Joel Bakan’s ‘The Corporation’

I’ve written before about how interesting I find the intersection between the legal structures that create a company, and the social impacts that those structures have. The Company by John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge was valuable in providing a historical context for the creation of companies, but it didn’t really go beyond that.

The Corporation: The pathological pursuit of profit and power by Joel Bakan doesn’t focus on the history, but tries to go a little beyond that, to questions of how companies (or corporations*) influence society.

For the most part though, it focuses on the central thesis – that companies (or corporations*) are a specific structure that leads directly to imposing costs on society. The quotes below are indicative of the broad sweep of his argument. It’s a fascinating read.

Joel Bakan, as a legal academic, has some credibility when he writes in this area. The book itself feels like it could have more depth, and there’s certainly room to extent more into questions of how corporations are structured internally, and how they interact with societies, beyond the basic question of imposing costs (or externalities).

But it’s an interesting read. A particularly fascinating point for me was reading about the ‘cocktail putsch‘: an abortive plot to undertake a coup against the New Deal, which may never have gotten very far, but is interesting even as a fanciful discussion.

Bakan concludes with a set of recommendations. He dithers between being idealistic and recommending marginal tweaks, and ultimately ends up being anemic, with the kind of recommendations that are so vague as to be able to encompass a thousand possibilities.

Overall, this one could have been better with more depth and theory, but it’s worth it, simply as an interesting discussion of what to my mind is an under-analysed area.

*Yes, there may be some technical legal differences between a company and a corporation that I’ve missed; they’re not important for the purposes of either of these books.

Quotes

Businessmen and politicians had been suspicious of the corporation from the time it first emerged in the late sixteenth century. Unlike the prevailing partnership form, in which relatively small groups of men, bonded together by personal loyalties and mutual trust, pooled their resources to set up businesses they ran as well as owned, the corporation separated ownership from management- one group of people, directors and managers, ran the firm, while another group, shareholders, owned it. That unique design was believed by many to be a recipe for corruption and scandal. Adam Smith warned in The Wealth of Nations that because managers could not be trusted to steward “other people’s money,” “negligence and profusion” would inevitably result when businesses organized as corporations …

Stockholding could not become a truly attractive option for the general public until that risk [personal liability] was removed, which it soon was …

1,800 corporations were consolidated into 157 between 1898 and 1904. In less than a decade the U.S. economy had been transformed from one in which individually owned enterprises competed freely among themselves into one dominated by a relatively few huge corporations, each owned by many shareholders …

By the end of the nineteenth century, through a bizarre legal alchemy, courts had fully transformed the corporation into a “person”, with its own identity, separate from the flesh-and-blood people who were its owners and managers … The corporate person had taken the place, at least in law, of the real people who owned corporations … Gone was the centuries-old “grant theory”, which had conceived of corporations as instruments of government policy and as dependent upon government bodies to create them and enable them to function …

The “best interests of the corporation” principle, now a fixture in the corporate law of most countries, addresses Smith’s concern by compelling corporate decisions always to act in the best interests of the corporation, and hence its owners. The law forbids any other motivation for their actions, whether to assist workers, improve the environment, or help consumers save money … As corporate officials … stewards of other people’s money, they have no legal authority to pursue such goals as ends in themselves-only as means to serve the corporation’s own interests, which generally means to maximize the wealth of its shareholders. Corporate social responsibility is thus illegal-at least when it is genuine …

“The structure,” says Kernaghan, “the whole system, just drags everybody with it.” At the heart of that structure is a simple dynamic: a corporation “tends to be more profitable to the extent it can make other people pay the bills for its impact on society,” as businessman Robert Monks describes it. “There’s a terrible word that economists use for this called ‘externalities.'”

The corporation’s unique structure is largely to blame for the fact that illegalities are endemic in the corporate world. By design, the corporate form generally protects the human beings who own and run corporations from legal liability, leaving the corporation, a “person” with a psychopathic contempt for legal constraints, the main target of criminal prosecution …

There is little democracy in a system that relies on market forces and nongovernmental organizations to promote socially responsible behavior from corporations …

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Articles: Left field routes to Mars, and complex systems managing nuclear weapons

Katy Vine has an interesting piece in The Texas Monthly, ‘The Astronaut Who Might Actually Get Us to Mars‘. I’m not across the technology, so I don’t know how probable his approach is. But it’s an interesting reflection on how solutions sometimes come from improbable places. I hadn’t realised that the lunar lander was a project initiated counter to most of NASA’s beliefs at the time.

Eric Schlosser writes in the New Yorker about all the things that can go wrong, in ‘World War Three, By Mistake‘. It’s a piece written before the 2016 US election, so it focuses in on the systems rather than the personalities, but it’s all the more terrifying for that. It’s also worth checking out Alex Wellerstein’s blog, which is an interesting historical context for nuclear weapons.

Games: Monument Valley and the Banner Saga

I’ve played a few games on my phone recently, looking for something apart from books to keep me entertained in down time.

Monument Valley is a beautiful puzzle game, set in a three dimensional space where objects don’t always follow the spatial rules that we experience in everyday life. I imagine that there must have been a decent amount of work put in to creating the beautiful shapes – at times it feels a shame to solve quickly what feels as though it must have taken a long time to create.

The Banner Saga is a fascinating game. Set in a fantasy world where men co-exist in a tenuous peace with giant varls, and both are threatened by giant iron invaders. The viewpoint flits between multiple characters, making choices in a set of storylines that intersect at times. At points your group will encounter conflict, played out on a two-dimensional grid, with some intricate tactics.

The game imposes consequences – there are constantly choices. Help the weak? Look after yourself? Investigate strange phenomena, or march towards safety? It’s a challenging game, in that it doesn’t make save-point management easy, and there is no clear pattern to what the right answers are. Sometimes doing the right thing pays off. At other times, it has disastrous consequences. In that sense, it feels like it’s a little truer to life than a game that either encourages blowing things up, or making sacrifices every single time. It’s a juggling act.

At times the intersecting storylines, particularly when you’re jumping back and forth, can feeling confusing. Despite that, it’s an excellent game. It’s better played on a tablet than a phone, given the luxurious art, and the intricacy of the storyline. Well worth it.

I’ve only played the first one, but I’m looking forward to the second one. Apparently a third one is in the works.

The Monopolists by Mary Pilon

For many years, Monopoly’s history was simple. Charles Darrow invented the game during the Great Depression, and the game was popularised by the Parker Brothers. It was a simple story that Horatio Alger might have loved.

Then, in the 1970s, Ralph Anspach invented Anti-Monopoly. Parker Brothers came after him. In the course of a long copyright battle that would threaten his health, his marriage, and his livelihood, the truth about the origins of Monopoly came tumbling out.

It starts with Lizzie Maggie, a remarkable writer, teacher, feminist and engineer. In 1903 she applied for a patent on The Landlord’s Game, a board game in which players moved around a board, acquiring property. Fascinatingly, it was a demonstration of Henry George’s ‘Georgism‘, a framework on taxation and control of resources, intended to show how without the right tax framework, a single player comes to bankrupt other players and control the resources.

She patented it, but doesn’t appear to have enforced her patent. From there, the game trickled out to other parts of the country. Until, in a moment so striking that it’s hard to resist the temptation to see it as a metaphor or synecdoche, Charles Darrow claimed that he had invented Monopoly, and cashed in on the lucrative wealth that flowed his way.

This is, essentially, the guts of the story that Mary Pilon tells in The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board GameBut even though you know the story, this is a book that’s still very worth reading.

Pilon tells the story well, and it’s a complex story. Lizzie Maggie is a fascinating and inspiring character, someone who believed passionately in justice throughout her life, and did so flamboyantly. Pilon tells the twists and turns of how the board game evolved through different iterations, trickling from one community to another.

She’s slightly less deft in telling the legal battles; at times it feels a little as though the material is being dragged out, rather than cutting to the chase. But it’s a testament to the research that she’s done, in digging through all the material, that she can tell the story so exhaustively and so well.

Where she struggles is where the trail goes cold, the points past which she can’t venture, travelling into the bowels of the patent office, or the corporate archives now held by Hasbro. It would be an even more compelling story if that information was available, but Pilon does well with what she has.

In some ways, it has interesting parallels to another story about claiming ownership of an invention, that features a twist at Harvard (Pilon tells how Dan Layman, another character in the story, sold a game called Finance based on a game he played at Harvard).

A final, fascinating set of twists is that after the courtcase that won Ralph Anspach the right to publish his Anti-Monopoly, there was a hurried set of legal changes pushed through Congress. I haven’t been able to find another reference online, but Pilon assures us that a specific exemption was included in the legislation to ensure that Anti-Monopoly wasn’t caught:

… Person ensured that Ralph’s right to sell Anti-Monopoly would still be protected under the new act in what became known as “the Anti-Monopoly amendment.”

The final, delightful twist is that now Ralph’s two sons run the company, and they’ve patented a particular set of mathematically calculated prices that equalise their game.

Quotes

The object of the game was to bankrupt all opponents and be the last person standing by acquiring real estate and charging rent.

 

John Wanamaker was credited with having popularized the price tag–a Quaker concept that had originally taken hold in England. Both the Quakers and Wanamaker believed that haggling over prices with self-interested storekeepers did not lead to equal shopping opportunities, so fixed prices made everyone equal in the eyes of God.

 

It’s still unclear how Parker Brothers received approval for the Monopoly patent, given the two Landlord’s Game patents that had come before it. It’s also unclear how the patent was issued in an astonishingly fast four months. Typically, the U.S. Patent Office rejected applications that had strong similarities to ones that were already on file. And even when an application was approved, it took many months or even years to process.

 

Lizzie and George signed a deal. She received five hundred dollars. And no residuals.

 

The vast majority of Monopoly players had no clue that the game was a protest against capitalism, not an endorsement of it.

 

The Geneva Conventions allowed POWs to receive some letters and goods, including games, to help them pass the time. But relief groups such as the Red Cross did not want to risk their integrity as aid organizations by participating in smuggling activities, so the Allies set up fictitious relief agencies, such as the British Local Ladies Comfort Society and the Lancashire Penny Fund. The addresses of blitzed buildings were sometimes used as well …

It would be virtually impossible to know the scope of the Allies’ use of Monopoly boards or how many POWs were helped by the hidden maps and goods-if any at all. No sets explicitly used for this purpose have ever been found, a fact that gives some game historians pause.

 

Trademark lawyers use the term “genericide” to refer to product names that become so successful that they lose their trademark and become generic words adopted into the common language.

 

In some ways, the actions of Layman and Darrow had not been all that different. Both men had seen a popular game, played it, and marketed it. But Layman had never filed for a patent, and had never claimed to have invented the game. Darrow had.

 

When Hasbro purchased Parker Brothers in 1991, it’s likely that it also purchased a trove of George Parker’s diaries and neatly organized game library, which it has declined to make available to researchers for decades, as it declined my request to access them.

 

They say that writers suffers so that their readers don’t have to, but so do those dear souls who are close to writers, who empower, encourage, and rip apart story structures in the name of friendship and generosity.

 

It’s easy to assume in this age of research that if information doesn’t surface via Google search, then it must not exist at all … the reporting of this book was a humbling reminder of the infinite amount of knowledge still tucked away on dusty bookshelves, in attics, or in brains, yet to be documented and only woven together through sweat, obsession, and love of story, even regarding something as seemingly simple as board games. The Internet has yet to do its best work.

 

 

Articles: Political life and Facebook’s media dominance

I’ve come across a few interesting articles recently.

In Meanjin, Katherine Murphy reflects on the day-to-day experience of political life in ‘The political life is no life at all‘. I think her underlying thesis, that the day-to-day of politics in Australia’s Commonwealth Parliament is exhausting, and crowds out all but those individuals who are statistically anomalous in their ability to withstand stress (for better or worse) is correct. The essay casually back-hands the inability of the public service to respond to the demands of the Rudd PMO, but I think that’s a story worth unpacking a little more – Speechless – a Year in My Father’s Business is, I think, a good starting point for the other side of the story.

As per my continuing fascination with the intersection between politics and media, ‘This Country’s Democracy Has Fallen Apart — And It Played Out To Millions On Facebook‘ is an excellent piece of longform from Buzzfeed, who I think do a much better job than many outlets in focussing on where the media is right now (which is to say, Facebook, and Google to some extent). There’s a disconcerting sense in the piece of how decisions are made at vast removes from Cambodia, in offices where people haven’t bothered to think about how they will impact Cambodia, but that have an enormous impact there.

 

Articles: Democracy, Free Speech, and the Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed

The Atlantic has an interesting piece by Alexis Madrigal on internet sales: ‘The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed’. It’s worth a read, purely as a peek into some of the less obvious mechanisms behind online shopping.

Wired has an interesting reflection by Zeynep Tufekci on free speech, and what that means in practice as technology shifts: ‘It’s the (Democracy Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech‘.

A people’s history of the United States

It’s hard to know where to start in describing Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United StatesIt’s a long read; a history of the United States, told with a focus on the lives of everyday people, and of the movements and communities that resisted the centres of power.

Zinn does an excellent job of pulling out how particular power balances shifted and changed, often opportunistically rather than on principle:

George Washington had turned down the requests of blacks, seeking freedom, to fight in the Revolutionary army. So when the British military commander in Virginia, Lord Dunmore, promised freedom to Virginia slaves who joined his forces, this created consternation.

As part of his analysis, he also captures the inherent contradictions that can emerge:

In short, as Francis Jennings puts it, the white Americans were fighting against British imperial control in the East, and for their own imperialism in the West.

And the ways a kyriarchy can intersect with popular movements:

In 1840, a World Anti-Slavery Society Convention met in London. After a fierce argument, it was voted to exclude women, but it was agreed they could attend meetings in a curtained enclosure. The women sat in silent protest in the gallery, and William Lloyd Garrison, one abolitionist who had fought for the rights of women, sat with them.

Or later, in the 20th century:

In the summer of 1964 , in McComb , Mississippi , at a Freedom House ( a civil rights headquarters where people worked and lived together ) the women went on strike against the men who wanted them to cook and make beds while the men went around in cars organizing.

Throughout, there are fascinating historical points, that I hadn’t come across before. Apparently the expression ‘pie in the sky’ comes from an old protest song, before or around World War I. There was a time when children, working sixty hours a week, went on strike, carrying signs that said “We want to go to school!” The Lusitania actually may have been carrying weaponry, the Allies intervened in the Russian Civil WarAmerican servicemen were killed in the bombing of Hiroshima, and the term ‘fragging‘ has its origins in rebellion in the Vietnam war. This was all news to me.

Of course, the book isn’t perfect. At times, it seems like it’s easy for Zinn to idealise cultures outside white, capitalist America. Making the case that they are more egalitarian requires more than simply going on a few secondary sources. At times that can feel particularly shortsighted, for example when he writes:

In January 1949 , Chinese Communist forces moved into Peking , the civil war was over , and China was in the hands of a revolutionary movement , the closest
thing , in the long history of that ancient country , to a people’s government , independent of outside control .
It would be nice, at least, to acknowledge some of the subsequent history that follows that sentence.

It also feels at times that although Zinn tells interesting stories in isolation, of how particular groups used, exploited, or controlled other groups, he doesn’t go to the next level of causality, in explaining how or why particular groups were able to achieve control – was it technology, or media, or history? Without that underlying story, at times it feels as though he is simply telling history as one thing after another. In particular, it feels that although his story is continually one of suffering and hope, there’s no clear underlying story of whether, why or how things may change. Zinn concludes:

… the world … is still in the hands of the elites, that people’s movements, although they show an infinite capacity for recurrence, have so far been either defeated or absorbed or perverted, that “socialist” revolutionists have betrayed socialism, that nationalist revolutions have led to new dictatorships.

This is a bleak point to end on, and Zinn doesn’t offer much beyond that viewpoint. The closest he comes is to speculate:

Let us imagine what radical change would require of us all.

The society’s levers of power would have to be taken away from those whose drives have led to the present state – the giant corporations, the military, and their politician collaborators. We would need – by a coordinated effort of local groups all over the country – to reconstruct the economy for both efficiency and justice, producing in a cooperative way what people need most … The great problem would be to work out a way of accomplishing this without a centralized bureaucracy, using not the incentives of prison and punishment, but those incentives of cooperation which spring from natural human desires …

A final weakness is that in his material, covering from about the 60’s onwards, Zinn’s focus seems to shift away from the movements and overarching groups that make his earlier writing so interesting, and to zoom much more closely in to the horse-race politics of Presidential decisions and appearances, where his contribution isn’t as strong.

For all that, though, this is a powerful and thought provoking book. It’s powerful because, as Zinn writes of his approach:

To uncover such history is to find a powerful human impulse to assert one’s humanity. It is to hold out, even in times of deep pessimism, the possibility of surprise.

Well worth a read.

Quotes and notes

The historian’s distortion is more than technical, it is ideological; it is released into a world of contending interests, where any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian means to or not) some kind of interest, whether economic or political or racial or national or sexual.

 

… the historian has been trained in a society in which education and knowledge are put forward as technical problems of excellence and not as tools for contending social classes, races, nations.

 

Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes eroding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex.

 

My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present. And the lines are not always clear. In the long run, the oppressor is also a victim. In the short run (and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs), the victims, themselves desperately tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims.

 

We see now a complex web of historical threads to ensnare blacks for slavery in America: the desperation of starving settlers, the special helplessness of the displaced African, the powerful incentive of profit for slave trader and planter, the temptation of superior status for poor whites, the elaborate controls against escape and rebellion, the legal and social punishment of black and white collaboration.

 

It was a complex chain of oppression in Virginia. The Indians were plundered by white frontiersmen, who were taxed and controlled by the Jamestown elite. And the whole colony was being exploited by England, which bought the colonist’s tobacco at prices it dictated and made 100,000 pounds a year for the King.

 

Blacks ran away to Indian villages, and the Creeks and Cherokees harbored runaway slaves by the hundreds.

In describing how leaders in America came to direct resentment against Britain, Zinn concludes:

It was not a conscious conspiracy, but an accumulation of tactical responses.

 

Locke himself regretted that the labor or poor children “is generally lost to the public till they are twelve or fourteen years old” and suggested that all children over three, of families on relief, should attend “working schools” so they would be “from infancy … inured to work”.

 

In America, too, the reality behind the words of the Declaration of Independence (issued in the same year as Adam Smith’s capitalist manifesto, The Wealth of Nations) was that a rising class of important people needed to enlist on their side enough Americans to defeat England, without disturbing too much the relations of wealth and power that had developed over 150 years of colonial history. Indeed, 69 per cent of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had held colonial office under England.

 

It seemed that the majority of white colonists, who had a bit of land, or no property at all, were still better off than slaves or indentured servants or Indians, and could be wooed into the coalition of the Revolution. But when the sacrifices of water became more bitter, the privileges and safety of the rich became harder to accept.

 

Indeed, this became a characteristic of the new nation: finding itself possessed of enormous wealth, it could create the richest ruling class in history, and still have enough for the middle classes to act as a buffer between the rich and the dispossessed.

 

Thus, Beard found that most of the makers of the Constitution had some direct economic interest in establishing a strong federal government: the manufacturers needed protective tariffs; the moneylenders wanted to stop the use of paper money to pay off debts; the land speculators wanted protection as they invaded Indian lands; slaveowners needed federal security against slave revolts and runaways; bondholders wanted a government able to raise money by nationwide taxation, to pay off those bonds.

 

The problem of democracy in the post-Revolutionary society was not, however, the Constitutional limitations on voting. It lay deeper, beyond the Constitution, in the division of society into rich and poor. For if some people had great wealth and great influence; if they had the land, the money, the newspapers, the church, the educational system – how could voting, however broad, cut into such power?

 

When economic interest is seen behind the political clauses of the Constitution, then the document becomes not simply the work of wise men trying to establish a decent and orderly society, but the work of certain groups trying to maintain their privileges, while giving just enough rights and liberties to enough of the people to ensure popular support.

 

Through the war, as Schroeder says, “the politically sensitive Whig minority could only harry the administration with a barrage of verbiage while voting for every appropriation which the military campaign required.”

 

It was a war of the American elite against the Mexican elite, each side exhorting, using, killing its own population as well as the other.

 

… Frederick Douglass spoke in 1857: … Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will …

 

It was the Supreme Court of the United States that declared in 1857 that the slave Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a person, but property. Such a national government would never accept an end to slavery by rebellion. It would end slavery only under conditions controlled by whites, and only when required by the political and economic needs of the business elite of the North.

 

In 1883, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, outlawing discrimination against Negroes using public facilities, was nullified by the Supreme Court, which said: “Individual invasion of individual rights is not the subject-matter of the amendment.”

 

It was the year 1877 that spelled out clearly and dramatically what was happening. When the year opened, the presidential election of the past November was in bitter dispute. The Democratic candidate, Samuel Tilden, had 184 votes and needed one more to be elected … The Republican candidate, Rutherford Hayes, had 166 electoral votes. Three states not yet counted had a total of 19 electoral votes; if Hayes could get all of those, he would 185 and be President. This is what his managers proceeded to arrange. They made concessions to the Democratic party and the white South, including an agreement to remove Union troops from the South, the last military obstacle to the reestablishment of white supremacy there.

 

The farmers had fought, had been crushed by the law, their struggle diverted into voting, and the system stabilized by enlarging the class of small landowners, leaving the basic structure of rich and poor intact. It was a common sequence in American history.

 

State legislatures gave charters to corporations giving them legal rights to conduct business, raise money – at first special charters, then general chraters, so that any business meeting certain requirements could incorporate. Between 1790 and 1860, 2,300 corporations were chartered.

 

In Exeter , New Hampshire , women mill workers went on strike ( “ turned out , ” in the language of that day ) because the overseer was setting the clocks back to get more time from them . Their strike succeeded in exacting a promise from the company that the overseers would set their watches right .

 

In 1835 , twenty mills went on strike to reduce the workday from thirteen and a half hours to eleven hours , to get cash wages instead of company scrip , and to end fines for lateness .

 

They lived in slum tenements owned by the company, were paid in scrip, which they could use only at company stores, and were evicted if their work was unsatisfactory.

 

In premodern times , the maldistribution of wealth was accomplished by simple force . In modern times , exploitation is disguised — it is accomplished by law , which has the look of neutrality and fairness .

 

A study of the origins of 303 textile , railroad , and steel executives of the 1870s showed that 90 percent came from middle – or upper – class families . The Horatio Alger stories of “ rags to riches ” were true for a few men , but mostly a myth , and a useful myth for control .

 

But the purpose of the state was to settle upper – class disputes peacefully , control lower – class rebellion , and adopt policies that would further the long – range stability of the system .

 

There were eruptions against the convict labor system in the South , in which prisoners were leased in slave labor to corporations, used thus to depress the general level of wages and also to break strikes. In the year 1891 , miners of the Tennessee Coal Mine Company were asked to sign an “ iron – clad contract ” : pledging no strikes , agreeing to get paid in scrip , and giving up the right to check the weight of the coal they mined ( they were paid by the weight ) .
A quote from the New York World, describing the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire:
From opposite windows spectators saw again and again pitiable companionship formed in the instant of death-girls who placed their arms around each other as they leaped.
… vigilantes in Montana seized IWW organizer Frank Little , tortured him , and hanged him , leaving his body dangling from a railroad trestle .
Labor struggles could make things better , but the country’s resources remained in the hands of powerful corporations whose motive was profit , whose power commanded the government of the United States .
When the New Deal was over , capitalism remained intact . The rich still controlled the nation’s wealth , as well as its laws , courts , police , newspapers , churches , colleges .
Racism , always a national fact , not just a southern one , emerged in northern cities , as the federal government made concessions to poor blacks in a way that pitted them against poor whites for resources made scarce by the system .
The rich did not have to commit crimes to get what they wanted ; the laws were on their side . But when the rich did commit crimes , they often were not prosecuted , and if they were they could get out on bail , hire clever lawyers , get better treatment from judges .
The United States government had signed more than four hundred treaties with Indians and violated every single one .
That makes it a biased account , one that leans in a certain direction . I am not troubled by that , because the mountain of history books under which we all stand leans so heavily in the other direction — so tremblingly respectful of states and statesmen and so disrespectful , by inattention, to people’s movements – that we need some counterforce to avoid being crushed into submission.
In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, transport and communications workers, garbagemen and firemen.
There is evidence of growing dissatisfaction among the guards … These are white workers, neither nor poor, but angry over economic insecurity, unhappy with their work, worried about their neighborhoods, hostile to government – combining elements of racism with elements of class consciousness, contempt for the lower classes along with distrust for the elite, and thus open to solutions from any direction, right or left.
We may, in the coming years, be in a race for the mobilization of middle-class discontent.
Millions of people have been looking desperately for solutions to their sense of impotency, their loneliness, their frustration, their estrangement from other people, from the world, from their work, from themselves.
A college education is no longer a guarantee against joblessness, and a system that cannot offer a future to the young coming out of school is in deep trouble.
The use of government for class purposes, to serve the needs of the wealthy and powerful, has continued throughout American history, down to the present day.