oversee other races, similar to monarchies. Real Wages – What are you able to actually buy with your wages? Reduce Wages  Increase Working Day  Decrease Benefits  Salary Wage System  Remove or Prevent Unions  Cut Your Work Hours Midterm Review 4/4/2013 11:09:00 AM Domhoff - Chapter 2,3, Topic 1 In chapter five of his book, Kloby discusses several competing theories of the modern state. Among these are the pluralist model and the instrumentalist model (also known as Domhoff’s class-domination model). Compare and contrast these two theories with respect to the following aspects: 1. The distribution of power in society.  Pluralist: The Pluralist Theory generally sees American society as composed of various interest groups, none of which have any major advantage in terms of their ability to influence government decision-making. The state in the pluralist model is regarded as reasonable and unbiased, not favoring one group over another.  Instrumentalist: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat, Owners of the Means of Production and the Working Class. 2. The role of the state in policy decision-making.  Pluralist: The fundamental principle of the pluralist model is the notion that the state is autonomous and unbiased. The state is like a balance scale, and the input from various interest groups is weighed on a scale. The state then makes a decision, or a policy, based on the weight of the arguments put forth by the interest groups, or based on the sheer number of people lined up on each side of the issue.  Instrumentalist:  Instrumentalism is defined as a theory that explains the ties between the state and the ruling class. Although the government and the state are ―empirically overlapping phenomena,‖ one can think of the government as that part of the U.S. political system that mediates public policy, and the state as the set of institutions and processes that ―orchestrates coercion and control, both overtly and covertly.‖  The ruling party is a group designed to simplify the dominant nature of the Bourgeoisie. This is seen when Republican Presidents create laws to protect the power Elite and big corporations, and instead tax lower income families. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) also permits free trade between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, an agreement signed by our President to allow businesses to make money trading with other nations. The necessary but Antagonistic Relations is also an excellent example of the executive of the modern State managing the bourgeoisie. Nations like China were threatened by the Britain because they refused to allow the trade of opium, or when the U.S. threatened Vietnam and even entered a war with them because they refused to open the doors to trade. The threat of war is a power the executive of the State has to further the bourgeoisie’s profitable motives. 3. The demographics (social composition) of those who rule America.  Pluralist: No difference demographically. Everyone has the right to vote and the right to create interest groups  Instrumentalist: Corporate and Political America are ruled by economic, political, and the military elites. At the top of the economy, among the corporate rich, there are the chief executives; at the top of the political order, the members of the political directorate; at the top of the military establishment, the elite of soldier-statesmen clustered in and around the Join Chiefs of staff and the upper echelon.  American wealth is extremely skewed in terms of it’s distribution among individuals. According to Domhoff, the top 1% of the American population owns 35.5% of the country’s private financial wealth. 19% own 53.5% of the nations wealth. In combination, the top 20% owns 89% of the nations wealth. The last 80% of the nation owns 11% of the wealth.  Topic 2 Domhoff claims that a number of social institutions provide evidence that capitalists constitute a cohesive social and economic class with awareness of its group interests. Among these institutions are prep schools, social clubs, interlocking directorates, and foundation sponsorship of think tanks and policy-formation (planning) organizations. In one or two sentences define and indicate the significance of each term: 1. Prep Schools  Prep Schools are social institutions geared towards educating upper-class children. These schools are usually privately funded, are equipped with resources such as private tutors, new books and materials, and exhibit an investment in their constituents’ acculturation. 2. Social Clubs  Clubs for high-level political and economic leaders. Social Clubs are ways for wealthy individuals to relax, socialize, plan, and continue their dominance over middle and lower class individuals. Social Clubs provide direct access to those already in power and a way for the bourgeoisie to mingle or to do business with others. 3. Interlocking Directorates  Defined as linkages between corporations. When a board member sits on two or more. Interlocking Directorates occurs when a high- level executive is a member of other corporations. This allows them to gain new information, protect their company’s interests, and further their agendas. Companies like Chase Manhattan Bank and CitiGroup have 45 and 70 company connections respectively. 4. Outside Directors  5. The Inner Circle  The inner circle is characterized as a group of individuals with similar interests, political and economic positions, who have common interests and shared goals. For Example, members of the UC Regents board group are apart of an Inner Circle, in that they have a shared goal to make profit and expand their respective enterprises. Outer Circle members are members of a board or group that have a somewhat shared interest, but exhibit no definite power to do so. They are outcasts because their interest do not align in the ways Inner Circle members’ goals do. One UC Regent – Member of a construction company. His interests lie in securing construction contracts for the company. Two UC Regent – Member of a bank. Her interests lie in providing loans and financial support for students through Bank of America credit cards. Topic 3 Both Domhoff and political theorists discussed in Kloby’s fifth chapter (pluralists, elite, structuralists) ignore the class relations of the economy itself as a realm of political power. Discuss how the social relations of production can involve domination and exploitation. In doing so, include definitions of the following terms: Under direct control of the power elite, the social relations of production become a trigger, a device for the domination and exploitation of a people. Productive capital are devices that aid in the creation of goods and services. Also under the alias, Means of Production, productive capital is responsible for the development of capital. For example, windmills are utilized to produce electricity to power factories and machinery, and to ultimately produce wealth. Wealth will allow the bourgeoisie to purchase new machinery, devices that will aid in meeting the demand for their commodities. Workers are expected to acquire the skills to operate the these machines without suggestions of increased pay. Labor exploitation also takes place though the Salary system. Under this system of pay, employees are paid a definite amount per month or per year, however they’re expected to work until the job is done, and at all hours of the day. This corporate tactic is used to get employees to work more than the 8hr/day limit. The Relations of Production is defined as the relationship between the Proletariat (the workers) and the Bourgeoisie (owners). Under capitalism, the owners of the means of production dictate all factors in our economic society. This includes work hours, skills required for a job, wages etc. Under the Labor Theory of Value, workers are expected to earn wages in relation to the amount of labor power they put into a product. However, it doesn’t work this way. Wages are distributed on an hourly basis; thus no matter how much work an individual puts into creating a commodity and how much the commodity is worth, they will always receive the same wage. This theory is directly attached to the Surplus Value Theory. Under this theory, the surplus from a commodity or goods are channeled into profits. For example, a worker creates a table worth $100, however is only paid $80 ($8/hour). The ownership of private property is a central problem in our society because it gives a select few the right to the means of production. The legal methods that businesses and corporations use to exploit people are protected by laws. Under these protections, the Bourgeoisie utilize the means of production (i.e. factories, machinery). 1. Means of production 2. Social relations of production 3. Labor theory of value 4. Surplus value 5. Exploitation of labor Topic 4 Domhoff writes: “The extensive corporate network created by interlocking directors provides a general framework within which common business and political perspectives can gradually develop. It is one building block toward a more general class awareness” (p. 31). In this essay: 1. Define “boards of directors” and indicate their importance or significance.  The leaders of a given corporation. They consist of the CEO, CFO, and 10 high-level corporate executives. The official governing body of a corporation. Receive reports and other information. Responsible for accepting/rejecting company policies, mergers, and partnerships. 2. Distinguish between “inside directors” and “outside directors” and indicate the significance of the outside directors.  Governing body and executives on the board, but work below the board of directors. They shape the board’s visions.  Inside Directors – High level members of a company who have the power to shape policies and make corporate decisions  Outside Directors – High level members of a company that are members of the boards of other companies. EX: CitiBank has over 70 executives who sit on other company’s boards. 3. Define “interlocking directorates” and discuss their role in creating director networks.  Provides a general framework within which common business and political interests can commonly develop.  4. Define “the inner circle” and indicate its importance.  The inner circle is composed of a group of high-level board members who have the power to enact economic change and make corporate decisions. The ―inner circle‖ has power to make decisions, but the outer circle does not. It’s a way to make it seem like there’s diversity in these corporations.  EX: UC Regents – Inner Circle, Student Regent – Outer Circle Topic 6 Drawing upon Domhoff, Who Rules America? Discuss the policy-planning network and its relationship to the American class structure. In this essay: 1. Provide an overview of the policy-planning network.  EX: A network of individuals who create policies. EX: Senators, Congressman etc. 2. Define foundations, think tanks, and policy-planning groups and describe their roles in funding and formulating policy.  If a company decides to fund money into a program, they do it through a foundation. Foundations are established to fund money into non-profit pursuits.  Think Tanks produce the research for specific ideological battles and conflicts. For Example: Gun laws have been under public scrutiny recently after the mass shootings. Think Tanks are charged with coming up with research to debunk ideologies of others. I.e. Guns don’t instigate violence, videogames do. Think Tanks provide research for lawyers, senators, policymakers, and others in power. These policy planning groups (lawyers, policymakers) are then equipped with the research to justify the creation and disassembly of policies. 3. According to Domhoff, why does an capitalist foundation such as the Ford Foundation disburse money to environmental and minority organizations?  Companies like the Ford Foundation distribute money to environmental and minority organizations to put on the perception that they are diverse, and that they care about society’s well being.  4. What is Domhoff’s definition of the power elite?  The Power Elite is the idea that society is ruled by a few select individuals. Political power concentrated among men and women. People who will rise above all else in the political and economic atmosphere. Topic 7 Drawing on lecture (including class handouts) and films (The Panama Deception, SOA: An Insider Speaks Out, “Three Narratives about the Vietnam War” and Howard Zinn’s History of American Empire) discuss imperialism and the manufacture of two distinct sets of knowledge about war: a set of arguments justifying military intervention and a set of arguments criticizing military intervention. (Hint: approach this using class analysis; that is, in terms of class, who is producing justifications for war and what resources do they possess to do so? Conversely, who prod
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