History- American Federal Government most of this history will be from this book. this can be like 3 sentences each paragraph does not have to be long. Name two rights at risk of government intrusion.

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History- American Federal Government most of this history will be from this book. this can be like 3 sentences each paragraph does not have to be long.

Name two rights at risk of government intrusion. Write an opening paragraph, one paragraph for each right and a closing argument. Tell what is at risk, why it’s at risk and if you agree. Explain both sides.

History- American Federal Government most of this history will be from this book. this can be like 3 sentences each paragraph does not have to be long. Name two rights at risk of government intrusion.
First published in 1956, The Power Elite stands as a contemporary classic of social science and social criticism. C. Wright Mills captivated reader s with his penetrating analysis and fiery cri- tique of the organization of power in the United St ates, calling attention to three firmly interlocked prongs of power: the military, corporate, and political elite. But while The Power Elite can be read as an accurate account of what wa s taking place in America at the time it was written, its underlying question of whether America is as democratic in practice as it is in theory is every bit as significant to the culture of today. What The Power Elite informed readers of in 1956 wa s how much the power structure in America had changed during their lifetimes, and Alan Wolfe’s astute afterword to this new edition brings us up to date, illustrating how much more has changed since then. Wolfe offers profound insight into what is still valid in Mills’s book and also explores those predictions that have not come to bear, discussing the radical changes in American capitalism, from intense global competition and the collapse of comm unism to rapid technological transfor- mations and ever-changing consumer tastes. A penetrating work that remains of great rele- vance, The Power Elite stimulates us to think about the kind of society we have and the kind of society we might want. The late C. Wright Mills, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, was a leading critic of modern American civilization. Alan Wolfe is the Director of the Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. He is the author or editor of more than ten books, including Marginalized in the Middle and One Nation, After All. 1 The Higher Circles 3 2 Local Society 30 3 Metropolitan 400 47 4 The Celebrities 71 5 The Very Rich 94 6 The Chief Executives 118 7 The Corporate Rich 147 8 The Warlords 171 9 The Military Ascendancy 198 10 The Political Directorate 225 11 The Theory of Balance 242 12 The Power Elite 269 13 The Mass Society 298 14 The Conservative Mood 325 15 The Higher Immorality 343 Afterword 363 Acknowledgments 382 Notes 384 Index 432 Contents 1 The Higher Circles THE powers of ordinary men are circumscribed by the eve ryday worlds in which they live, yet even in these rounds of job, family, and neighborhood they often seem driven by forces t hey can nei- ther understand nor govern. ‘Great changes’ are beyond their con- trol, but affect their conduct and outlook none the less. The very framework of modern society confines them to projec ts not their own, but from every side, such changes now press up on the men and women of the mass society, who accordingly feel that they are without purpose in an epoch in which they are without power. But not all men are in this sense ordinary. As the means of in- formation and of power are centralized, some men co me to oc- cupy positions in American society from which they can look down upon, so to speak, and by their decisions mightily affect, the everyday worlds of ordinary men and women. They are not made by their jobs; they set up and break down jobs for thousands of others; they are not confined by simple family resp onsibilities; they can escape. They may live in many hotels and h ouses, but they are bound by no one community. They need not merely ‘meet the demands of the day and hour’; in some part, they create these demands, and cause others to meet them. Whether or not they profess their power, their technical and political experience of it far transcends that of the underlying population. W hat Jacob Burckhardt said of ‘great men,’ most Americans might well say of their elite: ‘They are all that we are not.’ 1 The power elite is composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men 3 4 THE POWER ELITE and women; they are in positions to make decisions having major consequences. Whether they do or do not make such d ecisions is less important than the fact that they do occupy such pivotal positions: their failure to act, their failure to make decisions, is itself an act that is often of greater consequence than the decisions they do make. For they are in command of the major hierarchies and organizations of modern society. They rule the big corpora- tions. They run the machinery of the state and claim its preroga- tives. They direct the military establishment. They occupy the strategic command posts of the social structure, in which are now centered the effective means of the power and the w ealth and the celebrity which they enjoy. The power elite are not solitary rulers. Advisers and consultants, spokesmen and opinion-makers are often the captains of their higher thought and decision. Immediately below the elite are the professional politicians of the middle levels of power, in the Congress and in the pressure groups, as well as amo ng the new and old upper classes of town and city and region. Mingling with them, in curious ways which we shall explore, are t hose profes- sional celebrities who live by being continually displayed but are never, so long as they remain celebrities, displaye d enough. If such celebrities are not at the head of any dominating hierarchy, they do often have the power to distract the attention of the pub- lic or afford sensations to the masses, or, more directly, to gain the ear of those who do occupy positions of direct powe r. More or less unattached, as critics of morality and technicians of power, as spokesmen of God and creators of mass sensibility, such celebri- ties and consultants are part of the immediate scene in which the drama of the elite is enacted. But that drama itself is centered in the command posts of the major institutional hierarchies. 1 The truth about the nature and the power of the eli te is not some secret which men of affairs know but will not tell. Such men hold quite various theories about their own roles in the sequence of event and decision. Often they are uncertain abo ut their roles, and even more often they allow their fears and their hopes to affect their assessment of their own power. No matter how great their actual power, they tend to be less acutely aware of it than of the THE HIGHER CIRCLES 5 resistances of others to its use. Moreover, most Am erican men of affairs have learned well the rhetoric of public relations, in some cases even to the point of using it when they are a lone, and thus coming to believe it. The personal awareness of the actors is only one of the several sources one must examine in orde r to understand the higher circles. Yet many who believe that there is no elite, or at any rate none of any consequence, rest their argume nt upon what men of affairs believe about themselves, or at least assert in public. There is, however, another view: those who feel, ev en if vaguely, that a compact and powerful elite of great importance does now prevail in America often base that feeling upon the his- torical trend of our time. They have felt, for exam ple, the domi- nation of the military event, and from this they infer that generals and admirals, as well as other men of decision influenced by them, must be enormously powerful. They hear that the Con gress has again abdicated to a handful of men decisions clearly related to the issue of war or peace. They know that the bomb was dropped over Japan in the name of the United States of America, although they were at no time consulted about the matter. They feel that they live in a time of big decisions; they know that they are not making any. Accordingly, as they consider the prese nt as history, they infer that at its center, making decisions or failing to make them, there must be an elite of power. On the one hand, those who share this feeling about big histori- cal events assume that there is an elite and that its power is great. On the other hand, those who listen carefully to th e reports of men apparently involved in the great decisions often do not believe that there is an elite whose powers are of decisive consequence. Both views must be taken into account, but neither is adequate. The way to understand the power of the American eli te lies nei- ther solely in recognizing the historic scale of events nor in accept- ing the personal awareness reported by men of appar ent decision. Behind such men and behind the events of history, l inking the two, are the major institutions of modern society. These hierar- chies of state and corporation and army constitute the means of power; as such they are now of a consequence not be fore equaled in human history—and at their summits, there are now those com- mand posts of modern society which offer us the soc iological key to an understanding of the role of the higher circles in America. 6 THE POWER ELITE Within American society, major national power now r esides in the economic, the political, and the military domains. Other insti- tutions seem off to the side of modern history, and , on occasion, duly subordinated to these. No family is as directly powerful in national affairs as any major corporation; no church is as directly powerful in the external biographies of young men i n America to- day as the military establishment; no college is as powerful in the shaping of momentous events as the National Securit y Council. Religious, educational, and family institutions are not autono- mous centers of national power; on the contrary, th ese decentral- ized areas are increasingly shaped by the big three, in which de- velopments of decisive and immediate consequence now occur. Families and churches and schools adapt to modern l ife; governments and armies and corporations shape it; and, as they do so, they turn these lesser institutions into means for their ends. Religious institutions provide chaplains to the arm ed forces where they are used as a means of increasing the effectiveness of its mo- rale to kill. Schools select and train men for their jobs in corpora- tions and their specialized tasks in the armed forc es. The extended family has, of course, long been broken up by the indus- trial revolution, and now the son and the father are removed from the family, by compulsion if need be, whenever the army of the state sends out the call. And the symbols of all these lesser institu- tions are used to legitimate the power and the deci sions of the big three. The life-fate of the modem individual depends not o nly upon the family into which he was born or which he enters by marriage, but increasingly upon the corporation in which he s pends the most alert hours of his best years; not only upon the school where he is educated as a child and adolescent, but also upon the state which touches him throughout his life; not only upo n the church in which on occasion he hears the word of God, but also upon the army in which he is disciplined. If the centralized state could not rely upon the inculcation of na- tionalist loyalties in public and private schools, its leaders would promptly seek to modify the decentralized education al system. If the bankruptcy rate among the top five hundred corp orations were as high as the general divorce rate among the thirty-seven million married couples, there would be economic catastrophe on an inter- THE HIGHER CIRCLES 7 national scale. If members of armies gave to them n o more of their lives than do believers to the churches to which they belong, there would be a military crisis. Within each of the big three, the typical instituti onal unit has become enlarged, has become administrative, and, in the power of its decisions, has become centralized. Behind these develop- ments there is a fabulous technology, for as institutions, they have incorporated this technology and guide it, even as it shapes and paces their developments. The economy—once a great scatter of small productiv e units in autonomous balance—has become dominated by two or t hree hundred giant corporations, administratively and politically in- terrelated, which together hold the keys to economic decisions. The political order, once a decentralized set of se veral dozen states with a weak spinal cord, has become a centra lized, execu- tive establishment which has taken up into itself m any powers previously scattered, and now enters into each and every crany of the social structure. The military order, once a slim establishment in a context of dis- trust fed by state militia, has become the largest and most expen- sive feature of government, and, although well vers ed in smiling public relations, now has all the grim and clumsy e fficiency of a sprawling bureaucratic domain. In each of these institutional areas, the means of power at the disposal of decision makers have increased enormous ly; their cen- tral executive powers have been enhanced; within ea ch of them modern administrative routines have been elaborated and tightened up. As each of these domains becomes enlarged and centralized, the consequences of its activities become greater, and its traffic with the others increases. The decisions of a handf ul of corpora- tions bear upon military and political as well as u pon economic developments around the world. The decisions of the military es- tablishment rest upon and grievously affect political life as well as the very level of economic activity. The decisio ns made within the political domain determine economic activities and military programs. There is no longer, on the one hand, an economy, and, on the other hand, a political order containing a military establish- 8 THE POWER ELITE ment unimportant to politics and to money-making. T here is a political economy linked, in a thousand ways, with military insti- tutions and decisions. On each side of the world-sp lit running through central Europe and around the Asiatic rimlands, there is an ever-increasing interlocking of economic, military, and politi- cal structures. 2 If there is government intervention in the corpo- rate economy, so is there corporate intervention in the govern- mental process. In the structural sense, this triangle of power is the source of the interlocking directorate that is most important for the historical structure of the present. The fact of the interlocking is clearly revealed at each of the points of crisis of modern capitalist society—slump , war, and boom. In each, men of decision are led to an awaren ess of the interdependence of the major institutional orders. In the nine- teenth century, when the scale of all institutions was smaller, their liberal integration was achieved in the automatic e conomy, by an autonomous play of market forces, and in the automa tic political domain, by the bargain and the vote. It was then as sumed that out of the imbalance and friction that followed the limited deci- sions then possible a new equilibrium would in due course emerge. That can no longer be assumed, and it is not assumed by the men at the top of each of the three dominant hierarchies. For given the scope of their consequences, decision s—and inde- cisions—in any one of these ramify into the others, and hence top decisions tend either to become co-ordinated or to lead to a com- manding indecision. It has not always been like thi s. When nu- merous small entrepreneurs made up the economy, for example, many of them could fail and the consequences still remain local; political and military authorities did not intervene. But now, given political expectations and military commitmen ts, can they afford to allow key units of the private corporate economy to break down in slump? Increasingly, they do intervene in e conomic af- fairs, and as they do so, the controlling decisions in each order are inspected by agents of the other two, and economic, military, and political structures are interlocked. At the pinnacle of each of the three enlarged and c entralized domains, there have arisen those higher circles which make up the economic, the political, and the military elites. At the top of the THE HIGHER CIRCLES 9 economy, among the corporate rich, there are the ch ief exec- utives; at the top of the political order, the members of the politi- cal directorate; at the top of the military establi shment, the elite of soldier-statesmen clustered in and around the Jo int Chiefs of Staff and the upper echelon. As each of these domai ns has co- incided with the others, as decisions tend to becom e total in their consequence, the leading men in each of the three domains of power—the warlords, the corporation chieftains, the political directorate—tend to come together, to form the powe r elite of America. 2 The higher circles in and around these command posts are often thought of in terms of what their members possess: they have a greater share than other people of the things and experiences that are most highly valued. From this point of view, the elite are simply those who have the most of what there is to have, which is generally held to include money, power, and prestige—as well as all the ways of life to which these lead. 3 But the elite are not simply those who have the most, for they could not ‘have the most’ were it not for their positions in the great institutions. For such institutions are the necessary bases of power, of wealth, and of prestige, and at the same time, the chief means of exercising power, of acquiring and retaining wealth, and of cashing in the higher claims for prestige. By the powerful we mean, of course, those who are able to rea- lize their will, even if others resist it. No one, accordingly, can be truly powerful unless he has access to the command of major in- stitutions, for it is over these institutional means of power that the truly powerful are, in the first instance, powerful . Higher politi- cians and key officials of government command such institutional power; so do admirals and generals, and so do the major owners and executives of the larger corporations. Not all power, it is true, is anchored in and exercised by means of such insti tutions, but only within and through them can power be more or l ess contin- uous and important. Wealth also is acquired and held in and through ins titutions. The pyramid of wealth cannot be understood merely in terms of the very rich; for the great inheriting families, as we shall see, are 10 THE POWER ELITE now supplemented by the corporate institutions of m odern soci- ety: every one of the very rich families has been and is closely connected—always legally and frequently managerially as well— with one of the multi-million dollar corporations. The modern corporation is the prime source of wealt h, but, in latter-day capitalism, the political apparatus also opens and closes many avenues to wealth. The amount as well a s the source of income, the power over consumer’s goods as well as over pro- ductive capital, are determined by position within the political economy. If our interest in the very rich goes beyond their lavish or their miserly consumption, we must examine their relations to modern forms of corporate property as well as to th e state; for such relations now determine the chances of men to secure big property and to receive high income. Great prestige increasingly follows the major institutional units of the social structure. It is obvious that prestige depends, often quite decisively, upon access to the publicity mach ines that are now a central and normal feature of all the big institutions of mod- ern America. Moreover, one feature of these hierarc hies of cor- poration, state, and military establishment is that their top posi- tions are increasingly interchangeable. One result of this is the accumulative nature of prestige. Claims for prestige, for example, may be initially based on military roles, then expr essed in and augmented by an educational institution run by corp orate execu- tives, and cashed in, finally, in the political order, where, for Gen- eral Eisenhower and those he represents, power and prestige fi- nally meet at the very peak. Like wealth and power, prestige tends to be cumulative: the more of it you have, the more you can get. These values also tend to be translatable into one another: the wealthy find it easier than the poor to gain power; those with status find it easier than those without it to control opportunities for wealth. If we took the one hundred most powerful men in Ame rica, the one hundred wealthiest, and the one hundred most ce lebrated away from the institutional positions they now occupy, away from their resources of men and women and money, away fr om the media of mass communication that are now focused upon them— then they would be powerless and poor and uncelebrated. For THE HIGHER CIRCLES 11 power is not of a man. Wealth does not center in th e person of the wealthy. Celebrity is not inherent in any personality. To be cele- brated, to be wealthy, to have power requires acces s to major in- stitutions, for the institutional positions men occ upy determine in large part their chances to have and to hold the se valued ex- periences. 3 The people of the higher circles may also be concei ved as members of a top social stratum, as a set of groups whose mem- bers know one another, see one another socially and at business, and so, in making decisions, take one another into account. The elite, according to this conception, feel themselves to be, and are felt by others to be, the inner circle of ‘the uppe r social classes.’ 4 They form a more or less compact social and psychol ogical entity; they have become self-conscious members of a social class. People are either accepted into this class or they are not, and there is a qualitative split, rather than merely a numerical s cale, separating them from those who are not elite. They are more or less aware of themselves as a social class and they behave toward one another differently from the way they do toward members of other classes. They accept one another, understand one another, ma rry one an- other, tend to work and to think if not together at least alike. Now, we do not want by our definition to prejudge w hether the elite of the command posts are conscious members of such a so- cially recognized class, or whether considerable proportions of the elite derive from such a clear and distinct class. These are matters to be investigated. Yet in order to be able to reco gnize what we intend to investigate, we must note something that all biogra- phies and memoirs of the wealthy and the powerful and the emi- nent make clear: no matter what else they may be, the people of these higher circles are involved in a set of overlapping ‘crowds’ and intricately connected ‘cliques.’ There is a kind of mutual at- traction among those who ‘sit on the same terrace’— although this often becomes clear to them, as well as to others, only at the point at which they feel the need to draw the line; only when, in their common defense, they come to understand what they h ave in common, and so close their ranks against outsiders. The idea of such ruling stratum implies that most of its mem- 12 THE POWER ELITE bers have similar social origins, that throughout t heir lives they maintain a network of informal connections, and tha t to some de- gree there is an interchangeability of position between the various hierarchies of money and power and celebrity. We mu st, of course, note at once that if such an elite stratum does exist, its social visi- bility and its form, for very solid historical reasons, are quite dif- ferent from those of the noble cousinhoods that onc e ruled various European nations. That American society has never passed through a fe udal epoch is of decisive importance to the nature of the American elite, as well as to American society as a historic whole. For it means that no nobility or aristocracy, established before the capitalist era, has stood in tense opposition to the higher bourgeoisie . It means that this bourgeoisie has monopolized not only wealth bu t prestige and power as well. It means that no set of noble families has com- manded the top positions and monopolized the values that are generally held in high esteem; and certainly that no set has done so explicitiy by inherited right. It means that no high church dig- nitaries or court nobilities, no entrenched landlords with honorific accouterments, no monopolists of high army posts ha ve opposed the enriched bourgeoisie and in the name of birth and prerogative successfully resisted its self-making. But this does not mean that there are no upper stra ta in the United States. That they emerged from a ‘middle class’ that had no recognized aristocratic superiors does not mean they remained middle class when enormous increases in wealth made their own superiority possible. Their origins and their newness may have made the upper strata less visible in America than elsewhere. But in America today there are in fact tiers and ranges of wealth and power of which people in the middle and lower ranks know very little and may not even dream. There are families who, in their well-being, are quite insulated from the economic j olts and lurches felt by the merely prosperous and those farther down the scale. There are also men of power who in quite small groups make decisions of enormous consequence for the underlying population. The American elite entered modern history as a virt ually unop- posed bourgeoisie. No national bourgeoisie, before or since, has had such opportunities and advantages. Having no mi litary neighbors, they easily occupied an isolated continent stocked with THE HIGHER CIRCLES 13 natural resources and immensely inviting to a willi ng labor force. A framework of power and an ideology for its justif ication were already at hand. Against mercantilist restriction, they inherited the principle of laissez-faire; against Southern planters, they im- posed the principle of industrialism. The Revolutio nary War put an end to colonial pretensions to nobility, as loyalists fled the coun- try and many estates were broken up. The Jacksonian upheaval with its status revolution put an end to pretensions to monopoly of descent by the old New England families. The Civ il War broke the power, and so in due course the prestige, of the ante-bellum South’s claimants for the higher esteem. The tempo of the whole capitalist development made it impossible for an in herited nobil- ity to develop and endure in America. No fixed ruling class, anchored in agrarian life and coming to flower in military glory, could contain in America the historic thrust of commerce and industry, or subordinate to itself the capi- talist elite—as capitalists were subordinated, for example, in Ger- many and Japan. Nor could such a ruling class anywh ere in the world contain that of the United States when industrialized vio- lence came to decide history. Witness the fate of G ermany and Japan in the two world wars of the twentieth century; and indeed the fate of Britain herself and her model ruling class, as New York became the inevitable economic, and Washington the inevitable political capital of the western capitalist world. 4 The elite who occupy the command posts may be seen as the possessors of power and wealth and celebrity; they may be seen as members of the upper stratum of a capitalistic s ociety. They may also be defined in terms of psychological and m oral criteria, as certain kinds of selected individuals. So defined, the elite, quite simply, are people of superior character and energy. The humanist, for example, may conceive of the ‘eli te’ not as a social level or category, but as a scatter of those individuals who at- tempt to transcend themselves, and accordingly, are more noble, more efficient, made out of better stuff. It does not matter whether they are poor or rich, whether they hold high posit ion or low, whether they are acclaimed or despised; they are el ite because of the kind of individuals they are. The rest of the population is 14 THE POWER ELITE mass, which, according to this conception, sluggish ly relaxes into uncomfortable mediocrity. 5 This is the sort of socially unlocated conception w hich some American writers with conservative yearnings have r ecently sought to develop.* But most moral and psychological concep- tions of the elite are much less sophisticated, concerning them- selves not with individuals but with the stratum as a whole. Such ideas, in fact, always arise in a society in which some people pos- sess more than do others of what there is to posses s. People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. They come readily to define themse lves as in- herently worthy of what they possess; they come to believe them- selves ‘naturally’ elite; and, in fact, to imagine their possessions and their privileges as natural extensions of their own elite selves. In this sense, the idea of the elite as composed of men and women having a finer moral character is an ideology of the elite as a privi- leged ruling stratum, and this is true whether the ideology is elite- made or made up for it by others. In eras of equalitarian rhetoric, the more intelligent or the more articulate among the lower and middle classes, as w ell as guilty members of the upper, may come to entertain ideas o f a counter- elite. In western society, as a matter of fact, there is a long tradi- tion and varied images of the poor, the exploited, and the oppressed as the truly virtuous, the wise, and the blessed. Stem- ming from Christian tradition, this moral idea of a counter-elite, composed of essentially higher types condemned to a lowly sta- tion, may be and has been used by the underlying po pulation to justify harsh criticism of ruling elites and to celebrate Utopian im- ages of a new elite to come. The moral conception of the elite, however, is not always merely an ideology of the overprivileged or a counter-ideology of the underprivileged. It is often a fact: having con trolled expe- riences and select privileges, many individuals of the upper stra- tum do come in due course to approximate the types of char- acter they claim to embody. Even when we give up—as we must— the idea that the elite man or woman is born with an elite charac- ter, we need not dismiss the idea that their experiences and train- ings develop in them characters of a specific type. * See below, FOURTEEN : The Conservative Mood. THE HIGHER CIRCLES 15 Nowadays we must qualify the idea of elite as compo sed of higher types of individuals, for the men who are selected for and shaped by the top positions have many spokesmen and advisers and ghosts and make-up men who modify their self-co nceptions and create their public images, as well as shape many of their de- cisions. There is, of course, considerable variation among the elite in this respect, but as a general rule in America t oday, it would be naive to interpret any major elite group merely in terms of its ostensible personnel. The American elite often seem s less a col- lection of persons than of corporate entities, which are in great part created and spoken for as standard types of ‘p ersonality.’ Even the most apparently free-lance celebrity is usually a sort of synthetic production turned out each week by a disc iplined staff which systematically ponders the effect of the easy ad-libbed gags the celebrity ‘spontaneously’ echoes. Yet, in so far as the elite flourishes as a social class or as a set of men at the command posts, it will select and form c ertain types of personality, and reject others. The kind of moral and psycholog- ical beings men become is in large part determined by the values they experience and the institutional roles they are allowed and expected to play. From the biographer’s point of vi ew, a man of the upper classes is formed by his relations with others like him- self in a series of small intimate groupings throug h which he passes and to which throughout his lifetime he may return. So con- ceived, the elite is a set of higher circles whose members are se- lected, trained and certified and permitted intimat e access to those who command the impersonal institutional hier archies of modern society. If there is any one key to the psychological idea of the elite, it is that they combine in their persons an awareness of impersonal decision-making with intimate sensibi lities shared with one another. To understand the elite as a social class we must examine a whole series of smaller face-to-face mili eux, the most obvious of which, historically, has been the upper- class family, but the most important of which today are the prope r secondary school and the metropolitan club. 6 5 These several notions of the elite, when appropriately under- stood, are intricately bound up with one another, and we shall 16 THE POWER ELITE use them all in this examination of American succes s. We shall study each of several higher circles as offering candidates for the elite, and we shall do so in terms of the major ins titutions making up the total society of America; within and between each of these institutions, we shall trace the interrelations of wealth and power and prestige. But our main concern is with the powe r of those who now occupy the command posts, and with the role whi ch they are enacting in the history of our epoch. Such an elite may be conceived as omnipotent, and i ts powers thought of as a great hidden design. Thus, in vulga r Marxism, events and trends are explained by reference to ‘the will of the bourgeoisie’; in Nazism, by reference to ‘the consp iracy of the Jews’; by the petty right in America today, by refe rence to ‘the hidden force’ of Communist spies. According to such notions of the omnipotent elite as historical cause, the elite is never an en- tirely visible agency. It is, in fact, a secular substitute for the will of God, being realized in a sort of providential de sign, except that usually non-elite men are thought capable of opposi ng it and eventually overcoming it.* The opposite view—of the elite as impotent—is now quite popu- lar among liberal-minded observers. Far from being omnipotent, the elites are thought to be so scattered as to lack any coherence as a historical force. Their invisibility is not the invisibility of se- crecy but the invisibility of the multitude. Those who occupy the formal places of authority are so check-mated—by ot her elites ex- erting pressure, or by the public as an electorate, or by constitu- tional codes—that, although there may be upper clas ses, there is no ruling class; although there may be men of power, there is no power elite; although there may be a system of stratification, it * Those who charge that Communist agents have been or are in the government, as well as those frightened by them, never raise the ques- tion: ‘Well, suppose there are Communists in high p laces, how much power do they have?’ They simply assume that men in high places, or in this case even those in positions from which they might influence such men, do decide important events. Those who thi nk Communist agents lost China to the Soviet bloc, or influenced loyal Americans to lose it, simply assume that there is a set of men who decide such matters, actively or by neglect or by stupidity. Many others , who do not believe that Communist agents were so influential, still assume that loyal Amer- ican decision-makers lost it all by themselves. THE HIGHER CIRCLES 17 has no effective top. In the extreme, this view of the elite, as weak- ened by compromise and disunited to the point of nu llity, is a substitute for impersonal collective fate; for, in this view, the deci- sions of the visible men of the higher circles do n ot count in his- tory.* Internationally, the image of the omnipotent elite tends to prevail. All good events and pleasing happenings are quickly im- puted by the opinion-makers to the leaders of their own nation; all bad events and unpleasant experiences are imput ed to the enemy abroad. In both cases, the omnipotence of evil rulers or of virtuous leaders is assumed. Within the nation, the use of such rhetoric is rather more complicated: when men speak of the power of their own party or circle, they and their leaders are, of course, impotent; only ‘the people’ are omnipotent. But, when they speak of the power of their opponent’s party or cir cle, they impute to them omnipotence; ‘the people’ are now powerlessly taken in. More generally, American men of power tend, by conv ention, to deny that they are powerful. No American runs for office in order to rule or even govern, but only to serve; he does not become a bureaucrat or even an official, but a public serv ant. And nowa- days, as I have already pointed out, such postures have become standard features of the public-relations programs of all men of power. So firm a part of the style of power-wieldin g have they become that conservative writers readily misinterpret them as in- dicating a trend toward an ‘amorphous power situation.’ But the ‘power situation’ of America today is less amorphous than is the perspective of those who see it as a romantic confusion. It is less a flat, momentary ‘situation’ than a graded, durable struc- ture. And if those who occupy its top grades are no t omnipotent, neither are they impotent. It is the form and the height of the * The idea of the impotent elite, as we shall have occasion to see, in E LEVEN : The Theory of Balance, is mightily supported by the notion of an automatic economy in which the problem of pow er is solved for the economic elite by denying its existence. No one has enough power to make a real difference; events are the results of an anonymous bal- ance. For the political elite too, the model of balance solves the problem of power. Parallel to the market-economy, there is the leaderless democ- racy in which no one is responsible for anything and everyone is respon- sible for everything; the will of men acts only thr ough the impersonal workings of the electoral process. 18 THE POWER ELITE gradation of power that we must examine if we would understand the degree of power held and exercised by the elite. If the power to decide such national issues as are decided were shared in an absolutely equal way, there would be n o power elite; in fact, there would be no gradation of power, but only a radical homogeneity. At the opposite extreme as well, if the power to decide issues were absolutely monopolized by one small group, there would be no gradation of power; there would s imply be this small group in command, and below it, the undiffere ntiated, dom- inated masses. American society today represents neither the one nor the other of these extremes, but a conception of them is none the less useful: it makes us realize more clearly the question of the structure of power in the United States and the pos ition of the power elite within it. Within each of the most powerful institutional orders of modern society there is a gradation of power. The owner of a roadside fruit stand does not have as much power in any area of social or economic or political decision as the head of a multi-million-dollar fruit corporation; no lieutenant on the line is as powerful as the Chief of Staff in the Pentagon; no deputy sheriff c arries as much authority as the President of the United States. Ac cordingly, the problem of defining the power elite concerns the le vel at which we wish to draw the line. By lowering the line, we could define the elite out of existence; by raising it, we could make the elite a very small circle indeed. In a preliminary and mi nimum way, we draw the line crudely, in charcoal as it were: By the power elite, we refer to those political, economic, and military circles which as an intricate set of overlapping cliques sh are decisions having at least national consequences. In so far as national events are decided, the power elite are those who decide them. To say that there are obvious gradations of power a nd of oppor- tunities to decide within modern society is not to say that the powerful are united, that they fully know what they do, or that they are consciously joined in conspiracy. Such iss ues are best faced if we concern ourselves, in the first instance, more with the structural position of the high and mighty, and with the con- sequences of their decisions, than with the extent of their aware- THE HIGHER CIRCLES 19 ness or the purity of their motives. To understand the power elite, we must attend to three major keys: I. One, which we shall emphasize throughout our dis cussion of each of the higher circles, is the psychology of the several elites in their respective milieux. In so far as the power el ite is composed of men of similar origin and education, in so far a s their careers and their styles of life are similar, there are psychological and so- cial bases for their unity, resting upon the fact t hat they are of similar social type and leading to the fact of thei r easy intermin- gling. This kind of unity reaches its frothier apex in the sharing of that prestige that is to be had in the world of the celebrity; it achieves a more solid culmination in the fact of th e interchange- ability of positions within and between the three d ominant insti- tutional orders. II. Behind such psychological and social unity as we may find, are the structure and the mechanics of those instit utional hier- archies over which the political directorate, the corporate rich, and the high military now preside. The greater the scale of these bureaucratic domains, the greater the scope of thei r respective elite’s power. How each of the major hierarchies is shaped and and what relations it has with the other hierarchies determine in large part the relations of their rulers. If these hierarchies are scattered and disjointed, then their respective elites tend to be scattered and disjointed; if they have many interco nnections and points of coinciding interest, then their elites tend to form a co- herent kind of grouping. The unity of the elite is not a simple reflection o f the unity of institutions, but men and institutions are always r elated, and our conception of the power elite invites us to determine that relation. Today in America there are several important struct ural coinci- dences of interest between these institutional domains, including the development of a permanent war establishment by a privately incorporated economy inside a political vacuum. III. The unity of the power elite, however, does not rest solely on psychological similarity and social intermingling, nor entirely on the structural coincidences of commanding positi ons and inter- ests. At times it is the unity of a more explicit co-ordination. To say that these three higher circles are increasingly co -ordinated, that this is one basis of their unity, and that at times—as during the 20 THE POWER ELITE wars—such co-ordination is quite decisive, is not t o say that the co-ordination is total or continuous, or even that it is very sure- footed. Much less is it to say that willful co-ordination is the sole or the major basis of their unity, or that the powe r elite has emerged as the realization of a plan. But it is to say that as the institutional mechanics of our time have opened up avenues to men pursuing their several interests, many of them have come to see that these several interests could be realized more easily if they worked together, in informal as well as in more formal ways, and accordingly they have done so. 6 It is not my thesis that for all epochs of human hi story and in all nations, a creative minority, a ruling class, an omnipotent elite, shape all historical events. Such statements, upon careful exami- nation, usually turn out to be mere tautologies, 7 and even when they are not, they are so entirely general as to be useless in the attempt to understand the history of the present. T he minimum definition of the power elite as those who decide w hatever is decided of major consequence, does not imply that the members of this elite are always and necessarily the history-makers; nei- ther does it imply that they never are. We must not confuse the conception of the elite, which we wish to define, with one theory about their role: that they are the history-makers of our time. To define the elite, for example, as ‘those who rule America’ is less to define a conception than to state one hypothesis ab out the role and power of that elite. No matter how we might def ine the elite, the extent of its members’ power is subject to historical variation. If, in a dogmatic way, we try to include that variation in our ge- neric definition, we foolishly limit the use of a needed conception. If we insist that the elite be defined as a strictly coordinated class that continually and absolutely rules, we are closi ng off from our view much to which the term more modestly defined m ight open to our observation. In short, our definition of the power elite can- not properly contain dogma concerning the degree an d kind of power that ruling groups everywhere have. Much less should it permit us to smuggle into our discussion a theory of history. During most of human history, historical change has not been visible to the people who were involved in it, or even to those THE HIGHER CIRCLES 21 enacting it. Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, for exa mple, en- dured for some four hundred generations with but slight changes in their basic structure. That is six and a half times as long as the entire Christian era, which has only prevailed some sixty genera- tions; it is about eighty times as long as the five generations of the United States’ existence. But now the tempo of chan ge is so rapid, and the means of observation so accessible, that th e interplay of event and decision seems often to be quite historically visible, if we will only look carefully and from an adequate vantage point. When knowledgeable journalists tell us that ‘events , not men, shape the big decisions,’ they are echoing the theory of history as Fortune, Chance, Fate, or the work of The Unseen Ha nd. For ‘events’ is merely a modern word for these older ideas, all of which separate men from history-making, because all of th em lead us to believe that history goes on behind men’s backs. Hi story is drift with no mastery; within it there is action but no deed; history is mere happening and the event intended by no one. 8 The course of events in our time depends more on a series of human decisions than on any inevitable fate. The so ciological meaning of ‘fate’ is simply this: that, when the decisions are innu- merable and each one is of small consequence, all o f them add up in a way no man intended—to history as fate. But no t all epochs are equally fateful. As the circle of those who decide is narrowed, as the means of decision are centralized and the co nsequences of decisions become enormous, then the course of great events often rests upon the decisions of determinable circles. T his does not necessarily mean that the same circle of men follow through from one event to another in such a way that all of hist ory is merely their plot. The power of the elite does not necessarily mean that history is not also shaped by a series of small decisions, none of which are thought out. It does not mean that a hund red small arrangements and compromises and adaptations may not be built into the going policy and the living event. The idea of the power elite implies nothing about the process of decision-making as such: it is an attempt to delimit the social areas within which that proc- ess, whatever its character, goes on. It is a conce ption of who is involved in the process. The degree of foresight and control of those who ar e involved in decisions that count may also vary. The idea of the power elite 22 THE POWER ELITE does not mean that the estimations and calculated r isks upon which decisions are made are not often wrong and that the con- sequences are sometimes, indeed often, not those intended. Often those who make decisions are trapped by their own i nadequacies and blinded by their own errors. Yet in our time the pivotal moment does arise, and at that mo- ment, small circles do decide or fail to decide. In either case, they are an elite of power. The dropping of the A-bombs over Japan was such a moment; the decision on Korea was such a moment; the confusion about Quemoy and Matsu, as well as before Dien- bienphu were such moments; the sequence of maneuver s which involved the United States in World War II was such a ‘moment.’ Is it not true that much of the history of our times is composed of such moments? And is not that what is meant when it is said that we live in a time of big decisions, of decisively centralized power? Most of us do not try to make sense of our age by b elieving in a Greek-like, eternal recurrence, nor by a Christian belief in a sal- vation to come, nor by any steady march of human pr ogress. Even though we do not reflect upon such matters, the chances are we believe with Burckhardt that we live in a mere succ ession of events; that sheer continuity is the only principle of history. His- tory is merely one thing after another; history is meaningless in that it is not the realization of any determinate plot. It is true, of course, that our sense of continuity, our feeling f or the history of our time, is affected by crisis. But we seldom look beyond the im- mediate crisis or the crisis felt to be just ahead. We believe neither in fate nor providence; and we assume, without talk ing about it, that ‘we’—as a nation—can decisively shape the future but that ‘we’ as individuals somehow cannot do so. Any meaning history has, ‘we’ shall have to give to it by our ac- tions. Yet the fact is that although we are all of us within history we do not all possess equal powers to make history. To pretend that we do is sociological nonsense and political irresponsibility. It is nonsense because any group or any individual is limited, first of all, by the technical and institutional means of power at its com- mand; we do not all have equal access to the means of power that now exist, nor equal influence over their use. To pretend that ‘we’ are all history-makers is politically irresponsible because it ob- THE HIGHER CIRCLES 23 fuscates any attempt to locate responsibility for t he consequential decisions of men who do have access to the means of power. From even the most superficial examination of the h istory of the western society we learn that the power of decision-makers is first of all limited by the level of technique, by the means of power and violence and organization that prevail in a given s ociety. In this connection we also learn that there is a fairly straight line running upward through the history of the West; that the me ans of op- pression and exploitation, of violence and destruction, as well as the means of production and reconstruction, have be en progres- sively enlarged and increasingly centralized. As the institutional means of power and the means of communi- cations that tie them together have become steadily more effi- cient, those now in command of them have come into command of instruments of rule quite unsurpassed in the history of mankind. And we are not yet at the climax of their developme nt. We can no longer lean upon or take soft comfort from the hist orical ups and downs of ruling groups of previous epochs. In that sense, Hegel is correct: we learn from history that we cannot learn from it. For every epoch and for every social structure, we must work out an answer to the question of the power of the elite. The ends of men are often merely hopes, but means are facts within some men’s control. That is why all means of power tend to become ends to an elite that is in command of them. And that is why we may define the power elite in terms of the means of power—as those who occupy the command posts. The major quest ions about the American elite today—its composition, its unity, its power- must now be faced with due attention to the awesome means of power available to them. Caesar could do less with Rome than Napoleon with France; Napoleon less with France tha n Lenin with Russia; and Lenin less with Russia than Hitler with Ger- many. But what was Caesar’s power at its peak compared with the power of the changing inner circle of Soviet Russia or of America’s temporary administrations? The men of either circle can cause great cities to be wiped out in a single night, and in a few weeks turn continents into thermonuclear wastelands. That the facilities of power are enormously enlarged and decisively cen tralized means that the decisions of small groups are now more consequen- tial. 24 THE POWER ELITE But to know that the top posts of modern social str uctures now permit more commanding decisions is not to know tha t the elite who occupy these posts are the history-makers. We m ight grant that the enlarged and integrated economic, military, and political structures are shaped to permit command decisions, yet still feel that, as it were, ‘they run themselves,’ that those who are on top, in short, are determined in their decisions by ‘necess ity,’ which pre- sumably means by the instituted roles that they pla y and the sit- uation of these institutions in the total structure of society. Do the elite determine the roles that they enact? O r do the roles that institutions make available to them determine the power of the elite? The general answer—and no general answer is sufficient —is that in different kinds of structures and epochs elites are quite differently related to the roles that they play: no thing in the na- ture of the elite or in the nature of history dictates an answer. It is also true that if most men and women take whatever roles are per- mitted to them and enact them as they are expected to by virtue of their position, this is precisely what the elite need not do, and often do not do. They may call into question the st ructure, their position within it, or the way in which they are to enact that po- sition. Nobody called for or permitted Napoleon to chase Pa rlement home on the 18 Brumaire, and later to transform his consulate into an emperorship. 9 Nobody called for or permitted Adolf Hitler to proclaim himself ‘Leader and Chancellor’ the day Presi- dent Hindenburg died, to abolish and usurp roles by merging the presidency and the chancellorship. Nobody called for or permitted Franklin D. Roosevelt to make the series of decisions that led to the entrance of the United States into World War II . It was no ‘historical necessity,’ but a man named Truman who, with a few other men, decided to drop a bomb on Hiroshima. It was no his- torical necessity, but an argument within a small circle of men that defeated Admiral Radford’s proposal to bomb tr oops before Dienbienphu. Far from being dependent upon the stru cture of institutions, modern elites may smash one structure and set up another in which they then enact quite different ro les. In fact, such destruction and creation of institutional structures, with all their means of power, when events seem to turn out well, is just THE HIGHER CIRCLES 25 what is involved in ‘great leadership,’ or, when th ey seem to turn out badly, great tyranny. Some elite men are, of course, typically role-deter mined, but others are at times role-determining. They determin e not only the role they play but today the roles of millions of other men. The creation of pivotal roles and their pivotal enactme nt occurs most readily when social structures are undergoing epoch al transitions. It is clear that the international development of the United States to one of the two ‘great powers’—along with the new means of an- nihilation and administrative and psychic dominatio n—have made of the United States in the middle years of the twentieth century precisely such an epochal pivot. There is nothing about history that tells us that a power elite cannot make it. To be sure, the will of such men is always limited, but never before have the limits been so broad, for never before have the means of power been so enormous. It is thi s that makes our situation so precarious, and makes even more im portant an understanding of the powers and the limitations of the Ameri- can elite. The problem of the nature and the power of this elite is now the only realistic and serious way to raise again the problem of responsible government. 7 Those who have abandoned criticism for the new Amer ican celebration take readily to the view that the elite is impotent. If they were politically serious, they ought, on the b asis of their view, to say to those presumably in charge of American policy: 10 ‘One day soon, you may believe that you have an opp ortunity to drop a bomb or a chance to exacerbate further your relations with allies or with the Russians who might also drop it. But don’t be so foolish as to believe that you really have a choice. You have neither choice nor chance. The whole Complex Situat ion of which you are merely one balancing part is the result of Economic and Social Forces, and so will be the fateful outcome. So stand by qui- etly, like Tolstoy’s general, and let events proceed. Even if you did act, the consequences would not be what you intende d, even if you had an intention. ‘But—if events come out well, talk as though you had decided. 26 THE POWER ELITE For then men have had moral choices and the power t o make them and are, of course, responsible. ‘If events come out badly, say that you didn’t have the real choice, and are, of course, not accountable: they, the others, had the choice and they are responsible. You can get aw ay with this even though you have at your command half the world ‘s forces and God knows how many bombs and bombers. For you a re, in fact, an impotent item in the historical fate of your times; and moral responsibility is an illusion, although it is of great use if han- dled in a really alert public relations manner.’ The one implication that can be drawn from all such fatalisms is that if fortune or providence rules, then no elite of power can be justly considered a source of historical decisions, and the idea- much less the demand—of responsible leadership is a n idle and an irresponsible notion. For clearly, an impotent elite, the plaything of history, cannot be held accountable. If the elite of our time do not have power, they cannot be held responsible; as men in a dif- ficult position, they should engage our sympathies. The people of the United States are ruled by sovereign fortune; t hey, and with them their elite, are fatally overwhelmed by conseq uences they cannot control. If that is so, we ought all to do what many have in fact already done: withdraw entirely from political reflection and action into a materially comfortable and entirely private life. If, on the other hand, we believe that war and peac e and slump and prosperity are, precisely now, no longer matters of ‘fortune’ or ‘fate,’ but that, precisely now more than ever, they are controllable, then we must ask—controllable by whom? The answer m ust be: By whom else but those who now command the enormous ly en- larged and decisively centralized means of decision and power? We may then ask: Why don’t they, then? And for the answer to that, we must understand the context and the character of the American elite today. There is nothing in the idea of the elite as impotent which should deter us from asking just such questions, which are now the most important questions political men can ask. The American elite is neither omnipotent nor impotent. These are abstract abso- lutes used publicly by spokesmen, as excuses or as boasts, but in terms of which we may seek to clarify the political issues before us, which just now are above all the issues of responsible power. THE HIGHER CIRCLES 27 There is nothing in ‘the nature of history’ in our epoch that rules out the pivotal function of small groups of decisio n-makers. On the contrary, the structure of the present is such as t o make this not only a reasonable, but a rather compelling, view. There is nothing in ‘the psychology of man,’ or in the social man- ner by which men are shaped and selected for and by the com- mand posts of modern society, that makes unreasonable the view that they do confront choices and that the choices they make—or their failure to confront them—are history-making in their conse- quences. Accordingly, political men now have every reason to hold the American power elite accountable for a decisive range of the his- torical events that make up the history of the present. It is as fashionable, just now, to suppose that the re is no power elite, as it was fashionable in the ‘thirties to suppose a set of ruling- class villains to be the source of all social injus tice and public malaise. I should be as far from supposing that som e simple and unilateral ruling class could be firmly located as the prime mover of American society, as I should be from supp osing that all historical change in America today is merely impersonal drift. The view that all is blind drift is largely a fatal ist projection of one’s own feeling of impotence and perhaps, if o ne has ever been active politically in a principled way, a salve of one’s guilt. The view that all of history is due to the conspira cy of an easily located set of villains, or of heroes, is also a hurried projection from the difficult effort to understand how shifts in th e structure of so- ciety 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 re- lax the effort to understand the facts of power and the ways of the powerful. 8 In my attempt to discern the shape of the power eli te of our time, and thus to give a responsible meaning to the anonymous ‘They,’ which the underlying population opposes to the anonymous ‘We,’ I shall begin by briefly examining the higher elements which most people know best: the new and the old upper cl asses of local society and the metropolitan 400. I shall then outline the world of 28 THE POWER ELITE the celebrity, attempting to show that the prestige system of American society has now for the first time become truly national in scope; and that the more trivial and glamorous aspects of this national system of status tend at once to distract attention from its more authoritarian features and to justify the powe r that it often conceals. In examining the very rich and the chief executives , I shall in- dicate how neither ‘America’s Sixty Families’ nor ‘The Managerial Revolution’ provides an adequate idea of the transformation of the upper classes as they are organized today in the pr ivileged stra- tum of the corporate rich. After describing the American statesman as a histor ical type, I shall attempt to show that what observers in the Progressive Era called ‘the invisible government’ has now becom e quite visible; and that what is usually taken to be the central content of politics, the pressures and the campaigns and the c ongressional maneuvering, has, in considerable part, now been relegated to the middle levels of power. In discussing the military ascendancy, I shall try to make clear how it has come about that admirals and generals ha ve assumed positions of decisive political and economic relevance, and how, in doing so, they have found many points of coincid ing interests with the corporate rich and the political directorate of the visible government. After these and other trends are made as plain as I can make them, I shall return to the master problems of the power elite, as well as take up the complementary notion of the mass society. What I am asserting is that in this particular epoc h a conjunction of historical circumstances has led to the rise of an elite of power; that the men of the circles composing this elite, s everally and collectively, now make such key decisions as are made; and that, given the enlargement and the centralization of the means of power now available, the decisions that they make a nd fail to make carry more consequences for more people than h as ever been the case in the world history of mankind. I am also asserting that there has developed on the middle levels of power, a semi-organized stalemate, and that on t he bottom level there has come into being a mass-like society which has little re- semblence to the image of a society in which voluntary associa- THE HIGHER CIRCLES 29 tions and classic publics hold the keys to power. T he top of the American system of power is much more unified and m uch more powerful, the bottom is much more fragmented, and in truth, im- potent, than is generally supposed by those who are distracted by the middling units of power which neither express s uch will as exists at the bottom nor determine the decisions at the top. 2 Local Society IN every town and small city of America an upper set o f families stands above the middle classes and towers over the underlying population of clerks and wage workers. The members of this set possess more than do others of whatever there is locally to possess; they hold the keys to local decision; their names a nd faces are often printed in the local paper; in fact, they own the newspaper as well as the radio station; they also own the three important lo- cal plants and most of the commercial properties al ong the main street; they direct the banks. Mingling closely with one another, they are quite conscious of the fact that they belong to the lead- ing class of the leading families. All their sons and daughters go to college, often a fter private schools; then they marry one another, or other boys and girls from similar families in similar towns. After they are well married, they come to possess, to occupy, to decide. The son of o ne of these old families, to his father’s chagrin and his grandfather’s fury, is now an executive in the local branch of a national corp oration. The leading family doctor has two sons, one of whom now takes up the practice; the other—who is soon to marry the daughter of the sec- ond largest factory—will probably be the next district attorney. So it has traditionally been, and so it is today in the small towns of America. Class consciousness is not equally characteristic o f all levels of American society: it is most apparent in the upper class. Among the underlying population everywhere in America the re is much confusion and blurring of the lines of demarcation, of the status 30 LOCAL SOCIETY 31 value of clothing and houses, of the ways of money- making and of money-spending. The people of the lower and midd le classes are of course differentiated by the values, things, and experiences to which differing amounts of income lead, but ofte n they are aware neither of these values nor of their class bases. Those of the upper strata, on the other hand, if on ly because they are fewer in number, are able with much more e ase to know more about one another, to maintain among themselve s a com- mon tradition, and thus to be conscious of their own land. They have the money and the time required to uphold thei r common standards. A propertied class, they are also a more or less distinct set of people who, mingling with one another, form compact cir- cles with common claims to recognition as the leading families of their cities. 1 Examining the small city, both the novelist and the sociologist have felt most clearly the drama of the old and the new upper classes. The struggle for status which they have observed going on in these towns may be seen on a historic scale in the modern course of the whole of Western Society; for centuries the parvenues and snobs of new upper classes have stood in tension wi th the ‘old guard.’ There are, of course, regional variations but across the country the small-town rich are surprisingly standa rdized. In these cities today, two types of upper classes prevail, one com- posed of rentier and socially older families, the other of newer families which, economically and socially, are of a more entrepre- neurial type. Members of these two top classes unde rstand the several distinctions between them, although each has its own par- ticular view of them. 1 It should not be supposed that the old upper class is necessar- ily “higher’ than the new, or that the new is simpl y a nouveau riche, struggling to drape new-won wealth in the pr estige gar- ments worn so easily by the old. The new upper class has a style of life of its own, and although its members—especiall y the women —borrow considerably from the old upper-class style, they also— especially the men—debunk that style in the name of their own values and aspirations. In many ways, these two upper sets com- 32 THE POWER ELITE pete for prestige and their competition involves so me mutual de- flation of claims for merit. The old upper-class person feels that his prestige originates in time itself. ‘Somewhere in the past,’ he seems to say, ‘my Original Ancestor rose up to become the Founder Of This Loca l Family Line and now His Blood flows in my veins. I am what My Family has been, and My Family has always been among the v ery best people.’ In New England and in the South, more families than in other regions are acutely conscious of family lines and old resi- dence, and more resistant to the social ascendancy of the newly rich and the newly arrived. There is perhaps a stronger and more embracing sense of family, which, especially in the South, comes to include long faithful servants as well as grandc hildren. The sense of kinship may be extended even to those who, although not related by marriage or blood, are considered as ‘cousins’ or ‘aunts’ because they ‘grew up with mother.’ Old upper-class fami- lies thus tend to form an endogenous cousinhood, wh ose clan pi- ety and sense of kinship lead to a reverence for the past and often to a cultivated interest in the history of the region in which the clan has for so long played such an honorable role. To speak of ‘old families’ is of course to speak of ‘wealthy old families,’ but in the status world of the old upper class, ready money and property are simply assumed—and then play ed down: ‘Of course, you have to have enough of this world’s goods to stand the cost of keeping up, of entertaining and for church donations … but social standing is more than money.’ The men an d women of the old upper class generally consider money in a negative way— as something in which the new upper-class people ar e too closely interested. ‘I’m sorry to say that our larger industrialists are in- creasingly money-conscious,’ they say, and in saying it, they have in mind the older generation of industrialists who are now retired, generally on real-estate holdings; these rich men and their women folk, the old upper class believes, were and are mo re interested in ‘community and social’ qualifications than in mere money. One major theme in old upper-class discussions of s maller busi- ness people is that they made a great deal of money during the late war, but that socially they aren’t to be allowed to count. An- other theme concerns the less respectable ways in which the LOCAL SOCIETY 33 money of the newly moneyed people has been earned. They men- tion pin-ball concessionaires, tavern keepers, and people in the trucking lines. And, having patronized them, they are quite aware of the wartime black markets. The continuance of the old-family line as the basis of prestige is challenged by the ripsnorting style as well as the money of the new upper classes, which World War II expanded and enriched, and made socially bold. Their style, the old upper classes feel, is replacing the older, quieter one. Underlying this s tatus tension, there is often a tendency of decline in the economic basis of many old upper-class families, which, in many towns, is mainly real es- tate. Yet the old upper class still generally has its firm hold on lo- cal financial institutions: in the market centers o f Georgia and Nebraska, the trading and manufacturing towns of Ve rmont and California—the old upper-class banker is usually the lord of his community’s domain, lending prestige to the busines smen with whom he associates, naming The Church by merely bel onging to it. Thus embodying salvation, social standing and financial sound- ness, he is accepted by others at his own shrewd and able valuation. In the South the tension between old and new upper classes is often more dramatic than in other regions, for here old families have been based on land ownership and the agricultu ral econ- omy. The synthesis of new wealth with older status, which of course has been under way since the Civil War, has been acceler- ated since the slump and World War II. The old sout hern aristoc- racy, in fictional image and in researched fact, is indeed often in a sorry state of decline. If it does not join the rising class based on industry and trade, it will surely die out, for whe n given sufficient time if status does not remain wealthy it crumbles into ignored eccentricity. Without sufficient money, quiet dignity and self-sat- isfied withdrawal comes to seem mere decay and even decadence. The emphasis upon family descent, coupled with with drawal, tends to enhance the status of older people, especially of those older women who become dowager judges of the conduc t of the young. Such a situation is not conducive to the marriage of old upper-class daughters to sons of a new but up-and-c oming class of wealth. Yet the industrialization of the smaller cities steadily breaks up old status formations and leads to new ones: the rise of 34 THE POWER ELITE the enriched industrialist and tradesman inevitably leads to the decline of the land-owning aristocracy. In the Sout h, as well as elsewhere, the larger requirements of capital for a gricultural en- deavor on sufficient scale, as well as favorable taxation and sub- sidy for ‘farmers,’ lead to new upper-class formations on the land as in the city. The new and the old upper classes thus stand in the smaller cities eyeing one another with considerable tension, with some disdain, and with begrudging admiration. The upper- class man sees the old as having a prestige which he would like to have, but also as an old fogy blocking important business and political traffic and as a provincial, bound to the local set-up, wit hout the vision to get up and go. The old upper-class man, in turn, eyes the new and thinks of him as too money-conscious, as having made money and as grabbing for more, but as not having acquire d the social background or the style of cultured life befitting his financial rank, and as not really being interested in the civic life of the city, ex- cept in so far as he might use it for personal and alien ends. When they come up against the prestige of the old u pper class on business and on civic and political issues, the new upper-class men often translate that prestige into ‘old age,’ which is associated in their minds with the quiet, ‘old-fashioned’ mann er, the slower civic tempo, and the dragging political views of th e old upper class. They feel that the old upper-class people do not use their prestige to make money in the manner of the new upp er class. They do not understand old prestige as something to be enjoyed; they see it in its political and economic relevance: when they do not have it, it is something standing in their way.* * The woman of the new upper class has a somewhat d ifferent image: she often sees the prestige of the old upper class as something ‘cultural’ to appreciate. She often attempts to give to the ol d status an ‘educa- tional’ meaning: this is especially true among those younger women of the station-wagon set whose husbands are profession al men and who are themselves from a ‘good college.’ Having education themselves, and the time and money with which to organize cultural community affairs, the new upper-class women have more respect for the ‘cultural’ com- ponent of the old upper-class style than do their men. In thus acknowl- edging the social superiority of the older class, new upper-class women stress those of its themes which are available to t hem also. But such women form today the most reliable cash-in area for the status claims of LOCAL SOCIETY 35 2 That the social and economic split of the upper cla sses is also a political split is not yet fully apparent in all localities, but it is a fact that has tended to become national since World War II. Local upper classes—new and old, seen and unseen, a ctive and passive—make up the social backbone of the Republic an party. Members of the old upper class, however, do not seem as strident or as active politically in the postwar scene as do many of the new. Perhaps it is because they do not feel able, as All ison Davis and others have suggested of the old southern upper cla sses, ‘to lessen the social distance between themselves and the vote rs.’ Of course, everywhere their social position ‘is clearly recognized by the offi- cials. They are free from many of the minor legal r estrictions, are almost never arrested for drunkenness or for minor traffic viola- tions, are seldom called for jury duty, and usually receive any favors they request.’ 2 They are, it is true, very much concerned with tax rates and property assessments, but these concerns, being fully shared by the new upper classes, are well served without the personal intervention of the old. The new upper class often practices those noisy pol itical emo- tions and status frustrations which, on a national scale and in extreme form, have been so readily observable in Th e Investiga- tors. The key to these political emotions, in the Congress as in the local society, lies in the status psychology of the nouveau riche.* Such newly enriched classes—ranging from Texas mult i-million- aires to petty Illinois war profiteers who have since consolidated their holdings—feel that they are somehow held down by the sta- tus pretensions of older wealth and older families. The suddenly $30,000-a-year insurance salesmen who drive the 260 hp cars and guiltily buy vulgar diamond rings for their wives; the suddenly $60,000-a-year businessmen who put in 50-foot swimm ing pools and do not know how to act toward their new servants—they feel the old upper classes in the small towns. Toward th e middle classes, in general, such women snobbishly assert: They might b e interested in cultural things but they would not have the opportunities or back- ground or education. They could take advantage of the lecture series, but they don’t have the background for heading it.’ * See below, FOURTEEN : The Conservative Mood. 36 THE POWER ELITE that they have achieved something and yet are not t hought to be good enough to possess it fully. There are men in T exas today whose names are strictly local, but who have more m oney than many nationally prominent families of the East. But they are not often nationally prominent, and even when they are, it is not in just the same way. Such feelings exist, on a smaller scale, in virtually every smaller city and town. They are not always articulated, and certainly they have not become the bases of any real political mov ement. But they lie back of the wide and deep gratification at beholding men of established prestige ‘told off,’ observing the g eneral repri- manded by the upstart, hearing the parvenu familiar ly, even insultingly, call the old wealthy by their first names in public controversy. The political aim of the petty right formed among t he new up- per classes of the small cities is the destruction of the legislative achievements of the New and Fair Deals. Moreover, t he rise of labor unions in many of these cities during the war, with more labor leaders clamoring to be on local civic boards; the increased security of the wage workers who during the war cas hed larger weekly checks in stores and banks and crowded the sidewalks on Saturday; the big new automobiles of the small people—all these class changes of the last two decades psychologically threaten the new upper cass by reducing their own feelings of si gnificance, their own sense of a fit order of prestige. The old upper classes are also made less socially secure by such goings on in the street, in the stores, and in the bank; but after all, they reason: ‘These people do not really touch us. All they have is money.’ The newly rich, however, being less socially firm than the old, do feel themselves to be of lesser worth as they see others also rise in the economic worlds of the small cities. Local society is a structure of power as well as a hierarchy of status; at its top there is a set of cliques or ‘crowds’ whose members judge and decide the important community issues, as well as many larger issues of state and nation in which ‘the community’ is involved. 3 Usually, although by no means always, these clique s are composed of old upper-class people; they include the larger businessmen and those who control the banks who usually also LOCAL SOCIETY 37 have connections with the major real-estate holders . Informally organized, these cliques are often each centered in the several economic functions: there is an industrial, a retailing, a banking clique. The cliques overlap, and there are usually some men who, moving from one to another, co-ordinate viewpoints and deci- sions. There are also the lawyers and administrators of the solid rentier families, who, by the power of proxy and by the many con- tacts between old and new wealth they embody, tie t ogether and focus in decision the power of money, of credit, of organization. Immediately below such cliques are the hustlers, la rgely of new upper-class status, who carry out the decisions and programs of the top—sometimes anticipating them and always tryi ng to do so. Here are the ‘operations’ men—the vice-presidents o f the banks, successful small businessmen, the ranking public officials, contrac- tors, and executives of local industries. This numb er two level shades off into the third string men—the heads of c ivic agencies, organization officials, the pettier civic leaders, newspaper men, and, finally, into the fourth order of the power hi erarchy—the rank and file of the professional and business strata, the ministers, the leading teachers, social workers, personnel directors. On almost any given topic of interest or decision, some top clique, or even some one key man, becomes strategic to the de- cision at hand and to the informal co-ordination of its support among the important cliques. Now it is the man who is the clique’s liaison with the state governor; now it is the bankers’ clique; now it is the man who is well liked by the rank and file of both Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, both Community Chest and Bar Association. Power does not reside in these middle-level organizations; key decisions are not made by their membership. Top men belong to them, but are only infrequently active in them. As associations, they help put into effect the policy-line worked out by the higher circles of power; they are training grounds in whic h younger hus- tlers of the top prove themselves; and sometimes, especially in the smaller cities, they are recruiting grounds for new members of the top. ‘We would not go to the “associations,” as you call them—that is, not right away,’ one powerful man of a sizable city in the mid- South told Professor Floyd Hunter. ‘A lot of those associations, if 38 THE POWER ELITE you mean by associations the Chamber of Commerce or the Com- munity Council, sit around and discuss “goals” and “ideals.” I don’t know what a lot of those things mean. I’ll be frank with you, I do not get onto a lot of those committees. A lot of the others in town do, but I don’t… Charles Homer is the biggest man in our crowd … When he gets an idea, others will get the idea… recently he got the idea that Regional City should be the national headquarters for an International Trade Council. He called in some of us [the inner crowd], and he talked briefly about his idea. He did not talk much. We do not engage in loose talk about the “ide als” of the sit- uation and all that other stuff. We get right down to the problem, that is, how to get this Council. We all think it is a good idea right around the circle. There are six of us in the meeting … All of us are assigned tasks to carry out. Moster is to draw up t he papers of in- corporation. He is the lawyer. I have a group of friends that I will carry along. Everyone else has a group of friends h e will do the same with. These fellows are what you might call followers. ‘We decide we need to raise $65,000 to put this thi ng over. We could raise that amount within our own crowd, but e ventually this thing is going to be a community proposition, so we decide to bring the other crowds in on the deal. We decide to have a meet- ing at the Grandview Club with select members of ot her crowds . . . When we meet at the Club at dinner with the other crowds, Mr. Homer makes a brief talk; again, he does not need to talk long. He ends his talk by saying he believes in his propo sition enough that he is willing to put $10,000 of his own money into it for the first year. He sits down. You can see some of the other crowds get- ting their heads together, and the Growers Bank cro wd, not to be outdone, offers a like amount plus a guarantee that they will go along with the project for three years. Others throw in $5,000 to $10,000 until—I’d say within thirty or forty minute s—we have pledges of the money we need. In three hours the wh ole thing is settled, including the time for eating! There is one detail I left out, and it is an important one. We went into that meeting with a board of directors picked. The con- stitution was all written, and the man who was to h ead the council as executive was named … a third-string man, a fe llow who will take advice .. . The public doesn’t know anything a bout the proj- ect until it reaches the stage I’ve been talking about. After the LOCAL SOCIETY 39 matter is financially sound, then we go to the news papers and say there is a proposal for consideration. Of course, it is not news to a lot of people by then, but the Chamber committees a nd other civic organizations are brought in on the idea. They all think it’s a good idea. They help to get the Council located and esta blished. That’s about all there is to it.’ 4 3 The status drama of the old and the new upper class ; the class structure that underpins that drama; the power syst em of the higher cliques—these now form the rather standard, if somewhat intricate, pattern of the upper levels of local society. But we could not understand that pattern or what is happening to it, were we to forget that all these cities are very much part of a national system of status and power and wealth. Despite the loyal r hetoric prac- ticed by many Congressional spokesmen, no local soc iety is in truth a sovereign locality. During the past century, local society has become part of a national economy; its status a nd power hier- archies have come to be subordinate parts of the la rger hierar- chies of the nation. Even as early as the decades after the Civil War, persons of local eminence were becoming—merely local. 5 Men whose sphere of active decision and public acclaim was re- gional and national in scope were rising into view. Today, to re- main merely local is to fail; it is to be overshado wed by the wealth, the power, and the status of nationally important men. To succeed is to leave local society behind—although c ertification by it may be needed in order to be selected for national cliques. All truly old ways in America are, of course, rural . Yet the value of rural origin and of rural residences is sometime s ambiguous. On the one hand, there is the tradition of the town against the hay- seed, of the big city against the small-town hick, and in many smaller cities, some prestige is achieved by those who, unlike the lower, working classes, have been in the city for all of one genera- tion. On the other hand, men who have achieved emin ence often boast of the solidity of their rural origin; which may be due to the Jeffersonian ethos which holds rural virtues to be higher than the ways of the city, or to the desire to show how very far one has come. 40 THE POWER ELITE If, in public life, the farm is often a good place to have come from, in social life, it is always a good place to own and to visit. Both small-city and big-city upper classes now quit e typically own and visit their ‘places in the country.’ In part, all this, which even in the Middle West began as far back as the ei ghteen-nine- ties, is a way by which the merely rich attempt to anchor them- selves in what is old and esteemed, of proving with cash and lov- ing care and sometimes with inconvenience, their re verence for the past. So in the South there is the exactly restored Old Planta- tion Mansion, in Texas and California the huge catt le spread or the manicured fruit ranch, in Iowa the model farm w ith its pure- bred stock and magnificent barns. There is also the motive of buy- ing the farm as an investment and as a tax evasion, as well as, of course,, the pleasure of such a seasonable residence and hobby. For the small town and the surrounding countryside, these facts mean that local status arrangements can no longer be strictly local. Small town and countryside are already pretty well consolidated, for wealthy farmers, especially upon retiring, often move into the small city, and wealthy urban families have bought much country land. In one middle-western community, Mr. Hollings head has reported, some twenty-five families of pioneer ancestry have accumulated more than sixty per cent of the surrounding one hun- dred sixty square miles of rich agricultural land. 6 Such concen- tration has been strengthened by marriages between rural and urban upper-class families. Locally, any ‘rural aristocracy’ that may prevail is already centered in at least the small city; rural up- per classes and the local society of smaller cities are in close con- tact, often in fact, belonging to the same higher cousinhood. In addition to the farms owned by city families and the town- centered activities and residences of rural families, there is the in- creased seasonal change of residence among both rur al and small-town upper classes. The women and children of the rural upper classes go to ‘the lake’ for the summer period, and the men for long week ends, even as New York families do th e same in the winters in Florida. The democratization of the seas onable vaca- tion to coast, mountain, or island now extends to l ocal upper classes of small cities and rural district, where thirty years ago it was more confined to metropolitan upper classes. The connections of small town with countryside, and the cen- LOCAL SOCIETY 41 tering of the status worlds of both upon the larger city, are most dramatically revealed when into the country surroun ding a small town there moves a set of gentlemen farmers. These seasonal residents are involved in the conduct and values of the larger cities in which they live; they know nothing and often car e less for local claims to eminence. With their country estates, they come to oc- cupy the top rung of what used to be called the far m ladder, although they know little or nothing of the lower rungs of that ladder. In one middle-western township studied by E von Vogt, such urban groups own half the land. 7 They do not seek connec- tions with local society and often do not even welcome its ad- vances, but they are passing on these country estates to their chil- dren and now even to their grandchildren. The members of local society, rural and urban, can attempt to follow one of two courses: they can withdraw and try to debunk the immoral ways of the newcomers, or they can atte mpt to join them, in which case they too will come to focus their social ways of life upon the metropolitan area. But whichever c ourse they elect, they soon come to know, often with bitterness, that the new upper class as well as the local upper-middle classes, among whom they once cashed in their claims for status, are wa tching them with close attention and sometimes with amusement. What was once a little principality, a seemingly self-sufficient world of sta- tus, is becoming an occasionally used satellite of the big-city upper class. What has been happening in and to local society is its consoli- dation with the surrounding rural area, and its gradual incorpora- tion in a national system of power and status. Munc ie, Indiana, is now much closer to Indianapolis and Chicago than it was fifty years ago; and the upper classes of Muncie travel f arther and travel more frequently than do the local middle and lower classes. There are few small towns today whose upper classes , both new and old, are not likely to visit a near-by large city at least every month or so. Such travel is now a standard operatio n of the busi- ness, educational, and social fife of the small-city rich. They have more friends at a distance and more frequent relati ons with them. The world of the local upper-class person is simply larger than it 42 THE POWER ELITE was in 1900 and larger than the worlds of the middl e and lower classes today. It is to the metropolitan upper classes that the local society of the smaller cities looks; its newer members with op en admiration, its older, with less open admiration. What good is it to show a horse or a dog in a small city of 100,000 population, even if you could, when you know that The Show will be in N ew York next fall? More seriously, what prestige is there in a $50,000 local deal, however financially convenient, when you know that in Chi- cago, only 175 miles away, men are turning over $50 0,000? The very broadening of their status area makes the small-town woman and man unsatisfied to make big splashes in such li ttle ponds, makes them yearn for the lakes of big city prestige, if not for truly national repute. Accordingly, to the extent that local society main- tains its position, even locally, it comes to mingle with and to iden- tify itself with a more metropolitan crowd and to t alk more easily of eastern schools and New York night clubs. There is one point of difference between the old an d the new upper classes in the smaller cities that is of great concern to the old, for it causes the new to be a less ready and less reliable cash-in area for the status claims of the old. The old uppe r class, after all, is old only in relation to the new and hence needs the new in order to feel that all is right in its little world of status. But the new, as well as many of the old, know well that this local society is now only local. The men and women of the old upper class understand their station to be well within their own city. They may go to Florida or California in the winter, but they go always as visitors, not as explorers of new ways or as makers of new business contacts. They feel their place to be in their own city and they tend to think of this city as containing all the principles necessary for ranking all people everywhere. The new upper class, on the othe r hand, tends to esteem local people in terms of the number and t ypes of con- tacts they have with places and people outside the city—which the true old upper-class person often excludes as ‘outs iders.’ More- over, many articulate members of the middle and lower classes look up to the new upper class because of such ‘outside’ contacts which, in a decisive way, are the very opposite of ‘old family resi- dence.’ Old family residence is a criterion that is community-cen- LOCAL SOCIETY 43 tered; outside contacts center in the big city or e ven in the national scene.* 4 Today ‘outside contacts’ often center in one very s pecific and galling reminder of national status and power which exists right in the local city: During the last thirty years, and especially with the business expansions of World War II, the nation al corporation has come into many of these smaller cities. Its arrival has upset the old economic status balances within the local u pper classes; for, with its local branch, there have come the exe cutives from the big city, who tend to dwarf and to ignore local society. 8 Prestige is, of course, achieved by ‘getting in wit h’ and imitating those who possess power as well as prestige. Nowada ys such social standing as the local upper classes, in particular the new upper * More aggressive than the old, the new upper-class criterion for the really top people is not only that they are rich but that they are ‘going places’ and have connections with others who are ‘g oing places’ in an even bigger way than they. In one typical small city, the heroes of the new upper class were described to me as ‘Boys with a lot of dynamite … They’re in there together going places and doing ev erything that’s good for [the city]. They operate nationally, see, and that’s very important in their outlook. They’re not very active in strictly local affairs, but they are active men. They have active investments all ov er, not money just lying around doing nothing.’ Stories of old families that have fallen and of active new families that have risen illustrate to the new upper class the ‘workings of democracy’ and the possibility of ‘anybody with the energy and brains’ getting ahead. Such stories serve to justify their own position and style, and enable them to draw upon th e national flow of official myths concerning the inevitable success of those who know how to work smartly. The old upper classes do not tell such stories, at least not to strangers, for among them prestige is a posi tive thing in itself, somehow inherent in their way of life, and indeed, their very being. But to the new upper-class man, prestige seems something that he him- self does not truly possess, but could very well use in his business and social advancement; he tends to see the social posi tion of the old upper class as an instrument for the ‘selling’ of a project or the making of more money. ‘You can’t get anything done in this town wi thout them [the old upper class]. The handles on those names are very i mportant . . . Look, if you and I go out on a project in this town, or any other town we’ve got to have names with handles. Investors, proprietors, and so on, they just hold back until we do that. Otherwise if we had the finest project in the world, it would be born dead.’ 44 THE POWER ELITE classes, may secure, is increasingly obtained throu gh association with the leading officials of the great absentee-ow ned corpora- tions, through following their style of living, through moving to their suburbs outside the city’s limits, attending their social functions. Since the status world of the corporation group does not characteristically center in the local city, local society tends to drift away from civic prestige, looking upon it as ‘local stuff.’ In the eyes of the new upper class, the old social leaders of the city come gradually to be displaced by the corporat ion group. The local upper classes struggle to be invited to the affairs of the new leaders, and even to marry their children into thei r circles. One of the most obvious symptoms of the drift is the defin ite movement of the local upper-class families into the exclusive suburbs built largely by the corporation managers. The new upper class tends to imitate and to mingle with the corporation group; the ‘bright young men’ of all educated classes tend to leave the small city and to make their careers within the corporate world. T he local world of the old upper class is simply by-passed. Such developments are often more important to women than to men. Women are frequently more active in social and civic matters—particularly in those relating to education, health, and charities—if for no other reason than that they have more time for them. They center their social life in the local cities because ‘it is the thing to do,’ and it is the thing to do only if those with top pres- tige do it. Local women, however, gain little or no social standing among the corporate elite by participating in local affairs, since the executives’ wives, corporation- and city-centered, do not con- cern themselves with local society, nor even with s uch important local matters as education; for they send their own children to private schools or, on lower executive levels, to their own public schools in their own suburbs, distinct and separate from the city’s. A typical local woman could work herself to the bon e on civic mat- ters and never be noticed or accepted by the execut ives’ wives. But if it became known that by some chance she happ ened to be well acquainted with a metropolitan celebrity, she might well be ‘in.’ Local women often participate in local and civic affairs in order to help their husband’s business, but the terms of the executive’s success lie within his national corporation. The corporate officials LOCAL SOCIETY 45 have very few business dealings with strictly local businessmen. They deal with distant individuals of other corporations who buy the plant’s products or sell it materials and parts. Even when the executive does undertake some deal with a local bus inessman, no social contact is required—unless it is part of the corporation’s ‘good-will’ policy. So it is quite unnecessary for the executive’s wife to participate in local society: the power of the c orporation’s name will readily provide him with all the contacts in t he smaller city that he will ever require. 5 Perhaps there was a time—before the Civil War—when local so- cieties composed the only society there was in America. It is still true, of course, that every small city is a local hierarchy of status and that at the top of each there is still a local elite of power and wealth and esteem. But one cannot now study the upp er groups in even a great number of smaller communities and then—as many American sociologists are prone to do—generalize th e results to the nation, as the American System. 9 Some members of the higher circles of the nation do live in small towns—although that is not usual. Moreover, where they happen to maintain a ho use means little; their area of operation is nation-wide. The upper social classes of all the small towns of America cannot me rely be added up to form a national upper class; their power cliq ues cannot merely be added up to form the national power elite. In each lo- cality there is an upper set of families, and in each, with certain regional variations, they are quite similar. But the national struc- ture of classes is not a mere enumeration of equall y important lo- cal units. The class and status and power systems of local societies are not equally weighted; they are not autonomous. Like the eco- nomic and political systems of the nation, the pres tige and the power systems are no longer made up of decentralize d little hier- archies, each having only thin and distant connections, if any at all, with the others. The kinds of relations that exist between the countryside and the town, the town and the big city , and between the various big cities, form a structure that is no w national in scope. Moreover, certain forces, which by their ver y nature are not rooted in any one town or city, now modify, by direct as well 46 THE POWER ELITE as indirect lines of control, the local hierarchies of status and power and wealth that prevail in each of them. It is to the cities of the Social Register and the celebrity, to the seats of the corporate power, to the national cente rs of political and military decision, that local society now looks —even though some of its older members will not always admit tha t these cities and corporations and powers exist socially. The strivings of the new upper class and the example of the managerial e lite of the national corporation cause local societies everywhere to become satellites of status and class and power systems th at extend be- yond their local horizon. What town in New England is socially comparable with Boston? What local industry is econ omically comparable with General Motors? What local political chief with the political directorate of the nation? 3 Metropolitan 400 THE little cities look to the big cities, but where do the big cities look? America is a nation with no truly national ci ty, no Paris, no Rome, no London, no city which is at once the socia l center, the political capital, and the financial hub. Local societies of small town and large city have had no historic court which, once and for all and officially, could certify the elect. The political capital of the country is not the status capital, nor even in any real sense an im- portant segment of Society; the political career do es not parallel the social climb. New York, not Washington, has bec ome the fi- nancial capital. What a difference it might have made if from the beginning Boston and Washington and New York had be en com- bined into one great social, political, and financial capital of the nation! Then, Mrs. John Jay’s set (‘Dinner and Supp er List for 1787 and 1788’), in which men of high family, great wealth, and decisive power mingled, might, as part of the natio nal census, have been kept intact and up-to-date. 1 And yet despite the lack of official and metropolitan unity, to- day—seventeen decades later—there does flourish in the big cities of America a recognizable upper social class, which seems in many ways to be quite compact. In Boston and in New York , in Philadel- phia and in Baltimore and in San Francisco, there e xists a solid core of older, wealthy families surrounded by loose r circles of newer, wealthy families. This older core, which in New York was once said—by Mrs. Astor’s Ward McAllister—to number Four Hundred, has made several bids to be The Society of America, and perhaps, once upon a time, it almost succeeded. Today, in so 47 48 THE POWER ELITE far as it tries to base itself on pride of family d escent, its chances to be truly national are subject to great risks. There is little doubt, however, that among the metropolitan 400’s, as well as among their small-town counterparts, there is an accumulation of advan- tages in which objective opportunity and psychologi cal readiness interact to create and to maintain for each generation the world of the upper social classes. These classes, in each of the big cities, look first of all to one another. 1 Before the Civil War the big-city upper classes wer e compact and stable. At least social chroniclers, looking back, say that they were. ‘Society,’ Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer wrot e, grew ‘from within rather than from without . . . The foreign e lements ab- sorbed were negligible. The social circle widened, generation by generation, through, the abundant contributions mad e by each family to posterity . . . There was a boundary as s olid and as difficult to ignore as the Chinese Wall’ Family lineage ran back to the formation of the colonies and the only division s among upper- class groups ‘were those of the church; Presbyteria ns, Dutch Re- formed and Episcopalians formed fairly definite sections of a com- pact organization.’ 2 In each locality and region, nineteenth-century wea lth created its own industrial hierarchy of local families. Up the Hudson, there were patroons, proud of their origins, and in Virgi nia, the planters. In every New England town, there were Puritan shipo wners and early industrialists, and in St. Louis, fashionable descendants of French Creoles living off real estate. In Denver, C olorado, there were wealthy gold and silver miners. And in New Yor k City, as Dixon Wecter has put it, there was ‘a class made up of coupon- clippers, sportsmen living off their fathers’ accumulation, and a stratum like the Astors and Vanderbilts trying to r enounce their commercial origins as quickly as possible.’ 3 The richest people could be regarded as a distinct caste, their fortunes as permanent, their families as honorably old. As long as they kept their wealth and no newer and bigger weal th threat- ened it, there was no reason to distinguish status by family lineage and status by wealth. 4 The stability of the older upper classes rested rather securely upon the coincidence of old family and METROPOLITAN 400 49 great wealth. For the push, the wealth, the power o f new upper classes was contained by the old, who, while remain ing distinct and unthreatened, could occasionally admit new members. In the decades following the Civil War, the old upp er classes of the older cities were overwhelmed by the new wea lth. ‘All at once,’ Mrs. Van Rensselaer thought, Society ‘was assailed from every side by persons who sought to climb boldly over the walls of social exclusiveness.’ Moreover, from overseas the immigrants came, like southerners, and later westerners, to ma ke their for- tunes in the city. ‘Others who had made theirs else where, jour- neyed to New York to spend them on pleasure and soc ial recogni- tion.’ 6 From the eighteen-seventies until the nineteen-twenties, the struggle of old family with new money occurred on a grandiose national scale. Those families that were old because they had be- come wealthy prior to the Civil War attempted to cl ose up their ranks against the post-Civil War rich. They failed primarily be- cause the new wealth was so enormous compared with the old that it simply could not be resisted. Moreover, the newly wealthy could not be contained in any locality. Like the br oadening na- tional territory, new wealth and power—in family and now in cor- porate form as well—grew to national size and scope . The city, the county, the state could not contain this socially powerful wealth. Everywhere, its possessors invaded the fine old fam ilies of metro- politan society. All families would seem to be rather ‘old,’ but not all of them have possessed wealth for at least two but preferably th ree or four gen- erations. The formula for ‘old families’ in America is money plus inclination plus time. After all, there have only been some six or seven generations in the whole of United States his tory. For every old family there must have been a time when someone was of that family but it was not ‘old.’ Accordingly, in America, it is al- most as great a thing to be an ancestor as to have an ancestor. It must not be supposed that the pedigreed families do not and have not admitted unregistered families to their social circles, es- pecially after the unregistered have captured their banking firms. It is only that those whose ancestors bought their way into slightly 50 THE POWER ELITE older families only two or three generations ago no w push hard to keep out those who would follow suit. This game of the old rich and the parvenu began with the beginning of the national history, and continues today in the small town as in the metropolitan cen- ter. The one firm rule of the game is that, given persistent inclina- tion, any family can win out on whatever level its money permits. Money—sheer, naked, vulgar money—has with few excep tions won its possessors entrance anywhere and everywhere into Amer- ican society. From the point of view of status, which always tries to base itself on family descent, this means that the walls are al ways crumbling; from the more general standpoint of an upper social class of more than local recognition, it means that top level is always being reno- vated. It also means that, no matter what its prete nsions, the American upper class is merely an enriched bourgeoisie, and that, no matter how powerful its members may be, they can not invent an aristocratic past where one did not exist. One careful genealo- gist has asserted that at the beginning of this century, there were ‘not ten families occupying conspicuous social posi tions’ in either the moneyed set or the old-family set of New York ‘ whose pro- genitors’ names appeared on Mrs. John Jay’s dinner list.’ 6 In America, the prideful attempt to gain status by virtue of fam- ily descent has been an uneasy practice never touch ing more than a very small fraction of the population. With their real and invent- ed ancestors, the ‘well-born’ and the ‘high-born’ h ave attempted to elaborate pedigrees and, on the basis of their consciousness of these pedigrees, to keep their distance from the ‘l ow-born.’ But they have attempted this with an underlying population which, in an utterly vulgar way, seemed to glory in being low -born, and which was too ready with too many jokes about the b reeding of horses to make such pretensions easy or widespread. There has been too much movement—of family residenc e and between occupations, in the lifetime of an individual and be- tween the generations—for feeling of family line to take root. Even when such feeling does strengthen the claims of the upper classes, it is without avail unless it is honored by the und erlying strata. Americans are not very conscious of family lines; t hey are not the sort of underlying population which would readily cash in METROPOLITAN 400 51 claims for prestige on the basis of family descent. It is only when a social structure does not essentially change in the course of gen- erations, only when occupation and wealth and stati on tend to be- come hereditary, that such pride and prejudice, and with them, such servility and sense of inferiority, can become stable bases of a prestige system. The establishment of a pedigreed society, based on the pres- tige of family line, was possible, for a brief period, despite the absence of a feudal past and the presence of mobili ty, because of the immigrant situation. It was precisely during th e decades when the flow of the new immigration into the big c ities was largest that metropolitan Society was at its American peak. In such Yankee ghettoes, claims for status by descent were most suc- cessful, not so much among the population at large as among those who claimed some descent and wanted more. Such clai ms were and are involved in the status hierarchy of nationality groups. But there came a time when the lowly immigrant no l onger served this purpose: the flow of immigration was stopped, and in a little while everyone in North America became—or soon would become—a native-born American of native-born parents. Even while the supply of immigrants was huge and th eir number in the big cities outnumbered those of native parentage, liberal sentiments of nationalism were becoming too strong to be shaped by the barriers of strict descent. ‘The Amer icanization of the Immigrant’—as an organized movement, as an ideo logy, and as a fact—made loyalties to one ideological version of the nation more important than Anglo-Saxon descent. The view o f the nation as a glorious melting pot of races and nations—carried by middle classes and intelligentsia—came to prevail over the Anglo-Saxon views of those concerned with ‘racial’ descent and with the pedi- greed, registered society. Besides, each of these national groups— from the Irish to the Puerto Rican—has slowly won l ocal political power. The attempt to create a pedigreed society has gone on among an upper class whose component localities competed: the eastern seaboard was settled first; so those who remained there have been local families longer than the families of more rec ently populated regions. Yet there are locally eminent families who have been lo- cally eminent in many small New England towns for as long as 52 THE POWER ELITE any Boston family; there are small-town southern fa milies whose claims for continuity of cousinhood could not be outdone by the most fanatic Boston Brahmin; and there are early Ca lifornia fam- ilies who, within their own strongly felt framework of time, feel older and better established than any New York fami ly might be. The localities competed economically as well. The m ining fam- ilies and the railroad families and the real-estate families—in each industry, in each locality and region, as we have s aid, big wealth created its own hierarchy of local families. The pedigree is a firm and stable basis of prestige when the class structure is firm and stable. Only then can all sorts of conven- tions and patterns of etiquette take root and flowe r in firm eco- nomic ground. When economic change is swift and mob ility deci- sive, then the moneyed class as such will surely assert itself; status pretensions will collapse and time-honored prejudic es will be swept away. From the standpoint of class, a dollar is a dollar, but from the standpoint of a pedigreed society, two ide ntical sums of money—the one received from four generations of inh erited trusts, the other from a real kill on the market last week—are very different sums. And yet, what is one to do when the new money becomes simply enormous? What is Mrs. Astor (the pe digreed lady of Knickerbocker origin married to old, real-estate wealth) going to do about Mrs. Vanderbilt (of the vulgar railroad money and the more vulgar grandfather-in-law) in 1870? Mr s. Astor is going to lose: in 1883 she leaves her calling card at Mrs. Vander- bilt’s door, and accepts an invitation to Mrs. Vand erbilt’s fancy- dress ball. 7 With that sort of thing happening, you cannot run a real pedigreed status show. Always in America, as perhaps else- where, society based on descent has been either by- passed or bought-out by the new and vulgar rich.* * But not only the fast-moving mechanics of class upset the show. Al- most anything fast moving does. For the conventions of a style of life are important to the prestige of local society, and only where class and status relations are stable can conventions be stab ilized. If conventions are truly rigid, then dress becomes ‘costume,’ and conventions become ‘traditions.’ High prestige of ancestors, of old age, of old wealth, of an- tiques, of ‘seniority’ of residence, and membership and of old ways of doing anything and everything—they go together and together make up the status conventions of a fixed circle in a stable society. When social change is swift, prestige tends to go t o the young and the beautiful, even if they are the damned; to the merely different and METROPOLITAN 400 53 Here, in the social context of the self-made man, t he parvenu claimed status. He claimed it as a self-made man rather than de- spite it. In each generation some family-made men a nd women have looked down upon him as an intruder, a nouveau riche, as an outsider in every way. But in each following generation—or the one following that—he has been admitted to the uppe r social classes of the duly pedigreed families. 2 The status struggle in America is not something that occurred at a given time and was then done with. The attempt of the old rich to remain exclusively prominent by virtue of family pedigree has been a continual attempt, which always fails and always suc- ceeds. It fails because in each generation new additions are made; it succeeds because at all times an upper social class is making the fight. A stable upper class with a really fixed mem bership does not exist; but an upper social class does exist. Change in the member- ship of a class, no matter how rapid, does not destroy the class. Not the identical individual or families, but the same type prevails within it. There have been numerous attempts to fix this type by drawing the line in a more or less formal way. Even before the Civil War, when new wealth was not as pushing as it later beca me, some so- cial arbiter seemed to be needed by worried hostess es confronted with social decisions. For two generations before 1850, New York Society depended upon the services of one Isaac Bro wn, sexton of Grace Church, who, we are told by Dixon Wecter, had a ‘fault- less memory for names, pedigrees, and gossip.’ He was quite ready to tell hostesses about to issue invitations who was in mourning, to the ‘novel,’ even if they are the vulgar. Costum es then become ‘old- fashioned,’ and what matters, above all, is to be ‘ fashionable.’ The ap- pearance value of one’s house, and even of one’s ma nners and one’s self, become subject to fashion. There is, in short, an appreciation of the new for its own sake: that which is new is prestigeful. In such a situation, money more easily decides who can keep up with such a dynamic and steeply graded pattern of consumption differences in dresses, cars, houses, sports, hobbies, clubs. It is, of course, to such a situation as this, and not to a stabilized leisure class, that Veblen directed his phrases: ‘ostentatious consumption’ and ‘conspicuous waste.’ For America, and for the second generation of the period of which he wrote, he was gen- erally correct. 54 THE POWER ELITE who had gone bankrupt, who had friends visiting the m, who were the new arrivals in town and in Society.’ He would preside at the doorstep at parties, and some observers claimed that he ‘possessed a list of “dancing young men” for the benefit of ne wly arrived party-givers.’ 8 The extravagant wealth of the post-Civil War period called for a more articulate means of determining the elect, and Ward Mc- Allister, for a time, established himself as selector. In order that ‘society might be given that solidity needed to res ist invasion of the flashiest profiteers,’ McAllister wished to und ertake the needed mixture of old families with position but without fashion, and the ‘ “swells” who had to entertain and be smart in order to win their way.’ He is said to have taken his task v ery seriously, giving over ‘his days and nights to study of heraldry, books of court etiquette, genealogy, and cookery . . .’ In the win ter of 1872-3, he organized the Patriarchs, ‘a committee of twenty-fi ve men “who had the right to create and lead Society” by inviting to each ball four ladies and five gentlemen on their individual responsibility, which McAllister stressed as a sacred trust.’ The original patri- archs were old-family New Yorkers of at least four generations, which, in McAllister’s American generosity, he thought ‘make as good and true a gentleman as forty.’ 9 During the ‘eighties, McAllister had been dropping comments to newspaper men that there were really ‘only about 400 people in fashionable New York Society. If you go outside that number you strike people who are either not at ease in a ballroom or else make other people not at ease.’ 10 In 1892, when both the exclu- siveness of the Patriarchs and the popularity of Wa rd McAllister were beginning seriously to decline, he published his list of ‘400,’ which in fact contained about 300 names. It was sim ply the roll- call of the Patriarch Balls, the inner circle of pre-Civil War New York families, embellished by unattached daughters and sons who liked to dance, and a select few of the new rich wh om McAllister deemed fit for admittance. Only nine out of a list of the ninety richest men of the day 11 appear on his list. The attention given McAllister’s list of the ‘400,’ and his subse- quent retirement from high society, reflect the pre carious situa- tion of the old upper classes he tried to consolidate. Not only in New York, but in other cities as well, all sorts of attempts have METROPOLITAN 400 55 been made to preserve the ‘old-guard’ from the soci al entree of new wealth. McAllister’s demise symbolizes the failure of all these attempts. The only sensible thing that could be don e was to admit the new wealth, or at least selected members of it. This, the most successful attempt, The Social Register, has done. In the gilded age of the 1880’s, a New York bachelo r who had inherited ‘a small life-income and a sound though i nconspicuous social standing,’ decided to publish ‘a list of the Best People from which advertising was wisely excluded but which mer chants might buy.’ 12 The Social Register presented a judicious combina- tion of the old with the new, and, with the hearty support of friends among such New York clubs as Calumet and Un ion, be- came an immediate success. The first Social Register of New York contained some 881 families; in due course, lists w ere published for other cities, and the business of compiling and publishing such lists became incorporated as The Social Register As sociation. Dur- ing the ‘twenties, social registers were being issued for twenty- one cities, but nine of these were later dropped ‘for lack of inter- est.’ By 1928, twelve volumes were being printed in the autumn of each year, and ever since then there have been Soci al Registers for New York and Boston (since 1890), Philadelphia (1890), Baltimore (1892), Chicago (1893), Washington (1900), St. Louis (1903), Buffalo (1903), Pittsburgh (1904), San Francisco (1906), Cleveland (1910), and Cincinnati (1910). 13 The Registers list the ‘socially elect’ together with addresses, children, schools, telephone numbers, and clubs. Su pplements appear in December and January, and a summer edition is pub- lished each June. The Association advises the reader to purchase an index containing all the names in all the Registers, this being useful in so far as there are many intermarriages a mong families from the various cities and changes of address from one city to another. The Social Register describes the people eligible for its list- ing as ‘those families who by descent or by social standing or from other qualifications are naturally included in the best society of any particular city or cities.’ The exact criteria for admission, how- ever, are hard to discern perhaps because, as Wecte r has asserted, ‘an efficient impersonality, detachment, and air of secret inquisi- tion surround The Social Register. A certain anonymity is essen- 56 THE POWER ELITE tial to its continued success and prestige.’ 14 Today, the Social Reg- ister Association, with headquarters in New York, s eems to be run by a Miss Bertha Eastmond, secretary of the Associa tion’s founder from the early days. She judges all the names, some to be added, some to be rejected as unworthy, some to be conside red in the future. In this work, she may call upon the counsel of certain so- cial advisers, and each city for which there is a R egister has a personal representative who keeps track of current names, ad- dresses, and telephone numbers. Who are included in the some 38,000 conjugal family units now listed, 15 and why are they included? Anyone residing in any of the twelve chosen cities may apply for inclusion, although the recom- mendations of several listed families must be obtained as well as a list of club memberships. But money alone, or fam ily alone, or even both together do not seem to guarantee immedia te admit- tance or final retention. In a rather arbitrary manner, people of old-family are sometimes dropped; second generation s of new wealth which try to get in are often not successful. To say, how- ever, that birth and wealth are not sufficient is not to say that they, along with proper conduct, are not necessary. Moderately successful corporation executives, once they set their minds to it, have been known to get into the Register, but the point should not be overstressed. In particular, it ought to be made historically specific: the thirty-year span 18 90-1920 was the major period for entrance into the registered circle. Since the first decade of the twentieth century, in fact, the rate of admis- sion of new families into the Social Register—at least in one major city, Philadelphia—has steadily declined: during th e first decade of this century, there was a 68 per cent increase, by the decade of the ‘thirties, the rate of increase was down to 6 per cent. 16 Those who are dropped from The Social Register are often so well known that much is made of their being dropped; the ‘arbi- trary’ character of the Register is then used to ridicule its social meaning. Actually, Dixon Wecter has concluded, ‘unf avorable publicity seems as near as one can come to the reason for banish- ment, but this again is applied with more intuition than logic . . . It is safe to say that anyone who keeps out of [the newspaper’s] columns—whatever his private life may be, or clande stine rumors may report—will not fall foul of The Social Register.’ 17 METROPOLITAN 400 57 With all the seemingly arbitrary selection and reje ction, and with all the snobbery and anguish that surrounds and even char- acterizes it, The Social Register is a serious listing that does mean something. It is an attempt, under quite trying cir cumstances, to close out of the truly proper circles the merely nouveau riche and those with mere notoriety, to certify and consolida te these proper circles of wealth, and to keep the chosen circles p roper and thus presumably worthy of being chosen. After all, it is the only list of registered families that Americans have, and it is the nearest thing to an official status center that this country, with no aristocratic past, no court society, no truly capital city, possesses. In any indi- vidual case, admission may be unpredictable or even arbitrary, but as a group, the people in The Social Register have been chosen for their money, their family, and their style of l ife. Accordingly, the names contained in these twelve magic volumes d o stand for a certain type of person. 3 In each of the chosen metropolitan areas of the nat ion, there is an upper social class whose members were born in to families which have been registered since the Social Register began. This registered social class, as well as newly registered and unregis- tered classes in other big cities, is composed of groups of ancient families who for two or three or four generations h ave been promi- nent and wealthy. They are set apart from the rest of the commu- nity by their manner of origin, appearance, and conduct. They live in one or more exclusive and expensive re sidential areas in fine old houses in which many of them were born, or in elaborately simple modern ones which they have cons tructed. In these houses, old or new, there are the correct furnishings and the cherished equipage. Their clothing, even when i t is appar- ently casual and undoubtedly old, is somehow differ ent in cut and hang from the clothes of other men and women. T he things they buy are quietly expensive and they use them in an incon- spicuous way. They belong to clubs and organizations to which only others like themselves are admitted, and they take quite seri- ously their appearances in these associations. They have relatives and friends in common, but more than that, they have in common experiences of a carefully selected and fam- 58 THE POWER ELITE ily-controlled sort. They have attended the same or similar private and exclusive schools, preferably one of the Episco pal boarding schools of New England. Their men have been to Harv ard, Yale, Princeton, or if local pride could not be overcome, to a locally es- teemed college to which their families have contrib uted. And now they frequent the clubs of these schools, as well as leading clubs in their own city, and as often as not, also a club or two in other metropolitan centers. Their names are not in the chattering, gossiping co lumns or even the society columns of their local newspapers; many of them, proper Bostonians and proper San Franciscans that t hey are, would be genuinely embarrassed among their own land were their names so taken in vain—cheap publicity and cafe-society scandal are for newer families of more strident and gaudy style, not for the old social classes. For those established at the top are ‘proud’; those not yet established are merely conce ited. The proud really do not care what others below them think of them; the con- ceited depend on flattery and are easily cheated by it, for they are not aware of the dependence of their ideas of self upon others.* * A word about Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) which—fortunately—is still read, not because his criticism of the American upper class is still adequate, but because his style makes it plausible, even when the criticism is not taken seriously. What he wrote remains strong with the truth, even though his fact s do not cover the scenes and the characters that have emerged in our own time. It remains strong because we could not see the newer features of our own time had he not written what and as he did. Which is one mea ning of the fact that his biases are the most fruitful that have appeared in the literature of American social protest. But all critics are mortal; and Veblen’s theory is in general no longer an adequate account of the American system of prestige. The Theory of the Leisure Class, is not the theory of the leisure class. It is a theory of a particular element of the upper classes in one period of the history of one nation. It is an account of t he status struggle be- tween new and old wealth and, in particular, it is an examination of the nouveau riche, so much in evidence in Veblen’s form ative time, the America of the latter half of the nineteenth century, of the Vanderbilts, Goulds, and Harrimans, of Saratoga Springs and Newp ort, of the glitter and the gold. It is an analysis of an upper class which is climbing socially by trans- lating its money into symbols of status, but doing so in a status situation in which the symbols are ambiguous. Moreover, the a udience for the Veblenian drama is not traditional, nor the actors firmly set in an in- METROPOLITAN 400 59 Within and between the various cliques which they f orm, mem- bers of these proud families form close friendships and strong loy- herited social structure, as in feudalism. Accordin gly, consumption pat- terns are the only means of competing for status ho nor. Veblen does not analyze societies with an old nobility or a court society where the cour- tier was a successful style of life. In depicting the higher style of American life, Veb len—like the actors of whom he writes—seems to confuse aristocratic and bourgeois traits. At one or two points, he does so explicitly: ‘The aristocratic and the bourgeois virtues—that is to say the destructive and pecuniary traits- should be found chiefly among the upper classes . . .’ 18 One has only to examine the taste of the small businessmen to know that this is cer- tainly not true. ‘Conspicuous consumption,’ as Veblen knew, is not c onfined to the upper classes. But today I should say that it prevails especially among one element of the new upper classes—the nouveau ri che of the new corporate privileges—the men on expense accounts, and those enjoying other corporate prerogatives—and with even more gri evous effects on the standard and style of life of the professional celebrities of stage and screen, radio and TV. And, of course, among recent crops of more old- fashioned nouveau riche dramatized by the ‘Texas millionaires.’ In the middle of the twentieth century, as at the e nd of the nineteenth which Veblen observed, there are fantastic goings-o n: ‘Tenor Mario Lanza now owns an outsize, custom-built white Cadillac with a gold- plated dashboard . . . Restaurateur Mike Romanoff s hips his silk and pongee shirts air express to Sulka’s in Manhattan for proper laun- dering . . . Construction Tycoon Hal Hayes . . . ha s a built-in bar in his Cadillac plus faucets for Scotch, bourbon, champagne and beer in his home. . . .’ 19 But in established local society, the men and wome n of the fourth and fifth generation are quietly expensive and expensively quiet; they are, in fact, often deliberately inconspicuous in their con- sumption: with unpretentious farm houses and summer retreats, they often live quite simply, and certainly without any ostentatious display of vulgar opulence. The terms of Veblen’s theory are not adequate to de scribe the estab- lished upper classes of today. Moreover—as we shall see in FOUR , Veblen’s work, as a theory of the American status system, does not take into adequate account the rise of the instituted elite or of the world of the celebrity. He could not, of course, have been e xpected in the eighteen-nineties to see the meaning for a truly national status system of ‘the professional celebrities,’ who have arisen as part of the national media of mass communication and entertainment, or a nticipate the de- velopment of national glamour, whereby the debutante is replaced by the movie star, and the local society lady by the military and political and economic managers—’the power elite’—whom many n ow celebrate as their proper chieftains. 60 THE POWER ELITE alties. They are served at one another’s dinners an d attend one another’s balls. They take the quietly elegant weddings, the som- ber funerals, the gay coming-out parties with seriousness and re- straint. The social appearances they seem to like b est are often informal, although among them codes of dress and ma nner, the sensibility of what is correct and what is not done, govern the in- formal and the natural as well as the formal. Their sense of civic service does not seem to take direct political form, but causes them gladly to lead the charitable , educational, and cultural institutions of their city. Their wealth is such—prob- ably several millions on the average—that they do n ot usually have to use the principal; if they do not wish to work, they probably do not have to. Yet their men—especially the more subs tantial older men—generally do work and sometimes quite diligentl y. They make up the business aristocracy of their city, especially the finan- cial and legal aristocracy. The true gentleman—in t he eastern cit- ies, and increasingly across the nation—is usually a banker or a lawyer, which is convenient, for those who possess a fortune are in need of trusted, wise, and sober men to preserve its integrity. They are the directors and the presidents of the major banks, and they are the senior partners and investment counselors of the lead- ing law firms of their cities. Almost everywhere in America, the metropolitan uppe r classes have in common, more or less, race, religion, and nativity. Even if they are not of long family descent, they are unifo rmly of longer American origin than the underlying population. The re are, of course, exceptions, some of them important exceptions. In vari- ous cities, Italian and Jewish and Irish Catholic families—having become wealthy and powerful—have risen high in stat us. But however important, these are still exceptions: the model of the upper social classes is still ‘pure’ by race, by ethnic group, by na- tional extraction. In each city, they tend to be Pr otestant; more- over Protestants of class-church denominations, Epi scopalian mainly, or Unitarian, or Presbyterian. In many cities—New York for example—there are several rather than one metropolitan 400. This fact, however, does not mean that the big-city upper classes do not exist, but rather that in such cities the status stucture is more elaborate than in those with more uni- fied societies. That there are social feuds between competing sta- tus centers does not destroy the status hierarchy. METROPOLITAN 400 61 The family of higher status may belong to an exclus ive country club where sporting activities and social events occur, but this pat- tern is not of decisive importance to the upper lev els, for ‘country clubs’ have spread downward into the middle and eve n into the lower-middle classes. In smaller cities, membership in the best country club is often the significant organizational mark of the up- per groups; but this is not so in the metropolitan status market. It is the gentleman’s club, an exclusive male organiza tion, that is socially most important. Gentlemen belong to the metropolitan man’s club, and the men of the upper-class stature usually belong to such clubs in more than one city; clubs for both sexes, such as country clubs, are usu- ally local. Among the out-of-town clubs to which th e old upper- class man belongs are those of Harvard and Princeto n and Yale, but the world of the urban clubs extends well beyon d those an- chored in the better schools. It is not unusual for gentlemen to be- long to three or four or even more. These clubs of the various cities are truly exclusive in the sense that they are not widely known to the middle and lower classes in general. They are a bove those better-known arenas where upper-class status is more widely rec- ognized. They are of and by and for the upper circl es, and no other. But they are known and visited by the upper circles of more than one city.* To the outsider, the club to which the upper class man or wom- an belongs is a badge of certification of his status; to the insider, the club provides a more intimate or clan-like set of exclusive groupings which places and characterizes a man. The ir core of membership is usually families which successfully claim status by descent. From intimate association with such men, n ewer members borrow status, and in turn, the accomplishments of the newer en- trants help shore up the status of the club as a going concern. Membership in the right clubs assumes great social importance when the merely rich push and shove at the boundaries of society, for then the line tends to become vague, and club m embership clearly defines exclusiveness. And yet the metropolitan clubs are important rungs in the social ladder for would-be m embers of the top status levels: they are status elevators for the new into the old upper classes; for men, and their sons, can be gradually advanced * Even in 1933, some fifty New Yorkers maintained t heir full-rate dues in Boston’s Somerset Club. 20 62 THE POWER ELITE from one club to the next, and so, if successful, i nto the inner cita- del of the most exclusive. They are also important in the business life within and between the metropolitan circles: to many men of these circles, it seems convenient and somehow fitt ing to come to important decisions within the exclusive club. ‘The private club,’ one national magazine for executives recently put i t, is becom- ing ‘the businessman’s castle.’ 21 The metropolitan upper classes, as wealthy classes having con- trol of each locality’s key financial and legal institutions, thereby have business and legal relations with one another. For the econ- omy of the city, especially of a metropolitan area, is not confined to the city. To the extent that the economy is nati onal and big- city centered, and to the extent that the upper classes control its key places of big-city decision—the upper classes of each city are related to those of other cities. In the rich if gloomy quiet of a Bos- ton club and also in the rich and brisk chrome of a Houston club- to belong is to be accepted. It is also to be in easy, informal touch with those who are socially acceptable, and so to b e in a better position to make a deal over a luncheon table. The gentlemen’s club is at once an important center of the financial and business network of decision and an essential center for certifying the so- cially fit. In it all the traits that make up the old upper classes seem to coincide: the old family and the proper marriage and the cor- rect residence and the right church and the right schools—and the power of the key decision. The ‘leading men’ in eac h city belong to such clubs, and when the leading men of other cities visit them, they are very likely to be seen at lunch in Boston’ s Somerset or Union, Philadelphia’s Racquet or Philadelphia Club, San Francis- co’s Pacific Union, or New York’s Knickerbocker, Li nks, Brook, or Racquet and Tennis. 22 4 The upper-class style of life is pretty much the same—although there are regional variations—in each of the big cities of the na- tion. The houses and clothing, the types of social occasions the metropolitan 400 care about, tend to be homogeneous. The Brooks Brothers suit-and-shirt is not extensively advertised nationally and the store has only four branches outside New York City, but it is well-known in every major city of the nation, and in no key city METROPOLITAN 400 63 do the ‘representatives’ of Brooks Brothers feel th emselves to be strangers. 23 There are other such externals that are specific a nd common to the proper upper-class style, yet, after all, anyone with the money and the inclination can learn to be uncomfortable in anything but a Brooks Brothers suit. The style of life of the old upper social classes across the nation goes deeper than such things. The one deep experience that distinguishes the soci al rich from the merely rich and those below is their schooling, and with it, all the associations, the sense and sensibility, to whi ch this educa- tional routine leads throughout their lives. The daughter of an old upper-class New York family, for exam- ple, is usually under the care of nurse and mother until she is four years of age, after which she is under the daily care of a governess who often speaks French as well as English. When sh e is six or seven, she goes to a private day school, perhaps Miss Chapin’s or Brearley. She is often driven to and from school by the family chauffeur and in the afternoons, after school, she is in the general care of the governess, who now spends most of her t ime with the younger children. When she is about fourteen she go es to board- ing school, perhaps to St. Timothy’s in Maryland or Miss Porter’s or Westover in Connecticut. Then she may attend Fin ch Junior College of New York City and thus be ‘finished,’ or if she is to at- tend college proper, she will be enrolled, along wi th many plain middle-class girls, in Bryn Mawr or Vassar or Welle sley or Smith or Bennington. She will marry soon after finishing school or col- lege, and presumably begin to guide her own childre n through the same educational sequence.* The boy of this family, while under seven years of age, will follow a similar pattern. Then he too will go to day school, and, at a rather earlier age than the girls, to boarding school, although for boys it will be called prep school: St. Mark’s or St. Paul’s, Choate or * ‘The daughter of the industrial leader, of the gr eat professional man must thrive in a complex civilization which places little premium upon its women’s homelier virtues: meekness and modesty, earnestness and Godliness. Yet such a man must, according to the mores of his kind, send his daughter to pne of a handful of institutions whose codes rest upon these foundations… Of the 1,200-odd private schoo ls for girls in this country, curiously enough only a score or more real ly matter … so ephemeral are the things which make one school and mar another that intangible indeed are the distinctions.’ 24 64 THE POWER ELITE Groton, Andover or Lawrenceville, Phillips Exeter o r Hotchkiss. 25 Then he will go to Princeton or Harvard, Yale or Da rtmouth. As likely as not, he will finish with a law school attached to one of these colleges. Each stage of this education is important to the formation of the upper-class man or woman; it is an educational sequ ence that is common to the upper classes in all the leading cities of the nation. There is, in fact, a strong tendency for children from all these cit- ies to attend one of the more fashionable boarding or prep schools in New England, in which students from two dozen or so states, as well as from foreign countries, may be readily found. As claims for status based on family descent become increasingly difficult to re- alize, the proper school transcends the family pedi gree in social importance. Accordingly, if one had to choose one clue to the na- tional unity of the upper social classes in America today, it would best be the really exclusive boarding school for gi rls and prep school for boys. Many educators of the private school world feel tha t economic shifts bring to the top people whose children have had no proper family background and tone, and that the private school is a prime institution in preparing them to live at the top of the nation in a manner befitting upper-class men and women. And whe ther the headmasters know it or not, it seems to be a fact that like the hier- archy of clubs for the fathers—but in more importan t and deeper ways—the private schools do perform the task of sel ecting and training newer members of a national upper stratum, as well as upholding the higher standards among the children o f families who have long been at the top. It is in ‘the next generation,’ in the private school, that the tensions between new and o ld upper classes are relaxed and even resolved. And it is by means of these schools more than by any other single agency that t he older and the newer families—when their time is due—become me mbers of a self-conscious upper class. As a selection and training place of the upper classes, both old and new, the private school is a unifying influence, a force for the nationalization of the upper classes. The less impo rtant the pedi- greed family becomes in the careful transmission of moral and cultural traits, the more important the private school. The school- rather than the upper-class family—is the most important agency METROPOLITAN 400 65 for transmitting the traditions of the upper social classes, and regu- lating the admission of new wealth and talent. It i s the charac- terizing point in the upper-class experience. In the top fifteen or twenty such schools, if anywhere, one finds a prime organizing center of the national upper social classes. For in these private schools for adolescents, the religious and family a nd educational tasks of the upper social classes are fused, and in them the major tasks of upholding such standards as prevail in the se classes are centered.* These schools are self-supporting and autonomous in policy, and the most proper of them are non-profit institutions. They are not ‘church schools’ in that they are not governed by religious bod- ies, but they do require students to attend religio us services, and although not sectarian, they are permeated by relig iously inspired principles. The statement of the founders of Groton, still used to- day, includes this fundamental aim: ‘Every endeavor will be made to cultivate manly, Christian character, having regard to moral and physical as well as intellectual developm ent. The Headmaster of the School will be a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church.’ 27 ‘The vitals of a prep-school are not located in the curriculum. They are located in a dozen other places, some of t hem queer places indeed: in the relations between boys and faculty; in who the boys are and where they come from; in a Gothic chapel or a shiny new gymnasium; in the type of building the boys live in and the sort of thing they do after supper; and, above all in the head- master.’ 28 There is a kind of implicit ideal for the school to be an or- ganized extension of the family, but a large family in which the proper children from Boston and Philadelphia and New York to- * ‘These schools for boys,’ the editors of Fortune have written, ‘are conspicuous far out of proportion to the numbers enrolled in them. More than seven million boys and girls in the U.S. now ( 1944) receive sec- ondary education, 460,000 of whom are in private sc hools. Of this number more than 360,000 were in Catholic schools (1941 figures, lat- est available) and more than 10,000 in military schools, whose special purposes are obvious. Of the remainder, girls’ schools, whose job is also relatively well defined, accounted for almost 30,00 0 more. Forty thou- sand odd were in co-educational schools, largely day schools. Some 20,- 000 were in the schools for boys, the group that particularly desires self- justification.’ 26 66 THE POWER ELITE gether learn the proper style of conduct. This fami ly ideal is strengthened by the common religious practices of t he school, which tend to be Episcopalian; by the tendency for given upper- class families to send all their sons to the same schools that the father, or even grandfather, attended; and by the donations as well as the social and sentimental activities of the alu mni associations. The underlying purpose of the Choate School, for ex ample, is to prove that family and school may be effectively combined, so that a boy while gaining the benefits that school provides—in particular ‘spiritual leadership’ and ‘association with boys of purpose’—will retain the intimate influences that ought to charac terize a proper home. Daily life in the exclusive schools is usually quite simple, even Spartan; within its atmosphere of snobbish simplici ty, there is a democracy of status. Everyone follows more or less the same rou- tine, and there are no opportunities for officially approved incli- nations for ostentatious display or snobbery. 29 These schools are not usually oriented to any obvio us practical end. It is true that the boys’ schools are invariably preparatory for college; while those for girls offer one curriculum for college prep- aration, and one terminal course for girls contempl ating earlier marriage. But the middle-class ethos of competitiveness is gener- ally lacking. One should, the school seems to say, compare one’s work and activity not with the boy or girl next to you, but with what you and your teacher believe is your own best. Besides, if you are too interested, you become conspicuous. Certainly competition for status among students is held to a minimum: where allowances are permitted, they are u sually fixed at modest levels, and the tendency is for boys to have no spending money at all; the wearing of school blazers by boys, or a uniform jumper or blouse, skirt and sweater by girls, is not, as it is usually interpreted by outsiders, so much upper- class swash as it is an attempt to defeat displays of haberdashery within the ex- clusive group. And girls, however rich, are not usu ally allowed to own their own horses. The elders of the school community are those older children in the higher Forms, and they become the models aspired to by the younger children. For young boys, up to eight and n ine, there are carefully chosen Housemothers; between twelve and thir- METROPOLITAN 400 67 teen, they are weaned from women and have exclusive ly male teachers, although the wives of instructors often live with their husbands in apartments within the boys’ dormitories and con- tinue a virtual kinship role with them. Care is taken that the self- image of the child not be slapped down, as it might by an insecure parent, and that manners at table as elsewhere be i mbibed from the general atmosphere rather than from authoritarian and for- bidding figures. Then one will always know what to do, even if one i s some- times puzzled. One will react appropriately upon meeting the man who is too carefully groomed and above all, the man who tries too hard to please, for one knows that that is not necessary if one is ‘the right sort of person.’ There will be the manner of simplicity and the easy dignity that can arise only out of an inner certainty that one’s being is a definitely established fact of one’s world, from which one cannot be excluded, ignored, snubbed, or paid off. And, in due course, as a young broker, banker, executive, one will feel smooth and handsome, with the easy bonhomie, the lo ok of supe- rior amusement, and all the useful friendships; one will have just the proper touch of deference toward the older men, even if they are members of your own club, and just the right degree of intelli- gence and enthusiasms—but not too much of either, f or one’s style is, after all, a realization of the motto of one’s schooling: nothing in excess. 30 Harvard or Yale or Princeton is not enough. It is t he really ex- clusive prep school that counts, for that determines which of the ‘two Harvards’ one attends. The clubs and cliques o f college are usually composed of carry-overs of association and name made in the lower levels at the proper schools; one’s frien ds at Harvard are friends made at prep school. That is why in the upper social classes, it does not by itself mean much merely to have a degree from an Ivy League college. That is assumed: the point is not Har- vard, but which Harvard? By Harvard, one means Porc ellian, Fly, or A.D.: by Yale, one means Zeta Psi or Fence or Delta Kap- pa Epsilon; by Princeton, Cottage, Tiger, Cap and Gown, or Ivy. 31 It is the prestige of a properly certified secondary education fol- lowed by a proper club in a proper Ivy League colle ge that is the standard admission ticket to the world of urban clubs and parties in any major city of the nation. To the prestige of the voice and 68 THE POWER ELITE manner, constructed in such schools, local loyaltie s bow, for that experience is a major clue to the nation-wide upper class that is homogeneous and self-conscious. Among those who are being educated in similar ways, the school naturally leads to marriage. The prep schools for boys are usually within a convenient range of boarding schoo ls for girls of similar age, and several times a year the students from each are thrown together for chaperoned occasions. There are , in addition, the sisters of the other boys and the brothers of the other girls. And for those attending the more exclusive boys’ and girls’ colleges, there are formally arranged visits and parties—in s hort, dating patterns—established between them. On the college level, the ex- clusive schools become components of a broadened ma rriage market, which brings into dating relation the children of the up- per social classes of the nation. 5 The rich who became rich before the Civil War also became the founders of most old American families, and those who have become rich since then have joined them. The metrop olitan upper class which they have formed has not been and is not now a pedi- greed society with a fixed membership, but for all of that, it has become a nationally recognized upper social class w ith many ho- mogeneous features and a strong sense of unity. If new families are added to it, they are always wealthy families, and new or old, their sons and daughters attend the same types of e xclusive schools and tend to marry one another. They belong to the same associations at the same set of Ivy League colleges, and they re- main in social and business touch by means of the b ig-city network of metropolitan clubs. In each of the nation’s leading cities, they recognize one another, if not strictly as peers, as people with much in common. In one another’s biographies they recogn ize the ex- periences they have had in common; in their financial positions of brokerage firm, bank, and corporation, they recogni ze the inter- ests they would all serve. To the extent that busin ess becomes truly national, the economic roles of the upper classes become similar and even interchangeable; to the extent that politics be- comes truly national, the political opinion and activity of the up- per classes become consolidated. All those forces that transform a METROPOLITAN 400 69 confederation of localities and a scatter of compan ies into a cor- porate nation, also make for the coinciding interes ts and func- tions and unity of the metropolitan 400. The upper social classes have come to include a variety of mem- bers concerned with power in its several contexts, and these con- cerns are shared among the members of the clubs, th e cousin- hoods, the firms, the law offices. They are topics of conversation around the dinner table, where family members and c lub associ- ates experience the range of great issues in a quite informal con- text. Having grown up together, trusting one anothe r implicitly, their personal intimacy comes to include a respect for the spe- cialized concerns of each member as a top man, a po licy-maker in his own particular area of power and decision. They spread into various commanding circles of the institutions of power. One promising son enters upon a high gove rnmental career—perhaps the State Department; his first cousin is in due course elevated to a high executive place in the he adquarters of a corporation; his uncle has already ascended to naval command; and a brother of the first cousin is about to become the president of a leading college. And, of course, there is the family law firm, whose partners keep in close touch with outlying me mbers and with the problems they face. Accordingly, in the inner circles of the upper classes, the most impersonal problems of the largest and most importa nt institu- tions are fused with the sentiments and worries of small, closed, intimate groups. This is one very important meaning of the upper- class family and of the upper-class school: ‘background’ is one way in which, on the basis of intimate association, the activities of an upper class may be tacitly co-ordinated. It is also important be- cause in such circles, adolescent boys and girls are exposed to the table conversations of decision-makers, and thus ha ve bred into them the informal skills and pretensions of decisio n-makers; in short, they imbibe what is called ‘judgment.’ Witho ut conscious effort, they absorb the aspiration to be—if not the conviction that they are—The Ones Who Decide. Within and between the upper-class families as well as their firms and offices, there are the schoolboy friendships and the prep schools and the college clubs, and later the key so cial and political clubs. And, in all these houses and organizations, there are the 70 THE POWER ELITE men who will later—or at the time of meeting—operat e in the di- verse higher circles of modern society. The exclusive schools and clubs and resorts of the upper social classes are not exclusive merely because their members are snobs. Such locales and associations have a real part in b uilding the upper-class character, and more than that, the conn ections to which they naturally lead help to link one higher circle with an- other. So the distinguished law student, after prep school and Har- vard, is ‘clerk’ to a Supreme Court judge, then a corporation law- yer, then in the diplomatic service, then in the law firm again. In each of these spheres, he meets and knows men of hi s own kind, and, as a kind of continuum, there are the old family friends and the schoolboy chums, the dinners at the club, and each year of his life the summer resorts. In each of these circles in which he moves, he acquires and exercises a confidence in his own a bility to judge, to decide, and in this confidence he is supported by his ready ac- cess to the experience and sensibility of those who are his social peers and who act with decision in each of the impo rtant institu- tions and areas of public life. One does not turn one’s back on a man whose presence is accepted in such circles, eve n under most trying circumstances. All over the top of the nation, he is ‘in,’ his appearance, a certificate of social position; his voice and manner, a badge of proper training; his associates, proof a t once of their acceptance and of his stereotyped discernment. 4 The Celebrities ALL those who succeed in America—no matter what their c ircle of origin or their sphere of action—are likely to become involved in the world of the celebrity. This world, which is now the Ameri- can forum of public honor, has not been built from below, as a slow and steady linking of local societies and metropolitan 400’s. It has been created from above. Based upon nation-w ide hierar- chies of power and wealth, it is expressed by nation-wide means of mass communication. As these hierarchies and the se media have come to overlay American society, new types of prestigeful men and women have come to compete with, to supplem ent, and even to displace the society lady and the man of pe digreed wealth. With the incorporation of the economy, the ascendancy of the military establishment, and the centralization of t he enlarged state, there have arisen the national elite, who, in occupying the command posts of the big hierarchies, have taken th e spotlight of publicity and become subjects of the intensive buil d-up. At the same time, with the elaboration of the national mea ns of mass communication, the professional celebrities of the entertainment world have come fully and continuously into the nat ional view. As personalities of national glamour, they are at the focal point of all the means of entertainment and publicity. Both the metropoli- tan 400 and the institutional elite must now compet e with and borrow prestige from these professionals in the world of the celeb- rity. But what are the celebrities? The celebrities are The Names 71 72 THE POWER ELITE that need no further identification. Those who know them so far exceed those of whom they know as to require no exa ct computa- tion. Wherever the celebrities go, they are recognized, and more- over, recognized with some excitement and awe. What ever they do has publicity value. More or less continuously, over a period of time, they are the material for the media of commun ication and entertainment. And, when that time ends—as it must—and the ce- lebrity still lives—as he may—from time to time it may be asked, ‘Remember him?’ That is what celebrity means. 1 In cafe society, the major inhabitants of the world of the celeb- rity—the institutional elite, the metropolitan soci alite, and the professional entertainer—mingle, publicly cashing i n one anoth- er’s claims for prestige. It is upon cafe society that all the spotlights of publicity often coincide, spreading the glamour found there to wider publics. For in cafe society national glamour has become a hard fact of well-established business routines. Cafe society exists in the restaurants and night cl ubs of New York City—from Fiftieth to Sixtieth streets, betwee n Third Ave- nue and Sixth. Maury Paul (the original ‘Cholly Kni ckerbocker’) seems to have invented the phrase in 1919 to indicate a small group of people who mingled in public but would not be likely to visit in one another’s homes. By 1937, when Fortune magazine printed an incisive report on cafe society, 1 the professional celeb- rities of erotic beauty and transient talent were w ell-planted at the key tables, along with such charter members of the old upper classes as John Hay (‘Jock’) Whitney. Cafe society is above all founded upon publicity. I ts members often seem to live for the exhibitionist mention of their doings and relations by social chroniclers and gossip columnis ts. Beginning as professional party-givers or as journalists, these chroniclers, along with headwaiters, have come to be professional cele brators and have shaped the world of celebrity as others know it. Maury Paul in 1937 was still commenting upon the accredited me tropolitan 400, although he covered their livelier aspects. His successor, to- day’s ‘Cholly Knickerbocker,’ one Igor Cassini, is not so limited. The world he writes about is more glossy than accre dited and cer- tainly is not bound by The Social Register. Around such names as THE CELEBRITIES 73 Stork Club, columnists of tabloid and television ha ve co-operated to fashion an aura of glamour seldom equaled in vol ume by the majesty of other courts. 2 Perhaps it began in the ‘twenties when socialites became really bored with Newport, and began to look to Broadway, then to Hol- lywood, for livelier playmates and wittier companions. Then, the speakeasy became a crossroads of Society and Broadw ay and Hollywood. ‘Its Ward McAllister was the bootlegger; its visiting list was Dun & Bradstreet’s; its Mrs. Astor could come from across the railroad tracks if only she came via Hollywood . . .’ ‘Prohibi- tion,’ write the editors of Fortune, ‘helped pull it out of private houses and respectable hotels into speakeasies in s earch first of a drink and then of adventure; the automobile and rad io industries gave it some new millionaires; rising real estate values drove Soci- ety out of its old brownstone houses into apartment s and recon- ciled it to standardized mass entertainment paralle l with new standardized mass housing; and if short skirts at first raised its eye- brows, Greenwich Village lowered its sex standard.’ 3 Five decades before, John L. Sullivan could not be recognized by Mrs. Astor’s Ward McAllister; but Gene Tunney wa s wel- comed by cafe society. And in 1924, what was the 400 to do, when the Prince of Wales seemed to prefer the jazz palace to the quiet homes of the proper families? 4 Cafe society rather than Newport frequently became the social target of new milliona ires. And the new upper classes of the time—much of their wealth derived from the entertainment industries—seemed to press less upon the old upper classes than upon cafe society, in which they found ready entree. Nowadays, cafe society often seems to be the top of such Ameri- can Society as is on national view. For, if its inh abitants do not have dinner rights in a few exclusive homes, they a re instantly recognizable from their photographs. Cafe society’s publicity has replaced the 400’s family-line, printer’s ink has r eplaced blue- blood, and a sort of talent in which the energy of hoped-for suc- cess, rather than the assurance of background or the manners of inherited wealth, is the key to the big entrance. In the world of the celebrity, the hierarchy of publicity has replaced the hierarchy of descent and even of great wealth. Not the gentleman ‘s club, but the night club, not Newport in the afternoon but Manhattan at 74 THE POWER ELITE night; not the old family but the celebrity. By 193 7, according to Fortune’s listings, about one-third of the cafe society ‘social list’ was not in The Social Register; 5 today the proportion is probably less than that. The professional celebrity, male and female, is the crowning result of the star system of a society that makes a fetish of com- petition. In America, this system is carried to the point where a man who can knock a small white ball into a series of holes in the ground with more efficiency and skill than anyone e lse there- by gains social access to the President of the United States. It is carried to the point where a chattering radio and t elevision enter- tainer becomes the hunting chum of leading industri al executives, cabinet members, and the higher military. It does n ot seem to matter what the man is the very best at; so long as he has won out in competition over all others, he is celebrated. T hen, a second feature of the star system begins to work: all the stars of any other sphere of endeavor or position are drawn toward the new star and he toward them. The success, the champion, accordin gly, is one who mingles freely with other champions to populate the world of the celebrity. This world is at once the pinnacle of the prestige system and a big-scale business. As a business, the networks of mass commu- nication, publicity, and entertainment are not only the means whereby celebrities are celebrated; they also select and create celebrities for a profit. One type of celebrity, accordingly, is a pro- fessional at it, earning sizeable income not only f rom working in, but virtually living on, the mass media of communic ation and dis- traction. The movie stars and the Broadway actress, the croon ers and the TV clowns, are celebrities because of what they do on and to these media. They are celebrated because they are d isplayed as celebrities. If they are not thus celebrated, in due time—often very short—they lose their jobs. In them, the panic for status has become a professional craving: their very image of self is depen- dent upon publicity, and they need increasing doses of it. Often they seem to have celebrity and nothing else. Rathe r than being celebrated because they occupy positions of prestige, they occupy positions of prestige because they are celebrated. The basis of the celebration—in a strange and intricate way—is at once personal THE CELEBRITIES 75 and synthetic: it is their Talent—which seems to me an their ap- pearance value and their skill combined into what i s known as A Personality. Their very importance makes them see m charm- ing people, and they are celebrated all the time: they seem to live a sort of gay, high life, and others, by curiously watching them live it, celebrate them as well as their celebrated way of life. The existence and the activities of these professio nal celebrities long ago overshadowed the social antics of the 400, and their competition for national attention has modified the character and the conduct of those who bear great institutional prestige. In part, they have stolen the show, for that is their business; in part, they have been given the show by the upper classes who h ave with- drawn and who have other business to accomplish. The star of the silver screen has displaced the golden debu- tante, to the point where the latter, in New York or Boston or even Baltimore, is happy indeed to mingle in cafe societ y with these truly national queens. There is no doubt that it is enormously more important to one’s prestige to have one’s picture on the cover of a truly big national magazine than in the societ y column of any newspaper in America or even ten of them. And there is no doubt who gets on the cover of such magazines. The top sp ot for young ladies is probably Life: during the decade of the ‘forties, no debu- tante from any city got there as a debutante, but n o less than 178 movie queens, professional models, and the like wer e there dis- played. More serious public figures too, must now compete for attention and acclaim with the professionals of the mass media. On provin- cial levels, politicians play in hillbilly bands; on national levels, they are carefully groomed and coached for the TV c amera, and, like other performers, the more important of them are subject to review by entertainment critics: ‘Last night’s “information talk” by President Eisenhower,’ Jack Gould of The New York Times reported on 6 April 195 4, ‘was much his most successful television appearance . . . The President and his television consultant, Robert Montgomery, a pparently found a “format” that enabled General Eisenhower to achieve re- laxation and immeasurably greater freedom of moveme nt. The result was the attainment of television’s most desired quality- naturalness … As the program began the President was shown 76 THE POWER ELITE sitting on the edge of a desk, his arms folded and a quiet smile on his lips. To his right—and the viewer’s left—was seen the flag. Then casually and conversationally he began speakin g. The same mood and tone were sustained for the next half hour … In past appearances when he used prompters, the President’s eyes never quite hit the camera; he always was looking just a hair to the left or to the right. But last night his eyes were dead on the lens and the viewer had a sense of being spoken to directly … As he neared the end of his talk and wanted to employ added emph asis, the General alternately knotted his hands or tapped the fingers of one on the palm of the other. Because they were intuiti ve his actions had the stamp of reality . .. The contents of General Eisenhower’s informal talk admittedly were not too earthshaking . . .’ 6 It is quite proper that ‘The New 400’ should be lis ted by the gossip columnist who, in the world of the celebrity, has replaced the well-bred man-about-town and the social hostess —the self- conscious social arbiters who once lent stability to the metropoli- tan 400. In charge of the publicity, these new arbi ters are not the obvious satellites of any of those about whom they write and talk. They are quite ready to tell us who belongs to ‘The New 400,’ as well as to identify them with ‘our magnificent a ccomplish- ments as a nation.’ In 1953, Igor Loiewski Cassini—who became ‘Cholly Knickerbocker’ during the nineteen-forties—published a list of 399 names which he believed to represent the ‘aristocracy of achievement in this country.’ 7 These, he holds, are people who are ‘loyal’ Americans, leaders in their field of work, men of ‘excel- lent character,’ men of ‘culture and taste,’ whole men having har- monious qualities as well as humility. Any such lis t, Cassini as- serts, would change from year to year, since it is leadership and humility that get them in and their children won’t make it unless they ‘have also bequeathed all the talents that hav e made them leaders.’ All of which is more or less complicated nonsense. Actually, Cassini’s list is a rather arbitrary selection from among the three types of people continuously, or on occasion, caugh t up in the world of celebrity: I. There are the professional celebrities—making up some 30 per cent of the list—names of the entertainment ind ustries, champions of sport, art, journalism, and commentating. The larg- THE CELEBRITIES 77 est sub-group among these are straight entertainers , although a handful of them could as well be considered ‘busine ssmen’ of the entertaining world. II. There are the metropolitan 400—but only some 12 per cent of them—people of family lineage and property. Some of these seem merely to have been born into such families, but the major- ity combine old families with active business positions. III. Well over half of ‘The New 400’—58 per cent—ar e simply people who occupy key positions in the major institutional hier- archies: most of these are government and business officials, al- though many are involved in both domains. There is also a small scattering (7% of the whole) of scientists, medical men, educators, religionists, and labor leaders. 8 2 As a social grouping, the metropolitan 400 has been supple- mented and displaced, but as individuals and as cli ques, they have become part of the national system of prestige. That system does not now center in the several metropolitan 400’s. For if, as we have said, the 400’s of various cities can find no one city to which to look, in all cities, large and small, they can all look to the nation- ally celebrated, and those among them with the incl ination and the money can join the world of the celebrity. What many local observers assume to be the decline of the big- city upper classes is, in fact, the decline of the metropolitan 400 as the most emphatic public bearer of prestige. 9 If members of the 400 do not become part of this national system, the y must with- draw into quiet local islands, living in another dimension than that of industrial and political power. Those who would now claim prestige in America must join the world of the celebrity or fade from the national scene. The metropolitan 400 reached its peak of publicized prestige as the top of the national system of prestige about the turn of the century. In the ‘eighties and ‘nineties, the older families had con- tended with newer families of wealth, but by World War I these newer families had gotten in. Today, the new wealth y of the post-Civil War period are among the established upper classes of various big cities all over the country. But, during the ‘twenties and ‘thirties, as we have seen, the new and more glamorous con- 78 THE POWER ELITE tenders for prestige came to overshadow the metropo litan 400’s, which thus had to contend not only with new upper c lasses, but the celebrities of the entertainment world as well. Even before the ‘twenties, complaints and reminiscences by memb ers of the 400 began frequently to be heard. 10 But all this is by no means to say that there is no longer a metropolitan 400. In fact, one feature of cafe society has remained ‘the celebrated socialites’ as well as ‘the society-minded celebrities’ who inhabit it. The prestige of the metropolitan 400 within cafe society is revealed by the fact that many people of older society and wealth could gain entree but do not care to do so. 11 But it is also true that the old certainty of posi- tion is no longer so firm among those who ‘do not c are’ to enter the ranks of the new celebrated. The metropolitan 400 has not declined at the same rate in all the major cities. The center of its decline, and its replacement in public view by cafe society, has been New York City, and g enerally in the Middle West, which apes the East. In Philadelphia a nd in the South, its decline has proceeded more slowly. ‘Society’ is quite di- verse: ‘In Atlanta, “the club you belong to counts” ; in Washington “anyone ‘official’ is society”; in Detroit it is “who you are in the auto industry”; in Miami “it’s simply your Dun & Bradstr eet rating.” In Los Angeles the new society is intertwined with the movie colony. “One thing that’s forced us to change,” explains th e Los Angeles Examiners Society Editor Lynn Spencer, “is that now when East- ern socialites come West, they’re more interested in seeing our movie stars than in meeting our own Western Society.” ‘ 12 In New York, the old Knickerbocker Society has virt ually with- drawn from the ostensible social scene; but, in Chicago it was still possible in 1954 for some two hundred pedigreed soc ialites, all supposedly with firm dinner rights, to know that Mrs. Chauncey McCormick—who serves impeccable dinners on gold pla te and Lowestoft china—was Queen of the Society which they formed. 13 The main drift in status, however, is clearly revea led by the parade of women who have been given American acclaim: 14 I. The type of woman known as The Salon Lady—who pa sses before us in the pages of Proust—has never been known in Amer- ica. The salon lady was the status representative of the household she commanded; as hostess, she judged who was and w ho was not to be admitted socially to it. If she gave birth to children, private THE CELEBRITIES 79 tutors, not she, educated them. And in her salon, w here courtiers jousted with one another intellectually for her attention, the value and the fact of monogamous virtue frequently broke down. Eroti- cism became a sort of competitive sport in which women and men conquered one another in ways that were intriguing and exciting. Apart from stray figures like Mabel Dodge of lower Fifth Ave- nue and Taos, New Mexico, there have not been women who ran genuine salons in the sense that salons were run as artistic and intellectual centers in Europe. The drawing rooms o f the most famous American society ladies have been more often peopled by bores than by dilettantish intellectuals. They have, of course, con- tained a ‘few dandies in the sense known to Savile Row and the boulevards of Paris,’ but their forte, as Dixon Wecter put it, has most usually been the mimicry of personalities and their ‘fame in repartee’ has often rested ‘upon the affinity between stammering and drollery.’ 15 The dominant type of ‘Society’ man in America be- tween the Civil War and World War I was rather the dancing man —the cotillion leader; and accordingly, discussion, let alone the type heard in the salon, has not played a noticeable part in the life of the American society lady. The society lady, who held the balls and arranged t he advan- tageous marriage for her daughter, was queen for only a relatively short period and only among a rather small public. The fashion- able lady may have longed for publicity, but as a fashionable lady she did not have much of a chance to get it. By the ‘twenties, when the mass media began their work with serious conseq uences, the society lady knew that her brief national time was over. II. The leading figure of metropolitan 400 during the ‘ twenties and ‘thirties was the debutante. Traditionally, the debut was for the purpose of introducing a young girl of high fam ily to an ex- clusive marriage market, and hence perpetuating the set of upper families as an exclusive circle. In 1938, about 1,000 debuts were made, at an average cost of $8,000 each; but they c ould not really compete as spectacles with Hollywood. As a status m odel the deb- utante declined, not only because of the competition of the more entertaining glamour girls of the fashion industry and cafe society but because by the middle ‘thirties the metropolitan 400, as based on family lineage, had so diminished in social excl usiveness that the debutante had no Society into which to make her debut. Or, 80 THE POWER ELITE at least, it did not seem a well-enough defined Soc iety. By 1938, the editors of Fortune were noting that the vanishing of polite so- ciety left ‘the debutante all dressed up with no place to go.’ 16 Some debutantes of the ‘thirties tried to compete w ith Holly- wood. They hired press agents who saw to it that th eir pictures were in the newspapers and articles about them were printed in the national magazines. The ‘trick,’ Elsa Maxwell has said, was ‘to look so bizarre and so extreme that the truck drive rs gasp but the ever-present cameraman will be bound to flash a bul b.’ 17 As ‘glam- orous members of the younger set,’ interested in ch arities and horse-racing, their faces—with complexions ‘as translucent as ala- baster’—appeared, endorsing soap in the women’s mag azines. 18 Grade-A debutantes not only frequented midtown East Side bars, but also worked as mannequins and even as salesgirls in exclusive shops. But their very use by advertising media and fashion indus- try revealed the ambiguity of their ‘social distinction.’ Perhaps the extravagant private ball and the public ity that at- tended the debut of Brenda Frazier signified both t he height of the debutante as a publicized American woman and th e demise of the debutante’s monopoly on glamour. Today the d ebutante is frequently not ‘introduced to society’ at private parties at her parent’s sumptuous home; she comes out along with n inety-nine other girls at a large subscription dance in a hotel. 19 The assembly line of interlocking subscription dances is not so automatic ‘that it will produce a debutante no matter who is put into it . . . There are ten committees guarding the approaches to the d ebut in New York, though a girl need not pass muster with more than five . . .’ 20 To these subscription dances are attached most of t he social sec- retaries, who keep lists of sub-debs and debutantes and eligible boys and arrange coming-out parties. Business magaz ines advise executives as to when and how to arrange for their daughter’s debut, even if they are not listed in The Social Register. If the executive goes about it right, he is assured, his daughter ‘can be considered as successfully launched socially as if she were a blue- blood.’ 21 There are still private debuts, but the mass debuts now pre- dominate, and probably will so long as ‘society as a well-organ- ized, clearly defined group’ does not exist after t he debutante year. Yet the year of the debut is still of social importance, no mat- THE CELEBRITIES 81 ter how standardized, since ‘everything’s got to be crammed into that short period because after that it disintegrates.’ 22 In so far as the more socially prominent modem debu tante makes her debut into anything that will give her celebrity she makes it into cafe society. And, in so far as she is celebrated wide- ly, she must compete with the other glamorous occup ants of cafe society. The professional institutions of Conover a nd Powers, Mona Gardner reported in 1946, ‘have raised modeling to such a glamour pinnacle that eligible men would far rather have a Powers or Conover girl on the arm, or in the home, than on e of the blue- bloods.’ 23 m. In cafe society today there are still the crew-cut young men from Yale and the debutante, but now there are also the heavy expense-account executives and The All-American Girl. 24 In any New York night club on a big night at the time of the two-o’clock show her current model can be found: with the doll face and the swank body starved down for the camera, a rather th in, ganted girl with the wan smile, the bored gaze, and often the slightly opened mouth, over which the tongue occasionally slides to insure the highlights. She seems, in fact, always to be practicing for those high, nervous moments when the lens is actually the re. The terms of her competition are quite clear: her professional stance is the stance of the woman for whom a haughty kind of unco nquerable eroticism has become a way of life. It is the expensive look of an expensive woman who feels herself to be expensive. She has the look of a girl who knows her fate rests quite fully—even exclu- sively—upon the effect of her look upon a certain type of man. This is the queen—the all-American girl—who, whethe r she be debutante or fashion model or professional entertainer, sets the images of appearance and conduct which are imitated down the national hierarchy of glamour, to the girls carefully trained and selected for the commercial display of erotic promise, as well as to the young housewife in the kitchen. While the pu blic, by its imitation, openly supports her image as a piece of very fancy sex, it is duly shocked when disclosures are occasionally made reveal- ing the commercial fulfillment of this promise. But how could it be otherwise? The model’s money does not add up to muc h. But the men she meets have money, and her tastes quickly become expen- sive. The men she meets control careers, and she wants a career. 82 THE POWER ELITE She is of, but not solidly in, the world of breakfa sts at noon and the long lunch. The all-American girl sits at the top of cafe soci- ety, and cafe society, we must remember, is a profitable set of busi- nesses, supported by executives on expense accounts . And so the imitators of the queen sometimes become expense-acc ount girls. 25 No ‘New American Woman’ of Theodore Dreiser’s era k new as well as the all-American girl knows that ‘the wages of sin might easily be success.’ The public is quite used to the idea of vice, but it likes to think it involves only idle rich boys and poor country gi rls. The men in- volved in the vice of cafe society, however, are by no means boys; they are not idle; they need not personally be rich ; and they are not interested in poor or innocent or country girls. The women in- volved are not exactly girls; they may have come fr om smaller cities, but they are now very much big city; they are not innocent, and they are not exactly poor. One easily forgets t hat the under- side of the glamour of cafe society is simply a service trade in vice. Those engaged in it—the procurers, the prostitutes, the custom- ers, who buy and sell assorted varieties of erotica l service—are often known to their associates as quite respectable. And the all- American girl, as a photographed image and as a per son, is often a valued and indispensable helpmate to the great Am erican sales- man. Among those whom Americans honor none is so ubiquit ous as the young girl. It is as if Americans had undertaken to paint a continuing national portrait of the girl as Queen. Everywhere one looks there is this glossy little animal, sometimes quite young and sometimes a little older, but always imagined, alwa ys pictured, as The Girl. She sells beer and she sells books, cigarettes, and clothes; every night she is on the TV screen, and every week on every other page of the magazines, and at the movie s too, there she is. 3 We have noted that since Mrs. John Jay’s eighteenth -century dinner list, the political, military, and economic elite have not neatly coincided with those of superior social status. This is clearly reflected in the Society of Washington, D.C., today . In so far as there is a metropolitan 400 in Washington, it is merely one ele- THE CELEBRITIES 83 ment in the social life of the Capitol, and is, in fact, overshadowed and out-ranked by official Society, especially by t he Embassy Row along Massachusetts Avenue. Yet not all officials t ake Society seri- ously, and some avoid it altogether; moreover, key officials, re- gardless of social qualifications, must be invited, and, given the facts of politics, the turnover rate is high. 26 If cafe society and all that it represents has inva ded and dis- tracted New York Society, the ascendancy of politic s and the fact of political turnover have made Society difficult t o maintain in Washington. There is nothing that could be called c afe society in Washington; the key affairs are in private houses or in official resi- dences, and most elaborately in the embassies with their titled attaches. In fact, there is no really firm line-up of Society in Wash- ington, composed as it is of public officials and p oliticians, of fam- ilied hostesses and wealthy climbers, of widows wit h know-how and ambassadors with unofficial messages to impart. Yet prestige is the shadow of money and power. Wher e these are, there it is. Like the national market for soap or automobiles and the enlarged arena of federal power, the nation al cash-in area for prestige has grown, slowly being consolidated into a truly na- tional system. Since the men of the higher politica l, economic, and military circles are an elite of money and power, they accumu- late a prestige that is considerably above the ordinary; all of them have publicity value and some of them are downright eminent; in- creasingly, by virtue of their position and by means of conscious public relations, they strive to make their names n otable, their actions acceptable, their policies popular. And in all this, they tend to become national celebrities. Members of the power elite are celebrated because o f the po- sitions they occupy and the decisions they command. They are celebrities because they have prestige, and they ha ve prestige because they are thought to have power or wealth. It is true that they, too, must enter the world of publicity, become material for the mass media, but they are sought as material alm ost irrespec- tive of what they do on and to these media. The prestige of the Congressmen, John Galbraith has re- marked, 27 is graded by the number of votes he controls and by the committees he is on. The official’s importance is set by the number of people working under him. The prestige of the businessman is 84 THE POWER ELITE measured less by his wealth or his income—although, of course, these are important—than by the size of his business. He borrows his prestige from the power of his company as measured by its size, and from his own position in its hierarchy. A small businessman making a million a year is not so important and does not have the national prestige enjoyed by the head of a major co rporation who is making only two hundred thousand. In the militar y ranks, of course, all this is made formal and rigid. At the turn of the century, the nationalization of status meant that there were rising elite groups with which local upper classes in every town and city of the nation had to compare themselves, and that when they did so, they came to realize that only locally were they at the top. Now, fifty years later, it me ans that, and much more. For what separates that age from ours is the rise of mass communication, the prime means of acclaim and even a cre- ator of those acclaimed. From the coincidence of the mass media and the big organization there has emerged the pres tige of the national elite. These national means of mass communication have been the channels through which those at the top could reach the underlying population. Heavy publicity, the techniq ue of the build-up, and the avaricious demand of the media fo r continuous copy have placed a spotlight upon these people such as no higher circles of any nation in world history have ever had upon them. The big institutions are in themselves graded world s of pres- tige. They are stratified by level of office, with each level carrying its appropriate prestige. They constitute a hierarc hy of people who by training and position defer to those above them, and come in time to respect their commanders who have such e normous power over them. No one can have such an organized deference group below him, and possess such powers of command as it pro- vides, without also acquiring prestige among those who are di- rectly of the big institution itself. Instead of servants, there is the row of private se cretaries; instead of the fine old house, the paneled office; instead of the private car, the company’s limousine, the agency’s chauffeur, the Air Force’s motor pool. Frequently, of course, there are both the fine old house and the paneled office. Yet the prestige of the elite is, in the first instance, a prestige of the office they command rather than of the families to which they belong. THE CELEBRITIES 85 The position held in the national corporation has b ecome a ma- jor basis for status claims. The corporation is now the organized power center of the propertied classes; the owning and manage- rial elites of the big-city upper class, as well as the members of local society, now tend to look to the corporation in claiming and in assigning prestige to one another, and from it they derive many of the status privileges they enjoy.* Inside the co rporation and outside it among other corporate worlds as well as in the country at large, they gain the prestige of their positions. As the national state becomes enlarged, the men who occupy the command posts within it are transformed from ‘merely dirty politicians’ into statesmen and administrators of note. Of course, it is true that the status pretenses of politicians have to be held carefully in curb: high political figures, even whe n it goes against their status grain, have had to learn to be folksy, and, from the standpoint of more ceremonial codes, vulgar in thei r tone of speech and style of life. Yet as the power of political institutions becomes greater, the men at the top become celebrit ies in a na- tional system of prestige that cannot very well be resisted. As military men have become more powerful during th e wars and during the war-like interludes between, they too have joined the new national prestige scheme. They, as well as policemen, derive such importance as they have from the simple fact that violence is the final support of power and the final resort of those who would contest it. Only when revolution or crime threaten to disturb domestic order does the police captain, and only when diplomacy and war threaten international order, do the gener- als and admirals, come to be recognized for what at all times they are: indispensable elements of the order of power t hat prevails within and between the national states of the world. A nation becomes a great power only on one conditio n: that its military establishment and resources are such that it could really threaten decisive warfare. In the rank order of states a na- tion must fight a great war successfully in order t o be truly great. The effective force of what an ambassador says is a rather direct reflection of how mighty the general, how large and effective the fighting force standing back of him, is supposed to be. Military power determines the political standing of nations, and to the ex- * See SEVEN : The Corporate Rich. 86 THE POWER ELITE tent that nationalism is honored, to that extent ge nerals and ad- mirals share decisively in the system of national honor. The public prestige of these various institutions v aries, and ac- cordingly the prestige of their elites. The prestige of public office and military position, for example, is higher in ti mes of war, when business executives become dollar-a-year men and ra ilroad colo- nels, and all groups rally behind the militant state at war. But when business-as-usual prevails, when businessmen l eave gov- ernment to others, public office and military status have often been vilified, as the prestige of public employment is deflated in favor of big business. During the ‘twenties the president of General Elect ric appar- ently was considered too valuable a man to be presi dent of the United States;* and, even during the ‘thirties, members of the mere cabinet of the United States were not always t o be placed on an equal footing with members of very rich families.** Yet this * ‘. . . In his inside circle of business and legal associates,’ Ida Tar- bell has noted of Owen D. Young, ‘while everyone ag rees that he would make a “great president,” there is a feeling that he is too valuable a pub- lic servant where he is, to be, as one man put it t o me, “spoiled by the presidency” … He has other admirers that intimate as much: Will Rogers who wants to keep him “to point to with prid e”; Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, who in introducing him in the fall of 1930 at a compli- mentary dinner said: “Our guest of honor is a publi c servant, although he holds no office. Whether the public servant receives office or not is accidental, and if this public servant by accident does assume office, as likely as not it is apt to reduce a great deal of the public servant’s public service.” ‘ 28 Mr. Young stated in his own economic metaphysics in 1931: ‘A cer- tain amount of horseplay seems to be required as stage effect for the functioning of democratic government. The world has learned that it can afford a certain amount of horseplay in politics. It is awakening to the realization that it cannot have horseplay in economics . . . Charm- ing as politics may be at times on the stage, she i s often petulant and petty in the dressing rooms . . . Nothing is cleare r, from the experi- ences of the last ten years, than the necessity of keeping our economic machinery and especially our finance free from the domination and control of politics.’ 29 ** Thus Harold Ickes writes concerning a ‘state visit from the heads of one political entity to those of another political entity’: ‘Only a few chosen souls were asked to sit on the porch where t he King and Queen spent most of their time, and apparently Jim Farley was the only mem- THE CELEBRITIES 87 lack of esteem for political office when compared w ith high cor- porate position has been changing and will change m ore—as the several elites come closer together within the state, and all of them learn better how to avail themselves of the me ans of public- ity well within their powers to buy, command, or ot herwise use. Those whose power or wealth exceeds their reputation will all the more readily become engaged in the means of publici ty. More and more they play to the microphone and the lens as well as the news conference. 31 4 Those who are familiar with the humanities, we should recall, often shy at the word ‘prestige’; they know that in its origins it means dazzling the eye with conjuring tricks. Prestige, it is often held, is a mysterious force. ‘Whatever has been a r uling power in the world,’ Gustave Le Bon once remarked, ‘whether it be ideas or men, has in the main enforced its authority by m eans of that irresistible force expressed by the word “prestige” . . . Prestige in reality is a sort of domination exercised on our mind by an in- dividual, a work, or an idea . . .’ This domination ‘paralyzes our critical faculty’ and fills us with ‘astonishment and respect. . .’ 32 Mr. Gladstone much preferred ‘honor’ to ‘prestige.’ But, of course, as Harold Nicolson has noted, 33 the meaning of prestige varies in the several countries of the western world.* Moreover, men of power do not want to believe that prestige is merely some- ber of the Cabinet, aside from the Hulls, who was c onsidered worthy of inclusion among the elect. But J. P. Morgan was the re and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, etc. The rest of the members of the Cabinet milled about with the common herd down on the lawn, some fifteen hundred of them, and at not too frequent inter- vals the King and Queen would graciously go down am ong the herd bowing here and there and being introduced to some of the more se- lect.’ 30 * In France ‘prestige’ carries an emotional association of fraudulence, of the art of illusion, or at least of something adventitious. In Italy, too, the word is often used to mean something ‘dazzling, deceptive or leg- endary.’ And in Germany, where it is a definitely foreign word, it cor- responds to the German Anshen or ‘esteem’; or to de r Nimbus, which is close to our ‘glamour’; or it is a variant of ‘national honor,’ with the hys- terical obstinacy everywhere associated with such p hrases. 88 THE POWER ELITE thing nice that is given to the powerful. They want their prestige to imply that other people are prepared to believe in their power ‘without that power having either to be demonstrate d or exer- cised.’ But still this conception is neither complete nor satisfac- tory. In fact, it is a conception of prestige very convenient for the already powerful—for those who would maintain it ch eaply, with- out having to use power. And, of course, it is convenient for such people to believe that their repute is based on ami able virtues rather than past power. Yet it is true that the power of guns or of money i s not all there is to prestige. Some reputation must be mixed with power in order to create prestige. An elite cannot acquir e prestige without power; it cannot retain prestige without reputation. Its past power and success builds a reputation, on which it can coast for a while. But it is no longer possible for the power of an elite based on reputation alone to be maintained against reputation that is based on power. If the prestige of elite circles contains a large element of moral reputation, they can keep it even if they lose cons iderable power; if they have prestige with but little reputation, their prestige can be destroyed by even a temporary and relative decli ne of power. Perhaps that is what has happened to the local societies and met- ropolitan 400’s of the United States. In his theory of American prestige, Thorstein Veble n, being more interested in psychological gratification, tended to overlook the social function of much of what he described. B ut prestige is not merely social nonsense that gratifies the individual ego: it serves, first of all, a unifying function. Many of the social phenom- ena with which Veblen had so much fun—in fact most ‘status behavior’—serve to mediate between the elite of various hierar- chies and regions. The locales of status are the meeting places for various elites of decision, and leisure activities are one way of se- curing co-ordination between various sections and e lements of the upper class. Like high families and exclusive schools, status ac tivities also provide a marriage market, the functions of which go well beyond the gratifications of displayed elegance, of brown orchids and white satin: they serve to keep a propertied class intact and un- THE CELEBRITIES 89 scattered; by monopoly of sons and daughters, ancho ring the class in the legalities of blood lines. ‘Snobbish’ exclusiveness secures privacy to those who can af- ford it. To exclude others enables the high and mighty to set up and to maintain a series of private worlds in which they can and do discuss issues in which they train their young informally for the decision-making temper. In this way they blend impe rsonal de- cision-making with informal sensitivities, and so shape the charac- ter structure of an elite. There is another function—today the most important— of pres- tige and of status conduct. Prestige buttresses power, turning it into authority, and protecting it from social challenge. ‘Prestige lost by want of success,’ Le Bon has remarked, ‘dis appears in a brief space of time. It can also be worn away, but more slowly, by being subjected to discussion . . . From the moment prestige is called in question it ceases to be prestige. The gods and men who have kept their prestige for long have never tolera ted discussion. For the crowd to admire, it must be kept at a distance.’ 34 ‘Power for power’s sake’ is psychologically based o n prestige gratification. But Veblen laughed so hard and so co nsistently at the servants and the dogs and the women and the spo rts of the elite that he failed to see that their military, economic, and politi- cal activity is not at all funny. In short, he did not succeed in re- lating a view of their power over armies and factor ies to what he believed, quite rightly, to be their funny business. He was, in my view, not quite serious enough about status because he did not see its full and intricate importance to power. He saw ‘the kept classes’ and ‘the underlying population,’ but in his time, he could not really understand the prestige of the power elite. 35 The heart of Veblen’s conception of prestige, and e ven some of its terms, were set forth by John Adams in the late eighteenth cen- tury. 36 But to know that John Adams anticipated much of Ve blen’s idea is in no way to deprecate Veblen, for is not his theory essen- tially an extended piece of worldly wisdom, long kn own and per- haps often stated, but stated by Veblen in magnific ent form and at a time when it could take hold of a literate pub lic? Adams, however, went farther than Veblen in at least two r espects: He was shrewder psychologically—and more complicated; among his comments we also come upon certain passages in which he 90 THE POWER ELITE tries to connect status phenomena, conceived as the realities of social and personal life, with the political sphere, conceived, as his generation was wont, as a problem of constituti on building. Adams understands the status system of a nation in a way that Veblen does not, as politically relevant, and in this we had better listen to John Adams: ‘A death bed, it is said, shows the emptiness of ti tles. That may be. But does it not equally show the futility of riches, power, lib- erty, and all earthly things? .. . Shall it be inferred from this, that fame, liberty, property and life, shall be always d espised and neg- lected? Shall laws and government, which regulate s ublunary things be neglected, because they appear baubles at the hour of death? ‘.. . The rewards … in this life, are esteem and admiration of others—the punishments are neglect and contempt—nor may any- one imagine that these are not as real as the others. The desire of the esteem of others is as real a want of nature as hunger—and the neglect and contempt of the world as severe a p ain, as the gout or stone … It is a principal end of government to regulate this passion, which in its turn becomes a principal means of gov- ernment. It is the only adequate instrument of orde r and subordi- nation in society, and alone commands effectual obe dience to laws, since without it neither human reason, nor standing armies, would ever produce that great effect. Every personal quality, and every blessing of fortune, is cherished in proportion to its capacity of gratifying this universal affection for the esteem, the sympathy, admiration and congratulations of the public . . . ‘Opportunity will generally excite ambition to aspi re; and if even an improbable case should happen of an excepti on to this rule, danger will always be suspected and apprehended, in such circumstances, from such causes. We may soon see, that a form of government, in which every passion has an adequate counter- poise, can alone secure the public from the dangers and mischiefs, of such rivalries, jealousies, envies and hatreds.’ Just what does Veblen’s theory of status have to sa y about the operations of the political economy? The metropolitan 400—about which Veblen wrote—did not become the center of a n ational sys- tem of prestige. The professional celebrities of the mass media are THE CELEBRITIES 91 without power of any stable sort and are in fact ep hemeral figures among those we celebrate. Yet there is an elite demand for some sort of organ ization of enduring and stable prestige, which Veblen’s analysis misses. It is a ‘need’ quite consciously and quite deeply felt by the elite of wealth and especially the elite of power in the Uni ted States to- day. During the nineteenth century neither the political nor the mili- tary elite were able to establish themselves firmly at the head or even near the head of a national system of prestige . John Adams’s suggestions, which leaned in that direction, were n ot taken up. 37 Other forces and not any official system of distinction and honor have given such order as it has had to the American polity. The economic elite—for this very reason it is uniquely significant—rose to economic power in such a way as to upset repeate d attempts to found national status on enduring family lines. But in the last thirty years, there have been signs of a status merger among the economic, political, and military elite. As an elite of power, they have begun to seek, as powerful men every- where have always sought, to buttress their power w ith the man- tle of authoritative status. They have begun to con solidate their new status privileges—popularized in terms of the e xpense ac- count but rooted deeply in their corporate way of life. As they come more fully to realize their position in the cultural world of nations, will they be content with the clowns and t he queens—the professional celebrities—as the world representativ es of their American nation? Horatio Alger dies hard, but in due course will not those Ameri- cans who are celebrated come to coincide more clear ly with those who are the most powerful among them? The rituals o f demo- cratic leadership are firmly expected, but in due course will not snobbery become official and the underlying populat ion startled into its appropriate grade and rank? To believe otherwise, it might seem, is to reject all that is relevant in human history. But on the other hand, the liberal rhetoric—as a cloak for act ual power—and the professional celebrity—as a status distraction— do permit the power elite conveniently to keep out of the limelight. It is by no means certain, just at this historical juncture, that they are not quite content to rest uncelebrated. 92 THE POWER ELITE 5 In the meantime, the American celebrities include t he trivial as well as the grim. Behind all The Names are the i mages dis- played in tabloid and on movie screen, over radio and television —and sometimes not displayed but just imagined. For now all of the higher types are seen by those lower down as celebrities. In the world of the celebrities, seen through the magnifying glass of the mass media, men and women now form a kaleido scope of highly distracting images: In downtown New York, on a short street with a graveyard at one end and a river at the other, the rich are getting out of com- pany limousines. On the flattened top of an Arkansa s hill, the grandson of a late mogul is creating a ranch with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy. 38 Behind a mahogany table in the caucus room of the United States Senate, seven senators lean toward the tele- vision lenses. In Texas an oil man, it is said, is taking out two hun- dred thousand dollars a day. 39 Somewhere in Maryland people in red coats are riding to hounds; in a Park Avenue ap artment, a coal miner’s daughter, having lived in the married state for twenty months, has just decided to accept a five-and-one-h alf million dol- lar settlement. 40 At Kelly Field, the General walks carelessly be- tween rows of painfully rigid men; on Fifty-Seventh Street, ex- pensive women inspect the taut manikins. Between La s Vegas and Los Angeles, an American-born Countess is found dead in her railway compartment, lying full-length in a long mink coat alongside a quarter of a million dollars worth of jewelry. 41 Seated in Boston, a board of directors orders three indust rial plants moved, without employees, to Nashville. And in Wash ington, D.C., a sober politician, surrounded by high military aides and scientific advisers, orders a team of American airmen to fly to- ward Hiroshima. In Switzerland are those who never know winter exce pt as the chosen occasion for sport, on southern islands those who never sweat in the sun except at their February leisure. All over the world, like lords of creation, are those who, by travel, command the seasons and, by many houses, the very landscape they will see each morning or afternoon they are awakened. Here is the old whiskey and the new vice; the blonde girl with the moist mouth, THE CELEBRITIES 93 always ready to go around the world; the silver Mer cedes climb- ing the mountain bend, going where it wants to go for so long as it wants to stay. From Washington, D.C., and Dallas, Texas, it is reported that 103 women have each paid $300 for a g old lipstick. On a yacht, with its crew of ten, somewhere off the Keys, a man of distinction lies on his bed and worries about the report from his New York office that the agents of the Bureau of In ternal Revenue are busy again. Here are the officials at the big desks with the four telephones, the ambassadors in the lounge-rooms, talking earnes tly but some- how lightly. Here are the men who motor in from the airport with a secret service man beside the chauffeur, motorcyc led outriders on either flank, and another tailing a block behind. Here are the people whose circumstances make them independent of the good will of others, never waiting for anyone but always waited upon. Here are the Very Important Persons who during the wars come and go, doubled up in the General’s jeep. Here are those who have ascended to office, who have been elevated to disti nguished em- ployments. By the sound of their voices, it is evident that they have been trained, carefully yet casually, to be somebody. Here are the names and faces and voices that are al ways before you, in the newspapers and on the radio, in the new sreels and on the television screen,- and also the names and faces you do not know about, not even from a distance, but who reall y run things, or so informed sources say, but you could never prove it. Here are the somebodies who are held to be worthy of notice: now they are news, later they will be history. Here are the men who own a firm of lawyers and four accountants. Here are the men w ho have the inside track. Here are all the expensive commodities, to which the rich seem appendages. Here is the money talking in its husky, silky voice of cash, power, celebrity. 5 The Very Rich MANY Americans now feel that the great American fortunes are something that were made before World War I, or at least that they were broken up for good by the crash of 1929. Excep t perhaps in Texas, it is felt, there are no very rich anymore, and, even if there are, they are simply elderly inheritors about to di e, leaving their millions to tax collectors and favorite charities. Once upon a time in America there were the fabulously rich; now that time is past and everyone is only middle class. Such notions are not quite accurate. As a machine for producing millionaires, American capitalism is in better shape than such un- sound pessimism would indicate. The fabulously rich , as well as the mere millionaires, are still very much among us ; moreover, since the organization of the United States for World War II, new types of ‘rich men’ with new types of power and pre rogative have joined their ranks. Together they form the corporate rich of Amer- ica, whose wealth and power is today comparable wit h those of any stratum, anywhere or anytime in world history. 1 It is somewhat amusing to observe how the scholarly world has changed its views of the big-business circles of which the very rich are a part. When the great moguls were first discov ered in print, the muckrakers of journalism had their counterparts in the aca- demic journals and books; during the ‘thirties, The Robber Barons clawed and bit their way to infamy, as Gustavus Mye rs’s neg- lected work became a Modern Library best-seller and Matthew Josephson and Ferdinand Lundberg were the men to quote. Just 94 THE VERY RICH 95 now, with the conservative postwar trend, the robbe r barons are being transformed into the industrial statesmen. The great cor- porations, full of publicity consciousness, are having their schol- arly histories written, and the colorful image of t he great mogul is becoming the image of a constructive economic he ro from whose great achievement all have benefited and from whose character the corporate executive borrows his right to rule and his good, solid, justified feelings about doing so. It is as if the historians could not hold in their heads a hundred-year stretch of history but saw all of it carefully through the political lens of each and every administration. Two general explanations for the fact of the very r ich—now and in the past—are widely available. The first, of muc kraker origin, was best stated by Gustavus Myers, whose work is a gigantic gloss in pedantic detail upon Balzac’s assertion that beh ind every great fortune there lies a crime. The robber barons, as the tycoons of the post-Civil-War era came to be called, descen ded upon the investing public much as a swarm of women might des cend into a bargain basement on Saturday morning. They exploited national resources, waged economic wars among themselves, en tered into combinations, made private capital out of the public domain, and used any and every method to achieve their ends. Th ey made agreements with railroads for rebates; they purchased newspa- pers and bought editors; they killed off competing and indepen- dent businesses, and employed lawyers of skill and statesmen of repute to sustain their rights and secure their privileges. There is something demonic about these lords of creation; it is not merely rhetoric to call them robber barons. Perhaps there is no straight- forward economic way to accumulate $100 million for private use; although, of course, along the way the unstraightfo rward ways can be delegated and the appropriator’s hands kept clean. If all the big money is not easy money, all the easy money that is safe is big. It is better, so the image runs, to take one dime from each of ten million people at the point of a corporation than $100,000 from each of ten banks at the point of a gun. It is also safer. Such harsh images of the big rich have been frequen tly chal- lenged, not so much on the grounds of any error in the facts ad- vanced, as on the grounds that they result from estimations from 96 THE POWER ELITE the point of view of legality, morality, and person ality, and that the more appropriate view would consider the econom ic func- tion that the propertied moguls have performed in their time and place. According to this view, which has been most ably summed up by Joseph Schumpeter, the propertied giants are seen as men who stand at the focal points of the ‘perennial gale of innovations’ that sweeps through the heyday of capitalism. By th eir personal acumen and supernormal effort, they create and comb ine private enterprises in which are embodied new technical and financial techniques or new uses for old ones. These techniques and the social forms they have assumed are the very motors of the capi- talist advance, and the great moguls who create and command them are the pace-setters of the capitalist motion itself. In this way, Schumpeter combines a theory of capitalist pro gress with a theory of social stratification to explain, and indeed to celebrate, the ‘creative destruction’ of the great entrepreneurs. 1 These contrasting images—of the robber and of the i nnovator —are not necessarily contradictory: much of both could be true, for they differ mainly in the context in which those who hold them choose to view the accumulators of great fortune. M yers is more interested in legal conditions and violations, and in the more bru- tal psychological traits of the men; Schumpeter is more interested in their role in the technological and economic mechanics of vari- ous phases of capitalism, although he, too, is rather free and easy with his moral evaluations, believing that only men of superior acumen and energy in each generation are lifted to the top by the mechanics they are assumed to create and to focus. The problem of the very rich is one example of the larger prob- lem of how individual men are related to institutions, and, in turn, of how both particular institutions and individual men are related to the social structure in which they perform their roles. Although men sometimes shape institutions, institutions alwa ys select and form men. In any given period, we must balance the weight of the character or will or intelligence of individual men with the objec- tive institutional structure which allows them to e xercise these traits. It is not possible to solve such problems by referring anecdotally either to the guile or the sagacity, the dogmatism or the determi- nation, the native intelligence or the magical luck, the fanaticism THE VERY RICH 97 or the superhuman energy of the very rich as indivi duals. These are but differing vocabularies, carrying different moral judgments, with which the activities of the accumulators may b e described. Neither the ruthlessness and illegality, with which Gustavus Myers tends to rest content, nor the far-sighted, industr ial statesman- ship, with which many historians now seem happier, are expla- nations—they are merely accusation or apology. That is why mod- ern social psychologists are not content to explain the rise of any social and economic stratum by moral reference to t he personal traits of its members. The more useful key, and one which rests easier within the mod- ern mind, is provided by more objective circumstanc es. We must understand the objective structure of opportunities as well as the personal traits which allow and encourage given men to exploit these objective opportunities which economic histor y provides them. Now, it is perfectly obvious that the personal traits required for rising and for holding one’s place among waterf ront gangsters will be different from those required for success among peaceful sheepherders. Within American capitalism, it is equ ally obvious that different qualities were required for men who would rise in 1870 than for men who would rise eight decades late r. It seems therefore rather beside the point to seek the key to the very rich in the secret springs of their personalities and mannerisms. Moreover, explanations of the rich as a social fact by reference to their personal traits as individuals are usually tautological. The test of ‘ability,’ for example, in a society in which money is a sov- ereign value is widely taken to be money-making: Tf you are so smart, why aren’t you rich?’ And since the criterion of ability is the making of money, of course ability is graded accord ing to wealth and the very rich have the greatest ability. But if that is so, then ability cannot be used in explanation of the rich; to use the ac- quisition of wealth as a sign of ability and then to use ability as an explanation of wealth is merely to play with two wo rds for the same fact: the existence of the very rich. The shape of the economy at the time of Carnegie’s adolescence was more important to his chances than the fact that he had a prac- tical mother. No matter how ‘ruthless’ Commodore Va nderbilt might have been, he would have accomplished little in appropri- ating railroads had the political system not been utterly corrup- 98 THE POWER ELITE tible. And suppose the Sherman Act had been enforce d in such a way as to break up the legal buttress of the great corporation. 2 Where would the very rich in America—no matter what their psy- chological traits—now be? To understand the very rich in Amer- ica, it is more important to understand the geographical distribu- tion of oil and the structure of taxation than the psychological traits of Haroldson L. Hunt; more important to understand the legal framework of American capitalism and the corruptibility of its agents than the early childhood of John D. Rockefeller; more im- portant to understand the technological progression of the capi- talist mechanism than the boundless energy of Henry Ford, more important to understand the effects of war upon the need for oil and the tax loophole of depletion than Sid Richards on’s un- doubted sagacity; more important to understand the rise of a sys- tem of national distribution and of the mass market than the fru- gality of F. W. Woolworth. Perhaps J. P. Morgan did as a child have very severe feelings of inadequacy, perhaps his father did believe that he would not amount to anything; perha ps this did effect in him an inordinate drive for power for power’s sake. But all this would be quite irrelevant had he been living in a peasant village in India in 1890. If we would understand th e very rich we must first understand the economic and political st ructure of the nation in which they become the very rich. It requires many types of men and vast quantities o f national endowment to run capitalism as a productive apparat us and a money-making machine. No type of man could have acc umulated the big fortunes had there not been certain conditions of eco- nomic, material, and political sort. The great American fortunes are aspects of a particular kind of industrialization w hich has gone on in a particular country. This kind of industrialization, involving very private enterprise, has made it possible for m en to occupy such strategic positions that they can dominate the fabulous means of man’s production; link the powers of science and labor; control man’s relation to nature—and make millions out of it. It is not hindsight that makes us sure of this; we can easily predict it of nations not yet industrialized, and we can confirm it by observing other ways of industrialization. The industrialization of Soviet Russia has now revealed clearly THE VERY RICH 99 to the world that it is possible to carry through a rapidly advancing industrialization without the services of a private stratum of multi- millionaires. That the Soviet Union has done so at the cost of politi- cal freedom does not alter the fact of the industri alization. The private corporation—and its attendant multimillionaire accumula- tions—is only one way, not the only way, to industrialize a nation. But in America it has been the way in which a vast rural continent has been turned into a great industrial grid. And it has been a way that has involved and allowed the great accumulator s to appro- priate their fortunes from the industrial process. The opportunities to appropriate great fortunes out of the in- dustrialization of America have included many facts and forces which were not and could not be contingent upon wha t manner of men the very rich have been, or upon anything they have done or did not do. The basic facts of the case are rather simple. Here was a con- tinental domain full of untapped natural resources. Into it there migrated millions of people. As the population stea dily increased, the value of the land continuously rose. As the pop ulation in- creased, it formed at once a growing market for pro duce and goods and a growing labor supply. Since the agricultural sector of the population was growing, the industrialist did not have to de- pend upon his own laborers in factory and mine for his market. Such facts of population and resources do not of th emselves lead to great accumulations. For that, a compliant political au- thority is needed. It is not necessary to retail anecdotes about the legal illegalities and the plainer illegalities which the very rich of each of our three generations have successfully practiced, for they are well known. It is not possible to judge quantitatively the effects of these practices upon the accumulations o f great for- tunes, for we lack the necessary information. The g eneral facts, however, are clear: the very rich have used existing laws, they have circumvented and violated existing laws, and they have had laws created and enforced for their direct benefit. The state guaranteed the right of private property; it made legal the existence of the corporation, and by further laws, inter- pretations of laws, and lack of reinforcement made possible its elaboration. Accordingly, the very rich could use the device of the corporation to juggle many ventures at once and to speculate with 100 THE POWER ELITE other people’s money. As the ‘trust’ was outlawed, the holding com- pany law made it legal by other means for one corpo ration to own stock in another. Soon ‘the formation and financing of holding com- panies offered the easiest way to get rich quickly that had ever legally existed in the United States.’ 3 In the later years of higher taxes, a combination of ‘tax write-offs’ and capital gains has helped the accumulation of private fortunes before they ha ve been incor- porated. Many modern theories of industrial development stre ss techno- logical developments, but the number of inventors among the very rich is so small as to be unappreciable. It is, as a matter of fact, not the far-seeing inventor or the captain of industry but the general of finance who becomes one of the very rich. That is o ne of the errors in Schumpeter’s idea of the ‘gale of innovations’: he systematically confuses technological gain with financial manipula tion. What is needed, as Frederick Lewis Allen once remarked, is ‘not specialized knowledge, but persuasive salesmanship, coupled wit h the ability to command the millions and the investment-sales ma chinery of a large banking house, and to command also the servic es of astute corporation lawyers and stock-market operators.’ 4 In understanding the private appropriations of the very rich, we must also bear in mind that the private industrial development of the United States has been much underwritten by outright gifts out of the people’s domain. State, local, and federal governments have given land free to railroads, paid for the cost of shipbuilding, for the transportation of important mail. Much more free land has been given to businesses than to small, independent homestead- ers. Coal and iron have been legally determined not to be covered by the ‘mineral’ rights held by the government on t he land it leased. The government has subsidized private industry by main- taining high tariff rates, and if the taxpayers of the United States had not paid, out of their own labor, for a paved r oad system, Henry Ford’s astuteness and thrift would not have enabled him to become a billionaire out of the automobile industry. 5 In capitalistic economies, wars have led to many op portunities for the private appropriation of fortune and power. But the com- plex facts of World War II make previous appropriat ions seem puny indeed. Between 1940 and 1944, some $175 billion worth of prime supply contracts—the key to control of the nation’s means of THE VERY RICH 101 production—were given to private corporations. A fu ll two-thirds of this went to the top one hundred corporations—in fact, almost one-third went to ten private corporations. These companies then made money by selling what they had produced to the government. They were granted priorities and allotments for mat erials and parts; they decided how much of these were to be passed down to sub-contractors, as well as who and how many sub-co ntractors there should be. They were allowed to expand their own facilities under extremely favorable amortization (20 per cent a year) and tax privileges. Instead of the normal twenty or thirty years, they could write off the cost in five. These were also generally the same corporations which operated most of the government- owned facil- ities, and obtained the most favorable options to ‘buy’ them after the war. It had cost some $40 billion to build all the manuf acturing facil- ities existing in the United States in 1939. By 1945, an additional $26 billion worth of high-quality new plant and equ ipment had been added—two thirds of it paid for directly from government funds. Some 20 of this $26 billion worth was usable for producing peacetime products. If to the $40 billion existing, we add this $20 billion, we have a $60 billion productive plan usab le in the post- war period. The top 250 corporations owned in 1939 about 65 per cent of the facilities then existing, operated during the war 79 per cent of all new privately operated facilities built with government money, and held 78 per cent of all active prime war supply con- tracts as of September 1944. 6 No wonder that in World War II, little fortunes became big and many new little ones were created. 2 Before the Civil War, only a handful of wealthy men , notably Astor and Vanderbilt, were multimillionaires on a truly Ameri- can scale. Few of the great fortunes exceeded $1,00 0,000; in fact, George Washington, who in 1799 left an estate valued at $530,000, was judged to be one of the richest Americans of his time. By the 1840’s, in New York City and all of Ma ssachusetts, there were only thirty-nine millionaires. The word ‘millionaire,’ in fact, was coined only in 1843, when, upon the death of Peter Loril- lard (snuff, banking, real estate), the newspapers needed a term to denote great affluence. 7 102 THE POWER ELITE After the Civil War, these men of earlier wealth we re to be recognized as Family Founders, the social shadow of their earlier wealth was to affect the status struggle within the metropolitan 400, and in due course their fortunes were to become part of the higher corporate world of the American economy. But the first really great American fortunes were developed during the eco- nomic transformation of the Civil War era, and out of the decisive corruptions that seem to be part of all American wa rs. A rural, commercial capitalism was then transformed into an industrial economy, within the legal framework of the tariff, the National Banking Act of 1863 and, in 1868, the Fourteenth Am endment, which by later interpretations sanctified the corporate revolution. During this shift in political framework and econom ic base, the first generation of the very rich came to possess units of wealth that dwarfed any that had previously been appropria ted. Not only were the peaks of the money pyramid higher, but the base of the upper levels was apparently broader. By 1892, one s urvey re- vealed the existence of at least 4,046 American millionaires. 8 In our own era of slump and war, there is debate ab out the number and the security—and even the very existence—of great American fortunes. But about the latter nineteenth century all historians seem agreed: between the Civil War and World War I, great captains of enormous wealth rose speedily to pre-eminence. We shall take this generation, which came to full m aturity in the ‘nineties, as the first generation of the very rich. But we shall use it merely as a bench mark for the two following generations, the second coming to maturity about 1925, and the t hird, in the middle years of the twentieth century. Moreover, we shall not study merely the six or seven best-known men upon w hom text- book historians and anecdotal biographers have based their criti- cisms and their adulations. For each of these last three genera- tions, we have gathered information about the richest ninety or so individuals. In all, our study of these three lists enables us to ex- pand our view of the American rich to include 275 A merican men and women, each of whom has possessed a minimum of about $30 million. 9* * See this footnote for a statement of the procedures used in selecting the very rich. THE VERY RICH 103 Among the very rich one can find men born poor and men born rich, men who were—and are—as flamboyant in their e xercise of the power of money as they were in accumulating it, and others as miserly in their lives as harsh in their acquisitions. Here is John D. Rockefeller—the pious son of a Baptist peddler—w ho created literally scores of multimillionaire descendents. But here is Henry O. Havemeyer whose grandfather left him three milli on, and Hen- rietta Green who as a child was taught to study the financial pages of the paper and died at age eighty-two leaving 100 million. And we must not forget George F. Baker, Jr., a Harvard graduate and inheritor of the presidency of the First National Bank of New York, who bathed and shaved and dressed each mornin g on his speed cruiser coming into Wall Street from Long Island, and who, in 1929, with six other bankers, mobilized a quarter of a billion dollars in a futile effort to stabilize the crash. 10 The big rich are not all of the past nor are they all from Texas. It is true that five of the richest ten among us today are of the Texas crop, but of the 90 richest men and women of 1950 o f whom we have adequate knowledge, only 10 per cent are Texans. Popular literature now offers many glimpses of fabu lously rich individuals in various postures—august and ridiculous; of various origins—humble and elevated; of different styles of life—gay, sad, lonely, convivial. But what do all these glimpses m ean? Some started poor, some were born rich—but which is the typical fact? And what are the keys to their success? To find out we must go beyond the six or seven tycoons in each generation about whom social historians and biographers have provided end less anec- dotes. We must study a large enough number of individuals to feel that we have a representative group. The 275 people about whom we have gathered informat ion represent the bulk of those individuals who are known to histori- ans, biographers, and journalists as the richest people living in the United States since the Civil War-the 90 richest of 1900, the 95 of 1925, and the 90 of 1950. Only by examining such groups are we able to ask and to answer, with some accuracy, t he decep- tively simple questions that interest us about the origins and ca- reers of the very rich. At the top of the 1900 group is John D. Rockerfelle r with his billion dollars; at the top in 1925 is Henry Ford I with his billion; 104 THE POWER ELITE and, in 1950, it is reported (although it is not so certain as in other periods) that H. L. Hunt is worth ‘one or two billions.’ The fortune of another Texan, Hugh Roy Cullen, has also been reputed of late to come to a billion. 11 These three or four men are probably the richest of the rich Americans; they are the only bil- lionaires of which financial biographers are fairly certain.* 3 In none of the latest three generations has a major ity of the very rich been composed of men who have risen. During the course of American history since the Civil War, the proportion of the very rich whose fathers worked as small farmers or storekeepers, as white-collar employees or wage workers has steadily decreased. Only 9 per cent of the very rich of our own time originated in lower-class families—in families with only enough money to provide essential needs and sometim es minor comforts. The history of the middle-class contribution to the very rich is a fairly stable one: in the 1900 generation, it pro vided two out of ten; in 1925, three; and in 1950 again two. But the upper-class and the lower-class contributions have quite steadi ly reversed themselves. Even in the famous nineteenth-century g eneration, which scholarly historians usually discuss with the anectocal de- * The same amount of money of course has had differ ent value at different periods. But we have not allowed this fact to modify our list- ings. We are not here interested in the question of whether $15 million in 1900 was worth $30 or $40 million in 1950 values . Our sole interest is in the richest at each of these periods, regardless of how rich that may be compared with the rich of other periods, or comp ared with the in- come and property of the population at large. The wealth of each gen- eration, accordingly, is presented here in the dollar value of the time each generation reached the mature age of about 60. Because of the unknown factor of inflation, it is n ecessary to use ex- treme caution in interpreting such facts as the fol lowing: of the 1950 generation, including billionaire Hunt, some six pe ople are estimated to own more than $300 million, compared with no mor e than three such people in 1900 or 1925. Farther down the pyramid fr om these exalted levels, the distribution according to size of fortune is rather similar in each of the three generations. Roughly, about 20 pe r cent of each group are in the 100 million or more bracket; the remaini ng being rather equally divided between the $50-99 million and the $30-49 million levels. THE VERY RICH 105 tails of the self-making myth, as many of the very rich derived from the upper class (39 per cent) as from the lower. Still, it is a fact that in that generation, 39 per cent of the very rich were sons of lower-class people. In the 1925 generation, the proportion had shrunk to 12 per cent, and by 1950, as we have seen, to 9 per cent. The upper classes, on the other hand, contributed 5 6 per cent in 1925; and in 1950, 68 per cent. The reality and the trend are clearly the upper-cla ss recruit- ment of the truly upper class of propertied wealth. Wealth not only tends to perpetuate itself, but as we shall see, tends also to monopo- lize new opportunities for getting ‘great wealth.’ Seven out of ten of the very rich among us today were born into distinc tly upper-class homes, two out of ten on the level of middle-class comfort, and only one in lower-class milieu. Occupationally, ‘upper class’ among these very rich has meant the big businessman. At no time has the entire business stratum in America, big and little, been greater than 8 or 9 p er cent of the working population at large; but in these three generations of the very rich as a whole, seven out of ten of the fathe rs have been urban entrepreneurs; one has been a professional ma n, one has been a farmer, and one has been a white-collar employee or wage worker. Across the generations these proportions have been quite stable. The very rich—of 1900 as of 1950—have come out of the entrepreneurial strata; and, as we shall see, in a rather curious way, on their higher levels, many of them have cont inued to be active in an ‘entrepreneurial’ manner. About 10 per cent of those who have possessed the great Ameri- can fortunes have been born in foreign lands, although only 6 per cent grew up outside the United States, immigrating after they were adult. Of the late nineteenth-century generati on which reached full maturity by 1900, of course, more were foreign-born than in 1950. About 13 per cent of the 1900 rich were foreign-born, compared with about 24 per cent of the adult male U .S. popula- tion who were at that time foreign-born. By 1950, only 2 per cent of the very rich were foreign-born (compared with 7 per cent of the white 1950 population). 12 The eastern seaboard has, of course, been the histo rical locale of the very rich: in all, some eight out of ten of those who grew up in America have done so in this region. There were as many from 106 THE POWER ELITE the East in 1925 (82 per cent) as in 1900 (80 per c ent). By 1950, however, the proportions from the East—as among the population in the country as a whole—had dropped (to 68 per cent), a direct result of the emergence of the southwestern multimi llionaires, who make up some 10 per cent of the very rich of 1950, compared with only about 1 per cent in 1900 and in 1925. The proportions who grew up in the Chicago-Detroit-Cleveland area h ave re- mained rather constant over the three historical epochs, 16 per cent in 1900 to 19 per cent in 1950. The very rich come from the cities, especially from the larger cities of the East. Even in 1900, a full 65 per cent of the general American population lived in rural areas, 13 and many more than that had grown up on the farm; but only 25 per cent of the very rich of 1900 came from rural areas. And, since 1925 more than six out of ten of the very rich have grown up in metropolitan areas. American-bom, city-bred, eastern-originated, the ve ry rich have been from families of higher class status, and, like other members of the new and old upper classes of local s ociety and metropolitan 400, they have been Protestants. Moreover, about half have been Episcopalians, and a fourth, Presbyterians. 14 With such facts before us, we would expect, and we do find, that the very rich have always been more highly educated than the common run of the population: even in 1900, 31 per cent of the very rich had graduated from college; by 1925, 57 per cent had done so; and by 1950, 68 per cent of the holder s of great American fortunes were college graduates. That educational ad- vantages are generally a result of family advantages is made clear by the fact that within each generation those from higher class levels are better educated than those from lower—in 1900, 46 per cent of those of upper-class levels, but only 17 per cent of those from lower, had graduated from college. But, by the third genera- tion considered here—the very rich of 1950—the diff erence in the amount of education according to class origin decre ased: 60 per cent of the very rich who had originated on lower o r middle- class levels graduated from college, compared with 71 per cent of those from the upper classes. Half of all those among the very rich who attended any college attended those of The Ivy League; in fact, almost a third went THE VERY RICH 107 either to Harvard or to Yale, the rest being scatte red among Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Pennsylvania. An additional 10 per cent attended other famous eastern colleges, such as Amherst, Brown, Lafayette, Williams, Bowdoin, and an- other 10 per cent were students at one of a handful of well-known technical schools. The remaining 30 per cent went t o colleges and universities scattered all over the United States. The preponderance of Ivy League colleges is, of cou rse, a direct result of the higher class origin of the very rich: as the propor- tions of very rich from the upper classes increases, so do the pro- portions who attend the Ivy League schools. Of thos e who were college educated, 37 per cent of the 1900 generation, 47 per cent of 1925, and 60 per cent of 1950 very rich attended such schools. Back in 1900, when only 39 per cent of the very ric h were chil- dren of upper-class parents, 88 per cent of those originating in such upper-class families are known to have inherited fo rtunes of a half a million dollars or more—usually much more. By 195 0, some 93 per cent of the very rich from the upper classes were inheritors. It is frequently said that taxes now make it impossible for the very rich to leave outright a fortune of $90 or $100 million to their chil- dren, and this is, in a simple legal sense, true. Yet, the 1950 very rich are very much a continuation of the very rich of 1925; in fact, more of a continuation than those of 1925 were of t he 1900 gen- eration. While 56 per cent of the very rich of 1925 originated in the upper classes, only 33 per cent had relatives among the very rich of 1900. But 68 per cent of the 1950 very rich orig inated in the upper classes and 62 per cent had relatives among the very rich of the earlier generations. Moreover, by the middle years of the twentieth century, it is, in some ways easier to transfer position and power to one’s children than it was in 1900 or 1925, for then the lines of power and position were not so elaborately organized, buttressed, and entrenched in well-established circles, and the transfer of power and position seemed to be firmly assured only by means of huge p ersonal for- tunes. Among the very rich of 1950, however, there are many ways, as we shall have occasion to see, to pass on to children stra- tegic positions in the apparatus of appropriation t hat constitutes the higher corporate level of American free, private enterprise. 108 THE POWER ELITE 4 The very rich in America are not dominantly an idle rich and never have been. The proportions among them that ar e rentiers and not much else, have, of course, increased significently: in 1900, some 14 per cent; in 1925, some 17 per cent; and by 1950, 26 per cent. By virtue of how they spend their time, a bout one-fourth of the very richest people can now be called member s of a leisure class. Yet neither the idea of the very rich as miserly coupon clippers nor as flamboyant playboys is the representative fa ct. The idle miser as well as the busy spendthrift are represented among the very rich of America, but, in the history of the gr eat American fortunes, the misers have not all been mere coupon clippers; they have usually ‘worked’ in some way to increase the v alue of the coupons they would have to clip—or at least pretended to do so while having others to manage for them.* And the spendthrifts * The supposed shamefulness of labor, on which many of Veblen’s conceptions of the upper classes rest, does not square very well with the Puritan work ethic so characteristic of much of Ame rican life, includ- ing many upper-class elements. I suppose that in his book on the leisure class, Veblen is speaking only of upper, not middle, classes—certainly he is not writing of wealthy Puritan middle classes. He did not want to call what the higher businessman does ‘work,’ much less productive work. The very term, leisure class, became for him synonymous with upper class, but there has been and there is a working upper class—in fact, a class of prodigiously active men. That Veblen did n ot approve of their work, and in fact refused to give it that term—work being one of his positive words—is irrelevant. Moreover, in this case it obscures and dis- torts our understanding of the upper classes as a s ocial formation. Yet for Veblen fully to have admitted this simple fact would have destroyed (or forced the much greater sophistication of) his whole perspective and indeed one of the chief moral bases of his criticism. From one rather formal viewpoint, it should be note d that Veblen was a profoundly conservative critic of America: he wholeheartedly ac- cepted one of the few unambiguous, all-American val ues: the value of efficiency, of utility, of pragmatic simplicity. His criticism of institutions and the personnel of American society was based wit hout exception on his belief that they did not adequately fulfill this American value. If he was, as I believe, a Socratic figure, he was in his own way as American as Socrates in his was Athenian. As a critic, Veble n was effective pre- cisely because he used the American value of efficiency to criticize THE VERY RICH 109 have not all been merely that: some have gambled a million and often come up with two or three more; for their spendthrift activi- ties have often been in the realm of appropriative speculation. The men among the idle rich of 1900 were either thi rd- or fourth- generation Astors or third-generation Vanderbilts: on their estates they relaxed with their horses, or on beaches with their yachts offshore, while their wives played often frantic and always expen- sive social games. By 1925, there were only a few m ore rentiers among the very rich but many more of them were wome n. They lived as expensively as did those of 1900, but now they were more scattered over the United States and they were give n less publi- city in the emerging world of the celebrity. Having beyond any doubt ‘arrived’ socially, these very rich women often became en- gaged by ‘the arts’ instead of ‘society,’ or busily pretended to be. 15 And in fact, some of them were spending more time i n philan- thropy than in social amusements or personal splendor, a fact that was in part due to the sober, Puritan beliefs of Jo hn D. Rocke- feller from whose accumulations much of their money derived. In the 1950 generation, both the proportion of rent iers (which we have seen to be 26 per cent) and the proportions of women among them (70 per cent) have increased, but they do not seem to form any one social type. There are the modern playgirls—Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton now expertly and expensivel y trying to conserve their youth; but there are also those who live, as did Mrs. Anita McCormick Blaine, an active life of spending money and time on philanthropy and education, taking little active part in social affairs. And there was Hetty Sylvia H. Green Wilks, the modern version of the miserly coupon clipper, who, as a child, had spent her summers ‘in a barred and shuttered house and had to American reality. He merely took this value serious ly and used it with devastatingly systematic rigor. It was a strange perspective for an Amer- ican critic in the nineteenth century, or in our ow n. One looked down from Mont St. Michel, like Henry Adams, or across f rom England, like Henry James. With Veblen perhaps the whole characte r of American social criticism shifted. The figure of the last-generation American faded and the figure of the first-generation American—the Norwegian immi- grant’s son, the New York Jew teaching English literature in a midwest- ern university, the southerner come north to crash New York—was in- stalled as the genuine, if no longer 100-per-cent-American, critic. NO THE POWER ELITE go to bed at 7:30 p.m. for no lights burned in the Green house after that hour.’ 18 The history of the very rich in America is, in the main, a patri- archal history: men have always held from 80 to 90 per cent of great American fortunes. The increase, over the gen erations, in the proportions of the very rich who are recruited from inheritors of great wealth has not meant that all the rich have become ‘idle.’ We have seen that 62 per cent of the very rich of 1 950 were born into families connected with earlier generations of very rich; but that only 26 per cent of the 1950 very rich are in their life-ways an idle rich. And many of the very rich who have inher ited their wealth have spent their lives working to keep it or to increase it. The game that has interested them most has been the game of the big money. Yet some 26 per cent of the very rich of today are rentiers and more or Jess economically idle; and another 39 per cent occupy high positions in firms owned or controlled by their families. 17 The rentiers and the family-managers thus account for 6 5 per cent of the very rich of our time. What of the 35 per cent remaining who rose to very rich status? 5 If many of those who were born into the very rich h ave spent their lives working, it is obvious that those who rose into it from middle and lower class levels are not likely to hav e been idle. The rise into the very rich stratum seems to involve an economic career which has two pivotal features: the big jump and the ac- cumulation of advantages. I. No man, to my knowledge has ever entered the ran ks of the great American fortunes merely by saving a surplus from his salary or wages. In one way or another, he has to come int o command of a strategic position which allows him the chance to appropriate big money, and usually he has to have available a c onsiderable sum of money in order to be able to parlay it into really big wealth. He may work and slowly accumulate up to this big ju mp, but at some point he must find himself in a position to take up the main chance for which he has been on the lookout. On a s alary of two or three hundred thousand a year, even forgetting taxes, and liv- THE VERY RICH 111 ing like a miser in a board shack, it has been math ematically im- possible to save up a great American fortune.* II. Once he has made the big jump, once he has nego tiated the main chance, the man who is rising gets involved in the accumu- lation of advantages, which is merely another way o f saying that to him that hath shall be given. To parlay considerable money into the truly big money, he must be in a position to be nefit from the accumulation advantages. The more he has, and the m ore strate- gic his economic position, the greater and the surer are his chances to gain more. The more he has, the greater his cred it—his oppor- tunities to use other people’s money—and hence the less risk he need take in order to accumulate more. There comes a point in the accumulation of advantages, in fact, when the risk is no risk, but is as sure as the tax yield of the government itself. The accumulation of advantages at the very top para llels the vicious cycle of poverty at the very bottom. For the cycle of ad- vantages includes psychological readiness as well a s objective opportunities: just as the limitations of lower class and status pos- ition produce a lack of interest and a lack of self -confidence, so do objective opportunities of class and status produce interest in ad- vancement and self-confidence. The confident feelin g that one can of course get what one desires tends to arise out of and to feed back into the objective opportunities to do so. Ene rgetic aspiration lives off a series of successes; and continual, petty failure cuts the nerve of the will to succeed. 19 * If you started at 20 years of age and worked until you were 50 or so, saving $200,000 a year, you would still have, at a rate of 5 per cent compound interest, only $14 million, less than half of the lower limits we have taken for the great American fortunes. But if you had bought only $9,900 worth of General Motors stock in 1913, and, rather than use your judgment, had gone into a coma—allow- ing the proceeds to pile up in General Motors—then, in 1953, you would have about $7 million. And, if you had not even exercised the judgment of choosing General Motors, but merely put $10,000 into each of the tot al of 480 stocks fisted in 1913—a total investment of about $1 million—and then gone into a coma until 1953, you would have come out wor th $10 million and have received in dividends and rights another $10 million. The in- crease in value would have amounted to about 899 pe r cent, the divi- dend return at 999 per cent. Once you have the mill ion, advantages would accumulate—even for a man in a coma. 18 112 THE POWER ELITE Most of the 1950 very rich who are related to the v ery rich of earlier generations have been born with the big jum p already made for them and the accumulation of advantages already firmly in operation. The 39 per cent of the very rich of 1900 who origi- nated from the upper classes inherited the big jump; and a few of them, notably the Vanderbilts and Astors, also inhe rited the posi- tions involving the accumulation of advantages. J. P. Morgan’s father left him $5 million and set him up as a partner in a bank- ing firm connected with financial concerns in both Europe and America. That was his big jump. But the accumulation of advan- tages came later when, in his capacity as financier and broker, J. P. Morgan could lend other people’s money to promote the sale of stocks and bonds in new companies, or the consolidation of ex- isting companies, and receive as his commission eno ugh stock to eventually enable his firm to control the new corporation. 20 After experience and profit in a lumber business, w ith his mil- lionaire father’s financial support, Andrew Mellon went into his father’s bank and expanded it to national scale. He then became involved in the accumulation of advantages by lendi ng the bank’s money to young businesses—particularly in 1888, whe n the own- ers of patents for the refining of aluminum sold a share of their Pittsburgh Reduction Company to the Mellons in retu rn for $250,000 which they used to construct a mill. Andrew saw to it that this aluminum company remained a monopoly, and that the Mellons came out the controlling power. 21 No man, to my knowledge, has ever entered the ranks of the great American fortunes merely by a slow bureaucratic crawl up the corporate hierarchies. ‘Many of the top executives in some of our largest corporations,’ Benjamin F. Fairless, Ch airman of the Board of U. S. Steel, said in 1953, ‘have spent a lifetime in the field of industrial management without ever having been a ble to accu- mulate as much as a million dollars. And I know tha t to be fact because I happen to be one of them myself.’ 22 That statement is not true in the sense that the heads of the larger corporations do not typically become millionaires: they do. But it is true in the sense that they do not become millionaires because they are ‘ex- perts’ in the field of industrial management; and it is true in that it is not by industry but by finance, not by management but by THE VERY RICH 113 promotion and speculation that they typically becom e enriched. Those who have risen into the very rich have been economic poli- ticians and members of important cliques who have b een in posi- tions permitting them to appropriate for personal uses out of the accumulation of advantages. Very few of those who have risen to great wealth ha ve spent the major portions of their working lives steadily advancing from one position to another within and between the corp orate hier- archies. Such a long crawl was made by only 6 per c ent of the very rich in 1900, and 14 per cent in 1950. But even these, who apparently did move slowly up the corporate hierarc hy, seem rarely to have made the grade because of talents in business man- agement. More often such talents as they possessed were the talents of the lawyer or—very infrequently—those of the industrial inventor. The long crawl comes to a pay-off only if it is transformed into an accumulation of advantages; this transformation is often a re- sult of a merger of companies. Usually such a merge r takes place when the companies are relatively small and often it is cemented by marriage—as when the du Ponts bought out Laflin and Rand, their largest competitor, and Charles Copeland—assistant to the president of Laflin and Rand—became assistant treas urer of du Pont and married Luisa D’Anbelot du Pont. 23 The slow movement through a sequence of corporate p ositions may also mean that one has accumulated enough inside informa- tion and enough friendship to be able, with less risk or with no risk, to speculate in the promotion or manipulation of securities. That is why the generation of 1925 contains the largest proportions of the very rich making the long crawl; then the ma rket was open for such profits and the rules of speculation were not so difficult as they were later to become. Whatever type of venture it is that enables the ric h man to par- lay his stake into a great appropriation, at one po int or another the ‘bureaucratic’ men have usually been as much ‘e ntrepreneurs’ as were the classic founders of fortunes after the Civil War. Many of them, in fact—like Charles W. Nash 24—broke out on their own to found their own companies. Once the crawl was made, many of these men, especially of the 1925 set, took on all the gambling 114 THE POWER ELITE spirit and even some of the magnificence usually as sociated with the robber barons of the late nineteenth century. The economic careers of the very rich are neither ‘ entrepreneu- rial’ nor ‘bureaucratic’ Moreover, among them, many of those who take on the management of their families’ firms are just as ‘entre- preneurial’ or as ‘bureaucratic’ as those who have not enjoyed such inheritance. ‘Entrepreneur’ and ‘bureaucrat’ are mi ddle-class words with middle-class associations and they cannot be stretched to contain the career junctures of the higher econo mic life in America. The misleading term ‘entrepreneur’ does not have th e same meaning when applied to small businessmen as it does when ap- plied to those men who have come to possess the gre at American fortunes. The sober bourgeois founding of a business, the gradual expanding of this business under careful guidance u ntil it be- comes a great American corporation is not an adequa te picture of the fortune founders at the higher levels. The entrepreneur, in the classic image, was supposed to have taken a risk, not only with his money but with his very career; but once the founder of a business has made the big jump he does not usually take serious risks as he comes to enjoy the accumula- tion of advantages that lead him into great fortune. If there is any risk, someone else is usually taking it. Of late, that someone else, as during World War II and in the Dixon-Yates attem pt, has been the government of the United States. If a middle-class business- man is in debt for $50,000, he may well be in trouble. But if a man manages to get into debt for $2 million, his creditors, if they can, may well find it convenient to produce chances for his making money in order to repay them. 25 The robber barons of the late nineteenth century us ually founded or organized companies which became springboards for the financial accumulations that placed them among the very rich. In fact, 55 per cent of the very rich of 1900 made the first step to great fortune by the big jump of promoting or or ganizing their own companies. By 1925, however, and again in 1950, only 22 per cent of the very rich made such a jump. Very rarely have the men of any of these generations become very rich merely by the energetic tutelage of one big firm. The THE VERY RICH 115 accumulation of advantages has usually required the merging of other businesses with the first one founded—a finan cial operation —until a large ‘trust’ is formed. The manipulation of securities and fast legal footwork are the major keys to the success of such higher entrepreneurs. For by such manipulation and footwor k they at- tained positions involved in the accumulation of advantages. The major economic fact about the very rich is the fact of the accumulation of advantages: those who have great we alth are in a dozen strategic positions to make it yield further wealth. Sixty- five per cent of the very richest people in America today are involved in enterprises which their families have passed on to them or are simply living as rentiers on the huge returns from such properties. The remaining 35 per cent are playing t he higher eco- nomic game more actively, if no more daringly, than those who used to be called entrepreneurs but who in later da y capitalism are more accurately called the economic politicians of the corpo- rate world. There are several ways to become rich. By the middl e of the twentieth century in the United States, it has become increasingly difficult to earn and to keep enough money so as to accumulate your way to the top. Marriage involving money is at all times a delicate matter, and when it involves big money, it is often incon- venient and sometimes insecure. Stealing, if you do not already have much money, is a perilous undertaking. If you are really gam- bling for money, and do so long enough, your capita l will, in the end, balance out; if the game is fixed, you are really earning it or stealing it, or both, depending on which side of th e table you sit. It is not usual, and it never has been the dominant fact, to create a great American fortune merely by nursing a little business into a big one. It is not usual and never has been the d ominant fact carefully to accumulate your way to the top in a sl ow, bureau- cratic crawl. It is difficult to climb to the top, and many who try fall by the way. It is easier and much safer to be born there. 6 In earlier generations the main chance, usually wit h other people’s money, was the key; in later generations the accumula- tion of corporate advantages, based on grandfathers’ and father’s 116 THE POWER ELITE position, replaces the main chance. Over the last t hree genera- tions, the trend is quite unmistakable: today, only 9 per cent of the very rich came from the bottom; only 23 per cen t are of mid- dle-class origin; 68 per cent came from the upper classes. The incorporation of the United States economy occu rred on a continent abundantly supplied with natural resources, rapidly peopled by migrants, within a legal and political framework will- ing and able to permit private men to do the job. They did it. And in fulfilling their historical task of organizing for profit the indus- trialization and the incorporation, they acquired f or their private use the great American fortunes. Within the private corporate sys- tem, they became the very rich. In realizing the power of property and in acquiring instru- ments for its protection, the very rich have become involved, and now they are deeply entrenched, in the higher corpo rate world of the twentieth-century American economy. Not great fortunes, but great corporations are the important units of wealth, to which individuals of property are variously attached. The corporation is the source of wealth, and the basis of the continued power and privilege of wealth. All the men and the families o f great wealth are now identified with large corporations in which their property is seated. Economically, as we have seen, neither the inherito rs nor the accumulators have become an idle rich class of leisurely and culti- vated persons. There are such among them, but almos t three- fourths of the very rich of our day have continued to be more or less, and in one way or another, economically activ e. Their eco- nomic activities are, of course, corporation activities: promoting and managing, directing and speculating. Moreover, as the propertied family has entered the corporate economy, it has been joined in the corporate world by the mana- gers of these properties, who, as we shall presently see, are not themselves exactly unpropertied, and who, in fact, are not an en- tirely distinct economic species from the very rich. The organizing center of the propertied classes has, of course, sh ifted to include other powers than those held by the big propertied families. The property system, of which rich men form so key a pa rt, has been strengthened by its managerial reorganization, and it has been supplemented by the executive stratum, within and between the THE VERY RICH 117 great corporations, which works energetically for t he common in- terests of the corporate rich. Socially, the men and women of the great American f ortunes have taken their places as leaders of the several metropolitan 400’s. Of the ninety members of the 1900 very rich, only nine were included in Ward McAllister’s 1892 list, but roughl y half of the families in our 1900 listing have descendants who i n 1940 were listed in the Social Registers of Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, or New York. The very rich are leading members of the metropoli- tan 400. They belong to its clubs, and many of them, and almost all of their children, went to Groton and then to Harvard, or to other such schools. Twelve of the fifteen sons (who lived to be of college age) of the ten men out of the 1900 very ri ch whom Fred- erick Lewis Allen selected as the leading financiers of 1905, went to either Harvard or Yale; the other three to Amher st, Brown, and Columbia. 26 The very rich do not reign alone on top of visible and simple hierarchies. But that they have been supplemented by agents and by hierarchies in the corporate structure of the economy and of the state does not mean that they have been displac ed. Economi- cally and socially, the very rich have not declined . After the crash and after the New Deal, the very rich have had to operate with skilled, legal technicians (both in and out of governments) whose services are essential in the fields of taxes and government regulations, corporate reorganization and merger, w ar contracts and public relations. They have also adopted every conceivable type of protective coloration for the essentially irresponsible na- ture of their power, creating the image of the small-town boy who made good, the ‘industrial statesman,’ the great inventor who ‘pro- vides jobs,’ but who, withal, remains just an average guy. What has happened is that the very rich are not so visible as they once seemed, to observers of the muckraker age, for example—who provided the last really public view of the top of American society. The absence of systematic information and the distr action of ‘hu- man-interest’ trivia tend to make us suppose that they do not really matter and even that they do not really exist. But they are still very much among us—even though many are hidden, as it we re, in the impersonal organizations in which their power, their wealth, and their privileges are anchored. 6 The Chief Executives M ANY of those who are disposed to celebrate the American economy rest their case upon a curious jumble of notions about the chief executives of the big corporations. Within the free, private, enterprising system, it is said, there has arisen a set of executives who are quite distinct from the ‘crude old-fashione d entrepre- neurs’ out for themselves in the ruthless ways of a capitalism now long dead. These executives, who have risen to the top, have come to be responsible trustees, impartial umpires, and expert brokers for a plurality of economic interests, including those of all the mil- lions of small property holders who hold stock in t he great Ameri- can enterprises, but also the wage workers and the consumers who benefit from the great flow of goods and services. These executives, it is held, are responsible for the refrigerator in the kitchen and the automobile in the garage—as well as all the planes and bombs that now guard Americans from inst ant peril. All of them, or nearly all, have come up from the bottom of the ladder; they are either farm boys who have now made good in the big city, or poor immigrants who have come to Ameri ca and now enjoy the dream of success it allows. Full of the know-how that made America great; efficient, straightforward, honest, the chief executives, it is often said, ought really to be allowed to run the government, for if only such men were in charge the re would be no waste, no corruption, no infiltration. Dirty politics, in short, would become clean business. On a slightly higher level of sophistication, however, rather un- pleasant things are said about the executives. After all, they are 118 THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 119 powerful men, rather new men of power, but upon wha t basis does their power rest? They are not the owners of the corporate properties, and yet they run the corporate show. If their interests are quite distinct from the interests of the rightful owners, just what are those interests? Have not these chief exec utives carried through a silent revolution, a managerial revolution from the top, and has not their revolution transformed the very m eaning of property? Are not, in short, the old expropriators now expropri- ated by their salaried managers? Maybe the chief ex ecutives are trustees for a variety of economic interests, but what are the checks upon how fair and well they perform their trusts? And was it not the state, subject to the control of a free electorate, that was to be the responsible trustee, the impartial umpire , the expert bro- ker of conflicting interests and contending powers? Both the pleasantries and the unpleasantries about the execu- tives are generally wrong and equally jumbled. The pleasantries are often mere kindergarten chatter for economic illiterates; the unpleasantries often rest on some very fast inferences from a few simple facts about the scale, the organization, and the meaning of private property in America. For in the agreeabl e as well as the disagreeable notions about the higher economic circles, one simple fact is often overlooked: the chief executives and the very rich are not two distinct and clearly segregated gr oups. They are both very much mixed up in the corporate world of p roperty and privilege, and to understand either we must underst and some- thing of the upper levels of their corporate world. 1 The corporations are the organized centers of the p rivate prop- erty system: the chief executives are the organizers of that system. As economic men, they are at once creatures and cre ators of the corporate revolution, which, in brief, has transformed property from a tool of the workman into an elaborate instrument by which his work is controlled and a profit extracted from it. The small entrepreneur is no longer the key to the economic life of America; and in many economic sectors where small producers and distrib- utors do still exist they strive mightily—as indeed they must if they are not to be extinguished—to have trade associations or gov- 120 THE POWER ELITE ernments act for them as corporations act for big i ndustry and finance. 1 Americans like to think of themselves as the most individualistic people in the world, but among them the impersonal corporation has proceeded the farthest and now reaches into every area and detail of daily life. Less than two-tenths of 1 per cent of all the manufacturing and mining companies in the United St ates now employ half of all the people working in these basic industries. 2 The story of the American economy since the Civil War is thus the story of the creation and consolidation of this cor porate world of centralized property. I. In the development of each major industrial line , competi- tion between many small firms tends to be most freq uent at the industry’s beginning. There is then a jockeying and maneuvering which, in due course, results in consolidation and merger. Out of the youthful competition, there emerges the Big Fiv e, or the Big Three, as the case may be: a small set of firms whi ch shares what there is to share of the industry’s profits, and which dominates the decisions made by and for the industry. ‘The power exercised by a few large firms,’ John K. Galbraith has remarked, ‘is different only in degree and precision of its exercise from that of the sin- gle-firm monopoly.’ 3 If they compete with one another they do so less in terms of price than in terms of ‘product de velopment,’ ad- vertising, and packaging. 4 No single firm among them decides, but neither is the decision made impersonally by a competitive, autonomous market. There is simply too much at stake for that sort of slipshod method to be the going rule. Decisions become, ex- plicitly or implicitly, the decisions of committees; the Big Three or Four, one way or another, are in on the major de cisions that are rendered. In this there need be no explicit conspir acy, and cer- tainly none that is provable. What is important is that each big producer makes his decisions on the basis of his impression of the reactions of the other big producers. II. In the process of corporate consolidation many owni ng en- trepreneurs and even salaried managers become too n arrow; they cannot detach themselves from their own particular company. Managers with less personal feelings for any one firm come grad- ually to displace such men narrowed by their own experience and THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 121 interests. On the higher levels, those in command o f great corpo- rations must be able to broaden their views in order to become in- dustrial spokesmen rather than merely heads of one or the other of the great firms in the industry. In short, they must be able to move from one company’s policy and interests to tho se of the in- dustry. There is one more step which some of them t ake: They move from the industrial point of interest and outlook to the inter- ests and outlook of the class of all big corporate property as a whole. The transitions from company to industry and from i ndustry to class are aided by the fact that corporate ownership is, in a limited way, scattered. The very fact of the spread of owne rship among the very rich and the chief executives of the great corporations makes for a unity of the property class, since the control of many corporations by means of various legal devices has excluded the smaller but not the larger propertied interests. 5 The ‘scatter’ of sizeable property is within a quite small circle; the executives and owners who are in and of and for this propertied cl ass cannot merely push the narrow interests of each property; their interests become engaged by the whole corporate class. III. The six and a half million people who owned stock in pub- licly held corporations in 1952 made up less than 7 per cent of all adults in the population. 6 But that is not the whole story; in fact, by itself, it is misleading. What is important is, first, what types of people own any stock? And second, how conc entrated is the value of the stock they own? First of all: 45 per cent of the executives, 26 per cent of all pro- fessional persons, and 19 per cent of all superviso ry officials hold stock. But only 0.2 per cent of the unskilled worke rs, 1.4 per cent of the semi-skilled workers, and 4.4 per cent of foremen and skilled workers hold stock. 7 Some 98.6 per cent of all workers in manu- facturing own no stock whatsoever. Second, in 1952, only 1.6 million (25 per cent) of the 6.5 mil- lion people who held any stock received as much as $10,000 per year from any and all sources. We do not know how m uch of that $10,000 came from dividends, but there is reason to believe that the average proportion was not great. 8 In 1949, some 165,000— about one-tenth of 1 per cent of all U.S. adults—received 42 per cent of all the corporate dividends going to individuals. The mini- 122 THE POWER ELITE mum income of these people for that year was $30,00 0. 9 The idea of a really wide distribution of economic ownership is a cultivated illusion: at the very most, 0.2 or 0.3 per cent of the adult popula- tion own the bulk, the pay-off shares, of the corporate world. IV. The top corporations are not a set of splendidl y isolated giants. They have been knit together by explicit as sociations, within their respective industries and regions and in supra-associ- ations such as the NAM. These associations organize a unity among the managerial elite and other members of the corporate rich. They translate narrow economic powers into industry-wide and class-wide powers; and they use these powers, first, on the economic front, for example with reference to labor and its organ- izations; and, second,’ on the political front, for example in their large role in the political sphere. And they infuse into the ranks of smaller businessmen the views of big business. When such associations appear to be unwieldy, conta ining con- flicting lines of argument, cliques have emerged wi thin them which have attempted to steer their programs and lend direction to their policies. 10 In the higher circles of business and its associa- tions, there has long been a tension, for example, between the ‘old guard’ of practical conservatives and the ‘business liberals,’ or so- phisticated conservatives. 11 What the old guard represents is the outlook, if not always the intelligent interests, of the more narrow economic concerns. What the business liberals repre sent is the outlook and the interests of the newer propertied class as a whole. They are ‘sophisticated’ because they are more flex ible in adjust- ing to such political facts of life as the New Deal and big labor, because they have taken over and used the dominant liberal rhet- oric for their own purposes, and because they have, in general, attempted to get on top of, or even slightly ahead of, the trend of these developments, rather than to fight it as practical conserva- tives are wont to do. V. The growth and interconnections of the corporati ons, in short, have meant the rise of a more sophisticated executive elite which now possesses a certain autonomy from any spe cific prop- erty interest. Its power is the power of property, but that prop- erty is not always or even usually of one coherent and narrow type. It is, in operating fact, class-wide property. Would it not, after all, be quite strange if, in a country so de- THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 123 voted to private property and where so much of it i s now piled up, and in an atmosphere which in the last fifty years has often been quite hostile, where men of economic means also possess, we are continually told, the greatest administrative and managerial ability in the world—would it not be strange if they did not consol- idate themselves, but merely drifted along, doing t he best they could, merely responding to day-to-day attacks upon them? VI. Such consolidation of the corporate world is un derlined by the fact that within it there is an elaborate network of interlock- ing directorships. ‘Interlocking Directorate’ is no mere phrase: it points to a solid feature of the facts of business life, and to a socio- logical anchor of the community of interest, the un ification of out- look and policy, that prevails among the propertied class. Any detailed analysis of any major piece of business comes upon this fact, especially when the business involves politics. As a mini- mum inference, it must be said that such arrangemen ts permit an interchange of views in a convenient and more or less formal way among those who share the interests of the corp orate rich. In fact, if there were not such overlapping directorships, we should suspect the existence of less formal, although quite ade- quate, channels of contact. For the statistics of i nterlocking di- rectorates do not form a clean index to the unity of the corporate world or the co-ordination of its policy: there can be and there is co-ordinated policy without interlocking directors, as well as inter- locking directors without co-ordinated policy. 12 VII. Most of the thirty-odd billion dollar corporations of today began in the nineteenth century. Their growth was m ade possible not only by machine technology but by the now primitive office in- struments of typewriters, calculators, telephones, and rapid print- ing, and, of course, the transportation grid. Now t he technique of electronic communication and control of information is becoming such that further centralization is entirely possible. Closed-circuit television and the electronic calculator put contro l of an enor- mous array of production units—no matter now decent ralized such technical units may be—under the control of the man in the front office. The intricately specialized apparatus of the corpora- tion will inevitably be more easily held together and controlled. The trend within the corporate world is toward larg er financial units tied into intricate management networks far more central- 124 THE POWER ELITE ized than is the case today. Productivity has and w ill increase fabulously, especially when automation makes it possible to inter- lock several machines in such a way as to eliminate the need for much of the human control at the point of production that is now required. That means that the corporate executives will not need to manage huge organizations of people; rather, in Business Week’s words, they will be ‘operating great mechanical organiza- tions using fewer and fewer people.’ 13 All this has not been and is not now inevitable; ce rtainly the enormous size of the modern corporation cannot be e xplained as due to increased efficiency; many specialists regard the size now typical of the giants as already in excess of the r equirements of efficiency. In truth, the relationship of corporate size to efficiency is quite unknown; moreover, the scale of the modern corporation is usually due more to financial and managerial amalga mations than to technical efficiency.* But inevitable or not, the fact is that today the great American corporations seem more like stat es within states than simply private businesses. The economy of Amer ica has been largely incorporated, and within their incorporation the corporate chiefs have captured the technological innovation, accumulated the existing great fortunes as well as much lesser, scattered wealth, and capitalized the future. Within the financial an d political boun- daries of the corporation, the industrial revolution itself has been concentrated. Corporations command raw materials, a nd the pat- ents on inventions with which to turn them into finished products. They command the most expensive, and therefore what must be the finest, legal minds in the world, to invent and to refine their de- fenses and their strategies. They employ man as pro ducer and they make that which he buys as consumer. They clothe hi m and feed him and invest his money. They make that with which he fights the wars and they finance the ballyhoo of advertisement and the ob- * ‘At the very least,’ John M. Blair of the Federal Trade Commission has contended, ‘the widely-held assumption that the ownership and con- trol of plural production units by single corporate enterprises contrib- utes to efficiency would seem to rest upon an overw helming absence of supportable facts. The only noticeable gain achieve d by these large corporations is in the purchase of materials, which undoubtedly results more from their superior buying power than any tech nological or mana- gerial efficiency.’ 14 THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 125 scurantist bunk of public relations that surround h im during the wars and between them. Their private decisions, responsibly made in the in terests of the feudal-like world of private property and income, determine the size and shape of the national economy, the level of employ- ment, the purchasing power of the consumer, the pri ces that are advertised, the investments that are channeled. Not ‘Wall Street financiers’ or bankers, but large owners and execut ives in their self-financing corporations hold the keys of economic power. Not the politicians of the visible government, but the chief executives who sit in the political directorate, by fact and b y proxy, hold the power and the means of defending the privileges of their cor- porate world. If they do not reign, they do govern at many of the vital points of everyday life in America, and no po wers effec- tively and consistently countervail against them, nor have they as corporate-made men developed any effectively restra ining con- science.* * Neither the search for a new equilibrium of countervailing power conducted by the economist, John K. Galbraith, nor the search for a re- straining corporate conscience, conducted by the le gal theorist, A. A. Berle, Jr., is convincing. Both are concerned to show the restraints upon the acknowledged powers of the corporation: Galbrai th finding it from without, in a new version of the equilibrium theory; Berle, from within, in an odd view of the conscience of the powerful. I. Many exceptions must be noted to any equilibrium that may pre- vail among the new giants. Some industries are inte grated from the source of supply to the ultimate consumer; and in some industries, such as residential construction, the individual contractor is squeezed be- tween strong craft unions and strong suppliers, rat her than balancing with them. Moreover, as is recognized by Mr. Galbra ith himself, ‘coun- tervailing power’ does not work in periods of inflation, for then the cor- poration’s resistance to wage demands is reduced, a nd it is easy to pass on the increased costs to the consumer, whose deman ds, in turn, are so strong that the retailer is pressed to satisfy them, and thus cannot wield his power against the corporate producer. In such t imes, the big units, far from being held in countervailance, become a ‘c oalition against the public’ The big power blocs gang up on the consumer , rather than benefit him by countervailing against one another. It also would seem that market power does not exactly ‘generate’ count ervailing power: with the exception of railroading, strong unions did not develop in strong industries, until government backed them up in the ‘thirties. Nor do chain stores prosper in countervailance to autom obiles or petroleum but rather in the relatively unconcentrated field of food suppliers. The 126 THE POWER ELITE 2 The corporate world is only two or three generation s old, yet even in this short time, it has selected and created certain types of men who have risen with it and within it. What m anner of men are they? We are not here interested in the bulk of the corporate managers, nor in any average executive—if such a co nception is meaningful and revealing. We are interested in the very top men of the corporate world—top according to the criteria which they themselves use in grading one another: the controll ing positions they occupy. The chief, executives are the men who occupy the to p two or three command posts in each of those hundred or so corporations which, measured by sales and capital, are the largest. If, in any one year we list these leading corporations, in all industrial lines, new equilibrium, in short, is not self-regulating. To know that power does not automatically ‘beget’ its countervailing p ower, one has only to think of farm laborers and white-collar employee s. But the weaker unit, Mr. Galbraith urges, ought to organize an opposition; then perhaps it will be able to get the aid of government, and government should sup- port the weaker side of any imbalance. Thus weaknes s, as well as strength, is to lead to countervailing power, and the theory of the big equilibrium becomes less a theory of the going fact than a suggested guideline to public policy, a moral proposal for strategic action. More- over, it is assumed that the government is less an integral element of the balance than an umpire biased toward shoring up tho se with weak market power. When the conceptions of the big balance are laid along- side the qualifications and exceptions which must be made, they do not seem so compelling as the bold initial statement of ‘countervailing power.’ Like the ‘competition’ among little entrepreneurs, which it is designed to replace, ‘countervailing power’ among the big blocs is more ideological hope than factual description, more dog ma than realism. 15 II. As for Mr. Berle’s search for a corporate conscienc e, see the re- mainder of this chapter for an account of the men who have presumably developed it. In a money-economy, expediency may fo llow the longer or the shorter run. Their inclination for longer-run profits, for a stable take, in an economy integrated with political insti tutions and shored up by military purchases, requires that corporations b ecome more political; and today they are, of course, as much political as economic institutions. As political institutions, they are of course totalitarian and dictatorial, although externally, they display much public relat ion and liberal rhet- oric of defense. Mr. Berle, in brief, mistakes expedient public relations for a ‘corporate soul.’ 16 THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 127 and from their top levels select the presidents and the chairmen of their boards, we shall have listed the chief executives. We have six or seven careful studies of such executives, coveri ng the period of the last century. 17 Are the top executives of the big corporations a di stinct breed of men, or are they merely a miscellaneous collection of Americans? Are they what Balzac would have called a genuine so cial type? Or do they represent a cross-section of Americans who happen to be successful? The top executives of the big compan ies are not, and never have been, a miscellaneous collection of Americans; they are a quite uniform social type which has had exceptional ad- vantages of origin and training, and they do not fit many of the stereotypes that prevail about them. The top executives of 1950 are not country boys who have made good in the city: whereas 60 per cent of the population about the time of their birth, in 1890, lived in rural areas, only 35 per cent of the 1950 executives were bom in rural communitie s. And this was even more true in ‘the good old days’: even in 1870, only half of the executives were farm born, compared with 93 per cent of the 1820 population. They are not immigrants, poor or rich, or even the sons oi im- migrants who have made good in America. The familie s of about half of the 1950 executives settled in America before the revolu- tion—which is not a much different proportion than among the population at large, and which of course represents a decline from the 1870 executives, of whom 86 per cent were of co lonial fami- lies. Yet only 8 per cent of the post-Civil-War executives have been foreign-born—and only 6 per cent of the 1950 set, l ess than half the 15 per cent foreign-born among the representative population at the time of their birth. The proportion of sons of the foreign- born—of the second generation—has increased, especi ally in the newer industries of distribution and mass entertainment and com- munication; but it still remains below the represen tative level. Over three-quarters of the 1950 executives are American-born of American-born fathers. The business executives are predominately Protestant and more likely, in comparison with the proportions of the p opulation at large, to he Episcopalians or Presbyterians than Baptists or Meth- 128 THE POWER ELITE odists. The Jews and Catholics among them are fewer than among the population at large. These urban, white, Protestant Americans were born into fami- lies of the upper and upper-middle classes. Their f athers were mainly entrepreneurs: 57 per cent are sons of busin essmen; 14 per cent, of professional men; 15 per cent, of farmers. Only 12 per cent are sons of wage workers or of lower white -collar em- ployees. This entrepreneurial origin more emphatically sets the executives off as a group apart when we remember th at at the time of their start in life—around 1900—only 8 per cent of all the men at work in America were businessmen, only 3 per cent were professional men. Some 25 per cent were then ‘farmers’—an am- biguous term—and almost 60 per cent, five times greater a pro- portion than among the executives, were in wage or salary work. Moreover, apart from a decline in farm boys, the ex ecutives of the entire post-Civil-War era are substantially similar in occupa- tional origin. At any period, over 60 per cent—usually closer to 70 —of American executives have been from the business and profes- sional classes; and never more than 10 or 12 per ce nt from the wage worker or lower white-collar employee level. In fact, only 8 per cent of the paternal grandfathers of the 1950 executives were wage or office workers, while 57 per cent of the ma le population were. Of these grandfathers, 54 per cent were business or profes- sional, at a time when no more than 9 per cent of the male popula- tion was; 33 per cent of the grandfathers were farm ers or planters, roughly the same as the general male population. For at least two generations now, the families of the top execu- tives of the big American corporations have, as a g roup, been far removed from wage work and the lower white-collar ranks. In fact, their families are in a substantial proportion citizens of good repute in the local societies of America. And only 2 1/2 per cent of the top executives who were under 50 years of age i n 1952 (the newest crop) come up from the ranks of wage-worker families. 18 Back in 1870, not more than 1 or 2 per cent of adul t American men had graduated from college, but about one-third of the 1870 executives had. Among today’s executives, nine time s as great a proportion (60 per cent) are college graduates as among the com- parable white males between 45 and 55 years of age (7 per cent). Moreover, almost half of them have had formal educational train- THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 129 ing beyond college, 15 per cent in law, 15 per cent in engineering, and about the same proportion in miscellaneous cour ses and schools. 19 The typical executives, today as in the past, were born with a big advantage: they managed to have fathers on at l east upper middle-class levels of occupation and income; they are Protestant, white, and American-born. These factors of origin led directly to their second big advantage: they are well educated in the formal sense of college and post-college schooling. That such facts of ori- gin were keys to their educational advantages is cl ear from the simple fact that among them—as among any group we m ight study—those with the highest origins have had the best chances for formal education. The salaries of the executives vary somewhat by the industry they are in, but in 1950 the top 900 executives averaged about $70,000 a year; the chief executive officers among them, about $100,000. 20 But salaries are not typically their only source of in- come. In the briefcases of virtually every major ex ecutive there is a portfolio ready for additional stock certificates. There are many places of secure anchorage in the corporate wo rld,* but the most secure is the position of the owner of big pieces of corporate property. In the big corporation the fact that the executives do not own the property they manage means that by their de cisions they do not risk their own property. When the profits are high they con- tinue to receive high salaries and bonuses. When th ey don’t go so well, their salaries often continue quite high even though their bonuses drop. The bulk of executives today, in addi tion to salary payments, received bonuses, either in stock or cash,’ and often in installments over a period of years. 21 In 1952, among the highest paid executives were Crawford Greenewalt, President of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., with $153,290 in salary an d $350,000 in bonuses; Harlow Curtice, then one of four executive vice-presi- dents of General Motors, received $151,200 in salary and $370,000 in bonuses; Eugene G. Grace, President of Bethlehem Steel Corp., received $150,000 as salary and $306,652 in bonuses . Charles E. Wilson, with his much-publicized salary and stockho ldings, was the highest paid executive in American industry: $201,000 in sal- * See below, SEVEN : The Corporate Rich. 130 THE POWER ELITE ary and $380,000 in bonuses, plus an unknown amount in divi- dends. 22 The executives do not constitute a leisure class,’ 23 but they are not without the higher comforts. By the time they are fifty or sixty years of age, most chief executives have impressive houses, usually in the country, but not too far from ‘their cities.’ Whether they also have places in town depends somewhat on the city—th ey are more likely to in New York or Boston than in Los Angeles. Now they are receiving large incomes, from their salaries as well as from dividends which may amount to as much or more. And so at about this point they branch out in a variety of ways. Many ac- quire sizable farms and go in for raising fancy livestock. Wilson, of Detroit and Washington, has Ayrshire cattle on his Michigan farm and plans to experiment with a new breed on his Lou isiana plan- tation. 24 Cyrus Eaton has short-horn cattle. Mr. Eisenhower, in his smaller way, now emulates his models with Aberd een-Angus. The executives are definitely numerous among the three or four thousand people who own boats of over 65 feet or 15 ton displace- ment. They may even ride to hounds, and moreover, l ike Mr. George Humphrey, wear pink coats while doing so. The leisure of many chief executives is taken up by country places and a good deal of hunting. Some fly by private plane to the C anadian woods, others have private cabanas at Miami or Hobe Sound. It is not characteristic of American executives to read books, ex- cept books on ‘management’ and mysteries; ‘The majo rity of top ex- ecutives almost never read drama, great fiction, th e philosophers, the poets. Those who do venture into this area . , . are definitely sports of the executive type, looked upon by their colleagues with mingled awe and incredulity.’ 25 Executive circles do not overlap very much with those of artistic or literary interest. Among them are those who resent reading a report or a letter l onger than one page, such avoidance of words being rather general. They seem somehow suspicious of long-winded speeches, except when they are the speakers, and they do not, of course, have the time. They are very much of the age of the ‘briefing,’ of the digest, of the two- paragraph memo. Such reading as they do, they often delegate to others, who clip and summarize for them. They are t alkers and listeners rather than readers or writers. They pick up much of what they know at the conference table and from friends in other fields. THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 131 3 If we attempt to draw blueprints of the external ca reers of the executives, we find several more or less distinct types: I. Entrepreneurs, by definition, start or organize a business with their own or with others’ funds, and as the busines s grows so does their stature as executives. Less educated than oth er executives, this type tends to begin working at an earlier age and to have worked in several companies. According to the careful tally of Miss Suzanne I. Keller, a grand total of 6 per cent of the top corporation executives in 1950 America have followed such an en trepreneurial route to the top. II. Some executives have been placed in companies o wned by their fathers or other relatives and have subsequently inherited their positions. These men tend to begin work later in their lives than other types, and frequently never work in comp anies other than the one in which they eventually come to the top. In these companies, however, they often work for considerabl e periods before assuming the key posts of command. Some 11 p er cent of the 1950 executives are such family-managers. III. Another 13 per cent did not begin in business at all, but as professional men, primarily lawyers. Their work in their profes- sion leads—usually after professional success—to their becoming corporation presidents or board chairmen. As the incorporation of the economy got under way, William Miller has noted , corpora- tions felt the need, on the one hand, to get in touch with lawyers in public office and, on the other, ‘to have growin g recourse to private legal advice in the making of day to day bu siness deci- sions. The demand for such advice, indeed, became so great that the best paid metropolitan lawyers almost without exception after 1900 made business counseling the focus of their work, at the ex- pense of traditional advocacy; and many lawyers yie lded to the blandishments of the corporations to become house c ounsel and even regular business executives themselves.’ 26 Today, the success of the corporation depends to a considerable extent upon minimiz- ing its tax burden, maximizing its speculative proj ects through mergers, controlling government regulatory bodies, influencing state and national legislatures. Accordingly, the lawyer is becom- ing a pivotal figure in the giant corporation. 132 THE POWER ELITE IV. These three types of careers—entrepreneurial, f amily, and professional—have been followed by about one-third of the top 1950 executives. The external career-line of the remaining 68 per cent is a series of moves, over a long period of time, within and be- tween the various levels and circles of the corpora te business world Two generations ago, 36 per cent of the executives—as compared with only 6 per cent today—were entrepreneurial; 32 per cent were family-managers, as against 11 per cent today; ther e were about the same proportion then of professional men, 14 per cent, as now, 13 per cent. Steadily and swiftly—from 18 per cent in 1870 to 68 per cent in 1950—the career of the business executive h as become a movement within and between the corporate hierarchies. If we examine the careers of 900 top 1950 executive s—the larg- est group of contemporary executives whose careers have been studied—we find that the bulk of them began their work for large companies, and that about one-third of them have ne ver worked for any other company than the one they now head. T he greatei number worked for one or two other companies, and over 20 per cent worked for three or four. So there is typically some criss-cross- ing of corporate boundaries in their climb. Even so , their average age when they were hired by their present company w as about twenty-nine. About a third, as one might expect on the basis of their origin and education, started in their present company as executives. Well over a third—in fact 44 per cent—started in various ‘depart- ments.’ That leaves about 24 per cent who started a s clerks or laborers. We must, however, be careful about interp reting such figures. Low jobs in themselves do not mean anythin g, espe- cially when one considers the backgrounds and higher educa- tions of these executives. The taking of a clerical or, much better, a labor job for awhile ‘to learn the business’ is often a sort of ritual for some families and some companies. At any rate, more of the chief executives started on the executive level; more of the younger men started in the more specialized departments. Fo r example, over one-third of those under 50 had a position in ‘sales’ just before their top jobs. 27 Those are the outside facts of the executive’s care er. But the outside facts, no matter how added up, are not inside facts. There THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 133 is the bureaucratic crawl and there is the entrepre neurial leap. But there is also the deal of the fixer, the coup of the promoter, the maneuver of the clique. Words like entrepreneur and bureaucrat are no more adequate to convey the realities of the higher cor- porate career than of the appropriation of great fo rtunes. They are, as we have noted in connection with the very r ich, middle- class words, and retain the limitations of middle-class perspec- tives. ‘Entrepreneur’ suggests the picture of a man with all the risks of life about him, soberly founding an enterprise a nd carefully nurturing its growth into a great company. In 1950, a far more accurate picture of the ‘entrepreneurial’ activity of the corporate elite is the setting up of a financial deal which m erges one set of files with another. The chief executives of today d o less building up of new organizations than carrying on of established ones. And, as Robert A. Gordon has indicated, they are less cr eative, restless, dynamic individuals than professional co-ordinators of decisions, ‘approving decisions that flow up . . . from . . . subordinates, but doing less and less initiation.’ 28 It is usual in studies of business executives to term such a career, ‘bureaucratic,’ but, strictly speaking, this is not correct. The bu- reaucratic career, properly defined, does not mean merely a climb up, from one level to the next, of a hierarchy of o ffices. It does involve that, but more importantly, it means the se tting up of strict and unilateral qualifications for each office occupied. Usu- ally these qualifications involve both specified fo rmal training and qualifying examinations. The bureaucratic career also means that men work for salaried advancement without any expectation of coming to own even a part of the enterprise, of personally ap- propriating a portion of the accumulated property o f the enter- prise, by bonuses or stock options or lavish pension and insurance plans.* Just as the word ‘entrepreneur,’ as used to refer t o the career of the very rich of today, is often misleading, so the word ‘bureau- cratic,’ as used to refer to corporation executives on the higher levels, is misleading. Both the advancement of the chief execu- tives and the accumulations of the very rich, on the higher levels, * For more on the bureaucratic career, see below ELEVEN : The Theory of Balance. 134 THE POWER ELITE are definitely mixed up in a ‘political’ world of c orporate cliques. To advance within and between private corporate hie rarchies means to be chosen for advancement by your superiors—adminis- trative and financial—and there are no strict, impersonal rules of qualifications or seniority known to all concerned in this process. On the higher levels of the corporate world, career s are neither ‘bureaucratic’ nor ‘entrepreneurial;’ they are a composite of pay- offs, involving speculators, men with great America n fortunes, and executives in jobs with chances to make money. The owners alone can no longer say with William H. Vanderbilt in 1882, ‘The public be Damned.’ Neither can the professional executives alone. To- gether—as a set of corporate cliques—they can say w hat they want, although today they are usually too wise in the ways of pub- lic relations to say it, and besides they do not need to say it. 4 There is, of course, no one type of corporate hiera rchy, but one general feature of the corporate world does seem to prevail quite widely. It involves a Number One stratum at the top whose mem- bers as individuals—and increasingly as committees— advise and counsel and receive reports from a Number Two stratum of oper- ating managers. 29 It is of the Number One stratum that the very rich and the chief executives are a part. The Number Two men are individu- ally responsible for given units, plants, departments. They stand between the active working hierarchies and the dire cting top to which they are responsible. And in their monthly an d yearly re- ports to the top executives, one simple set of questions is foremost: Did we make money: If so, how much? If not, why not? Decision-making by individual executives at the top is slowly being replaced by the worried-over efforts of commi ttees, who judge ideas tossed before them, usually from below the top levels. The technical men, for example, may negotiate for m onths with the salesmen over a tubeless tire before the chief executives de- scend to operation-level conferences. 30 Theirs is not the idea nor even the decision, but The Judgment. On the top lev els this judg- ment usually has to do with the spending of money t o make more money and the getting of others to do the work involved. The ‘run- ning’ of a large business consists essentially of getting somebody THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 135 to make something which somebody else will sell to somebody else for more than it costs. John L. McCaffrey, the chief executive of International Harvester, recently said,’. . . he [a business presi- dent] seldom lies awake very long thinking about fi nances or law suits or sales or production or engineering or accounting problems . . . When he approaches such problems the presiden t can bring to bear on them all the energy and the trained judgment and past experience of his whole organization.’ And he goes on to say what top executives do think about at night: ‘the bigges t trouble with industry is that it is full of human beings.’ The human beings on the middle levels are mainly sp ecial- ists. ‘We sit at our desks all day,’ this chief executive continues, ‘while around us whiz and gyrate a vast number of s pecial activi- ties, some of which we only dimly understand. And f or each of these activities, there is a specialist. . . All of them, no doubt, are good to have. All seem to be necessary. All are use ful on frequent occasions. But it has reached the point where the g reatest task of the president is to understand enough of all these specialties so that when a problem comes up he can assign the right team of ex- perts to work on it… How can he maintain the interest of and get full advantage from the specialists who are too specialized to pro- mote? On the one hand, the company absolutely requi res the skills of the specialists in order to carry on its complicated opera- tions. On the other hand, he has to get future top management from somewhere. And that somewhere has to be largel y within the existing company, if he is to have any management morale at all. . . we live in a complicated world—a world that has spiritual and moral problems even greater than its economic a nd technical problems. If the kind of business system we now have is to survive, it must be staffed by men who can deal with problem s of both kinds.’ 31 It is below the top levels, it is where the management hierar- chies are specialized and varied by industrial line and adminis- trative contour, that the more ‘bureaucratic’ types of executives and technicians live their corporate lives. And it is below the top levels,in the domain of the Number Two men, that re sponsibility is lodged. The Number One stratum is often too high to be blamed and has too many others below it to take the blame. Besides, if it is the top, who is in a position to fix the blame upon its members? 136 THE POWER ELITE It is something like the ‘line’ and ‘staff’ divisio n invented by the army. The top is staff; the Number Two is line, and thus opera- tional. Every bright army officer knows that to mak e decisions without responsibility, you get on the staff. 32 On the middle levels, specialization is required. But the operat- ing specialist will not rise; only the ‘broadened’ man will rise. What does that mean? It means, for one thing, that the s pecialist is below the level on which men are wholly alerted to profit . The ‘broad- ened’ man is the man who, no matter what he may be doing, is able clearly to see the way to maximize the profit for the corporation as a whole, in the long as well as in the short run. The man who rises to the top is the broadened man whose ‘specialty’ c oincides with the aims of the corporation, which is the maximizing of profit. As he is judged to have realized this aim, he rises withi n the corporate world. Financial expediency is the chief element of corporate de- cision, and generally, the higher the executive, the more he devotes his attention to the financial aspect of the going concern. 33 Moreover, the closer to the corporate top the execu tive gets, the more important are the big-propertied cliques and p olitical influ- ence in the making of his corporate career. This fact, as well as the considerations for co-optation that prevail, is nicely revealed in a letter that Mr. Lammot du Pont wrote in 1945 i n response to a suggestion from a General Motors executive that Gen eral George C. Marshall be appointed to the board of directors. Mr. du Pont discussed the proposal: ‘My reasons for not favoring his member- ship on the board are: First his age [The General w as then 65]; second, his lack of stockholdings, and third, his lack of experience in industrial business affairs.’ Mr. Alfred P. Sloa n, chairman of General Motors, in considering the matter, generall y concurred, but added: ‘I thought General Marshall might do us some good, when he retires, following his present assignment—assuming he continues to live in Washington; recognizing the position he holds in the community and among the government people an d the ac- quaintances he has—and he became familiar with our thinking and what we are trying to do, it might offset the general negative attitude toward big business, of which we are a symbol and a prof- itable business, as well. It seems to me that might be some reason, THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 137 and in that event the matter of age would not be pa rticularly con- sequential.’ In considering other appointments, Mr. Sloan wrote to W. S. Carpenter, a large owner of du Pont and General Mot ors: ‘George Whitney [G. M. director and chairman of J. P. Morgan & Co.] be- longs to the board of directors of quite a number of industrial or- ganizations. He gets around a lot because he lives in New York where many contacts are easily and continuously mad e. Mr. Douglas [Lewis W. Douglas, a G. M. board member, chairman of the Mutual Life Insurance Company, former Ambassado r to Great Britain] is, in a way, quite a public character. He seems to spend a great deal of time in other things. It seems to me that such people do bring into our councils a broader at mosphere than is contributed by the “du Pont directors” and the G eneral Motors directors.’ 34 Or examine a late case of corporate machination tha t involved the several types of economic men prevailing in higher corporate circles. Robert R. Young—financial promoter and spe culator—re- cently decided to displace William White, chief executive of the New York Central Railroad and a lifetime career executive in rail- road operation. * Young won—but did it really matter? Success in * Over a luncheon table Young offered White the tid e of ‘chief operat- ing officer’ and stock options—’an opportunity to buy Central stock at a fixed price and without any obligation to pay for i t unless it went up.’ White refused, announcing that if Young moved in he would give up his contract: $120,000-per-year salary until retirement at 65; a $75,000- a-year consultant fee for the next five years; then a $40,000-a-year pension for life. Immediately White hired, out of Central’s funds, a public relations firm at $50,000 a year plus expenses, turned over the $125 million ad- vertising budget of the Central to the coming fight, and engaged a pro- fessional proxy solicitor from Wall Street. From Pa lm Beach, Young began maneuvering cliques among the rich and among friends with contacts to get control of blocks of the property. His side came to in- clude three important members of the very rich—Alle n P. Kirby of the Woolworth fortune; and two men each worth over $300 million: Clint Murchison, with whom Young had previously done busi ness, and Sid Richardson, whose ranch Young had visited. The deal shaped up in such a way that a block of 800,000 shares at $26 a share ($20.8 million worth) was secured. Of course, the multimillionaire s did not have to put up the cash: They borrowed it—mainly from the A llegheny Corpo- ration, which Young is presumably able to treat as his personal property 138 THE POWER ELITE the corporate world does not follow the pattern it follows in the novel, Executive Suite, in which the technologicall y inclined young man, just like William Holden, wins by making a sincere speech about corporate responsibility. Besides the favors of two friends, each a leading member of the very rich, Mr . Young’s in- come, over the past seventeen years—most of it from capital gains —is reported to be well in excess of $10 million. His yearly income is well over a million, his wife’s, half a million—and they manage to keep, after taxes, some 75 per cent of it. 37 But then, no fiction known to us begins to grasp the realities of the co rporate world today. 5 When successful executives think back upon their ow n careers, they very often emphasize what they always call ‘an element of luck.’ Now what is that? We are told that Mr. Georg e Humphrey makes it a point to have ‘lucky men work with him. What this means, translated out of the magical language of luck, is that there is an accumulation of corporate success. If you are successful, that shows that you are lucky, and if you are lucky, you are chosen by those up the line, and thus you get chances to be m ore successful. Time and time again, in close-ups of the executive career, we ob- and .07 per cent of which he personally owns. And t hey borrowed it in such a way as to cover all risk except 200,000 shares. They were on the scheduled new board of directors. Young had 800,000 voting shares. Chase National Bank, a Rockefeller bank, had had the trusteeship of these shares and now had sold them to Murchison and Richardson. John J. McCloy, the Bank’s board chairman, arranged for White to meet Richardson and Murchison, who flew up the next day to New York City. The Texans, who now owned 12 1/2 per cent of the New York Central, at- tempted to arrange a compromise. They failed, and a fight for the votes of the more scattered owners began. 35 Young’s side spent $305,000. (Later the New York Ce ntral repaid it, thus footing the bills of both the winners and the losers.) One hundred solicitors for White from coast to coast were reach ing stockholders, as well as several hundred volunteer employees of the railroad. Young also engaged a professional proxy solicitation firm; he also had the services of Diebold, Inc., a firm manufacturing office furniture which Murchison owned—250 of its salesmen were hired to solicit pro xies. If Young won, the office furniture for New York Central might hen ceforth be made by Diebold. 36 THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 139 serve how men in the same circles choose one anothe r. For ex- ample, Mr. Humphrey was on an advisory committee to the Com- merce Department. There he meets Mr. Paul Hoffman. Later, when Mr. Hoffman heads ECA, he pulls in Mr. Humphrey to run an ad- visory committee on German industry. There General Clay notices him. General Clay naturally knows General Eisenhowe r, so when General Eisenhower goes up, General Clay recommends Mr. Hum- phrey to his close friend, President Eisenhower. 38 There is another item that ties in with the network of friends which people call ‘luck’: the social life of the corporation. It is a reasonable assumption that part of the executive ca reer is spent ‘politic-ing.’ Like any politician, especially when he is at or near the top of his hierarchy, the successful executive trie s to win friends and to make alliances, and he spends, one suspects, a good deal oi time guessing about the cliques he thinks oppose hi m. He makes power-plays, and these seem part of the career of t he managerial elite. To make the corporation self-perpetuating, the chief executives feel that they must perpetuate themselves, or men l ike themselves —future men not only trained but also indoctrinated. This is what is meant when it was truly said recently of a man h igh in the world’s largest oil company that he ‘is really as much a product of the company as are the two million barrels of oil p roducts it makes every day.’ As future executives move upward and to ward the center, they become members of a set of cliques, which they often confusedly refer to as a team. They must listen. They must weigh opinions. They must not make snap judgments. They m ust fit into the business team and the social clique. In so far as the career is truly corporate, one advances by serving the corpor ation, which means by serving those who are in charge of it and who judge what its interests are. 39 The executive career is almost entirely a career wi thin the cor- porate world, less than one out of ten of the top men over the last three generations having entered top position from independent professional or from outside hierarchies. Moreover, it is increas- ingly a career within one company: back in 1870, mo re than six out of ten executives gained the top rung from outside the cor- poration; by 1950, almost seven out of ten did so from within the company. 40 First you are a vice-president, then you are president 140 THE POWER ELITE You must be known well, you must be well liked, you must be an insider. Success in the higher corporate world is obviously determined by the standards of selection that prevail and the personal ap- plication of these standards by the men who are alr eady at the top. In the corporate world, one is drawn upward by the apprais- als of one’s superiors. Most chief executives take much pride in their ability ‘to judge men’; but what are the standards by which they judge? The standards that prevail are not clea r-cut and ob- jective; they seem quite intangible, they are often quite subject- ive, and they are often perceived by those below as ambiguous. The professors of ‘business psychology’ have been busy inventing more opaque terms, and searching for ‘executive traits,’ but most of this ‘research’ is irrelevant nonsense, as can readily be seen by examining the criteria that prevail, the personal a nd social charac- teristics of the successes, and their corporate style of life. On the lower and middle levels of management, objec tive cri- teria having to do with skillful performance of occupational duties do often prevail. It is even possible to set up rules of advancement and to make them known in a regular bureaucratic ma nner. Under such conditions, skill and energy do often pay off without what one may call the corporate character having to be developed. But once a man of the lower ranks becomes a candidate for higher cor- porate position, the sound judgment, the broadened view, and other less tangible traits of the corporate character are required. ‘Character,’ Fortune magazine observers have remark ed, even how the man looks as an executive, became more impo rtant than technical ability. 41 One often hears that practical experience is what counts, but this is very short-sighted, for those on top control the chances to have practical experience of the sort that would be counted for the higher tasks of sound judgment and careful mane uver. This fact is often hidden by reference to an abstract, transferrable qual- ity called ‘managerial ability,’ but many of those who have been up close to the higher circles (but not of them) have been led to sus- pect that there probably is no such thing. Moreover , even if there were such a generalized ability, only the uninforme d would think that it was what was needed in high policy office, or that one should THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 141 go to the trouble of recruiting $200,000-a-year men for such work. For that you hire a $20,000-a-year man, or better s till, you employ a management counseling firm, which is what the $20 0,000-a-year men do. Part of their ‘managerial ability’ consists precisely in know- ing their own inabilities and where to find someone with the requi- site ability and the money to pay for it. In the me antime, the most accurate single definition of ability—a many-sided word—is: useful- ness to those above, to those in control of one’s advancement. When one reads the speeches and reports of executiv es about the type of man that is required, one cannot avoid this simple conclu- sion : he must ‘fit in’ with those already at the top. This means that he must meet the expectations of his superiors and peers; that in personal manner and political view, in social ways and business style, he must be like those who are already in, and upon whose judgments his own success rests. If it is to count in the corporate career, talent, no matter how defined, must be discovered by one’s talented superiors. It is in the nature of the morality of corporate accomplishment that those at the top do not and can not admire that which they do not and cannot understand. When it is asked of the top corporate men: ‘But didn’t they have to have something to get up there?’ The answer is, ‘Yes, they did.’ By definition, they had ‘what it takes.’ The real q uestion accord- ingly is: what does it take? And the only answer one can find any- where is: the sound judgment, as gauged by the men of sound judgment who select them. The fit survive, and fitness means, not formal competence—there probably is no such thing f or top execu- tive positions—but conformity with the criteria of those who have already succeeded. To be compatible with the top me n is to act like them, to look like them, to think like them: to be of and for them—or at least to display oneself to them in such a way as to cre- ate that impression. This, in fact, is what is mean t by ‘creating’— a well-chosen word—’a good impression.’ This is wha t is meant— and nothing else—by being a ‘sound man,’ as sound as a dollar. Since success depends upon personal or a clique cho ice, its cri- teria tend to be ambiguous. Accordingly, those on the lower edge of the top stratum have ample motive and opportunit y to study carefully those above them as models, and to observe critically and with no little anxiety those who are still their peers. Now they are above the approval of technical ability and formal competence, 142 THE POWER ELITE business experience and ordinary middle-class respe ctability. That is assumed. Now they are in the intangible, ambiguous world of the higher and inner circles, with whose members they must come into a special relation of mutual confidence. Not bureauv cratic rules of seniority or objective examinations, but the con- fidence of the inner circle that one is of them and for them, is a prerequisite for joining them. 42 Of the many that are called to the corporate manage ment, only a few are chosen. Those chosen are picked, not so muc h for strictly personal characteristics—which many of them cannot really be said to possess—as for qualities judged useful to ‘the team.’ On this team, the prideful grace of individuality is not at a premium. Those who have started from on high have from their begin- nings been formed by sound men and trained for soundness. They do not have to think of having to appear as sound men. They just are sound men; indeed, they embody the standards of soundness. Those who have had low beginnings must think all the harder be- fore taking a risk of being thought unsound. As they succeed, they must train themselves for success; and, as they are formed by it, they too come to embody it, perhaps more rotundly t han those of the always-high career. Thus, high or low origin, each in its own way, operates to select and to form the sound men w ith well-bal- anced judgment. It is the criteria of selection, it is the power to conform with and to use these criteria that are important in underst anding the chief executives—not merely the statistics of origin. It is the structure of the corporate career and its inner psychological results that form the men at the top, not merely the external sequence of their career. So speak in the rich, round voice and do not confus e your supe- riors with details. Know where to draw the line. Ex ecute the cere- mony of forming a judgment. Delay recognizing the c hoice you have already made, so as to make the truism sound like the deeply pondered notion. Speak like the quiet competent man of affairs and never personally say No. Hire the No-man as well as the Yes- man. Be the tolerant Maybe-man and they will cluste r around you, filled with hopefulness. Practice softening the facts into the optimistic, practical, forward-looking, cordial, brisk view. Speak to the well-blunted point. Have weight; be stable: caricature what THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 143 you are supposed to be but never become aware of it much less amused by it. And never let your brains show. 6 The criteria for executive advancement that prevail are reveal- ingly displayed in the great corporations’ recruitment and training programs, which reflect rather clearly the criteria and judgments prevailing among those who have already succeeded. Among to- day’s chief executives there is much worry about tomorrow’s exe- cutive elite, and there are many attempts to take inventory of the younger men of the corporation who might develop in ten years or so; to hire psychologists to measure talent and potential talent; for companies to band together and set up classes for their younger executives, and indeed to employ leading universiti es which ar- range distinct schools and curricula for the managers of tomorrow; in short, to make the selection of a managerial elite a staff function of the big company. Perhaps half of the large corporations now have suc h programs. 43 They send selected men to selected colleges and bus iness schools for special courses, Harvard Business School being a favorite. They set up their own schools and courses, often including their own top executives as lecturers. They scout leading colleges for promising graduates, and arrange tours of rotating duty for men selected as potential ‘comers.’ Some corporations, in fact, at times seem less like businesses than vast schools for future executives. By such devices, the fraternity of the chosen have attempted to meet the need for executives brought about by the corporate expansion of the ‘forties and ‘fifties. This expansion occurred after the scarce job market of the ‘thirties, when compan ies could pick and choose executives from among the experienced. D uring the war there was no time for such programs, which, on top of the slump, made for a decade-and-a-half gap in executive supply. Be- hind the deliberate recruiting and training programs there is also the uneasy feeling among the top cliques that the s econd-level ex- ecutives are not as broad-gauge as they themselves: their pro- grams are designed to meet the felt need for perpetuation of the corporate hierarchy. So the corporations conduct their raids among the c ollege se- niors, like college fraternities among the freshmen. The colleges, 144 THE POWER ELITE in turn, have more and more provided courses though t to be helpful to the corporate career. It is reliably reported that the college boys are ‘ready to be what the corporation wants them to be … They are looking hard for cues.’ 44 Such ‘alertness and recep- tivity may well be a more important characteristic of the modem manager than the type of education he received. Luc k obviously plays a part in the rise of any top executives, and they seem to manage to meet luck better than halfway.’ 45 The cues are readily available: As corporation trainees, the fu- ture executives are detached from a central pool an d slated for permanent jobs, ‘only after they have been given a strong indoc- trination in what is sometimes called the “manageme nt view.” The indoctrination may last as long as two years and occasionally as long as seven.’ Each year, for example, General Electric takes unto itself over 1,000 college graduates and exposes them for at least 45 months, usually much longer, to a faculty of 250 full-time General Electric employees. Many people are watchin g them, even their peers contribute to the judging, for which, it is said, the trainee is grateful, for thus he will not be overlooked. Training in ‘Human Relations’ pervades the broad-gauge progr am. ‘Never say anything controversial,’ ‘You can always get anybody to do what you wish,’ are themes of the ‘effective presen tation’ course worked up by the Sales Training Department of the k nowledg- able corporation. In this human-relations type of training, the effort is to get peo- ple to feel differently as well as to think differe ntly about their human problems. The sensibilities and loyalties and character, not merely the skills, of the trainee must be developed in such a way as to transform the American boy into the American executive. His very success will be an insulation of mind against the ordinary problems and values of non-corporate people. Like a ll well-de- signed indoctrination courses, the social life of the trainee is built into the program: to get ahead one must get along, with one’s peers and with one’s superiors. All belong to the same fr aternity; all of one’s ‘social needs can be filled within the company orbit.’ To find his executive slot in this orbit, the trainee must ‘take advantage of the many contacts that rotation from place to place affords.’ This too is company policy: If you’re smart,’ says one smart trainee, ‘as soon as you know your way around you start telephoning.’ 46 THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES 145 There are many arguments pro and con about training pro- grams for executives, but the Crown-Prince type of program is a central argument among the top executives of big co rporations. Nine out of ten young men, even today, do not gradu ate from college—they are excluded from such executive training schools, although most of them will work for corporations. W hat effects do such programs have among those who have been cal led to the corporation but are not among those chosen as Crown Princes? Yet there must be some way to inflate the self-images o f the future executives in order that they may take up the reins with the pro- per mood and in the proper manner and with the soun d judgment required. The majority view of one small but significant sample of execu- tives is that the man who knows ‘the technique of m anaging, not the content of what is managed,’ the man who knows ‘how to elicit participative consultation . . . how to conduct pro blem-solving meetings . . .’ will be the top executive of the future.* He will be a team player without unorthodox ideas, with lea dership rather than drive. Or, as Fortune summarizes the argument: ‘Their point goes something like this: We do need new ideas, a q uestioning of accepted ways. But the leader hires people to do this for him. For this reason, then, the creative qualities once associated with the line are now qualities best put in staff slots. The top executive’s job, to paraphrase, is not to look ahead himself, but to check the excesses of the people who do look ahead. He is not part of the basic creative engine; he is the governor.’ Or, as one executive put it: ‘We used to look primarily for brilliance . . . Now that much abused word “character” has become very important. We don’t care if you’re a Phi Beta Kappa or a Tau Beta Phi. We want a well- rounded person who can handle well-rounded people.’ 48 Such a man does not invent ideas himself; he is a broker f or well-rounded ideas: the decisions are made by the well-rounded group. Lest all this be thought merely a whimsical fad, no t truly reflect- ing the ideological desert and anxiety of the executive world, con- * Of 98 top executives and personnel planners recen tly asked to choose between the executive ‘primarily concerned with human rela- tions’ and ‘the man with strong personal convictions . . . not shy about making unorthodox decisions,’ some 63 were willing to make the choice: 40 said the human relations man, 23 the man of conviction. 47 146 THE POWER ELITE sider sympathetically the style of conduct and the ideology of Owen D. Young—late president of General Electric—wh o serves well as the American prototype of modem man as exec utive. In the early twentieth century, we are told by Miss Ida Tarbell, the typical industrial leader was a domineering individ ual, offensive in his belief that business was essentially a private endeavor. But not Owen Young. During World War I and the ‘twentie s, he changed all that. To him, the corporation was a public institution, and its leaders, although not of course elected by the public, were responsible trustees. ‘A big business in Owen D. Yo ung’s mind is not… a private business … it is an institution.’ So he worked with people outside his own company, w orked on an industry-wide basis, and laughed at ‘the fear that co-opera- tion of any kind might be construed as conspiracy.’ In fact, he came to feel trade associations, in the corporate age, performed one role that once ‘the church,’ in a time of small businesses in a local county, performed: the role of moral restrain er, the keeper of ‘proper business practices.’ During the war, he became a kind of ‘general liaison officer between the company and various [gov- ernment] boards, a kind of general counsel,’ a prot otype of the many executives whose co-operation with one another during the wars set the shape of peacetime co-operation as well. His interest in the properties he managed could not have been more personal had he owned them himself. Of one com pany he helped develop, he wrote to a friend: ‘We have work ed and played with it together so much that I feel sure it is not boasting to say that no one knows the strength and weakness— the good and bad side of this property better than you and I. In fact I doubt if there were ever such a great property which was known so well…’ His face was always ‘friendly and approachable’ and his smile, one colleague said, ‘his smile alone is worth a million dollars.’ Of his decision, it was said, ‘it was not logical document … It was something his colleagues felt was intuitive rather than reasoned —a conclusion born of his pondering, and though you might by rule and figures prove him wrong, you knew he was right!’ 49 7 The Corporate Rich SIXTY glittering, clannish families do not run the Americ an econ- omy, nor has there occurred any silent revolution o f managers who have expropriated the powers and privileges of such families. The truth that is in both these characterizations is less adequately expressed as ‘America’s Sixty Families’ or ‘The Man agerial Revolu- tion,’ than as the managerial reorganization of the propertied classes into the more or less unified stratum of the corporate rich. 1 As families and as individuals, the very rich are s till very much a part of the higher economic life of America; so are the chief exec- utives of the major corporations. What has happened , I believe, is the reorganization of the propertied class, along with those of higher salary, into a new corporate world of privil ege and preroga- tive. What is significant about this managerial reo rganization of the propertied class is that by means of it the nar row industrial and profit interests of specific firms and industries and families have been translated into the broader economic and political inter- ests of a more genuinely class type. Now the corporate seats of the rich contain all the powers and privileges inherent in the institu- tions of private property. The recent social history of American capitalism do es not reveal any distinct break in the continuity of the higher capitalist class. There are, to be sure, accessions in each generation, and there is an unknown turnover rate; the proportions of given types of men differ from one epoch to the next. But over the last half a cen- tury, in the economy as in the political order, there has been a re- markable continuity of interests, vested in the typ es of higher eco- nomic men who guard and advance them. The main drift of the 147 148 THE POWER ELITE upper classes, composed of several consistent trend s, points un- ambiguously to the continuation of a world that is quite congenial to the continuation of the corporate rich. For in this stratum are now anchored the ultimate powers of big property wh ether they rest legally upon ownership or upon managerial control. The old-fashioned rich were simply the propertied c lasses, or- ganized on a family basis and seated in a locality, usually a big city. The corporate rich, in addition to such people, include those whose high ‘incomes’ include the privileges and pre rogatives that have come to be features of high executive position. The corporate rich thus includes members of the big-city rich of the metropolitan 400, of the national rich who possess the great Ame rican fortunes, as well as chief executives of the major corporations. The proper- tied class, in the age of corporate property, has become a corpo- rate rich, and in becoming corporate has consolidat ed its power and drawn to its defense new men of more executive and more political stance. Its members have become self-conscious in terms of the corporate world they represent. As men of st atus they have secured their privileges and prerogatives in the mo st stable pri- vate institutions of American society. They are a c orporate rich because they depend directly, as well as indirectly , for their money, their privileges, their securities, their advantages, then- powers on the world of the big corporations. All th e old-fashioned rich are now more or less of the corporate rich, and the newer types of privileged men are there with them. In fact, no one can become rich or stay rich in America today without becoming involved, in one way or another, in the world of the corporate rich. 1 During the ‘forties and ‘fifties, the national shap e of the income distribution became less a pyramid with a flat base than a fat dia- mond with a bulging middle. Taking into account pri ce changes and tax increases, proportionately more families in 1929 than in 1951 (from 65 to 46 per cent) received family incom es of less than $3,000; fewer then than now received between $3,000 and $7,500 (from 29 to 47 per cent); but about the same propor tions (6 and 7 per cent) in both 1929 and 1951 received $7,500 or more.* 2 * This shift—which of course is even more decisive as between say 1936 and 1951—is generally due to several economic facts: 3 (1) There THE CORPORATE RICH 149 Many economic forces at work during the war, and th e war- preparations boom that has followed it, have made some people on the very bottom levels rise into what used to be the middle- range income levels, and some of those who used to be in the mid- dle-range of income levels became upper-middle or u pper. The changed distribution of real income has thus affected the middle and lower levels of the population, with which, of course, we are not here directly concerned. Our interest is in the higher levels; and the forces at work on the income structure have not changed the decisive facts of the big money. At the very top of the mid-century American economy , there are some 120 people who each year receive a million dollars or more. Just below them, another 379 people appropriate bet ween a half a million and a million. Some 1,383 people get from $250,000 to $499,999. And below all these, there is the broader base of 11,490 people who receive from $100,000 to $249,999. Altogether, then, in 1949, there were 13,822 people who de- clared incomes of $100,000 or more to the tax collector. 5 Let us draw the line of the openly declared corporate rich at that level: $100,000 a year and up. It is not an entirely arbitrary figure. For there is one fact about the fat diamond that remain s true regard- less of how many people are on each of its levels: on the middle and higher levels especially, the greater the yearly income, the greater the proportion of it from property, and the smaller the has been rather full employment—which during the wa r and its after- math brought virtually all who wanted to work into the income-receiv- ing classes. (2) There has been a great doubling up of income within families. In 1951, less than 16 per cent of the families at each of the two extremes, under $2,000 and over $15,000, consisted of families in which the wife also worked; but in the income range of $3 ,000 to $9,999, the proportion of working wives increased progressively with family income from 16 to 38 per cent. 4 (3) During the ‘twenties and ‘thirties, large proportions of the very poor were farmers, but now fewer people are farmers and for those on the farm a prosperity has been backed up by various kinds of government subsidy. (4) Union pres sure—which since the late ‘thirties has forced a constant increase in wages. (5) Welfare programs of the government coming out of the ‘thirt ies have put a floor under incomes—by wage minimums, social security for aged, and pen- sions for the unemployed and disabled veterans. (6) Underneath the whole prosperity of the ‘forties and ‘fifties, of course, is the structural fact of the war economy. 150 THE POWER ELITE proportion from salaries, entrepreneurial withdrawa l, or wages. The rich of the higher incomes, in short, are still of the propertied class. The lower incomes derive from wages.* One hundred thousand dollars a year is the income l evel on which property enters the income picture in a major way: two- thirds (67 per cent) of the money received by the 13,702 people in the declared $100,000 and up to $999,999 bracket comes from prop- erty—from dividends, capital gains, estates, and tr usts. The re- maining one-third is split between chief executives and top en- trepreneurs. The higher you go into these upper reaches, the mor e does prop- erty count, and the less does income for services p erformed. Thus 94 per cent of the money of the 120 people receivin g a million dollars or more in 1949 came from property, 5 per cent from entre- preneurial profits, 1 per cent from salaries. Among these 120 peo- ple, there was considerable variation in the type o f property from which their money came. 6 But, regardless of the legal arrange- ments involved, those with big incomes receive it o verwhelmingly from corporate property. That is the first reason that all the rich are now corporate rich, and that is the key economi c difference between the rich and the more than 99 per cent of the population who are well below the $100,000 income level. In these tax-declared high-income classes, people come and go; every year the exact number of people varies. In 19 29, when taxes were not so high as to make it so dangerous as now to declare high incomes, there were about 1,000 more such declarati ons than in 1949—a total of 14,816 declared incomes of $100,000 or more. In 1948 there were 16,280; in 1939 only 2.921. 7 But on the highest levels there remains throughout the years a hard core of the very wealthy. Four-fifths of the 75 people who appropriated one million * Some 86 per cent of the money received by people paying taxes on less than $10,000 in 1949 came from salaries and wa ges; 9 per cent, from business or partnership profits; only 5 per cent from property owned. As a proportion of money received, entrepreneurial withdrawals bulk largest among those receiving from $10,000 to $99,999 per year— 34 per cent of the income gotten by people on this income level is busi- ness profits; 41 per cent, salaries and wages; and 23 per cent from prop- erty. (Two per cent is ‘miscellaneous income,’ annuities or pensions.) THE CORPORATE RICH 151 dollars or more in 1924, for example, got one milli on or more in at least one other year between 1917 and 1936. The cha nces are good that those who make it in one year will make it in another year or two.* Farther down the pyramid, only 3 or 4 per cent of the population during the decade after World War II have held as much as $10,000 in liquid assets. 9 2 Since virtually all statistics of income are based on declarations to tax collectors, they do not fully reveal the ‘in come’ differ- ences between the corporate rich and other American s. In fact, one major difference has to do with privileges that are deliberately created for the exclusion of ‘income’ from tax reco rds. These priv- ileges are so pervasive that we find it hard to tak e seriously the great publicity given to the ‘income revolution,’ which is said to have taken place over the last twenty years. A chan ge, as we have just reported, has taken place in the total income distribution of the United States; but we do not find it very convincing to judge from declared income tax records that the share the rich receive of all the wealth in the country has decreased. 10 * Such figures are, of course, only crude indications of the meaning of the big money, as they dp not take into account the element of in- flation. The number of corporate rich for any given year, as well as the number of million-dollar incomes, is related to the tax rate and to the profit level of the corporate world. Periods of low taxes and high profits are periods in which the declared million-dollar in comes flourish: in the ideal year of 1929, 513 people, estates, or trusts, told the government they had received incomes of one million or more. T he average of these million-dollar incomes was $2.36 million, and after taxes the average million-dollar man had 1.99 million left. In the slump year of 1932, there were still 20 people who reported incomes of one million or more; by 1939, when three-fourths of all the families in the United States had incomes of less than $2,000 a year, there were 45 s uch million-dollar in- comes reported. With the war, however, the number o f million-dollar incomes increased as did the general level of income. In 1949 when both profits and taxes were high, the average income of the 120 people who told the government they had received one million o r more was 2.13 million; after taxes they were left with $910,000. In 1919, however, when taxes and profits were high although profits were falling a bit, only 65 people earned one million or more, averaging 2.3 million before taxes, but only $825,000 after taxes. 8 152 THE POWER ELITE Tax rates being high, the corporate rich are quite nimble in figuring out ways to get income, or the things and experiences that income provides, in such a way as to escape taxatio n. The manner in which the corporate rich pay their taxes is more flexible and provides more opportunities for shrewd interpretati ons of the law than is true for the middle and lower classes. People of higher income figure their own tax deductions, or more usu ally have them figured by the experts they hire. Perhaps those whose in- come derives from property or from entrepreneurial and profes- sional practice are as honest—or as dishonest—as po orer people on wages and salary, but they are also economically bolder, they have greater opportunities and greater skill, and, even more im- portantly, they have access to the very best skills available for such matters: accomplished lawyers and skillful acc ountants who specialize in taxation as a science and a game. In the nature of the case, it would be impossible to prove with exactitude, but it is difficult not to believe that as a general rule the higher the in- come and the more varied its sources, the greater t he likelihood of the shrewd tax return. Much declared money is tricked, legally and illegally, from the tax collector; much illegal money is simply not declared. Perhaps the most important tax loophole in retainin g current income is the long-term capital gain. When a military man writes a best-seller or has it written for him, when a businessman sells his farm or a dozen pigs, when an executive sells his s tock—the profit received is not considered as income but as capital gain, which means that the profit to the individual after taxes is approximately twice what it would have been if that same amount o f money had been received as a salary or a dividend. Individual s claiming long-term capital gains pay taxes on only 50 per cent of that gain. The half that is taxed is taxed at a progressive ra te applicable to a person’s total income; but the maximum tax on suc h gains is 52 per cent. This means that at no time can the tax pa id on these capital gains be more than 26 per cent of the total gain received; and it will be smaller if the total income, including the gain, leaves the individual in a lower income tax bracket. But w hen the flow of money is turned around the other way, a capital loss of over $1,000 (those under $1,000 may be deducted from ordinary income) THE CORPORATE RICH 153 can be spread backward or forward in a five-year sp an to offset capital gains. Aside from capital gains, the most profitable tax loophole is per- haps the ‘depletion allowance’ on oil and gas wells and mineral deposits. From 5 to 27/2 per cent of the gross income received on an oil well, but not exceeding 50 per cent of the n et income from the property, is tax-free each year. Moreover, all the costs of drill- ing and developing an oil well can be deducted as t hey occur- instead of being capitalized and depreciated over the years of the well’s productive life. 11 The important point of privilege has less to do with the percentage allowed than with the contin uation of the device long after the property is fully depreciated. Those with enough money to play around may also off -set taxes by placing money in tax-free municipal bonds; they may split their income among various family members so that the tax es paid are at a lower rate than the combined income would have required. The rich cannot give away to friends or relatives more than a life- time total of $30,000 plus $3,000 each year without paying a gift tax; although, in the name of both husband and wife , a couple can give twice that amount. The rich man can also make a tax-deduct- ible gift (up to 20 per cent of yearly income that is given to recog- nized charities is not taxed as income) that will p rovide him se- curity for the rest of his life. He can donate to a named charity the principal of a fund, but continue to receive th e income from it.* He thus makes an immediate deduction on his in come tax re- turn; and he cuts that part of his estate that is subject to inheri- tance taxes. 13 There are other techniques that help the rich prese rve their money after they are dead in spite of high estate taxes. For exam- ple, it is possible to set up a trust for a grandchild, and stipulate that the child receive the income from the trust as long as he is alive, although the property legally belongs to the grandchild. It is * For example, a man can give $10,000 worth of stoc k to a theological seminary, which—because of tax savings—actually cos ts him only $4,268.49. In ten years, let us assume, the stock increases in market value to $16,369.49, and the man receives $6,629 in income payments which is 50 per cent more than the cost of his gift. When the man dies, of course, the seminary will own the stock and receive its earnings. 12 154 THE POWER ELITE only at the death of the child (instead of both the original owner and the child) that an estate tax is paid. A family trust saves taxes—both current income tax and estate tax levied upon death—for income of the trust fund is taxed sepa- rately. In addition, the trust provides the property holder with con- tinuous professional management, eliminates the wor ries of re- sponsibility, keeps the property intact in one mana geable sum, builds the strongest possible legal safeguards to property, and, in effect, enables the owner to continue to control hi s property after he is dead.* There are many kinds of trusts, and the law is rath er compli- cated and strict in their application; but in one type of short-term trust ‘what you do is Indian-give ownership of prop erty to a trus- tee—and actually give away its income—for some set period (of more than 10 years). Then if the trust meets all other require- ments, you’re clear of tax on that income.’ 15 Twenty-five years ago, there were no more than 250 founda- tions in the entire United States; today there are thousands. Gen- erally, a foundation is defined as ‘any autonomous, non-profit legal entity that is set up to “serve the welfare of mank ind.” It adminis- ters wealth that is transferred to it through tax-free gifts or be- quests.’ Actually, the setting up of foundations ha s often become a convenient way of avoiding taxes, ‘operating as p rivate banks for their donors; not infrequently, the “mankind” they have served turned out to be a few indigent relatives.’ The Revenue Act of * ‘Take the case of a married man,’ a magazine for executives care- fully explains, ‘who has a taxable income of $30,000, including a $1,000 return on a $25,000 investment. After taxes, that $ 1,000 of income is worth only $450. Accumulating it each year for 10 y ears at compound interest of 4 per cent would produce, at the most, a fund of about $5,650 for his family. But suppose the man transfers the $ 25,000 investment to a short-term trust. If the arrangement meets certai n requirements, the trust will pay a tax of about $200 on each $1,000 o f income, leaving $800. In 10 years, that could build up to about $9,600-a gain of 70 per cent over what could have been accumulated without a trust . . . [This is not allowed in all states.] At the termination of the trust, the man would get back his $25,000, plus unrealized app reciation. The ac- cumulated income would go to the trust beneficiary, someone within his family in a light tax status.’ 14 THE CORPORATE RICH 155 1950 tried ‘to plug up some of the bigger loopholes ‘ but ‘dubious foundations still have an advantage—the tax collector has a hard time getting information about them . . . revenue m en complain they haven’t time or manpower to check more than a tiny frac- tion of the reports already filed by foundations. They have to steer largely by instinct in deciding which ones to inves tigate,’ and even the 1950 law does not require that all pertinent data concern- ing them be furnished to the government. In recent years, more businesses have been creating founda- tions, thus making a bid for local and national good will, while en- couraging research in their own industries. The cor poration so en- gaged does not have to pay taxes on the 5 per cent of its profits that it yearly gives to its foundation. Very rich families also can keep control of their business after a death in the family by giving large shares of the company stock to a foundation (Ford i s unusual in this respect only in the magnitude of the sums involved) . The size of the inheritance tax, which might otherwise force a sale of stock to outsiders in order to pay the taxes, is reduced. ‘If a man’s chief concern is to raise a tax-free umbrella over part o f his income and to give some jobs to needy retainers,’ an alert bus iness magazine advises its executive readers, ‘he should by all means set up his own foundation, no matter how small. Then he may ev en prefer to have the overhead eat up all the income.’ 16 For virtually every law taxing big money, there is a way those with big money can avoid it or minimize it. But suc h legal and il- legal maneuvers are only part of the income privileges of the cor- porate rich: working hand-in-hand with the rules an d regulations of the government, the corporations find ways directly to supple- ment the income of the executive rich. These variou s forms of feathering the nest now make it possible for executive members of the corporate rich to live richly on seemingly moderate incomes, while paying taxes lower than the law seemingly int ends as fair and just. Among such privileged arrangements are following: Under the deferred pay contract, the corporation si gns up for a given salary for a number of years, and further agr ees to pay an annual retainer after retirement as long as the exe cutive doesn’t go to work for any competing firm. The executive’s loyalty is thus linked to the company, and he is able to spread his income into the 156 THE POWER ELITE years when lower earnings will result in reduced ta xes. One Chrys- ler executive, for example, recently signed a contr act yielding him $300,000 a year for the next five years, then $75,000 a year for the rest of his life. A recently retired Chairman o f U. S. Steel’s Board, who was receiving a $211,000 salary, now get s $14,000 a year as his pension, plus $55,000 a year in ‘deferred pay.’ 17 The classic case of deferred payment is perhaps the one worked out for a famous entertainer, who was in a position to demand $500,000 a year for 3 years. Instead, he arranged to take $50,000 a year for the next 30 years. No one seriously expe cts him to be active in show business when he is approaching 80, but by spread- ing out his income and keeping it in lower tax brackets he was able to cut the total income tax he will have to pay by nearly $600,000, according to one estimate.’ 18 Such fabulous arrangements are not limited to the world of show business, even though there they may be more publicized: Even the most respected and sta id compan- ies are now in many instances taking care of their key people by such means. Executives are given restricted options to buy stock at or below current market value. This keeps the executive with the company; for he is able to pick up the option only after a specified period of time such as a year, or he may only be able to use it to buy limited quantities of stock over a longer period of time—sa y five years. 19 To the executive as riskless entrepreneur, at the time he picks up his option, there comes an immediate profit (the di fference be- tween the option price previously set and the market value of the stock at the time when he buys it). Most of the profit he makes if he later sells the stock is not considered taxable income by an obliging government: it is taxed at the lower capit al gains rate. Nothing prevents him from borrowing money to pick u p his op- tion, and then selling the stock in six months at the higher market value. For example, in 1954, the president of an ai rcraft company was given—in salary, bonus, and pension credits—abo ut $150,000, but after taxes he took home only about $75,000. However, if he wished to sell the 10,000 shares of stock he had bought on his com- pany’s option plan several months before, he could, after paying all taxes due, have also taken home $594,375. 20 About one out of six companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange gave stock op* THE CORPORATE RICH 157 tions to executives within a year or so after the 1950 tax law made them attractive as capital gains. Since then, the p ractice has spread. 21 3 The corporate rich are a propertied rich, but big property is not all that they possess; the corporate rich are able to accumulate and to retain high incomes, but high incomes are not all they ac- cumulate for keeps. In addition to big property and high income, they enjoy the corporate privileges that are part of the newer sta- tus system of the incorporated economy of the Unite d States. These status privileges of the corporate rich are now standard practices, essential, even though shifting, features of business-as- usual, part of the going pay-off for success. Criticism of them does not arouse indignation on the part of anyone in a p osition volun- tarily to do anything about them, and much less abo ut the cor- porate system in which they are firmly anchored. None of these privileges are revealed by examination of the yearly income or the property holding. They are, one might say, fringe benefits of the higher circles. The ‘fringe benefits’ which lower salaried and wage earners have been given—pri marily pri- vate pension and welfare plans, social security and unemploy- ment insurance—have risen from 1.1 per cent of the national payroll in 1929 to 5.9 per cent in 1953. 22 It is not possible to calcu- late with suitable precision the ‘fringe benefits’ taken by the risk- less entrepreneurs of the big corporations, but it is now certain that they have become quite central to the higher emolum ents. It is because of them that the corporate rich may be considered, in a decisive way, to be members of a directly privileged class. The corporations from which their property and incomes derive are also the seats of the privileges and prerogatives. The great variety of these privileges substantially increases their s tandard of con- sumption, buttresses their financial position against the ups and downs of the economic system, lends shape to their whole style of living, and lifts them into a security as great as that of the cor- porate economy itself. Designed to increase the wea lth and the security of the rich in a manner that avoids the payment of taxes, they also strengthen their loyalties to the corporations. 23 158 THE POWER ELITE Among the accoutrements that often go with the big executive job but are never reported to tax collectors are such fringe bene- fits as these: free medical care, payments of club fees, company lawyers and accountants available for tax, financial and legal ad- vice, facilities for entertaining customers, private recreation areas —golf courses, swimming pools, gymnasiums—scholarsh ip funds for children of executives, company automobiles, and dining rooms for executive use. 24 By 1955, some 37 per cent of all the Cadillac registrations in Manhattan, and 20 per cent in Philadel- phia, were in company names. 25 ‘A company dedicated to keeping its officers happy,’ one reliable observer recently noted, ‘can with all propriety have a company airplane for business trips and a yacht and a hunting-fishing lodge in the north woods to entertain its biggest customers.* It can also arrange to hold its conventions in Miami in midwinter. The effect, as far as compan y executives go, is to provide wonderful travel and vacation facilities without cost. The company officers go south in the winter a nd north by summer; take along enough work or enough customers to justify the trip, and proceed to have a very pleasant time of it… At home the executives can also ride around in company-owne d and chauf- feured automobiles. Naturally the company is happy to pay their dues at the best available country club, for the purposes of enter- taining customers on the golf course, and at the best town club, for intimate lunches and dinners.’ 27 You name it and you can find it. And it is increasing: it is free to the executive, and deductible as an ordinary business expense by the corporation. These higher emoluments may also extend to lavish g ifts of wonderful toys for adults, like automobiles and fur coats, and con- veniences like deep freezes for the purchasing agen ts and busi- ness contacts not directly employed by the company. All this has been widely publicized and decried in the political field,** but, as * Businessmen now fly nearly four million hours a yea r in private planes—more than all scheduled, commercial airlines put together. 26 * * For example: ‘Over the past two years more than 3 00 Congressmen have taken trips abroad at a cost to the U.S. taxpayer estimated unoffi- cially at over $3,500,000. Many of the junkets were unquestionably useful and legitimate fact-finding tours and inspections. Others unques- tionably represented some fancy free-loading. Last week the House of Representatives Rules Committee served notice that the lid was on junkets. THE CORPORATE RICH 159 any business executive of stature well knows, such gifts of business friendship are standard practice within and especially between big firms. Back in 1910, for example, White Sulphur Springs in the hills of West Virginia was on the same social circuit as Bar Harbor and Newport. In 1954, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, which owns the Greenbrier resort hotel in White Sulphur Springs, in- vited as guests top level executives who are, in fact or potentially, important shippers and who feel honored to be invit ed. In 1948, the C & O paid for everything, but the response was so great from the business, social, and political celebrities who accepted the invitation that they now come on their own expe nse accounts. The resort operates year-round but the Spring Festival is the big social-business event. 29 In Florida, there is now being constructed an entire resort town, with an average population of 3,000, which will be rented to exec- utives and their guests on a year-round basis. The companies in- volved can either sublet it to their employees or write off the cost as a business-expense deduction during the times it is used for entertaining customers, holding conventions or impo rtant confer- ences. 30 The Continental Motors Corporation operates duck-hu nting ex- peditions at Lost Island, Arkansas. Assuming that the golf, cock- tail, dinner, and night club routine is ‘old-hat’ to any executive by the time he is big enough to be an important custom er, Continen- tal set up a ‘customer relations program’ which has been going some fifteen years. Such ‘lodge-type’ selling retreats are concen- trated in the primary goods industries, where the b ig sales are made, president to president, rather than in consum er goods. Everyone on the hunt is ‘a president or a vice-president, or maybe a general or an admiral.’ In the same vicinity, at least three other corporations also operate exclusive duck-hunting cl ubs. Top em- ployees as well as clients are usually among the gu ests at such duck, deer, and trout facilities. 31 ‘The Committee, which must approve all investigating authority, said it planned to approve free foreign travel only for members of the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Insular Affairs Commit tees. Around Con- gress the gag last week,’ The New York Times conclu ded, ‘was that it would be tough to muster the usual quorum in Paris this summer.’ 28 160 THE POWER ELITE More widely recognized, but still not seriously stu died is the wide-ranging and far-reaching fact of the expense a ccount. No one knows, and there is no way to find out for sure, just how much of high living and exciting entertainment is made p ossible for the new privileged classes solely because of the expense account. The vice-president of one firm,’ economist Richard A. G irard recently reported, ‘is assigned a flat $20,000 each year to cover any enter- taining he may decide to do. His contract specifies that he does not have to account for the money.’ 32 Tax officials play a continual game with members of the corporate rich over expens e-account deductions but generally insist that each case is unique—which means there are no set rules and the revenue agent has wide re- sponsibility. ‘Theatre people estimate that thirty to forty per cent of the New York theatre audience is an expense-account aud ience, and that this is the percentage between life and death.’ 33 Moreover, ‘in cities like New York, Washington and Chicago,’ one investiga- tor feels it ‘safe to say that at any given moment well over half of all the people in the best hotels, the best nightclubs and the best restaurants are charging the bill as an expense acc ount item to their companies, which in turn are charging it to the government in the form of tax deductions’—and goes on to assert what is well known: ‘There is something about an expense account that brings out the latent rascality, rapacity and mendacity in even the other- wise most honorable man. Expense account forms have long been known affectionately by their fond possessors as “swindle sheets.” Filling out an expense account itemization has been regarded as a kind of contest of wits with the company auditor, in which it is perfectly justifiable to use the most outrageous ha lf-truths, little white lies and outright fantasies, anything at all which the auditor, regardless of how outraged he might be, cannot abso lutely prove to be false.’ 34 We have by no means reported all of the privileges of the cor- porate rich, confining ourselves mainly to legally and officially sanctioned types. Many of the new privileges—especi ally the higher emoluments—have long been known and are quit e ac- cepted by heads of state and by higher officials of public office. The governor is given ‘the governor’s mansion’ in which to live THE CORPORATE RICH 161 rent free; the president, with $50,000 a year tax-f ree expenses, also has his White House, which contains his serviced li ving quarters as well as offices of administration. But what has happened, as the corporation has become the anchor point for the pri vileges that go with great wealth, is that such higher emoluments have be- come normal among the private rich as they have bec ome trans- formed into the corporate rich. When, in their happier moods, cor- poration executives speak lovingly of their corpora tions as One Big Family, one can understand that in a very real sense they are asserting a sociological truth about the class structure of Ameri- can society. For the powers and privileges of prope rty, shared among the corporate rich, are now collective, and the individual has such privileges most securely only in so far as he is part of the corporate world. 4 America has not become a country where individual p leasures and powers are bounded by small incomes and high taxes. There are incomes high enough to remain high despite the taxes and there are many ways of escaping and minimizing taxes. There is maintained in America, and there is being created a nd main- tained every year, a stratum of the corporate rich, many of whose members possess far more money than they can person ally spend with any convenience. For many of them, the prices of things are simply irrelevant. They never have to look at the right hand col- umn of a menu; they never have to take orders from anybody, they never have to do really disagreeable things except as a self- imposed task; they never have to face alternatives hedged in by considerations of cost. They never have to do anything. They are, according to all appearances, free. But are they really free? The answer is Yes, within the terms of their societ y, they are really free. But does not the possession of money somehow limit them? The answer is No, it does not. But are not those just the hurried answers, are the re not more considered, deeper-going answers? What kind of deeper-going answers? And what does freedom 162 THE POWER ELITE mean? Whatever else it may mean, freedom means that you have the power to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, and how you want to do it And in American society the p ower to do what you want, when you want, how you want, require s money. Money provides power and power provides freedom. But are there no limits on all this? Of course there are limits to the power of money, and the free- doms based on that power. And there are also psycho logical traps for the rich, as among misers and spendthrifts on all levels, which distort their capacity for freedom. The miser enjoys the possession of money as such. T he spend- thrift enjoys the spending of money as such. Neither—in the pure type—can look upon money as a means to free and var ious ends of life, whatever they may be. The miser’s pleasure is in the poten- tiality of his spending power, so he draws back fro m the actual spending. He is a tense man, afraid of losing the potentiality and so never realizing it. His security and his power are embodied in his hoard, and in fearing to lose it, he fears loss of his very self. He is not merely a stingy man, nor necessarily a merel y avaricious man. He is an impotent voyeur of the economic syste m, one for whom the possession of money for its own sake, and not as a means to any further end, has become the end of life. He cannot com- plete the economic act. And money, which to most ec onomic men is a means, becomes to the miser a despotic end. The spendthrift, on the other hand, is a man for wh om the act of spending is itself a source of pleasure. He does not feel happy on a spending spree because of his expected ease or pleasure from the goods acquired. The act of senseless spending is in itself his pleasure and reward. And in this act the spendthrift advertises his unconcern with mere money. He consumes conspicuousl y to show that he is above pecuniary considerations, thus revealing how highly he values them. No doubt both of these oddities of the money system are avail- able among the American rich today, but they are no t typical. For most members of the corporate rich money remains a grati- fying medium of exchange—a pure and unadulterated m eans to an enormous variety of concrete ends. For most of them, money is valued for what it will purchase in comfort and fun, status and THE CORPORATE RICH 163 alcoholism, security and power and experience, free dom and boredom. On the bottom level of the money system one never has enough money, which is the key link in the hand-to-mouth way of exist- ence. One is, in a sense, below the money system—ne ver having enough money to be firmly a part of it. On the middle levels, the money system often seems an end- less treadmill. One never gets enough; $8,000 this year seems to place one in no better straits than did $6,000 the last. There are suspicions among people on such levels, that were t hey to make $15,000, they would still be on the treadmill, trapped in the money system. But above a certain point in the scale of wealth, t here is a quali- tative break: the rich come to know that they have so much that they simply do not have to think about money at all: it is only they who have truly won the money game; they are above t he struggle. It is not too much to say that in a pecuniary society, only then are men in a position to be free. Acquisition as a form of experience and all that it demands no longer need to be a chain. They can be above the money system, above the scramble on the t readmill: for them it is no longer true that the more they have, the harder it seems to make ends meet. That is the way we define the rich as personal consumers. For the very poor, the ends of necessity never meet. For the middle classes there are always new ends, if not of necessity, of status. For the very rich, the ends have never been separated, and within the limits of the common human species, they are today as free as any Americans. The idea that the millionaire finds nothing but a sad, empty place at the top of this society; the idea that the rich do not know what to do with their money; the idea that the succ essful become filled up with futility, and that those born successful are poor and little as well as rich—the idea, in short, of the d isconsolateness of the rich—is, in the main, merely a way by which tho se who are not rich reconcile themselves to the fact. Wealth in America is directly gratifying and directly leads to many further gratifications. To be truly rich is to possess the means of realizi ng in big ways one’s little whims and fantasies and sicknesses. ‘Wealth has great 164 THE POWER ELITE privileges,’ Balzac once remarked, ‘and the most en viable of them all is the power of carrying out thoughts and feelings to the utter- most; of quickening sensibility by fulfilling its m yriad caprices.’ 35 The rich, like other men, are perhaps more simply h uman than otherwise. But their toys are bigger; they have more of them; they have more of them all at once.* As for the happiness of the rich, that is a matter that can be neither proved nor disproved. Still, we must rememb er that the American rich are the winners within a society in w hich money and money-values are the supreme stakes. If the rich are not happy it is because none of us are happy. Moreover, to be lieve that they are unhappy would probably be un-American. For if t hey are not happy, then the very terms of success in America, the very aspira- tions of all sound men, lead to ashes rather than fruit. Even if everyone in America, being human, were mise rable, that would be not reason to believe that the rich were more miser- able. And if everyone is happy, surely that is no reason to believe that the rich are excluded from the general American bliss. If those who win the game for which the entire society seems designed are not ‘happy,’ are then those who lose the happy ones? Must we believe that only those who live within, but not of, the American society can be happy? Were it calamitous to lose, a nd horrible to win, then the game of success would indeed be a sad game, doubly so in that it is a game everyone in and of the Amer ican culture cannot avoid playing. For to withdraw is of course objectively to lose, and to lose objectively, although subjectively to believe one has not lost—that borders on insanity. We simply mu st believe that the American rich are happy, else our confidence in the whole en- deavor might be shaken. For of all the possible val ues of human society, one and one only is truly sovereign, truly universal, truly sound, truly and completely acceptable goal of man in America. That goal is money, and let there be no sour grapes about it from the losers. * One of the propositions with which Howard Hughes has been associated was the purchase of RKO from Floyd Odium for almost nine million dollars. ‘I needed it like I needed small pox!’ When asked to account for this move, Hughes seriously answers, ‘. . . the only reason I bought RKO from Floyd Odium was because I enjoyed the many flights down to his ranch in Indio [California] while we discussed the details of the purchase.’ 86 THE CORPORATE RICH 165 ‘He is king . . .’ one of Balzac’s characters procl aims, ‘he can do what he chooses; he is above everything, as all ric h men are. To him, henceforth, the expression: “All Frenchmen are equal before the law,” is the lie inscribed at the head of a charter. He will not obey the laws, the laws will obey him. There is no scaffold, no headsman, for millionaires!’ ‘Yes, there is,’ replied Raphael, ‘they are their own headsmen!’ ‘Another prejudice,’ cried the banker. 37 5 The newer privileges of the corporate rich have to do with the power of money in the sphere of consumption and per sonal exper- ience. But the power of money, the prerogatives of economic po- sition, the social and political weight of corporate property, is by no means limited to the sphere of accumulation and consump- tion, corporate or personal. In fact, from the standpoint of the American elite, of which the corporate rich are only one segment, the power over consumer goods is not nearly so impo rtant as the institutional powers of wealth. I. The Constitution is the sovereign political contract of the United States. By its fourteenth amendment it gives due legal sanction to the corporations, now the seat of the corporate rich, managed by the executives among them. Within the po litical framework of the nation, this corporate elite constitutes a set of governing groups, a hierarchy developed and run fro m the eco- nomic top down. The chief executives are now at the head of the corporate world, which in turn is a world of econom ic sovereignty within the nation’s politically sovereign area. In them is vested the economic initiative, and they know it and they feel it to be their prerogative. As chiefs of the industrial manorialis m, they have looked reluctantly to the federal government’s soci al responsibil- ity for the welfare of the underlying population. They view work- ers and distributors and suppliers of their corpora te systems as subordinate members of their world, and they view t hemselves as individuals of the American individualistic sort who have reached the top. They run the privately incorporated economy. It can not be said that the government has interfered much during the last 166 THE POWER ELITE decade, for in virtually every case of regulation t hat we examine the regulating agency has tended to become a corpor ate outpost. 38 To control the productive facilities is to control not only things but the men who, not owning property, are drawn to it i n order to work. It is to constrain and to manage their life at work in the fac- tory, on the railroad, in the office. It is to determine the shape of the labor market, or to fight over that shape with union or govern- ment. It is to make decisions in the name of the en terprise as to how much to produce of what and when and how to pro duce it and how much to charge for it. II. Money allows the economic power of its possessor to be translated directly into political party causes. In the eighteen- nineties, Mark Hanna raised money from among the ri ch for polit- ical use out of the fright caused by William Jennings Bryan and the Populist ‘nightmare’; and many of the very rich have been un- official advisers to politicians. Mellons, Pews, and du Ponts have long been campaign contributors of note, and, in th e post-World War II period, the Texas millionaires have contribu ted sizable amounts of money in campaigns across the nation. Th ey have helped McCarthy in Wisconsin, Jenner in Indiana, Butler and Beall in Maryland. In 1952, for example, one oil tycoon (Hugh Roy Cullen) made thirty-one contributions of from $500 to $5,000 each (totaling at least $53,000), and his two sons- in-law helped out (at least $19,750 more) ten Congressional candi dates. It is said that the Texas multimillionaires now use their money in the politics of at least thirty states. Murchison has contributed to polit- ical candidates outside Texas since 1938, although he got no pub- licity until 1950, when he and his wife, at Joseph McCarthy’s request, contributed $10,000 to defeat Senator Tydings of Mary- land, and in 1952 sent money to beat McCarthy’s Con necticut foe, Senator William Benton. 39 In 1952, ‘the six top Republican and Democratic political com- mittees received 55 per cent of their total receipts [this includes only those receipts of groups that spent money in t wo or more states] in 2,407 contributions of $1,000 or more.’* Such figures * Heading the list of contributions to the Republic an party were the Rockefellers ($94,000), the du Ponts ($74,175), the Pews ($65,100), the Mellons($54,000), the Weirs ($21,000), the Whit neys ($19,000), the Vanderbilts ($19,000), the Goelets ($16,800), the Milbanks ($16,- THE CORPORATE RICH 167 are absolute minimums since many contributions can be made by family members of different names, not easily recognized by the reporters. III. But it is not so much by direct campaign contributions that the wealthy exert political power. And it is not so much the very rich as the corporate executives—the corporate reor ganizes of the big propertied class—who have translated the power of property into political use. As the corporate world has become more intri- cately involved in the political order, these executives have become intimately associated with the politicians, and esp ecially with the key ‘politicians’ who form the political directorate of the United States government. The nineteenth-century economic man, we are accusto med to believe, was a shrewd ‘specialist’ in bargaining and haggling. But the growth of the great corporation and the increas ed interven- tion of government into the economic realm have sel ected and formed and privileged economic men who are less hag glers and bargainers on any market than professional executives and adroit economic politicians. For today the successful econ omic man, either as propertied manager or manager of property, must influ- ence or control those positions in the state in which decisions of consequence to his corporate activities are made. T his trend in economic men is, of course, facilitated by war, which thus creates the need to continue corporate activities with political as well as the economic means. War is of course the health of the corporate economy; during war the political economy tends to become more unified, and moreover, political legitimations of the most unques- tionable sort—national security itself—are gained f or corporate economic activities. ‘Before World War I, businessmen fought each other; after the war they combined to present a united front against consumers.’ 41 During World War II they served on innumerable advi sory com- mittees in the prosecution of the war. They were also brought into the military apparatus more permanently by the awarding to 500), and Henry R. Luce ($13,000). Heading the list of contributions to the Democratic party were the Wade Thompsons of Nashville ($22,- 000), the Kennedys ($20,000), Albert M. Greenfield of Philadelphia ($16,000), Matthew H. McCloskey of Pennsylvania ($10,000), and the Marshall Fields ($10,000) . 40 168 THE POWER ELITE many businessmen of commissions in the reserve offi cer corps.* All this has been going on for a long time and is r ather well known, but in the Eisenhower administration the corporate ex- ecutives publicly assumed the key posts of the executive branch of the government. Where before the more silent power and the ample contract was there, now there was also the loud voice. Is there need for very subtle analysis of such matt ers when the Secretary of the Interior, Douglas McKay, blurted out to his friends in the Chamber of Commerce, on 29 April 1953, ‘We’r e here in the saddle as an Administration representing business and indus- try?’ 43 Or when Secretary of Defense Wilson asserted the i dentity of interests between the United States of America and the Gen- eral Motors Corporation? Such incidents may be poli tical blun- ders—or would be, were there an opposition party—but are they not as well revelations of deeply held convictions and intentions? There are executives who are as afraid of such poli tical identifi- cation as ‘non-partisan’ labor leaders are of third parties. For a long time the corporate rich had been in training a s an opposition group; the brighter ones then came to feel vaguely that they might be on the spot. Before Eisenhower, such power as th ey wielded could more easily be politically irresponsible. After Eisenhower that is not so easy. If things go wrong, will not t hey—and with them business—be blamed? But John Knox Jessup, chairman of the editorial boa rd of For- tune, feels that the corporation can supplant the archaic system * A survey of the backgrounds of dollar-a-year men in Washington during World War II shows that what industry loaned the government was, except for a very few men, its financial experts, not men experi- enced in production:’. . . the salesmen and purchasing agents in WPB are under Ferdinand Eberstadt, former Wall Street i nvestment banker. The alibi that these men have special qualifications for their jobs took a terrific beating when WPB within the past month fou nd it necessary to put . . . through a special training course to teach them the funda- mentals of industrial production . . . And that brings us to the dollar- a-year men who padded WPB’s payrolls with their com panies’ salesmen and purchasing agents. The dollar-a-year boys were supposed to be in- dustry’s loan of its top-management experts and financial experts to the government to help run a winning war. Now top manag ement in in- dustry is made up of two types of men . . . production experts and financial experts … Its production experts industry kept for its own business.’ 42 THE CORPORATE RICH 169 of states as a framework for self-government—and th us fill the vacuum of the middle levels of power. For, as chief of the cor- porate commonwealth, the manager has the political job of keep- ing all his constituents reasonably happy. Mr. Jessup argues that the balances of economic and political domains have already brok- en down: ‘Any President who wants to run a prospero us country depends on the corporation at least as much as—prob ably more than—the corporation depends on him. His dependence is not un- like that of King John on the landed barons of Runnymede, where Magna Carta was born.’ 44 In general, however, the ideology of the executives, as members of the corporate rich, is conservatism without any ideology. They are conservative, if for no other reason than that they feel them- selves to be a sort of fraternity of the successful. They are with- out ideology because they feel themselves to be ‘pr actical’ men. They do not think up problems; they respond to alte rnatives pre- sented to them, and such ideology as they have must be inferred from such responses as they make. During the last three decades, since the First World War in fact, the distinction between the political and the econo mic man has been diminishing; although the corporation managers have, in the past, distrusted one of their own who stays too long in the politi- cal arena. They like to come and go, for then they are not responsi- ble. Yet more and more of the corporate executives have entered government directly; and the result has been a virtually new polit- ical economy at the apex of which we find those who represent the corporate rich.* The questions which these obvious facts of the political power of the corporate rich raise have to do not so much with the per- sonal integrity of the men involved, and certainly not so much with their personal gains in wealth, prestige, and power. These are important questions which we shall discuss when we note the gen- eral prevalence of the higher immorality and the structure of the power elite as a whole. But the important political question is whether or not these facts can be added up to proof of a structural connection between the corporate rich and what we s hall call the political directorate. * See below, TWELVE : The Power Elite, for a fuller discussion of the political role of the executives. J 70 THE POWER ELITE Have the very rich and the top executives, the uppe r classes of local society and of the metropolitan 400, the strategic cliques of the corporate world, actually occupied many positio ns of power within the formal political system? They have, of c ourse, made raids upon the government, they have gained privile ges within it. But have they been and are they now active politically? Con- trary to official legend, scholarly myth, and popular folklore, the answer to that question is a complicated but a quite definite Yes. We should, however, be quite mistaken to believe th at the polit- ical apparatus is merely an extension of the corpor ate world, or that it has been taken over by the representatives of the corporate rich. The American government is not, in any simple way nor as a structural fact, a committee of ‘the ruling class.’ It is a network of ‘committees,’ and other men from other hierarchi es besides the corporate rich sit in these committees. Of these, t he profession- al politician himself is the most complicated, but the high military, the warlords of Washington, are the newest. 8 The Warlords DURING the eighteenth century, observers of the historic s cene began to notice a remarkable trend in the division of power at the top of modern society: Civilians, coming into autho rity, were able to control men of military violence, whose power, b eing hedged in and neutralized, declined. At various times and places, of course, military men had been the servants of civilian decision, but this trend—which reached its climax in the nineteenth century and lasted until World War I—seemed then, and still seems, re- markable simply because it had never before happene d on such a scale or never before seemed so firmly grounded. In the twentieth century, among the industrialized nations of the world, the great, brief, precarious fact of civilian dominance began to falter; and now—after the long peace from the Napo- leonic era to World War I—the old march of world history once more asserts itself. All over the world, the warlord is returning. All over the world, reality is defined in his terms. And in America, too, into the political vacuum the warlords have ma rched. Along- side the corporate executives and the politicians, the generals and admirals—those uneasy cousins within the Americ an elite- have gained and have been given increased power to make and to influence decisions of the gravest consequence. 1 All politics is a struggle for power; the ultimate kind of power is violence. Why, then, is not military dictatorship the normal and usual form of government? For the greater part of human history, 171 172 THE POWER ELITE men have, in fact, lived under the sword, and in an y serious dis- turbance of human affairs, real or imagined, societies do tend to revert to military rule. Even nowadays, we often ov erlook these more or less common facts of world history because we inherit certain values which, during the eighteenth and nineteenth cen- turies, have flourished under a regime of civilian authority. Even if the ultimate form of power is coercion by violen ce, all power contests within and between nations of our traditio n have not reached the ultimate point. Our theories of government have as- sumed and our constitution has led to institutions in which vio- lence has been minimized and subjected to efficient checks in the balance of civilian dominance. During the long peac e of the mod- ern west, history has been referred more to the pol itician, to the rich and to the lawyer than to the general, the ban dit, and the admiral. But how did that peace come about? How did civilians rather than men of violence become dominant? In his discusion of the military, Gaetano Mosca 1 makes an as- sumption which we do not share, but which does not disturb our acceptance of his general line of reasoning. He assumes that, in any society, there is a sort of quota of men who wh en appropri- ately provoked will resort to violence. If, says Mosca, we give such men genius and the historical opportunity, we will get a Napo- leon; if we give them a great ideal, we will get a Garibaldi; if we give them a chance, and nothing else, we will get a Mussolini or, we may add, in a business civilization, a gangster. But, says Mosca, if you give such a man a job in a certain kind of social hierarchy, you will get a professional soldier and often civilians can control him. Of course, there have been bases of internal peace other than the professional standing army. There has been ‘God’s peace’ im- posed by a priesthood, and the ‘King’s Peace’ imposed in medieval Europe against those who felt that their honor and power de- pended upon the sword. But the big fact about peace in modern, or even in world history, is—as one might expect—an ambiguous fact: it is that peace has been due to the centralization and monop- oly of violence by the national state, but that the existence of a world now organized into some eighty-one such natio nal states is also the prime condition of modern war. THE WARLORDS 173 Before the national state, men of violence could an d did fre- quently resort to violence on a local scale, and feudalism in Eu- rope as well as in the Orient was in many ways a local rule by men of violence. Before the national state centralized and monopo- lized the means of violence, power tended continually to re-create itself in small, scattered centers, and rule by local gangs was often a going fact of the pre-national history of mankind . But the high- wayman of Spain became—under Ferdinand and Isabella who were building a nation—a man of the crown, and in due course a conquistador and in due course again, a soldier of the queen. The man of local violence came, in short, to be a membe r of a national standing army beholden to the civilian head of the state. Now what kind of remarkable institution is this sta nding army that it can channel the combative tendencies of men of violence so that they come under civilian authority, and in fact adopt among themselves such obedience as their very code of honor? For if the standing army, in the modern nation, has come to mo- nopolize violence, to become strong enough to domin ate society, why has it not done so? Why, instead, has it quite frequently ta- pered up to and accepted the civilian authority of the civilian head of the state? Why do armies subordinate themse lves? What are the secrets of the standing army? There are no secrets, there are several quite open mechanisms which have been at work wherever standing armies ar e under civilian control. First of all, these armies have been ‘aristocratic’ kinds of institutions. Whenever, as in the early Bo lshevik enthusi- asm, attempts have been made to do away with this c haracter, they have failed. There is maintained in the national standing army an absolute distinction between officers and men; and the officer group has generally been recruited from among the ruling strata of the civilian population or from those who sympathize with their interests; accordingly, the balance of forces within the ruling strata has been reflected within the standin g army. And finally, there have developed in this standing army, or in many of them, certain gratifications which even men of viol ence often want: the security of a job, but more, the calculable glory of liv- ing according to a rigid code of honor. ‘Is it to be supposed,’ John Adams asked in the lat e eighteenth century, ‘that the regular standing armies of Europe, engage in 174 THE POWER ELITE the service, from pure motives of patriotism? Are t heir officers men of contemplation and devotion, who expect their reward in a future life? Is it from a sense of moral, or religious duty that they risk their lives, and reconcile themselves to wounds? In- stances of all these kinds may be found. But if any one supposes that all, or the greater part of these heroes, are actuated by such principles, he will only prove that he is unacquain ted with them. Can their pay be considered as an adequate encourag ement? This, which is no more than a very simple and moderate su bsistence, would never be a temptation to renounce the chances of fortune in other pursuits, together with the pleasures of domestic life, and submit to this most difficult and dangerous employm ent. No, it is the consideration and the chances of laurels, which they acquire by the service. ‘The soldier compares himself with his fellows, and contends for promotion to be a Corporal: the Corporals vie with each other to be Sergeants: the Sergeants will mount breaches to be Ensigns: and thus every man in an army is constantly aspiring to be some- thing higher, as every citizen in the commonwealth is constantly struggling for a better rank, that he may draw the observation of more eyes.” 2 Prestige to the point of honor, and all that this involves, has, as it were, been the pay-off for the military’s renunc iation of polit- ical power. This renunciation has gone quite far: it has been in- corporated in the military code of honor. Inside th eir often trim bureaucracy, where everything seems under neat cont rol, army officers have felt that ‘politics’ is a dirty, uncertain, and ungentle- manly kind of game; and in terms of their status co de, they have often felt that politicians were unqualified creatures inhabiting an uncertain world. The status mechanisms of the standing army have not always worked to the end of civilian dominance, and there is nothing in- evitable about their working to that end. We know, for example, that the curse of the nations of the Spanish world has been the fact that whenever army officers have gotten a foot hold in the councils of state, they have tried to dominate them, and that when they have no foothold in those councils, they may m arch upon the capital. THE WARLORDS 175 2 All of these reflections, having to do with world t rends and world facts, bear in an especially acute way on the situation of the American military establishment and its higher eche lons of gener- als and admirals. Like other nations, the United States was born in violence, but it was born at a time when warfare di d not seem to be a dominating feature of human society. And it was born in a place which could not easily be reached by the mach ines of war, was not easily open to the devastation of war, not subject to the anxiety of those who live in military neighborhoods. In the time and place of its earlier period, the United States was well situated to erect and to maintain a civilian government, and to hold well subordinated such militarist ambition as might prevail. A young country whose nationalist revolution was fo ught against mercenary soldiers, employed by the British and qua rtered in American homes, would not be likely to love professional soldiers. Being a wide, open land surrounded by weak neighbor s, Indians and wide oceans, the sovereign United States for the long decades of the nineteenth century did not have to carry the burden of a permanent and large military overhead. Moreover, fr om the time of the Monroe Doctrine until it was applied to Britain in the later part of the nineteenth century, the British fleet, in order to protect British markets in the western hemisphere, stood be tween the United States and the continental states of Europe. Even after World War I, until the rise of Nazi Germany, the America that had become creditor to the bankrupt nations of Europe had little mili- tary threat to fear. 3 All this has also meant that, as in the islands of Britain, a navy rather than an army was historicall y the prime military instrument; and navies have much less infl uence upon national social structures than armies often have, for they are not very useful as a means of repressing popular revolt . Generals and admirals, accordingly, did not play much of a role in political af- fairs and civilian dominance was firmly set. A country whose people have been most centrally pre occupied by the individual acquisition of wealth would not be expected to favor subsidizing an organized body of men who, eco nomically speaking, are parasitical. A country whose middle class cherished 176 THE POWER ELITE freedom and personal initiative would not be likely to esteem dis- ciplined soldiers who all too often seemed to be ty rannically used in the support of less free governments. Economic f orces and political climate, therefore, have historically favored the civilian devaluation of the military as an at-times necessary evil but always a burden. The Constitution of the United States was construct ed in fear of a powerful military establishment. The President , a civilian, was declared commander-in-chief of all the armed fo rces, and during war, of the state militia’s as well. Only Congress could de- clare war, or vote funds for military use—and for only two years at a time. The individual states maintained their own militia, sepa- rate and apart from the national establishment. There was no pro- vision for a flow of advice from military to civilian chiefs. If there were provisions for violence in the constitution, t hey were reluc- tant provisions, and the agents of violence were he ld to a strictly instrumental role. After the revolutionary generation, the upper class es were not of a military stamp; the American elite did not sys tematically include among its members high-ranking military figures; it devel- oped no firm tradition of military service; prestige was not ren- dered to military servants. The ascendancy of econo mic over mili- tary men in the sphere of ‘honor’ was made quite ap parent when, during the Civil War, as indeed up to World War I, the hiring of a substitute for the draft was not looked down upon. Military men, accordingly, on their often isolated posts along th e old internal frontier, did not enter the higher circles of the nation. No matter what hardships, and they were often sever e, were encountered by those who crossed the hemisphere and no matter how military their expeditions and communities—and in many ways they were for considerable periods definitely camps of war- still those who headed the nation were not stamped with the mili- tary mind and the military outlook. And yet, considering the whole of United States history, we are confronted with a rather curious situation: we are told that we have never been and are not a militarist nation, that in fact we distrust the military experience, yet we note that the Revolution led to the ascendancy of General Washington to the Presidency, THE WARLORDS 177 and that there were bids among certain rejected off icers, in the Order of Cincinnati, to form a military council and install a mili- tarist king. Then too, frontier battling and skirmishes had some- thing to do with the political success of Generals Jackson, Harri- son, and Taylor in the Mexican War. And there was a lso the Civil War, which was long and bloody and split American s ociety across the middle, leaving scars that still remain much in evidence. Ci- vilian authority, on both sides, remained in control through it and after it, but it did lead to the ascendancy of Gene ral Grant to the Presidency, which became a convenient front for eco nomic inter- ests. All the Presidents from Grant through McKinley, with the exceptions of Cleveland and Arthur, were Civil War officers, al- though only Grant was a professional. And again, with the little Spanish-American War, we note that the roughest, to ughest of them all—perhaps because he was not a professional— Theodore Roosevelt—emerged in due course in the White House. In fact, about half of the thirty-three men who have been President of the United States have had military experience of some sort; six have been career officers; nine have been generals. From Shays’ Rebellion to the Korean War there has b een no period of any length without official violence. Since 1776, in fact, the United States has engaged in seven foreign wars , a four-year Civil War, a century of running battles and skirmishes with Indi- ans, and intermittent displays of violence in China, and in subju- gating the Caribbean and parts of Central America.* All of these occurrences may have been generally regarded as nui sances inter- ferring with the more important business at hand, but, at 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 life and culture. * In 1935, the editors of Fortune wrote: “It is gen erally supposed that the American military ideal is peace. But unfortuna tely for this high- school classic, the U.S. Army, since 1776, has filched more square miles of the earth by sheer military conquest than any ar my in the world, ex- cept only that of Great Britain. And as between Gre at Britain and the U.S. it has been a close race, Britain having conquered something over 3,500,000 square miles since that date, and the U.S . (if one includes wresting the Louisiana Purchase from the Indians) s omething over 3,100,000. The English-speaking people have done themselves proud in this regard.’ 4 178 THE POWER ELITE The clue to this ambiguity lies in this fact: histo rically, there has been plenty of violence, but a great deal of it has been directly performed by ‘the people.’ Military force has been decentralized in state militia almost to a feudal point. Military institutions, with few exceptions, have paralleled the scattered means of economic production and the confederate means of political power. Unlike the Cossacks of the Eurasian Steppes, the technical and numerical superiority of the American frontiersman who confro nted the American Indian made it unnecessary for a true warrior stratum and a large, disciplined administration of violence to emerge. Vir- tually every man was a rifleman: given the technica l level of the warfare, the means of violence remained decentraliz ed. That simple fact is of the greatest consequence for civilian dominance as well as for the democratic institutions and ethos of earlier times in America. Historically, democracy in America has been underpi nned by the militia system of armed citizens at a time when the rifle was the key weapon and one man meant one rifle as well as one vote. Schoolbook historians, accordingly, have not been prone to think about changes in American military institutions and weapons sys- tems as causes of political and economic changes. T hey bring out military forces for an Indian skirmish and a distant war, and then they tuck them away again. And perhaps the historia ns are right. But the first armies in Europe based on universal conscription, it ought to be remembered, were revolutionary armies. Other coun- tries armed their populations reluctantly; Metternich at the Con- gress of Vienna urged the abolition of mass conscri ption; Prus- sia adopted it only after her professional army suffered defeats without it; the Tzars, only after the Crimean war; and Austria, only after Bismarck’s recruits defeated Franz Josef’s troops. 5 The introduction of mass conscript armies in Europe involved the extension of other ‘rights’ to the conscripts in an effort to strengthen their loyalties. In Prussia, and later in Germany, this was a quite deliberate policy. The abolishment of s erfdom and later the development of social-security plans accompanied the establishment of mass conscription. Although the co rrespondence is not exact, it seems clear that to extend the right to bear arms to the population at large has involved the extension of other rights as well. But in the United States, the right to bear arms was not ex- THE WARLORDS 179 tended by an arms-bearing stratum to an unarmed pop ulation: the population bore arms from the beginning. Up to World War I, military activities did not involve the discipline of permanent military training, nor a monopoly of the tools of violence by the federal government, nor th e professional soldier at the top of a large and permanent military establishment. Between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, the army averaged about 25,000 men, organized on a regimental basis, with regiments and companies largely scattered on posts along the in- ternal frontier and farther west. Through the Spani sh-American War, the United States Army was militia-organized, which meant decentralized and with an unprofessional officer corps open to much local influence. The small regular army was supplemented by state mi litias formed into The US Volunteers, the commanders of these troops being appointed by the governors of the states. In this quite un- professional situation, regular army men could be and often were jumped to generalship in The Volunteers. Folitics—w hich is also to say civilian control—reigned supreme. At any given time, there were few generals, and the rank of colonel was ofte n even the West Pointer’s height of aspiration. 3 Around the old army general of the late nineteenth century, in his neatly disheveled blue uniform, there hang wisps of gun smoke from the Civil War. In the Civil War he had disting uished him- self, and between that war and the Spanish-American fracas he had fought Indians in a most adventurous way. The d ash of the cavalry has rubbed off on him—even if at times making him some- thing of a dashing imbecile (Remember Custer and th e Little Big Horn!). He lives something of the hardy life which Theodore Roosevelt esteemed. He often wears a mustache, and sometimes a beard, and usually he has a certain unshaven look. Grant had worn a private’s uniform with unshined buttons and ancie nt boots and the manner carried on. This old army man has fought up-close: it was not until World War I that an official effort was made ‘to con- serve trained personnel’; many generals and dozens of colonels were killed in Civil War battles or afterward in Indian skirmishes. 180 THE POWER ELITE He did not earn the respect of his men by logistica l planning in the Pentagon; he earned it by better shooting, harder riding, faster improvisation when in trouble. The typical general of 1900 6 was of an old American family and of British ancestry. He was born about 1840 in the northeast- em section of the United States and probably grew u p either there or in the north central section, in a rural area or perhaps a small town. His father was a professional man, and the chances are fairly good that his father had political connections—which may or may not have aided him in his career. It took him a little more than thirty-eight years to become a major-gene ral from the time he entered the army or West Point. When he cam e into top command, he was about sixty years old. If he was re ligious he probably attended the Episcopal church. He married, sometimes twice, and his father-in-law, also a professional, might also have had some political connections. While in the servic e, he did not belong to a political party; but after retirement, he may have dab- bled a bit in Republican politics. It is as unlikely that he wrote any- thing as that someone wrote very much about him. Of ficially, he had to retire at sixty-two; and he died, on the average, at the age of seventy-seven. Only a third of these old army generals had been to West Point and only four others had completed college; the old army did not go to school. But we must remember that many southe rners—who had been West Pointers and who had predominated in the old fed- eral army—had gone home to fight in the Confederate army. Sometimes the army general of 1900 had been commiss ioned during the Civil War, sometimes he had come up through the vol- unteers of the state militia, sometimes he had personally recruited enough men and then he was a colonel. After he was in the regu- lar army, his promotion was largely by seniority, which was greatly speeded up during wars, as during his jump from col onelcy dur- ing the Spanish-American War. At least half of the old army gen- erals had higher connections with generals and poli ticians. Gen- eral Leonard Wood, for example, who was a medical c aptain in 1891, became White House physician, and later, under his friends, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, ended u p in 1900 as Chief of Staff. Only three of the top three-dozen army men ever went into THE WARLORDS 181 business—and two of these were non-regulars. Local merchants in frontier towns often loved this old army; for it fought Indians and cattle thieves and the army post meant money for th e local econ- omy. And in larger towns, the army was at times aut horized to break strikes. Small boys also loved it. Between the Civil War and the naval expansion under Theo- dore Roosevelt, the army was more in the public eye and its claims for status were cashed in by the lower classes. But the navy was more like a gentleman’s club, which occasionally we nt on explor- ing and rescuing expeditions, and the prestige of t he navy was among the upper classes. This explains, and is in p art explained by, the higher level of origin and more professional training of its officer corps. Apart from the British inheritance of sea power, th ere was the prestige of Admiral Mahan’s theory, linking the gre atness of the nation to her sea power, and falling easily upon the ears of Navy Undersecretary Theodore Roosevelt. The higher prest ige of the navy, coming to a wider public during the Spanish-A merican War, has been due to the fact that the skills of the naval officer were more mysterious to laymen than those of the ar my—few civil- ians would dare try to command a ship, but many mig ht a brigade. Since there was not, as in the army, a volunteer system—there was the prestige of skill augmented by the prestige of a formal, spe- cialized education at Annapolis. There was also the fact of heavy capital investment, represented by the ships in the naval officer’s command. And finally, there was the absolute author ity that The Master of a ship exercises—especially in view of the sea tradition of contempt for the deckhand, which, applied to the enlisted sail- ors, lifted the officers high indeed. The typical admiral of 1900 was born about 1842 of colonial stock and British ancestry. His father had a professional practice of one kind or another; but more important, he was of the upper levels of the northeastern seaboard, more likely than not of an urban center. The future admiral had the academy ed ucation plus two years on a receiving ship. He was only fourteen years old when he entered the navy; and if he was religious, he was defi- nitely Protestant. Some forty-three years after he was accepted at the Academy he became a rear admiral. He was the n fifty-eight years old. He had married within his own class level. He probably 182 THE POWER ELITE wrote one book, but chances were less that someone wrote a book about him; he may, however, have received an honora ry degree after the war of 1898; and he retired from the navy at sixty-two years of age. He had held the rank of rear admiral for only three years; and he died ten years after compulsory retir ement at the average age of seventy-two. Even in 1900, the top of the navy was strictly Anna polis, and gentlemanly too. Recruited from higher class levels than the army, residing more in the East, having had better prepar atory train- ing and then the Academy, the admiral had also serv ed in the Civil War, after which he slowly rose by avoiding innovation, in personal life or in military duties. Given the meticulous crawl of his career, it was important that he be commissione d early and live long, in order to reach admiralcy before compu lsory retire- ment at sixty-two. It usually took some twenty-five years to be- come a captain. ‘Officers spent so long a time in t he lower sub- ordinate grades that they never learned to think fo r themselves. They usually reached command ranks so late that the y had lost their youth and ambition and had learned only to ob ey, not to command…’* From one-third to one-half of the duty of the top officers was spent at sea, occurring of course mainly while of lower rank. About half of the top thirty-five naval men had returned at one time or another to Annapolis as instructors or officials. And some took post- graduate work there. But the key to the bureaucrati c snafu that has often characterized the navy is that as the ships and the guns and the logistics became more technically complicat ed, the men who ran them acquired rank less by technical specia lty than by seniority. Accordingly, the skipper became somewhat alien- ated from his ship and had to take responsibility for matters which he did not altogether understand. The bureau heads, who ran the * ‘In December 1906, the age of the youngest captai n in the Amer- ican Navy was 55 and the average time spent in that grade was 4.5 years; in Great Britain the youngest captain was 35 and the average time spent in that grade was 11.2 years.’ The figures for France, Ger- many, and Japan are similar to the British. ‘The same situation was true of the flag officers. In the United States they usually averaged only 1.5 years in that rank before retirement,’ but in Great Britain, France, Ger- many, and Japan, between 6 and 14 years. 7 THE WARLORDS 183 navy, had access to the Secretary, and were often t hick with Con- gressmen. But despite the prominent connections, on ly one ad- admiral of this period went into business, and only two went into (local) politics. Such, in brief, was the civilian controlled militar y establish- ment of the United States in the later nineteenth c entury, with its half-professionalized high officer corps, whose members were not in any important sense of the American elite of businessmen and politicians. But this is not the later nineteenth century, and most of the historical factors which then shaped th e military roles within the nation no longer exert the slightest inf luence on the shape of the higher echelons of America. 4 In the middle of the twentieth century, the influen ce of such peaceful and civilian values as exist in the United States—and with them the effective distrust and subordination of professional military men—must be balanced by the unprecedented situation which the American elite now defines as the situation of the nation: I. For the first time, the American elite, as well as effective sections of the underlying population, begin to rea lize what it means to live in a military neighborhood, what it means to be tech- nically open to catastrophic attack upon the nation al domain. Per- haps they also realize how very easy a military tim e the United States as a nation has had, given its geographical isolation, its enlarging and pacified domestic market, its natural resources needed for industrialization, and requiring military operations only against a technologically primitive population. All that is now history: the United States is now as much a mil itary neighbor of the Soviet Union—or even more so—as Germany has been of France in previous centuries. II. This is brought home, immediately and dramatically, by the more careful estimates, now publicly available, of the physical ef- fects of the latest weapons system. One saturation attack, it is not unreasonable to suppose, would result in some 50 mi llion casual- ties, or nearly one-third of the population. 8 That the United States could immediately retaliate with comparable effects upon 184 THE POWER ELITE the enemy does not, of course, lessen those upon he r own do- main and population. Such technical possibilities may be taken in a political and an industrial way, or in their strictly military meaning. The American elite in charge of that decision have taken them pr imarily in their military meaning. The terms in which they have defi ned interna- tional reality are predominantly military. As a result, in the higher circles there has been a replacement of diplomacy i n any histori- cally recognized sense by calculations of war poten tial and the military seriousness of war threats. Moreover, the new weaponry has been developed as a ‘first line of defense.’ Unlike poison gas and bacteria, it has not been con- sidered as a reserve against its use by the enemy, but as the major offensive weapon. And such grand strategy as has be en made pub- lic has been officially based upon the assumption that such weap- ons will be used during the first days of general w ar. Indeed, that is now the common assumption. III. These definitions of reality and proposed orientations to it have led to a further feature of America’s internat ional posture: for the first time in American history, men in authority are talk- ing about an ’emergency’ without a foreseeable end. During mod- ern times, and especially in the United States, men had come to look upon history as a peaceful continuum interrupt ed by war. But now, the American elite does not have any real image of peace —other than as an uneasy interlude existing precariously by virtue of the balance of mutual fright. The only seriously accepted plan for ‘peace’ is the fully loaded pistol. In short, war or a high state of war preparedness is felt to be the normal and se emingly per- manent condition of the United States. IV. The final new feature we would mention of the U nited States situation, as now officially defined, is even more significant. For the first time in their history, the American e lite find them- selves confronting a possible war which they admit among them- selves and even in public, that none of the combatants would win. They have no image of what ‘victory’ might mean, an d they have no idea of any road to victory. Certainly the generals have no idea. In Korea, for example, it became quite clear that t he stalemate was produced by ‘a paralysis of will’ on the political level. Lieu- tenant-Colonel Melvin B. Voorhees reports the following from an THE WARLORDS 185 interview with General James Van Fleet: ‘Reporter: “General, what is our goal?” Van Fleet: “I don’t know. The answer must come from higher authority.” Reporter: “How may we know, General, when and if we achieve victory?” Van Fleet: “I don’t know, except that somebody higher up will have to tell us.”‘ ‘That,’ commented a Time editoralist, ‘sums up the last two years of the Korean war.’ 9 In previous times, leaders of nations in preparing for war had theories of victory, terms of surrender, an d some of them at least were confident of the military means of im posing them. By World War II, the United States war aims had become quite vague in any political or economic sense, but there were strategic plans for victory by violent means. But now there is no l iterature of victory. Given the means of violence that now exist, ‘massive re- taliation’ is neither a war plan nor an image of victory, but merely a violent diplomatic—which is to say political—gest ure and a recognition that all-out war between two nations has now become the means of their mutual destruction. The position amounts to this: with war all nations may fall, so in their mutual fright of war, they survive. Peace is a mutual fright, a balance of armed fear. I am not concerned, at this point, to debate any of the defini- tions of reality that play into the national position or the policies of the United States. Yet given these features of t he world situa- tion as it is officially defined today, we ought to realize that ortho- dox military strategy and military expertise of all types have be- come irrelevant and misleading in all decisions abo ut world affairs that might lead to peace. Clearly all the decisive problems, fore- most among them, the problems of war and peace, now become in a more complete sense than ever before, political p roblems. Whether NATO has ten or thirty divisions is, from a military standpoint, as irrelevant as whether Germany is or is not to be rearmed. In the light of the now established facts concerning the effect of all-out bombing, such questions have ceased to be mili- tary issues of the slightest importance. They are p olitical ques- tions concerning the ability of the United States to line up the nations of Europe. But: given the military definition of reality that prevails among the men with the power of decision, the rise of the generals and the admirals into the higher circles of the American elite becomes 186 THE POWER ELITE completely understandable and legitimate, completel y realistic and desirable. For this new international position of the United States, and the new international context itself—bo th as defined by the elite—have made for a change in their focus of attention. The rise to enlarged command and increased status o f the war- lords of Washington is but the most obvious sign of this broaden- ing of attention. Decisions of the greatest consequence have be- come largely international. If it is too much to say that, for many of the elite, domestic politics have become importa nt mainly as ways of retaining power at home in order to exert a broad the power of the national establishment, surely it is true that domestic decisions in virtually all areas of life are increasingly justified by, if not made with, close reference to the dangers an d opportunities abroad. At the same time, it is not strange that there has been civilian alarm in high places over the increased power of th e warlords. This alarm would be more responsible if it led to effective chal- lenge of the military definition of reality in favor of political and economic and human images of world affairs. But the n, it is easier to be alarmed over warlords, who, of course, are both a cause and a result of the definitions of reality that prevail. 5 As the American means of violence have been enlarge d and cen- tralized, they have come to include an enormously c omplicated bureaucratic structure, reaching to the rimlands of Asia and well into the peninsula of Europe with its instruments o f perception, and into the heart of Eurasia with its strategic air force. Such changes in the institutions and reach of the means of violence could not but make equally significant changes in the men of vio- lence: the United States warlords. The most dramatic symbol of the scale and shape of the new military edifice is the Pentagon. 10 This concrete and limestone maze contains the organized brain of the American means of vio- lence. The world’s largest office building, the United States Capi- tol would fit neatly into any one of its five segme nts. Three foot- ball fields would reach only the length of one of its five outer THE WARLORDS 187 walls. Its seventeen and a half miles of corridor, 40,000-phone switchboards, fifteen miles of pneumatic tubing, 2,100 intercoms, connect with one another and with the world, the 31 ,300 Penta- gonians. Prowled by 170 security officers, served by 1,000 men and women, it has four full-time workers doing noth ing but re- placing light bulbs, and another four watching the master panel which synchronizes its 4,000 clocks. Underneath its river entrance are five handball courts and four bowling alleys. I t produces ten tons of non-classified waste paper a day, which is sold for about $80,000 a year. It produces three nation-wide progr ams a week in its radio-TV studio. Its communication system pe rmits four- party conversations between people as far apart as Washington, Tokyo, Berlin, and London. This office building, in this intricate architectural and human maze, is the everyday milieu of the modern warlords . And no In- dian fighters are to be found among them. At the head of the military bureaucracy, below the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense, who m he ap- points, and his assistants, there sits, behind office walls of sheet steel, a military board of directors—the Joint Chie fs of Staff. Im- mediately below the Joint Chiefs there is a higher circle of gen- erals and admirals which presides over the elaborate and far-flung land, sea, and air forces, as well as the economic and political liaisons held necessary to maintain them, and over the publicity machines. Since Pearl Harbor, in a series of laws and directives, a serious attempt has been made to unify the several branches of the ser- vice. Easier civilian control would result from such unity; but it has not been altogether successful. The high navy e specially, has often felt neglected; and each of the services has, on occasion, gone to Congress over the head of its Secretary—the air force at one time even winning its point against the opposit ion of the Secretary. In 1949, the Hoover Commission reported that the mili- tary establishment lacked central authority and adequate budget- ary routines; that it was not a ‘team,’ and that the link between scientific research and strategic plans was weak. ‘The lack of cen- tral authority in the direction of the national mil itary establish- ment, the rigid statutory structure established under the act, and 188 THE POWER ELITE divided responsibility have resulted in a failure t o assert clear civilian control over the armed forces.’ 11 At the very top, among civilians and military, there have been, since World War II, sweeping changes of personnel—a lthough the types of men have not decisively changed. 12 As Secretary, there has been a politician, a broker, a general, a banker, a corporation executive. Directly confronting such men, sit the four highest mili- tary who are ‘all military.’* From the military’s s tandpoint, per- haps the ideal civilian at the top would be a front to Congress but a willing tool of military decision. But this is not always the type that prevails. Recently, for example, the Secretary of the Navy moved an admiral out of a top job for reasons of ‘p olicy differ- ences.’ 14 There is undoubtedly tension, the men on either side be- ing, like all men, to some degree prisoners of their pasts. There are, of course, cliques among the high milita ry, variously related to one another and variously related to given civilian poli- cies and cliques. These become apparent when hidden tensions become open controversies—as at the time of MacArthur’s dismis- sal from his Eastern command. At that time there was, in addition to the MacArthur school of Asia First, already declining in influ- ence, the Marshall-set who gave priority to Europe. There was also the Eisenhower-Smith group, which had great influen ce but did not run the army; and there was the dominant group who did run it, the Bradley-Collins team. 150* And there is the rather standard split between those who feel that the need of the services is for ‘truly professional armed forces’ commanded by ‘combat line offi- * The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Arthur W. Rad- ford, is the son of a civil engineer; the Chief of Naval Operations, Ad- miral Robert B. Carney, is the son of a navy comman der; the Army Chief of Staff, General Matthew B. Ridgway, is the son of a regular army officer; and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Nathan F. Twining, has two brothers who are Annapolis men. 13 * * The Joint Chiefs of Staff appointed in 1953, for example, have all held major commands in the Pacific, and there was s ome feeling upon their appointment that they were more Asia-minded t han the more European-minded Bradley, Collins, Vandenberg, and Fechteler they re- placed. All of them were also reported to favor the tactical side of air warfare as over the strategic—at least they were no t pure and simple ‘big-bomb’ men. Admiral Radford, in fact, as comman der-in-chief of the Pacific fleet led the ‘revolt of the admirals’ against the B-36 in the budget controversy of 1949. 16 THE WARLORDS 189 cers’ and those who are happier about the rise of t he new ‘special- ists’ and staff men. 17 As the military increase in power, more tense cliqu es will probably develop among them, despite ‘unification’—which is, of course, by no means completed. When the military ar e a minority fighting for survival, they are more likely to hang together than when they are dominant members of the power elite, for then it is no question of survival but of expansion. In the early twentieth century, the militia system had been cen- tralized; and now the weapons systems have develope d to the point where rifles are mere toys. The arming of the citizen is now within a disciplined organization under firmly cent ralized control, and the means of suppressing illegitimate violence have in- creased. As a result, those outside the military ruling circles are helpless militarily. Yet, at the same time, virtually the entire popu- lation is involved in war, as soldiers or as civili ans—which means that they are disciplined in a hierarchy at whose h ead there sit the warlords of Washington. 6 The nearest the modern general or admiral comes to a small- arms encounter of any sort is at a duck hunt in the company of corporation executives at the retreat of Continental Motors, Inc. One insurance company, in fact, ‘has been insuring officers for a decade and a half, went through World War II . . . and survived … during the Korean War, the mortality rate of officer policyhold- ers serving in the battle zone was below the averag e for industry as a whole.’ 18 As a further fact, Brigadier General S. L. A. Mar- shall’s studies have revealed that in any given action of World War II, probably no more than 25 per cent of the soldie rs who were in a position to fire their weapons at the enemy actuall y pulled the trigger. 19 The general and the admiral are more professionaliz ed execu- tives than inherited images of fighting men would suggest. Two- thirds of the top generals of 1950 20 graduated from The Point (all of the admirals, both in 1900 and 1950, graduated from the Naval Academy); most saw service in World War I, and most of them lived through the general anti-militarist peace of the ‘twenties and ‘thirties, begging for appropriations, denying the merchants-of- 190 THE POWER ELITE death charges. Above them all towered the spit-and- polish image of Pershing. During the interwar years nothing really happened in their pro- fessional lives. It was in some ways as if a doctor were passing his life without seeing any patients, for the military were not called upon really to exercise their professional skill. But they had the services. Perhaps that is the clue to their develop ment in such periods: in them there is intensified the desire, too deeply rooted to examine, to conform to type, to be indistinguish able, not to re- veal loss of composure to inferiors, and above all, not to presume the right to upset the arrangements of the chain of command. It was important that those above them could not find anything against them; and, at home and abroad, the life of the professional military went on in their own little colonies, quite insulated from the economic and political life of the nation. In t he civilian dis- trust that prevailed, the military were supposed to ‘stay out of politics,’ and most of them seemed glad to do so. The military life of the interwar officer revolved around his rank. Through the rank of colonel, promotion was by seniority, and standing before the officer was ‘the hump’—a co ncentration of four or five thousand officers, most of them commissioned dur- ing World War I. As a result of this hump, it took a man ‘twenty- two years to climb from the junior captain to the s enior captain.’ He could ‘scarcely hope to top the grade of captain before reach- ing his fifties.’ 21 The social life of the interwar officer also revolved around his rank. Toward the world of civilians, as well as amo ng their unap- preciated selves, there was intense consciousness of rank. General George C. Marshall’s wife, remembering this period, recalls an officer’s wife remarking, ‘At a tea such as this one you always ask the highest-ranking officer’s wife to pour coffee, not tea [be- cause] coffee outranks tea.’ She also remembers the life of the colonel in the slump when—as she elsewhere notes—th e army was so pressed for funds that target practice was curtailed: ‘Our quar- ters at Fort Moultrie were not a home, but a hotel. The house had been built by the Coast Artillery in its balmy days, but now the place was in bad repair. It had 42 French doors leading out on the lower and top verandas, which extended around t hree sides of the house.’ And when Marshall became a general: ‘In front of THE WARLORDS 191 the cottage stood a beautiful new Packard car—to re place our little Ford. So he had one thrill out of his generalcy, for a Packard in those times of depression was indeed a marvelous th rill. I was quite overcome with joy.’ 22 Another colonel’s lady remembers the rank order among wives: ‘When someone suggested that a committee be selecte d to buy the books, the doctor’s wife, who knew my weakness, murmured my name, but the colonel’s wife appointed the three highest rank- ing ladies present.’ And she too remembers the life abroad among higher military personnel: ‘In China our domestic s taff had con- sisted of five . . . The pay freeze [during the slump] which cut out these automatic increases hurt more junior than senior officers. No general was affected by it, and only one admiral . Seventy-five per cent of the loss, in the army, was stood by lie utenants, cap- tains, warrant officers and nurses.’ 23 It was in these interwar days that second-lieutenant Eisenhower met Mamie Doud, w hose fa- ther was prosperous enough to retire to leisure in Denver at the age of thirty-six and, with his family, winter in San Antonio. It is reported, as of 1953, that ‘a typical career officer at age forty-five or fifty may accumulate as much as $50,0 00 of insurance over the years.’ 25 And of the interwar naval officer’s life, it has been said: ‘The summer cruises were exciting, and the go ld stripes and extra privileges of upper-class life made you begin to feel like somebody after all. And you … learned good manner s, and visited your roommate’s home in Philadelphia one Christmas holiday and got your first taste of the social pampering in store for personable young navy men . . . you listened to so many lectur es admonish- ing you not to consider yourself superior to a civilian that you found yourself feeling that you really were a cut above, but that it would be improper to show that you thought so.’ 26 Yet it has not generally been true in the United St ates that, as Veblen would have it, since ‘war is honorable, warl ike prowess is honorific.’ 27 Nor has it been true that military officers have gen- erally derived from, or become, members of Veblen’s leisure class.* * ‘While it is a fact that our army officers are be tter paid than any others in the world,’ it was authoritatively stated in 1903, ‘yet the pur- suit of the profession of arms offers to our men no pecuniary induce- ment. If they do not possess outside sources of income, they are ex- pected to live within their pay; sixty per cent, or more, have no income 192 THE POWER ELITE It is more true of the navy than of the army—the ai r force is too new for such developments. On the whole, the high o fficers of the army and navy have been men of the upper-middle rat her than truly higher or definitely lower classes. Only a very small percent- age of them are of working-class origin. They have been the sons of professional men, of businessmen, of farmers, of public offi- cials, and of military men. They are overwhelmingly Protestant, mainly Episcopalians or Presbyterians. Few have served in the ranks. 29 And for almost all of them of today, World War II is the pivotal event. It is the pivot of the modern military caree r and of the political and military and social climate in which that career is being enacted. Younger men among the top today saw combat duty in leading regiments or divisions, and older men, rapidly ad- vanced in the great expansion, rose to the top head quarters at home and abroad. 7 Social origins and early backgrounds are less important to the character of the professional military man than to any other high social type. The training of the future admiral or general be- gins early and is thus deeply set, and the military world which he enters is so all-encompassing that his way of life is firmly centered within it. To the extent that these conditions exis t, whether he is the son of a carpenter or a millionaire is that much less important. The point should not, of course, be pushed too far. Although the military is the most bureaucratic of all types within the American elite, it is not absolutely bureaucratic, and, as in all bureaucracies, on its higher levels it becomes less so than on its lower and middle. Nevertheless, when we examine the military career, one fact ap- pears to be so central that we need not go far beyond it. That fact is that for most of their careers, the admirals and the generals have followed a quite uniform and pre-arranged pattern. Once we know the ground rules and the pivotal junctures of this standard- beyond their pay [40 per cent did] . . . Most prize d of all the details, probably, is that of military attache at one of the United States legations abroad . . . Officers who accept such posts general ly have outside in- comes of their own or such as are derived through t heir family connec- tions.’ 28 THE WARLORDS 193 ized career, we already know as much as we can find out from the detailed statistics of a multitude of careers. The military world selects and forms those who beco me a pro- fessional part of it. The harsh initiation at The P oint or The Academy—and on lower levels of the military service , in basic training—reveals the attempt to break up early civilian values and sensibilities in order the more easily to implant a character struc- ture as totally new as possible. It is this attempt to break up the earlier acquired sensibilities that lies back of the ‘breaking’ of the recruit and the assignment to him of very low status in the military world. He must be made to lose much of his old identity in order that he can then become aware of his very self in the terms of his military role. He must be isolated from his old civilian life in order that he will come eagerly to place the highest value on successful conformity with mili- tary reality, on deep acceptance of the military outlook, and on proud realization of success within its hierarchy and in its terms. His very self-esteem becomes quite thoroughly depen dent upon the appraisals he receives from his peers and his superiors in the chain of command. His military role, and the world of which it is a part, is presented to him as one of the higher circles of the nation. There is a strong emphasis upon the whole range of social eti- quette, and, in various formal and informal ways, he is encour- aged to date girls of higher rather than of lower status. He is made to feel that he is entering upon an important secto r of the higher circles of the nation, and, accordingly, his concep tion of himself as a self-confident man becomes based upon his conc eption of himself as a loyal member of an ascendant organization. The only ‘educational’ routine in America that compares with the military is that of the metropolitan 400’s private schools, and they do not altogether measure up to the military way. 39 West Point and Annapolis are the beginning points o f the war- lords, and, although many other sources of recruitment and ways of training have had to be used in the emergencies of expansion, they are still the training grounds of the elite of the armed forces. 31 Most of the top generals and all of the admirals of today are of West Point or of The Academy, and they definitely feel it. In fact, if no such caste feeling existed among them, these character-se- 194 THE POWER ELITE lecting and character-forming institutions would ha ve to be called failures. The caste feeling of the military is an essential f eature of the truly professional officer corps which, since the S panish-Ameri- can War, has replaced the old decentralized, and so mewhat lo- cally political, militia system. ‘The objective is the fleet,’ naval Captain L. M. Nulton has written, ‘the doctrine is responsibility, and the problem is the formation of military character.’ 32 Of the period when most present-day admirals were at Annap olis, it was asserted by Commander Earle: ‘The discipline of the Naval Acad- emy well illustrates the principle that in every co mmunity dis- cipline means simply organized living. It is the condition of living right because without right living, civilization cannot exist. Per- sons who will not live right must be compelled to d o so, and upon such misguided individuals there must be placed res traints. To these alone is discipline ever harsh or a form of punishment. Surely this is just as it should be. The world would be be tter if such in- dividuals were made to feel the tyranical, unyieldi ng, and hard- nailed fist in order to drive them from an organiza tion to which they have not right to belong.’* The military world bears decisively upon its inhabi tants be- cause it selects its recruits carefully and breaks up their previously acquired values; it isolates them from civilian soc iety and it stand- ardises their career and deportment throughout thei r lives. Within this career, a rotation of assignment makes for similarity of skills and sensibilities. And, within the military world, a higher position is not merely a job or even the climax of a career; it is clear- ly a total way of life which is developed under an all-encompass- ing system of discipline. Absorbed by the bureaucratic hierarchies in which he lives, and from which he derives his ve ry character and image of self, the military man is often submerged in it, or as a possible civilian, even sunk by it. As a social cre ature, he has until quite recently been generally isolated from other areas of American life; and as an intellectual product of a closed educa- * He adds: ‘On Sundays there is compulsory attendan ce at church … (which helps) him to realize that he is not merely an individual but is a member of an organization even in his devotions, as is evidenced by the prayer for his brothers in the fleet, by one for his fellow members in the Academy, both of which he hears every Sunday mornin g . . .’ 33 THE WARLORDS 195 tional system, with his experience itself controlle d by a code and a sequence of jobs, he has been shaped into a highly uniform type. More than any other creatures of the higher circles , modern warlords, on or above the two-star rank, resemble one another, in- ternally and externally. Externally, as John P. Mar quand has observed, 34 their uniforms often seem to include their facial mask, and certainly its typical expressions. There is the resolute mouth and usually the steady eye, and always the tendency to expres- sionlessness; there is the erect posture, the square shoulders, and the regulated cadence of the walk. They do not ambl e; they stride. Internally, to the extent that the whole system of life- training has been successful, they are also reliably similar in re- action and in outlook. They have, it is said, ‘the military mind,’ which is no idle phrase: it points to the product of a specialized bureaucratic training; it points to the results of a system of formal selection and common experiences and friendships an d activities —all enclosed within similar routines. It also points to the fact of discipline—which means instant and stereotyped obed ience with- in the chain of command. The military mind also ind icates the sharing of a common outlook, the basis of which is the metaphysi- cal definition of reality as essentially military reality. Even within the military realm, this mind distrusts ‘theorists, ‘ if only because they tend to be different: bureaucratic thinking is orderly and con- crete thinking. The fact that they have succeeded in climbing the m ilitary hierarchy, which they honor more than any other, lends self-assur- ance to the successful warlords.The protections tha t surround their top positions make them even more assured and confident. If they should lose confidence in themselves what e lse would there be for them to lose? Within a limited area of life, they are often quite competent, but to them, in their discip lined loyalty, this area is often the only area of life that is truly worthwhile. They are inside an apparatus of prerogative and graded p rivilege in which they have been economically secure and unworr ied. Al- though not usually rich, they have never faced the perils of earning a living in the same way that lower and middle-clas s persons have. The orderly ranks of their chain of command, as we have seen, are carried over into their social life: such striving for status 196 THE POWER ELITE as they have known has been within an unambiguous a nd well- organized hierarchy of status, in which each knows his place and remains within it. In this military world, debate is no more at a premium than per- suasion: one obeys and one commands, and matters, e ven unim- portant matters, are not to be decided by voting. Life in the mili- tary world accordingly influences the military mind ‘s outlook on other institutions as well as on its own. The warlord often sees eco- nomic institutions as means for military production and the huge corporation as a sort of ill-run military establishment. In his world, wages are fixed, unions impossible to conceive. He sees political institutions as often corrupt and usually inefficient obstacles, full of undisciplined and cantankerous creatures. And is he very un- happy to hear of civilians and politicians making f ools of them- selves? It is men with minds and outlooks formed by such co nditions who in postwar America have come to occupy positions of great decision. It cannot be said—as we shall presently make clear—that they have necessarily sought these new positions; m uch of their increased stature has come to them by virtue of a default on the part of civilian political men. But perhaps it can be said, as C. S. Forester has remarked in a similar connection, that men without lively imagination are needed to execute policies w ithout imagi- nation devised by an elite without imagination. 35 But it must also be said that to Tolstoy’s conception of the general at war—as con- fidence builder pretending by his manner that he kn ows what the confusion of battle is all about—we must add the im age of the general as the administrator of the men and machines which now make up the greatly enlarged means of violence. In contrast with the inter-war careers and activities, the war- lord of post-World War II who is slated for the top will have spent a crucial tour of duty in the Pentagon, where on th e middle and lower ranks each man has a superior looking over hi s shoulder, and where, at the top, civilians and military look over one an- other’s shoulders. The army’s lieutenant colonel or the navy’s com- mander in his thirties will probably make his jump, if at all, in or quite near the Pentagon. Here, as a cog in an intri cate machine, he may come into the view of those who count, here he may be THE WARLORDS 197 picked up for staff position and later be given the forward-looking command. So, in an earlier day, was Pershing impres sed by George C. Marshall; so Nimitz was impressed by Forrest Sher- man; Hap Arnold was impressed by Lauris Norstad; Ei senhower by Gruenther; Gruenther by Schuyler. What will the future warlord do in the Pentagon, where there seem more admirals than ensigns, more generals than second lieu- tenants? He will not command men, or even for quite a while a secretary. He will read reports and brief them as i nter-office memos; he will route papers with colored tags—red for urgent, green for rush-rush, yellow for expedite. He will serve on one of the 232 committees. He will prepare information and opinion for those who make decisions, carefully guarding his su perior’s Yes. He will try to become known as a ‘comer,’ and, even as in the cor- porate world, somebody’s bright young man. And, as in all bu- reaucratic mazes, he will try to live by the book (‘Standard Oper- ating Procedure’) but know just how far to stretch its letter in order to be an expediter, an operator, who on lower levels can pro- cure another secretary for his office-unit, and on higher levels, another air wing. It is the activities of the warlords on still higher levels that we must now examine. 9 The Military Ascendancy SINCE Pearl Harbor those who command the enlarged means o f American violence have come to possess considerable autonomy, as well as great influence, among their political and economic colleagues. Some professional soldiers have stepped out of their military roles into other high realms of American l ife. Others, while remaining soldiers, have influenced by advice, information, and judgment the decisions of men powerful in econo mic and po- litical matters, as well as in educational and scientific endeavors. In and out of uniform, generals and admirals have a ttempted to sway the opinions of the underlying population, len ding the weight of their authority, openly as well as behind closed doors, to controversial policies. In many of these controversies, the warlords have g otten their way; in others, they have blocked actions and decis ions which they did not favor. In some decisions, they have shared heavily; in others they have joined issue and lost. But they are now more powerful than they have ever been in the history of the American elite; they have now more means of exercising power in many areas of American life which were previously civilian domains; they now have more connections; and they are now op erating in a nation whose elite and whose underlying population have ac- cepted what can only be called a military definition of reality. Historically, the warlords have been only uneasy, p oor relations within the American elite; now they are first cousins; soon they may become elder brothers. 198 THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 199 1 Although the generals and admirals have increasingl y become involved in political and economic decisions, they have not shed the effects of the military training which has moulded their char- acters and outlook. Yet on the higher levels of the ir new careers the terms of their success have changed. Examining them closely today, one comes to see that some are not so different from cor- poration executives as one had first supposed, and that others seem more like politicians of a curious sort than like traditional images of the military. It has been said that a military man, acting as Secretary of De- fense for example, might be more civilian in effect than a civil- ian who, knowing little of military affairs and personnel, is easily hoodwinked by the generals and admirals who surroun d him. It might also be felt that the military man in politics does not have a strong-willed, new and decisive line of policy, and even that, in a civilian political world, the general becomes aim less and, in his lack of know-how and purpose, even weak. 1 On the other hand, we must not forget the self-conf idence that is instilled by the military training and career: those who are suc- cessful in military careers very often gain thereby a confidence which they readily carry over into economic and pol itical realms. Like other men, they are of course open to the advice and moral support of old friends who, in the historical isolation of the military career, are predominantly military. Whatever the ca se may be with individuals, as a coherent group of men the military is prob- ably the most competent now concerned with national policy; no other group has had the training in co-ordinated economic, polit- ical, and military affairs; no other group has had the continuous experience in the making of decisions; no other gro up so readily ‘internalizes’ the skills of other groups nor so readily engages their skills on its own behalf; no other group has such s teady access to world-wide information. Moreover, the military defi nitions of po- litical and economic reality that now generally prevail among the most civilian of politicians cannot be said to weak en the confi- dence of the warlords, their will to make policy, or their capacity to do so within the higher circles. The ‘politicalization’ of the high military that has been going 200 THE POWER ELITE on over the last fifteen years is a rather intricat e process: As mem- bers of a professional officer corps, some military men develop a vested interest—personal, institutional, ideologica l—in the en- largement of all things military. As bureaucrats, s ome are zealous to enlarge their own particular domains. As men of power, some develop quite arrogant, and others quite shrewd, drives to influ- ence, enjoying as a high value the exercise of powe r. But by no means are all military men prompted by such motives .* As a type of man, the professional military are not inherently out for political power, or, at least, one need not rest the case upo n any such impu- tation of motive. For even if they are not desirous of political power, power essentially political in nature may be and has been thrust upon them by civilian default; they have bee n much used— willingly or not—by civilians for political purposes. From the standpoint of the party politician, a well -trained gen- eral or admiral is an excellent legitimator of policies, for his careful use often makes it possible to lift the policy ‘abo ve politics,’ which is to say above political debate and into the realm of administra- tion, where, as statesman Dulles said in support of General Eisen- hower for President, there are needed men with the capacity for ‘making grave decisions.’ 3 From the standpoint of the political administrator, military men are often believed useful because they constitute a pool of men trained in executive skills but not openly identified with any pri- vate interests. The absence of a genuine Civil Serv ice’** which se- lects and trains and encourages career men, makes i t all the more tempting to draw upon the military. Politicians thus default upon their proper job of d ebating pol- icy, hiding behind a supposed military expertise; a nd political administrators default upon their proper job of creating a real * “It is drummed into every military manager in the course of his not- inconsiderable education, from the day he enters We st Point to the day death makes him eligible for an Arlington burial wi th honors, that he is to back away from anything resembling a political decision, and that be is to stay well on his side of anything that resembles a line separating his responsibility from civilian authority. Admiral Leahy has written, “1 was so completely lacking in political campaigning experience as to be unable to formulate any opinion. Whereupon the Pres ident (F.D.R.) said to me in jest, ‘Bill, politically you belong in the Middle Ages.'” ‘ 2 ** See below, TEN : The Political Directorate. THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 201 civilian career service. Out of both these civilian defaults, the pro- fessional military gain ascendancy. It is for such reasons, more than any other, that the military elite—whose membe rs are pre- sumably neither politically appointed nor politically responsible- have been drawn into the higher political decisions. Once they enter the political arena—willingly, relu ctantly, or even unknowingly—they are of course criticized; they become po- litically controversial and, like any other political actors, they are open to attack. Even when they are not explicitly i n politics, the military are attacked politically. In the American context of civilian distrust, the military has always been a h andy target of political abuse. But the matter now goes farther than that. In 1953, Senator McCarthy, as Hanson Baldwin put it, ‘tried to assume command of the Army and stormed at officers with long and faith- ful service because they . . . obeyed the orders of their legitimate superiors.’ 4 Thus he entered, without benefit of induction, the chain of command. The warlord sees how such attacks have virtually destroyed the public respect and the internal morale of the State Department, and he is afraid that his org anization, too, will be hollowed out. Moreover, since he holds powe r to affect economic affairs, having a majority cut of the budget, he is open to attack by new civilian administrative heads who lean on him but also kick him around, as well as by political demagogues who are out to exploit his ‘errors’ or invent ‘errors’ for him to commit. As politics get into the army, the army gets into p olitics. The military has been and is being made political, on the one hand, by civilian default, and on the other, by civilian criticism of military decisions. Not always being aware of just what is happening, b elieving in their mask of ‘military expert,’ and being used to command, the military often react to criticism in a rather rigid way. In the army book, there is no Standard Operating Procedure for fighting a Sen- ator. There seem only two ways cut: One way, especi ally if there is a war on, is a field command and obeying orders rigidly without political question. In other words, go soldierly and withdraw, be aloof and stiff in your dignity. The other way is to go all out polit- ically, by the classic ways of forming alliances wi th political fig- ures, and, given their executive position, maybe so me new ways too. For, so long as they remain officers, they cannot very well go 202 THE POWER ELITE explicitly and openly political in the party sense— although some have done so. But, in the main, they will necessari ly work care- fully and behind the scenes—they will, in short, be open to mem- bership, with other military men, with corporation executives, and with members of the political directorate and of the Congress, to form or to join pro-military cliques on the higher levels. One must also remember that, by virtue of their tra ining and experience, the professional military believe firmly in the military definition of world reality, and that, accordingly, given the new and enormous means of violence and the nervous defa ult of civil- ian diplomacy, they are genuinely frightened for th eir country. Those with the most conviction and, in their terms, ability, will be frustrated by retreat into the role of the strictly apolitical techni- cian of violence. Besides, many are too high up and already too deeply involved for soldierly withdrawal. It is in terms of this situation that we must understand the polit- ical ways of the warlords, and the higher influence military men have now come to exert within the power elite of Am erica. Mili- tary men are supposed to be the mere instruments of political men, but the problems they confront increasingly require political decisions. To treat such political decisions as ‘military necessities’ is of course to surrender civilian responsibility, if not decision, to the military elite. But if the military metaphysics , to which the civilian elite now clings, are accepted, then by de finition warfare is the only reality, that is to say, the necessity, of our time. 2 As the United States has become a great world power , the mili- tary establishment has expanded, and members of its higher eche- lons have moved directly into diplomatic and politi cal circles. General Mark Clark, for example, who has probably h ad more political experience while on active duty than any other American warlord, ‘believes in what he calls the “buddy syst em”—a polit- ical man and a military man working together,’ of w hich he has said: ‘In the past, many American generals were inclined to say of politics: “To hell with it, let’s talk politics later.” But you can’t do it this way any more.’ 5 In 1942, General Clark dealt with Darlan and Giraud in North Africa; then he commanded the Eighth Army in Italy; then he THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 203 was occupation commander for Austria; and, in 1952, he became US Commander in newly sovereign Japan, as well as h ead of the US Far East Command and UN Commander in Korea. Gene ral George C. Marshall, after being the President’s personal repre- sentative to China, became Secretary of State (1947 -49), then Secretary of Defense (1950-51). Vice Admiral Alan G. Kirk was Ambassador to Belgium in the late ‘forties and then to Russia. In 1947, the Assistant Secretary of State for occupied areas was Ma- jor General John H. Hildring who dealt ‘directly wi th the military commanders who control the execution of policy in G ermany, Aus- tria, Japan and Korea’; 6 Brigadier General Frank T. Hines was Ambassador to Panama; and General Walter Bedell Smi th was Ambassador to Russia. General Smith later became the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (1950-53), then Under Secretary of State (1953-54). As occupation commander in Germ any, there was General Lucius D. Clay; of Japan, General MacAr thur. And no diplomat, but a former Army Chief of Staff, General J. Lawton Collins, went to troubled Indo-China in 1954 ‘to re store some order’ in an area which he said ‘had essential political and eco- nomic importance for Southeast Asia and the free world.’ 7 Moreover, while still in uniform as well as out of it, high-rank- ing officers have engaged in policy debate. General Omar Brad- ley, one of the most articulate deniers of undue military influence in civilian decisions, has appeared before Congress ional commit- tees, as well as before broader publics, in support of policies in- volving economic and political as well as strictly military issues. General Marshall, for example, has submitted argume nts against the Wagner-Taft resolution which favored increased immigration to Palestine and its further development as a Jewish homeland. 8 With Generals Bradley, Vandenberg, and Collins, as well as Ad- miral Sherman, General Marshall has also defended b efore Con- gressional committees the Truman administration against Repub- lican attack upon its Far-Eastern policy, and the ousting of Gen- eral MacArthur from his Far-Eastern command. General Bradley has made numerous speeches which in their context were readily interpreted, by Senator Taft and Hanson Baldwin among others, as relevant to the political issues of the 1952 Presidential elections. This speech,’ wrote Hanson Bald- 204 THE POWER ELITE win, ‘helped put General Bradley and the Joint Chie fs of Staff into the political hustings where they have no business to be.’ 9 Senator Taft, who accused the Joint Chiefs of Staff of being under the control of the political administration and of echoing their policies rather than rendering merely expert advice, was himself supported by General Albert Wedemeyer, as w ell as by General MacArthur. Another general, Bonner Fellers, was on the Republican National Committee. In the 1952 election, in direct violation of U.S. Army Regulation 600-10, General MacArthur, in public speeches, atta cked the poli- cies of the duly elected administration, delivered the keynote ad- dress at the Republican convention, and made it cle ar that he was open to the Presidential nomination. But another ge neral, Eisen- hower, also not retired, was successfully supported for this role. Both of these generals, as well as what might be co nsidered their political policies, were supported by other military men. There is no doubt about it: there are now Republican and Dem ocratic gen- erals. There are also, as we now know well, officers who are for or against individual Senators—such as McCarthy—and wh o in their military positions lean one way or the other to reveal it or to hide it. In 1954, a notable array of the high military—heade d by retired Lt. General George E. Stratemeyer with retired Rear Admiral John G. Crommelin as Chief of Staff—offered their names in an effort to rally ten million signatures for a McCarthy petition. 10 This occurred in the context of the military ascendancy at a time when the words of Old Soldier MacArthur had not fad ed: ‘We of the military shall always do what we are told to do. But if this na- tion is to survive, we must trust the soldier once our statesmen fail to preserve the peace.’ (1953)—’I find in existence a new and heretofore unknown and dangerous concept that the m embers of our armed forces owe primary allegiance and loyalty to those who temporarily exercise the authority of the Executive Branch of gov- ernment rather than to the country and its Constitu tion which they are sworn to defend. No proposition could be more danger- ous.’ (1951) 11 But more important perhaps than the straightforward assump- tion of political roles, the private advice, or the public speeches, is THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 205 a more complex type of military influence: high military men have become accepted by other members of the political a nd eco- nomic elite, as well as by broad sectors of the public, as authori- ties on issues that go well beyond what has historically been con- sidered the proper domain of the military. Since the early ‘forties, the traditional Congressi onal hostility toward the military has been transformed into somet hing of a ‘friendly and trusting’ subservience. No witness—except of course J. Edgar Hoover—is treated with more deference by S enators than the high military. ‘Both in what it did and in what it refused to do,’ we read in an official government account, ‘the war time Congress co-operated consistently and almost unquestioningly with the suggestions and the requests from the Chief of Staff.’ 12 And in the coalition strategy, while the President and the Prime Minister ‘de- cided,’ theirs were choices approved by the militar y and made from among alternatives organized and presented by the military. According to the Constitution, the Congress is supp osed to be in charge of the support and governing of the armed might of the nation. During times of peace, prior to World War I I, professional politicians in the Congress did argue the details of military life with the military, and made decisions for them, deb ating strategy and even determining tactics. During World War II, Congress- men ‘voted’ for such items as the Manhattan Project without hav- ing the slightest idea of its presence in the military budget, and when—by rumor—Senator Truman suspected that somethi ng big was going on, a word from the Secretary of War was enough to make him drop all inquiry. In the postwar period, the simple fact is that the Congress has had no opportunity to get real information on military matters, much less the skill and time t o evaluate it. Behind their ‘security’ and their ‘authority’ as experts, the political role of the high military in decisions of basic pol itical and eco- nomic relevance has become greatly enlarged. And ag ain, it has been enlarged as much or more because of civilian p olitical de- fault—perhaps necessarily, given the organization and personnel of Congress—than by any military usurpation. 13 3 No area of decision has been more influenced by the warlords and by their military metaphysics than that of foreign policy and 206 THE POWER ELITE international relations. In these zones, the milita ry ascendancy has coincided with other forces that have been maki ng for the downfall of civilian diplomacy as an art, and of the civilian diplo- matic service as an organized group of competent pe ople. The military ascendancy and the downfall of diplomacy have occurred precisely when, for the first time in United States history, inter- national issues are truly at the center of the most important na- tional decisions and increasingly relevant to virtually all decisions of consequence. With the elite’s acceptance of mili tary definitions of world reality, the professional diplomat, as we have known him or as we might imagine him, has simply lost any eff ective voice in the higher circles. Once war was considered the business of soldiers, i nternational relations the concern of diplomats. But now that war has become seemingly total and seemingly permanent, the free s port of kings has become the forced and internecine business of p eople, and diplomatic codes of honor between nations have collapsed. Peace is no longer serious; only war is serious. Every man and every na- tion is either friend or foe, and the idea of enmit y becomes me- chanical, massive, and without genuine passion. Whe n virtually all negotiation aimed at peaceful agreement is likely to be seen as ‘appeasement,’ if not treason, the active role of the diplomat be- comes meaningless; for diplomacy becomes merely a p relude to war or an interlude between wars, and in such a context the diplo- mat is replaced by the warlord. Three sets of facts about American diplomacy and Am erican diplomats are relevant to the understanding of what has been happening: the relative weakness of the professional diplomatic service; its further weakening by ‘investigation’ and ‘security’ measures; and the ascendancy among those in charge of it of the military metaphysics. I. Only in those settings in which subtle nuances of social life and political intention blend, can ‘diplomacy’—which is at once a political function and a social art—be performed. S uch an art has seemed to require those social graces usually acqui red by persons of upper-class education and style of life. And the career diplo- mat has, in fact, been representative of the wealthier classes.* * This has been secured by the policy of paying the diplomats such low salaries that they could not exist in a foreign post without private THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 207 But up to 1930, a career in the foreign service had not led to the ambassadorial ranks.** Of the eighty-six men who se rved as American ambassadors between 1893 and 1930, only ab out one-fourth of them had held positions in the foreign service prior to their appointment as ambassadors. The British Am bassador,’ D. A. Hartman has pointed out, ‘represents the final stage of a definite career in the Foreign Service, while the A merican am- bassadorship is scarcely more than a belated episode in the life of a businessman, politician, or lawyer.’ 16 During the long Democratic tenure something like a career serv- ice, based upon upper-class recruitment, had been d eveloped. Of the thirty-two ambassadors and top ministers of 1942, almost half were graduates of private preparatory schools frequented by the children of the metropolitan 400; and of the top one hun- dred and eighteen officers in the Foreign Service, fifty-one were Harvard, Princeton or Yale. 17 When the Republicans assumed office in 1953, there were 1,305 Foreign Service officers (out of a total State Department of 19,405) serving the seventy-two diplomatic missions and one hundred ninety-eight consular offices of the United States. 18 Forty of the income. Given the social obligations of the diplomatic life, it is almost impossible to live on an ambassadorial salary in any of the major capi- tals of the world. It was estimated in the early ‘forties that it cost an ambassador at an important post from $75,000 to $10 0,000 a year to entertain in a manner befitting his station; the highest official salary of an ambassador is only $25,000. 14 * * None of the 18 top ambassadors of 1899 could be termed ‘career- men’ in the sense that they had spent most of their adult lives working in the Foreign Service. Ten of them had never held a diplomatic post before becoming ambassadors; and another six had be en in diplomatic service for not longer than nine years before 1899. Only two had started in the diplomatic service longer than a decade befo re: Oscar S. Straus, Ambassador to Turkey, and Andrew D. White, Ambassad or to Ger- many. Most of these ambassadors seem to have acquired their appoint- ments as a reward for party faithfulness: eleven had been active in poli- tics, about half of these in conjunction with legal careers. There was one professor and one journalist; and the remaining fiv e men were business- men, often again in conjunction with a law career. As a group the am- bassadors of 1899 came from comfortable families, o ften of great wealth, were educated in the best schools of America and Europe—six of them graduating from Ivy League schools—and had held important positions in business or politics. 15 208 THE POWER ELITE seventy-two chiefs of United States missions abroad had been career diplomats ‘whose appointments to particular posts may have been by the President but whose tenure in the foreign service is unaffected by the change in administration.’ 19 There were two alternatives open to the career men—they could reti re, or they could resign from their posts and become available for other as- signments under the new administration. By this time it would seem that a foreign-service career leading up to an ambassadorship had become more firmly entr enched, since nineteen of the top twenty-five ambassadors appointed by President Eisenhower were career men. But it might also be said that by 1953 it was no longer an ‘honor’ to a prominent business- man, lawyer, or politician to be appointed as the a mbassador to the generally small countries in which almost all of these career men served. 20 However, later in his administration, President Eisenhower began to appoint unsuccessful politician s and polit- ical helpmates to the smaller countries hitherto reserved for ca- reer men. Thus in Madrid, John D. Lodge—defeated fo r governor of Connecticut—replaced the veteran diplomat James C. Dunn. In Libya, John L. Tappin—ski expert and chief of a division of ‘Citizens for Eisenhower’—replaced career-man Henry S. Villard. 21 In the more coveted diplomatic posts, representing America were millionaire bankers; members, relatives, and advisers of the very rich; high corporate lawyers; the husbands of heiresses. II. Even before the change of administration, the m orale and competence of the career service had been severely weakened by investigation and dismissal of personnel. Then Sena tor McCar- thy’s associate, Scott McLeod, moved from the FBI to the head of both security and personnel in the Department of State. Mr. McLeod, who ‘believes that “security” is a basic criterion of diplo- macy,’ has remarked that after checking all other q ualifications, he asks himself: ‘How would I like him to be behind a tree with me in a gunfight? You get pretty high standards if you think along such lines. And that’s the way I like to think in t hese investiga- tions.’ 22 There were many men who ‘wouldn’t fit behind a tre e’ with policeman McLeod, and among many Foreign Service offi- cers who still held their positions ‘the impression grew that it wasn’t safe to report the truth to Washington about any foreign THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 209 situation when the truth didn’t jibe with the preco nceived no- tions of the people in Washington.’* 23 Following a long list of men already dismissed for reasons of loyalty,’ in the fall of 1954, a career diplomat of twenty-three years service, John Paton Davies, was dismissed not on the grounds of loyalty, but because of ‘lack of judgment, discretion and reliability’; his opinions on China policy ten years previously not jibing with the current administration policy. 25 The comments on this case by career men expressed their state of mind. A recent member of the Policy Planning Staff of the State De partment wrote: ‘One hopes that the American public will see at last that the word “security” has become a euphemism. It cove rs the prim- itive political drive of the last five years to eliminate intellectual and moral distinction from the Government service, and to staff the Government instead with political good fellows who cannot be suspected of superiority. Under the reorganized Foreign Service, for example, educational standards for admission are be- ing avowedly lowered. It is as if the mediocrity of the mindless has become the ideal.’ 26 George Kennan, a veteran diplomat and a dis- tinguished student of foreign affairs, has advised a class of stu- dents at Princeton not to choose the foreign servic e as a career. In other words: ‘the morale of the State Department is so broken that its finest men flee from it, and advise others to flee.’ 27 III. For years of course the military attaches have been at their foreign posts, where they are supposedly the Ambass ador’s aides as well as a link in an intelligence service; but ‘many of them, in the post-war years, have viewed the Foreign Service and State * This was not, of course, an entirely new feature of the Foreign Serv- ice. For instance: ‘The basic burden of the reporting of the China Serv- ice in the critical years was that, in the inevitab le clash between the Chinese Communists and Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang woul d be the loser. This correctness in judgment has resulted, however, not in honor either collectively or individually to the China Service. China has gone Com- munist. In some fashion the men of the China Servic e were held respon- sible. The China Service, therefore, no longer exists. Of the twenty-two officers who joined it before the beginning of Worl d War II, there were in 1952 only two still used by the State Department in Washington . . . Most of the rest were still serving the American go vernment, but not . . . where their intimate knowledge of a China with whom we were desperately at war in Korea might be useful.’ 24 210 THE POWER ELITE Department with ill-disguised contempt and made the mselves virtually independent of the Ambassadors under whom they should work.’* The problem, however, goes well beyond such relatively low- order tension. The military, as we have seen, have become am- bassadors as well as special envoys. In many of the major inter- national decisions, the professional diplomats have simply been by-passed, and matters decided by cliques of the hi gh military and political personnel. In the defense agreements signed by the United States and Spain in September of 1953, as in the dispo- sition in 1945 and 1946 of the western Pacific islands captured from the Japanese, the military has set policy of diplomatic rele- vance without or against the advice of the diplomats. 29 The Japa- nese peace treaty was not arranged by diplomats but by generals; a peace treaty with Germany has not been made: ther e have only been alliances and agreements between armies. At Pa nmunjom, the end of the Korean war was ‘negotiated’ not by a diplomat but by a General in open collar and without necktie. ‘T he American services,’ writes the London Economist, ‘have succe ssfully im- planted the idea that there are such things as purely military fac- tors and that questions which involve them cannot b e adequately assessed by a civilian. British theory and experience denies both these propositions . . .’ 30 So Admiral Radford, who has told a Congressional Commit- * In April 1954, the army prohibited officers abroa d from keeping diaries, after the world discovered that Major General Grow, military attache to Moscow, had kept a diary in which he adv ocated war against the Soviet Union, expressed his distaste for the ambassador and his dis- like for his contacts. While visiting Frankfurt, Ge rmany, he left the diary in a hotel room, from which it was promptly s tolen, photo- graphed, and returned. The Soviet Union made propaganda. The gen- eral, clearly an unfortunate type for intelligence work, is perhaps less to be blamed than the ‘spoils system’ of the army inte lligence system by which he was placed in Moscow. General Grow is not lonely in his in- competence. The most important attache post in the postwar period was filled by a general—Iron Mike O’Daniel—whose two-fisted fighting style often seemed his only recommendation. Two attaches in eastern Europe after the war ‘were notorious, one for his convivial habits, the other for selling on the black market some excess c lothing he had bought.’ Another general—head of G2 during the war, was recalled from London for investigation of black-market charges. 28 THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 211 tee that Red China had to be destroyed even if it required a fifty- year war, argued, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the use of 500 planes to drop tactical A-bombs on Vietm inh troops be- fore the fall of Dienbienphu. If China openly came into the pic- ture, we are unofficially told, Peking was to be given atomic treat- ment. 31 This political situation was defined by him as mil itary, and as such argued for with a voice as loud as those of his civilian bosses, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. In August 1954, General Mark Clark publicly stated tha t Russia should be ejected from the United Nations, and diplomatic rela- tions with her broken off. General Eisenhower, then President, disagreed with his intimate friend, but the President’s word did not stop General James A. Van Fleet from publicly s ubscribing to General Clark’s views. 82 Not that it was too important an issue, for the UN has regularly been by-passed in important decisions and conclaves. The UN did not organize the Geneva c onference; the UN did not consider the United States action in Guatemala. 88 The by-passing of the UN in the most important East -West con- flicts and its general political weakening is one aspect of the down- fall of diplomacy in the postwar period. The other aspect is the military ascendancy, as personnel and as metaphysics. In America, diplomacy has never been successfully c ultivated as a learned art by trained and capable professionals, and those who have taken it up have not been able to look forward to obtain- ing the top diplomatic posts available, for these have been largely bestowed according to the dictates of politics and business. Such professional diplomatic corps as the United States has possessed, along with the chances to build up such a corps in the future, have been sabotaged by recent investigation and dismissal. And, in the meantime, the military has been and is moving into the higher councils of diplomacy. 4 The military establishment has, of course, long been econom- ically relevant. The Corps of Engineers—historically the elite of the West Pointers—has in peacetime controlled river s and harbor construction. Local economic, as well as Congressio nal, interests have not been unaware of the pork-barrel possibilities, nor of the 212 THE POWER ELITE chance to have The Corps disapprove of the Reclamat ion Bureau’s plans for multiple-purpose development of river val leys. ‘Actu- ally’—we are told by Arthur Maass in his discussion of ‘the lobby that can’t be licked’—’up to about 1925, the Corps disbursed 12 per cent of the total ordinary expeditures of the government’ 34 But now the economic relevance of the military esta blishment is on a qualitatively different scale.* The national budget has in- creased, and within it the percentage spent by and for the mili- tary. Since just before World War II, the percentag e has never gone below about 30 per cent, and it has averaged o ver 50 per cent, of the entire government budget. In fact, two out of every three dollars in the budget announced in 1955 was m arked for military security. 36 And as the role of government in the economy has increased, so has the role of the military in the government. We should constantly keep in mind how recent the mi litary as- cendancy is. During World War I the military entered the higher economic and political circles only temporarily, for the ’emer- gency’; it was not until World War II that they int ervened in a truly decisive way. Given the nature of modern warf are, they had to do so whether they wanted to or not, just as they had to invite men of economic power into the military. For unless the military sat in on corporate decisions, they could not be sure that their programs would be carried out; and unless the corporation chieftains knew something of the war plans, they could not plan war production. Thus, generals advised corporation presidents and corporation presidents advised generals. ‘My first act on be- coming Chief of Ordnance of June 1, 1942,’ Lt. Gene ral Levin H. Campbell, Jr., has said, ‘was to establish a personal advisory staff consisting of four outstanding business and industr ial leaders who were thoroughly familiar with all phases of mass production.’ 37 During World War II, the merger of the corporate ec onomy and the military bureaucracy came into its present-day significance. The very scale of the ‘services of supply’ could not but be eco- nomically decisive: The Services of Supply, Fortune remarked in 1942, ‘might … be likened to a holding company of no mean * Between 1789 and 1917, the U.S. government spent about 29 1/2 bil- lion dollars; but in the single fiscal year of 1952, the military alone was allotted 40 billion. In 1913, the cost per capita o f the military establish- ment was $2.25; in 1952, it was almost $250. 35 THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 213 proportions. In fact—charged with spending this yea r some $32 billion, or 42 per cent of all that the U.S. will spend for war—it makes U.S. Steel look like a fly-by-night, the A.T. and T. like a country-hotel switchboard, Jesse Jones’s RFC or any other govern- ment agency like a small-town boondoggle. In all of Washington, indeed, there is scarcely a door—from Harry Hopkins ‘s Munitions Assignments Board on down—in which [General] Somerv ell or his lieutenants have not come to beg, to borrow, or to steal.’ 38 The very organization of the economics of war made for the coinci- dence of interest and the political mingling among economic and military chiefs: ‘The Chief of Ordnance has an advisory staff com- posed of Bernard M. Baruch, Lewis H. Brown of Johns -Manville Corp., K. T. Keller of Chrysler Corp., and Benjamin F. Fairless of United States Steel Corp. Ordnance contracts are placed by four main branches … Each branch director… [is] assisted by an advisory industrial group, composed of representatives of the ma- jor producers of weapons in which the branch deals.’ 39 The military establishment and the corporations wer e of course formally under the control of civilian politicians. As managers of the largest corporate body in America, ‘the militar y had a board of directors … the President, the service Secretaries, the men on the military-affairs committees of Congress. Yet many o f the men on the board, i.e., the Congressmen, can really do little more than ex- press general confidence, or the lack of it, in the management. Even the most influential directors, the President and the Secre- tary of Defense, can usually argue with the managem ent only as laymen arguing with professionals—a significantly different rela- tionship from that of board and management in industry.’ 40 The coming together of the corporations and the mil itary was most dramatically revealed in their agreement upon the timing and the rules of ‘reconversion.’ The military might lose power; the corporations would no longer produce under the prime con- tracts they held; reconversion, if not handled carefully, could easily disturb the patterns of monopoly prevailing before war pro- duction began. The generals and the dollar-a-year e xecutives saw to it that this did not happen. 41 After World War II, military demands continued to s hape and to pace the corporate economy. It is accordingly not surprising that during the last decade, many generals and admirals, instead 214 THE POWER ELITE of merely retiring, have become members of boards o f directors.* It is difficult to avoid the inference that the warlords, in their trade of fame for fortune, are found useful by the corporate exec- utives more because of whom they know in the milita ry and what they know of its rules and ways than because of wha t they know of finance and industry proper. Given the major contracts that are made by the military with private corporations, we can readily understand why business journalists openly state: ‘ McNamey knows Convair’s best customer, The Pentagon, as few others do— a fact well known to his friend, Floyd Odium, Conva ir chairman.’ And ‘in business circles the word has gone out: Get yourself a general. What branch of the government spends the m ost money? The military. Who, even more than a five-percenter, is an expert * General Lucius D. Clay, who commanded troops in G ermany, then entered the political realm as occupation commander, is now the board chairman of the Continental Can Company. General Ja mes H. Doolittle, head of the 8th Air Force shortly before Japan’s surrender, is now a vice-president of Shell Oil. General Omar N. Bradley, who commanded the 12th Army group before Berlin, going on to high staff position, then became the board chairman of Bulova Research L aboratories; in February 1955, Chairman Bradley allowed his name to be used—’Gen- eral of the Army Omar N. Bradley’—on a full-page ad vertisement in support, on grounds of military necessity, of the new tariff imposed on Swiss watch movements. General Douglas MacArthur, p olitical general in Japan and Korea is now chairman of the board at Remington Rand, Inc. General Albert C. Wedemeyer, commander of U.S. forces in the China theater, is now a vice-president of AVCO Corporation. Admiral Ben Moreell is now chairman of Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. General Jacob Evers is now technical adviser to Fairchild Aircraft Corp. Gen- eral Ira Eaker is vice-president of Hughes Tool Co. General Brehon Somervell, once in charge of army procurement, beca me, before his death in 1955, chairman and president of Koppers Co. Admiral Alan G. Kirk, after serving as Ambassador to Russia, became chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Mercast, Inc., which specializes in high-precision metallurgy. General Leslie R. Groves , head of the Man- hattan Project, is now a vice-president of Remington Rand in charge of advanced research; General E. R. Quesada, of the H- Bomb test, is a vice-president of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation; General Walter Bedell Smith is now vice-chairman of American Machine and Foundry Com- pany’s board of directors; Army Chief of Staff General Matthew B. Ridgway, having apparently turned down the command of Kaiser’s automotive invasion of Argentina, became chairman of the board of the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. 42 THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 215 on red tape? A general or an admiral. So make him C hairman of the Board.’ 43 The increased personnel traffic that goes on between the mili- tary and the corporate realms, however, is more imp ortant as one clue to a structural fact about the United States than as an expedi- tious means of handling war contracts. Back of this shift at the top, and behind the increased military budget upon which it rests, there lies the great structural shift of modern American capitalism toward a permanent war economy. Within the span of one generation, America has beco me the leading industrial society of the world, and at the same time one of the leading military states. The younger military are of course growing up in the atmosphere of the economic-milita ry alliance, but more than that they are being intensively and explicitly edu- cated to carry it on. ‘The Industrial College of the Armed Forces,’ concerned with the interdependence of economy and w arfare, is at the top level of the military educational system. 44 To the optimistic liberal of the nineteenth century all this would appear a most paradoxical fact. Most representative s of liber- alism at that time assumed that the growth of industrialism would quickly relegate militarism to a very minor role in modern affairs. Under the amiable canons of the industrial society, the heroic violence of the military state would simply disappear. Did not the rise of industrialism and the long era of n ineteenth-cen- tury peace reveal as much? But the classic liberal expectation of men like Herbert Spencer has proved quite mistaken. What the main drift of the twentieth century has revealed is that as the econ- omy has become concentrated and incorporated into g reat hier- archies, the military has become enlarged and decisive to the shape of the entire economic structure; and, moreover, the eco- nomic and the military have become structurally and deeply in- terrelated, as the economy has become a seemingly p ermanent war economy; and military men and policies have inc reasingly penetrated the corporate economy.* ‘What officials fear more than dateless war in Korea,’ Arthur Krock reported in April of 1953, ‘is peace . . . The vision of peace which could lure the free world into letting down its guard, and *For a fuller discussion of these trends, see below , TWELVE : The Power Elite. 216 THE POWER ELITE demolishing the slow and costly process of building collective se- curity in western Europe while the Soviets maintain ed and in- creased their military power, is enough to make men in office in- decisive. And the stock market selling that followe d the sudden conciliatory overtures from the Kremlin supports th e thesis that immediate prosperity in this country is linked to a war economy and suggests desperate economic problems that may a rise on the home front.’ 46 5 Scientific and technological development, once seated in the economy, has increasingly become part of the milita ry order, which is now the largest single supporter and director of scien- tific research in fact, as large, dollar-wise, as all other American re- search put together. Since World War II, the genera l direction of pure scientific research has been set by military c onsiderations, its major finances are from military funds, and very few of those engaged in basic scientific research are not working under military direction. The United States has never been a leader in basic research, which it has imported from Europe. Just before World War II, some $40 million—the bulk of it from industry—was spent for basic scientific research; but $227 million was spent on applied research and ‘product development and engineering.’ 46 With the Second World War pure scientists were busy, but not in bas ic research. The atom program, by the time it became governmenta l, was for the most part an engineering problem. But such technological de- velopments made it clear that the nations of the world were enter- ing a scientific, as well as an armaments, race. In the lack of any political policies for science, the military, first the navy, then the army, began to move into the field of scientific di rection and sup- port, both pure and applied. Their encroachment was invited or allowed by corporate officials who preferred military rather than civilian control of governmental endeavors in science, out of fear of ‘ideological’ views of civilians concerning such things as patents. By 1954, the government was spending about $2 billi on on re- search (twenty times the prewar rate); and 85 per cent of it was for ‘national security.’ 47 In private industry and in the larger uni- versities, the support of pure science is now dominantly a mili- THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 217 tary support. Some universities, in fact, are finan cial branches of the military establishment, receiving three or four times as much money from military as from all other sources combi ned. During the war, four leading institutions of learning received a total of more than $200 million in research contracts—not in cluding atom research, for which exact figures are lacking. The general tendency for the militarization of science has con- tinued into the years of peace. That fact, as The N ational Sci- ence Foundation has made clear, is responsible for the relative neglect of ‘fundamental science.’ Out of the $2 billion scientific budget of 1955, only $120 million (6 per cent) was for basic re- search, but, as we have said, 85 per cent was for m ilitary tech- nology. 48 The military ascendancy in the world of science is more dramat- ically revealed by the troubled atmosphere which th e military’s ‘risk system’ has brought about. By October of 1954 , this had reached the point at which Dr. Vannevar Bush—World War II Chief of the Office of Scientific Research and Development—felt it necessary to assert flatly that the scientific community was ‘de- moralized.’ ‘You won’t find any strikes . . .’ he s aid, ‘but scientists today are discouraged and downhearted and feel that they are being pushed out, and they are.’ 49 In the context of distrust, no less a scientist than Albert Einstein publicly asserted: ‘If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my li ving, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present cir- cumstances.’ 60 Although there are perhaps 600,000 engineers and sc ientists in the United States, only some 125,000 of them are ac tive in re- search, and of these perhaps 75,000 are researching for industry in its pursuit of new commercial products, and another 40,000 are in developmental engineering. There are only 10,000 scientists engaged in fundamental research in all branches, and informed opinion has it that the top-rate creators number no more than one or two thousand. 51 It is these senior circles that have become deeply involved in the politics of military decisions, and the militarization of polit- ical life. In the last fifteen years, they have moved into the vac- 218 THE POWER ELITE uum of theoretical military studies, in which strat egy and policy become virtually one. It is a vacuum because, histo rically—as Theodore H. White has pointed out—the American warl ords have not concerned themselves with it, being more engaged in ‘technique’ than ‘theory.’ Accordingly, as part of the military ascendancy, there is the felt need of the warlords for theory, the militarization of science, and the present ‘demoralization’ of the scientist in the service of the warlord. 52 In educational institutions the pursuit of knowledg e has been linked with the training of men to enact special roles in all areas of modern society. The military, in addition to the ir own schools, have used and increasingly use the educational facu lties of pri- vate and public educational institutions.* As of 1953, almost 40 per cent of the male students of 372 colleges and u niversities were enrolled in officer-training programs of army, navy or air force. The liberal arts institutions involved were devoting about 16 per cent of their curriculum to the military courses. F or the nation as a whole, about one out of five students were in ROT C units, an unprecedented proportion for a year of formal peace. 53 During World War II, the military had begun to use the col- leges and universities for specialist training, as well as for the mili- tary training of students in accelerated courses. A nd the specialist training, as well as the heavy research programs, h as continued after the war. Today, many colleges and universities are eager to have mili- tary programs of training and research established on their cam- * During the Civil War, land grant colleges were se t up in various states, which included in their curricula military training. In some of these colleges, between that war and World War I, t his training was voluntary; in others, compulsory for various periods of the college career. In 1916, the War Department standardized mi litary training as compulsory for the first two years in the land grant colleges. But in 1923, the Wisconsin legislature successfully challenged this arrange- ment for its University, a land grant institution, and several other schools followed suit. During World War I, Reserve Officers Training Corps units were established in various colleges. These ROTC programs have been expanded on the campuses of colleges and universities. Uni- versal military training—steadily pressed for by the military—would, of course, mean the processing of all young men in mil itary skills and ap- propriate attitudes, for a period half as long and probably twice as in- tensive as a four-year college course. THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 219 puses. It is prestigeful and it is financially soun d. Moreover, the list of military men who, most of them without any specific educa- tional qualifications, have come to serve as colleg e administra- tors, and in other educational capacities, is impressive. General Eisenhower, of course, on his way to the Presidency, was the head of Columbia University, as well as a member of the National Edu- cational Association Policy Commission. And even a casual sur- vey reveals a dozen or so military men in educational positions.* There has been a good deal of tension between the s chools and the military. In the case of the Armed Forces Institute—a corre- spondence school for men in the service—one clause in the contract with universities gives the military direct power o ver university personnel, in case they are ‘disapproved’ by the government: as of August 1953, twenty-eight universities had signed, fourteen had rejected, and five were pending. 55 But in general, the acceptance by the educators of the military has been accomplis hed without such misunderstandings; it has been accomplished during the war and after it, because many schools need financial support; the fed- eral government has not provided it under civilian control, but the military has had it to provide. 6 It is not only within the higher political and econ omic, scientific and educational circles that the military ascendanc y is apparent. The warlords, along with fellow travelers and spoke smen, are at- tempting to plant their metaphysics firmly among th e population at large. During World War II, sympathizers of the warlords c ame out into the open as spokesmen for militarism. The wartime speeches of Mr. Frank Knox, of Mr. Charles E. Wilson (G.E.), and of James Forrestal—for example—were rich in military images of the fu- ture held by key men of power, and the images have by no means * For example, Rear Admiral Herbert J. Grassie, cha ncellor of Lewis College of Science and Technology; Admiral Chester Nimitz, regent of the University of California at Berkeley; Major General Frank Keating, a member of the Ithaca College board of trustees; Rear Admiral Oswald Colcough, dean of the George Washington University Law School; Colonel Melvin A. Casburg, dean of the St. Louis School of Medicine; Admiral Charles M. Cook, Jr., a member of the Calif ornia State Board of Education. 54 270 THE POWER ELITE faded. Since World War II, in fact, the warlords ha ve caused a large-scale and intensive public-relations program to be carried out. They have spent millions of dollars and they h ave employed thousands of skilled publicists, in and out of uniform, in order to sell their ideas and themselves to the public and to the Congress. The content of this great effort reveals its fundam ental pur- pose: to define the reality of international relations in a military way, to portray the armed forces in a manner attrac tive to civil- ians, and thus to emphasize the need for the expansion of military facilities. The aim is to build the prestige of the military establish- ment and to create respect for its personnel, and t hus to prepare the public for military-approved policies, and to m ake Congress ready and willing to pay for them. There is also, o f course, the intention of readying the public for the advent of war. To achieve these ends, the warlords of Washington h ave at hand extensive means of communication and public relatio ns. Daily, in war and in peace, they release items and stories to the press and to the three or four dozen newsmen housed in the newsr oom of the Pentagon. They prepare scripts, make recordings, and take pic- tures for radio and TV outlets; they maintain the largest motion- picture studio in the East, bought from Paramount in 1942. They are ready to serve magazine editors with prepared c opy. They arrange speaking engagements for military personnel and provide the speeches. They establish liaison with important national organ- izations, and arrange orientation conferences and f ield trips for their leaders, as well as for executives and key people in the busi- ness, the educational, the religious, the entertain ment worlds. They have arranged, in some 600 communities, ‘advis ory com- mittees’ which open the way to their messages and advise them of unfavorable reactions. 66 Everything that appears in the news or on the air that concerns the military is summarized and analyzed; and everyt hing which they release, including the writing of retired warlords, is reviewed and censored. The cost of this program varies from year to year, but interested Senators have estimated it as between $5 million an d $12 million. Such estimates, however, mean little, for the position of the mili- tary is such that they were able to enjoy, during one twelve- THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 221 month period, some $30 million worth of motion pictures, which they co-operated in producing; obtain millions of dollars worth of free time on TV, and, according to Variety’s estima te, about $6 million of free radio time. Nor does the 1951 estimate of Senator Harry F. Byrd (of 2,235 military and 787 civilians in publicity, advertising, and public re- lations ) accurately reveal the scale of the progra m. For it is not difficult to use, at least part-time, many service personnel for pub- lic-relations purposes. Top admirals and generals, of course, have their own public-relations men. In 1948, General Ma cArthur’s command included one hundred thirty-five army men and forty civilians assigned to publicity. Eisenhower, when Chief of Staff, had forty-four military and one hundred thirteen ci vilians. 57 And the warlords themselves have been learning the ways of publicity. Recently the retiring Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen eral Hoyt S. Vandenberg, told graduates at an air force base that ‘the greatest fraternity on the face of the earth are the people who wear wings . . . You’re not just jet jockeys . . . Take up the broader duty of understanding and preaching the role of air power . .. The people who won’t face the truth . . . must be told repeate dly, earnestly, logically that air power will save the world from destruction..’ 68 It is a delicate problem which the military publici sts confront, but there is one great fact that works entirely for their success: in all of pluralist America, there is no interest—there is no possible combination of interests—that has anywhere near the time, the money, the manpower, to present a point of view on the issues involved that can effectively compete with the views presented day in and day out by the warlords and by those whom they em- ploy. 59 This means, for one thing, that there is no free and wide debate of military policy or of policies of military relevance. But that, of course, is in line with the professional soldier’s training for com- mand and obedience, and with his ethos, which is ce rtainly not that of a debating society in which decisions are put to a vote. It is also in line with the tendency in a mass society for manipulation to replace explicitly debated authority, as well as with the fact of total war in which the distinction between soldier and civilian is obliterated. The military manipulation of civilian opinion and the 222 THE POWER ELITE military invasion of the civilian mind are now impo rtant ways in which the power of the warlords is steadily exerted. The extent of the military publicity, and the absen ce of opposi- tion to it, also means that it is not merely this proposal or that point of view that is being pushed. In the absence of con trasting views, the very highest form of propaganda warfare can be fought: the propaganda for a definition of reality within which only certain limited viewpoints are possible. What is being prom ulgated and reinforced is the military metaphysics—the cast of mind that de- fines international reality as basically military. The publicists of the military ascendancy need not really work to indoctr inate with this metaphysics those who count: they have already accepted it. 7 In contrast with the existence of military men, con ceived sim- ply as experts in organizing and using violence, ‘m ilitarism’ has been defined as ‘a case of the dominance of means over ends’ for the purpose of heightening the prestige and increasing the power of the military. 60 This is, of course, a conception from the stand- point of the civilian who would consider the milita ry as strictly a means for civilian political ends. As a definition, it points to the tendency of military men not to remain means, but t o pursue ends of their own, and to turn other institutional areas into means for accomplishing them. Without an industrial economy, the modern army, as in Amer- ica, could not exist; it is an army of machines. Pr ofessional economists usually consider military institutions as parasitic upon the means of production. Now, however, such institu tions have come to shape much of the economic life of the United States. Re- ligion, virtually without fail, provides the army at war with its blessings, and recruits from among its officials the chaplain, who in military costume counsels and consoles and stiff ens the morale of men at war. By constitutional definition, the mi litary is subor- dinated to political authority, and is generally co nsidered, and has generally been, a servant as well as an adviser of civilian politicians; but the warlord is moving into these circles, and by his definitions of reality, influencing their decisions. The family provides the army and navy with the best men and boys that it THE MILITARY ASCENDANCY 223 possesses. And, as we have seen, education and scie nce too are becoming means to the ends sought by the military. The military pursuit of status, in itself, is no threat of military dominance. In fact, well enclosed in the standing a rmy, such sta- tus is a sort of pay-off for the military relinquishment of adven- tures in political power. So long as this pursuit of status is confined to the military hierarchy itself, it is an importan t feature of mili- tary discipline, and no doubt a major source of muc h military grat- ification. It becomes a threat, and it is an indication of the grow- ing power of the military elite today, when it is c laimed outside the military hierarchy and when it tends to become a basis of mili- tary policy. The key to an understanding of status is power. The military cannot successfully claim status among civilians if they do not have, or are not thought to have power. Now power, as well as images of it, are always relative: one man’s powers are another man’s weaknesses. And the powers that have weakened the status of the military in America have been the powers of money and of money-makers, and the powers of the civilian politicians over the military establishment. American ‘militarism,’ accordingly, involves the attempt of mili- tary men to increase their powers, and hence their status, in com- parison with businessmen and politicians. To gain s uch powers they must not be considered a mere means to be used by politi- cians and money-makers. They must not be considered parasites on the economy and under the supervision of those who are often called in military circles ‘the dirty politicians.’ On the contrary, their ends must be identified with the ends as well as the honor of the nation; the economy must be their servant; p olitics an in- strument by which, in the name of the state, the family, and God, they manage the nation in modern war. ‘What does it mean to go to war?’ Woodrow Wilson was asked in 1917. ‘It mean s,’ he replied, ‘an attempt to reconstruct a peacetime civilization with war stand- ards, and at the end of the war there will be no by standers with sufficient peace standards left to work with. There will be only war standards .. .’ 61 American militarism, in fully developed form, would mean the triumph in all areas of life of the military meta- physic, and hence the subordination to it of all other ways of life. There can be little doubt but that, over the last decade, the war- 224 THE POWER ELITE lords of Washington, with their friends in the poli tical directorate and the corporate elite, have definitely revealed m ilitaristic ten- dencies. Is there, then, in the higher circles of America ‘a military clique’? Those who argue about such a notion—as Sup reme Court Justice William O. Douglas and General of the Army Omar Brad- ley have recently done 63—are usually arguing only about the in- creased influence of the professional military. That is why their arguments, in so far as they bear upon the structur e of the elite, are not very definitive and are usually at cross-purposes. For when it is fully understood, the idea of a military clique involves more than the military ascendancy. It involves a coincid ence of inter- ests and a co-ordination of aims among economic and political as well as military actors. Our answer to the question, ‘Is there now a military clique?’ is: Yes, there is a military clique, but it is more acc urately termed the power elite, for it is composed of economic, political, as well as military, men whose interests have increasingly coincided. In order to understand the role of the military within this power elite, we must understand the role of the corporation exec utive and the politician within it. And we must also understand something of what has been happening in the political sphere of America. 10 The Political Directorate THE perfect candidate for the Presidency of the United States was born some fifty-four years ago in a modest but ramshackled farm house in the pivotal state of Ohio. Of a sizable family, which arrived from England shortly after the Mayflower, h e grew up on the farm, performing the traditional chores and thus becom- ing well acquainted with all farm problems. When he was in high school his father died, the farm was sold, his strong and sensible mother moved the family to a near-by small town, an d the strug- gle began. The future President worked in his uncle’s factory, quickly be- coming a practical expert on all labor and manageme nt problems, while putting himself through college. He arrived in France dur- ing World War I just in time to make clear, for a full six months, that, in another war with more time, he would undou btedly be a statesman of note. Returning home, he went to the state law school for two years, married his high-school sweetheart, whose grand- fathers fought with the Confederate armies, opened his office, and joined the local party club, as well as the Elks, and in due course the Rotary Club, and attended the Episcopalian chur ch. He is having a very busy life now, but he can stand such strains, for it is as if his constitution was built for them. During the ‘twenties, he represented a group of small factories in their relations with labor, and was so successful that during the ‘thirties the re was no labor trouble of any consequence. Other companies, noting this as a re- markable fact, also engaged him, and thus, with the publicity, he became mayor of his city in 1935. 225 226 THE POWER ELITE As the soldier-statesman and labor-relations expert took hold of the reins, both business and labor acclaimed the sk ill and vigor of his administration. Although an absolutely regular party man, he remodeled the city government from top to bottom. C ame the Second World War, and despite his two young sons, h e re- signed his mayoralty to become a lieutenant colonel, and a mem- ber of a favored general’s staff. He quickly became a statesman well versed in Asiatic and European affairs and con fidently pre- dicted everything that happened. A brigadier general, he returned to Ohio after the war and found himself the overwhelming choice for governor. For two terms he has been swept into office, his administration being as efficient as any business, as moral as any church, as warm-hearted as any family. His face is as honest as any busines s executive’s, his manner as sincere as any salesman’s; in fact, he is something of both, with a touch of grimness and homely geniality all his own. And all of this comes through, magnetically, straig ht to you, through the lens of any camera and the microphone as well. 1 1 Some of the features of this portrait are not too d ifferent from the average modern President’s to be recognizable, although per- haps their interpretation is somewhat unmeasured. A mong those who have reached the top positions of the American government one can find at least two or three who represent almost anything for which one looks. One could endlessly collect biographical an- ecdotes and colorful images about them—but these wo uld not add up to any conclusions about the leading types of men and their usual careers. We must understand how history and biog- raphy have interplayed to shape the course of Ameri can politics, for every epoch selects and forms its own represent ative polit- ical men—as well as prevailing images of them. That is the first point to bear in mind: many of the images of politicians that prevail today are, in fact, drawn from earlier epochs. Accordingly, ‘The American Politician’ is s een as a valu- able originator but also a cheap tool, a high statesman but also a dirty politician, a public servant but also a sly conniver. Our view is not clear because, as with most of our views of those above us, THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 227 we tend to understand our own time in accordance with the con- fused stereotypes of previous periods. The classic commentaries of American politics—those of Tocque- ville, Bryce, and Ostrogorski—rest upon nineteenth- century ex- perience—generally from Andrew Jackson to Theodore Roose- velt. It is, of course, true that many of the trends that determined the political shape of the long middle period are s till at work in- fluencing the type of politician that prevails in our own political times—especially on the middle levels of power, in the Congress. But during the twentieth century, and especially after the First World War, other forces have greatly modified the c ontent and the importance in America of political institutions. The political establishment of the United States has become more tightly knit, it has been enlarged in scope, and has come up closer to virtually all of the social institutions which it frames. Increasingly, crises have arisen that have not seemed resolvable on the old l ocal and de- centralized basis; increasingly those involved in these crises have looked to the state to resolve them. As these chang es in the shape and practice of the state have increased the power available to those who would gain power and exert it through political institutions, new types of political men have become ascendant. The higher politicians do not constitute any one ps ychological type; they cannot be sorted out and understood in terms of any standard set of motives. Like men of other pursuits , politicians, high or low, are sometimes driven by technological love of their activities—of the campaigning and the conniving and the holding of office; more frequently than others, they are drawn to politics by the prestige that their success brings to them; in fact, ‘power for power’s sake’—a very complicated set of motives —usually in- volves the feeling of prestige which the exercise of power bestows. 2 Rarely is it the money they receive as officeholder s which attracts them. The only general meaning we can give to ‘The Politi cian’ is the man who more or less regularly enacts a role in pol itical institu- tions and thinks of it as at least among his major activities. Ac- cordingly, since there are two major kinds of political institutions in the United States, there are two major types of ‘politicians.’ The party politician’s working career is spent insi de a specific kind of political organization: he is a party man. There is also the 228 THE POWER ELITE political professional whose career has been spent in the adminis trative areas of government, and who becomes ‘polit ical’ to the extent that he rises above the civil-service routine and into the policy-making levels. In the pure type, such a poli tician is an ex- bureaucrat. As types, party politicians and political bureaucra ts are the professionals of modern government, if only in the sense that their careers are spent mainly within the political orbit. But not all men who are in politics are professional politicians ei ther in the party sense or in the bureaucratic sense: in fact, today the men at the political top are much less likely to be bureaucrat s, and rather less likely to be party politicians than political outsiders. The political outsider is a man who has spent the m ajor part of his working life outside strictly political organizations, and who— as the case may be—is brought into them, or who for ces his way in, or who comes and goes in the political order. He is occupation- ally formed by nonpolitical experience, his career and his connec- tions have been in other than political circles, and as a psychologi- cal type, he is anchored in other institutional are as. In fact, he is usually considered by the professionals as a repres entative or as an agent within the government of some non-governmenta l interest or group. The political outsider is by no means confined to the Republican party. Under the Democrats, he is more likely to be on the make, striving to become acceptable to the corp orate chief- tains; whereas, under the Republicans, he is more usually a man already acceptable and therefore surer of himself and of how his decisions will be interpreted by those who count. A further con- sequence is that under the Republicans he can be le ss hypo- critical. Such outsiders, of course, may become bureaucratic experts by spending much time in administrative work, and thus linking their careers and their expectations to government; they may become party politicians by cultivating their role inside a political party, and coming to base their power and their career upo n their party connections. But they need not make either transition; they may simply move into an inner circle, as an appointed c onsultant or adviser having intimate and trusted access to an official power- holder, to whom they are beholden for such politica l power as they possess. THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 229 There are, to be sure, other ways of classifying me n as political animals, but these types—the party politician, the professional adiministrator, the political outsider—are quite serviceable in understanding the social make-up and psychological complexion of the political visage of present-day America. Within American political institutions, the center of initiative and decision has shifted from the Congress to the e xecutive; the executive branch of the state has not only expanded mightily but has come to centralize and to use the very party which puts it into power. It has taken over more initiative in legislative matters not only by its veto but by its expert counsel and advi ce. Accordingly, it is in the executive chambers, and in the agencies and authorities and commissions and departments that stretch out be neath them, that many conflicts of interests and contests of power have come to a head—rather than in the open arena of politics of an older style. These institutional changes in the shape of the political pyramid have made the new political command posts worthy of being struggled for. They have also made for changes in the career of the type of political man who is ascendant. They have meant that it is now more possible for the political career to lead directly to the top, thus by-passing local political life. In the middle of the nine- teenth century—between 1865 and 1881—only 19 per ce nt of the men at the top of the government began their political career on the national level; but from 1901 to 1953, about one-third of the political elite began there, and, in the Eisenhower administration, some 42 per cent started in politics at the national level—a high for the entire political history of the United States.* From 1789 right up to 1921, generation after genera tion, the proportion of the political elite which has ever held local or state offices decreased from 93 to 69 per cent. In the Ei senhower ad- ministration, it fell to 57 per cent. Moreover, only 14 per cent of this current group—and only about one-quarter of ea rlier twen- tieth-century politicians—have ever served in any state legislature. In the Founding Fathers’ generation of 1789-1801, 8 1 per cent of the higher politicians had done so. There has also been a definite decline in the proportions of higher politicians who have ever sat *Only about 20 per cent of the political elite of 1 789-1825 had done so; the historical average as a whole is about 25 per cent. 8 230 THE POWER ELITE in the United States House of Representatives or in the Senate.* The decline in state and local apprenticeships befo re entering national positions, as well as the lack of legislative experience, tie in with another characteristic trend. Since there are so many more elected positions on the lower and legislative levels and rela- tively few on the national, the more recent members of the political elite are likely to have reached their position thr ough appoint- ments rather than elections. Once, most of the men who reached the political top got there because people elected them up the hierarchy of offices. Until 1901, well over one-half, and usually more than two-thirds, of the political elite had been elected to all or most of their positions before reaching their hi ghest national office. But of late, in a more administrative age, men become big politically because small groups of men, themselves elected, ap- point them: only 28 per cent of the higher politicians in 1933-53 rose largely by means of elective offices; 9 per cent has as many appointed as elected offices, and 62 per cent were appointed to all or most of their political jobs before reaching top position; 1 per cent had held no previous political position. Among the Eisen- hower group, 36 per cent were elected to the top; 50 per cent had been appointed more than elected, and 14 per cent h ad never be- fore held any political office. For the American statesmen as a group, the median n umber of years spent in politics was 22.4; in non-political activities, 22.3. Thus, these top members of government have spent ab out the same time working in politics as in other professions. (For some of these years, of course, they were working at both at the same time.) But this over-all fact is somewhat misleading, for there is a definite historical trend: until the Civil War, the top men spent more time in politics than in non-political pursuit s. Since the Civil War, the typical member of the political elit e has spent more years working outside of politics than in it. Strictly political careers reached a peak in the generation of 1801-25 , with 65 per cent of the total working life spent in politics. Outside activities *In 1801-25, 63 per cent of the political elite had been politicians in the House, 39 per cent; in the Senate; from 1865-19 01, the proportions were 32 and 29 per cent; but during the 1933-53 era , only 23 per cent had ever been members of the House of Representativ es, 18 per cent of the Senate. For the visible government of the Eisenhower administra- tion, the proportions were 14 and 7 per cent. THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 231 reached their peak in the Progressive Era, 1901-21: at that time, professionals and reformers seem briefly to have en tered high po- litical positions, 72 per cent of this generation’s active working time being taken up by non-political activities. It is not possible to make this calculation for politicians since 1933 for their careers are not yet over. All these tendencies—(I) for the political elite to begin on the national level and thus to by-pass local and state offices, (II) never to serve in national legislative bodies, (III) to h ave more of an appointed than an elected career, and (IV) to spend less propor- tions of their total working life in politics—these tendencies point to the decline of the legislative body and to the b y-passing of elective offices in the higher political career. They signify the ‘bureaucratization’ of politics and the decline at the political top of men who are professional politicians in the simple, old-fashioned sense of being elected up the political hierarchy and experienced in electoral politics. They point, in short, to the political outsider. Although this type has prevailed in previous period s, in our time he flourishes, and in the Eisenhower administration he has become ascendant. This administration, in fact, is largely an inner circle of political outsiders who have taken over the key exe cutive posts of administrative command; it is composed of members a nd agents of the corporate rich and of the high military in an uneasy alliance with selected professional party politicians seated primarily in the Congress, whose interests and associations are spread over a variety of local societies. 2 A small group of men are now in charge of the execu tive deci- sions made in the name of the United States of Amer ica. These fifty-odd men of the executive branch of the government include the President, the Vice President, and the members of the cabinet; the head men of the major departments and bureaus, agencies and commissions, and the members of the Executive Offic e of the President, including the White House staff. Only three of these members of the political directorate* are professional party politicians in the sense of having spent most of their working lives running for and occupying elective offices; and * As of May 1953. 4 232 THE POWER ELITE only two have spent most of their careers as ‘behin d-the-scenes’ political managers or ‘fixers.’ Only nine have spent their careers within governmental hierarchies—three of them in th e military; four as civil servants in civilian government; and two in a series of appointive positions not under the civil-service system. Thus, a total of only fourteen (or about one-fourth) of t hese fifty-three executive directors have by virtue of their career been ‘profes- sionals’ of government administration or party politics. The remaining three-quarters are political outsider s. At one time or another, several of them have been elected to political offices, and some have entered government service f or short periods but, for most of their careers, they have generally worked outside the realms of government and politics. Most of these out- siders—thirty of the thirty-nine in fact—are quite closely linked, financially or professionally or both, with the corporate world, and thus make up slightly over half of all the politica l directors. The remainder have been active in various other ‘professional’ fields. The three top policy-making positions in the countr y (secre- taries of state, treasury, and defense) are occupied by a New York representative of the leading law firm of the country which does international business for Morgan and Rockefel ler interests; by a Mid-West corporation executive who was a direc tor of a complex of over thirty corporations; and by the former president of one of the three or four largest corporations and the largest pro- ducer of military equipment in the United States. There are four more members of the corporate rich i n the cabi- net—two more men from General Motors; a leading fin ancier and director of New England’s largest bank; and a millionaire pub- lisher from Texas. The positions of Secretaries of Agriculture and Labor are occupied by professional outsiders, leavi ng only one cabinet member who is an insider to politics and go vernment— the Attorney-General, who has been both a New York State As- semblyman and a partner in the law firm of Lord, Day and Lord, but has, since 1942, been a political manager for Dewey and later Eisenhower. Although the Attorney-General and Vice-President ar e the only political professionals, two other cabinet members have at one time held elective state offices and at least five of the cabinet mem- bers were active in the political campaign of 1952. None of them THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 233 are, in any sense that may be given to the term, civil servants; the President is alone among them as a man trained in a governmental (military) bureaucracy. On the ‘second team’ of the political directorate, there is a ‘Little Cabinet,’ whose members stand in for the first and, who, in fact, handle most of the administrative functions of governing. Among the top thirty-two deputies of the agencies, departments, and commissions, twenty-one are novices in governme nt: many of them never held political office, nor in fact even worked in government, before their present positions. These m en usually have had fathers who were big businessmen; twelve attended Ivy League colleges; and they themselves have often been business- men or bankers or the salaried lawyers of large corporations or members of the big law firms. Unlike professional politicians, they do not belong to the local jamboree of Elk and Legi on; they are more often members of quiet social clubs and exclus ive country clubs. Their origins, their careers, and their associations make them representative of the corporate rich. On this ‘second team’ there is one Rockefeller as well as a former financial adviser to the Rockefellers; there are wo rking inheritors of family power and textile companies; there are ba nkers; there is a publisher, an airline executive, and lawyers; a r epresentative from the southwestern affiliate of America’s largest corporation; and another man from General Motors. There is also Allen Dulles who spent ten years in the diplomatic service, left it (because a promotion in rank offered him no increase above his $8,000 salary) to join the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell (abou t the time that his brother became its senior partner) and then returned to the government as its senior spy. On this second te am there are also four men who have not been directly associated with the corporate world. Only seven of the thirty-two members of the second team have been trained in governmental bureaucracies; only four have had considerable experience in party politics. In the complex organization of modern government, t he need for an ‘inner circle’ of personal advisers has become increasingly important to the executive, especially if he would be an innovator. In order to originate and carry out his policies, he needs men who 234 THE POWER ELITE are quite wholly in his service. The specific funct ions that these men may perform are enormously varied; but, in what ever they do and say, they function as the alter ego of their commander. These personal lieutenants of power are loyal agents, first of all, of the man to whose inner circle they belong. They may be professional politicians or professional civil servants, but usually they have been neither. And yet they must mediate between party politicians in the legislative branch and the outsiders in the executive administra- tion—as well as among the various outside pressure groups—and they must maintain public relations with the unorganized public. These men on the White House Staff, therefore, are not in office so much for what they represent as for what they can do. They are a variety of skilled men, and they are socially alike in a number of ways: they are quite young; they come from the u rban areas of the country, in fact from the East; and they are likely to have attended the Ivy League Colleges. Of the nine key members of the White House Staff, s ix are novices in government and politics; there are no civilian civil servants; there is one professional party politician; one profes- sional political manager; and one professional mili tary man. The men of the President’s inner circle thus come from Dewey’s inner circle, from Henry Luce’s, or from the higher levels of the Penta- gon. With few exceptions, they are neither professi onal party politicians nor political bureaucrats.* * Of 27 men mentioned in recent descriptions of Eisenhower’s golf and bridge ‘cronies,’ only two men could strictly be called ‘politicians’; there was also his brother Milton, and there was Bo bby Jones, the for- mer golf champion; there was the president of one of the largest adver- tising agencies and Freeman Gosden, Amos of ‘Amos a nd Andy’; there was a public relations executive and a Washington lawyer; there were two retired Army officers and there was Lucius D. C lay, the retired General of the Army who is now Chairman of Continen tal Can Com- pany. There were three men identified only as local—to the Augusta Na- tional Golf Club—businessmen. All the rest were top officers of various corporations scattered among different industries and usually along the eastern seaboard. Represented on the golf course ar e Continental Can, Young and Rubicam, General Electric, Cities Service Oil Company, Studebaker, Reynolds Tobacco, Coca Cola, and Republ ic Steel. 5 Be- tween June 1953 and February 1955, Mr. Eisenhower g ave 38 ‘stag dinners,’ at which ‘he has entertained 294 businessmen and industrial- ists, 81 administration officials, 51 editors, publishers, and writers, 30 THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 235 As a group, the political outsiders who occupy the execu- tive command posts and form the political directorate are legal, managerial, and financial members of the corporate rich. They are members of cliques in which they have shown to their higher- ups that they are trustworthy in economic or military or political endeavors. For corporation executives and army gene rals, no less than professional politicians, have their ‘old cron ies.’ Neither bureaucratic advancement nor party patronage is the rule of the political outsider. As in the private corporation, the rule is the co-optation of one’s own kind by those who have tak en over the command posts. 3 The rise of the political outsider within the moder n political directorate is not simply one more aspect of the ‘bureaucratization’ of the state. In fact, as in the case of the military ascendancy, the problem which the rise of the political outsider cr eates for the democratic theorist has, first of all, to do with the absence of a gen- uine bureaucracy. For it is partly in lieu of a gen uine bureaucracy that the pseudo-bureaucracy of the political outsid ers, as well as the regime of the party hacks, has come to prevail. By a ‘genuine’ bureaucracy, we refer to an organize d hierarchy educators, 23 Republican party leaders. A dozen other groups—farm, labor, charities, sports—have provided smaller numb ers of guests.’ 6 Of his various associates, Theodore Roosevelt once remarked: ‘I am simply unable to make myself take the attitude of r espect toward the very wealthy men which such an enormous multitude o f people evi- dently really feel. I am delighted to show any courtesy to Pierpont Mor- gan or Andrew Carnegie or James J. Hill, but as for regarding any one of them, as for instance, I regard Professor Bury, or Peary, the Arctic explorer, or Rhodes, the historian—why, I could not force myself to do it, even if I wanted to, which I don’t.’ Of President Eisenhower’s asso- ciates, a shrewd observer—Merriman Smith—has remark ed: ‘It would be unfair to say that he likes the company of kings of finance and industry purely because of their Dun and Bradstreet ratings. He believes that if a man has worked up to become president of the Ford Motor Company, head of the Scripps-Howard newspapers, a college president or an Arch- bishop, then certainly the man has a lot on the ball, knows his field thor- oughly and will be literate and interesting.’ To wh ich William H. Law- rence has added: ‘This business of working your way up will come as quite a surprise to young Henry Ford or young Jack Howard.’ 7 236 THE POWER ELITE of skills and authorities, within which each office and rank is restricted to its specialized tasks. Those who occupy these offices do not own the equipment required for their duties, and they, personally, have no authority: the authority they wield is vested in the offices they occupy. Their salary, along with the honor due each rank, is the sole remuneration offered. The bureaucrat or civil servant, accordingly, is ab ove all an expert whose knowledge and skill have been attested to by qualify- ing examination, and later in his career, qualifying experience. As a specially qualified man, his access to his office and his advance- ment to higher offices are regulated by more or les s formal tests of competence. By aspiration and by achievement, he is set for a career, regulated according to merit and seniority, within the pre- arranged hierarchy of the bureaucracy. He is, moreo ver, a dis- ciplined man, whose conduct can be readily calculated, and who will carry out policies even if they go against his grain, for his ‘merely personal opinions’ are strictly segregated from his official life, outlook, and duties. Socially, the bureaucrat is likely to be rather formal with his colleagues, as the smooth fu nctioning of a bureaucratic hierarchy requires a proper balance be tween per- sonal good will and adequate social distance according to rank. Even if its members only approximate the principled image of such a man, the bureaucracy is a most efficient for m of human organization. But such an organized corps is quite difficult to develop, and the attempt can easily result in an apparatus that is obstreperous and clumsy, hide-bound and snarled wit h procedure, rather than an instrument of policy. The integrity of a bureaucracy as a unit of a gover nment de- pends upon whether or not, as a corps of officials, it survives changes of political administration. The integrity of a professional bureaucrat depends upon whether or not his official conduct, and even his person, embodies the status codes of the official, foremost among th em political neutrality. He will serve a new political administration and its policies as faithfully as he did the old. That is the political meaning of genuine bureaucracy. For the bureaucrat as such does not make policy; he provides information relevant to alternative poli- cies and he carries out the alternative that becomes official. As a more or less permanent staff with a more or less permanent hier- THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 237 archy beneath it, the bureaucracy is loyal only to the policies that are given it to execute. ‘It has been recognized almost universally,’ Herman Finer asserts, ‘that interference with this neutrality [from political parties] means the loss of technical skill to the state as a whole, and only the most extreme minorities of the Left and Right have been ready to sacrifice this neutrality by “purification” of the services.’ 8 The civilian government of the United States never has had and does not now have a genuine bureaucracy. In the civ il-service system, established in 1883, people appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate are not ‘required to be classified.’ What constitutes ‘The Civil Service’ can change with changing political administrations. Any rules of competitive recruitment can be by-passed by creating whole new agencies without established precedents; jobs can be classified and declassified in and out of the civil-service tenure and restriction; civil-service tenure can be made meaningless by the wholesale abolition of g overn- mental agencies or parts thereof, not only by the Congress but by the head of the agency or by the Budget Bureau. 9 Of the late nineteenth-century practice, an English observer noted that ‘while appointments to the lower grades were filled on the basis of merit, the pressure for spoils at each change of ad- ministration forced inexperienced, political or per sonal favourites in at the top. This blocked promotions and demorali zed the serv- ice. Thus, while the general effect of the act was to limit very greatly the number of vicious appointments, at the same time the effect of these exceptions was to confine them to the upper grades, where the demoralizing effects of each upon the ser vice would be a maximum.’ 10 Since then, of course, the proportion of employees covered by the Civil Service has increased. At the end of Theo dore Roose- velt’s administration (in 1909) some 60 per cent of all federal civilian employees were civil service; at the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt’s, about 80 per cent. Much of the New Dea l expansion involved ‘new agencies which were staffed without c ompetitive civil-service examinations. By 1936 only 60 per cent of Govern- ment civilian employees had entered Government thro ugh com- petitive civil-service tests; many of the [remaining] 40 per cent were patronage appointments, and most of them were New Deal 238 THE POWER ELITE enthusiasts.’ World War II brought another huge wav e of gov- ernment employees who did not win their jobs compet itively. Once in, however, these government workers found civil-service protection; when President Truman left office in 1953, the tenure of ‘at least 95 per cent of Government civilian emp loyees’ was presumably protected. 11 Now of the two million or so government employees, 12 perhaps some 1500 can be considered ‘key officials’: these include the head men of the executive departments, under-secretaries and assistant secretaries, the chiefs of the independent agencies and their dep- uty and assistant heads, the chiefs of the various bureaus and their deputies, the ambassadors and other chiefs of missi ons. 13 Occupa- tionally they include lawyers and air force officer s, economists and physicians, engineers and accountants, aeronaut ical experts and bankers, chemists and newspaper men, diplomats and soldiers. Altogether, they occupy the key administrative, technical, military, and professional positions of the federal government. In 1948, only 32 per cent (502) of such key officia ls worked in agencies which had a ‘formal career service’—such a s the foreign service of the Department of State, the military hierarchy, certain appointments in the Public Health Service. The top career men averaged twenty-nine years in government service; over half of them had earned graduate or professional degrees; o ne-fourth, in fact, attended Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, MIT, or Cor- nell. These represented such higher civil service a s the govern- ment then contained. Two months before the party nominations for the 195 2 elections, Harold E. Talbott—a New York financier, later a Sec retary of the Air Force exposed for using his office for private gain—hired a management consulting firm to determine what posts it would be necessary for a Republican administration to take over in order to control the government of the United States. A few days after his election, Eisenhower received a fourteen-volume ana lysis—includ- ing suggested qualifications for appointees and the main problems they would face—of each of the 250 to 300 top polic y-making jobs that were found. 14 More party-minded analysts knew that even under the laws and orders then existing, some 2,000 positions seemed open. 16 Patron- THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 239 age is patronage, and the new administration quickl y set about finding ways of increasing it.* In April 1953, Eisenhower by execu- tive order stripped job security from at least 800 ‘confidential and policy-making’ government workers; in June, he rele ased some 54,000 non-veterans from job security. 17 The exact number of positions that the Republicans declassified is difficult to know with accuracy: one knowledgeab le estimate puts the number at 134,000. 18 But the withdrawal of jobs from civil-service coverage is not the only way to get in one’s own people. Under a security ruling which rests upon ‘a reasona ble doubt’ of someone’s ‘security-risk’ status, rather than ‘proof,’ and which places the burden of proof upon the accused, thousa nds more have been fired or forced to resign from government serv ice. This has been especially damaging to the experienced personnel and morale of the State Department where such attacks have bee n most pro- lific and systematic.** The details at any given time are not important; th e over-all fact is: The United States has never and does not n ow have a genuine civil service, in the fundamental sense of a reliable civil- service career, or of an independent bureaucracy ef fectively above political party pressure. The fact of the long Demo cratic tenure (1933-53) had tended to hide the extent to which the civil-service laws had failed to result in the creation of a Civil Service. The changeover of 1953 revealed, further, that the civil-service laws * ‘Some jobs can simply be abolished,’ the editors of Fortune asserted. ‘Other men can be left with their tides while someo ne else is given the real authority and direct access to the department head. Some of the more notorious Fair Dealers may be shunted off into harmless, boon- doggling projects. In government circles there are phrases for such tech- niques: ‘letting him dry up on the vine,” or “sending him to the reading room.” Such methods are wasteful. And yet it is vir tually the only way the Eisenhower Administration can be assured of hav ing a force of key careerists whom it can trust . . . The new Administration has to tackle the government personnel problem from two opposite directions at once: on the one hand getting rid of top-grade careerists whose ideolo- gies are overtly or covertly hostile to Republican policies; while on the other hand trying to make government service work, and thereby at- tracting top-grade men—which is the more important objective in the long run.’ 16 **On the downfall of diplomacy, see above, NINE : The Military As- cendency. 240 THE POWER ELITE merely make the operation of ‘patronage’ more diffi cult and more expensive, and also, as it turned out, somewhat nas tier. For there is no real question but that ‘security clearance’ procedures have been used to cover the replacement of untrustworthy Democrat by trustworthy Republican. The superior man who might be bent on a professiona l career in government is naturally not disposed to train himself for such political perils and administrative helplessness. No intellectually qualified personnel for a genuine bureaucracy can be provided if the Civil Service is kept in a p olitical state of apprehension; for that selects mediocrities and trains them for un- reflective conformity. No morally qualified personnel can be provided if c ivil servants must work in a context of universal distrust, paralyzed by suspicion and fear. And in a society that values money as the foremost gauge of caliber, no truly independent Civil Service can be built—either from upper or middle-class recruits, if it does not provide com- pensation comparable to that provided by private em ployment. Pensions and security of job do not make up for the lower pay of civil servants, for private executives, as we have seen, now have such privileges and many more as well. The top civi l-service salary in 1954 was only $14,800, and only 1 per cent of al l the federal employees earned over $9,000 a year. 19 The historical check upon the development of an adm inistra- tive bureaucracy in the United States has been the patronage system of the parties, which as machines use jobs for pay-offs, thus making impossible office discipline and recruitment on the basis of expert qualification. In addition, since government regulation of business has become important, a government job has become important as one link in a business or legal career in the private corporate world. One serves a term in the agency wh ich has to do with the industry one is going to enter. In the regulatory agencies especially, public offices are often stepping stones in a corporate career, and as organizations the agencies are outpo sts of the private corporate world. And there is also the ‘new spoils system’ operat- ing as a security measure in the context of distrust. Magazines for business executives and ghost writers for poli- ticians regularly run pious editorials on the need for a better Civil THE POLITICAL DIRECTORATE 241 Service. But neither executives nor politicians really want a group of expert administrators who are genuinely independ ent of party considerations, and who, by training and experience, are the de- pository of the kind of skills needed to judge care fully the con- sequences of alternative policies. The political an d economic meaning of such a corps for responsible government is all too clear. In the lower ranks of the state hierarchy, from which genuine civil servants might be recruited, there has not be en enough prestige or money to attract really first-rate men. In the upper ranks, ‘outsiders,’ that is, men from outside the bureaucracy, have been called upon. They have served only for relativ ely short periods and not as a life career, and hence they have not acquired the neutrality and demeanor associated with the ide al civil serv- ant. There is no civil-service career that is secure enough, there is no administrative corps that is permanent enough, t o survive a change-over of political administration in the Unit ed States. Neither professional party politicians, nor professional bureaucrats are now at the executive centers of decision. Those centers are occupied by the political directorate of the power elite. 11 The Theory of Balance NOT wishing to be disturbed over moral issues of the po litical economy, Americans cling to the idea that the government is a sort of automatic machine, regulated by the balancing of compet- ing interests. This image of politics is simply a carry-over from the official image of the economy: in both, an equilibr ium is achieved by the pulling and hauling of many interests, each restrained only by legalistic and amoral interpretations of what th e traffic will bear. The ideal of the automatic balance reached its most compelling elaboration in eighteenth-century economic terms: the market is sovereign and in the magic economy of the small ent repreneur there is no authoritarian center. And in the political sphere as well: the division, the equilibrium, of powers prevails, and hence there is no chance of despotism. ‘The nation which will not adopt an equilibrium of power,’ John Adams wrote, ‘must adopt a despot- ism. There is no other alternative.’ 1 As developed by the men of the eighteenth century, equilibrium, or checks and balances, thus becomes the chief mechanism by which both economic and politi- cal freedom were guaranteed and the absence of tyranny insured among the sovereign nations of the world. Nowadays, the notion of an automatic political economy is best known to us as simply the practical conservatism of the anti-New Dealers of the ‘thirties. It has been given new—although quite false —appeal by the frightening spectacle of the totalit arian states of Germany yesterday and Russia today. And although it is quite irrelevant to the political economy of modern America, it is the 242 THE THEORY OF BALANCE 243 only rhetoric that prevails widely among the manage rial elite of corporation and state. 1 It is very difficult to give up the old model of po wer as an auto- matic balance, with its assumptions of a plurality of independent, relatively equal, and conflicting groups oi the bal ancing society. All these assumptions are explicit to the point of unconscious cari- cature in recent statements of ‘who rules America.’ According to Mr. David Riesman, for example, during the past hal f century there has been a shift from ‘the power hierarchy of a ruling class to the power dispersal’ of ‘veto groups.’ Now no one runs anything: all is undirected drift. ‘In a sense,’ Mr. Riesman believes, ‘this is only another way of saying that America is a middle -class coun- try … in which, perhaps people will soon wake up to the fact that there is no longer a “we” who run things and a “they” who don’t or a “we” who don’t run things and a “they” w ho do, but rather that all “we’s” are “they’s” and all “they’s” are “we’s.”‘ ‘The chiefs have lost the power, but the followers have not gained it,’ and in the meantime, Mr. Riesman takes his psychologi- cal interpretation of power and of the powerful to quite an ex- treme, for example: ‘if businessmen feel weak and dependent, they are weak and dependent, no matter what material res ources may be ascribed to them.’ ‘. . . The future,’ accordingly, ‘seems to be in the hands of the small business and professional men who control Con gress: the local realtors, lawyers, car salesmen, undertakers, and so on; of the military men who control defense and, in part, foreign policy; of the big business managers and their lawyers, fin ance-committee men, and other counselors who decide on plant inves tment and influence the rate of technological change; of the labor leaders who control worker productivity and worker votes; o f the black belt whites who have the greatest stake in southern politics; of the Poles, Italians, Jews, and Irishmen who have stakes in foreign policy, city jobs, and ethnic religious and cultural organizations; of the editorializers and storytellers who help socialize the young, tease and train the adult, and amuse and annoy the aged; of the farmers—themselves warring congeries of cattlemen, corn men, dairymen, cotton men, and so on—who control key departments 244 THE POWER ELITE and committees and who, as the living representativ es of our inner-directed past, control many of our memories; of the Russians and, to a lesser degree, other foreign powers who c ontrol much of our agenda of attention; and so on. The reader can complete the list.’ 2 Here indeed is something that measures up ‘to the m odern standards of being fully automatic and completely impersonal.’ 3 Yet there is some reality in such romantic pluralism, even in such a pasticcio of power as Mr. Riesman invents: it is a recognizable, although a confused, statement of the middle levels of power, especially as revealed in Congressional districts and in the Con- gress itself. But it confuses, indeed it does not e ven distinguish between the top, the middle, and the bottom levels of power. In fact, the strategy of all such romantic pluralism, with its image of a semi-organized stalemate, is rather clear: You elaborate the number of groups involved, in a k ind of be- wildering, Whitmanesque enthusiasm for variety. Ind eed, what group fails to qualify as a Veto group’? You do not try to clarify the hodge-podge by classifying these groups, occupation s, strata, or- ganizations according to their political relevance or even accord- ing to whether they are organized politically at all. You do not try to see how they may be connected with one another i nto a struc- ture of power, for by virtue of his perspective, the romantic con- servative focuses upon a scatter of milieux rather than upon their connections within a structure of power. And you do not consider the possibility of any community of interests among the top groups. You do not connect all these milieux and mi scellaneous groups with the big decisions: you do not ask and answer with historical detail: exactly what, directly or indirectly, did ‘small retailers’ or ‘brick masons’ have to do with the sequence of decision and event that led to World War II? What did ‘insur ance agents,’ or for that matter, the Congress, have to do with the decision to make or not to make, to drop or not to drop, the ea rly model of the new weapon? Moreover, you take seriously the pu blic-rela- tions-minded statements of the leaders of all groups, strata, and blocs, and thus confuse psychological uneasiness wi th the facts of power and policy. So long as power is not nakedly displayed, it must not be power. And of course you do not consider the diffi- THE THEORY OF BALANCE 245 culties posed for you as an observer by the fact of secrecy, official and otherwise. In short, you allow your own confused perspective t o confuse what you see and, as an observer as well as an inte rpreter, you are careful to remain on the most concrete levels of description you can manage, defining the real in terms of the existing detail. The balance of power theory, as Irving Howe has not ed, is a narrow-focus view of American politics. 4 With it one can explain temporary alliances within one party or the other. It is also nar- row-focus in the choice of time-span: the shorter t he period of time in which you are interested, the more usable the balance of power theory appears. For when one is up-close and dealing journalistically with short periods, a given election, for example, one is frequently overwhelmed by a multiplicity of forces and causes. One continual weakness of American ‘social science,’ since it became ever so empirical, has been its assumption that a mere enumeration of a plurality of causes is the wise and scien- tific way of going about understanding modern socie ty. Of course it is nothing of the sort: it is a paste-pot eclecticism which avoids the real task of social analysis: that task is to g o beyond a mere enumeration of all the facts that might conceivably be involved and weigh each of them in such a way as to understand how they fit together, how they form a model of what it is you are trying to un- derstand. 5 Undue attention to the middle levels of power obscu res the structure of power as a whole, especially the top and the bottom. American politics, as discussed and voted and campa igned for, have largely to do with these middle levels, and often only with them. Most ‘political’ news is news and gossip abou t middle-level issues and conflicts. And in America, the political theorist too is often merely a more systematic student of elections , of who voted for whom. As a professor or as a free-lance intellectual, the political analyst is generally on the middle levels of power himself. He knows the top only by gossip; the bottom, if at all, only by ‘re- search.’ But he is at home with the leaders of the middle level, and, as a talker himself, with their ‘bargaining.’ Commentators and analysts, in and out of the univer sities, thus focus upon the middle levels and their balances because they are closer to them, being mainly middle-class themselves; because 246 THE POWER ELITE these levels provide the noisy content of ‘politics ‘ as an explicit and reported-upon fact; because such views are in a ccord with the folklore of the formal model of how democracy works ; and be- cause, accepting that model as good, especially in their current patrioteering, many intellectuals are thus able most readily to satisfy such political urges as they may feel. When it is said that a ‘balance of power’ exists, it may be meant that no one interest can impose its will or its ter ms upon others; or that any one interest can create a stalemate; or that in the course of time, first one and then another interest gets itself real- ized, in a kind of symmetrical taking of turns; or that all policies are the results of compromises, that no one wins al l they want to win, but each gets something. All these possible me anings are, in fact, attempts to describe what can happen when, pe rmanently or temporarily, there is said to be ‘equality of bargaining power.’ But, as Murray Edelman has pointed out, 6 the goals for which interests struggle are not merely given; they reflect the cur rent state of ex- pectation and acceptance. Accordingly, to say that various in- terests are ‘balanced’ is generally to evaluate the status quo as satisfactory or even good; the hopeful ideal of bal ance often masquerades as a description of fact. ‘Balance of power’ implies equality of power, and equality of power seems wholly fair and even honorable, but in fact what is one man’s honorable balance is often another’s unfair imbalance. Ascendant groups of course tend readily to proclaim a just balance of power and a true harmony of interest, for they p refer their domination to be uninterrupted and peaceful. So large business- men condemn small labor leaders as ‘disturbers of the peace’ and upsetters of the universal interests inherent in business-labor co- operation. So privileged nations condemn weaker one s in the name of internationalism, defending with moral notions what has been won by force against those have-nots whom, mak ing their bid for ascendancy or equality later, can hope to change the status quo only by force. 7 The notion that social change proceeds by a toleran t give and take, by compromise and a network of vetoes of one interest bal- anced by another assumes that all this goes on within a more or less stable framework that does not itself change, that all issues are subject to compromise, and are thus naturally harmonious or can THE THEORY OF BALANCE 247 be made such. Those who profit by the general framework of the status quo can afford more easily than those who are dissatisfied under it to entertain such views as the mechanics of social change. Moreover, ‘in most fields . . . only one interest is organized, none is, or some of the major ones are not.’ 8 In these cases, to speak, as Mr. David Truman does, of ‘unorganized interests’ 9 is merely to use another word for what used to be called ‘the pu blic,’ a concep- tion we shall presently examine.* The important ‘pressure groups,’ especially those o f rural and urban business, have either been incorporated in th e personnel and in the agencies of the government itself, both legislative and executive, or become the instruments of small and p owerful cliques, which sometimes include their nominal leaders but often do not. These facts go beyond the centralization of voluntary groups and the usurpation of the power of apathetic members by professional executives. They involve, for example, the use of the NAM by dominant cliques to reveal to small-business members that their interests are identical with those of big business, and then to focus the power of business-as-a-whole into a political pres- sure. From the standpoint of such higher circles, t he ‘voluntary association,’ the ‘pressure group,’ becomes an impo rtant feature of a public-relations program. The several corporations which are commanded by the individual members of such cliques are them- selves instruments of command, public relations, an d pressure, but it is often more expedient to use the corporations less openly, as bases of power, and to make of various national associations their joint operating branches. The associations are more opera- tional organizations, whose limits of power are set by those who use them, than final arbiters of action and inaction. 10 Checks and balances may thus be understood as an al ternative statement of ‘divide and rule,’ and as a way of hampering the more direct expression of popular aspiration. For the theory of balance often rests upon the moral idea of a natural harmon y of interests, in terms of which greed and ruthlessness are reconc iled with justice and progress. Once the basic structure of the American political economy was built, and for so long as it could be tacitly supposed that markets would expand indefinitely, th e harmony of interest could and did serve well as the ideology of dominant * See below, THIRTEEN : The Mass Society 248 THE POWER ELITE groups, by making their interests appear identical with the inter- ests of the community as a whole. So long as this d octrine prevails, any lower group that begins to struggle can be made to appear inharmonious, disturbing the common interest. ‘The doctrine of the harmony of interests,’ E. H. Carr has remarked, ‘thus serves as an ingenious moral device invoked, in perfect si ncerity, by privileged groups in order to justify and maintain their dominant position.’ 11 2 The prime focus of the theory of balance is the Congress of the United States, and its leading actors are the Congressmen. Yet as social types, these 96 Senators and 435 Representat ives are not representative of the rank and file citizens. They represent those who have been successful in entrepreneurial and pro fessional en- deavors. Older men, they are of the privileged white, native-born of native parents, Protestant Americans. They are c ollege gradu- ates and they are at least solid, upper-middle class in income and status. On the average, they have had no experience of wage or lower salaried work. They are, in short, in and of the new and old upper classes of local society.* * Nowadays, the typical Senator is a college-educated man of about fifty-seven years of age—although in the 83rd Congr ess (1954) one was eighty-six years old. The typical Representative, also drawn from the less than 10 per cent of the adult population that has been to college, is about fifty-two—although one was only twenty-six in the latest Congress. Almost all of the Senators and Representatives have held local and state offices; and about half of them are veterans of one of the wars. Almost all of them have also worked in non-political occup ations, usually occu- pations of the upper 15 per cent of the occupationa l hierarchy: in the 1949-51 Congress, for example, 69 per cent of both Senate and House were professional men, and another 24 per cent of the Senate and 22 per cent of the House were businessmen or managers. The re are no wage workers, no low salaried white-collar men, no farm laborers in the Sen- ate, and only one or two in the House. 12 Their major profession is, of course, the law—which only 0.1 per cent of the people at work in the United States follow, but almost 65 per cent of the Senators and Representatives. That they are mainly lawyers is easy to understand. The verbal skills of the lawyer are not unlike those needed by the politicians; both involve bargaining and negotiation and the giving of advice to those who make decisions in business and poli- tics. Lawyers also often find that—win or lose—politics is useful to their THE THEORY OF BALANCE 249 Some members of the Congress are millionaires, othe rs must scrounge the countryside for expense money. The exp enses of office are now quite heavy, often including the maintenance of two homes and traveling between them, the demands o f an often busy social life, and the greatly increased costs of getting elected and staying in office. An outside income is now alm ost indispens- able for the Congressmen; and, in fact, four out of five of the Representatives and two out of three of the Senators in 1952 re- ceived incomes other than their Congressional salar ies ‘from businesses or professions which they still maintain in their home profession of law, since it publicizes one’s practi ce. In addition, a private law practice, a business which can be carried in on e’s briefcase, can be set up almost anywhere. Accordingly, the lawyer as politician has some- thing to fall back upon whenever he is not re-elected as well as some- thing to lean upon if he wishes when he is elected. In fact, for some lawyers, a political term or two is thought of, and is in fact, merely a stepping stone to a larger law practice, in Washing ton or back home. The practice of law often allows a man to enter pol itics without much risk and some chance of advantage to a main source of money independ- ent of the electorate’s whims. 13 Most of the members of Congress over the last fifte en years—and probably much longer than that—have originated from the same profes- sional and entrepreneurial occupations as they them selves have fol- lowed over the last decade. Between 90 and 95 per cent of them have been sons of professionals or businessmen or farmers—although at the approximate time of their birth, in 1890, only 37 per cent of the labor force were of these entrepreneurial strata, and not all of these were married men with sons. 14 There have been no Negroes in the Senate over the l ast half century, and, at any given time, never more than two in the House—although Negroes make up about 10 per cent of the American p opulation. Since 1845, the percentage of the foreign-born in the Senate has never exceed- ed 8 per cent, and has always been much smaller tha n the percentage in the population—less than one-half of the representative proportion, for example, in 1949-51. Moreover, both first and s econd genera- tion Congressmen tend to be of the older, northern and western extrac- tion, rather than of the newer immigration from sou thern and eastern Europe. Protestant denominations of higher status (Episcopal, Presby- terian, Unitarian, and Congregational) provide twice the number of Congressmen as their representative proportions in the population. Middle-level Protestants (Methodists and Baptists) in the Congress are in rough proportion to the population, but Catholics and Jews are fewer: Catholics in the 81st Congress, for example, having only 16 per cent of the House and 12 per cent of the Senate, but 34 per cent of the 1950 population at large. 18 250 THE POWER ELITE communities, or from investments. Independently wea lthy men are becoming increasingly common on Capitol Hill . . . For those who are without private means . . . life as a member of Congress can border on desperation.’* ‘If Federal law really meant what it seems to mean concerning the uses of cash i n election campaigns,’ Robert Bendiner has recently remarked, ‘more poli- ticians would wind up in Leavenworth than in Washington.’ 17 The political career does not attract as able a set of men as it once did. From a money standpoint, the alert lawyer , who can readily make $25,000 to $50,000 a year, is not very likely to trade it for the perils of the Congressman’s position; and, no doubt with exceptions, if they are not wealthy men, it is likely that the candi- dates for Congress will be a county attorney, a loc al judge, or a mayor—whose salaries are even less than those of Co ngressmen. Many observers, both in and out of Congress, agree that the Con- gress has fallen in public esteem over the last fifty years; and that, even in their home districts and states, the Congre ssmen are by no means the important figures they once were. 18 How many people, in fact, know the name of their Representative, or even of their Senators? Fifty years ago, in his district or state, the campaigning Con- gressman did not have to compete in a world of synt hetic celebri- ties with the mass means of entertainment and distr action. The politician making a speech was looked to for an hour’s talk about what was going on in a larger world, and in debates he had neither occasion nor opportunity to consult a ghost writer. He was, after all, one of the best-paid men in his locality and a big man there. But today, the politician must rely on the mass med ia, and access to these media is expensive.** The simple facts of the costs of the * From the end of World War II until 1955, the member s of Con- gress received $15,000 annually, including a tax-free expense allowance of $2,500; but the average income—including investm ents, business, and professions as well as writing and speaking—of a member of the House was, in 1952, about $22,000; and of the Senate, $47,000. As of 1 March 1955, the annual salary for members of Congress was raised to $22,- 500. 16 * * One veteran Congressman has recently reported tha t in 1930, he could make the race for $7,500; today, for $25,000 to $50,000; and in the Senate, it might run to much more. John F. Kenn edy (son of multi- millionaire Joseph P. Kennedy), Democrat of Massachusetts, was re- THE THEORY OF BALANCE 251 modern campaign clearly tie the Congressman, if he is not person- ally well-to-do, to the sources of needed contributions, which are, sensibly enough, usually looked upon as investments from which a return is expected. As free-lance law practitioners and as party politicians who must face elections, the professional politicians have c ultivated many different groups and types of people in their localities. They are great ‘joiners’ of social and business and fraterna l organizations, belonging to Masons and Elks and the American Legio n. In then- constituencies, the Congressmen deal with organized groups, and they are supported or approved according to their a ttitude toward the interests and programs of these groups. It is in the local baili- wick that the plunder groups, who would exchange vo tes for favors, operate most openly. The politicians are surrounded by the demands and requests of such groups, large and small, local and national. As brokers of power, the politicians must compro- mise one interest by another, and, in the process, they are them- selves often compromised into men without any firm line of policy. Most professional politicians represent an astutely balanced variety of local interests, and such rather small freedom to act in political decisions as they have derives from preci sely that fact: if they are fortunate they can juggle and play off these varied local interests against one another, but perhaps more fre quently they come to straddle the issues in order to avoid decision. Protecting the interests of his electoral domain, the Congress man remains attentively loyal to his sovereign locality. In fact, his parochialism is in some cases so intense that as a local candida te he may even invite and collect for local display an assortment of out-of-state attacks upon him, thus turning his campaign into a crusade of the sovereign locality against national outsiders. 20 Inside the Congress, as in his constituency, the politician finds a tangle of interests; and he also finds that power is organized according to party and according to seniority. The power of the Congress is centered in the committee; the power of the committee is usually centered in its chairman, who becomes ch airman by seniority. Accordingly, the politician’s chance to reach a position ported to have spent $15,866 in his 1952 campaign, but ‘committees on his behalf for the improvement of the shoe, fishing and other industries of the state, spent $217,995.’ 19 252 THE POWER ELITE of power within the Congress often rests upon his a bility to stay in office for a long and uninterrupted period, and to do that, he cannot antagonize the important elements in his con stituency. Flexible adjustment to these several interests and their programs, the agility to carry several, sometimes conflicting, lines of policy, but to look good doing it, is at a premium. Therefo re, by a me- chanical process of selection, mediocre party ‘regulars,’ who for twenty years or more have been firmly anchored in t heir sovereign localities, are very likely to reach and to remain at the centers of Congressional power. Even when the politician becomes a chairman—if poss ible, of a committee affecting the local interests of his district—he will not usually attempt to play the role of the national st atesman. For however enjoyable such attendant prestige may be, it is secondary to the achievement of local popularity; his responsibility is not to the nation; it is to the dominant interests of his locality. Moreover, ‘better congressional machinery,’ as Stanley High h as remarked, ‘does not cure the evil of localism; indeed it may provide members with more time and better facilities for its practice.’ 21 Nonetheless, the chairman of the major committees a re the elite members of the Congress. In their hands rest the ke y powers of Congress, both legislative and investigative. They can originate, push, halt, or confuse legislation; they are adept at evasion and stall. They can block a White House proposal so tha t it never reaches the floor for debate, let alone a vote. And they can tell the President what will and what will not gain the appr oval of the people in their district or of colleagues under their influence in Congress. In the first and second decades of this century, only a few bills were presented during the six months of the first s ession or the three months of the second. These bills were consid ered during the ample time between committee study and their debate on the floor. Debate was of importance and was carried on before a sizable audience in the chamber. Legislation took up most of the member’s time and attention. Today hundreds of bill s are con- sidered at each session; and since it would be impossible for mem- bers even to read them all—or a tenth of them—they have come to rely upon the committees who report the bills. There is little de- bate and what there is often occurs before an emptied chamber. THE THEORY OF BALANCE 253 The speeches that are made are mainly for the membe r’s locality, and many are not delivered, but merely inserted in the record. While legislation goes through the assembly line, the Congress- men are busy in their offices, administering a small staff which runs errands for constituents and mails printed and typed matter to them. 22 In the campaigns of the professional politician, insistent national issues are not usually faced up to, but local issue s are raised in a wonderfully contrived manner. In the 472 Congress ional elec- tions of 1954, for example, no national issues were clearly pre- sented, nor even local issues related clearly to them.* Slogans and personal attacks on character, personality defects, and counter- charges and suspicions were all that the electorate could see or hear, and, as usual, many paid no attention at all. Each candidate tried to dishonor his opponent, who in turn tried t o dishonor him. The outraged candidates seemed to make themselves t he issue, and on that issue virtually all of them lost. The electorate saw no issues at all, and they too lost, although they did not know it. 24 As part of the grim trivialization of public life, the American political campaign readily distracts attention from the possible debate of national policy. But one must not suppose that such noise is all that is involved. There are issues, in each district and * In one state, the desegregation issue seemed to m atter most; in an- other, an Italian, married to an Irish woman, used the names of both with due effect. In one state, a tape-recording of a candidate’s two-year- old talk about whom policemen tended to marry seeme d important; in another, whether or not a candidate had been kind enough, or too kind, to his sister. Here bingo laws were important, and there the big ques- tion was whether or not an older man running for th e Senate was virile enough. In one key state, twenty-year old charges that a candidate had been tied up with a steamship company which had pai d off a judge for pier leases was the insistent issue expensively presented on TV. One of the most distinguished Senators asserted of his opp onent—also a quite distinguished man of old wealth—that he ‘was either dishonest or dumb or stupid and a dupe.’ Another candidate broke down under pressure and confessed that he had been telling detailed lies about his war rec- ord. And everywhere, in the context of distrust, it was hinted, insinu- ated, asserted, guessed that, after all, the oppone nts were associated with Red spies, if they were not actually in the pay of the Soviet octo- pus. All over again the Democrats fought the depres sion; all over again, the Republicans were determined to put Alger Hiss in jail. 23 254 THE POWER ELITE state, issues set up and watched by organized inter ests of local importance. And that is the major implication to be drawn from the character of the campaigns: There are no national parties to which the professi onal politi- cians belong and which by their debate focus nation al issues clearly and responsibly and continuously. By definition, the professional politician is a party politician. And yet the two political parties in the United Sta tes are not nationally centralized organizations. As semi-feudal structures, they have operated by trading patronage and other f avors for votes and protection. The lesser politician trades the votes that are in his domain for a larger share of the patronage a nd favors. But there is no national ‘boss,’ much less a nationally responsible leader of either of the parties. Each of them is a constellation of local organizations curiously and intricately joined with various interest blocs. The Congressman is generally indepe ndent of the Congressional leaders of his party as far as campai gn funds go. The national committees of each major party consist mainly of political nonentities; for, since the parties are coalitions of state and local organizations, each of them develops such national unity as it has only once every four years, for the Presidential elec- tion. 26 At the bottom and on the middle levels, the major parties are strong, even dictatorial; but, at the top, they are very weak. It is only the President and the Vice-President who se constituen- cies are national and who, by their actions and app ointments, provide such national party unity as prevails. The differences between the two parties, so far as national issues are concerned, are very narrow and very mixed up. E ach seems to be forty-eight parties, one to each state; and accordingly, the professional politician, as Congressman and as camp aigner, is not concerned with national party lines, if any are dis cernible. He is not subject to any effective national party discipline. He speaks solely for his own locality, and he is concerned wi th national issues only in so far as they affect his locality, the int erests effectively organized there, and the chances of his re-election . That is the major reason why, when he speaks of national matter s, the politi- cal vocabulary of the politician is such an empty rhetoric. Seated in his sovereign locality, the professional politician is not at the THE THEORY OF BALANCE 255 summit of national, political power: he is on and o f the middle levels. 3 More and more of the fundamental issues never come to any point of decision before the Congress, or before its most powerful committees, much less before the electorate in camp aigns. The entrance of the United States into World War II, for example, in so far as it involved American decision, by-passed the Congress quite completely. It was never a clearly debated issue cl early focused for a public decision. Under the executive’s emerge ncy power, the President, in a virtually dictatorial way, can make the decision for war, which is then presented to the Congress as a fact ac- complished. ‘Executive agreements’ have the force of treaties but need not be ratified by the Senate: the destroyer deal with Great Britain and the commitment of troops to Europe unde r NATO, which Senator Taft fought so bitterly, are clear examples of that fact. And in the case of the Formosa decisions of t he spring of 1955, the Congress simply abdicated all debate concerning events and decisions bordering on war to the executive. When fundamental issues do come up for Congressiona l debate, they are likely to be so structured as to limit consideration, and even to be stalemated rather than resolved. For wit h no respon- sible, centralized parties, it is difficult to form a majority in Con- gress; and—with the seniority system, the rules com mittee, the possibility of filibuster, and the lack of information and expertise —the Congress is all too likely to become a legisla tive labyrinth. It is no wonder that firm Presidential initiative is o ften desired by Congress on non-local issues, and that, in what are defined as emergencies, powers are rather readily handed over to the execu- tive, in order to break the semi-organized deadlock. Indeed, some observers believe that ‘congressional abdication an d obstruction, not presidential usurpation, has been the main cause of the shift of power to the Executive.’ 26 Among the professional politicians there are, of course, common denominators of mood and interests, anchored in the ir quite homo- geneous origins, careers, and associations; and there is, of course, a common rhetoric in which their minds are often tr apped. In pursuing their several parochial interests, accordingly, the Con- 256 THE POWER ELITE gressmen often coincide in ways that are of nationa l relevance. Such interests seldom become explicit issues. But the many little issues decided by local interest, and by bargain, b y check and balance, have national results that are often unanticipated by any one of the locally rooted agents involved. Laws are thus sometimes made, as the stalemate is broken, behind the backs of the law- makers involved. For Congress is the prime seat of the middle levels of power, and it is on these middle levels that checks and balances do often prevail. The truly vested interests are those openly pushed and pro- tected by each Representative and Senator. They are the paro- chial interests of the local societies of each Congressional district and state. In becoming vested in a Senator or a Rep resentative they are compromised and balanced by other parochial interests. The prime search of the Congressman is for the favo r he can do for one interest that will not hurt any of the other interests he must balance. It is not necessary for ‘pressure groups’ to ‘corru pt’ politicians in Congress. In fact, lobbyists, in their discrete way, may at times appear as honest men, while Congressmen may appear as lobbyists in disguise. It is not necessary for members of local so- ciety to pay off the professional politician in order to have their interests secured. For by social selection and by p olitical training, he is of and by and for the key groups in his distr ict and state. 27 The Congressmen are more the visible makers of pres sure inside the government than the subjects of invisible pressures from the periphery. Fifty years ago, the old muckraker image of the Sena- tor corrupted by money was often true, 28 and money is of course still a factor in politics. But the money that counts now is used mainly to finance elections rather than to pay off politicians di- rectly for their votes and favors. When we know that before entering politics one of t he half dozen most powerful legislators, and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, gained prominence by promoting and organiz- ing Chambers of Commerce in half a dozen middle-ranking cities of the nation, ‘without,’ as he says, ‘a cent of Federal aid,’ we can readily understand why he fought extension of the e xcess-profits tax without any reference to invisible, behind-the-scenes pres- sures brought to bear upon him. 29 Seventy-eight-year-old Daniel THE THEORY OF BALANCE 257 Reed is a man of Puritan-like character and inflexi ble principle, but principles are derived from and further strengthen character, and character is selected and formed by one’s entire career. More- over, as one member of Congress recently remarked, ‘there comes a time in the life of every Congressman when he must rise above principle.’ 30 As a political actor, the Congressman is part of t he compromised balances of local societies, as well as one or the other of the nationally irresponsible parties. As a result, he is caught in the semi-organized stalemate of the middl e levels of national power. Political power has become enlarged and made decisi ve, but not the power of the professional politician in the Congress. The considerable powers that do remain in the hands of key Congress- men are now shared with other types of political actors: There is the control of legislation, centered in the committee heads, but increasingly subject to decisive modification by the administrator. There is the power to investigate, as a positive an d a negative weapon, but it increasingly involves intelligence agencies, both public and private, and it increasingly becomes inv olved with what can only be called various degrees of blackmail and counter- blackmail. In the absence of policy differences of consequence s between the major parties, the professional party politician must invent themes about which to talk. Historically, this has involved the ordinary emptiness of ‘campaign rhetoric’ But since World War II, among frustrated politicians there has come into wider use the accusation and the impugnment of character—of oppon ents as well as of innocent neutrals. This has, of course, rested upon the ex- ploitation of the new historical fact that Americans now live in a military neighborhood; but it has also rested upon the place of the politician who practices a politics without real issue, a middle- level politics for which the real decisions, even t hose of patronage, are made by higher ups. Hunting headlines in this c ontext, with less patronage and without big engaging issues, some Congress- men find the way to temporary success, or at least to public at- tention, in the universalization of distrust. There is another way of gaining and of exercising p ower, one which involves the professional politician in the actions of cliques 268 THE POWER ELITE within and between the bureaucratic-like agencies o f the adminis- tration. Increasingly, the professional politician teams up with the administrator who heads an agency, a commission , or a depart- ment in order to exert power with him against other administrators and politicians, often in a cut-and-thrust manner. The tradi- tional distinction between ‘legislation’ as the making of policy and ‘administration’ as its realization has broken down from both sides. 31 In so far as the politician enters into the continuous policy- making of the modern political state, he does so le ss by voting for or against a bill than by entering into a clique that is in a posi- tion to exert influence upon and through the comman d posts of the executive administration, or by not investigating a reas sensitive to certain clique interests. 82 It is as a member of quite complicated cliques that the professional politician, representing a variety of interests, sometimes becomes quite relevant in desi sions of national consequence. If governmental policy is the result of an interpla y of group interests, we must ask: what interests outside the government are important and what agencies inside it serve them? I f there are many such interests and if they conflict with one a nother, then clearly each loses power and the agency involved either gains a certain autonomy or is stalemated. 33 In the legislative branch, many and competing interests, especially local ones, come to focus, often in a stalemate. Other interests, on the level of national corpo- rate power, never come to a focus but the Congressm an, by virtue of what he is as a political and social creature, realizes them. But in the executive agency a number of small and coher ent interests are often the only ones at play, and often they are able to install themselves within the agency or effectively nullify its action against themselves. Thus regulatory agencies, as Jo hn Kenneth Galbraith has remarked, ‘become, with some exceptions, either an arm of the industry they are regulating or servile.’ 34 The executive ascendancy, moreover, has either relegated legislat ive action—and inaction—to a subordinate role in the making of pol icy or bends it to the executive will. For enforcement’ now clearly involves the making of policy, and even legislation itself is of ten written by members of the executive branch. THE THEORY OF BALANCE 259 In the course of American history, there have been several oscil- lations between Presidential and Congressional lead ership. 35 Con- gressional supremacy, for example, was quite plain during the last third of the nineteenth century. But in the middle third of the twentieth century, with which we are concerned, the power of the Executive, and the increased means of power at its disposal, is far greater than at any previous period, and there are no signs of its power diminishing. The executive supremacy m eans the relegation of the legislature to the middle levels of political power; it means the decline of the professional politician , for the major locale of the party politician is the legislature. It is also a prime indicator of the decline of the old balancing socie ty. For—in so far as the old balance was not entirely automatic—i t was the politician, as a specialist in balance and a broker of contending pressures, who adjusted the balances, reached compr omises, and maintained the grand equilibrium. That politician who best satis- fied or held off a variety of interests could best gain power and hold it. But now the professional politician of the old balancing society has been relegated to a position ‘among those also present,’ often noisy, or troublesome, or helpful to the asce ndant outsiders, but not holding the keys to decision. For the old balancing society in which he flourished no longer prevails. 36 4 Back of the theory of checks and balances as the mo de of politi- cal decision there is the class theory, well-known since Aristotle and held in firm view by the eighteenth-century Fou nding Fathers, that the state is, or ought to be, a system of checks and balances because the society is a balance of classes, and th at society is a balance of classes because its pivot and its stabilizer is the strong and independent middle class. Nineteenth-century America was a middle-class socie ty, in which numerous small and relatively equally empowered org anizations flourished. Within this balancing society there was an economy in which the small entrepreneur was central, a policy in which a formal division of authority was an operative fact, and a political economy in which political and economic orders were quite auton- omous. If at times it was not a world of small entr epreneurs, at least it was always a world in which small entrepreneurs had a 260 THE POWER ELITE real part to play in the equilibrium of power. But the society in which we now live consists of an economy in which t he small entrepreneurs have been replaced in key areas by a handful of centralized corporations, of a polity in which the division of authority has become imbalanced in such a way that the executive branch is supreme, the legislative relegated to the middle levels of power, and the judiciary, with due time-lag, to the drift of policy which it does not initiate; and finally, the new society is clearly a political economy in which political and economic affairs are intricately and deeply joined together. 37 The romantic pluralism of the Jeffersonian ideal pr evailed in a society in which perhaps four-fifths of the free, white population were in one sense or another, independent proprieto rs. But in the epoch following the Civil War, that old middle clas s of independ- ent proprietors began to decline, as, in one industry after another, larger and more concentrated economic units came in to ascend- ancy; and in the later part of the progressive era, the independent middle class of farmers and small businessmen fough t politically —and lost their last real chance for a decisive role in the political balance. 38 Already appeals to them, as by David Graham Philli ps, were nostalgic deifications of their imagined past, which they seemed to hope would dispel the world of twentieth- century real- ity. 39 Such sentiments flared up briefly again in the La Follette campaign of 1924, and they were one of the sources of the New Deal’s rhetorical strength. But two facts about the middle classes and one fact about labor—which became politically i mportant dur- ing the ‘thirties—have become decisive during our own time: I. The independent middle class became politically, as well as economically, dependent upon the machinery of the s tate. It is widely felt, for example, that the most successful ‘lobby’ in the United States is The Farm Bloc; in fact, it has been so successful that it is difficult to see it as an independent force acting upon the several organs of government. It has become meshed firmly with these organs, especially with the Senate, in which, due to the peculiar geographic principle of representation, it is definitively over-represented. Ideologically, due to the exploit ation of Jef- fersonian myths about farming as a way of life, lar ge commercial farmers as members of an industry are accepted as of that national interest which ought to be served by very special policies, rather THE THEORY OF BALANCE 261 than as one special interest among others. This spe cial policy is the policy of parity, which holds that the governme nt ought to guarantee to this one sector of the free enterprise system a price level for its products that will enable commercial farmers to enjoy a purchasing power equivalent to the power it posse ssed in its most prosperous period just prior to World War I. In every sense of the word, this is of course ‘class legislation,’ but it is ‘middle- class legislation,’ and it is so wonderfully entren ched as political fact that in the realm of crackpot realism in which such ideas thrive, it is thought of as merely sound public policy. Well-to-do farmers, who are the chief rural benefic iaries of the subsidized enterprise system, are businessmen and s o think of themselves. The hayseed and the rebel of the ‘nineties have been replaced by the rural businessmen of the ‘fifties. The political hold of the farmer is still strong but, as a demand upon the politi- cal top, it is more worrisome than decisive. The fa rmers, it is true, are taken into account so far as their own special interests are con- cerned, but these do not include the major issues o f peace and war that confront the big political outsiders today, and the issues of slump and boom, to which the farmer is quite releva nt, are not now foremost in the political outsiders’ attention. II. Alongside the old independent middle class, the re had arisen inside the corporate society a new dependent middle class of white-collar employees. Roughly, in the last two generations, as proportions of the middle classes as a whole, the o ld middle class has declined from 85 to 44 per cent; the new middle class has risen from 15 to 56 per cent. For many reasons, which I h ave elsewhere tried to make clear—this class is less the political pivot of a balanc- ing society than a rear-guard of the dominant drift towards a mass society. 40 Unlike the farmer and the small businessman—and un – like the wage worker—the white-collar employee was born too late to have had even a brief day of autonomy. The occupational positions and status trends which form the white-collar outlook make of the salaried employees a rear-guard rather than a van- guard of historic change. They are in no political way united or coherent. Their unionization, such as it is, is a unionization into the main drift and decline of labor organization, and s erves to in- corporate them as hangers-on of the newest interest trying, unsuc- cessfully, to invest itself in the state. 262 THE POWER ELITE The old middle class for a time acted as an indepen dent base of power; the new middle class cannot. Political freed om and eco- nomic security were anchored in the fact of small-s cale and in- dependent properties; they are not anchored in the job world of the new middle class. Scattered properties, and their holders, were integrated economically by free and autonomous mark ets; the jobs of the new middle class are integrated by corporate authority. The white-collar middle classes do not form an inde pendent base of power: economically, they are in the same situation as property- less wage workers; politically they are in a worse condition, for they are not as organized. III. Alongside the old middle class—increasingly invested within the state machinery—and the new middle class—born w ithout independent political shape and developed in such a way as never to achieve it—a new political force came into the political arena of the ‘thirties: the force of organized labor. For a brief time, it seemed that labor would become a power-bloc indepen dent of corporation and state but operating upon and against them. After becoming dependent upon the governmental system, ho wever, the labor unions suffered rapid decline in power and now have little part in major national decisions. The United States now has no labor leaders who carry any weight of consequence i n decisions of importance to the political outsiders now in charge of the visible government. Viewed from one special angle, the labor unions hav e become organizations that select and form leaders who, upon becoming successful, take their places alongside corporate executives in and out of government, and alongside politicians in bot h major parties, among the national power elite. For one function of labor unions- like social movements and political parties—is to attempt to con- tribute to the formation of this directorate. As new men of power, the labor leaders have come only lately to the nati onal arena. Samuel Gompers was perhaps the first labor man to b ecome, even though temporarily and quite uneasily, a member of the national power elite. His self-conscious attempt to establish his place within this elite, and thus to secure the lab or interest as integral with national interests, has made him a pr ototype and model for the national labor career. Sidney Hillman was not, of course, the only labor man to take up this course during the THE THEORY OF BALANCE 263 ‘forties, but his lead during the early war years, his awareness of himself as a member of the national elite, and the real and imag- ined recognition he achieved as a member (‘Clear it with Sidney’), signaled the larger entrance—after the great expans ion of the unions during the New Deal—of labor leaders into th e political elite. With the advent of Truman’s Fair Deal and Ei senhower’s Great Crusade, no labor leader can readily entertain serious notions of becoming, formally or informally, a member. The early exit of a minor labor man—Durkin—from his weak cabi net post re- vealed rather clearly the situation faced by labor leaders as would- be members as well as the position of labor unions as a power bloc. Well below the top councils, they are of the middle levels of power. Much of the often curious behavior and maneuvers of the labor chieftains over the last two decades is explainable by their search for status within the national power elite. In this context they have displayed extreme sensibility to prestige slights. They feel that they have arrived; they want the status accoutremen ts of power. In middle and small-sized cities, labor leaders now sit with Cham- ber of Commerce officials on civic enterprises; and on the national level, they expect and they get places in productio n boards and price-control agencies. Their claim for status and power rests on their already increased power—not on property, income, or birth; and power in such situations as theirs is a source of uneasiness as well as a base of operations. It is not yet a solidly bottomed, conti nuous base hav- ing the force of use and wont and law. Their touchi ness about prestige matters, especially on the national scene, has been due to (1) their self-made character, and to the fact (2) that their self- making was helped no end by government and the atmo sphere it created in the decade after 1935. They are government-made men, and they have feared—correctly, it turns out—that t hey can be unmade by government. Their status tension is also due to the fact (3) that they are simply new to the power elite and its ways, and (4) that they feel a tension between their publics: the ir union members—before whom it is politically dangerous to be too big a ‘big shot’ or too closely associated with inherited enemies—and their newly found companions and routines of life. Many observers mistake the status accoutrements of labor leaders for evidence of labor’s power. In a way they are, but in a 264 THE POWER ELITE way they are not. They are when they are based on a nd lead to power. They are not when they become status traps f or leaders without resulting in power. In such matters, it is well to remember that this is no chicken-and-egg issue. The chicken is power, and comes first, the egg is status.* * Like the corporate rich, the labor leaders as a group are not wholly unified. Yet the often noted tendency of ‘the other side’ to regard any move by some unit of one side as having significanc e in terms of the whole, indicates clearly that in the views, expectations, and demands of these men, they do form, even if unwillingly, blocs . They see one an- other as members of blocs, and in fact are inter-kn it in various and quite intricate ways. Individual unions may lobby for particularistic in- terests, which is one key to such lack of unity as labor as a bracket dis- plays. But increasingly the issues they face, and t he contexts in which they must face them, are national in scope and effe ct, and so they must co-ordinate labor’s line with reference to a national context, on pain of loss of power. The corporate executive, like the labor leader, is a practical man and an opportunist, but for him enduring means, develop ed for other pur- poses, are available for the conduct of his political as well as of his business-labor affairs. The corporation is now a ve ry stable basis of operation; in fact, it is more stable and more important for the continu- ance of the American arrangement than the lifetime family. The busi- ness member of the power elite can rely upon the corporation in the pur- suit of his short-term goals and opportunistic mane uvering. But the union is often in a state of protest; it is on the defensive in a sometimes actually and always potentially hostile society. It does not provide such enduring means as are ready-made and at the busines s elite’s disposal. If he wants such means, even for his little goals, the labor leader must himself build and maintain them. Moreover, the grea t organizing up- surge of the ‘thirties showed that officers who were not sufficiently re- sponsive to the demands of industrial workers could lose power. The corporation manager on the other hand, in the context of his corporation, is not an elected official in the same sense. His power does not depend upon the loyalty of the men who work for him and he does not usually lose his job if a union successfully invades his plants. The upsurges of the ‘thirties did not oust the managers; their responsibilities are not to the workers whom they employ, but to themselves and their scattered stockholders. This difference in power situation means that the power of the busi- ness leader is likely to be more continuous and mor e assured than that of the labor leader: the labor leader is more likely to be insecure in his job if he fails to ‘deliver the goods.’ However it may be with the corporate and the politi cal elite, there is nothing, it seems to me, in the makeup of the current labor leaders as in- dividuals and as a group to lead us to believe that they can or will tran- THE THEORY OF BALANCE 265 During the ‘thirties organized labor was emerging f or the first time on an American scale; it had little need of any political sense of direction other than the slogan, ‘organize the unorganized.’ This is no longer the case, but labor—without the mandat e of the slump —still remains without political, or for that matter economic, direc- tion. Like small business, its leaders have tried t o follow the way of the farmer. Once this farmer was a source of ins urgency; in the recent past, labor has seemed to be such. Now the l arge farmer is a unit in an organized bloc, entrenched within and pressuring the welfare state. Despite its greater objective antagonism to capital- ism as a wage system, labor now struggles, unsucces sfully, to go the same way. 5 In the old liberal society, a set of balances and c ompromises prevailed among Congressional leaders, the executive branch of the government, and various pressure groups. The image of power and of decision is the image of a balancing society in which no unit of power is powerful enough to do more than ed ge forward a bit at a time, in compromised countervailance with other such forces, and in which, accordingly, there is no unity, much less co- ordination, among the higher circles. Some such ima ge, combined with the doctrine of public opinion, is still the official view of the formal democratic system of power, the standard the ory of most academic social scientists, and the underlying assumption of most literate citizens who are neither political spokesmen nor political analysts. But as historical conditions change, so do the mean ings and political consequences of the mechanics of power. There is noth- ing magical or eternal about checks and balances. In time of revo- lution, checks and balances may be significant as a restraint upon scend the strategy of maximum adaptation. By this I mean that they react more than they lead, and that they do so to retain and to expand their position in the constellation of power and ad vantage. Certain things could happen that would cause the downfall of the present labor leadership or sections of it, and other types of leaders might then rise to union power; but the current crop of labor leade rs is pretty well set up as a dependent variable in the main drift with n o role in the power elite. Neither labor leaders nor labor unions are at the present juncture likely to he ‘independent variables,’ in the national context. 41 266 THE POWER ELITE unorganized and organized masses. In time of rigid dictatorship, they may be significant as a technique of divide and rule. Only under a state which is already quite well balanced, and which has under it a balanced social structure, do checks and balances mean a restraint upon the rulers. The eighteenth-century political theorists had in m ind as the unit of power the individual citizen, and the class ic economists had in mind the small firm operated by an individua l. Since their time, the units of power, the relations between the units, and hence the meaning of the checks and balances, have change d. In so far as there is now a great scatter of relatively equal balancing units, it is on the middle levels of power, seated in the sovereign localities and intermittent pressure groups, and coming to its high point with- in the Congress. We must thus revise and relocate t he received conception of an enormous scatter of varied interests, for, when we look closer and for longer periods of time, we find that most of these middle-level interests are concerned merely w ith their par- ticular cut, with their particular area of vested interest, and often these are of no decisive political importance, alth ough many are of enormous detrimental value to welfare. Above thi s plurality of interests, the units of power—economic, political, and military— that count in any balance are few in number and wei ghty beyond comparison with the dispersed groups on the middle and lower levels of the power structure. Those who still hold that the power system reflects the balancing society often confuse the present era with earlier times of Ameri- can history, and confuse the top and the bottom lev els of the pres- ent system with its middle levels. When it is gener alized into a master model of the power system, the theory of balance becomes historically unspecific; whereas in fact, as a model, it should be specified as applicable only to certain phases of U nited States development—notably the Jacksonian period and, unde r quite differing circumstances, the early and middle New Deal. The idea that the power system is a balancing socie ty also as- sumes that the units in balance are independent of one another, for if business and labor or business and government, for example, are not independent of one another, they cannot be seen as ele- ments of a free and open balance. But as we have seen, the major vested interests often compete less with one another in their effort THE THEORY OF BALANCE 267 to promote their several interests than they coinci de on many points of interest and, indeed, come together under the umbrella of government. The units of economic and political power not only become larger and more centralized; they come to coincide in interest and to make explicit as well as tacit alliances. The American government today is not merely a frame work within which contending pressures jockey for position and make politics. Although there is of course some of that, this government now has such interests vested within its own hierar chical structure, and some of these are higher and more ascendant tha n others. There is no effective countervailing power against the coalition of the big businessmen—who, as political outsiders, now occupy the command posts—and the ascendant military men—wh o with such grave voices now speak so frequently in the higher councils. Those having real power in the American state today are not merely brokers of power, resolvers of conflict, or compromisers of varied and clashing interest—they represent and ind eed embody quite specific national interests and policies. While the professional party politicians may still, at times, be brokers of power, compromisers of interests, negoti ators of issues, they are no longer at the top of the state, or at the top of the power system as a whole. The idea that the power system is a balancing socie ty leads us to assume that the state is a visible mask for autonomous powers, but in fact, the powers of decision are now firmly vested within the state. The old lobby, visible or invisible, is now the visible government. This ‘governmentalization of the lobby’ has pro- ceeded in both the legislative and the executive domains, as well as between them. The executive bureaucracy becomes not only the center of power but also the arena within which and in terms of which all conflicts of power are resolved or den ied resolution. Administration replaces electoral politics; the man euvering of cliques replaces the clash of parties. The agrarian revolt of the ‘nineties, the small-business revolt that has been more or less intermittent since the ‘eighties, the labor revolt of the ‘thirties—all of these have failed and all of these have succeeded. They have failed as autonomous movements of small property or of organized workmen which could countervail against the power of the corporate rich, and they have failed as politically 268 THE POWER ELITE autonomous third parties. But they have succeeded, in varying degrees, as vested interests inside the expanded state, and they have succeeded as parochial interests variously seated in particu- lar districts and states where they do not conflict with larger in- terests. They are well-established features of the middle levels of balancing power. Among the plurality of these middle powers, in fact , are all those strata and interests which in the course of America n history have been defeated in their bids for top power or which have never made such bids. They include: rural small property, urban small property, the wage-worker unions, all consumers, an d all major white-collar groups. These are indeed still in an unromantic scat- ter; being structurally unable to unite among themselves, they do indeed balance one another—in a system of semi-orga nized stale- mate. They ‘get in the way’ of the unified top, but no one of them has a chance to come into the top circles, where th e political out- siders from corporate institution and military order are firmly in command. When the multifarious middle classes are a politica l balance wheel, the professional politician is the ascendant decision-maker. When the middle classes decline as a set of autonom ous political forces, the balancing society as a system of power declines, and the party politicians of the sovereign localities are relegated to the middle levels of national power. These structural trends came to political shape during the period of the New Deal, which was of course a time of slum p. That our own immediate period has been a time of material prosperity has obscured these facts, but it has not altered them; and, as facts, they are important to the understanding of the power elite today. 12 The Power Elite EXCEPT for the unsuccessful Civil War, changes in the power system of the United States have not involved important challenges to its basic legitimations. Even when they have bee n decisive enough to be called ‘revolutions,’ they have not involved the ‘resort to the guns of a cruiser, the dispersal of an elect ed assembly by bayonets, or the mechanisms of a police state.’ 1 Nor have they involved, in any decisive way, any ideological stru ggle to control masses. Changes in the American structure of power have gener- ally come about by institutional shifts in the relative positions of the political, the economic, and the military order s. From this point of view, and broadly speaking, the American power elite has gone through four epochs, and is now well into a fifth. 1 I. During the first—roughly from the Revolution thr ough the administration of John Adams—the social and economic, the polit- ical and the military institutions were more or less unified in a simple and direct way: the individual men of these several elites moved easily from one role to another at the top of each of the major institutional orders. Many of them were many- sided men who could take the part of legislator and merchant, frontiersman and soldier, scholar and surveyor. 2 Until the downfall of the Congressional caucus of 1824, political institutions seemed quite central; political decisions, of great im- portance; many politicians, considered national sta tesmen of note. ‘Society, as I first remember it,’ Henry Cabot Lodge once said, 269 270 THE POWER ELlTE speaking of the Boston of his early boyhood, ‘was b ased on the old families; Doctor Holmes defines them in the “Autocr at” as the families which had held high position in the colony, the province and during the Revolution and the early decades of the United States. They represented several generations of education and standing in the community . . . They had ancestors who had filled the pulpits, sat upon the bench, and taken part in the govern- ment under the crown; who had fought in the Revolut ion, helped to make the State and National constitutions and served in the army or navy; who had been members of the House or Senate in the early days of the Republic, and who had won success as mer- chants, manufacturers, lawyers, or men of letters.’ 3 Such men of affairs, who—as I have noted—were the b ackbone of Mrs. John Jay’s social list of 1787, definitely included political figures of note. The important fact about these ear ly days is that social life, economic institutions, military establ ishment, and political order coincided, and men who were high po liticians also played key roles in the economy and, with their fam ilies, were among those of the reputable who made up local society. In fact, this first period is marked by the leadership of men whose status does not rest exclusively upon their political posi tion, although their political activities are important and the prestige of politi- cians high. And this prestige seems attached to the men who oc- cupy Congressional position as well as the cabinet. The elite are political men of education and of administrative ex perience, and, as Lord Bryce noted, possess a certain largeness of view and dignity of character.’ 4 II. During the early nineteenth century—which follo wed Jef- ferson’s political philosophy, but, in due course, Hamilton’s eco- nomic principles—the economic and political and mil itary orders fitted loosely into the great scatter of the American social struc- ture. The broadening of the economic order which ca me to be seated in the individual property owner was dramatized by Jef- ferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory and by the formation of the Democratic-Republican party as successor to the Federal- ists. In this society, the ‘elite’ became a plurality of top groups, each in turn quite loosely made up. They overlapped to b e sure, but again quite loosely so. One definite key to the period, and certainly 7HE POW ER ELITE 271 to our images of it, is the fact that the Jacksonia n Revolution was much more of a status revolution than either an eco nomic or a political one. The metropolitan 400 could not truly flourish in the face of the status tides of Jacksonian democracy; alongside it was a political elite in charge of the new party system. No set of men controlled centralized means of power; no small cli que dominated economic, much less political, affairs. The economi c order was ascendant over both social status and political power; within the economic order, a quite sizable proportion of all t he economic men were among those who decided. For this was the period— roughly from Jefferson to Lincoln—when the elite was at most a loose coalition. The period ended, of course, with the decisive split of southern and northern types. Official commentators like to contrast the ascendan cy in totali- tarian countries of a tightly organized clique with the American system of power. Such comments, however, are easier to sustain if one compares mid-twentieth-century Russia with mid- nineteenth- century America, which is what is often done by Toc queville- quoting Americans making the contrast. But that was an America of a century ago, and in the century that has passed, the Ameri- can elite have not remained as patrioteer essayists have described them to us. The ‘loose cliques’ now head institutio ns of a scale and power not then existing and, especially since W orld War I, the loose cliques have tightened up. We are well beyond the era of romantic pluralism. m. The supremacy of corporate economic power began, in a formal way, with the Congressional elections of 1866, and was consolidated by the Supreme Court decision of 1886 which de- clared that the Fourteenth Amendment protected the corporation. That period witnessed the transfer of the center of initiative from government to corporation. Until the First World Wa r (which gave us an advanced showing of certain features of our own pe- riod) this was an age of raids on the government by the economic elite, an age of simple corruption, when Senators and judges were simply bought up. Here, once upon a time, in the er a of McKin- ley and Morgan, far removed from the undocumented c omplexi- ties of our own time, many now believe, was the golden era of the American ruling class. 5 The military order of this period, as in the second, was subor- 272 THE POWER ELITE dinate to the political, which in turn was subordin ate to the economic. The military was thus off to the side of the main driv- ing forces of United States history. Political institutions in the United States have never formed a centralized and a utonomous domain of power; they have been enlarged and centralized only reluctantly in slow response to the public consequence of the corporate economy. In the post-Civil-War era, that economy was the dyn amic; the ‘trusts’—as policies and events make amply clear—co uld readily use the relatively weak governmental apparatus for their own ends. That both state and federal governments were decisively limited in their power to regulate, in fact meant that they were themselves regulatable by the larger moneyed intere sts. Their powers were scattered and unorganized; the powers of the in- dustrial and financial corporations concentrated and interlocked. The Morgan interests alone held 341 directorships i n 112 cor- porations with an aggregate capitalization of over $22 billion—over three times the assessed value of all real and pers onal property in New England. 6 With revenues greater and employees more numerous than those of many states, corporations co ntrolled par- ties, bought laws, and kept Congressmen of the ‘neu tral’ state. And as private economic power overshadowed public p olitical power, so the economic elite overshadowed the political. Yet even between 1896 and 1919, events of importanc e tended to assume a political form, foreshadowing the shape of power which after the partial boom of the ‘twenties was to prevail in the New Deal. Perhaps there has never been any peri od in American history so politically transparent as the Progressive era of President-makers and Muckrakers. rv. The New Deal did not reverse the political and economic relations of the third era, but it did create within the political arena, as well as in the corporate world itself, competing centers of power that challenged those of the corporate dir ectors. As the New Deal directorate gained political power, the ec onomic elite, which in the third period had fought against the growth of ‘gov- ernment’ while raiding it for crafty privileges, belatedly attempted to join it on the higher levels. When they did so t hey found them- selves confronting other interests and men, for the places of de- cision were crowded. In due course, they did come to control and THE POWER ELITE 273 to use for their own purposes the New Deal institut ions whose creation they had so bitterly denounced. But during the ‘thirties, the political order was still an instru- ment of small propertied farmers and businessmen, a lthough they were weakened, having lost their last chance for real ascendancy in the Progressive era. The struggle between big and small proper- ty flared up again, however, in the political realm of the New Deal era, and to this struggle there was added, as we have seen, the new struggle of organized labor and the unorgan ized unem- ployed. This new force flourished under political tutelage, but nevertheless, for the first time in United States history, social legislation and lower-class issues became important features of the reform movement. In the decade of the ‘thirties, a set of shifting balances involv- ing newly instituted farm measures and newly organi zed labor unions—along with big business—made up the political and admin- istrative drama of power. These farm, labor, and business groups, moreover, were more or less contained within the fr amework of an enlarging governmental structure, whose politica l director- ship made decisions in a definitely political manner. These groups pressured, and in pressuring against one another an d against the governmental and party system, they helped to shape it. But it could not be said that any of them for any considerable length of time used that government unilaterally as their ins trument. That is why the ‘thirties was a political decade: the power of business was not replaced, but it was contested and suppleme nted: it be- came one major power within a structure of power that was chiefly run by political men, and not by economic or military men turned political. The earlier and middle Roosevelt administrations ca n best be understood as a desperate search for ways and means , within the existing capitalist system, of reducing the staggering and ominous army of the unemployed. In these years, the New Dea l as a sys- tem of power was essentially a balance of pressure groups and interest blocs. The political top adjusted many conflicts, gave way to this demand, sidetracked that one, was the unila teral servant of none, and so evened it all out into such going policy line as prevailed from one minor crisis to another. Policies were the re- sult of a political act of balance at the top. Of course, the bal- 274 THE POWER ELITE ancing act that Roosevelt performed did not affect the funda- mental institutions of capitalism as a type of economy. By his policies, he subsidized the defaults of the capital ist economy, which had simply broken down; and by his rhetoric, he balanced its political disgrace, putting ‘economic royalists’ in the political doghouse. The ‘welfare state,’ created to sustain the balance and to carry out the subsidy, differed from the ‘laissez-faire’ state: ‘If the state was believed neutral in the days of T.R. because it s leaders claimed to sanction favors for no one,’ Richard Hofstadter has re- marked, ‘the state under F.D.R. could be called neutral only in the sense that it offered favors to everyone.’ 7 The new state of the cor- porate commissars differs from the old welfare stat e. In fact, the later Roosevelt years—beginning with the entrance o f the United States into overt acts of war and preparations for World War II— cannot be understood entirely in terms of an adroit equipoise of political power. 2 We study history, it has been said, to rid ourselves of it, and the history of the power elite is a clear case for which this maxim is correct. Like the tempo of American life in gene ral, the long- term trends of the power structure* have been greatly speeded up since World War II, and certain newer trends within and between the dominant institutions have also set the shape of the power elite and given historically specific meaning to its fifth epoch: I. In so far as the structural clue to the power el ite today lies in the political order, that clue is the decline of politics as genu- ine and public debate of alternative decisions—with nationally responsible and policy-coherent parties and with au tonomous organizations connecting the lower and middle levels of power with the top levels of decision. America is now in considerable part more a formal political democracy than a democratic social structure, and even the formal political mechanics are weak. The long-time tendency of business and government t o be- come more intricately and deeply involved with each other has, in the fifth epoch, reached a new point of explicitness. The two cannot now be seen clearly as two distinct worlds. It is in terms * See above, ONE : The Higher Circles. THE POWER ELITE 275 of the executive agencies of the state that the rap prochement has proceeded most decisively. The growth of the ex ecutive branch of the government, with its agencies that patrol the com- plex economy, does not mean merely the ‘enlargement of govern- ment’ as some sort of autonomous bureaucracy: it has meant the ascendancy of the corporation’s man as a political eminence. During the New Deal the corporate chieftains joined the po- litical directorate; as of World War II they have come to dominate it. Long interlocked with government, now they have moved into quite full direction of the economy of the war effort and of the postwar era. This shift of the corporation executives into the polit- ical directorate has accelerated the long-term rele gation of the professional politicians in the Congress to the mid dle levels of power. II. In so far as the structural clue to the power elite today lies in the enlarged and military state, that clue becom es evident in the military ascendancy. The warlords have gained d ecisive polit- ical relevance, and the military structure of America is now in considerable part a political structure. The seemin gly permanent military threat places a premium on the military an d upon their control of men, materiel, money, and power; virtually all political and economic actions are now judged in terms of mil itary defini- tions of reality: the higher warlords have ascended to a firm posi- tion within the power elite of the fifth epoch. In part at least this has resulted from one simple historical fact, pivotal for the years since 1939: the focus of elite attention has been shifted from domestic problems, centered in the ‘th irties around slump, to international problems, centered in the ‘forties and ‘fif- ties around war. Since the governing apparatus of t he United States has by long historic usage been adapted to and shaped by domestic clash and balance, it has not, from any an gle, had suit- able agencies and traditions for the handling of international prob- lems. Such formal democratic mechanics as had arise n in the cen- tury and a half of national development prior to 19 41, had not been extended to the American handling of internati onal affairs. It is, in considerable part, in this vacuum that the power elite has grown. III. 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 276 THE POWER ELITE at once a permanent-war economy and a private-corpo ration economy. American capitalism is now in considerable part a mili- tary capitalism, and the most important relation of the big cor- poration to the state rests on the coincidence of interests between military and corporate needs, as defined by warlord s and corpo- rate rich. Within the elite as a whole, this coincidence of interest between the high military and the corporate chiefta ins strength- ens both of them and further subordinates the role of the merely political men. Not politicians, but corporate executives, sit with the military and plan the organization of war effort. The shape and meaning of the power elite today can be under- stood only when these three sets of structural trends are seen at their point of coincidence: the military capitalism of private corporations exists in a weakened and formal democr atic system containing a military order already quite political in outlook and demeanor. Accordingly, at the top of this structure , the power elite has been shaped by the coincidence of interes t between those who control the major means of production and those who control the newly enlarged means of violence; from the decline of the professional politician and the rise to explicit political com- mand of the corporate chieftains and the profession al warlords; from the absence of any genuine civil service of skill and integrity, independent of vested interests. The power elite is composed of political, economic, and mili- tary men, but this instituted elite is frequently in some tension: it comes together only on certain coinciding points an d only on cer- tain occasions of ‘crisis.’ In the long peace of the nineteenth cen- tury, the military were not in the high councils of state, not of the political directorate, and neither were the economi c men—they made raids upon the state but they did not join its directorate. Dur- ing the ‘thirties, the political man was ascendant. Now the military and the corporate men are in top positions. Of the three types of circle that compose the power elite today, it is the military that has benefited the most in its enhanced power, although the corporate circles have also become mor e explicitly in- trenched in the more public decision-making circles. It is the pro- fessional politician that has lost the most, so much that in examin- ing the events and decisions, one is tempted to spe ak of a political vacuum in which the corporate rich and the high warlord, in their THE POWER ELITE 277 coinciding interests, rule. It should not be said that the three ‘take turns’ i n carrying the initiative, for the mechanics of the power elite ar e not often as deliberate as that would imply. At times, of course, it is—as when political men, thinking they can borrow the prestig e of generals, find that they must pay for it, or, as when during big slumps, economic men feel the need of a politician at once safe and possessing vote appeal. Today all three are involved in virtually all widely ramifying decisions. Which of the three types seems to lead depends upon ‘the tasks of the period’ as they, the elite, define them. Just now, these tasks center upon ‘defense’ a nd international affairs. Accordingly, as we have seen, the military are ascendant in two senses: as personnel and as justifying ideology . That is why, just now, we can most easily specify the unity and the shape of the power elite in terms of the military ascendancy. But we must always be historically specific and ope n to com- plexities. The simple Marxian view makes the big ec onomic man the real holder of power; the simple liberal view makes the big political man the chief of the power system; and there are some who would view the warlords as virtual dictators. E ach of these is an oversimplified view. It is to avoid them that we use the term ‘power elite’ rather than, for example, ‘ruling class.’* In so far as the power elite has come to wide publi c attention, * ‘Ruling class’ is a badly loaded phrase. ‘Class’ is an economic term; ‘rule’ a political one. The phrase, ‘ruling class,’ thus contains the theory that an economic class rules politically. That shor t-cut theory may or may not at times be true, but we do not want to car ry that one rather simple theory about in the terms that we use to define our problems; we wish to state the theories explicitly, using terms of more precise and uni- lateral meaning. Specifically, the phrase ‘ruling c lass,’ in its common political connotations, does not allow enough auton omy to the political order and its agents, and it says nothing about the military as such. It should be clear to the reader by now that we do not accept as adequate the simple view that high economic men unilaterally make all decisions of national consequence. We hold that such a simple view of ‘economic determinism’ must be elaborated by ‘political determinism’ and ‘military determinism’; that the higher agents of each of these three domains now often have a noticeable degree of autonomy; and tha t only in the often intricate ways of coalition do they make up and carry through the most important decisions. Those are the major reasons we prefer ‘power elite’ to ‘ruling class’ as a characterizing phrase for the higher circles when we consider them in terms of power. 278 THE POWER ELITE it has done so in terms of the ‘military clique.’ T he power elite does, in fact, take its current shape from the decisive entrance into it of the military. Their presence and their ideolo gy are its major legitimations, whenever the power elite feels the n eed to provide any. But what is called the ‘Washington military cl ique’ is not composed merely of military men, and it does not pr evail merely in Washington. Its members exist all over the country, and it is a coalition of generals in the roles of corporation executives, of politicians masquerading as admirals, of corporatio n executives acting like politicians, of civil servants who become majors, of vice-admirals who are also the assistants to a cabinet officer, who is himself, by the way, really a member of the managerial elite. Neither the idea of a ‘ruling class’ nor of a simpl e monolithic rise of ‘bureaucratic politicians’ nor of a ‘military clique’ is ade- quate. The power elite today involves the often une asy coincidence of economic, military, and political power. 3 Even if our understanding were limited to these str uctural trends, we should have grounds for believing the power elite a useful, indeed indispensable, concept for the interpretation of what is going on at the topside of modern American society. But we are not, of course, so limited: our conception of the power elite does not need to rest only upon the correspondence of the institutional hierarchies involved, or upon the man y points at which their shifting interests coincide. The power elite, as we conceive it, also rests upon the similarity of its personnel, and their personal and official relations with one another, upon their social and psychological affinities. In order to grasp the personal and social basis of the power elite’s unity, we have first to remind ourselves of the facts of origin, career, and style of life of each of the types of circle whose members compose the power elite. The power elite is not an aristocracy, which is to say that it is not a political ruling group based upon a nobility of hereditary origin. It has no compact basis in a small circle of great families whose members can and do consistently occupy the to p positions in the several higher circles which overlap as the power elite. But such nobility is only one possible basis of common origin. That it does not exist for the American elite does not mean that mem- THE POWER ELITE 279 bers of this elite derive socially from the full ra nge of strata com- posing American society. They derive in substantial proportions from the upper classes, both new and old, of local society and the metropolitan 400. The bulk of the very rich, the co rporate execu- tives, the political outsiders, the high military, derive from, at most, the upper third of the income and occupationa l pyramids. Their fathers were at least of the professional and business strata, and very frequently higher than that. They are nati ve-born Americans of native parents, primarily from urban areas, and, with the exceptions of the politicians among them, overwhelm- ingly from the East. They are mainly Protestants, e specially Episcopalian or Presbyterian. In general, the higher the position, the greater the proportion of men within it who hav e derived from and who maintain connections with the upper classes. The generally similar origins of the members of the power elite are underlined and carried further by the fact of their increasingly common educational routine. Overwhelmingly college graduates, substantial proportions have attended Ivy League colleges, al- though the education of the higher military, of course, difFers from that of other members of the power elite, But what do these apparently simple facts about the social com- position of the higher circles really mean? In particular, what do they mean for any attempt to understand the degree of unity, and the direction of policy and interest that may prevail among these several circles? Perhaps it is best to put this question in a decep- tively simple way: in terms of origin and career, w ho or what do these men at the top represent? Of course, if they are elected politicians, they are supposed to represent those who elected them; and, if they are appointed, they are supposed to represent, indirectly, those who elected their appointers. But this is recognized as something of an abstraction, as a rhetorical formula by which all men of power i n almost all systems of government nowadays justify their power of decision. At times it may be true, both in the sense of their motives and in the sense of who benefits from their decisions. Yet it would not be wise in any power system merely to assume it. The fact that members of the power elite come from near the top of the nation’s class and status levels does not mean that they are necessarily ‘representative’ of the top levels only. And if they 280 THE POWER ELITE were, as social types, representative of a cross-se ction of the popu- lation, that would not mean that a balanced democra cy of interest and power would automatically be the going political fact. We cannot infer the direction of policy merely from the social origins and careers of the policy-makers. The social and economic backgrounds of the men of power do not tell us all that we need to know in order to understand the distribution of social power. For: (1) Men from high places may be ideological re presenta- tives of the poor and humble. (2) Men of humble origin, brightly self-made, may energetically serve the most vested and inherited interests. Moreover (3), not all men who effectivel y represent the interests of a stratum need in any way belong to it or person- ally benefit by policies that further its interests. Among the poli- ticians, in short, there are sympathetic agents of given groups, conscious and unconscious, paid and unpaid. Finally (4), among the top decision-makers we find men who have been c hosen for their positions because of their ‘expert knowledge.’ These are some of the obvious reasons why the social origins and careers of of the power elite do not enable us to infer the class interests and policy directions of a modern system of power. Do the high social origin and careers of the top me n mean nothing, then, about the distribution of power? By no means. They simply remind us that we must be careful of any sim ple and direct inference from origin and career to political character and policy, not that we must ignore them in our attempt at poli tical under- standing. They simply mean that we must analyze the political psychology and the actual decisions of the political directorate as well as its social composition. And they mean, abov e all, that we should control, as we have done here, any inference we make from the origin and careers of the political actors by close understanding of the institutional landscape in which they act ou t their drama. Otherwise we should be guilty of a rather simple-mi nded bio- graphical theory of society and history. Just as we cannot rest the notion of the power elite solely upon the institutional mechanics that lead to its formation, so we can- not rest the notion solely upon the facts of the or igin and career of its personnel. We need both, and we have both—as well as other bases, among them that of the status intermingling. But it is not only the similarities of social origin, religious affilia- THE POWER ELITE 281 tion, nativity, and education that are important to the psychologi- cal and social affinities of the members of the pow er elite. Even if their recruitment and formal training were more het erogeneous than they are, these men would still be of quite homogeneous so- cial type. For the most important set of facts about a circle of men is the criteria of admission, of praise, of honor, of promotion that prevails among them; if these are similar within a circle, then they will tend as personalities to become similar. The c ircles that com- pose the power elite do tend to have such codes and criteria in common. The co-optation of the social types to which these com- mon values lead is often more important than any st atistics of common origin and career that we might have at hand. There is a kind of reciprocal attraction among the fraternity of the successful—not between each and every member of the cir- cles of the high and mighty, but between enough of them to insure a certain unity. On the slight side, it is a sort of tacit, mutual ad- miration; in the strongest tie-ins, it proceeds by intermarriage. And there are all grades and types of connection be tween these extremes. Some overlaps certainly occur by means of cliques and clubs, churches and schools. If social origin and formal education in common tend to make the members of the power elite more readily underst ood and trusted by one another, their continued association further ce- ments what they feel they have in common. Members o f the several higher circles know one another as personal friends and even as neighbors; they mingle with one another on the golf course, in the gentleman’s clubs, at resorts, on transcontinental airplanes, and on ocean liners. They meet at the estates of mutual friends, face each other in front of the TV camera, or serve on the same philanthropic committee; and many are sure to cross one an- other’s path in the columns of newspapers, if not in the exact cafes from which many of these columns originate. As we h ave seen, of ‘The New 400’ of cafe society, one chronicler has named forty-one members of the very rich, ninety-three political leaders, and sev- enty-nine chief executives of corporations.* ‘I did not know, I could not have dreamed,’ Whittak er Cham- bers has written, ‘of the immense scope and power of Hiss’ politi- * See above, FOUR : The Celebrities. 282 THE POWER ELITE cal alliances and his social connections, which cut across all party lines and ran from the Supreme Court to the Religio us Society of Friends, from governors of states and instructors in college facul- ties to the staff members of liberal magazines. In the decade since I had last seen him, he had used his career, and, i n particular, his identification with the cause of peace through his part in organ- izing the United Nations, to put down roots that ma de him one with the matted forest floor of American upper class, enlightened middle class, liberal and official life. His roots could not be dis- turbed without disturbing all the roots on all sides of him.’ 8 The sphere of status has reflected the epochs of th e power elite. In the third epoch, for example, who could compete with big money? And in the fourth, with big politicians, or even the bright young men of the New Deal? And in the fifth, who ca n compete with the generals and the admirals and the corporate officials now so sympathetically portrayed on the stage, in the n ovel, and on the screen? Can one imagine Executive Suite as a su ccessful mo- tion picture in 1935? Or The Caine Mutiny? The multiplicity of high-prestige organizations to which the elite usually belong is revealed by even casual examination of the obituaries of the big businessman, the high-prestig e lawyer, the top general and admiral, the key senator: usually, high-prestige church, business associations, plus high-prestige clubs, and often plus military rank. In the course of their lifetimes, the university president, the New York Stock Exchange chairman, th e head of the bank, the old West Pointer—mingle in the status sphere, with- in which they easily renew old friendships and draw upon them in an effort to understand through the experience of trusted others those contexts of power and decision in which they have not per- sonally moved. In these diverse contexts, prestige accumulates in each of the higher circles, and the members of each borrow stat us from one another. Their self-images are fed by these accumul ations and these borrowings, and accordingly, however segmental a given man’s role may seem, he comes to feel himself a ‘diffuse’ or ‘gen- eralized’ man of the higher circles, a ‘broad-gauge’ man. Perhaps such inside experience is one feature of what is me ant by ‘judg- ment.’ THE POWER ELITE 283 The key organizations, perhaps, are the major corpo rations themselves, for on the boards of directors we find a heavy over- lapping among the members of these several elites. On the lighter side, again in the summer and winter resorts, we find that, in an intricate series of overlapping circles; in the course of time, each meets each or knows somebody who knows somebod y who knows that one. The higher members of the military, economic, and political orders are able readily to take over one another’s point of view, al- ways in a sympathetic way, and often in a knowledge able way as well. They define one another as among those who count, and who, accordingly, must be taken into account. Each of th em as a member of the power elite comes to incorporate into his own in- tegrity, his own honor, his own conscience, the viewpoint, the ex- pectations, the values of the others. If there are no common ideals and standards among them that are based upon an exp licitly aristo- cratic culture, that does not mean that they do not feel responsi- bility to one another. All the structural coincidence of their interests as well as the intricate, psychological facts of their origins and their education, their careers and their associations make possible the psychologi- cal affinities that prevail among them, affinities that make it pos- sible for them to say of one another: He is, of cou rse, one of us. And all this points to the basic, psychological mea ning of class consciousness. Nowhere in America is there as great a ‘class consciousness’ as among the elite; nowhere is it organized as effectively as among the power elite. For by class consciousness, as a psychological fact, one means that the individual member of a ‘class’ accepts only those accepted by his circle as among those who are significant to his own image of self. Within the higher circles of the power elite, facti ons do exist; there are conflicts of policy; individual ambitions do clash. There are still enough divisions of importance within the Republican party, and even between Republicans and Democrats, to make for different methods of operation. But more powerful t han these divisions are the internal discipline and the community of inter- ests that bind the power elite together, even across the boundaries of nations at war. 9 284 THE POWER ELITE 4 Yet we must give due weight to the other side of th e case which may not question the facts but only our interpretat ion of them. There is a set of objections that will inevitably be made to our whole conception of the power elite, but which has essentially to do with only the psychology of its members. It might well be put by liberals or by conservatives in some such way as this: To talk of a power elite—isn’t this to characterize men by their origins and associations? Isn’t such characterizati on both unfair and untrue? Don’t men modify themselves, especially Americans such as these, as they rise in stature to meet the demands of their jobs? Don’t they arrive at a view and a line of pol icy that repre- sents, so far as they in their human weaknesses can know, the in- terests of the nation as a whole? Aren’t they merel y honorable men who are doing their duty?’ What are we to reply to these objections? I. We are sure that they are honorable men. But what is honor? Honor can only mean living up to a code that one be lieves to be honorable. There is no one code upon which we are a ll agreed. That is why, if we are civilized men, we do not kill off all of those with whom we disagree. The question is not: are the se honorable men? The question is: what are their codes of honor? The answer to that question is that they are the codes of their circles, of those to whose opinions they defer. How could it be other wise? That is one meaning of the important truism that all men are human and that all men are social creatures. As for sincerity, it can only be disproved, never proved. II. To the question of their adaptability—which mea ns their capacity to transcend the codes of conduct which, in their life’s work and experience, they have acquired—we must ans wer: simply no, they cannot, at least not in the handful of years most of them have left. To expect that is to assume that they are indeed strange and expedient: such flexibility would in fa ct involve a violation of what we may rightly call their charact er and their integrity. By the way, may it not be precisely because of the lack of such character and integrity that earlier types of American politicians have not represented as great a threat as do these men of character? THE POWER ELITE 285 It would be an insult to the effective training of the military, and to their indoctrination as well, to suppose that military offi- cials shed their military character and outlook upo n changing from uniform to mufti. This background is more impo rtant per- haps in the military case than in that of the corporate executives, for the training of the career is deeper and more total. ‘Lack of imagination,’ Gerald W. Johnson has noted, ‘is not to be confused with lack of principle. On the contrary , an unimag- inative man is often a man of the highest principles. The trouble is that his principles conform to Cornford’s famous definition: “A principle is a rule of inaction giving valid general reasons for not doing in a specific instance what to unprincipled i nstinct would seem to be right.” ‘ 10 Would it not be ridiculous, for example, to believe seriously that, in psychological fact, Charles Erwin Wilson r epresented anyone or any interest other than those of the corporate world? This is not because he is dishonest; on the contrary, it is because he is probably a man of solid integrity—as sound as a dollar. He is what he is and he cannot very well be anything e lse. He is a member of the professional corporation elite, just as are his col- leagues, in the government and out of it; he repres ents the wealth of the higher corporate world; he represents its po wer; and he believes sincerely in his oft-quoted remark that ‘what is good for the United States is good for the General Motors Co rporation and vice versa.’ The revealing point about the pitiful hearings on the con- firmation of such men for political posts is not the cynicism toward the law and toward the lawmakers on the midd le levels of power which they display, nor their reluctance to dispose of their personal stock. 11 The interesting point is how impossible it is for such men to divest themselves of their engagement with the corporate world in general and with their own corpo rations in particular. Not only their money, but their friends, their interests, their training—their lives in short—are deeply invo lved in this world. The disposal of stock is, of course, merely a purifying ritual. The point is not so much financial or personal inte rests in a given corporation, but identification with the corporate world. To ask a man suddenly to divest himself of these interests and sensibili- ties is almost like asking a man to become a woman. 286 THE POWER ELITE III. To the question of their patriotism, of their desire to serve the nation as a whole, we must answer first that, l ike codes of honor, feelings of patriotism and views of what is to the whole nation’s good, are not ultimate facts but matters upon which there exists a great variety of opinion. Furthermore, pat riotic opinions too are rooted in and are sustained by what a man h as become by virtue of how and with whom he has lived. This is no simple mechanical determination of individual character by social con- ditions; it is an intricate process, well established in the major tradition of modern social study. One can only wond er why more social scientists do not use it systematically in speculating about politics. IV. The elite cannot be truly thought of as men who are merely doing their duty. They are the ones who determine t heir duty, as well as the duties of those beneath them. They are not merely following orders: they give the orders. They are no t merely ‘bureaucrats’: they command bureaucracies. They may try to disguise these facts from others and from themselves by appeals to traditions of which they imagine themselves the instruments, but there are many traditions, and they must choose which ones they will serve. They face decisions for which there simply are no traditions. Now, to what do these several answers add up? To th e fact that we cannot reason about public events and historical trends merely from knowledge about the motives and character of t he men or the small groups who sit in the seats of the high and mighty. This fact, in turn, does not mean that we should be inti midated by accusations that in taking up our problem in the way we have, we are impugning the honor, the integrity, or the ability of those who are in high office. For it is not, in the first instance, a question of individual character; and if, in further instanc es, we find that it is, we should not hesitate to say so plainly. In the meantime, we must judge men of power by the standards of power, by what they do as decision-makers, and not by who they are or what they may do in private life. Our interest is not in that: we are interested in their policies and in the consequences of their conduct of office. We must remember that these men of the power elite now occupy the strategic places in the structure of American society; that they command the dominant institutions of a dominant nation; that, THE POWER ELITE 287 as a set of men, they are in a position to make dec isions with terrible consequences for the underlying populations of the world. 5 Despite their social similarity and psychological a ffinities, the members of the power elite do not constitute a club having a per- manent membership with fixed and formal boundaries. It is of the nature of the power elite that within it there is a good deal of shifting about, and that it thus does not consist of one small set of the same men in the same positions in the same hier archies. Be- cause men know each other personally does not mean that among them there is a unity of policy; and because they do not know each other personally does not mean that among them there is a disunity. The conception of the power elite does not rest, as I have repeatedly said, primarily upon personal friendship. As the requirements of the top places in each of th e major hier- archies become similar, the types of men occupying these roles at the top—by selection and by training in the jobs—become simi- lar. This is no mere deduction from structure to personnel. That it is a fact is revealed by the heavy traffic that has been going on be- tween the three structures, often in very intricate patterns. The chief executives, the warlords, and selected politicians came into contact with one another in an intimate, working wa y during World War II; after that war ended, they continued their as- sociations, out of common beliefs, social congeniality, and coincid- ing interests. Noticeable proportions of top men fr om the military, the economic, and the political worlds have during the last fifteen years occupied positions in one or both of the other worlds: between these higher circles there is an interchang eability of posi- tion, based formally upon the supposed transferabil ity of ‘execu- tive ability,’ based in substance upon the co-optation by cliques of insiders. As members of a power elite, many of those busy in this traffic have come to look upon ‘the government’ as an umbrella under whose authority they do their work. As the business between the big three increases in volume and importance, so does the traffic in personnel. The very criteria for selecting men who will rise come to embody this fac t. The corpo- rate commissar, dealing with the state and its military, is wiser to choose a young man who has experienced the state and its mili- 288 THE POWER ELITE tary than one who has not. The political director, often dependent for his own political success upon corporate decisions and corpora- tions, is also wiser to choose a man with corporate experience. Thus, by virtue of the very criterion of success, the interchange of personnel and the unity of the power elite is increased. Given the formal similarity of the three hierarchie s in which the several members of the elite spend their working li ves, given the ramifications of the decisions made in each upon the others, given the coincidence of interest that prevails among the m at many points, and given the administrative vacuum of the American civilian state along with its enlargement of tasks—given these trends of structure, and adding to them the psychological affinities we have noted—we should indeed be surprised were we to find that men said to be skilled in administrative contacts and full of organ- izing ability would fail to do more than get in tou ch with one another. They have, of course, done much more than that: increas- ingly, they assume positions in one another’s domains. The unity revealed by the interchangeability of top roles rests upon the parallel development of the top jobs in each of the big three domains. The interchange occurs most frequent ly at the points of their coinciding interest, as between regulatory agency and the regulated industry; contracting agency and contractor. And, as we shall see, it leads to co-ordinations that are more ex- plicit, and even formal. The inner core of the power elite consists, first, of those who interchange commanding roles at the top of one domi nant institu- tional order with those in another: the admiral who is also a banker and a lawyer and who heads up an important federal commission; the corporation executive whose company was one of the two or three leading war materiel producers who is now the Secretary of Defense; the wartime general who dons civilian clothes to sit on the political directorate and then becomes a member of the board of directors of a leading economic corporation. Although the executive who becomes a general, the g eneral who becomes a statesman, the statesman who becomes a ba nker, see much more than ordinary men in their ordinary envir onments, still the perspectives of even such men often remain tied to their dominant locales. In their very career, however, th ey interchange roles within the big three and thus readily transcend the particu- THE POWER ELITE 289 larity of interest in any one of these institutiona l milieux. By their very careers and activities, they lace the three ty pes of milieux to- gether. They are, accordingly, the core members of the power elite. These men are not necessarily familiar with every m ajor arena of power. We refer to one man who moves in and between perhaps two circles—say the industrial and the military—and to another man who moves in the military and the political, and to a third who moves in the political as well as among opinion-mak ers. These in- between types most closely display our image of the power elite’s structure and operation, even of behind-the-scenes operations. To the extent that there is any ‘invisible elite,’ these advisory and liai- son types are its core. Even if—as I believe to be very likely—many of them are, at least in the first part of their careers, ‘agents’ of the various elites rather than themselves elite, it is they who are most active in organizing the several top milieux into a structure of power and maintaining it. The inner core of the power elite also includes men of the higher legal and financial type from the great law factori es and invest- ment firms, who are almost professional go-betweens of economic, political and military affairs, and who thus act to unify the power elite. The corporation lawyer and the investment ba nker perform the functions of the ‘go-between’ effectively and powerfully. By the nature of their work, they transcend the narrower m ilieu of any one industry, and accordingly are in a position to speak and act for the corporate world or at least sizable sectors of it. The corporation lawyer is a key link between the economic and milit ary and politi- cal areas; the investment banker is a key organizer and unifier of the corporate world and a person well versed in spe nding the huge amounts of money the American military establishmen t now ponders. When you get a lawyer who handles the legal work of in- vestment bankers you get a key member of the power elite. During the Democratic era, one link between private corporate organizations and governmental institutions was the investment house of Dillon, Read. From it came such men as Jam es Forrestal and Charles F. Detmar, Jr.; Ferdinand Eberstadt had once been a partner in it before he branched out into his own investment house from which came other men to political and military circles. Re- publican administrations seem to favor the investment firm of 290 THE POWER ELITE Kuhn, Loeb and the advertising firm of Batten, Bart on, Durstine and Osborn. Regardless of administrations, there is always the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell. Mid-West investment banker C yrus Eaton has said that ‘Arthur H. Dean, a senior partner of Sullivan & Cromwell of No. 48 Wall Street, was one of those wh o assisted in the drafting of the Securities Act of 1933, the first of the series of bills passed to regulate the capital markets. He and his firm, which is reputed to be the largest in the United States, have main- tained close relations with the SEC since its creat ion, and theirs is the dominating influence on the Commission.’ 12 There is also the third largest bank in the United States: the Chase National Bank of New York (now Chase-Manhatta n). Re- gardless of political administration, executives of this bank and those of the International Bank of Reconstruction a nd Develop- ment have changed positions: John J. McCloy, who be came Chair- man of the Chase National in 1953, is a former president of the World Bank; and his successor to the presidency of the World Bank was a former senior vice-president of the Chase National Bank. 13 And in 1953, the president of the Chase National B ank, Winthrop W. Aldrich, had left to become Ambassador to Great Britain. The outermost fringes of the power elite—which change more than its core—consist of ‘those who count’ even though they may not be ‘in’ on given decisions of consequence nor i n their career move between the hierarchies. Each member of the po wer elite need not be a man who personally decides every decision that is to be ascribed to the power elite. Each member, in the decisions that he does make, takes the others seriously into account. They not only make decisions in the several major areas of war and peace; they are the men who, in decisions in which they take no direct part, are taken into decisive account by those who are di- rectly in charge. On the fringes and below them, somewhat to the side of the lower echelons, the power elite fades off into the middle levels of power, into the rank and file of the Congress, the pressure groups that are not vested in the power elite itself, as well as a multiplic- ity of regional and state and local interests. If all the men on the middle levels are not among those who count, they sometimes THE POWER ELITE 291 must be taken into account, handled, cajoled, broke n or raised to higher circles. When the power elite find that in order to get thin gs done they must reach below their own realms—as is the case wh en it is neces- sary to get bills passed through Congress—they them selves must exert some pressure. But among the power elite, the name for such high-level lobbying is ‘liaison work.’ There are ‘liaison’ mili- tary men with Congress, with certain wayward sectio ns of indus- try, with practically every important element not d irectly con- cerned with the power elite. The two men on the White House staff who are named ‘liaison’ men are both experienced in military matters; one of them is a former investment banker and lawyer as well as a general. Not the trade associations but the higher cliques of lawyers and investment bankers are the active political heads o f the corporate rich and the members of the power elite. ‘While it is generally assumed that the national associations carry tremendous weight in formulating public opinion and directing the course of national policy, there is some evidence to indicate that interaction between associations on a formal level is not a very tight- knit affair. The general tendency within associations seems to be to stimulate ac- tivities around the specific interests of the organization, and more effort is made to educate its members rather than t o spend much time in trying to influence other associations on the issue at hand … As media for stating and re-stating the over-al l value struc- ture of the nation they (the trade associations) are important. . . But when issues are firmly drawn, individuals relat ed to the larger corporate interests are called upon to exert pressure in the proper places at the strategic time The national associati ons may act as media for co-ordinating such pressures, but a great volume of intercommunication between members at the apex of p ower of the larger corporate interests seems to be the decisive factor in final policy determination.’ 14 Conventional ‘lobbying,’ carried on by trade associ ations, still exists, although it usually concerns the middle levels of power- usually being targeted at Congress and, of course, its own rank and file members. The important function of the Nat ional As- sociation of Manufacturers, for example, is less directly to influence policy than to reveal to small businessmen that their interests are 292 THE POWER ELITE the same as those of larger businesses. But there i s also ‘high- level lobbying.’ All over the country the corporate leaders are drawn into the circle of the high military and poli tical through personal friendship, trade and professonal associations and their various subcommittees, prestige clubs, open politic al affiliation, and customer relationships. There is … an awarene ss among these power leaders,’ one first-hand investigator of such executive cliques has asserted, ‘of many of the current major policy issues before the nation such as keeping taxes down, turning all produc- tive operations over to private enterprises, increa sing foreign trade, keeping governmental welfare and other domes tic activities to a minimum, and strengthening and maintaining the hold of the current party in power nationally.’ 15 There are, in fact, cliques of corporate executives who are more important as informal opinion leaders in the top ec helons of corpo- rate, military, and political power than as actual participants in military and political organizations. Inside military circles and inside political circles and ‘on the sidelines’ in the economic area, these circles and cliques of corporation executives are in on most all major decisions regardless of topic. And what i s important about all this high-level lobbying is that it is done within the con- fines of that elite. 6 The conception of the power elite and of its unity rests upon the corresponding developments and the coincidence of interests among economic, political, and military organizations. It also rests upon the similarity of origin and outlook, and the social and personal intermingling of the top circles from each of these domi- nant hierarchies. This conjunction of institutional and psychologi- cal forces, in turn, is revealed by the heavy perso nnel traffic within and between the big three institutional orders, as well as by the rise of go-betweens as in the high-level lobbying. The conception of the power elite, accordingly, does not rest upon the assumption that American history since the origins of World Wa r II must be understood as a secret plot, or as a great and co-o rdinated con- spiracy of the members of this elite. The conception rests upon quite impersonal grounds. There is, however, little doubt that the American power elite— THE POWER ELITE 293 which contains, we are told, some of ‘the greatest organizers in the world’—has also planned and has plotted. The rise o f the elite, as we have already made clear, was not and could not h ave been caused by a plot; and the tenability of the conception does not rest upon the existence of any secret or any publicly known organi- zation. But, once the conjunction of structural tre nd and of the personal will to utilize it gave rise to the power elite, then plans and programs did occur to its members and indeed it is not pos- sible to interpret many events and official policies of the fifth epoch without reference to the power elite. “There is a g reat difference,’ Richard Hofstadter has remarked, ‘between locating conspiracies in history and saying that history is, in effect, a conspiracy . . .’ 16 The structural trends of institutions become define d as oppor- tunities by those who occupy their command posts. O nce such op- portunities are recognized, men may avail themselve s of them. Certain types of men from each of the dominant institutional areas, more far-sighted than others, have actively promoted the liaison before it took its truly modern shape. They have often done so for reasons not shared by their partners, although not objected to by them either; and often the outcome of their liaison has had con- sequences which none of them foresaw, much less sha ped, and which only later in the course of development came under explicit control. Only after it was well under way did most of its members find themselves part of it and become gladdened, al though some- times also worried, by this fact. But once the co-ordination is a going concern, new men come readily into it and ass ume its exist- ence without question. So far as explicit organization—conspiratorial or not—is con- cerned, the power elite, by its very nature, is more likely to use existing organizations, working within and between them, than to set up explicit organizations whose membership i s strictly limited to its own members. But if there is no machinery in exist- ence to ensure, for example, that military and poli tical factors will be balanced in decisions made, they will invent such machin- ery and use it, as with the National Security Council. Moreover, in a formally democratic polity, the aims and the powe rs of the various elements of this elite are further supported by an aspect of the permanent war economy: the assumption that t he security of the nation supposedly rests upon great secrecy of plan and in- 294 THE POWER ELITE tent. Many higher events that would reveal the work ing of the power elite can be withheld from public knowledge u nder the guise of secrecy. With the wide secrecy covering their operations and decisions, the power elite can mask their inten tions, opera- tions, and further consolidation. Any secrecy that is imposed upon those in positions to observe high decision-makers clearly works for and not against the operations of the power elite. There is accordingly reason to suspect—but by the n ature of the case, no proof—that the power elite is not altogeth er ‘surfaced.’ There is nothing hidden about it, although its activities are not publicized. As an elite, it is not organized, although its members often know one another, seem quite naturally to wor k together, and share many organizations in common. There is no thing con- spiratorial about it, although its decisions are often publicly un- known and its mode of operation manipulative rather than ex- plicit. It is not that the elite ‘believe in’ a compact elite behind the scenes and a mass down below. It is not put in that language. It is just that the people are of necessity confused and must, like trust- ing children, place all the new world of foreign po licy and strategy and executive action in the hands of experts. It is just that everyone knows somebody has got to run the show, an d that some- body usually does. Others do not really care anyway, and besides, they do not know how. So the gap between the two ty pes gets wider. When crises are defined as total, and as seemingly permanent, the consequences of decision become total, and the decisions in each major area of life come to be integrated and total. Up to a point, these consequences for other institutional orders can be as- sessed; beyond such points, chances have to be take n. It is then that the felt scarcity of trained and imaginative judgment leads to plain- tive feelings among executives about the shortage o f qualified suc- cessors in political, military, and economic life. This feeling, in turn, leads to an increasing concern with the training of successors who could take over as older men of power retire. 17 In each area, there slowly arises a new generation which has grow n up in an age of co-ordinated decisions. In each of the elite circles, we have noticed this concern to recruit and to train successors as ‘broad-gauge’ men, that is, as men THE POWER ELITE 295 capable of making decisions that involve institutio nal areas other than their own. The chief executives have set up fo rmal recruit- ment and training programs to man the corporate wor ld as virtu- ally a state within a state. Recruitment and training for the mili- tary elite has long been rigidly professionalized, but has now come to include educational routines of a sort which the remnants of older generals and admirals consider quite nonsensical. Only the political order, with its absence of a gen uine civil service, has lagged behind, creating an administrative vacuum into which military bureaucrats and corporate outsiders have been drawn. But even in this domain, since World War II, there have been repeated attempts, by elite men of such vision as the late James Forrestal’s, to inaugurate a career service that would in- clude periods in the corporate world as well as in the govern- mental. 18 What is lacking is a truly common elite program of recruitment and training; for the prep school, Ivy League College, and law school sequence of the metropolitan 400 is not up to the demands now made upon members of the power elite.* 19 Britishers, such as Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery, well aware of t his lack, recently urged the adoption of a system ‘under which a minority of high-caliber young students could be separated from the medi- ocre and given the best education possible to suppl y the country with leadership.’ His proposal is echoed, in various forms, by many who accept his criticism of ‘the American theory of public educa- tion on the ground that it is ill-suited to produce the “elite” group of leaders . . . this country needs to fulfill its obligations of world leadership.’ 20 In part these demands reflect the unstated need to transcend recruitment on the sole basis of economic success, especially since it is suspect as often involving the higher immoral ity; in part it reflects the stated need to have men who, as Viscou nt Montgomery says, know ‘the meaning of discipline.’ But above a ll these de- mands reflect the at least vague consciousness on the part of the power elite themselves that the age of co-ordinated decisions, en- tailing a newly enormous range of consequences, req uires a power elite that is of a new caliber. In so far as the sweep of matters which go into the making of decisions is vast and interrelated, the * See above, THREE : Metropolitan 400 296 THE POWER ELITE information needed for judgments complex and requir ing par- ticularized knowledge, 21 the men in charge will not only call upon one another; they will try to train their successors for the work at hand. These new men will grow up as men of power wi thin the co-ordination of economic and political and military decision. 7 The idea of the power elite rests upon and enables us to make sense of (1) the decisive institutional trends that characterize the structure of our epoch, in particular, the military ascendancy in a privately incorporated economy, and more broadly, t he several coincidences of objective interests between economic, military, and political institutions; (2) the social similarities and the psycho- logical affinities of the men who occupy the comman d posts of these structures, in particular the increased interchangeability of the top positions in each of them and the increased traffic between these orders in the careers of men of power; (3) th e ramifications, to the point of virtual totality, of the kind of decisions that are made at the top, and the rise to power of a set of men who, by training and bent, are professional organizers of considerable force and who are unrestrained by democratic party training. Negatively, the formation of the power elite rests upon (1) the relegation of the professional party politician to the middle levels of power, (2) the semi-organized stalemate of the i nterests of sovereign localities into which the legislative function has fallen, (3) the virtually complete absence of a civil servi ce that consti- tutes a politically neutral, but politically relevant, depository of brainpower and executive skill, and (4) the increas ed official secrecy behind which great decisions are made witho ut benefit of public or even Congressional debate. As a result, the political directorate, the corporate rich, and the ascendant military have come together as the power elite, and the expanded and centralized hierarchies which they hea d have en- croached upon the old balances and have now relegat ed them to the middle levels of power. Now the balancing society is a con- ception that pertains accurately to the middle levels, and on that level the balance has become more often an affair o f intrenched provincial and nationally irresponsible forces and demands than a center of power and national decision. THE POWER ELITE 297 But how about the bottom? As all these trends have become visible at the top and on the middle, what has been happening to the great American public? If the top is unpreceden tedly powerful and increasingly unified and willful; if the middle zones are in- creasingly a semi-organized stalemate—in what shape is the bot- tom, in what condition is the public at large? The rise of the power elite, we shall now see, rests upon, and in some wa ys is part of, the transformation of the publics of America into a mass society. 13 The Mass Society IN the standard image of power and decision, no force is held to be as important as The Great American Public. More than merely another check and balance, this public is thought to be the seat of all legitimate power. In official life as in popular folklore, it is held to be the very balance wheel of democratic power. I n the end, all liberal theorists rest their notions of the power system upon the political role of this public; all official decisions, as well as private decisions of consequence, are justified as in the p ublic’s welfare; all formal proclamations are in its name. 1 Let us therefore consider the classic public of dem ocratic theory in the generous spirit in which Rousseau once cried , ‘Opinion, Queen of the World, is not subject to the power of kings; they are themselves its first slaves.’ The most important feature of the public of opinion , which the rise of the democratic middle class initiates, is the free ebb and flow of discussion. The possibilities of answering back, of organ- izing autonomous organs of public opinion, of reali zing opinion in action, are held to be established by democratic in stitutions. The opinion that results from public discussion is understood to be a resolution that is then carried out by public action; it is, in one version, the ‘general will’ of the people, which th e legislative organ enacts into law, thus lending to it legal force. Congress, or Parliament, as an institution, crowns all the scattered publics; it is 298 THE MASS SOCIETY 299 the archetype for each of the little circles of fac e-to-face citizens discussing their public business. This eighteenth-century idea of the public of publi c opinion parallels the economic idea of the market of the free economy. Here is the market composed of freely competing ent repreneurs; there is the public composed of discussion circles of opinion peers. As price is the result of anonymous, equally weight ed, bargaining individuals, so public opinion is the result of each man’s having thought things out for himself and contributing his voice to the great chorus. To be sure, some might have more infl uence on the state of opinion than others, but no one group monopolizes the dis- cussion, or by itself determines the opinions that prevail. Innumerable discussion circles are knit together by mobile peo- ple who carry opinions from one to another, and str uggle for the power of larger command. The public is thus organized into associations and parties, each representing a set of viewpoints, each trying to acquire a place in the Congress, where the discus- sion continues. Out of the little circles of people talking with one another, the larger forces of social movements and political parties develop; and the discussion of opinion is the impor tant phase in a total act by which public affairs are conducted. The autonomy of these discussions is an important e lement in the idea of public opinion as a democratic legitimation. The opin- ions formed are actively realized within the prevai ling institutions of power; all authoritative agents are made or broken by the pre- vailing opinions of these publics. And, in so far as the public is frustrated in realizing its demands, its members ma y go beyond criticism of specific policies; they may question the very legiti- mations of legal authority. That is one meaning of Jefferson’s comment on the need for an occasional ‘revolution.’ The public, so conceived, is the loom of classic, e ighteenth-cen- tury democracy; discussion is at once the threads a nd the shuttle tying the discussion circles together. It lies at the root of the con- ception of authority by discussion, and it is based upon the hope that truth and justice will somehow come out of soc iety as a great apparatus of free discussion. The people are presented with prob- lems. They discuss them. They decide on them. They formulate viewpoints. These viewpoints are organized, and they compete. One viewpoint “wins out.’ Then the people act out this view, or 300 THE POWER ELITE their representatives are instructed to act it out, and this they promptly do. Such are the images of the public of classic democr acy which are still used as the working justifications of power in American society. But now we must recognize this description as a set of images out of a fairy tale: they are not adequate even as an ap- proximate model of how the American system of power works. The issues that now shape man’s fate are neither raised nor de- cided by the public at large. The idea of the community of publics is not a description of fact, but an assertion of an ideal, an asser- tion of a legitimation masquerading—as legitimation s are now apt to do—as fact. For now the public of public opinion is recog- nized by all those who have considered it carefully as something less than it once was. These doubts are asserted positively in the stateme nt that the classic community of publics is being transformed into a society of masses. This transformation, in fact, is one of the keys to the social and psychological meaning of modern life in America. I. In the democratic society of publics it was assu med, with John Locke, that the individual conscience was the ultimate seat of judgment and hence the final court of appeal. But this principle was challenged—as E. H. Carr has put it—when Rousse au ‘for the first time thought in terms of the sovereignty of the whole peo- ple, and faced the issue of mass democracy.’ 1 II. In the democratic society of publics it was ass umed that among the individuals who composed it there was a n atural and peaceful harmony of interests. But this essentially conservative doctrine gave way to the Utilitarian doctrine that such a har- mony of interests had first to be created by reform before it could work, and later to the Marxian doctrine of class st ruggle, which surely was then, and certainly is now, closer to reality than any assumed harmony of interests. III. In the democratic society of publics it was assumed that be- fore public action would be taken, there would be r ational dis- cussion between individuals which would determine t he action, and that, accordingly, the public opinion that resulted would be the infallible voice of reason. But this has been c hallenged not only (1) by the assumed need for experts to decide delicate and THE MASS SOCIETY 301 intricate issues, but (2) by the discovery—as by Fr eud—of the ir- rationality of the man in the street, and (3) by th e discovery— as by Marx—of the socially conditioned nature of wh at was once assumed to be autonomous reason. IV. In the democratic society of publics it was ass umed that after determining what is true and right and just, the public would act accordingly or see that its representatives did so. In the long run, public opinion will not only be right, bu t public opinion will prevail. This assumption has been upset by the great gap now existing between the underlying population and those who make decisions in its name, decisions of enormous c onsequence which the public often does not even know are being made until well after the fact. Given these assumptions, it is not difficult to understand the articulate optimism of many nineteenth-century thinkers, for the theory of the public is, in many ways, a projection upon the com- munity at large of the intellectual’s ideal of the supremacy of in- tellect. The ‘evolution of the intellect,’ Comte as serted, ‘deter- mines the main course of social evolution.’ If looking about them, nineteenth-century thinkers still saw irrationality and ignorance and apathy, all that was merely an intellectual lag , to which the spread of education would soon put an end. How much the cogency of the classic view of the pub lic rested upon a restriction of this public to the carefully educated is re- vealed by the fact that by 1859 even John Stuart Mi ll was writing of ‘the tyranny of the majority,’ and both Tocqueville and Burck- hardt anticipated the view popularized in the recent past by such political moralists as Ortega y Gasset. In a word, the transforma- tion of public into mass—and all that this implies—has been at once one of the major trends of modern societies and one of the major factors in the collapse of that liberal optimism which determined so much of the intellectual mood of the nineteenth century. By the middle of that century: individualism had be gun to be re- placed by collective forms of economic and politica l life; harmony of interests by inharmonious struggle of classes and organized pres- sures; rational discussions undermined by expert de cisions on com- plicated issues, by recognition of the interested bias of argument by vested position; and by the discovery of the effectiveness of ir- 302 THE POWER ELITE rational appeal to the citizen. Moreover, certain s tructural changes of modern society, which we shall presently conside r, had begun to cut off the public from the power of active decision. 2 The transformation of public into mass is of partic ular concern to us, for it provides an important clue to the meaning of the power elite. If that elite is truly responsible to, or even exists in connec- tion with, a community of publics, it carries a ver y different mean- ing than if such a public is being transformed into a society of masses. The United States today is not altogether a mass society, and it has never been altogether a community of publics Th ese phrases are names for extreme types; they point to certain features of real- ity, but they are themselves constructions; social reality is always some sort of mixture of the two. Yet we cannot read ily understand just how much of which is mixed into our situation if we do not first understand, in terms of explicit dimensions, the clear-cut and extreme types: At least four dimensions must be attended to if we are to grasp the differences between public and mass. I. There is first, the ratio of the givers of opinion to the receiv- ers, which is the simplest way to state the social meaning of the formal media of mass communication. More than anyth ing else, it is the shift in this ratio which is central to the problems of the pub- lic and of public opinion in latter-day phases of d emocracy. At one extreme on the scale of communication, two peop le talk per- sonally with each other; at the opposite extreme, one spokesman talks impersonally through a network of communicati ons to mil- lions of listeners and viewers. In between these ex tremes there are assemblages and political rallies, parliamentary sessions, law- court debates, small discussion circles dominated b y one man, open discussion circles with talk moving freely bac k and forth among fifty people, and so on. II. The second dimension to which we must pay attention is the possibility of answering back an opinion without internal or ex- ternal reprisals being taken. Technical conditions of the means of communication, in imposing a lower ratio of speaker s to listeners, may obviate the possibility of freely answering back. Informal THE MASS SOCIETY 303 rules, resting upon conventional sanction and upon the informal structure of opinion leadership, may govern who can speak, when, and for how long. Such rules may or may not be in congru- ence with formal rules and with institutional sanctions which gov- ern the process of communication. In the extreme ca se, we may conceive of an absolute monopoly of communication t o pacified media groups whose members cannot answer back even ‘in pri- vate.’ At the opposite extreme, the conditions may allow and the rules may uphold the wide and symmetrical formation of opinion. III. We must also consider the relation of the form ation of opin- ion to its realization in social action, the ease with which opinion is effective in the shaping of decisions of powerfu l consequence. This opportunity for people to act out their opinions collectively is of course limited by their position in the structure of power. This structure may be such as to limit decisively this capacity, or it may allow or even invite such action. It may confine so cial action to local areas or it may enlarge the area of opportunity; it may make action intermittent or more or less continuous. IV. There is, finally, the degree to which institutional authority, with its sanctions and controls, penetrates the pub lic. Here the problem is the degree to which the public has genui ne autonomy from instituted authority. At one extreme, no agent of formal au- thority moves among the autonomous public. At the o pposite ex- treme, the public is terrorized into uniformity by the infiltration of informers and the universalization of suspicion. On e thinks of the late Nazi street-and-block-system, the eighteen th-century Japanese kumi, the Soviet cell structure. In the extreme, the for- mal structure of power coincides, as it were, with the informal ebb and flow of influence by discussion, which is thus killed off. By combining these several points, we can construct little models or diagrams of several types of societies. Since ‘the prob- lem of public opinion’ as we know it is set by the eclipse of the classic bourgeois public, we are here concerned wit h only two types: public and mass. In a public, as we may understand the term, (1) vir tually as many people express opinions as receive them. (2) Public com- munications are so organized that there is a chance immediately and effectively to answer back any opinion expressed in public. Opinion formed by such discussion (3) readily finds an outlet in 304 THE POWER ELITE effective action, even against—if necessary—the pre vailing system of authority. And (4) authoritative institutions do not penetrate the public, which is thus more or less autonomous i n its opera- tions. When these conditions prevail, we have the working model of a community of publics, and this model fits closely the several assumptions of classic democratic theory. At the opposite extreme, in a mass, (1) far fewer people express opinions than receive them; for the community of pu blics be- comes an abstract collection of individuals who receive impres- sions from the mass media. (2) The communications t hat prevail are so organized that it is difficult or impossible for the individual to answer back immediately or with any effect. (3) The realiza- tion of opinion in action is controlled by authorities who organize and control the channels of such action. (4) The ma ss has no auton- omy from institutions; on the contrary, agents of a uthorized insti- tutions penetrate this mass, reducing any autonomy it may have in the formation of opinion by discussion. The public and the mass may be most readily disting uished by their dominant modes of communication: in a communi ty of pub- lics, discussion is the ascendant means of communication, and the mass media, if they exist, simply enlarge and anima te discussion, linking one primary public with the discussions of another. In a mass society, the dominant type of communication is the formal media, and the publics become mere media markets: a ll those ex- posed to the contents of given mass media. 3 From almost any angle of vision that we might assum e, when we look upon the public, we realize that we have moved a consid- erable distance along the road to the mass society. At the end of that road there is totalitarianism, as in Nazi Germany or in Com- munist Russia. We are not yet at that end. In the U nited States today, media markets are not entirely ascendant over primary pub- lics. But surely we can see that many aspects of the public fife of our times are more the features of a mass society t han of a com- munity of publics. What is happening might again be stated in terms of the his- torical parallel between the economic market and the public of public opinion. In brief, there is a movement from widely scattered THE MASS SOCIETY 305 little powers to concentrated powers and the attemp t at monopoly control from powerful centers, which, being partially hidden, are centers of manipulation as well as of authority. Th e small shop serving the neighborhood is replaced by the anonymity of the na- tional corporation: mass advertisement replaces the personal in- fluence of opinion between merchant and customer. T he political leader hooks up his speech to a national network and speaks, with appropriate personal touches, to a million people he never saw and never will see. Entire brackets of professions and industries are in the ‘opinion business,’ impersonally manipulating t he public for hire. In the primary public the competition of opinions g oes on be- tween people holding views in the service of their interests and their reasoning. But in the mass society of media markets, compe- tition, if any, goes on between the manipulators wi th their mass media on the one hand, and the people receiving the ir propa- ganda on the other. Under such conditions, it is not surprising that there should arise a conception of public opinion as a mere reaction—we cannot say ‘response’—to the content of the mass media. In this view, the public is merely the collectivity of individuals each rather passively exposed to the mass media and rather helplessly ope ned up to the suggestions and manipulations that flow from these media. The fact of manipulation from centralized points of control constitutes, as it were, an expropriation of the old multitude of litt le opinion pro- ducers and consumers operating in a free and balanced market In official circles, the very term itself, ‘the pub lic’—as Walter Lippmann noted thirty years ago—has come to have a phantom meaning, which dramatically reveals its eclipse. From the stand- point of the deciding elite, some of those who clam or publicly can be identified as ‘Labor,’ others as ‘Business,’ still others as ‘Farmer.’ Those who can not readily be so identifie d make up The Public’ In this usage, the public is composed of the uniden- tified and the non-partisan in a world of defined and partisan in- terests. It is socially composed of well-educated s alaried profes- sionals, especially college professors; of non-unionized employees, especially white-collar people, along with self-emp loyed profes- sionals and small businessmen. In this faint echo of the classic notion, the public consists of 306 THE POWER ELITE those remnants of the middle classes, old and new, whose inter- ests are not explicitly defined, organized, or clamorous. In a curi- ous adaptation, ‘the public’ often becomes, in fact , ‘the unattached expert,’ who, although well informed, has never tak en a clear-cut, public stand on controversial issues which are brought to a focus by organized interests. These are the ‘public’ memb ers of the board, the commission, the committee. What the public stands for, accordingly, is often a vagueness of policy (called open-mind- edness), a lack of involvement in public affairs (known as reason- ableness), and a professional disinterest (known as tolerance). Some such official members of the public, as in the field of labor-management mediation, start out very young and make a career out of being careful to be informed but neve r taking a strong position; and there are many others, quite unofficial, who take such professionals as a sort of model. The only trouble is that they are acting as if they were disinterested judges but they do not have the power of judges; hence their reasonablenes s, their toler- ance, and their open-mindedness do not often count for much in the shaping of human affairs. 4 All those trends that make for the decline of the p olitician and of his balancing society bear decisively upon the transformation of public into mass.* One of the most important of the structural transformations involved is the decline of the voluntary associ- ation as a genuine instrument of the public. As we have already seen, the executive ascendancy in economic, military, and politi- cal institutions has lowered the effective use of all those voluntary associations which operate between the state and th e economy on the one hand, and the family and the individual in the primary group on the other. It is not only that institutions of power have become large-scale and inaccessibly centralized; th ey have at the same time become less political and more administra tive, and it is within this great change of framework that the organized public has waned. In terms of scale, the transformation of public int o mass has been underpinned by the shift from a political public decisively *See, especially, the analysis of the decline of th e independent middle classes, ELEVEN : The Theory of Balance. THE MASS SOCIETY 307 restricted in size (by property and education, as w ell as by sex and age) to a greatly enlarged mass having only the qualifications of citizenship and age. In terms of organization, the transformation has be en under- pinned by the shift from the individual and his primary commu- nity to the voluntary association and the mass party as the major units of organized power. Voluntary associations have become larger to the ex tent that they have become effective; and to just that extent they have be- come inaccessible to the individual who would shape by discus- sion the policies of the organization to which he belongs. Accord- ingly, along with older institutions, these volunta ry associations have lost their grip on the individual. As more peo ple are drawn into the political arena, these associations become mass in scale; and as the power of the individual becomes more dep endent upon such mass associations, they are less accessible to the individual’s influence.* Mass democracy means the struggle of powerful and l arge-scale interest groups and associations, which stand between the big de- cisions that are made by state, corporation, army, and the will of the individual citizen as a member of the public. S ince these middle-level associations are the citizen’s major link with decision, his relation to them is of decisive importance. For it is only through them that he exercises such power as he may have. The gap between the members and the leaders of the mass as- sociation is becoming increasingly wider. As soon as a man gets to be a leader of an association large enough to count he readily be- comes lost as an instrument of that association. He does so (1) in the interests of maintaining his leading position in, o r rather over, his mass association, and he does so (2) because he com es to see him- self not as a mere delegate, instructed or not, of the mass associa- tion he represents, but as a member of ‘an elite’ c omposed of such men as himself. These facts, in turn, lead to (3) t he big gap be- tween the terms in which issues are debated and res olved among members of this elite, and the terms in which they are presented * At the same time—and also because of the metropol itan segregation and distraction, which I shall discuss in a moment—the individual be- comes more dependent upon the means of mass communi cation for his view of the structure as a whole. 308 THE POWER ELITE to the members of the various mass associations. Fo r the decisions that are made must take into account those who are important- other elites—but they must be sold to the mass memberships. The gap between speaker and listener, between power and public, leads less to any iron law of oligarchy than to the law of spokesmanship: as the pressure group expands, its l eaders come to organize the opinions they ‘represent.’ So elections, as we have seen, become contests between two giant and unwield y parties, neither of which the individual can truly feel that he influences, and neither of which is capable of winning psycholo gically im- pressive or politically decisive majorities. And, in all this, the par- ties are of the same general form as other mass associations. 2 When we say that man in the mass is without any sen se of polit- ical belonging, we have in mind a political fact rather than merely a style of feeling. We have in mind (I.) a certain way of belonging (n.) to a certain land of organization. I. The way of belonging here implied rests upon a b elief in the purposes and in the leaders of an organization, and thus enables men and women freely to be at home within it To bel ong in this way is to make the human association a psychological center of one’s self, to take into our conscience, deliberately and freely, its rules of conduct and its purposes, which we thus sh ape and which in turn shape us. We do not have this kind of belon ging to any political organization. II. The kind of organization we have in mind is a voluntary as- sociation which has three decisive characteristics: first, it is a con- text in which reasonable opinions may be formulated ; second, it is an agency by which reasonable activities may be undertaken; and third, it is a powerful enough unit, in comparison with other organizations of power, to make a difference. It is because they do not find available associations at once psy- chologically meaningful and historically effective that men often feel uneasy in their political and economic loyalties. The effective units of power are now the huge corporation, the in accessible gov- ernment, the grim military establishment. Between t hese, on the one hand, and the family and the small community on the other, we find no intermediate associations in which men feel secure and with which they feel powerful. There is little live political strug- gle. Instead, there is administration from above, and the political THE MASS SOCIETY 30? vacuum below. The primary publics are now either so small as to be swamped, and hence give up; or so large as to be merely another feature of the generally distant structure of power, and hence inaccessible. Public opinion exists when people who are not in th e govern- ment of a country claim the right to express political opinions freely and publicly, and the right that these opinions should in- fluence or determine the policies, personnel, and a ctions of their government. 3 In this formal sense there has been and there is a definite public opinion in the United States. And yet, with modern developments this formal right—when it does still e xist as a right —does not mean what it once did. The older world of voluntary organization was as different from the world of the mass organi- zation, as was Tom Paine’s world of pamphleteering from the world of the mass media. Since the French Revolution, conservative thinkers have Viewed With Alarm the rise of the public, which they called the masses, or something to that effect. ‘The populace is sovereign, and the tide of barbarism mounts,’ wrote Gustave Le Bon. The divine right of the masses is about to replace the divine right of kings,’ and already ‘the destinies of nations are elaborated at pres- ent in the heart of the masses, and no longer in th e councils of princes.’ 4 During the twentieth century, liberal and even soc ialist thinkers have followed suit, with more explicit reference to what we have called the society of masses. From Le Bon t o Emil Led- erer and Ortega y Gasset, they have held that the influence of the mass in unfortunately increasing. But surely those who have supposed the masses to be all power- ful, or at least well on their way to triumph, are wrong. In our time, as Chakhotin knew, the influence of autonomou s collectivities within political life is in fact diminishing. 5 Furthermore, such in- fluence as they do have is guided; they must now be seen not as publics acting autonomously, but as masses manipula ted at focal points into crowds of demonstrators. For as publics become masses, masses sometimes become crowds; and, in crowds, the psychical rape by the mass media is supplemented up-close by the harsh and sudden harangue. Then the people in the crowd dispe rse again—as atomized and submissive masses. 310 THE POWER ELITE In all modern societies, the autonomous association s standing between the various classes and the state tend to lose their effect’ iveness as vehicles of reasoned opinion and instrum ents for the rational exertion of political will. Such associations can be deliber- ately broken up and thus turned into passive instru ments of rule, or they can more slowly wither away from lack of us e in the face of centralized means of power. But whether they are destroyed in a week, or wither in a generation, such associations are replaced in virtually every sphere of life by centralized or ganizations, and it is such organizations with all their new means of power that take charge of the terrorized or—as the case may be —merely in- timidated, society of masses. 5 The institutional trends that make for a society of masses are to a considerable extent a matter of impersonal drift, but the rem- nants of the public are also exposed to more ‘perso nal’ and inten- tional forces. With the broadening of the base of p olitics within the context of a folk-lore of democratic decision-making, and with the increased means of mass persuasion that are ava ilable, the public of public opinion has become the object of intensive efforts to control, manage, manipulate, and increasingly intimidate. In political, military, economic realms, power beco mes, in vary- ing degrees, uneasy before the suspected opinions o f masses, and, accordingly, opinion-making becomes an accepted tec hnique of power-holding and power-getting. The minority electorate of the propertied and the educated is replaced by the total suffrage—and intensive campaigns for the vote. The small eightee nth-century professional army is replaced by the mass army of conscripts—and by the problems of nationalist morale. The small shop is replaced by the mass-production industry—and the national advertisement. As the scale of institutions has become larger and more central- ized, so has the range and intensity of the opinion-makers’ efforts. The means of opinion-making, in fact, have parallel ed in range and efficiency the other institutions of greater scale that cradle the modern society of masses. Accordingly, in addition to their en- larged and centralized means of administration, exp loitation, and violence, the modern elite have had placed within their grasp his- torically unique instruments of psychic management and manipu- THE MASS SOCIETY 311 lation, which include universal compulsory educatio n as well as the media of mass communication. Early observers believed that the increase in the range and vol- ume of the formal means of communication would enla rge and animate the primary public. In such optimistic views—written before radio and television and movies—the formal media are un- derstood as simply multiplying the scope and pace o f personal discussion. Modern conditions, Charles Cooley wrote, ‘enlarge indefinitely the competition of ideas, and whatever has owed its persistence merely to lack of comparison is likely to go, for that which is really congenial to the choosing mind will be all the more cherished and increased.’ 6 Still excited by the break-up of the conventional consensus of the local community, he s aw the new means of communication as furthering the conversati onal dy- namic of classic democracy, and with it the growth of rational and free individuality. No one really knows all the functions of the mass m edia, for in their entirety these functions are probably so pervasive and so subtle that they cannot be caught by the means of s ocial research now available. But we do now have reason to believe that these media have helped less to enlarge and animate the discussions of primary publics than to transform them into a set of media markets in mass-like society. I do not refer merely to the higher ratio of deliverers of opinion to receivers and to the decreased chance to answer back; nor do I refer merely to the violent b analization and stereotyping of our very sense organs in terms of w hich these media now compete for ‘attention.’ I have in mind a sort of psy- chological illiteracy that is facilitated by the media, and that is ex- pressed in several ways: I. Very little of what we think we know of the soci al realities of the world have we found out first-hand. Most of ‘the pictures in our heads’ we have gained from these media—even to the point where we often do not really believe what we see before u s until we read about it in the paper or hear about it on the radio. 7 The media not only give us information; they guide our very experi- ences. Our standards of credulity, our standards of reality, tend to be set by these media rather than by our own fragme ntary experi- ence. 312 THE POWER ELITE Accordingly, even if the individual has direct, per sonal exper- ience of events, it is not really direct and primary: it is organized in stereotypes. It takes long and skillful training to so uproot such stereotypes that an individual sees things freshly, in an unstereo- typed manner. One might suppose, for example, that if all the peo- ple went through a depression they would all ‘exper ience it,’ and in terms of this experience, that they would all debunk or reject or at least refract what the media say about it. But e xperience of such a structural shift has to be organized and interpre ted if it is to count in the making of opinion. The kind of experience, in short, that might serve as a basis for resistance to mass media is not an experience of ra w events, but the experience of meanings. The fleck of interpreta tion must be there in the experience if we are to use the word experience seri- ously. And the capacity for such experience is socially implanted. The individual does not trust his own experience, a s I have said, until it is confirmed by others or by the media. Usually such direct exposure is not accepted if it disturbs loyalties and be- liefs that the individual already holds. To be acce pted, it must re- lieve or justify the feelings that often lie in the back of his mind as key features of his ideological loyalties. Stereotypes of loyalty underlie beliefs and feeling s about given symbols and emblems; they are the very ways in whic h men see the social world and in terms of which men make up their specific opinions and views of events. They are the results of previous ex- perience, which affect present and future experienc e. It goes without saying that men are often unaware of these loyalties, that often they could not formulate them explicitly. Yet such general stereotypes make for the acceptance or the rejection of specific opinions not so much by the force of logical consistency as by their emotional affinity and by the way in which they relieve anxieties. To accept opinions in their terms is to gain the good solid feeling of being correct without having to think. When ideo- logical stereotypes and specific opinions are linked in this way, there is a lowering of the kind of anxiety which arises when loyalty and belief are not in accord. Such ideologies lead to a willingness to accept a given line of belief; then there is no need, emotionally or rationally, to overcome resistance to given item s in that line; cumulative selections of specific opinions and feelings become the THE MASS SOCIETY 313 pre-organized attitudes and emotions that shape the opinion-life of the person. These deeper beliefs and feelings are a sort of len s through which men experience their worlds, they strongly co ndition ac- ceptance or rejection of specific opinions, and they set men’s orien- tation toward prevailing authorities. Three decades ago, Walter Lippmann saw such prior convictions as biases: they kept men from defining reality in an adequate way. They are still biases. But today they can often be seen as ‘good biases’; inadequate and misleading as they often are, they are less so than the crackpot realism of the higher authorities and opinion-makers. They are the lower common sense and as such a factor of resistan ce. But we must recognize, especially when the pace of change is so deep and fast, that common sense is more often common than s ense. And, above all, we must recognize that ‘the common sense’ of our chil- dren is going to be less the result of any firm social tradition than of the stereotypes carried by the mass media to which they are now so fully exposed. They are the first generation to be so exposed. II. So long as the media are not entirely monopoliz ed, the in- dividual can play one medium off against another; h e can com- pare them, and hence resist what any one of them pu ts out. The more genuine competition there is among the media, the more re- sistance the individual might be able to command. But how much is this now the case? Do people compare reports on public events or policies, playing one medium’s content off against another’s? The answer is: generally no, very few do: (I) We kn ow that people tend strongly to select those media which carry contents with which they already agree. There is a land of selection of new opinions on the basis of prior opinions. No one see ms to search out such counter-statements as may be found in alte rnative media offerings. Given radio programs and magazines and n ewspapers often get a rather consistent public, and thus reinforce their mes- sages in the minds of that public. (2) This idea of playing one medium off against another assumes that the media r eally have varying contents. It assumes genuine competition, which is not widely true. The media display an apparent variety and competi- tion, but on closer view they seem to compete more in terms of variations on a few standardized themes than of clashing issues. 314 THE POWER ELITE The freedom to raise issues effectively seems more and more to be confined to those few interests that have ready and continual ac- cess to these media. III. The media have not only filtered into our experience of ex- ternal realities, they have also entered into our v ery experience of our own selves. They have provided us with new i dentities and new aspirations of what we should like to be, and what we should like to appear to be. They have provided in the models of conduct they hold out to us a new and larger and mo re flexible set of appraisals of our very selves. In terms of the modern theory of the self, 8 we may say that the media bring the reader, listen er, viewer into the sight of larger, higher reference groups—groups, real or imagined, up-close or vicarious, personally known or dis- tractedly glimpsed—which are looking glasses for hi s self-image. They have multiplied the groups to which we look fo r confirma- tion of our self-image. More than that: (1) the media tell the man in the mass who he is—they give him identity; (2) they tell him what he wants to be— they give him aspirations; (3) they tell him how to get that way— they give him technique; and (4) they tell him how to feel that he is that way even when he is not—they give him escap e. The gaps between the identity and aspiration lead to technique and/or to escape. That is probably the basic psychological formula of the mass media today. But, as a formula, it is not attuned to the de- velopment of the human being. It is the formula of a pseudo- world which the media invent and sustain. IV. As they now generally prevail, the mass media, especially television, often encroach upon the small-scale discussion, and destroy the chance for the reasonable and leisurely and human interchange of opinion. They are an important cause of the de- struction of privacy in its full human meaning. That is an impor- tant reason why they not only fail as an educational force, but are a malign force: they do not articulate for the viewer or listener the broader sources of his private tensions and anxieti es, his inarticu- late resentments and half-formed hopes. They neithe r enable the individual to transcend his narrow milieu nor clarify its private meaning. The media provide much information and news about w hat is happening in the world, but they do not often enable the listener THE MASS SOCIETY 315 or the viewer truly to connect his daily life with these larger reali- ties. They do not connect the information they prov ide on public issues with the troubles felt by the individual. They do not in- crease rational insight into tensions, either those in the individual or those of the society which are reflected in the individual. On the contrary, they distract him and obscure his chance to under- stand himself or his world, by fastening his attention upon arti- ficial frenzies that are resolved within the progra m framework, usually by violent action or by what is called humor. In short, for the viewer they are not really resolved at all. The chief distracting tension of the media is between the wanting and the not having of commodities or of women held to be good looking. There is almost always the general tone of animated distraction, of sus- pended agitation, but it is going nowhere and it has nowhere to go. But the media, as now organized and operated, are e ven more than a major cause of the transformation of America into a mass society. They are also among the most important of those in- creased means of power now at the disposal of elites of wealth and power; morever, some of the higher agents of th ese media are themselves either among the elites or very important among their servants. Alongside or just below the elite, there is the propagandist, the publicity expert, the public-relations man, who wou ld control the very formation of public opinion in order to be able to include it as one more pacified item in calculations of effective power, in- creased prestige, more secure wealth. Over the last quarter of a century, the attitudes of these manipulators toward their task have gone through a sort of dialectic: In the beginning, there is great faith in what the mass media can do. Words win wars or sell soap; they move peop le, they re- strain people. ‘Only cost,’ the advertising man of the ‘twenties pro- claims, limits the delivery of public opinion in an y direction on any topic.’ 9 The opinion-maker’s belief in the media as mass pe r- suaders almost amounts to magic—but he can believe mass com- munications omnipotent only so long as the public is trustful. It does not remain trustful. The mass media say so ver y many and such competitively exaggerated things; they banalize their mes- sage and they cancel one another out. The ‘propaganda phobia,’ 316 THE POWER ELITE in reaction to wartime lies and postwar disenchantm ent, does not help matters, even though memory is both short and subject to offi- cial distortion. This distrust of the magic of media is translated into a slogan among the opinion managers. Across th eir banners they write: ‘Mass Persuasion Is Not Enough.’ Frustrated, they reason; and reasoning, they come to accept the principle of social context. To change opinion and activity, they say to one another, we must pay close attention to the full context and lives of the people to be managed. Alon g with mass persuasion, we must somehow use personal influence; we must reach people in their life context and through other people, their daily associates, those whom they trust: we must ge t at them by some kind of ‘personal’ persuasion. We must not sho w our hand directly; rather than merely advise or command, we must manip- ulate. Now this live and immediate social context in which people live and which exerts a steady expectation upon them is of course what we have called the primary public. Anyone who has seen the inside of an advertising agency or public-relations office knows that the primary public is still the great unsolved problem of the opinion-makers. Negatively, their recognition of th e influence of social context upon opinion and public activity imp lies that the articulate public resists and refracts the communications of the mass media. Positively, this recognition implies that the public is not composed of isolated individuals, but rather of persons who not only have prior opinions that must be reckoned with, but who continually influence each other in complex and intimate, in direct and continual ways. In their attempts to neutralize or to turn to their own use the articulate public, the opinion-makers try to make i t a relay net- work for their views. If the opinion-makers have so much power that they can act directly and openly upon the prim ary publics, they may become authoritative; but, if they do not have such power and hence have to operate indirectly and without visibil- ity, they will assume the stance of manipulators. Authority is power that is explicit and more or less ‘voluntarily’ obeyed; manipulation is the ‘secret’ exercise of power, unknown to those who axe influenced. In the model of the classic democratic THE MASS SOCIETY 317 society, manipulation is not a problem, because for mal authority resides in the public itself and in its representatives who are made or broken by the public. In the completely aut horitarian society, manipulation is not a problem, because authority is openly identified with the ruling institutions and their agents, who may use authority explicitly and nakedly. They do not, in the extreme case, have to gain or retain power by hiding its exercise. Manipulation becomes a problem wherever men have po wer that is concentrated and willful but do not have authority, or when, for any reason, they do not wish to use their power openly. Then the powerful seek to rule without showing thei r powerful- ness. They want to rule, as it were, secretly, without publicized legitimation. It is in this mixed case—as in the intermediate reality of the American today—that manipulation is a prime way of ex- ercising power. Small circles of men are making decisions which they need to have at least authorized by indifferent or recalcitrant people over whom they do not exercise explicit auth ority. So the small circle tries to manipulate these people into willing accept- ance or cheerful support of their decisions or opinions—or at least to the rejection of possible counter-opinions. Authority formally resides ‘in the people,’ but the power of ini- tiation is in fact held by small circles of men. That is why the stand- ard strategy of manipulation is to make it appear t hat the people, or at least a large group of them, ‘really made the decision.’ That is why even when the authority is available, men with access to it may still prefer the secret, quieter ways of manipulation. But are not the people now more educated? Why not e mpha- size the spread of education rather than the increased effects of the mass media? The answer, in brief, is that mass education, in many respects, has become—another mass medium. The prime task of public education, as it came wide ly to be understood in this country, was political: to make the citizen more knowledgeable and thus better able to think and to judge of public affairs. In time, the function of education shifted from the political to the economic: to train people for better-paying jobs and thus to get ahead. This is especially true of the high-scho ol movement, which has met the business demands for white-collar skills at the public’s expense. In large part education has become merely voca- 318 THE POWER ELITE tional; in so far as its political task is concerne d, in many schools, that has been reduced to a routine training of nationalist loyalties. The training of skills that are of more or less dir ect use in the vocational life is an important task to perform, but ought not to be mistaken for liberal education: job advancement, no matter on what levels, is not the same as self-development, although the two are now systematically confused. 10 Among ‘skills,’ some are more and some are less relevant to the aims of liberal—that is to say, lib- erating—education. Skills and values cannot be so e asily separated as the academic search for supposedly neutral skills causes us to as- sume. And especially not when we speak seriously of liberal edu- cation. Of course, there is a scale, with skills at one end and values at the other, but it is the middle range of this sc ale, which one might call sensibilities, that are of most relevance to the classic public. To train someone to operate a lathe or to read and write is pretty much education of skill; to evoke from people an un derstanding of what they really want out of their lives or to debate with them stoic, Christian and humanist ways of living, is pr etty much a clear-cut education of values. But to assist in the birth among a group of people of those cultural and political and technical sensi- bilities which would make them genuine members of a genuinely liberal public, this is at once a training in skills and an education of values. It includes a sort of therapy in the anc ient sense of clarifying one’s knowledge of one’s self; it includes the impart- ing of all those skills of controversy with one’s self, which we call thinking; and with others, which we call debate. An d the end product of such liberal education of sensibilities is simply the self- educating, self-cultivating man or woman. The knowledgeable man in the genuine public is able to turn his personal troubles into social issues, to see their relevance for his community and his community’s relevance for the m. He under- stands that what he thinks and feels as personal tr oubles are very often not only that but problems shared by others and indeed not subject to solution by any one individual but only by modifi- cations of the structure of the groups in which he lives and some- times the structure of the entire society. Men in masses are gripped by personal troubles, but they are not aware of their true meaning and source. Men in public con- THE MASS SOCIETY 319 front issues, and they are aware of their terms. It is the task of the liberal institution, as of the liberally educated m an, continually to translate troubles into issues and issues into the terms of their hu- man meaning for the individual. In the absence of d eep and wide political debate, schools for adults and adolescents could perhaps become hospitable frameworks for just such debate. In a com- munity of publics the task of liberal education would be: to keep the public from being overwhelmed; to help produce the disci- plined and informed mind that cannot be overwhelmed; to help develop the bold and sensible individual that cannot be sunk by the burdens of mass life. But educational practice has not made knowledge directly relevant to the human need of th e troubled person of the twentieth century or to the social practices of the citizen. This citizen cannot now see the roots of his own biases and frustrations, nor think clearly about himself, nor for that mat- ter about anything else. He does not see the frustr ation of idea, of intellect, by the present organization of society, and he is not able to meet the tasks now confronting ‘the intelligent citizen.’ Educational institutions have not done these things and, except in rare instances, they are not doing them. They ha ve become mere elevators of occupational and social ascent, and, on all levels, they have become politically timid. Moreover, in th e hands of ‘professional educators,’ many schools have come to operate on an ideology of ‘life adjustment’ that encourages happy acceptance of mass ways of life rather than the struggle for i ndividual and public transcendence.* There is not much doubt that modern regressive educ ators have adapted their notions of educational content and practice to the idea of the mass. They do not effectively proclaim standards of cultural level and intellectual rigor; rather they often deal in the trivia of vocational tricks and ‘adjustment to life’—meaning the * If the schools are doing their job,’ A. E. Bestor has written, ‘we should expect educators to point to the significant and indisputable achievement in raising the intellectual level of the nation—measured perhaps by larger per capita circulation of books and serious magazines, by definitely improved taste in movies and radio pr ograms, by higher standards of political debate, by increased respect for freedom of speech and of thought, by marked decline in such evidences of mental retarda- tion as the incessant reading of comic books by adults.’ 11 320 THE POWER ELITE slack life of masses. ‘Democratic schools’ often me an the further- ance of intellectual mediocrity, vocational trainin g, nationalistic loyalties, and little else. 6 The structural trends of modem society and the mani pulative character of its communication technique come to a point of coinci- dence in the mass society, which is largely a metro politan society. The growth of the metropolis, segregating men and w omen into narrowed routines and environments, causes them to lose any firm sense of their integrity as a public. The members o f publics in smaller communities know each other more or less fu lly, because they meet in the several aspects of the total life routine. The mem- bers of masses in a metropolitan society know one a nother only as fractions in specialized milieux: the man who fixes the car, the girl who serves your lunch, the saleslady, the wome n who take care of your child at school during the day. Prejud gment and stereotype flourish when people meet in such ways. The human reality of others does not, cannot, come through. People, we know, tend to select those formal media which con- firm what they already believe and enjoy. In a parallel way, they tend in the metropolitan segregation to come into live touch with those whose opinions are similar to theirs. Others they tend to treat unseriously. In the metropolitan society they develop, in their defense, a blase manner that reaches deeper than a manner. They do not, accordingly, experience genuine clashe s of view- point, genuine issues. And when they do, they tend to consider it mere rudeness. Sunk in their routines, they do not transcend, even by discus- sion, much less by action, their more or less narrow lives. They do not gain a view of the structure of their society a nd of their role as a public within it. The city is a structure composed of such little environments, and the people in them tend to be det ached from one another. The ‘stimulating variety’ of the city does not stimu- late the men and women of ‘the bedroom belt,’ the o ne-class sub- urbs, who can go through life knowing only their own kind. If they do reach for one another, they do so only through s tereotypes and prejudiced images of the creatures of other milieux. Each is trapped by his confining circle; each is cut off from easily identi- THE MASS SOCIETY 321 fiable groups. It is for people in such narrow mili eux that the mass media can create a pseudo-world beyond, and a pseud o-world within themselves as well. Publics live in milieux but they can transcend them—individu- ally by intellectual effort; socially by public action. By reflection and debate and by organized action, a community of publics comes to feel itself and comes in fact to be active at points of structural relevance. But members of a mass exist in milieux and cannot g et out of them, either by mind or by activity, except—in the extreme case- under ‘the organized spontaneity’ of the bureaucrat on a motor- cycle. We have not yet reached the extreme case, bu t observ- ing metropolitan man in the American mass we can su rely see the psychological preparations for it. We may think of it in this way: When a handful of men do not have jobs, and do not seek work, we look for the causes in their immediate situation and character. But when twelve million men are unemployed, then we cannot believe that all of them suddenly ‘got lazy’ and turned out to be ‘no good.’ Economis ts call this ‘structural unemployment’—meaning, for one thing, that the men involved cannot themselves control their job chance s. Structural unemployment does not originate in one factory or in one town, nor is it due to anything that one factory or one town does or fails to do. Moreover, there is little or nothing that one ordinary man in one factory in one town can do about it when it sweeps over his personal milieu. Now, this distinction, between social structure and personal milieu, is one of the most important available in the sociological studies. It offers us a ready understanding of the position of ‘the public’ in America today. In every major area of life, the loss of a sense of structure and the submergence into powerle ss milieux is the cardinal fact. In the military it is most obvious, for here the roles men play are strictly confining; only the com mand posts at the top afford a view of the structure of the whole, and moreover, this view is a closely guarded official secret. In the division of labor too, the jobs men enact in the economic hierarchies are also more or less narrow milieux and the positions from which a view of the production process as a whole can be had are centralized, as men 322 THE POWER ELITE are alienated not only from the product and the too ls of their labor, but from any understanding of the structure and the processes of production. In the political order, in the fragment ation of the lower and in the distracting proliferation of the middle-level or- ganization, men cannot see the whole, cannot see the top, and can- not state the issues that will in fact determine the whole structure in which they live and their place within it. This loss of any structural view or position is the decisive mean- ing of the lament over the loss of community. In th e great city, the division of milieux and of segregating routines rea ches the point of closest contact with the individual and the fami ly, for, al- though the city is not the unit of prime decision, even the city can- not be seen as a total structure by most of its citizens. On the one hand, there is the increased scale and c entralization of the structure of decision; and, on the other, the increasingly narrow sorting out of men into milieux. From both s ides, there is the increased dependence upon the formal media of communi- cation, including those of education itself. But the man in the mass does not gain a transcending view from these media; instead he gets his experience stereotyped, and then he gets s unk further by that experience. He cannot detach himself in order to observe, much less to evaluate, what he is experiencing, much less what he is not experiencing. Rather than that internal discussion we call reflection, he is accompanied through his life-expe rience with a sort of unconscious, echoing monologue. He has no p rojects of his own: he fulfills the routines that exist He does not transcend whatever he is at any moment, because he does not, he cannot, transcend his daily milieux. He is not truly aware of his own daily experience and of its actual standards: he drifts, he fulfills habits, his behavior a result of a planless mixture of the confused stand- ards and the uncriticized expectations that he has taken over from others whom he no longer really knows or trusts, if indeed he ever really did. He takes things for granted, he makes the best of t hem, he tries to look ahead—a year or two perhaps, or even longer if he has children or a mortgage—but he does not seriously ask, What do I want? How can I get it? A vague optimism suffuses a nd sustains him, broken occasionally by little miseries and disappointments that are soon buried. He is smug, from the standpoint of those who THE MASS SOCIETY 323 think something might be the matter with the mass s tyle of life in the metropolitan frenzy where self-making is an ext ernally busy branch of industry. By what standards does he judge himself and his efforts? What is really important to him? Where are the models of excellence for this man? He loses his independence, and more importantly, he loses the desire to be independent: in fact, he does not have hold of the idea of being an independent individual with his ow n mind and his own worked-out way of life. It is not that he likes or does not like this life; it is that the question does not come up sharp and clear so he is not bitter and he is not sweet about conditions and events. He thinks he wants merely to get his share of what is around with as little trouble as he can and with as much fun as possible. Such order and movement as his life possesses is in conformity with external routines; otherwise his day-to-day experience is a vague chaos—although he often does not know it beca use, strictly speaking, he does not truly possess or observe his own experience. He does not formulate his desires; they are insinua ted into him. And, in the mass, he loses the self-confidence of the human being —if indeed he has ever had it. For life in a society of masses im- plants insecurity and furthers impotence; it makes men uneasy and vaguely anxious; it isolates the individual from the solid group; it destroys firm group standards. Acting without goals, the man in the mass just feels pointless. The idea of a mass society suggests the idea of an elite of power. The idea of the public, in contrast, suggests the l iberal tradition of a society without any power elite, or at any rate with shifting elites of no sovereign consequence. For, if a genuine public is sov- ereign, it needs no master; but the masses, in thei r full develop- ment, are sovereign only in some plebiscitarian mom ent of adula- tion to an elite as authoritative celebrity. The political structure of a democratic state requires the public; and, the de mocratic man, in his rhetoric, must assert that this public is the very seat of sov- ereignty. But now, given all those forces that have enlarged and central- ized the political order and made modern societies less political 324 THE POWER ELITE and more administrative; given the transformation o f the old mid- dle classes into something which perhaps should not even be called middle class; given all the mass communications that do not truly communicate; given all the metropolitan segre gation that is not community; given the absence of voluntary assoc iations that really connect the public at large with the centers of power— what is happening is the decline of a set of publics that is sov- ereign only in the most formal and rhetorical sense. Moreover, in many countries the remnants of such publics as rema in are now being frightened out of existence. They lose their will for rationally considered decision and action because they do not possess the instruments for such decision and action; they lose their sense of political belonging because they do not belong; the y lose their political will because they see no way to realize it. The top of modern American society is increasingly unified, and often seems willfully co-ordinated: at the top there has emerged an elite of power. The middle levels are a drifting set of stale- mated, balancing forces: the middle does not link the bottom with the top. The bottom of this society is politically fragmented, and even as a passive fact, increasingly powerless: at the bottom there is emerging a mass society. 14 The Conservative Mood IF we are to suppose that modern America ought to b e a demo- cratic society, we must look to the intellectual community for knowledge of the power elite and of their decisions. For democ- racy implies that those who bear the consequences o f decisions have enough knowledge—not to speak of power—to hold the decision-makers accountable. Everyone must depend upon knowl- edge provided by others, for no man can know by his own ex- perience more than a small portion of the social worlds that now affect him. Most of our experience is indirect and, as we have seen, subject to much distortion. The opinion-makers of every age have provided images of the elite of their time and place. Like the realities they are supposed to represent, these ima ges change; in our own immediate time, in fact, many old images ha ve been re- vised and many new ones invented. Of late, this work has occurred less as an effort to know reality better than to serve a strangely conservative mood that has come to prevail among the image-makers. The images they now offer us are not those of an elite in irresponsible command of unprec- edented means of power and manipulation, but of a s catter of reasonable men overwhelmed by events and doing their best in a difficult situation. The mood out of which these im ages have arisen serves less to justify the real power of the real elite, or the intelligence of its decisions, than to sustain their spokesmen. The images we are expected to take most seriously are e ither irrelevant to the facts of power and of the power elite or the y are simply private fantasies serving more as emotional cushions for small 325 326 THE POWER ELITE coteries of comfortable writers, paid and unpaid, t han as a dia- gram of all those forces which in our time come to such obvious climax in the American power elite. Yet scholars, knowingly and unknowingly, have been seeking suitable ideas about this elite. They have not found them and they have not managed to create them. What they have fou nd is an absence of mind and of morality in the public life of our times, and what they have managed to create is a mere elab oration of their own conservative mood. It is a mood quite appropriate to men living in a material boom, a nationalist celebration, a politi- cal vacuum. At its heart there is a knowledge of po werlessness without poignancy, and a feeling of pseudo-power based on mere smugness. By its softening of the political will, this mood enables men to accept public depravity without any private sense of out- rage, and to give up the central goal of western hu manism, so strongly felt in nineteenth-century American experience: the pre- sumptuous control by reason of man’s fate. 1 Those who grope for ideologies with which to explai n their conservative mood would anchor this mood—as well as themselves —in some solid tradition. They feel that they have somehow been tricked by liberalism, progressivism, radicalism, and they are a little frightened. What many of them want, it would seem, is a society of classic conservatism. Conservatism in its classic form is of course tradi tionalism become self-conscious and elaborated, argumentative and ration- alized. 1 It also involves some ‘natural aristocracy.’ Sooner or later all those who relax the grand tension of human rati onality must take up the neo-Burkeian defense of a traditional elite, for in the end, such an elite is the major premise of a genuin ely conservative ideology. The more explicit—and hence the less successful—att empts to find or to invent a traditional elite for America today seem upon examination to be merely hopeful assertions, and as little relevant to modern realities as they are usable guides to po litical conduct. The conservative—Mr. Russell Kirk tells us—believes that (1) ‘divine intent rules society,’ man being incapable of grasping by his reason the great forces that prevail. Accordingly, change must THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 327 be slow, for ‘Providence is the proper instrument for change,’ and the test of a statesman is his ‘cognizance of the real tendency of Providential social forces.’ The conservative (2) has an affection for ‘the variety and mystery of traditional life,’ perhaps most of all because he believes that ‘tradition and sound p rejudice’ check man’s presumptuous will and archaic impulse. Moreov er (3), ‘Society longs for leadership,’ and the conservative holds that there are ‘natural distinctions’ among men which fo rm a natural order of classes and powers. 2 Tradition is sacred; through it the real social ten dencies of Providence are displayed; therefore, tradition must be our guide. Whatever is traditional represents the accumulated wisdom of the ages, and more: it exists by ‘divine intent.’ Naturally we must ask how we are to know which trad itions are instruments of Providence? Which of the events and changes all around us are by divine intent? At what moment did the highly conscious contrivances of the Founding Fathers beco me tradi- tional and thus sanctified? And must one believe that society in the United States—before the progressive movement and b efore the New Deal reforms—represented anything akin to what the classic conservative would call orders and classes based on ‘natural dis- tinctions’? If not, then what and where is the mode l which the classic conservative would have us cherish? And do those who now man the political and economic institutions of the United States represent the Providential intent which is sought? And how are we to know if they do or do not? The conservative defends the irrationality of tradi tion against the powers of human reason; he denies the legitimac y of man’s attempt individually to control his own fate and collectively to build his own world. How then can he bring in reason as a means of choosing among traditions and men, as a means of deciding which changes are Providential and which are evil forces? He cannot provide any rational guide in our choice of which leaders grasp Providence and act it out and which are refor mers and levelers. There is within this view no guide-line to help us decide which contenders for this natural distinction are genuine. And yet the answer, although not always clear, is a lways there: if we do not destroy the natural order of classes and the hierarchy of powers, we shall have superiors and leaders to tell us. If we 328 THE POWER ELITE uphold these natural distinctions, and in fact resu scitate older ones, the leaders will decide. In the end, the classic conservative is left with this single principle: the principle of gratefully accept- ing the leadership of some set of men whom he consi ders a sancti- fied elite. If such men were there for all to recognize, then the conservative could at least be socially clear. Then the yearning for a classic tradition and a conservative hierarchy could be satis- fied. For they would be visibly anchored in the aut hority of an aristocracy, and this aristocracy would be tangible to the senses as the very model of private conduct and public decision. It is just here that American publicists of the con servative mood have become embarrassed and confused. Their embarra ssment is in part due to a fear of confronting the all-pervading liberal rhetoric; their confusion is mainly due to two simple facts about the American upper classes in general, and the high er circles of power in particular: Those who are on high are not suitable as models of conserva- tive excellence. Nor do they themselves uphold any ideology truly suitable for public use. The very rich in America have been culturally among the very poor; the only kinds of experience for which they have been models are the material ones of money-getting and money-ke eping. Material success is their sole basis of authority. One might, of course, be nostalgic for the old families and their last resorts, but such images are not generally supposed to count for much, being more of a tinsel past than of the serious present. Alongside the old rich and supplanting them are the synthetic celebri ties of national glamour who often make a virtue out of cultural pov erty and political illiteracy. By their very nature the professional celebri- ties are transient figures of the mass means of dis traction rather than people who carry the prestige of authority bec ause they embody the continuity of tradition. And of the new rich, the big rich of Texas are too unsophisticated, and the corporate rich too much involved in what we shall call the higher immo rality. As for the chief executives of the corporations, ideologies—conserva- tive or otherwise—are much too fancy for them: besi des, their hired men can and do talk easily in the liberal patter—wh y then should they take on the burden of conservative principles? Furthermore, is it not virtually a condition of success in the American political THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 329 economy that one learn to use, and use frequently, the liberal rhetoric which is the common denominator of all proper and suc- cessful spokesmanship? 3 There are, accordingly, no highly placed social figures whom conservative scholars might celebrate as models of excellence, who stand in contrast with the liberal confusion they would de- plore, and who are ready, able, and eager to adopt new conserva- tive creeds. There are no pre-capitalist, pre-liberal elites which they can draw upon, even in fond remembrance; they cannot, as European writers have been able to do, contrast such holdovers from feudalism, however modified, with the vulgarity of the suc- cessful of capitalist society. Consequently, the greatest problem of the spokesmen for an American conservatism is simply to locate the set of people whose interests the conservative ideology would serve, and who, in turn, would accept it. Classic conservativism has require d the spell of tradition among such surviving elements of pre-indu strial societies as an aristocracy of noble men, a peasantry, a pett y-bourgeoisie with guild inheritances; and these are precisely wh at America has never had. For in America, the bourgeoisie has been pre- dominant from its beginnings—in class, in status, and in power. In America, there has not been and there can be no conservative ideology of the classic type. The high and the mighty in America espouse no accep table conservative ideas and actually abhor conservative rhetoric. In so far as one can find a clue to the basic impulse of conservative spokesmen, it is the attempt to sacrifice politics as an autonomous sphere of men’s will to the free and arbitrary domi nance of corpo- rate institutions and their key personnel. They have no connection with those fountainheads of modern conservative tho ught with which many American intellectuals have been so hopefully seek- ing to associate them. Neither Burke nor Locke is the source of such ideology as the American elite have found trul y congenial. Their ideological source is Horatio Alger. 4 The maxims of work- and-win, of strive-and-succeed have sustained them in their noble game of grab. They have not elaborated such awarene ss of their newer power into any conscious ideology. They have not had to confront any opposition based upon ideas that stand in challenging contrast to the liberal rhetoric which they too employ as standard 330 THE POWER ELITE public relations. Perhaps it is easiest to be ‘cons ervative’ when there is no true sense of the conservative present as one alternative to what the future might be. If one cannot say that American con- servatism, as represented by men of wealth and powe r, is uncon- sciousness, certainly conservatives are often happily unconscious. Accordingly, even less than the radical writers of the ‘thirties have conservative writers of the ‘forties and ‘fifties been in close touch with the leaders or policy-makers they would influence or justify. 5 On the right and in the center, public relations fills any need for ‘ideology,’ and public relations are something you hire. Just now, the elite of wealth and power do not feel in need of any ideology, much less an ideology of classic conservatism. Yet, despite this, one may go ahead and defend the American elite and the upper classes in general and the system within which they are successful. This is no longer so popular a mong writers who are neither hired publicists nor academic hacks , although every little tendency or chance to follow it is promptly seized upon by those who are. Moreover, notions of trusteeship are still well received, especially among the chief executives of the corporate world, and every week by poll and by chart it is co nclusively proved that the American economy is the very best in the world. Such an explicit defense, however, does not satisfy those who yearn for classic conservatism; to be useful, such defense must make out the elite as dynamic and hence no anchor f or tradition. On the contrary, the capitalist elite must always be composed of self-making men who smash tradition to rise to the top by strictly personal accomplishments. 2 If classic conservatism, anchored in a recognized e lite, is not quite possible today in America, that does not mean that scholars with conservative yearnings have not found other wa ys to realize themselves. In their need for an aristocracy, they often become grandly vague about the aristocrat. Generalizing the notion, they make it moral rather than socially firm and specific. In the name of ‘genuine democracy’ or ‘liberal conservatism’ they stretch the meaning of aristocracy—the ‘natural aristocracy’ has nothing to do with existing social orders, classes, or hierarchies of power; the aristocracy becomes a scatter of morally superior persons THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 331 rather than a socially recognizable class. Such not ions are now quite popular, for they satisfy the conservative mood without re- quiring allegiance to the current crop of ‘aristocrats.’ So it is with Ortega y Gasset and so it is with Peter Viereck. Th e latter, for example, writes that it is not ‘the aristocratic class’ that is valuable but ‘the aristocratic spirit’—which, with its decor um and noblesse oblige, is ‘open to all, regardless of class.’ 6 Some have tried to find a way to hold onto such a view, almost secretly, no t stating it directly, but holding it as a latent assumption while talking about, not the elite, but ‘the mass.’ That, however, is dangerous, for again, it goes against the liberal rhetoric which requires a continual flat- tery of the citizens. Generalizing the aristocratic ethos and emptying it of social content are not really satisfactory because they provide no widely accepted criteria for judging who is elite and who is not. A self- selecting elite can be no anchor. Moreover, such a generalization does not have to do with the existing facts of power and hence is politically irrelevant. Both outright defense of those who are ascendant wi thin the status quo, and defense of an imaginary aristocratic ethos, in fact, end up not with an elite that is fixed in tradition and hierarchy, but with a dynamic and ever-changing elite continually struggling to the top in an expanding society. There is simply no socially, much less politically, recognized traditional elite and there is no tradi- tion that can be imaginatively elaborated around su ch an elite. Moreover, whatever else it may be, tradition is som ething one cannot create; one can only uphold it when it exists. There is today no magic spell of unbroken tradition upon which mod ern society is or can be steadily based. Accordingly, greatness cannot be con- fused with mere duration, nor the competition of va lues decided by an endurance contest. 3 But the conservative mood is strong, almost as strong as the pervasive liberal rhetoric, and there is a way to satisfy them both. One refuses to recognize and confront the top as it is, and one re- fuses to imagine a more defensible one. One simply denies that there is any elite or even any upper class, or at any rate asserts that in so far as such exist they do not really count in the American 332 THE POWER ELITE way of life. If this can be held firmly to be the c ase, then one can indulge the conservative mood without having to ass ociate it with the actual elite or with any imaginary aristocracy. When they write of the upper classes, conservatives of the pain- less school of liberalism often confuse wishful ima ge with reality. Either they tend to relegate the elite to the past or they diversify its elements in the present. In the nineteenth century, leaning into the future, liberals relegated the elite to the past; in the twentieth century, being heavy with the insistent present, th ey have con- sidered elites to be diversified to the point of powerlessness.* So far as power is concerned, nobody really makes the decisions; let us fall back upon official and formal images of rep resentative government. So far as wealth or high income is concerned, that is after all without decisive consequence, although perhaps it does affect the tone of society at large. Besides, everybody in America is rich nowadays. This unserious liberalism is the nerve- center of the present-day conservative mood. Perhaps nothing is of more importance, both as caus e and as effect, to the conservative mood than the rhetorical victory and the intellectual and political collapse of American liberalism. It is of course obvious that the kind of liberalism’ that prevailed in the ‘thirties has lost the political initiative in the postwar era. In the economic boom and the military terror of this e ra, a small group of political primitives, on the middle levels of power, have exploited the new American jitters, emptied domesti c politics of rational content, and decisively lowered the level of public sensi- bility. They have attacked the policies of the New and Fair Deals; tried to rewrite the history of these administrations; and impugned the very biographies of those who took part in them . They have done all this in a manner that reveals clearly their appeal to the rankling status resentment of those newly prosperou s classes which, having achieved considerable wealth during a nd after World War II, have not received the prestige or gained the power they have felt to be their due.** The petty right have appealed less to the economically discon- * I have already presented and analyzed this romant ic pluralism. See above ELEVEN : The Theory of Balance. ** See above, TWO : Local Society. THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 333 tented than to the status frustrated. They have done so by attack- ing the symbols, the men, and the institutions of e stablished prestige. 7 At the very beginning of their push, they almost suc- ceeded in destroying one of the inner citadels of the old upper class—the Foreign Service—and at one high point of their drive, their leading member, having told off an army general, enabled a nation-wide public to witness the Secretary of the Army, who was also a man of older family wealth, being disgraced in a public brawl with unestablished nihilists. They have brought to wide attention a new conceptio n of na- tional loyalty, as loyalty to individual gangs who placed them- selves above the established legitimations of the state and invited its personnel to do likewise. They have made clear the central place now achieved in the governmental process by secret police and secret ‘investigations,’ to the point where observant men speak realistically of a shadow cabinet based in considerable part upon new ways of power which include the wire tap, the private eye, the use and threat of blackmail. They have dramatized the hollowing out of sensibility among a population which for a gen- eration has been steadily and increasingly subjecte d to the shrill trivialization of the mass means of entertainment and dis- traction. They have brought into public view the hi gher immoral- ity as well as the mindlessness of selected upper and middle cir- cles. And they have revealed a decayed and frighten ed liberalism weakly defending itself from the insecure and ruthl ess fury of political gangsters. As the liberalism-of-the-‘thirties sat in its postwar hearing, lib- erals became aware, from time to time, of how near they were to the edge of mindlessness. The status edifice of est ablished bourgeois society was under attack, but since in America there is nothing from the past above that edifice, and since those of once liberal and left persuasion see nothing in the future below it, they have become terribly frightened by the viciousness of the attack, and their political lives have been narrowed to the sharp edge of defensive anxiety. Postwar liberalism has been organizationally impoverished: the prewar years of liberalism-in-power devitalized independent lib- eral groups, drying up the grass roots, making olde r leaders de- pendent upon the federal center and not training new leaders 334 THE POWER ELITE round the country. The New Deal left no liberal org anization to carry on any liberal program; rather than a new party, its instru- ment was a loose coalition inside an old one, which quickly fell apart so far as liberal ideas are concerned. Moreover, the New Deal used up the heritage of liberal ideas, made th em banal as it put them into law; turned liberalism into a set of administrative routines to defend rather than a program to fight for. 8 In their moral fright, postwar liberals have not de fended any left or even any militantly liberal position: their defensive posture has, first of all, led them to celebrate the ‘civil liberties,’ in con- trast with their absence from Soviet Russia. In fac t, many have been so busy celebrating the civil liberties that they have had less time to defend them; and, more importantly, most ha ve been so busy defending civil liberties that they have had neither the time nor the inclination to use them. ‘In the old days,’ Archibald Mac- Leish remarked at the end of the ‘forties, freedom ‘was something you used . . . [it] has now become something you sa ve—some- thing you put away and protect like your other possessions—like a deed or a bond in a bank.’ 9 It is much safer to celebrate civil liberties than to defend them; it is much safer to defend them as a formal right t han to use them in a politically effective way. Even those who woul d most willingly subvert these liberties usually do so in their very name. It is easier still to defend someone else’s right to have used t hem years ago than to have something yourself to say now and to s ay it now forcibly. The defense of civil liberties—even of their practice a decade ago—has become the major concern of many lib eral and once leftward scholars. All of which is a safe way of diverting intel- lectual effort from the sphere of political reflection and demand. The defensive posture of the postwar liberals has a lso involved them in the very nervous center of elite and plebei an anxieties about the position of America in the world today. At the root of these anxieties is not simply international tension and the terrible, helpless feeling of many that there is no alternative to another war. There is also a specific worry with which many Amer icans are seriously concerned. The United States is now engaged with other nations, in particular Russia, in a full-scale competition for cultural prestige based on nationality. In this competition, at issue are American music, literature, and art and, in a somewhat higher THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 335 meaning than is usually given the term, The America n Way of Life. The economic, military and political power of the United States greatly exceeds its cultural spell. What America has abroad is power; what it does not have at home or abroad i s cultural pres- tige. This fact has led many liberals into the new American cele- bration, 10 which rests not only upon their felt need to defen d themselves in nationalist terms against the petty right but also upon the urgent compulsion to uphold the cultural p restige of America abroad. But the defensive posture and the organizational impoverish- ment are not the full story of what has happened to make Ameri- can liberalism painless to the rich and the powerfu l. Over the past half century, liberalism has been undergoing a moral and intellectual decline of serious proportion. As a proclamation of ideals, classic liberalism, like classic socialism, remains part of the secular tradition of the western society. But a s a rhetoric, lib- eralism’s key terms have become the common denomina tors of the political vocabulary; in this rhetorical victory, in which the most divergent positions are all proclaimed and defended in the same liberal terms, liberalism has been stretched beyond any usefulness as a way of defining issues and stating policies. The great range and variety of life in America does not include a great range and variety of political statement, much less of politi- cal alternative. In their rhetoric, spokesmen of al l interests share much more than they differ. Although only the liber als are cap- tured by it, all of them use the liberal rhetoric. The stereotype of America as essentially a progressive and even a rad ical country finds its anchorage only in its technological sphere,* and in strange ways, in the fashions of its entertainment and amus ement indus- tries. These have been so ‘dynamic’ and ‘radical’ that they have led to the characteristic American trait of animated di straction. These two surface areas of life have often been misinterpreted, at home and abroad, as America the dynamic and progres sive, in- stead of what is the fact: America is a conservative country with- out any conservative ideology. The intellectual slackness of its po- litical life is such that it does very well with the liberal rhetoric. * I do not mean to imply that the United States doe s lead in techno- logical ingenuity; in fact, I believe that its products generally do not compare in design or in quality with those of Germany and England. 336 THE POWER ELITE If, as a rhetoric, liberalism has become a mask of all political positions, as a theory of society it has become irrelevant, and in its optative mood, misleading. No revision of liber alism as a theory of the mechanics of modern social change has overcome the trademark of the nineteenth century that is stamped upon it. Liberalism as a social theory rests on the notion of a society in automatic balance. 11 The idea of the great balance, in all its various forms, is now the prevailing common-sense view of public affairs. It is also the theory of power held by most academic social scient ists; and it is the resting place of the conservative mood, as sustained by the liberal intelligentsia. This mood cannot be articul ated as clas- sic conservatism; it cannot rest upon a pre-capitalist, much less upon a pre-industrial, base; and it cannot employ the image of a society in which authority is legitimated by traditionalism as in- terpreted by a recognized aristocracy. As an intellectual articulation, the conservative mood is merely a reformulation of classic liberalism in the entirely unclassical age of the twentieth century; it is the image of a soci ety in which authority is at a minimum because it is guided by the autonomous forces of the magic market. The ‘providence’ of cla ssic conserva- tism becomes liberalism’s generalization of the ‘unseen hand’ of the market, for, in secular guise, Providence refers to a faith that the unintended consequences of many wills form a pa ttern, and that this pattern ought to be allowed to work itself out. Accord- ingly, it can be said that there is no elite, that there is no ruling class, that there are no powerful centers which nee d defense. In- stead of justifying the power of an elite by portraying it favorably, one denies that any set of men, any class, any orga nization has any really consequential power. American liberalism is thus readily made to sustain the conservative mood. It is, in fact, be- cause of the dominance of such liberal terms and as sumptions that no need is felt by the elite of power and wealth for an explicitly conservative ideology. 4 The greatest appeal of romantic pluralism* to those of con- servative yearning is that it makes unnecessary any explicit justi- * See above, ELEVEN : The Theory of Balance. THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 337 fication of the men who are ostensibly in charge of public affairs. For if they are all in balance, each of them really quite impotent, then no one set of higher circles and no manageable set of insti- tutional arrangements can be held accountable for the events and decisions of our time. Therefore, all serious political effort is really a delusion which sensible men may observe with inte rest but which they certainly do not allow to engage them morally. That is the political meaning of the conservative m ood of today; in the end, it is an irresponsible style of pretentious smug- ness. Curiously enough, for a conservative mood, it is not a snob- bery linked with nostalgia, but, on the contrary, w ith what is just one-step-ahead-of-the-very-latest-thing, which is to say that it is a snobbery based not on tradition but on fashion an d fad. 12 Those involved are not thinking for a nation, or even about a nation; they are thinking of and for themselves. In self-selecte d coteries, they confirm one another’s mood, which thus becomes snob bishly closed—and quite out of the main stream of the practice of decision and the reality of power. One may thus suppose, quite correctly, that the con servative mood is a playful little fashion toyed with in a period of material prosperity by a few comfortable writers. Certainly it is not a seri- ous effort to work out a coherent view of the world in which we live and the demands we might make upon it as political men—con- servative, liberal or radical. Neither an intellectual community nor a set of liberal publics is providing the terms of those issues and conflicts, decisions and policies that make up the history of our time. The combination of the liberal rhetoric and the conservative mood, in fact, has obfuscated hard issues and made possible his- torical development without benefit of idea. The pr evalence of this mood and this rhetoric means that thought, in any wide mean- ing of the term, has become largely irrelevant to s uch politics as have been visible, and that in postwar America mind has been divorced from reality. The petty conservatives, of course, have no more won political power than administrative liberals have retained it. While these two camps have been engaged in wordy battle on the middle levels of power, on the upper levels, less noisy and more sophisticated conservatives have assumed political power. Accordingly, in their imbroglio with the noisy right, liberal and once-left forces have in 338 THE POWER ELITE effect defended these established conservatives, ev en as they have been absorbed by conflict with their own leftward p asts, and have lost any point of effective defense against the outrageous accusa- tions of the petty right. The elite of corporation, army, and state have benefited politically and economically and mil itarily by the antics of the petty right, who have become, often u nwittingly, their political shocktroops. It is in this context of material prosperity, with the demagogic right setting the tone of public sensibility; the m ore sophisticated conservatives silently achieving established power in a largely undebated victory; with liberal ideas made official in the ‘thirties, now stolen and banalized by alien use; with liberal hopes care- fully adjusted to mere rhetoric by thirty years of rhetorical vic- tory; with radicalism deflated and radical hope stoned to death by thirty years of defeat—it is in this context that the conservative mood has set in among the observant scholars. Among them there is no demand and no dissent, and no opposition to the monstrous decisions that are being made without deep or widespread debate, in fact with no debate at all. There is no opposition to the undemo- cratically impudent manner in which policies of hig h military and civilian authority are simply turned out as facts a ccomplished. There is no opposition to public mindlessness in all its forms nor to all those forces and men that would further it. But above all— among the men of knowledge there is little or no op position to the divorce of knowledge from power, of sensibilities from men of power, no opposition to the divorce of mind from re ality.* Con- temporary men of power, accordingly, are able to command with- out any ideological cloak, political decisions occur without bene- fit of political discussion or political ideas, and the higher circles of America have come to be the embodiment of the Am erican sys- tem of organized irresponsibility. 5 It should not be supposed that such few and small publics as still exist, or even the American masses, share the conservative mood of the intellectuals. But neither should it be supposed that they have firmly in mind adequate images of the Ame rican elite. Their images are ambiguous; they are mainly in terms of status * See below, FIFTEEN : The Higher Immorality. THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 339 and wealth rather than of power; and they are quite moral in a politically petty way. Moral distrust of the high and mighty is of course an old Ameri- can custom. Sometimes, as during the ‘thirties, it is primarily of the corporate rich—then called economic royalists; sometimes, as between wars, of admirals and generals; and, all the time it is, at least a little bit, of the politicians. One must, of course, discount the wonderful make-be lieve and easy accusation of campaign oratory. And yet, the rather persist- ent attention paid to such matters as ‘corruption’ in business and government expresses a widespread concern with publ ic morality and personal integrity in high places, and signifies that it has been an underlying worry in almost every area of American life. These areas include military and political as well as directly economic institutions; they include the elite as the heads of these major institutions as well as the elite as a set of private individuals. Many little disclosures, spurring the moral worry o f those still capable of such concern, have indicated how widespr ead public immorality might be.* * A few years ago at West Point—center of the higher military life in America—some of the carefully selected young men we re caught cheat- ing to get by examinations. In other schools of higher learning college men have played dishonest basketball at the moneyed requests of crooked gamblers. In New York City, girls from quite respectable homes have been bought, for a few hundred dollars, by hol idaying corporate executives from playboys of very rich families in the business of procur- ing. In Washington, as well as in other major citie s, men in high places have accepted bribes and yielded to pull. By Septem ber 1954, some 1400 cases of windfall profits, appropriated during the later ‘forties, had been turned up: corporations that had built for or invested in the Fed- eral Housing Administration’s rental housing got mo rtgages for more than the cost of the building, pocketing the difference, which came to hundreds of millions. 13 Government officials and business contractors, as well as party girls—three for $400—and paid-for fishing trips were part of the operating procedure. During the fate war, of course, anyone with smart money and the right connections could ha ve all the black- market meat and gasoline he cared for. And in one r ecent Presidential campaign, public distrust reached a shrill and cynical tone, when, in an unprecedented gesture, each of the leading candidat es for the highest offices in the land felt it necessary to make public an accounting of his personal income. In illegal enterprises, the small investment with t he quick, fantastic return flourishes. Dozens of such industries flourish in the boomtown 340 THE POWER ELITE flush of the post-Korean crime increase. The world bankers have formed an association to fight the rise of embezzlement: ‘Put bluntly,’ reports The New York Times, ‘more people are steali ng more money from banks.’ 14 Narcotics and hijacking, embezzlements and counter – feiting, tax cheating and shoplifting—all have paid off handsomely. Put bluntly, crime, if organized on a proper busine ss-like basis, pays. American gangsters, we now know, are the specialize d personnel of nationwide businesses, having syndicated connections with one another and with local public authorities. But more important than the fact that illegal businesses are now well-organized industries is the fact that the ‘hoods’ of the ‘twenties have in the ‘forties and ‘fifties become business- men who own hotels and distilleries, resorts and tr ucking companies. Among such members of the fraternity of success, to have a police rec- ord means merely that you did not know the right people. 15 Organized crime in the underworld raises to an extr eme the individ- ualistic philosophy of predatory success, the indifference to the public weal, the fetish of the profit motive and of the laissez-faire state. As an integral part of American culture, the ‘underworld . . . serves to meet demands for goods and services which are defined as illegitimate, but for which there is nevertheless a strong demand from respectable people … It is implicit in our economic, political, legal and social organiza- tion . . . It is in this sense that we have the criminals we deserve.’ 16 For the New Jersey banker, Harold G. Hoffman, crime paid. He be- came mayor, Congressman, Governor of his state; only upon his death in 1954 was it discovered that for over a decade he ha d gotten away with $300,000 of state funds and in addition, in the mor ality play of state politics, had been deep in a network of corruption involving respected banks, insurance companies and highly placed indivi duals. Army Px’s have sold ‘such unmilitary items as mink coats and expensive jewelry’ at prices well below retail levels. Charities have been discovered to be rackets for private profit. Eighteen persons and se ven corporations were indicted in February 1954 on charges of defrauding the government in surplus ship deals, among them Julius C. Holmes, former Minister in the United States embassy in London and special assista nt to the Secretary of State. Czars of local labor unions have enriched themselves by extor- tion and shakedown, by bribery and the union welfar e fund. Respected administrators of private hospitals have bought aspirin in wholesale lots for $9.83, selling it to patients for $600. Major General Roderick Allen in March 1954 caused $1,200 oi army money to be spe nt on a dog house for his Siberian Huskies. Those who read business manuals, in addition to newspapers, know that, by 1954, some 214 interna l revenue em- ployees and friends of the middle ‘forties had been indicted, 100 con- victed—including the head tax-collector of the Fede ral government. 17 And all over the country, upper-middle and upper-cl ass tax dodgers personally treat each spring as an invitation to a game of ingenious ly- ing and skillful deception. Revelations from the up per depths reached some sort of climax during the spring of 1954 when the Secretary of the THE CONSERVATIVE MOOD 341 What element of the higher circles—what would-be element- has such immorality not touched? Perhaps all those cases that come briefly to public attention are but marginal-or, at any rate, those that were caught. But then, there is the feel ing that the bigger you are, the less likely you are to be caught. There is the feeling that all the petty cases seem to signify something grander, that they go deeper and that their roots are now we ll organized in the higher and middle American ways of life. But am ong the mass distractions this feeling soon passes harmlessly aw ay. For the American distrust of the high and mighty is a distr ust without doctrine and without political focus; it is a distrust felt by the mass public as a series of more or less cynically e xpected dis- closures. Corruption and immoralities, petty and grand, are facts about the higher circles, often even characteristic facts about many of them. But the immoral tone of American society t oday also in- volves the lack of public sensibility when confronted with these facts. Effective moral indignation is not evoked by the corrupt public life of our time; the old middle-class moralities have been replaced in America by the higher immorality. The exploiting plutocrat and the corrupted machine of the ‘nineties were replaced in public imagery by the un cultivated philistine and provincial of the ‘twenties, who, in turn, were re- placed by the economic royalists and their cohorts of the ‘thirties. All these were negative images; the first of urban greed as seen through an indignant and rural moral optic; the sec ond of mind- less Babbitry as seen by urban strata for whom mora l principles have been replaced by big-city ways; and the third, somewhat less clearly, of the old plutocrat turned more systemati c and imper- sonal. But the corporate rich of the ‘forties and ‘fifties, in their eco- nomic and in their political aspects—there are no s uch stereotypes of them; they are rather cynically accepted, and even secretly ad- mired by members of the mass society. No negative s tereotype has been widely formed of the corporate rich and the political Army and his assistants tangled with a Senator and his assistants: the McCarthy-Army hearings, as we have already noted, stripped from high officials and a number of Senators all dignity and status. All the official masks were ripped off and two sets of top circles w ere shown to be prime examples of the petty immorality, the substantial charges of both appearing as quite true. 342 THE POWER ELITE outsider; and if one or two should crop up in popul ar imagery, they are soon vanquished by the ‘forward-looking,’ energetic, clean-cut American boy as executive. Given the state of the mass society, we should not expect any- thing else. Most of its members are distracted by status, by the dis- closures of pettier immortalities, and by that Mach iavellianism-for the-little-man that is the death of political insurgency. Perhaps it might be different were the intellectual community not so full of the conservative mood, not so comfortably timid, no t so absorbed by the new gentility of many of its members. But given these con- ditions of mass society and intellectual community, we can readily understand why the power elite of America has no id eology and feels the need of none, why its rule is naked of ideas, its ma- nipulation without attempted justification. It is this mindlessness of the powerful that is the true higher immorality of our time; for, with it, there is associated the organized irrespon sibility that is today the most important characteristic of the Amer ican system of corporate power. 15 The Higher Immorality THE higher immorality can neither be narrowed to the po litical sphere nor understood as primarily a matter of corrupt men in fundamentally sound institutions. Political corruption is one aspect of a more general immorality; the level of moral se nsibility that now prevails is not merely a matter of corrupt men. 1 The higher immorality is a systematic feature of the American elite; its gen- eral acceptance is an essential feature of the mass society. Of course, there may be corrupt men in sound instit utions, but when institutions are corrupting many of the men who live and work in them are necessarily corrupted. In the corp orate era, economic relations become impersonal—and the execut ive feels less personal responsibility. Within the corporate worlds of busi- ness, war-making and politics, the private conscien ce is attenu- ated—and the higher immorality is institutionalized . It is not merely a question of a corrupt administration in co rporation, army, or state; it is a feature of the corporate rich, as a capitalist stratum, deeply intertwined with the politics of th e military state. From this point of view, the most important questio n, for in- stance, about the campaign funds of ambitious young politicians is not whether the politicians are morally insensitive, but whether or not any young man in American politics, who has come so far and so fast, could very well have done so today without possessing or acquiring a somewhat blunted moral sensibility. Many of the problems of ‘white-collar crime’ and of relaxed public morality, of high-priced vice and of fading personal integrity, are problems of structural immorality. They are not merely the problem of the 343 344 THE POWER ELITE small character twisted by the bad milieu. And many people are at least vaguely aware that this is so. As news of higher immoralities breaks, they often say, ‘Well, another one got caug ht today,’ thereby implying that the cases disclosed are not odd events in- volving occasional characters but symptoms of a wid espread con- dition. There is good probative evidence that they are right. But what is the underlying condition of which all these instances are symptoms? 1 The moral uneasiness of our time results from the f act that older values and codes of uprightness no longer grip the men and wom- en of the corporate era, nor have they been replace d by new values and codes which would lend moral meaning and sanction to the corporate routines they must now follow. It is not that the mass public has explicitly rejected received codes; it is rather that to many of the members these codes have become holl ow. No moral terms of acceptance are available, but neither are any moral terms of rejection. As individuals they are morally defenseless; as groups, they are politically indifferent. It is this generalized lack of commitment that is meant when it is said that ‘t he public’ is morally confused. But, of course, not only ‘the public’ is morally confused in this way. ‘The tragedy of official Washington,’ James Re ston has com- mented, ‘is that it is confounded at every turn by the hangover of old political habits and outworn institutions but i s no longer nourished by the ancient faith on which it was founded. It clings to the bad things and casts away the permanent. It professes belief but does not believe. It knows the old words but ha s forgotten the melody. It is engaged in an ideological war without being able to define its own ideology. It condemns the materia lism of an atheistic enemy, but glorifies its own materialism.’ 2 In economic and political institutions the corporat e rich now wield enormous power, but they have never had to wi n the moral consent of those over whom they hold this power. Ev ery such naked interest, every new, unsanctioned power of co rporation, farm bloc, labor union, and governmental agency that has risen in the past two generations has been clothed with morally loaded slogans. For what is not done in the name of the public interest? THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 345 As these slogans wear out, new ones are industrious ly made up, also to be banalized in due course. And all the whi le, recurrent economic and military crises spread fears, hesitations, and anxieties which give new urgency to the busy search for moral justifications and decorous excuses. ‘Crisis’ is a bankrupted term, because so many men in high places have evoked it in order to cover up their ex traordinary policies and deeds; as a matter of fact, it is precisely the absence of crises that is a cardinal feature of the higher immorality. For genuine crises involve situations in which men at l arge are pre- sented with genuine alternatives, the moral meanings of which are clearly opened to public debate. The higher immoral ity, the general weakening of older values and the organization of ir- responsibility have not involved any public crises; on the contrary, they have been matters of a creeping indifference a nd a silent hollowing out. The images that generally prevail of the higher circles are the images of the elite seen as celebrities. In discussing the professional celebrities, I noted that the instituted elites of power do not mo- nopolize the bright focus of national acclaim. They share it nation- ally with the frivolous or the sultry creatures of the world of celeb- rity, which thus serves as a dazzling blind of thei r true power. In the sense that the volume of publicity and acclaim is mainly and continuously upon those professional celebrities, it is not upon the power elite. So the social visibility of that elite is lowered by the status distraction, or rather public vision of them is through the celebrity who amuses and entertains—or disgusts, as the case may be. The absence of any firm moral order of belief makes men in the mass all the more open to the manipulation and distraction of the world of the celebrities. In due course, such a ‘turnover’ of appeals and codes and values as they are subjected to leads them to distrust and cynicism, to a sort of Machiavellia nism-for-the- little-man. Thus they vicariously enjoy the prerogatives of the corporate rich, the nocturnal antics of the celebrity, and the sad- happy life of the very rich. But with all this, there is still one old American value that has not markedly declined: the value of money and of the things 346 THE POWER ELITE money can buy—these, even in inflated times, seem a s solid and enduring as stainless steel. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor,’ Sophie Tucker has said, ‘and believe me, rich is be st.’ 3 As many other values are weakened, the question for America ns becomes not ‘Is there anything that money, used with intelligence, will not buy?’ but, ‘How many of the things that money w ill not buy are valued and desired more than what money will bu y?’ Money is the one unambiguous criterion of success, and such success is still the sovereign American value. Whenever the standards of the moneyed life prevail, the man with money, no matter how he got it, will eventually be respected. A million dollars, it is said, covers a multitude of sins. It is not only that men want money; it is that their very sta ndards are pecuniary. In a society in which the money-maker ha s had no serious rival for repute and honor, the word ‘practical’ comes to mean useful for private gain, and ‘common sense,’ the sense to get ahead financially. The pursuit of the moneyed life is the command- ing value, in relation to which the influence of ot her values has declined, so men easily become morally ruthless in the pursuit of easy money and fast estate-building. A great deal of American corruption—although not all of it- is simply a part of the old effort to get rich and then to become richer. But today the context in which the old driv e must operate has changed. When both economic and political insti tutions were small and scattered—as in the simpler models of classical econom- ics and Jeffersonian democracy—no man had it in his power to bestow or to receive great favors. But when political institutions and economic opportunities are at once concentrated and linked, then public office can be used for private gain. Governmental agencies contain no more of the higher im- morality than do business corporations. Political men can grant financial favors only when there are economic men r eady and willing to take them. And economic men can seek political favors only when there are political agents who can bestow such favors. The publicity spotlight, of course, shines brighter upon the trans- actions of the men in government, for which there i s good reason. Expectations being higher, publics are more easily disappointed by public officials. Businessmen are supposed to be out for them- selves, and if they successfully skate on legally thin ice, Americans THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 347 generally honor them for having gotten away with it . But in a civilization so thoroughly business-penetrated as A merica, the rules of business are carried over into government— especially when so many businessmen have gone into government. How many executives would really fight for a law requiring a careful and public accounting of all executive contracts and ‘expense ac- counts’? High income taxes have resulted in a netwo rk of collusion between big firm and higher employee. There are man y ingenious ways to cheat the spirit of the tax laws, as we have seen, and the standards of consumption of many high-priced men ar e deter- mined more by complicated expense accounts than by simple take-home pay. Like prohibition, the laws of income taxes and the regulations of wartime exist without the support of firm business convention. It is merely illegal to cheat them, but it is smart to get away with it. Laws without supporting moral con ventions in- vite crime, but much more importantly, they spur the growth of an expedient, amoral attitude. A society that is in its higher circles and on its middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets do es not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is me rely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of ‘success’ to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed. 2 In the corporate world, in the political directorat e, and increas- ingly in the ascendant military, the heads of the b ig hierarchies and power machines are seen not only as men who hav e succeeded, but as wielders of the patronage of success. They interpret and they apply to individuals the criteria of success. Those immediat- ely below them are usually members of their clique, of their cli- entele, sound men as they themselves are sound. But the hier- archies are intricately related to one another, and inside each clique are some whose loyalties are to other clique s. There are personal loyalties as well as official ones, personal as well as im- personal criteria for advancement. As we trace the career of the individual member of various higher circles, we are also tracing 348 THE POWER ELITE the history of his loyalties, for the first and ove rshadowing fact about the higher circles, from the standpoint of wh at it takes to succeed within them, is that they are based upon se lf-co-optation. The second fact about these hierarchies of success is that they do not form one monolithic structure; they are a co mplex set of variously related and often antagonistic cliques. The third fact we must recognize is that, in any such world, young er men who would succeed attempt to relate themselves to those in charge of their selection as successes. Accordingly, the American literature of practical a spiration— which carries the great fetish of success—has undergone a sig- nificant shift in its advice about ‘what it takes to succeed.’ The sober, personal virtues of will power and honesty, of high-minded- ness and the constitutional inability to say ‘yes’ to The Easy Road of women, tobacco, and wine—this later nineteenth-c entury image has given way to ‘the most important single factor, the effective personality,’ which ‘commands attention by charm,’ and ‘radiates self-confidence.’ In this ‘new way of life,’ one must smile often and be a good listener, talk in terms of the other man’s interests and make the other feel important—and one must do a ll this sin- cerely. Personal relations, in short, have become part of ‘public relations,’ a sacrifice of selfhood on a personality market, to the sole end of individual success in the corporate way of life. 4 Being justified by superior merit and hard work, but bein g founded on co-optation by a clique, often on quite other groun ds, the elite careerist must continually persuade others and hims elf as well that he is the opposite of what he actually is. It is the proud claim of the higher circles in America that their members are entirely self-made. That is their self-image and their well-publicized myth. Popular proof of this is base d on anecdotes; its scholarly proof is supposed to rest upon statis tical rituals whereby it is shown that varying proportions of the men at the top are sons of men of lower rank. We have already seen the pro- portions of given elite circles composed of the men who have risen. But what is more important than the proporti ons of the sons of wage workers among these higher circles is the criteria of admission to them, and the question of who applies these cri- teria. We cannot from upward mobility infer higher merit. Even THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 349 if the rough figures that now generally hold were reversed, and 90 per cent of the elite were sons of wage workers—but the criteria of co-optation by the elite remained what they now are —we could not from that mobility necessarily infer merit. Only if the criteria of the top positions were meritorious, and only if they were self- applied, as in a purely entrepreneurial manner, could we smuggle merit into such statistics—from any statistics—of m obility. The idea that the self-made man is somehow ‘good’ and t hat the family-made man is not good makes moral sense only when the career is independent, when one is on one’s own as an entrepre- neur. It would also make sense in a strict bureaucracy where exam- inations control advancement. It makes little sense in the system of corporate co-optation. There is, in psychological fact, no such thing as a self-made man. No man makes himself, least of all the members of the Ameri- can elite. In a world of corporate hierarchies, men are selected by those above them in the hierarchy in accordance with what- ever criteria they use. In connection with the corporations of America, we have seen the current criteria. Men shape themselves to fit them, and are thus made by the criteria, the social premiums that prevail. If there is no such thing as a self-made man, there is such a thing as a self-used man, and there are many such men among the American elite. Under such conditions of success, there is no virtue in starting out poor and becoming rich. Only where the ways of becoming rich are such as to require virtue or to lead to virtue does per- sonal enrichment imply virtue. In a system of co-op tation from above, whether you began rich or poor seems less re levant in revealing what kind of man you are when you have arrived than in revealing the principles of those in charge of selecting the ones who succeed. All this is sensed by enough people below the highe r circles to lead to cynical views of the lack of connection between merit and mobility, between virtue and success. It is a sense of the immoral- ity of accomplishment, and it is revealed in the pr evalence of such views as: ‘it’s all just another racket,’ and ‘it’s not what you know but who you know.’ Considerable numbers of people n ow accept the immorality of accomplishment as a going fact. 350 THE POWER ELITE Some observers are led by their sense of the immora lity of ac- complishment to the ideology, obliquely set forth b y academic social science, of human relations in industry; 5 still others to the solace of mind provided by the newer literature of resignation, of peace of mind, which in some quietened circles replaces the old literature of frenzied aspiration, of how to get ahead. But, regard- less of the particular style of reaction, the sense of the immorality of accomplishment often feeds into that level of pu blic sensibility which we have called the higher immorality. The old self-made man’s is a tarnished image, and no other image of s uccess has taken its once bright place. Success itself, as the American model of excellence, declines as it becomes one more feat ure of the higher immorality. 3 Moral distrust of the American elite—as well as the fact of or- ganized irresponsibility—rests upon the higher immo rality, but also upon vague feelings about the higher ignorance. Once upon a time in the United States, men of affairs were also men of sensi- bility: to a considerable extent the elite of power and the elite of culture coincided, and where they did not coincide they often over- lapped as circles. Within the compass of a knowledg eable and ef- fective public, knowledge and power were in effective touch; and more than that, this public decided much that was decided. ‘Nothing is more revealing,’ James Reston has writt en, ‘than to read the debate in the House of Representatives in the Eigh- teen Thirties on Greece’s fight with Turkey for independence and the Greek-Turkish debate in the Congress in 1947. T he first is dignified and eloquent, the argument marching from principle through illustration to conclusion; the second is a dreary garble of debating points, full of irrelevancies and bad h istory.’ 6 George Washington in 1783 relaxed with Voltaire’s ‘letters ‘ and Locke’s ‘On Human Understanding’; Eisenhower read cowboy ta les and detective stories. 7 For such men as now typically arrive in the higher political, economic and military circles, the briefing and the memorandum seem to have pretty well replaced no t only the serious book, but the newspaper as well. Given the immorality of accomplishment, this is perhaps as it must be, but what is some- what disconcerting about it is that they are below the level on THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 351 which they might feel a little bit ashamed of the u ncultivated style of their relaxation and of their mental fare, and that no self- cultivated public is in a position by its reactions to educate them to such uneasiness. By the middle of the twentieth century, the America n elite have become an entirely different breed of men from those who could on any reasonable grounds be considered a cul tural elite, or even for that matter cultivated men of sensibility. Knowledge and power are not truly united inside the ruling ci rcles; and when men of knowledge do come to a point of contact with the circles of powerful men, they come not as peers but as hired men. The elite of power, wealth, and celebrity do not nave even a pass- ing acquaintance with the elite of culture, knowled ge and sensi- bility; they are not in touch with them—although th e ostentatious fringes of the two worlds sometimes overlap in the world of the celebrity. Most men are encouraged to assume that, in general, the most powerful and the wealthiest are also the most knowl edgeable or, as they might say, ‘the smartest.’ Such ideas are propped up by many little slogans about those who ‘teach because they can’t do,’ and about ‘if you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?’* But all that such wisecracks mean is that those who use them ass ume that power and wealth are sovereign values for all men and especially for men ‘who are smart.’ They assume also that know ledge always pays off in such ways, or surely ought to, and that the test of genuine knowledge is just such pay-offs. The powerf ul and the wealthy must be the men of most knowledge, otherwise how could they be where they are? But to say that those who s ucceed to power must be ‘smart,’ is to say that power is knowledge. To say that those who succeed to wealth must he smart, is to say that wealth is knowledge. The prevalence of such assumptions does reveal something that is true: that ordinary men, even today, are prone to explain and * Bernard Baruch, an adviser to Presidents, has rec ently remarked, ‘I think economists as [a] rule . . . take for granted they know a lot of things. If they really knew so much, they would have all the money and we would have none.’ And again he reasons: ‘The se men [econo- mists] can take facts and figures and bring them together, but their pre- dictions are not worth any more than ours. If they were, they would have all the money and we would not have anything.’ 8 352 THE POWER ELITE to justify power and wealth in terms of knowledge o r ability. Such assumptions also reveal something of what has happe ned to the kind of experience that knowledge has come to be. Knowledge is no longer widely felt as an ideal; it is seen as an instrument. In a society of power and wealth, knowledge is valued as an instrument of power and wealth, and also, of course, as an orn ament in con- versation. What knowledge does to a man (in clarifying what he is, and setting him free)—that is the personal ideal of knowledge. What knowledge does to a civilization (in revealing its human meaning, and setting it free)—that is the social ideal of kn owledge. But today, the personal and the social ideals of knowledge have coin- cided in what knowledge does for the smart guy—it g ets him ahead; and for the wise nation—it lends cultural prestige, sancti- fying power with authority. Knowledge seldom lends power to the man of knowledg e. But the supposed, and secret, knowledge of some men-on- the-make, and their very free use thereof, has consequence for other men who have not the power of defense. Knowledge, of co urse, is neither good nor bad, nor is its use good or bad. ‘Bad men increase in knowledge as fast as good men,’ John Adams wrote , ‘and science, arts, taste, sense and letters, are employed for the purpose of in- justice as well as for virtue.’ 9 That was in 1790; today we have good reason to know that it is so. The problem of knowledge and power is, and always h as been, the problem of the relations of men of knowledge with men of power. Suppose we were to select the one hundred mo st power- ful men, from all fields of power, in America today and line them up. And then, suppose we selected the one hundred m ost knowl- edgeable men, from all fields of social knowledge, and lined them up. How many men would be in both our line-ups ? Of course our selection would depend upon what we mean by power and what we mean by knowledge—especially what we me an by knowledge. But, if we mean what the words seem to mean, surely we would find few if any men in America today who were in both groups, and surely we could find many more at the time the nation was founded than we could find today. For, in the e ighteenth century, even in this colonial outpost, men of power pursued THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 353 learning, and men of learning were often in positio ns of power. In these respects we have, I believe, suffered grievous decline. 10 There is little union in the same persons of knowle dge and power; but persons of power do surround themselves with men of some knowledge, or at least with men who are experienced in shrewd dealings. The man of knowledge has not become a philoso- pher king; but he has often become a consultant, an d moreover a consultant to a man who is neither king-like nor philosophical. It is, of course, true that the chairman of the pulp writers section of the Authors’ League helped a leading senator ‘po lish up the speeches he delivered in the 1952 senatorial campaign.’ 11 But it is not natural in the course of their careers for men of knowledge to meet with those of power. The links between univers ity and government are weak, and when they do occur, the man of knowl- edge appears as an ‘expert’ which usually means as a hired tech- nician. Like most others in this society, the man o f knowledge is himself dependent for his livelihood upon the job, which nowa- days is a prime sanction of thought control. Where getting ahead requires the good opinions of more powerful others, their judg- ments become prime objects of concern. Accordingly, in so far as intellectuals serve power directly—in a job hier archy—they often do so unfreely. The democratic man assumes the existence of a public, and in his rhetoric asserts that this public is the very seat of sovereignty. Two things are needed in a democracy: articulate an d knowledge- able publics, and political leaders who if not men of reason are at least reasonably responsible to such knowledgeable publics as ex- ist. Only where publics and leaders are responsive and responsible, are human affairs in democratic order, and only whe n knowledge has public relevance is this order possible. Only when mind has an autonomous basis, independent of power, but powe rfully re- lated to it, can mind exert its force in the shaping of human affairs. This is democratically possible only when there exi sts a free and knowledgeable public, to which men of knowledge may address themselves, and to which men of power are truly responsible. Such a public and such men—either of power or of knowled ge—do not now prevail, and accordingly, knowledge does not no w have democratic relevance in America. The characteristic member of the higher circles today is an 354 THE POWER ELITE intellectual mediocrity, sometimes a conscientious one, but still a mediocrity. His intelligence is revealed only by his occasional realization that he is not up to the decisions he sometimes feels called upon to confront. But usually he keeps such feelings private, his public utterances being pious and sentimental, grim and brave, cheerful and emptv in their universal generality. H e is open only to abbreviated and vulgarized, predigested and slan ted ideas. He is a commander of the age of the phone call, the memo, and the briefing. By the mindlessness and mediocrity of men of affairs, I do not, of course, mean that these men are not sometimes in telligent— although that is by no means automatically the case. It is not, how- ever, primarily a matter of the distribution of ‘in telligence’—as if intelligence were a homogeneous something of which there may be more or less. It is rather a matter of the type of intelligence, of the quality of mind that is selected and formed. It is a matter of the evaluation of substantive rationality as the chief value in a man’s life and character and conduct. That evalua tion is what is lacking in the American power elite. In its place there are ‘weight’ and ‘judgment’ which count for much more in their c elebrated success than any subtlety of mind or force of intellect. All around and just below the weighty man of affair s are his technical lieutenants of power who have been assigned the role of knowledge and even of speech: his public relations men, his ghost, his administrative assistants, his secretaries. And do not forget The Committees. With the increased means of decision, there is a crisis of understanding among the political directorate of the United States, and accordingly, there is often a commanding indecision. The lack of knowledge as an experience among the el ite ties in with the malign ascendancy of the expert, not only as fact but as legitimation. When questioned recently about a c riticism of defense policies made by the leader of the opposition party, the Secretary of Defense replied, ‘Do you think he is a n expert in the matter?’ When pressed further by reporters he a sserted that the ‘military chiefs think it is sound, and I think it is sound,’ and later, when asked about specific cases, added: ‘In some cases, all you can do is ask the Lord.’ 12 With such a large role so THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 355 arrogantly given to God and to experts, what room i s there for political leadership? Much less for public debate of what is after all every bit as much a political and a moral as a military issue. But then, from before Pearl Harbor, the trend has been the abdi- cation of debate and the collapse of opposition und er the easy slogan of bi-partisanship. Beyond the lack of intellectual cultivation by political personnel and advisory circle, the absence of publicly releva nt mind has come to mean that powerful decisions and important policies are not made in such a way as to be justified or attacked; in short, debated in any intellectual form. Moreover, the attempt to so jus- tify them is often not even made. Public relations displace reasoned argument; manipulation and undebated decisions of p ower re- place democratic authority. More and more, since the nineteenth century, as administration has replaced politics, the decisions of importance do not carry even the panoply of reasona ble dis- cussion, but are made by God, by experts, and by men like Mr. Wilson. More and more the area of the official secret expands, as well as the area of the secret listening in on those who might divulge in public what the public, not being composed of ex perts with Q clearance, is not to know. The entire sequence of decisions con- cerning the production and the use of atomic weapon ry has been made without any genuine public debate, and the facts needed to engage in that debate intelligently have been offic ially hidden, distorted, and even lied about. As the decisions be come more fateful, not only for Americans but literally for mankind, the sources of information are closed up, and the relevant facts needed for decision (even the decisions made!) are, as pol itically con- venient ‘official secrets,’ withheld from the heavily laden channels of information. In those channels, meanwhile, political rhetoric se ems to slide lower and lower down the scale of cultivation and s ensibility. The height of such mindless communications to masses, o r what are thought to be masses, is probably the demagogic assumption that suspicion and accusation, if repeated often enough, somehow equal proof of guilt—just as repeated claims about toothpaste or brands of cigarettes are assumed to equal facts. The greatest kind of propaganda with which America is beset, the greatest at least 356 THE POWER ELITE in terms of volume and loudness, is commercial prop aganda for soap and cigarettes and automobiles; it is to such things, or rather to Their Names, that this society most frequently s ings its loudest praises. What is important about this is that by im plication and ommission, by emphasis and sometimes by flat statem ent, this astounding volume of propaganda for commodities is often un- truthful and misleading; and is addressed more often to the belly or to the groin than to the head or to the heart. Public communica- tions from those who make powerful decisions, or wh o would have us vote them into such decision-making places, more and more take on those qualities of mindlessness and myth which com- mercial propaganda and advertising have come to exemplify. In America today, men of affairs are not so much do gmatic as they are mindless. Dogma has usually meant some mor e or less elaborated justification of ideas and values, and thus has had some features (however inflexible and closed) of mind, o f intellect, of reason. Nowadays what we are up against is precisel y the absence of mind of any sort as a public force; what we are up against is a disinterest in and a fear of knowledge that might h ave liberating public relevance. What this makes possible are deci sions having no rational justifications which the intellect could confront and engage in debate. It is not the barbarous irrationality of dour polit ical primitives that is the American danger; it is the respected judgments of Sec- retaries of State, the earnest platitudes of Presidents, the fearful self-righteousness of sincere young American politi cians from sunny California. These men have replaced mind with platitude, and the dogmas by which they are legitimated are so widely ac- cepted that no counter-balance of mind prevails aga inst them. Such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own; in the name of practicality they have projected a Utopian image of capitalism. They have replaced the responsible interpretation o f events with the disguise of events by a maze of public relation s; respect for public debate with unshrewd notions of psychologica l warfare; intellectual ability with agility of the sound, mediocre judgment; the capacity to elaborate alternatives and gauge th eir conse- quences with the executive stance. THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 357 4 Despite—perhaps because of—the ostracism of mind fr om pub- lic affairs, the immorality of accomplishment, and the general prevalence of organized irresponsibility, the men of the higher circles benefit from the total power of the institutional domains over which they rule. For the power of these instit utions, actual or potential, is ascribed to them as the ostensible decision-makers. Their positions and their activities, and even thei r persons, are hallowed by these ascriptions; and, around all the high places of power, there is a penumbra of prestige in which the political directorate, the corporate rich, the admirals and generals are bathed. The elite of a society, however modest its individual mem- ber, embodies the prestige of the society’s power.* Moreover, few individuals in positions of such authority can long resist the temp- tation to base their self-images, at least in part, upon the sounding board of the collectivity which they head. Acting a s the repre- sentative of his nation, his corporation, his army, in due course, he comes to consider himself and what he says and b elieves as expressive of the historically accumulated glory of the great insti- tutions with which he comes to identify himself. Wh en he speaks in the name of his country or its cause, its past glory also echoes in his ears. Status, no longer rooted primarily in local communi ties, fol- lows the big hierarchies, which are on a national scale. Status follows the big money, even if it has a touch of the gangster about it. Status follows power, even if it be without bac kground. Below, in the mass society, old moral and traditional barr iers to status break down and Americans look for standards of excellence among * John Adams wrote in the late eighteenth century: ‘When you rise to the first ranks, and consider the first men; a nobility who are known and respected at least, perhaps habitually esteemed and beloved by a nation; Princes and Kings, on whom the eyes of all men are fixed, and whose every motion is regarded, the consequences of wounding their feelings are dreadful, because the feelings of an whole nation, and sometimes of many nations, are wounded at the same time. If the small- est variation is made in their situation, relatively to each other; if one who was inferior is raised to be superior, unless i t be by fixed laws, whose evident policy and necessity may take away di sgrace, nothing but war, carnage and vengeance has ever been the usual consequence of it . . .’ 13 358 THE POWER ELITE the circles above them, in terms of which to model themselves and judge their self-esteem. Yet nowadays, it seems easier for Ameri- cans to recognize such representative men in the pa st than in the present. Whether this is due to a real historical difference or merely to the political ease and expediency of hindsight i s very difficult to tell.* At any rate it is a fact that in the political assignments of prestige there is little disparagement of Washingto n, Jefferson, and Lincoln, but much disagreement about current figure s. Repre- sentative men seem more easily recognizable after they have died; contemporary political leaders are merely politicia ns; they may be big or little, but they are not great, and increasingly they are seen in terms of the higher immorality. Now again status follows power, and older types of exemplary figures have been replaced by the fraternity of the successful— the professional executives who have become the pol itical elite, and who are now the official representative men. It remains to be seen whether they will become representative men in the images * In every intellectual period, some one discipline or school of thought becomes a sort of common denominator. The c ommon denom- inator of the conservative mood in America today is American history. This is the time of the American historian. All nat ionalist celebration tends, of course, to be put in historical terms, but the celebrators do not wish to be relevant merely to the understanding of history as past event. Their purpose is the celebration of the present. (1 ) One reason why the American ideology is so historically oriented is that of all the schol- arly community it is the historians who are most li kely to create such public assumptions. For, of all the scholarly writers, the historians have been the ones with the literate tradition. Other ‘s ocial scientists’ are more likely to be unacquainted with English usage a nd moreover, they do not write about large topics of public concern. (2) The ‘good’ histor- ians, in fulfilling the public role of the higher journalists, the historians with the public attention and the Sunday acclaim, a re the historians who are the quickest to re-interpret the American past with relevance to the current mood, and in turn, the cleverest at picking out of the past, just now, those characters and events that most easily make for optimism and lyric upsurge. (3) In truth, and witho ut nostalgia, we ought to realize that the American past is a wonderful source for myths about the American present. That past, at times, di d indeed embody quite a way of life; the United States has been extraordinarily fortunate in its time of origin and early development; the present is complicated, and, especially to a trained historian, quite undocumented. The general American ideology accordingly tends to be of histor y and by histor- ians. 4 THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 359 and aspirations of the mass public, or whether they will endure any longer than the displaced liberals of the ‘thirties . Their images are controversial, deeply involved in the immorality of accomplish- ment and the higher immorality in general. Increasi ngly, literate Americans feel that there is something synthetic about them. Their style and the conditions under which they become ‘b ig’ lend them- selves too readily to the suspicion of the build-up; the shadows of the ghost writer and the make-up man loom too large ; the slick- ness of the fabrication is too apparent. We should, of course, bear in mind that men of the higher circles may or may not seek to impose themselves as represe ntative upon the underlying population, and that relevant public sectors of the population may or may not accept their images. An e lite may try to impose its claims upon the mass public, but this public may not cash them in. On the contrary, it may be indifferent or even debunk their values, caricature their image, laugh at their claim to be representative men. In his discussion of models of national character, Walter Bage- hot does not go into such possibilities; 15 but it is clear that for our contemporaries we must consider them, since precise ly this re- action has led to a sometimes frenzied and always expensive prac- tice of what is known as ‘public relations.’ Those who have both power and status are perhaps best off when they do not actively have to seek acclaim. The truly proud old families will not seek it; the professional celebrities are specialists in seeking it actively. Increasingly, the political, economic, and military elite—as we have seen—compete with the celebrities and seek to borrow their status. Perhaps those who have unprecedented power without the aura of status, will always seek it, even if uneasily, among those who have publicity without power. For the mass public, there is the status distraction of the celeb- rity, as well as the economic distraction of war pr osperity; for the liberal intellectual, who does look to the political arena, there is the political distraction of the sovereign localities and of the mid- dle levels of power, which sustain the illusion tha t America is still a self-balancing society. If the mass media focus o n the profes- sional celebrities, the liberal intellectuals, especially the aca- demic social scientists among them, focus upon the noisy mid- dle levels. Professional celebrities and middle-level politicians 360 THE POWER ELITE are the most visible figures of the system; in fact , together they tend to monopolize the communicated or public scene that is visible to the members of the mass society, and thus to obscure and to distract attention from the power elite. The higher circles in America today contain, on the one hand, the laughing, erotic, dazzling glamour of the profe ssional celeb- rity, and, on the other, the prestige aura of power, of authority, of might and wealth. These two pinnacles are not unrel ated. The power elite is not so noticeable as the celebrities, and often does not want to be; the ‘power’ of the professional cel ebrity is the power of distraction. America as a national public is indeed pos- sessed of a strange set of idols. The professionals, in the main, are either glossy little animals or frivolous clowns; the men of power, in the main, rarely seem to be models of representative men. Such moral uneasiness as prevails among the America n elite themselves is accordingly quite understandable. Its existence is amply confirmed by the more serious among those who have come to feel that they represent America abroad. There, the dou- ble-faced character of the American celebrity is reflected both by the types of Americans who travel to play or to wor k, and in the images many literate and articulate Europeans hold of ‘Americans.’ Public honor in America tends now to be either frivolous or grim; either altogether trivial or portentous of a greatl y tightened-up system of prestige. The American elite is not composed of representativ e men whose conduct and character constitute models for American imi- tation and aspiration. There is no set of men with whom members of the mass public can rightfully and gladly identi fy. In this fundamental sense, America is indeed without leaders. Yet such is the nature of the mass public’s morally cynical and politically unspecified distrust that it is readily drained off without real polit- ical effect. That this is so, after the men and eve nts of the last thirty years, is further proof of the extreme difficulty of finding and of using in America today the political means o f sanity for morally sane objectives. America—a conservative country without any conserva tive ideology—appears now before the world a naked and arbitrary power, as, in the name of realism, its men of decision enforce their often crackpot definitions upon world reality. The second-rate THE HIGHER IMMORALITY 361 mind is in command of the ponderously spoken platitude. In the liberal rhetoric, vagueness, and in the conservative mood, irra- tionality, are raised to principle. Public relations and the official secret, the trivializing campaign and the terrible fact clumsily accomplished, are replacing the reasoned debate of political ideas in the privately incorporated economy, the military ascendancy, and the political vacuum of modern America. The men of the higher circles are not representative men; then- high position is not a result of moral virtue; their fabulous success is not firmly connected with meritorious ability. T hose who sit in the seats of the high and the mighty are selecte d and formed by the means of power, the sources of wealth, the m echanics of celebrity, which prevail in their society. They are not men selected and formed by a civil service that is linked with t he world of knowledge and sensibility. They are not men shaped by nationally responsible parties that debate openly and clearly the issues this nation now so unintelligently confronts. They are not men held in responsible check by a plurality of voluntary assoc iations which connect debating publics with the pinnacles of deci sion. Com- manders of power unequaled in human history, they h ave suc- ceeded within the American system of organized irresponsibility. Afterword by Alan Wolfe l C. Wright Mills’ The Power Elite was published in 1 956, a time, as Mills himself put it, when Americans were living through ‘a material boom, a nationalist celebration, a political vacuum.’ It is not hard to understand why Americans were as compla cent as Mills charged. Let’s say you were a typical thirty-five-year-old voter in 1956. Imagine what your life had been like. When you were eight years old, the stock market crashed, and the resulting Great Depression began just as you started third or fourth grade. Hence your child- hood was consumed with fighting off the poverty and unemploy- ment of the single greatest economic catastrophe in American his- tory. When you turned twenty-one, officially markin g your matu- rity, the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor, ensuring that your years as a young adult, especially if you were male, would b e spent fighting on the ground in Europe or from island to island in Asia. If you were lucky enough to survive that experience, you r eturned home at the ripe old age of twenty-four, ready to resume the semblance of a normal life—only then to witness the Korean War, McCarthyism, and the outbreak of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. No wonder that, as you contemplated casting your vo te in the 1956 presidential elections, you were tempted to vote for the reelec- tion of President Eisenhower. After all, he had commanded the Allied troops in World War II. To be sure, he often seemed uninspiring in his speeches, and he was most comfortable associating with rich busi- nessmen, nearly all of whom were male, white, Chris tian, and con- servative in their political leanings. Still, Eisenhower offered stability 364 AFTERWO RD for voters whose lives had known nothing but the op posite. For all the blustery talk of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles about the Russian menace, the President himself seemed somewh at disengaged from foreign policy. And his domestic program amoun ted to little more than constructing the highways which you planned to use as you thought about moving to Los Angeles in search of the jobs being created by what Eisenhower himself would soon call “the military industrial complex.” Into this milieu exploded The Power Elite. C. Wright Mills was one of the first intellectuals in America to write that the compla- cency of the Eisenhower years was not enough. His i ndictment was uncompromising. On the one hand, he claimed, vast c oncentrations of power had coagulated in America, making a mocker y of American democracy. On the other, he charged that his fellow intel- lectuals had sold out to the conservative mood in A merica, leaving their audience—the American people themselves—in a state of ignorance and apathy bearing shocking resemblance to the totali- tarian regimes that America had defeated or was currently fighting. One of the goals Mills set for himself in The Power Elite was to tell his readers—again, assuming that they were rou ghly thirty-five years of age—how much the organization of power in America had changed during their lifetimes. In the 1920s, when this typical read- er had been born, there existed what Mills called ” local society,” towns and small cities throughout America whose pol itical and social life was dominated by resident businessmen. Small-town elites, usually Republican in their outlook, had a strong voice in Congress, for most of the congressmen who represent ed them were either members of the dominant families themselves or had close financial ties to them. By the time Mills wrote his book, this world of local elites had become as obsolete as the telegraph machine. Power had become nationalized in America, Mills charged, and as a result had also become interconnected. The Power Elite called attention to three prongs of power in the United States. First, business had shifted its focus from corporations that were primarily regiona l in their work- forces and customer bases to ones that produced pro ducts in national markets and developed national interests. What had once been a propertied class, tied to the ownership of r eal assets, had become a managerial class, rewarded for its ability to organize the AFTERWO RD 365 vast scope of corporate enterprise into an engine f or ever-expanding profits. No longer were the chief executive officers of these compa- nies chosen because they were of the right social b ackground. Connections still mattered, but so did bureaucratic skill. The men who possessed those skills were rewarded well for t heir efforts. Larded with expense accounts and paid handsomely, t hey could exercise national influence not only through their companies, but through the roles they would called upon to serve in “the national interest.” Similar changes had taken place in the military sec tor of American society. World War II, Mills argued, and the subsequent start of the Cold War, led to the establishment of a ‘permanent war economy’ in the United States. Mills wrote that the ‘warlords,’ his term for the military and its civilian allies, had once been ‘only uneasy, poor relations within the American elite; now they are first cousins; soon they may become elder brothers.’ Give n an unlimit- ed checking account for politicians anxious to appe ar tough, buoyed by fantastic technological and scientific achievements, and sinking roots in America’s educational institutions, the military, Mills believed, was becoming increasingly autonomou s. Of all the prongs of the power elite, this ‘military ascendancy’ possessed the most dangerous implications. ‘American militarism, in fully devel- oped form, would mean the triumph in all areas of l ife of the mili- tary metaphysic, and hence the subordination to it of all other ways of life.’ Along with the military and corporate elites, Mill analyzed the role of what he called ‘the political directorate.’ Local elites had once been strongly represented in Congress, but Con gress itself, Mills pointed out, had lost power to the executive branch. And within that branch, Mills could count roughly fifty people who, in his opinion, were ‘now in charge of the executive d ecisions made in the name of the United States of America.’ The very top positions— such as the secretaries of state or defense—were occupied with men with close ties to the leading national corporations in the United States. These people were not attracted to their po sitions for the money; often, they made less than they would have i n the private sector. Rather, they understood that running the Ce ntral Intelligence Agency or being secretary of the treasury gave one vast influence over the direction taken by the country. Firmly inter- 366 AFTERWO RD locked with the military and corporate sectors, the political leaders of the United States fashioned an agenda favorable to their class rather than what might be good for the nation as a whole. Although written very much as a product of its time , The Power Elite has had remarkable staying power. The book ha s remained in print for forty-four years in its original form, which means that the thirty-five-year-old person who read it when it fir st came out is now seventy-nine years old. The names and faces hav e changed since the book’s appearance—younger readers will recognize hard- ly any of the corporate, military, and political leaders mentioned by Mills—but the underlying question of whether Americ a is as demo- cratic in practice as it is in theory continues to matter very much. 2 The obvious question to any contemporary reader of The Power Elite is whether its conclusions apply to United St ates today. Sorting out what is helpful in Mills’ book from what has become obsolete seems a task worth undertaking. Each year, Fortune magazine publishes a list of the 500 leading American companies. A glance at Table 1, which comp ares the top fifty corporations in America in 1956 with the top fifty in 1998, indicates that roughly thirty of the fifty companies that dominated the economy when Mills wrote his book no longer do so, including firms in such once seemingly impregnable industries such as steel, rubber, and food. Putting the point another way, the 1998 list con- tains the names of many corporations that would hav e been quite familiar to Mills: General Motors is ranked first, Ford second, and Exxon third. But the company immediately following these giants—Wal-Mart stores—did not even exist at the time Mills wrote; indeed, the idea that a chain of retail stores started by a folksy Arkansas merchant would someday outrank Mobi l Oil, General Electric, or Chrysler would have startled M ills. Furthermore, just as some industries have declined, whole new industries have appeared in America since 1956; IBM was fifty-ninth when Mills wrote, hardly the computer giant—sixth o n the current Fortune 500 list—that it is now. (Compaq and Intel, neither of which existed when Mills wrote his book, are also in the top fifty of AFTERWO RD 367 the 1998 list.) To illustrate the closed world of t he power elite, Mills called attention to the fact that one man, Winthrop W. Aldrich, the American ambassador to Great Britain, was a directo r of four of the top twenty-five companies in America in 1950. In 19 98, by contrast, only one of those companies, AT &T, was among the very top: Chase Table 1 50 largest Corporations 1956 and 1998 1956 1998 1 General Motors General Motors 2 Standard Oil Ford Motor 3 Ford Motor Exxon 4 U.S. Steel Wal -Mart Stores 5 Chrysler General Electric 6 General Electric International Business 7 Swift Chrysler 8 Bethlehem Steel Mobil 9 Armour Philip Morris 10 E.I. DuPont AT&T 11 Gulf Oil Boeing 12 Western Electric Texaco 13 Socony Mobil Oil State Farm Insurance 14 Standard Oil Hewlett -Packard 15 Texas Co. E.I. DuPont 16 Shell Oil Sears Roebuck 17 Westinghouse Electric Travelers 18 Goodyear Tire & Prudential Ins. Co. of 19 Standard Oil of Chevron 20 National Dairy Products Procter & Gamble 21 Republic Steel Citicorp 22 Union Carbide & Amoco 23 International Harvester Kmart 24 Firestone Tire & Rubber Merrill Lynch 25 Sinclair Oil J.C. Penny 26 Ra dio Corp. of America American International 27 Procter & Gamble Chase Manhattan 28 U.S. Rubber Bell Atlantic 29 Cities Service Motorola 30 Phillips Petroleum TIAA -CREF 31 Douglas Aircraft PepsiCo 32 Boeing Airplane Lockheed Martin 33 Alu minum Co. of Fannie Mae 34 General Foods Dayton Hudson 368 AFTERWORD Table 1 continued from previous page 35 North American Morgan Stanley Dean Witter 36 Borden Kroger 37 International Paper Lucent Technologies 38 B.F. Good ric Intel 39 American Can Allstate 40 Eastman Kodak SBC Communications 41 United Aircraft Corp United Technologies 42 Jones & Laughlin Steel Compaq Computer 43 Armco Steel Metropolitan Life Insurance 44 Sperry Rand Home Depot 45 General Dynamics Con agra 46 Lockheed Aircraft Merck 47 Continental Can Bankamerica Corp. 48 Sun Oil GTE 49 American Metal Johnson & Johnson 50 Inland Steel Safeway Source: Fortune Magazine Manhattan was twenty-seventh, Metropolitan Life had fallen to forty-third, and the New York Central Railroad was not to be found. One reason why places shift at the top of the corporate hierarchy is that American companies are continually merging with each other in an effort to secure dominant market shares. Toward the end of 1998, the third largest company in America, Exxo n, announced plans to merge with the eighth largest, Mobil, to make a new com- pany that would dwarf in size anything contemplated by Mills. Indeed, one of the reasons why Mills called so much attention to corporate size was because of a long tradition in America, dating back to the Sherman Act of 1898, that viewed monopo lies as bad things to be discouraged by law. Under the influence of that tradi- tion, some big companies have been broken up and ne w ones— SBC Communications, Lucent Technologies—encouraged to f orm. But the Sherman Act is rarely invoked these days, at least in part because both Republican and Democratic administrations are less likely to favor governmental regulation of the economy than they did in the Eisenhower years. When the former CEO of General Motors, who was also Eisenhower’s secretary of defe nse, said that what was good for his company was also good for America, people AFTERWO RD 369 were shocked. Today that statement would be conside red a proper, if perhaps unspoken, guide to the relationship between government and business. Mills got much right about the corporate elite. It is certainly the case, for example, that those who run companies are also among the very rich; the gap between what a CEO makes and what workers make is extraordinarily large. But there is one dif ference between the world described by Mills and the world of today so striking that it cannot be passed over. As odd as it may sound, M ills’ under- standing of capitalism was not radical enough. Heavily influenced by the sociology of its time, The Power Elite portr ays corporate executives as organization men who ‘must “fit in” w ith those already at the top.’ They have to be concerned with managing their impressions, as if the appearance of getting good r esults is more important than the actuality of them. Mills was dis dainful of the idea that leading businessmen were especially compe tent. ‘The fit survive,’ he wrote, ‘and fitness means, not formal competence— there probably is no such thing for top executive p ositions—but conformity with the criteria of those who have already succeeded.’ It may well have been true in the 1950s that corpor ate leaders were not especially inventive, but if so, that was because they faced relatively few challenges. If you were the head of General Motors in 1956, you knew that American automobile companies d ominated your market; the last thing on your mind was the fact that someday cars called Toyotas or Hondas would be your biggest threat. You did not like the union that organized your workers, but if you were smart, you realized that an ever-growing economy wo uld enable you to trade off high wages for your workers in return for labor market stability. Smaller companies that supplied you with parts were dependent on you for orders. Each year you wan ted to outsell Ford and Chrysler, but you also had constructed with them an elab- orate system of signals so that they would not unde rcut your prices and you would not undercut theirs. Whatever your ma rket share in 1956, in other words, you could be fairly sure that it would be the same in 1957. Why then rock the boat? It made perfe ct sense for budding executives to do what Mills argued they did do: to assume that the best way to get ahead was to go along. Very little of this picture remains accurate at the end of the twen- tieth century. Union membership as a percentage of the total work- 370 AFTERWO RD force has declined dramatically, and while this mea ns that compa- nies can pay their workers less, it also means that they cannot expect to invest much in the training of their workers on the assumption that those workers will remain with the company for most of their lives. Foreign competition, once negligible, is now the rule of thumb for most American companies, leading many of them to move parts of their companies overseas and to create their own global marketing arrangements. America’s fastest-growing indus- tries can be found in the field of high technology, a development unanticipated by Mills. (‘Many modern theories of i ndustrial devel- opment,’ he wrote, ‘stress technological developmen ts, but the number of inventors among the very rich is so small as to be unap- preciable.’) Often dominated by self-made men (anot her phenome- non about which Mills was doubtful), these firms ar e ruthlessly competitive, which upsets any possibility of forming gentlemen’s agreements to control prices; indeed, among internet companies the notion is to provide the product with no price what soever—that is, for free—in the hopes of winning future customer lo yalty. Under these conditions, the executive who tried to follow the patterns described by Mills would be best off moving to a un iversity and obtaining tenure. These radical changes in the competitive dynamics of American capitalism have important implications for any effort to character- ize the power elite of today. C. Wright Mills was a translator and interpreter of the German sociologist Max Weber, and he borrowed from Weber the idea that a heavily bureaucratized s ociety would also be a stable and conservative society. Only in a society that changes relatively little is it possible for an elite to have power in the first place, for if events change radically, then i t tends to be the events that control people rather than the people w ho control the events. There can be little doubt that those who ho ld the highest positions in America’s corporate hierarchy remain, as they did in Mills’s day, the most powerful Americans. But not e ven they can control rapid technological transformations, intense global compe- tition, and ever-changing consumer tastes. American capitalism is simply too dynamic to be controlled for very long by anyone. AFTERWO RD 3 371 The Power Elite was written at a time when the exac t role that the military would play in American life was very much up for grabs. Historically, Americans had never been sympathetic to the idea that a permanent military presence was required to defen d the nation against its enemies. To be sure, Americans were second to none in their expressions of patriotism. They admired generals and showed a distinct propensity to elect them to the presidency. If war was required to defend the national interest, Americans would pay the costs in lost lives and lost opportunities. At the same time, Americans tended to be content with their geographi c isolation from the rest of the world. They viewed peacetime as the normal situation and war as the exception. After each of the major wars fought by the United States, Americans retreated ba ck into isola- tionism. In their disinclination to have the military play an ongoing role in their lives, Americans received considerable suppor t from the lead- ers of the Republican party. There is no other way to organize an effective military than through the use of government, but if gov- ernment were involved in offering contracts to priv ate business, conservative isolationists believed, it would not be long before gov- ernment would be regulating the prices those busine sses charged, the kinds of labor relations they practiced, and even how large their profits could be. One of the crucial arguments Mills made in The Powe r Elite was that the emergence of the Cold War completely trans formed this historic opposition to a permanent military establishment in the United States. Indeed, a key theme of Mills’ book s tressed that America’s military elite was now linked to its economic and politi- cal elite. Personnel were constantly shifting back and forth from the corporate world to the military world. Big companie s like General Motors had become dependent on military contracts. Scientific and technological innovations sponsored by the military helped fuel the growth of the economy. And while all these links be tween the economy and the military were being sealed, the mil itary had become an active political force. Members of Congress, once hostile to the military, now treated officers with great deference. And no 372 AFTERWO RD president could hope to staff the Department of Sta te, find intelli- gence officers, and appoint ambassadors without con sulting with the military. Mills was persuaded that the emergence of the military as a key force in American life required a substantial attack on the isolation- ism that had once characterized public opinion. He argued that ‘the warlords, along with fellow travelers and spokesmen, are attempting to plant their metaphysics firmly among the populat ion at large.’ Their goal was nothing less than a redefinition of reality, one in which the American people would come to accept what Mills called ‘an emergency without a foreseeable end.’ He wrote, ‘War or a high state of war preparedness is felt to be the normal and seemingly per- manent condition of the United States.’ In this state of constant war fever, America could no longer be considered a genu ine democracy, for democracy thrives on dissent and disagreement, precisely what is not permitted in the military definition of reality. If the changes described by Mills were indeed permanent, then The Power Elite could be read as the description of a deeply radical, and depressing, transformation in the nature of the United States. It remains true today, much as Mills wrote about hi s time, that Congress is extremely friendly to the military, at least in part because the military has become such a powerful force in the dis- tricts of most congressmen. Military bases are an important source of jobs for many Americans. Government spending on the military is crucial to all those companies, such as Lockheed and Boeing, that manufacture military equipment. American firms are the leaders in the world’s global arms market, manufacturing and e xporting weapons everywhere. Some weapons systems never seem to die, even, as was the case with a ‘Star Wars’ system design to repel incoming missiles, if there is no demonstrable military need for them. At least one recent American president, Ronal d Reagan, enhanced his popularity by proclaiming the Soviet Union an ‘evil empire’and by demonstrating his willingness to outs pend the Russians in the arms race. Yet despite these similarities with the 1950s, both the world and the role that America plays in that world have chan ged. For one thing, the United States has been unable to muster its forces for any sustained use in any foreign conflict since Vietnam . Worried about the possibility of a public backlash against the loss of American AFTERWO RD 373 lives, American presidents either refrain from purs uing military adventures abroad or confine them to rapid strikes, along the lines pursued by presidents Bush and Clinton in Iraq. Sin ce 1989, more- over, the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe has undermined the capacity of America’s elites to mobilize support for military expenditures on the grounds of a Soviet threat. China, which at the time Mills wrote was considered a serious threat, is now viewed by American businessmen as a source of great potential investment. Domestic political support for a large and per- manent military establishment in the United States, in short, can no longer be taken for granted. The immediate consequence of these changes in the w orld’s bal- ance of power has been a dramatic decrease in that proportion of the American economy devoted to defense. At the time Mi lls wrote, defense expenditures constituted roughly 60 percent of all federal outlays and consumed nearly 10 percent of the U. S. gross domes- tic product. By the late 1990s, those proportions had fallen to 17 percent of federal outlays and 3.5 percent of GDP ( see Figure 1). Nearly three million Americans served in the armed forces at the Figure 1 Department of Defense Expenditures 1 9 5 6 – 1 9 9 8 time The Power Elite appeared, but that number had dropped by half at century’s end. By almost any account, Mills’ prediction that both the economy and the political system of Figure 1. the United States would come to be ever more dominated by the military is not borne out by the historical developments since his time. The importance of these figures is strengthened by the cultural and political forces that produced them. Mills believed that any conflict between military definitions of reality an d popular American tendencies toward isolationism would be re solved in favor of the former. Yet it seems clear that in the 1990s, opposition to military adventures abroad has severely curtaile d the ability of the military to have its way in both foreign and do mestic policy. Most Americans just want to get on with the busines s of making enough money to lead the best lives they can. Their opposition to higher taxes makes it impossible for the military t o grow. The rhetoric of emergency—and with it the need for significant person- al sacrifice—is not a rhetoric to which they are attracted. Not only are they generally unwilling to see their children go to war, they are even reluctant to support a compulsory peacetime draft. Changes like these suggest that the role of the military in Figure 1 continued from Manpower 1956 -1995 AFTERWO RD 375 American life has been not so much reversed as modi fied. Strategists continue to plan possible wars, even if they try their best to do so in ways that avoid the use of American tro ops. Efforts are made to recruit young people into military service, but only by emphasizing how such steps would help their careers , not their country. The Department of Defense continues to provide funds for scientific and technological innovation, but possible civilian uses of those innovations are stressed. The Republican part y calls for a stronger America, but it is also a party whose lead ers criticized President Clinton’s military moves in Iraq during the impeachment controversies at the end of 1998. America has not r eturned to the dramatic isolationism that characterized much of its history before Mills wrote The Power Elite. But it would not be co rrect to say that we have witnessed the dramatic (and dangerous) mili tary ascendan- cy described by Mills in 1956. And how could we have? Business firms, still the mo st powerful force in American life, are increasingly global in its nature, more interested in protecting their profits wherever they are made than in the defense of the country in which perhaps a minor ity of its employees live and work. Give most of the leaders of America’s largest companies a choice between invading another country and investing in its industries, they would nearly always choose the lat- ter rather than the former. Mills believed that in the 1950s, for the first time in American history, the military elite had formed a strong alliance with the economic elite. Now it would be m ore correct to say that America’s economic elite finds more in common with eco- nomic elites in other countries than it does with the military elite of its own country. The Power Elite failed to foresee a situation in which at least one of the key elements of the power elite would no longer identify its fate with the fate of the country that spawned it. 4 Politicians and public officials who wield control over the execu- tive and legislative branches of government constit ute the third leg of the power elite. Mills believed that the politicians of his time no longer were required to serve a local apprenticeshi p before moving up the ladder to national politics. Because corporations and the mil- 376 AFTERWO RD itary had become so interlocked with government, an d because both of those were national institutions, what might be called “the nationalization of politics” was bound to follow. The new breed of political figure likely to climb to the highest political positions in the land would be those who were cozy with generals and CEOS , not those who were on a first-name basis with real esta te brokers and savings and loan officials. Mills believed that at the time he wrote, ‘the politician must rely on the mass media, and access to these media is exp ensive.’ But not even Mills could have predicted how expensive it wo uld become to run for office half a century later. Television has become a factor in political campaigns to a degree unimaginable to tho se used to watching three black and white channels on a nine-i nch screen. Campaigns are longer, more partisan, and generally more competi- tive than they were when Mills wrote. Engaged in a permanent cam- paign for office, politicians have had to become full-time fund rais- ers. And, in order to finance their efforts, they must turn to those who can afford to pay for them. While labor unions remain an important source of those funds, especially for Democrats, politi- cians of both parties, incumbents as well as challengers, find the bulk of their financial support from corporations. When companies provide those funds, they rarely do so out of a sense of civic duty. The list of things that government can provide for business is near- ly as long as the list of things business does not want government to be involved with. None of this means that corporati ons give money with the explicit quid pro quo that politicians will pass laws that will line their pockets. But it does mean that because politics is so expensive, corporations, in all likelihood, have mo re power over congressmen now than they did when Mills wrote his book. For Mills, politics was primarily a facade in any c ase. Historically speaking, American politics had been organized on t he theory of balance: each branch of government would balance the other; com- petitive parties would insure adequate representation; and interest groups like labor unions would serve as a counterwe ight to other interests like business. But the emergence of the power elite had transformed the theory of balance in a romantic Jef fersonian myth. So antidemocratic had America become under the rule of the power elite, according to Mills, that most decisions were made behind the scenes. As a result, neither Congress nor the political parties had AFTERWO RD 377 much substantive work to carry out. ‘In the absence of policy dif- ferences of consequences between the major parties, ‘ Mills wrote, ‘the professional party politician must invent themes about which to talk.’ Mills was right to emphasize the irrelevance of eig hteenth- and nineteenth century images to the actualities of twe ntieth century American political power. But he was not necessarily correct that politics would therefore become something of an emp ty theatrical show. Mills believed that in the absence of real substance, the par- ties would become more like each other. Yet today t he ideological differences between Republicans and Democrats are s evere—as, in fact, they were in 1956. Joseph McCarthy, the conse rvative anti- Communist senator from Wisconsin who gave his name to the peri- od in which Mills wrote his book, appears a few times in The Power Elite, but not as a major figure. In his emphasis on politics and eco- nomics, Mills underestimated the important role tha t powerful symbolic and moral crusades have had in American life, including McCarthy’s witch-hunt after communist influence. Ha d he paid more attention to McCarthyism, Mills would have been more like- ly to predict such events as the 1998-99 effort by Republicans to impeach President Clinton, the role played by divisive issues such as abortion, immigration, and affirmative action in American poli- tics, and the continued importance of negative camp aigning. Real substance may not be high on the American political agenda, but that does not mean that politics is unimportant. Through our polit- ical system, we make decisions about what kind of p eople we imag- ine ourselves to me, which is why it matters a great deal at the end of the twentieth century which political party is in power. 5 How, then, does The Power Elite stand in retrospect ? Should it be considered a classic? Can it be read as a guide for the present as well as an explanation of the past? I believe that answers to these questions hang on the fact that The Power Elite is really two books. In the first of these books (chapters 1 through 10), Mills writes in a somewhat clinical language aimed at describing the structure of power in America. This part of the book is driven by data and 378 AFTERWO RD makes use of extensive original research. Having pr esented his case, Mills then (in chapters 11 through 15) shifts to a language of out- rage. It is in these chapters that some of Mills’ most famous phras- es—’crackpot realism,’ ‘the higher ignorance’—appea r. Here he sounds like a biblical prophet, foreshadowing doom and harshly denouncing ‘the second rate mind’ and the ‘ponderou sly spoken platitude.’ This is Mills the social critic, leaving descriptive science behind to make his feelings about the power elite quite prominent. Contemporary commentators believe that Mills was an outstand- ing social critic but not necessarily a first-rate social scientist. Yet I believe that The Power Elite survives better as a w ork of social sci- ence than of social criticism. At the time Mills was writing, academic sociology w as in the process of proclaiming itself a science. The proper role of the soci- ologist, many of Mills’ colleagues believed, was to conduct value- free research emphasizing the close empirical testing of small-bore hypotheses. A grand science would eventually be bui lt upon exten- sive empirical work that, like the best of the natural sciences, would be published in highly specialized journals emphasi zing method- ological innovation and technical proficiency. Because he never agreed with these objectives—indeed, Mills wrote scathing critiques of scientific sociology—Mills was never considered a good scientist by his sociological peers. Yet not much of the academic sociology of the 1950s has sur- vived, while The Power Elite is rivaled by only very few books of its period in terms of longevity. In his own way, M ills contributed much to the understanding of his era. Social scientists of the 1950s emphasized pluralism, a concept that Mills attacked in his criticisms of the theory of balance. The dominant idea of the day was that the concentration of power in America ought not be cons idered exces- sive because one group always balanced the power of others. The biggest problem facing America was not concentrated power but what sociologists began to call “the end of ideology.” America, they believed, had reached a point in which grand passio ns over ideas were exhausted. From now on, we would require techn ical exper- tise to solve our problems, not the musings of intellectuals. Compared to such ideas, Mills’ picture of American reality, for all its exaggerations, seems closer to the mark. If the test of science is to get reality right, the very passionate convictions of C. Wright AFTERWORD 379 Mills drove him to develop a better scientific gras p on American society than his more objective and clinical contemporaries. We can, therefore, read The Power Elite as a fairly good account of what was taking place in America at the time it was written. As a social critic, however, Mills leave something to be desired. In that role, Mills portrays himself as a lonely battl er for the truth, insistent upon his correctness no matter how many o thers are seduced by the siren calls of power or wealth. This gives his book emotional power, but it comes at the cost of a cert ain irresponsibil- ity. ‘In America today,’ Mills wrote in a typical p assage, ‘men of affairs are not so much dogmatic as they are mindle ss.’ Yet howev- er one may dislike the decisions made by those in p ower in the 1950s, as decision-makers they were responsible for the conse- quences of their acts. It is often easier to criticize from afar than it is to get a sense of what it actually means to make a corporate deci- sion involving thousands of workers, to consider a possible military action that might cost lives, or to decide whether public funds should be spent on roads or welfare. In calling public officials mind- less, Mills implies that he knows how they might ha ve acted better. But if he did, he never told readers of The Power Elite, for missing from the book is a statement of what could concrete ly be done to make the world accord more with the values in which Mills believed. It is, moreover, one thing to attack the power elite, yet another to extend his criticisms to other intellectuals—and ev en the public at large. When he does the latter, Mills runs the risk of becoming as antidemocratic as he believed America had become. A s he brings his book to an end, Mills adopts a term once strongly i dentified with conservative political theorists. Appalled by the spread of democra- cy, conservative European writers proclaimed the tw entieth centu- ry as the age of ‘mass society.’ The great majority, this theory held, would never act rationally but would respond more l ike a crowd, hysterically caught up in frenzy at one point, apathetic and with- drawn at another. ‘The United States is not altogether a mass soci- ety,’ Mills wrote, but he then went on to write as if it were. And when he did, the image he conveyed of what an Ameri can had become was thoroughly unattractive: “He loses his independence, and more importantly, he loses the desire to be independent; in fact, he does not have hold of the idea of being an independent individ- 380 AFTERWO RD ual with his own mind and his own worked-out way of life.” Mills had become so persuaded of the power of the power e lite that he seemed to have lost all hope that the American people could find themselves and put a stop to the abuses he detected. This tone of resigned bitterness can come across to a contempo- rary reader as arrogant, as if Mills and Mills alone were the only one capable of seeing a truth impenetrable to everyone else. Good social criticism requires attachment as well as alienation. One must iden- tify with and even admire something before it makes sense to expend one’s energies criticizing it. That sense of engagement with America once sparked writers like Ralph Waldo Emers on and Walt Whitman to hold their country up to a higher standa rd. All too often Mills does not share their generous sense of American life and writes instead as cantankerous critic, sour in his anger, rejectionist in his views of the world around him. For that reas on, if for no other, Mills the social critic is not always as effective as Mills the social scientist. In pointing out some of the problems of The Power E lite, I am not suggesting that the book fails to live up to its reputation as a contemporary classic; the best honor one can give a social critic is criticism. Generations of students and informed readers have been stimulated by their reading of The Power Elite to t hink about the kind of society they have and the kind of society they might want. The book deserves to be read by every new generatio n, for it reminds us of the importance of bringing our analytic powers together with our passionate commitments—an essential task if one wants to be an informed and caring citizen. The pub lication of Mills’ book did not change the composition or the character of the power elite. But it did bring its existence to light, no small accom- plishment for a professor of sociology somewhat mar ginal to the discipline which spawned him. For Further Reading One indicator of the importance of Mills’ book was that it spurred other social scientists and social critics to carry forward studies of power in the United States. This, in turn, led to numerous scholarly debates ov er such questions as whether the most influential people in America should be called a power elite or a ruling class; whether business; dominated government or whether government retained some AFTERWO RD 381 autonomy from business; whether it was possible for democratic governments to pass laws that run counter to the interests of business; whether the military or civil- ians dominated the making of foreign policy; and wh ether additional institutions— education, entertainment, sports—needed to be added to the three discussed by Mills. The leading figures writing roughly within the tradition that Mills established include G. William Domhoff, The Higher Circles: The Governing Class in America (New York: Random House, 1970) and Michael Schwartz and Beth Mintz, The Power Structure of American Business (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985). David Vogel’s Fluctuating Fortunes: The Political Power of Business in America (New York: Basic Books, 1989) treats business power not necessarily as a given but as something business can gain—and lose. Many scholars these days lean to the position that business does not always get what it wants in politics, for the government, in their view, has its own degrees of autonomy; see, for example, Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol, eds., Bringing the State Back In (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985 ). Mills’ understanding of the managerial character of the business elite ought to be supplemented with a reading of Steven Brint, In an Age of Experts: The Changing Role of the Professions in America (Princeton, N. J. : Princeton University Press, 1994). A study that tries to bring Mills’ ideas about the military up to date is John L. Boies, Buying for Armageddon: Business, Society, an d Military Spending Since the Cuban Missile Crisis (New Brunswick, N. J. : Rutger s University Press, 1994). At least one recent book strongly disagrees with Mills’ characterization of the military as antidemocratic, pointing out, for example, that the armed forces is one of the few places in America where extensive racial integration has taken place: Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler, All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way (New York: Basic Books, 1996). Some recent works on the role that money and corpor ate power play in shaping the nature of the political elite include Thomas Fe rguson, Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995) and Ronald Frederick King, Money, Time, and Politics: Investment Tax Subsidies and American Democracy (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993). Some scholars point out, how- ever, that business often wants contradictory things, thereby making it impossible for the state to serve as a direct servant of the corporate elite. See Cathie J. Martin, Shifting the Burden: The Struggle over Growth and C orporate Taxation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). Two recent books deal with social criticism, addressing such questions as what makes it effective and its relationship to social science: Michael Walzer, In the Company of Critics: Social Criticism and Political Commitment in the Twentieth Century (New York: Basic Books, 1988) and Alan Wolf e, Marginalized in the Middle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). Acknowledgments NEITHER the very top nor the very bottom of modem society i s a normal part of the world of those who read and write books; we are more familiar with the middle ranks. To understand the middle classes we have only to see what is actually around us, but to understand the very top or the very bottom, we must first seek to discover and describe. And that is very difficult to do: the very top of modern society is often inaccessible, the very bottom often hidden. The terms of such national surveys as are undertake n are far too gross to catch such numerically fine groups as make up th e American elite; much public information about their character and t heir activities is systematically misleading; and they are themselves busy and aloof and even secretive. Were we to select our field of stud y according to the ready availability of much unworked material, we sh ould never choose the elite. And yet, if we are trying to understand something of the true nature of the society in which we live, we cannot a llow the impossibility of rigorous proof to keep us from studying whatever we believe to be important. We must expect fumbles when, without aut hority or official aid, we set out to investigate something which is in part organized for the purpose of causing fumbles among those who woul d understand it plainly. Yet, by asserting what we can under such conditions, we may engage them and their agents in controversy, and thus learn more. Our desire for tight proof and our genuine need for facts do not at all mean that reasoning together is not still a very im portant part of the proper way of arriving at the truth. A book of this sort consists of three conversations: There is the conversation which the writer has with him- self and with imaginary persons, which is here reco rded. Underneath this, there is going on, whether the writer knows it or not, a conversation between certain influential thinkers and observers whose views have filtered into his mind and into the minds of his readers. And also, in the minds of his readers there is going on another unsp oken conversation with themselves and with him—a conversation in whic h each confronts what is written here with what he has experienced or found out. One of the jobs of the writer, accordingly, is to try to get as much of these two unspoken conversations as he can into his writt en work. In rea- soning together with his readers, he does more than set forth his views. 382 ACKNOWLEDGMEN TS 383 He also clarifies them, and in doing so, becomes aw are of ideas he did not even know he had. We do not want to so busy ourselves with details th at we take the world in which they exist for granted. We neither take the world for granted nor believe it to be a simple fact. Our business is with facts only in so far as we need them to upset or to clinch our ideas. Facts and fig- ures are only the beginning of the proper study. Ou r main interest is in making sense of the facts we know or can readily fi nd out. We do not want merely to take an inventory, we want to discov er meanings, for most of our important questions are questions of meaning. We have, of course, gotten outside the dialogue by which we rea- son together and found out what we could by various kinds of special study, the results of which we have introduced into the conversation going on in ‘our inner city.’ There are good reasons why we should adopt just this essay-like way of reasoning together—especially for such a sprawling and controversial topic. In a convenien t, and I hope fruitful, way it enables us to bring together an effective va riety of viewpoints and skills, and it allows us to invite the reader to become a member of our dialogue about the higher circles of America. Funds for the research that has gone into this book were provided by Columbia University’s Social Science Research Counc il and I am glad to thank my colleagues for their aid. Funds were also supplied by The Oxford University Press, New York, which has in fact gone beyond the ordinary office of publisher in helping me get on with this as well as other books. A first draft of the materials was completed while in resi- dence as a visitor at Brandeis University during the spring of 1953 and I wish to thank my friends of that institution for their many kindnesses. During the summer of 1954, my wife and I were resid ent fellows at the Huntington Hartford Foundation of Pacific Palisades, California, and I am grateful to the fellows of that foundation for making the summer’s work both pleasant and profitable. My wife, Ruth Harper Mills, as chief researcher and editorial adviser, has shaped much of the book. Walter Klink, Paul Luc as, and William Taber have assisted me by writing research memoranda. I wish also to thank Mrs. Katherine Stanton for her secretarial services; without her there would be no book but only a chaotic file of manuscript. Several individuals who know at first hand the Fede ral government, the military, or large corporations have helped me enormously. Without their help this book would be much the poorer, whic h makes all the more onerous to me the fact that at their request I cannot acknowledge their help by name. Other friends who have generously given me the bene fit of their ad- vice include: Lewis Coser, Louis Friedland, Herbert Gold, Richard Hofstadter, Irving Howe, Floyd Hunter, Paolo Milano, Harry L. Miller, William Miller, Irving Sanes, Ben Seligman, Kenneth M. Stampp, and Harvey Swados. Notes 1. The Higher Circles 1. Jacob Burckhardt, Force and Freedom (New York: Pant heon Books, 1943), pp. 303 ff. 2. Cf. Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills, Character and S ocial Struc- ture (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1953), pp. 457 ff. 3. The statistical idea of choosing some value and cal ling those who have the most of it an elite derives, in modern tim es, from the Italian economist, Pareto, who puts the central point in this way: ‘Let us as- sume that in every branch of human activity each in dividual is given an index which stands as a sign of his capacity, very much the way grades are given in the various subjects in examinations in school. The highest type of lawyer, for instance, will be given 10. The man who does not get a client will be given 1—reserving zero for the man who is an out-and-out idiot. To the man who has made his mill ions—honestly or dishonestly as the case may be—we will give 10. To the man who has earned his thousands we will give 6; to such as just manage to keep out of the poor-house, 1, keeping zero for those who ge t in … So let us make a class of people who have the highest indices in their branch of activity, and to that class give the name of elite.’ Vilfredo Pareto, The Mind and Society (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1935), par. 2027 and 2031. Those who follow this approach end up not with one elite, but with a number corresponding to the number of values they select. Like many rather abstract ways of reasoning, this one is useful because it forces us to think in a clear-cut way. For a skillful use of this approach, see the work of Harold D. Lasswell, in particular, Politics: Who Gets What, When, How (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1936); and for a more systematic use, H. D. Lasswell and Abraham Kaplan, Power and Soci- ety (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950). 4. The conception of the elite as members of a top social stratum, is, of course, in line with the prevailing common-sense view of stratifica- tion. Technically, it is closer to ‘status group’ than to ‘class,’ and has been very well stated by Joseph A. Schumpeter, ‘Social C lasses in an Ethically Homogeneous Environment,’ Imperialism and Social Classes (New 384 NOTES 385 York: Augustus M. Kelley, Inc., 1951), pp. 133 ff., especially pp. 137- 47. Cf. also his Capitalism, Socialism and Democrac y, 3rd ed. (New York: Harper, 1950), Part II. For the distinction between class and status groups, see From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (trans. and ed. by Gerth and Mills; New York: Oxford University Pre ss, 1946). For an analysis of Pareto’s conception of the elite compared with Marx’s con- ception of classes, as well as data on France, see Raymond Aron, ‘Social Structure and Ruling Class,’ British Journal of Sociology, vol. I, nos. 1 and 2 (1950). 5. The most popular essay in recent years which define s the elite and the mass in terms of a morally evaluated character-type is probably Jose Ortega y Gasset’s, The Revolt of the Masses, 1 932 (New York: New American Library, Mentor Edition, 1950), esp. pp. 91 ff. 6. The American elite’ is a confused and confusing set of images, and yet when we hear or when we use such words as U pper Class, Big Shot, Top Brass, The Millionaire Club, The High and The Mighty, we feel at least vaguely that we know what they mean, and often do. What we do not often do, however, is connect each of the se images with the others; we make little effort to form a coherent picture in our minds of the elite as a whole. Even when, very occasionally, we do try to do this, we usually come to believe that it is indeed no ‘wh ole’; that, like our images of it, there is no one elite, but many, and that they are not really connected with one another. What we must realize is that until we do try to see it as a whole, perhaps our impression that it may not be is a result merely of our lack of analytic rigor and sociological imagination. The first conception defines the elite in terms of the sociology of in- stitutional position and the social structure these institutions form; the second, in terms of the statistics of selected values; the third, in terms of membership in a clique-like set of people; and the fourth, in terms of the morality of certain personality types. Or, put into inelegant short- hand: what they head up, what they have, what they belong to, who they really are. In this chapter, as in this book as a whole, I have taken as generic the first view—of the elite defined in terms of institu tional position—and have located the other views within it. This straight-forward conception of the elite has one practical and two theoretical advantages. The practi- cal advantage is that it seems the easiest and the most concrete ‘way into’ the whole problem—if only because a good deal of information is more or less readily available for sociological reflection about such cir- cles and institutions. But the theoretical advantages are much more import ant. The insti- tutional or structural definition, first of all, does not force us to prejudge by definition that we ought properly to leave open for investigation. The elite conceived morally, for example, as people hav ing a certain type of character is not an ultimate definition, for apart from being rather morally arbitrary, it leads us immediately to ask why these people have this or that sort of character. Accordingly, we should leave open the 386 NOTES type of characters which the members of the elite i n fact turn out to have, rather than by definition select them in terms of one type or an- other. In a similar way, we do not want, by mere de finition, to prejudge whether or not the elite are conscious members of a social class. The second theoretical advantage of defining the elite in terms of major in- stitutions, which I hope this book as a whole makes clear, is the fact that it allows us to fit the other three conceptions of the elite into place in a systematic way: (1) The institutional positions men occupy throughout their lifetime determine their chances to get and to hold selected val- ues. (2) The kind of psychological beings they beco me is in large part determined by the values they thus experience and t he institutional roles they play. (3) Finally, whether or not they come to feel that they belong to a select social class, and whether or not they act according to what they hold to be its interests—these are also m atters in large part determined by their institutional position, and in turn, the select values they possess and the characters they acquire. 7. As in the case, quite notably, of Gaetano Mosca, Th e Ruling Class (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1939). For a sharp analysis of Mosca, see Fritz Morstein Marx, ‘The Bureaucratic State,’ Review of Politics, vol. I, 1939, pp. 457 ff. Cf. also Mills, ‘On Intellectual Craftsmanship,’ April 1952, mimeographed, Columbia College, February 1955. 8. Cf. Karl Lowith, Meaning in History (Chicago: Unive rsity of Chi- cago Press, 1949), pp. 125 ff. for concise and penetrating statements of several leading philosophies of history. 9. Some of these items are taken from Gerth and Mills, Character and Social Structure, pp. 405 ff. On role-determined an d role-determining men, see also Sidney Hook’s discussion, The Hero in History (New York: John Day, 1943). 10. I have taken the idea of the following kind of formulation from Joseph Wood Krutch’s presentation of the morality o f choice. See The Measure of Man (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1954), p. 52. 2. Local Society 1. Much of this chapter is based upon my own observ ations and in- terviews in some dozen middle-sized cities in the Northeast, the Middle- West, and the South. Some results of this work have appeared in ‘Small Business and Civic Welfare, Report of the Smaller W ar Plants Corpo- ration to the Special Committee to Study Problems of American Small Business,’ (with Melville J. Ulmer), Senate Documen t No. 135, 79th Cong., 2nd Session, Washington, 1946; ‘The Middle Classes in Middle- sized Cities,’ American Sociological Review, October 1946; and White Collar: The American Middle Classes (New York: Oxfo rd University Press, 1951). I have also used field notes made during the course of an intensive study of a city of 60,000 in Illinois during the summer of 1945. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this chap ter are from my own research. NOTES 387 I have also drawn upon a memorandum, prepared for m e by Mr. J. W. Harless, in which all statements about local upper classes appearing in the following studies were organized: Robert S. Lyn d and Helen M. Lynd, Middletown (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1929) and Middle- town in Transition (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937); Elin L. Ander- son, We Americans (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univer sity Press, 1938); Hortense Powdermaker, After Freedom (New York: The Viking Press, 1939); John Dollard, Caste and Class in a Southern Town, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper, 1950); W. Lloyd Warner and P aul S. Lunt, The Social Life of a Modern Community (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1941), volume I of the Yankee City Series; Allison Davis and Burleigh B. Gardner and Mary R. Gardner, Deep South (Chicago: Uni- versity of Chicago Press, 1941); Liston Pope, Millhands and Preachers (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1942); John Usee m, Pierre Tan- gent, and Ruth Useem, ‘Stratification in a Prairie Town,’ American Sociological Review, July 1942; James West, Plainville, U.S.A. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1950); Harold F. K aufman, Defin- ing Prestige in a Rural Community (New York: Beacon House, 1946); Evon Z. Vogt, Jr., ‘Social Stratification in the Rural Midwest: A Struc- tural Analysis,’ Rural Sociology, December 1947; Au gust B. Hollings- head, Elmtown’s Youth (New York: John Wiley, 1949); W. Lloyd Warner, et al, Democracy in Jonesville (New York: Harper, 1949); M. C. Hill and Bevode C. McCall, ‘Social Stratification in “Georgia- town,”‘ American Sociological Review, December 1950 ; and Alfred Winslow Jones, Life, Liberty and Property (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippin- cott, 1941). Most local community studies of prestige, so often the unit of socio- logical study, are of merely local interest. One cannot even say that they are of interest beyond that because of the methodol ogical innovations they make possible, for in truth most of these methodological advance- ments are suitable only for what they have been wor ked out for—local community studies. It is interesting to notice that in examining the small American city, both novelist and sociologist have, each in his own way, been interested in similar details and reached quite similar conclusions. They have both generally been more interested in status than in po wer. The novelist has been more interested in manners and in the frustrat ing effects of small- town life on human relations and personality; the s ociologist has not paid very full attention to the small city as a structure of power, much less as a unit in a system of power that is nation- wide. The similarity of their descriptive effects is revealed by the fact that, despite the rituals of proof they contain, the endless ‘community studies’ of the sociologists often read like badly written novels; and the novel s, like better-written sociology. 2. See Allison Davis, et al, op. cit. p. 497. 3. I have drawn in this section from various parts of Floyd Hunter’s 388 NOTES first-hand study, Community Power Structure (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953). 4. Cf. ibid. pp. 172-4. 5. See Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform (New York : Knopf, 1955), pp. 46 ff. 6. See Hollingshead, op. cit. p. 59. On farm ownership in a southern county, see Allison Davis, op. cit. p. 276. 7. On urban ownership of farm land in a Middle-Western county, see Evon Vogt, op. cit. 8. Compare, on the small city and the national corpora tion, Mills and Ulmer, ‘Small Business and Civic Welfare,’ op. cit. 9. For an example of the confusion of small town with nation to the point of caricature, see W. Lloyd Warner, American Life: Dream and Reality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953). 3. Metropolitan 400 1. Cf. Dixon Wecter, The Saga of American Society (New York: Scribner’s, 1937), pp. 199 ff., which is the standard work on the history of American ‘Society.’ The best examinations of the ‘Societies’ of par- ticular big cities are Cleveland Amory, The Proper Bostonians (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1947); and Edward Digby Baltzel l Jr., The Elite and the Upper Class in Metropolitan America: A Study of Stratification in Philadelphia, (Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University, 1953), both of which I have used. 2. Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, The Social Ladder (N ew York: Henry Holt, 1924), pp. 30-32. 3. Dixon Wecter, op. cit. pp. 294-5. 4. Cf. J. L. Ford, ‘New York of the Seventies,’ Scribn er’s Magazine, June 1923, p. 744. 5. Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, op. cit. pp. 53-4. 6. W. J. Mills, ‘New York Society,’ Delineator, Novemb er 1904. Cf. also Ralph Pulitzer, ‘New York Society at Work,’ Harper’s Bazaar, De- cember 1909. 7. Cf. Harvey O’Connor, The Astors (New York: Knopf, 1 941), p. 197. 8. Wecter, op. cit. pp. 209-10. 9. Ibid. pp. 212, 214. 10. Cited in ibid. p. 215. 11. See FIVE : The Very Rich, and notes to that chapter. 12. Wecter, op. cit. pp. 232-3. 13. See Mona Gardner, ‘Social Register Blues,’ Collier’ s, 14 Decem- ber 1946 and G. Holland, ‘Social Register,’ America n Mercury, June 1932. On the volumes of The Social Register published up to 1925, see Wecter, op. cit. p. 233. 14. Wecter, op. cit. p. 234. 15. As of 1940. Cf. Baltzell Jr., op. cit. Table 2. 16. See ibid. Table 14, pp. 89 ff. NOTES 389 17. Wecter, op. cit. pp. 235, 234. 18. Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899 (New York: New American Library, Mentor Edition, 1953), p. 162. Cf. also my Introduction to that edition for a fuller criticism of Veblen’s theory. 19. Time, 26 October 1953. 20. See ‘Boston,’ Fortune, February 1933, p. 27. 21. Business Week, 5 June 1954, pp. 92-3. 22. From private estimations. Cf. Baltzell Jr., op. cit . p. 178. 23. Cf. ibid, footnote 5, p. 172. 24. ‘Miss Chapin’s, Miss Walker’s, Foxcroft, Farmington ,’ Fortune, August 1931, p. 38. 25. See Porter Sargent, A Handbook of Private Schools, 25th ed. (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1941); ‘Schools for Boys,’ Fortune, May 1944, pp. 165 ff.; ‘St. Paul’s, St. Mark’s, Groton, Andov er, et al,’ Fortune, September 1931, pp. 76 ff. Cf. also George S. Count s, ‘Girls’ Schools,’ Fortune, August 1931 and Twelve of The Best America n Schools,’ Fortune, January 1936, pp. 48 ff. 26. ‘Schools for Boys, op. cit. p. 165. Cf. also ‘Boys’ Prep School,’ Life, 1 March 1954, which deals with Hotchkiss. Com pare Eleanor Roosevelt’s feelings upon sending her youngest son, John, to Groton, as reported by her in This I Remember (New York: Ha rper, 1949), p. 43. 27. Cf. Frank D. Ashburn, Peabody of Groton (New York: Coward McCann, 1944), pp. 30, 67-8. 28. ‘St. Paul’s, St. Mark’s, Groton, Andover, et al,’ o p. cit. p. 76. 29. Cf. Allan Heely, Why the Private School? (New Y ork: Harper, 1951). 30. Cf. John P. Marquand, ff. M. Pulham Esquire (New Yo rk: Ban- tam Edition, 1950), pp. 76, 60; and W. M. Spackman, Heyday (New York: Ballantine Edition, 1953), p. 12. 31. Cf. Baltzell Jr., op. cit. pp. 218-20. 4. The Celebrities 1. See ‘The Yankee Doodle Salon,’ Fortune, December 19 37; and, for a recent account, George Frazier, ‘Cafe Society: Wild, Wicked and Worthless,’ Coronet, August 1954. Cf. also Elsa Max well, R.S.V.P., Elsa Maxwell’s Own Story (Boston: Little, Brown, 1954). 2. Cf. Business Week, 12 January 1953, pp. 58, 64. 3. The U.S. Debutante,’ Fortune, December 1938, pp. 48 ff.; and The Yankee Doodle Salon,’ op. cit. pp. 128-9. 4. Cf. ibid. p. 127; and Mrs. John King Van Rennselaer , ‘Enter- taining Royalty,’ Ladies’ Home Journal, May 1925, p. 72. 5. The Yankee Doodle Salon,’ op. cit. pp. 124-5. 6. Jack Gould, Television in Review,’ The New York Tim es, 6 April 1954. Cf. also Jack Gould, ‘TV Techniques on the Political Stage,’ The New York Times Magazine, 25 April 1954, pp. 12 ff. 390 NOTES 7. Cf. Igor Cassini, ‘The New 400,’ Esquire, June 1953 . On Cassini, see Who’s Who in America, vol. 27; Time, 5 November 1945, pp. 69- 70; and Newsweek, 3 September 1945, p. 68. 8. I did not feel that Cassini’s list warranted exhaus tive analysis; in a cursory way, I was able to classify only 342 of the 399 names he listed: 102 professional celebrities; 41 of the metropolita n 400; and 199 insti- tutional leaders (93 in government and 79 in business). 9. ‘By and large, branch by branch, family by family, the Bostonian of today has withdrawn from productive enterprise. He has lost the ac- tive management of his industries. He has lost the political control of his city. He is no longer a figure, as he was a dominan t figure a hundred years ago, in the government of the nation. He no longer leads either in public opinion or in private thought. And he has so completely lost his leadership in the arts that his former influence has become a subject for satire.’ But ‘no great Boston family of the first rank has lost either means or position. No real break has been made in the cit y’s ruling class. And all the laws of economic determinism seem to have b een violated in that fact. … At present, by the supplementary device o f giving trustees discretion to pay or not to pay income as they see the necessity, a Massa- chusetts estate may be tied up beyond the reach of any power but the Communist International. But it was already possible three generations ago to expedite one’s fortune safely into eternity—or into so much of eternity as the Rule Against Perpetuities left open. And Boston families early formed the habit—a habit in which the highly reputed Suffolk County Bar and the helpful provisions of the Massachusetts laws on trustee investments confirmed them. Fortunately—or unfortunately—for Boston they formed the habit in the days of their w ealth . . . Time cannot wither nor custom stale their infinite variety of sound invest- ments. Social power is theirs. Civilization is theirs. But should they at- tempt to strike back through the mirror into the wo rld of actual power they would bleed to death. Farther forward and in t he focus of living authority is the great banking unity, the First National. Below it in vari- ous relations of financial dependence are the Bosto n industries. Above it, in a somewhat shadowy perspective, are the indi viduals who con- trol it . . . To the side, and in no apparent relation either to the finan- cial web or to the social, stands the political hierarchy . . . And above the political hierarchy but in no apparent relation to it other than the relation established by a common blood and a common religion stands the Irish Catholic hierarchy of the city . . . There are doubtless mys- terious threads and channels which lead from one fo cus of power to another. Certainly there are rumors enough of such connectives . . . There is no agreement. Or if there is agreement it is agreement upon the single point that no threads of power, save the threads which bind Harvard College to the sterns of the clipper ships, lead to the Bos- tonians.’ ‘Boston,’ Fortune, February 1933, pp. 27 ff. 10. For example, Mrs. J. Borden Harriman wrote that ‘The Four Hundred have grown to four thousand. Perhaps I exaggerate, but cer- NOTES 391 tainly there are a dozen sets, each sufficient unto itself, and yet inter locking, like directorates, that set the fashions in New York today…’ ‘Hither and Yon,’ The Century Magazine, September 1 923, p. 881. And Alice-Leone Moats made it clear that ‘the cold nose’ was not suf- ficient: ‘One must have the showmanship to put it a cross, to make it obvious that the possession of the coldest nose entitles one to a position of eminence. But the person who can go into a resta urant, be instantly recognized and given the best table in the room has cafe value. In other words, the outstanding social figures are all Diamond Jim Bradys.’ ‘Cafe Value,’ The Saturday Evening Post, 3 August 1935, p. 12. 11. See ‘The Yankee Doodle Salon,’ op. cit. pp. 183, 18 6. 12. Time, 31 January 1955, p. 57. 13. See Time, 18 January 1954, p. 30. 14. Perhaps it is also revealed by two contrasting stor ies recently carried in a national news magazine: (1) Upon her death in 1953, no less a Society Lady than Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt is tr eated as a quaint sort of curiosity (Cf. Time, 19 January 1953, p. 21). (2) About the same time, we read of Prince Mike Romanoff, probably bor n one Harry F. Gerguson in Brooklyn, of cafe society fame. In the account of his per- sonality, Harry F. Gerguson is treated with due def erence and quite some jolly admiration for being such a successful fake. Cf. Time, 9 June 1952, p. 41. 15. Dixon Wecter, The Saga of American Society (New Yor k: Scrib- ner’s, 1937), pp. 227, 226, 228. 16. ‘The U.S. Debutante,’ op. cit. pp. 48, 52. Cf. also Alida K. L. Milliken, ‘This Debutante Business,’ North American Review, February 1930. 17. Elsa Maxwell, ‘Society-What’s Left of It,’ Collier’ s, March 1939, p. 101. 18. Cf., for example, the Woodbury ad in the Ladies’ Ho me Journal, February 1939, p. 45. 19. Cf. Life, 25 December 1950, p. 67. 20. ‘Yankee Doodle Salon,’ op. cit. p. 126. 21. Business Week, 3 October 1953, p. 184. Cf. also Ano nymous, ‘Piloting a Social Climber,’ Ladies’ Home Journal, August 1927. 22. Maude Parker, ‘The New Four Hundred of New York,’ T he Sat- urday Evening Post, 2 April 1927, p. 214. 23. Mona Gardner, ‘Social Register Blues,’ Collier’s, 1 4 December 1946, p. 97. Cf. also ‘Society,’ Literary Digest, 16 January 1937, p. 22; and Bennett Schiff, ‘Inside Cafe Society: The Debut antes,’ New York Post, 20 April 1955, pp. 4 ff. 24. For various recent images of ‘The Ail-American Girl ,’ see Eliza- beth Hardwick, ‘The American Woman as Snow-Queen,’ Commentary, December 1951, pp. 546 ff.; Parker Tyler, The Hollywood Hallucina- tion (New York: Creative Age Press, 1944); and Bennett Schiff, ‘Inside Cafe Society,’ New York Post, 19 April 1955, pp. 4 ff. 25. On the relation between night clubs and busines smen on expense 392 NOTES accounts, cf. Business Week, 12 January 1952, pp. 5 8 ff. On the ‘ex- pense-account girls,’ see reports of the Micky Jelke hearings, especially Life, 2 March 1953, pp. 29 ff. On cafe-society mora lity in general, see Mills, ‘Public Morality: Girls Using Vice To Help C areers,’ New York Journal-American, 31 August 1952, p. 4-L. 26. In 1946, one important Washington social list, it i s said, had 3,000 changes out of 5,000. Jane Eads, ‘Washington Playground,’ Collier’s, 13 April 1946, p. 52. There is, in Washington, of course, a metropolitan 400 known as ‘The Cave Dwellers,’ the families whose members have resided in Washington for at least two or three genera- tions, and who live by the engagement book. But, competing with them are the ‘great hostesses,’ not all of them familied to any notable degree, who are rather professional in the strategy of stat us; and the wealthy, although temporary, residents whose entertaining is frequent and so- cially successful. And, as in other cities, there are the climbers who have the money of the new upper classes, as well as the social inclination, but not the accomplished status. 27. Cf. John K. Galbraith, American Capitalism (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1952). 28. Ida M. Tarbell, Owen D. Young (New York: Macmillan, 1932), pp. 211-12. 29. Quoted in Fortune, March 1931, pp. 92, 94. 30. The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes, Vol. II: The I nside Struggle, 1936-1939 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), p. 644. 31. ‘Last year [1954] Wisconsin’s Republican Senator Al exander Wiley impressed himself on the folks back home by posing for photo- graphs with his gavel about to descend on the bald dome of New Jer- sey’s G. O. P. Senator H. Alexander Smith; this year New Jersey’s 320- lb. Democratic Representative T. James Tumulty made a big impression by posing in his underpants. ‘During this session, while the 84th Congress has been deliberating on the state of the U. S., Maine’s Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith has been seen on Edward R. Murrow’s televisio n program as she traipsed around the globe—e.g., to Formosa, India, Spain. A pixy TV program called Masquerade Party has achieved a clow n’s gallery of Sen- ators, e.g., Indiana’s Republican Senator Homer Capehart came with a Roman toga draped around his aldermanic figure, Sou th Dakota’s Re- publican Senator Karl Mundt and his wife appeared a s Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, Alabama’s Democratic Senator John Spark- man (his party’s 1952 nominee for Vice President) showed up disguised as a fireman.’ Time, 4 April 1955, p. 17. See also Douglas Cater’s ex- cellent analysis, ‘Every Congressman a Television S tar,’ The Reporter, 16 June 1955, pp. 26 ff. On the status of businessmen, compare the 1907 pres idential address of Jeremiah W. Jenks, ‘The Modern Standard of Business Honor,’ to the American Economic Association (Third Series, vol. in), pp. 1-22, with comments to be found in Sigmund Diamond’s The Reputation of the NOTES 393 American Businessman (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955). See also ‘Corporation Life Gets a Literature,’ Business Week, 5 June 1954, p. 79. 32. Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd, 1896 (London: Ernest Ben n, 1952), pp. 129, 130, 131. 33. In this section, I have drawn upon Harold Nicolson’ s The Mean- ing of Prestige (Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ ersity Press, 1937). 34. Gustave Le Bon, op. cit. p. 140. 35. Cf. Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Cla ss, 1899 (New York: New American Library, Mentor Edition, 1953). 36. Cf. John Adams, Discourses on Davila (Boston: Russe ll and Cut- ler, 1805), especially pp. 26-7, 30-34, 48-9. The s ubsequent quota- tions are from pp. 40, 28-9, and 18. 37. But see Rene Sedillot, ‘Now Medals for Civilians, T oo,’ The New York Times Magazine, 24 April 1955, pp. 22 ff., for recent attempts to have honor more officially recognized. 38. Winthrop Rockefeller. Cf. The New York Times, 27 De cember 1953, and the New York Post, 16 October 1953. 39. Haroldson L. Hunt. Cf. The New York Times Magazine, 8 March 1953. 40. Barbara Sears Rockefeller. See Time, 28 June 1954 a nd The New York Times, 4 August 1954. 41. Dorothy Taylor di Frasso. Cf. The New York Herald T ribune, 5 January 1954, p. 9 and Time, 18 January 1954, p. 88. 5. The Very Rich 1. Cf. Joseph A. Schumperer, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy 3rd ed. (New York: Harper, 1950), pp. 81 ff. 2. For a careful and revealing analysis of the attitud es and con- nections of the Presidents and the commissioners involved in anti-trust action during the crucial Progressive Era, see Meyer H. Fishbein, Bu- reau of Corporations: An Agency of the Progressive Era (MA thesis, American University, 1954), esp. pp. 19-29, 100-119. 3. Frederick Lewis Allen, The Lords of Creation (New Y ork: Harper, 1935), pp. 9-10. 4. Ibid. p. 12. 5. Cf. Time, 10 August 1953, p. 82. 6. Report of the Smaller War Plants Corporation to the Special Com- mittee to Study Problems of American Small Business , U.S. Senate, Economic Concentration and World War II, 79th Congr ess, 2nd Session, Senate Committee Print No. 6 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Gov- ernment Printing Office, 1946). pp. 37, 39, 40. 7. On wealth in Colonial America, see Dixon Wecter, Th e Saga of American Society (New York: Scribner’s, 1937), chap. 2; and Gustavus Myers, History of the Great American Fortunes, 1907 (revised Modern Library edition, 1936), pp. 55-6, 59, 85. On the estate of George Wash- 394 NOTES ington, see ibid. p. 49. On the multi-millionaires in the early 1840’s, see A. Forbes and J. W. Greene, The Rich Men of Massach usetts (Boston: Fetridge & Co., 1851); Moses Yale Beach, Wealth and Pedigree of the Wealthy Citizens of New York City (New York: Compil ed with much care and published at the Sun Office, 1842), 4th ed.; and ‘Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of Philadelphia,’ by a Member of the Philadelphia Bar, 1845. On the New York multi-milli onaires in the mid- dle 1850’s, see Moses Yale Beach, ‘The Wealthy Citi zens of the City of New York,’ 12th ed. (New York: Published at the Sun Office, 1855). On the coinage of the word ‘millionaire,’ see Wecter, op. cit. p. 113. 8. See The New York Tribune, Tribune Monthly, June 189 2. Sidney Ratner has recently edited a book, New Light on the History of Great American Fortunes (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 19 53), which re- prints two listings of American millionaires—from the Tribune Monthly, June 1892 and the World Almanac, 1902. These lists are of little use in the attempt to list the very rich (see footnote 9 below) since only rarely is an estimate of the exact size of the fortune giv en; examination of this list shows that hundreds of ‘mere millionaires’ app ear alongside John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. 9. In a country which, as Ferdinand Lundberg once rema rked, lit- erally flaunts a chaos of statistics about subjects of little general interest,’ there are no precise figures on the great fortunes. To list the names of the richest people of three generations, I have had to do the best that I could with such unsystematic sources as are availab le. I have, of course, availed myself of all the histories of great fortunes in the United States, as well as the biographies of those who possessed t hem. Twice in the twentieth century—1924 and 1938—rather systematic i nformation has been published on large incomes or big properties (see below); and there is an intermittent stream of information and myth appearing in newspapers and magazines, the facts of a probated will, the tax scandal, the anecdote about rich individuals. I began with a list of all persons mentioned in the books listed below who were born after 1799 and who were stated to hav e ever possessed $30 million or more. In many cases, the size of the fortune was not estimated in the source of the name; but taking not e of all possible names, we searched all the sources at hand for estimations of the size of fortune. The general criterion of $30 million is mainly a matter of convenience. We found that such a criterion will yield 371 names: since it was necessary to compile detailed information ab out the fortune and the career of each of these individuals, our resources did not permit us to handle a larger list. Here are the sources used: (I) Gustavus Myers, History of the Great American F ortunes, 1907 (revised Modern Library edition, 1936). (II) Gustavus Myers, The Ending of Hereditary Fortunes (New York: Julian Mes sner, 1939). (III) Matthew Josephson, The Robber Barons (New Yor k: Harcourt, Brace, 1934). (IV) Frederick Lewis Allen, The Lords of Creation (New York: Harper, 1935). (v) Ferdinand Lundberg, America’s 60 Families, NOTES 395 1937 (New York: The Citadel Press, 1946)-our cautio us use of this book is discussed below in (XI). (VI) Dixon Wecter, The Saga of Ameri- can Society (New York: Scribner’s 1937). (VII) ‘Ric hest U.S. Women,’ Fortune, November 1936 (VIII) Stewart H. Holbrook, The Age of the Moguls (New York: Doubleday, 1953). Based in consid erable detail upon Myers’ work and those of other historians, this work is mainly a popularization of earlier work. (IX) ‘Noted America ns of the Past: American Industrial Leaders, Financiers and Merchants,’ World Alma- nac, 1952, p. 381, and 1953, p. 783. Does not inclu de estimates of fortunes. (X) Cleveland Amory, The Last Resorts (New York: Harper, 1952). There are naturally many duplications of people mentioned in these sources; but each one of them has yielded inf ormation unmen- tioned by all the others. Three further sources require more detailed discuss ion: (XI) In 1924 and again in 1925, a temporary law allowed the release of information on the size of income-tax payments made on incomes for 1923 and 1924. Journalists were admitted to various offices of the Bu- reau of Internal Revenue and there copied names with the taxes paid by each. The release of this data was so administrativ ely sloppy that one paper published data about a man whom another paper ignored, some errors were printed, and in some cases all journalists missed the names of people who were known to have paid large taxes. (There were, of course, some wealthy people whose entire income was tax free. Select- ing the 1924 income tax list for study, we took everyone who had paid $200,000 or more in taxes as listed in either or in both The New York Times or The New York Herald Tribune, 2 to 15 September 1925. The average tax at this time and at these levels re sulted in a payment of about 40 per cent of the gross income; so a paym ent of $200,000 reveals an annual income during 1924 of about $500,000. Since most such high incomes are derived from investments, an overall figure of 5 per cent return on investment would mean that for one to obtain a half million dollars from investments, the capital owned would have to be about $10 million. It has been presumed that only a bout one-third of most entire fortunes were at that time in taxable sources; hence, the over-all fortune owned would be three times larger than the taxable fortune. (These are the calculations Ferdinand Lundberg made on the 1924 returns in his book cited above. He comments t hat ‘in individual instances the multiplication by three of the net fortune upon whose in- come a tax was paid may result in some distortion, but this appears to be the only way in which to obtain a general approxima tion; and as the method gives generally accurate results, the picture as a whole is not overdrawn. Rather it is very conservative.’ (p. 25.) I think this is so.) By these calculations, then, a tax of $200,000 indi cates an income of $500,000, a taxable fortune of 10 million, and an e ntire fortune of 30 million. Most evidence from those estates that were probated shortly after 1924 shows that these calculations are reasonably accurate. For in- 396 NOTES stance, according to these calculations, the $434,0 00 tax payment of Richard Teller Crane, Jr., indicated a total fortune of $64.8 million; he died in 1931 leaving an estate of 50 million. Ogden Mills’ tax payment of $372,000 would indicate a fortune of 55.5 million in 1924; he died in 1929 leaving 41 million. There are, of course, case s in which people’s estates were much less, but they usually were known to have lost their money (such as grain speculator Arthur W. Cutten wh o was wiped out in the 1929 crash) or given it away before their death. I included such people as long as they were at any one time in possession of $30 million. I know of no systematic use of these names. Ferdina nd Lundberg, in 1937, compiled a list of ’60 families’ which, in fact, are not all families and which number—as ‘families’— not 60, but about 7 4. But he does not analyze them systematically. By ‘systematic’ I understand that similar information is compiled for each person on the list and generalizations made therefrom. What Lundberg does is (1) generalize blood relation s -sometimes cousinhood only—into power and financial cliques. We do not wish to confuse the two. In addition (2), we cannot go along with the list he has abstracted from The New York Times, which is not un iformly made up of families or individuals or companies but is a miscellany. Of the so-called 60 families, there are 37 ‘familie s’ represented by more than one member’s tax payments. There are eigh t unrelated men included along with the Morgans; and there is another group of seven families forming his 38th ‘family’ (this is the ‘Standard Oil Group’). The list is filled out with 22 individuals paying 1924 taxes ranging from $188,608 to $791,851. Thus, if ‘family’ is to mean a blood tie, there are many more than 60 families on his list; but the lis t is not even a full account of these families, since only those paying a tax under the family name were included. Moreover, there are a number of people (e.g. J. H. Brewer, L. L. Cooke) who paid much higher taxes in 1924 than many of the people named by Lundberg but who are not included in his listing of ’60 families.’ Some, but not all, of these are not listed in The New York Times, but are in The New York Herald Tribune, which Mr. Lund- berg seems to have ignored. More importantly for the purpose of obtaining a list of the top rich- est persons is the fact that some of the families in Lundberg’s list of the top 60 do not even appear among the very rich when individuals are concerned. The Deerings, for instance: Lundberg uses three Deerings; the tax payment of all three adds up to $315,701. We do not include the Deerings on our list of the ‘very rich’ since James Deering paid a tax of only $179,896; Charles, only $139,341; the third De ering, some $7,000. The same type of procedure holds for the Tafts, Leh mans, and deFor- ests. They are all undoubtedly rich people, but not to the same degree as the people in whom we are interested. (XII) A more recent systematic source of information rega rding size of private fortunes is the Temporary National Econo mic Committee’s Monograph No. 29: ‘The Distribution of Ownership in the 200 Largest NOTES 397 Non-Financial Corporations’ (Washington: U.S. Gover nment Printing Office, 1940). This monograph gives the 20 largest stockholders of rec- ord in each of the 200 largest non-financial corporations, along with the stockholdings of the directors and officers of thes e corporations, as of 1937 or 1938. Although it does contain most of the well-known fortunes that are based upon industrial ownership, the list is not complete: it does not cover money held in government or local bonds, in real estate or in financial houses. Moreover, in a number of instances ownership even of industrial corporations is disguised by the practic e of recording the ownership of a block of stock under various investment houses which do not divulge the names of the actual owners. Neverth eless, this TNEC list represents the best we have found for the later period. Compared with the scattered case studies available for the nineteenth century, the wealthy it discloses are a rather stable set of men. From this source I have taken each person for whom the total value of all shares owned in all companies listed was equal to $10 million or more in 1937 or 1938. Multiplying this figure by th ree (assuming again that the taxable wealth represents only one-third o f the total fortune owned), gives us all those people owning $30 million or more in the late ‘thirties. (XIII) None of the sources above provide really up- to-date informa- tion about the very rich. Many of the people named in the various books, and in the 1924 and 1938 lists, are, of course, still alive; and we have found living heirs to people now dead—through obitu aries, we tried to trace the fortunes of all names selected, and included in our list all those heirs whom we have found to have inherited $30 million or more. (XIV) In order to obtain information about people n ow alive, the fol- lowing agencies and government bureaus were contact ed—various offi- cials in each of them gave us such information as they could, none of it ‘official,’ and none of much use to us: the Federal Reserve Board of New York; the Securities Exchange Commission; U.S. Depa rtment of Com- merce, Bureau of Domestic Commerce; and the Bureau of Internal Rev- enue’s Statistical Division and Information Division. Individuals were also contacted in the following private organizations: Dun & Bradstreet; The National Industrial Conference Board’s Division of Business Eco- nomics; The Wall Street Journal; Barron’s; Fortune; The Russell Sage Foundation; U.S. News and World Report; Brookings I nstitution; Bureau of National Affairs, Federal Savings and Loan; and two private investment houses. People seen in these organizations could only refer us to sources of which we were already aware. Some had never thought much about the problem, others seemed slightly shocked at the idea of ‘finding out’ about the top wealthy people, others were enchanted with the idea but helpless as to sources. I am grateful to Professor Fred Blum for making most of these contacts for us, and for his helpful com- ments on this whole problem. (XV) During the post-World War II years, I have bee n searching current papers and periodicals for any mention of other multi-million- 398 NOTES aires. From magazines such as Business Week, Look a nd Life and Time and from The New York Times, I have picked up addit ional names, mainly of the new crop of Texans. In this search for additional names, I have had the benefit of about two dozen interested students and friends. Because of the necessarily miscellaneous character of the collection of names, we cannot be certain, and I do not claim, that the list includes all the richest people in America over the last 100 years; nor that all the people whom we have included in our list have, in p roven fact, pos- sessed at one time or another, $30 million. Two things, however, can be said with reasonable surety: (1) There is fairly good evidence for the accuracy of the $30 million figure. In cases of people who have died, I have checked by pr obate of will and found that these estimations seem quite accurate. (2) Even though the list cannot be proved to exhaust the richest—including every single per- son who has owned the prescribed amounts—all of the se people are un- doubtedly among the richest people in the United States by any reason- able definition. Undoubtedly in our listing we have missed some who should have been included, and have included others who should not have been. But we have included all those people about whom printed information is available to us, and it is our opinion that such errors as might occur do not materially affect the picture. I n short, no exact and proven list seems to us possible; this list seems to us a quite reasonable approximation of the most prominent very rich peopl e in America over the last one hundred years. The foregoing outline of procedure, along with a pr eliminary listing of the names selected, and a secondary listing of people we had desig- nated as being of lesser wealth, were sent, for suggestions and criticisms to the following: Dr. John M. Blair of the Bureau o f Industrial Eco- nomics, Federal Trade Commission; Professor Thomas Cochran of the University of Pennsylvania; Professor Shepard Clough of Columbia University; Professors Arthur Cole, Leland H. Jenks, and Sigmund O. Diamond of the Besearch Center of Entrepreneurial H istory at Harvard University; Professors Joseph Dorfman and Bobert S. Lynd of Colum- bia University; Professor Frank Freidel of Stanford University; Frank Fogarty of Business Week; Ernest Dale of the School of Business, Co- lumbia University; and Max Lerner of the New York P ost and Brandeis University. I wish to thank these people for their time, consideration and help on this problem, although they are in no way r esponsible for any errors of fact or judgement. Of the 371 names, I was unable to find, from a search of biographical sources, the books mentioned above, and newspaper f iles, any informa- tion about the life of 69 of them. More than half of these names came from the 1924 tax lists where we had only the last name and first initials to go by. The speculative nature of many large inco mes during the ‘twenties would lead me to believe that the chances were high that many of these incomes did not represent durable great fortunes; and NOTES 399 our concern with the ‘most prominent’ very rich in America makes it feasible to omit these 69 people from the Very Rich. At any rate it was necessary. In an effort to make some allowance for the varianc e in the value of the dollar over the periods in which we are interes ted, I ranked the members of each of our three generations by the estimated sizes of their fortunes. Economic historians whom I consulted have indicated that they ‘do not know of any satisfactory device for reducing a given amount of money to purchasing power equivalents over a long period of time’ (Letter to the author from Sigmund O. Diamond and Leland H. Jenks, 30 March 1954). Of course, when one gets into the multi-mil- lion-dollar categories, the cost of living—which is usually the purpose of stablishing relative purchasing power—is not a matter of concern. For each generation I took the 90 richest people. W e are thus consid- ering the 90 or so most prominent and richest in ea ch of the three his- torical epochs. This gives us a total of 275 cases for concentrated analy- sis, which is the upper 74 per cent of the 371 case s mentioned by all sources known to us. Of the 90 cases selected as Group I, the median year of birth is 1841; the median years of death, 1912. The year when the median age is 60 is therefore 1901; hereafter Group I is identified as the 1900 generation. Of the 95 cases selected from Group II, the median year of birth is 1867; the median year of death, 1936. The year when the median age is 60 is therefore 1927; Group II thus consists of the 1925 generation. Of the 90 cases in Group III, the median year of bi rth is 1887; and most of these were still alive in 1954. On the average they were 60 in 1947; Group III is thus the 1950 generation. 10. On John D. Rockefeller, see Wecter, op. cit. pp. 14 1-2, 482; Frederick Lewis Allen, op. cit. pp. 4-7; The New York Times, 24 May 1937 and 6 June 1937; and, for further references, John T. Flynn, Gods Gold (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1932). On Henry O. Havemeyer, see Dictionary of American Biography; Myers, History of the Great Ameri- can Fortunes, pp 697 ff.; and The New York Times, 5 December 1907. On Henrietta Green, see Dictionary of American Biog raphy; The New York Times, 4 July 1916, p. 1 and 9 July 1916, magazine section; and Boyden Sparkes and Samuel Taylor Moore, The Witch o f Wall Street: Hetty Green (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Doran, 1935). On George F. Baker, Jr., see Who Was Who, 1897-1942; and The New York Times, 31 May 1937. 11. On Hunt and Cullen, see The New York Times, 21 Nove mber 1952 and the magazine section of 8 March 1953; The Washington Post, 15 through 19 February 1954; and other reports of t he United Press Survey such as those of Preston McGraw in the Long Island Star- Journal, 4 and 5 August 1954 and Gene Patterson, ‘World’s Richest Man is a Texan,’ Pacific Coast Business and Shipping Register, 16 August 1954. 12. The figure on the proportion of foreign-born adult U.S. males in 400 NOTES 1900 was calculated from the U.S. Department of Com merce, Histori- cal Statistics of the U.S.,1789-1945, p. 32. On the foreign-born white population in the United States in 1950, cf. The Wo rld Almanac, 1954 p. 266. 13. See Historical Statistics of the U.S., 1789-1945, p . 29. 14. The general figures on religion cannot be given wit h more pre- cision for religious faith is unknown for a good many of the very rich. The censuses are likewise inaccurate on religious d enominations for most periods of U.S. history, thus also prohibiting comparison of any one group with the general population. 15. For instance, Eleanor Rice, who was the daughter of William L. Elkins and at one time the wife of George D. Widene r, gave millions to a variety of artistic and educational organizations and her last husband was a physician and geographer who was famed for ex peditions to South America to study tropical diseases and native tribes. See The New York Herald Tribune, 5 October 1951. At her pal atial home in California, Mary Virginia McCormick had a permanent staff of musi- cians and imported entire symphony orchestras for parties and concerts. See The New York Times, 26 May 1951. 16. On Anita McCormick Blaine, see The New York Times, 13 Feb- ruary 1954; on Hetty Sylvia Green Wilks, see The New York Times, 6 February 1951, p. 27 17. Even in 1900, when only 39 per cent of the very ric h were re- cruited from the upper classes, some 25 per cent of the very rich were economic men of this family-manager type. William H enry Vanderbilt, son of the Commodore and dead by 1900, became a con servative man- ager of the Vanderbilt enterprises, and, in fact, was head of them when they reached their financial high point. It is, of course, difficult to know whether this was a result of his management—which w as neither specu- lative nor extravagant—or a result of objective changes resulting in the increased value of railroad securities. The indolence of his sons, who spent more time in Europe playing a game of fashion , was perhaps less a cause of the relative decline of the Vanderbilt fortune than the down- swing of the railroad economy. Cf. Wayne Andrews, T he Vanderbilt Legend, New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1941. George D. Widener, son of P. A. B. Widener, became a stockholder in 23 companies and was president and director of 18. He was an active type of economic man in that he was involved in 1902 in a suit for fraud fo r praising a weak company so that he could sell his stock in it and get out before it failed. Cf. Philadelphia Public Ledger, 2 April 1912 and Ph iladelphia Press, 23 September 1902. Of the modern-day family managers there is, for instance, Vincent Astor—the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor—who ma y be an enthu- siast for yachting and automobile racing, but he disappointed society editors in their search for the idle life of scandal when, at the death of his father, he quit Harvard and, at the age of 21, began to improve the value of the Astor land in New York City. Young Vincent changed the NOTES 401 management policy by abolishing many tenements and attempting to bring middle and upper-class clientele to Astor land, thus, of course, in- creasing its value to him. Cf. Harvey O’Connor, The Astors, New York: Knopf, 1941, p. 336. And the daily decisions of John D. Rocke- feller III involve the disposition of millions of dollars; he has a full-time job for which he was trained: philanthropic work on an international scope. Moreover, he has been active as a director in many American corporations, including the New York Life Insurance Company and the Chase National Bank. 18. See The New York Times, 1 August 1954, pp. 1, 7. 19. On the vicious circle of poverty and the withdrawal from success, see Mills, White Collar (New York: Oxford Universit y Press, 1951), pp. 259 ff. 20. See Myers, History of the Great American Fortunes, pp. 634 ff.; Lewis Corey, The House of Morgan (New York: G. Howa rd Watt, 1930); and John K. Winkler, Morgan the Magnificent (New York: The Vanguard Press, 1930). 21. See Harvey O’Connor, How Mellon Got Rich (New York: Inter- national Pamphlets, 1933) and Mellons Millions (New York: John Day, 1933); Frank R. Denton, The Mellons of Pittsburgh ( New York: New- comen Society of England, American Branch, 1948); a nd The New York Times, 30 August 1937, p. 16. 22. Quoted in Time, 1 June 1953, p. 38. 23. See The New York Times, 2 February 1944, p. 15. 24. See The New York Times, 7 June 1948, p. 19. 25. See Wallace Davis, Corduroy Road (Houston: Anson Jo nes Press, 1951). See also the testimony of James D. Stietenroth, former chief financial officer of the Mississippi Power & Light Co., in re gard to the Dixon- Yates contract, reported in the Interim Report of the Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary on Antitrust and Mon opoly on Investi- gation Into Monopoly in the Power Industry, Monopol y in the Power Industry, U.S. Senate, 83d Congress, 2nd Session (W ashington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955), pp. 12 ff. 26. Cf. Frederick Lewis Allen, op. cit. p. 85. 6. The Chief Executives 1. See Mills, White Collar: The American Middle Classe s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1951), Chapters 2 and 3. 2. Calculated from Bureau of the Census, 1951 Annual S urvey of Manufacturers and ‘The Fortune Directory of the 500 Largest U.S. Industrial Corporations,’ Fortune, July 1955, Supplement and p. 96. 3. John Kenneth Galbraith, American Capitalism: The Co ncept of Countervailing Power (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1952), p. 58; see also pp. 115 ff. and 171 ff. 4. For substantiation, with recent data, of the Gardin er Means view of price rigidity in the corporate economy, see John M. Blair, ‘Economic 402 NOTES Concentration and Depression Price Rigidity,’ Ameri can Economic Re- view, vol. XLV , May 1955, pp. 566-82. 5. Cf. Ferdinand Lundberg, America’s 60 Families, 1937 (New York: The Citadel Press, 1946), Appendix E. 6. The number of stockholders in 1952, and the proport ion they rep- resent of the various occupational groups and income levels which fol- low, are from a study by Lewis H. Kimmel, Share Own ership in the United States (Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1952). Cf. also ‘1955 Survey of Consumer Finances’ Federal Reserve Bulletin, June 1955, which reveals that only two percent of ‘the spending units’ hold $10,000 worth or more in stock. On the adult popula tion in 1950, see The World Almanac, 1954, p. 259. 7. Between these polar groups of stockholders there ar e the farmers, 7 per cent of whom own some stock. Cf. Kimmel, op. cit. 8. Back in 1936 only about 55,000 people—lesss than 1 per cent of all the stockholders—received as much as $10,000 a year in dividends. Cf. ‘The 30,000 Managers,’ Fortune, February 1940, p. 108. In 1937, people with incomes of $20,000 or more—excluding ca pital gains and losses—collected between 40 and 50 per cent of all corporate dividends, and represented less than 1 per cent of all stockho lders. See Tem- porary National Emergency Committee, ‘Final Report to the Executive Secretary,’ p. 167. 9. Furthermore, 13 per cent of the corporate dividends received in 1949 went to people who had either no taxable income or income of less than $5,000 a year. Calculated from the U.S. Treasu ry Department, Bureau of Internal Revenue, ‘Statistics of Income for 1949, Part I,’ pp. 16,17. 10. Cf. Floyd Hunter, Community Power Structure (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953); and Robert A. Brady, Busi- ness as a System of Power (New York: Columbia Unive rsity Press, 1943). 11. Cf. Mills, The New Men of Power (New York: Harcourt , Brace, 1948), pp. 23-7. 12. For details on interlocking directorship in 1938, s ee TNEC Monograph No. 29: ‘The Distribution of Ownership in the 200 Largest Non-financial Corporations,’ pp. 59, 533 ff.; cf. also TNEC Monograph No. 30: ‘Survey of Shareholdings in 1710 Corporatio ns with Securities Listed on a National Securities Exchange.’ In 1947, the story for the broader base of U.S. corporations, financial and non-financial, was prac- tically the same as among the director-owners of th e top 200 non-finan- cial corporations in 1938: Of the 10,000 persons wh o were directors in the 1,600 leading corporations, some 1,500 had seats on more than one board. Since 1914 it has been illegal for a person to be the director of two or more corporations if those corporations are in competition; in 1951, the Federal Trade Commission argued that it w anted the law amplified to include two or more corporations of a certain size regard- less of whether or not they are in competition. ‘The present law is . . NOTES 403 unduly limited in its conception of the competition that may be pre- vented by interlocking directorates. The law applies only where there is or has been competition between the interlocked com panies. It does not apply where these companies might readily become competitors and probably would do so but for the effect of the interlock . . . [The law] is applicable only to direct interlocks among compe titors, whereas there are competition-reducing potentialities in indirect interlocks as well.’ See Report of The Federal Trade Commission on Inter locking Direc- torates (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951), esp. pp. 14-15. In 1950 there were 556 positions as director in the 25 largest corpo- rations in America. One man (Winthrop W. Aldrich), who is now the Ambassador to Great Britain, held directorships in four of these com- panies (Chase National Bank, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, New York Central Railroad, and Metropolitan Life Insur- ance Company). Seven men each held directorships in three of these companies; 40, in two companies; and 451 men held d irectorships in only one company. Thus, 105 of the 556 seats on the boards of these 25 companies were held by 48 men. See the table prepar ed for Congress- man Emanuel Celler, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judici- ary, by the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the Study of Mo nopoly Power of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representa tives, Eighty- second Congress, First Session, Serial No. 1, Part 2 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951), p. 77, Exhibit A. The concentration of corporation power and the info rmal co-ordina- tion of the business world—with and without interlocking directorships —has become such that the Department of Labor estim ates that only some 147 employers really bargain out their wage terms with their labor forces. These bargains set the pattern of wage cont racts; thousands of other employers may go through the motions of barga ining, but the odds are high that they will end up according to the pattern set by the few giant deals. See Business Week, 18 October 1952, p. 148; Frederick H. Harbison and Robert Dubin, Patterns of Union-Manage ment Relations (Chicago: Science Research Associates, 1947); Mills, The New Men of Power, pp. 233 ff. and Frederick H. Harbison and Jo hn R. Coleman, Goals and Strategy in Collective Bargaining (New Yo rk: Harper, 1951), pp. 125 ff. 13. ‘Special Report to Executives on Tomorrow’s Managem ent,’ Business Week, 15 August 1953, p. 161. 14. John M. Blair, ‘Technology and Size,’ American Econ omic Re- view, vol. XXXVIII , May 1948, Number 2, pp. 150-51. Blair argues that present-day technology, unlike that of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century, is a force leading toward decent ralization rather than consolidation. For new techniques—such as the repla cement of steam by electricity and the replacement of iron and steel by light metals, alloys, plastics, and plywood—reduce the scale of operations at which dimin- 404 NOTES ishing returns set in. Given these new technologica l developments, the maximum profitability of a plant will be reached at a much lower scale of operations than heretofore. ‘In summary … it m ay be expected that the increased substitution of these new materials will reduce the amount of capital required per unit of product and thereby tend to re- sult in the establishment of newer, smaller, and mo re efficient plants.’ Ibid. p. 124. 15. Cf. Galbraith, op. cit; and American Economic Revie w, vol. XLIV , May 1954 for criticisms of Galbraith. 16. Cf. A. A. Berle, Jr., The 20th Century Capitalist R evolution (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954) and Ben B. Seligm an’s perceptive review of it in Dissent, Winter 1955, pp. 92 ff. 17. F. W. Taussig and C. S. Joslyn broke the ground by obtaining information from about 7,000 businessmen listed in Poor’s 1928 Regis- ter of Directors: American Business Leaders: A Stud y in Social Ori- gins and Social Stratification (New York: Macmillan, 1932). Mills analyzed 1,464 ’eminent American businessmen’ whose biog- raphies appeared in The Dictionary of American Biog raphy and who were bom between 1570 and 1879: ‘The American Busin ess Elite: A Collective Portrait,’ The Tasks of Economic History, Supplement V to The Journal of Economic History, December 1945. William Miller has made the chief and the best coll ection of biog- raphies of business leaders. He has personally analyzed these materials and published four articles on them: ‘American Historians and the Busi- ness Elite,’ Journal of Economic History, vol. IX, No. 2, November 1949, which compares 190 business leaders of 1903 with their 188 polit- ical contemporaries; ‘The Recruitment of the Business Elite,’ Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. LXIV, No. 2, May 1950, which deals with the social origins of the business leaders of 1903 as compared with the general population; ‘American Lawyers in Busine ss and Politics,’ Yale Law Journal, vol. LX , NO. 1, January 1951, which compares the social characteristics of the lawyers found among the business leaders of 1903 with those found among the politicians; and ‘The Business Bu- reaucracies: Careers of Top Executives in the Early Twentieth Century,’ Men in Business: Essays in the History of Entrepren eurship (Edited by William Miller) (Cambridge: Harvard University Pres s, 1952), which discusses the business careers of the businessmen of 1903. Mr. Miller also gathered biographical material on 412 business leaders of 1950. Under the direction of Miller at the Research Cente r in Entrepre- neurial History at Harvard University, a similar study was undertaken on industrial leaders of 1870-1879: see Frances W. Gregory and Irene D. Neu, ‘The American Industrial Elite in the 1870’s: Their Social Ori- gins,’ Men in Business. An analysis of all three of these generations has b een written by Suzanne I. Keller, ‘Social Origins and Career Lines of Three Genera- tions of American Business Leaders,’ Columbia Unive rsity Ph.D. Thesis, 1954. Using an approach similar to that of Miller, Fortune magazine NOTES 405 analyzed a group of 900 top executives in 1952—the three highest paid men in the 250 largest industrial corporations, the 25 largest railroads and the 20 largest utilities: The Nine Hundred,’ Fo rtune, November 1952, pp. 132 ff., which consists of the largest contemporary sample available, good materials not adequately analyzed. Cf. also Mabel New- comer, ‘The Chief Executives of Large Business Corp orations,’ Explora- tions in Entrepreneurial History, Vol. V (Cambridge: Research Center for Entrepreneurial History at Harvard University, 1952-3), pp. 1-34, which deals with the chief executives of corporations in 1899, 1923, and 1948. All such studies of career-lines, as well as others used in this book, are, however, readily liable to many technical diff iculties of interpreta- tion, the information needed is often very hard to come by, and one may quite easily be misled. For example, the superficial ‘social origin’ of Sen- ator Clifford Case of New Jersey, judged by his fat her’s occupation, is ‘pleasant but not prosperous’: he is the son of a Protestant minister who died when Clifford was sixteen. His uncle, however, was a state senator and, for 23 years, a state supreme court justice. (See Time, 18 October 1954, p. 21.) On the dangers inherent in using such career-line statisti- cal studies as predictions of the course of social events, see Richard H. S. Crossman, ‘Explaining the Revolution of Our Time: C an Social Science Predict Its Course?’ Commentary, July 1952, pp. 77 ff. The figures used in Sections 2 and 3 of this chapte r are, unless other- wise noted, from Keller’s analysis of Miller’s data; in no case is this data used unless it is commensurate with other relevant studies: we may thus take those figures presented in the text as represe nting a general con- sensus of all the relevant studies done. 18. ‘The Nine Hundred,’ op. cit., p. 235. 19. As you extend the sample to more executives, the pr oportion of the top 900 executives in 1952 who graduated from c ollege is roughly the same (about 65 per cent), but only about one-third of these have had post-graduate training. Of the youngest group of present-day exec- utives—those under 50 years of age—84 per cent have graduated from college. See ‘The Nine Hundred,’ op. cit., p. 135. 20. See ibid., p. 133. 21. See the study of 127 executives in 57 leading compa nies reported by Business Week, 31 May 1952, pp. 112 ff. Seventy- two of the 127 executives received these extra benefits in addition to their salaries. 22. Cf. Business Week, 23 May 1953, pp. 110ff. 23. We do not know exactly for an adequate sample how l ong or how hard the executives work, but we do have a few recent facts about a small group of West Coast executives, all of whom received salaries of $35,000 or more; we are not given data on how much they own or get from dividends. Some 37 out of this group of 111 men got to work at about 10 a.m., quit around 3 p.m., ‘took three-hour lunches, played golf or went fishing two or three times a week, often stretched their weekends to lour or five days. All but five of this group owned their 406 N O T E S own companies or were officers of small local busin esses.’ Only 10 men (nine per cent) worked a straight 40-hour week. But 64 (some 58 per cent) worked very hard indeed: ‘They were almost al l employees of large national corporations . . . They worked from 69 hours a week to as high as 112, and I mean all work . . . Most were in the office by 8, left at 6:30 with a pile of homework; when they wen t out to dinner (an average of three times a week), it was always on bu siness.’ From a study done by Arthur Stanley Talbott, as reported in Time, 10 Novem- ber 1952, p. 109. 24. The New York Times, 10 April 1955, p. 74. 25. See ‘Why Don’t Businessmen Read Books?’ Fortune, Ma y 1954. 26. William Miller, ‘American Lawyers in Business and P olitics,’ op. cit. p. 66. 27. Since they were about 29 when they first joined the ir companies, and have been in them about the same length of time —29 years—and have been in the present job 6 years, it took them an average of 23 years to reach the top. These and the figures in the two paragraphs of the text, are from, or re-classified from, “The Nine Hundred,’ op. cit. 28. Robert A. Gordon, Business Leadership in the Large Corpora- tion (Washington: Brookings Institution, 1945), p. 71. 29. On the ‘Number Two’ executives, see, for exampl e, Business Week, 2 January 1954 on the du Pont set-up. 30. See Business Week, 16 May 1953. 31. John L. McCaffrey in a speech of 10 June 1953 befor e the grad- uating class of the University of Chicago’s two-year Executive Pro- gram, reprinted as ‘What Corporation Presidents Thi nk About at Night,’ Fortune, September 1953, pp. 128 ff. 32. Cf. Business Week, 3 October 1953. 33. See Gordon, op. cit. p. 91; and Peter F. Drucker, T he Practice of Management (New York: Harper, 1954). 34. Both the letters of Lammot du Pont and Alfred P. Sl oan were re- printed in The New York Times, 7 January 1953, pp. 33, 35. 35. The facts and quotation concerning Robert R. Young’ s fight to get control of the New York Central are from John Brooks, ‘The Great Proxy Fight,’ The New Yorker, 3 July 1954, pp. 28 ff. See also Business Week, 24 July 1954, p. 70. 36. See Business Week, 15 May 1954. 37. See The New York Post, 16 April 1954. 38. Cf. Robert Coughlin, ‘Top Managers in Business Cabi net,’ Life, 19 January 1953, pp. 111, 105. 39. The quotation concerning a high executive of the wo rld’s largest oil company is from Business Week, 17 April 1954, p. 76. On the self- perpetuation of executives like those already at the top, see Melville Dalton, ‘Informal Factors in Career Achievements,’ American Journal of Sociology, vol. LVI , NO. 5 (March 1951), p. 414. 40. See Keller, op. cit. pp. 108-111. 41. See ‘The 30,000 Managers,’ op. cit.; and Robert W. Wald, ‘The NOTES 407 Top Executive—a First Hand Profile,’ Harvard Busine ss Review, Au- gust 1954. 42. A recent survey by Booz, Allen & Hamilton showed th at half of 50 major companies studied used only one man’s opinion in rating ex- ecutives; 30 per cent ‘used several persons’ opinions to evaluate ability, and only 20 per cent tried more scientific methods. ‘ Business Week, 2 April 1955, p. 88. 43. Business Week, 3 November 1951, p. 86. Cf. also Mil ls, White Collar, pp. 106 ff.; and William H. Whyte, Jr., and the editors of For- tune, Is Anybody Listening? (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952). 44. ‘The Crown Princes of Business,’ Fortune, October 1 953, p. 152. 45. ‘The Nine Hundred,’ op. cit. p. 135. 46. The quotations and facts in these two paragraphs ar e from The Crown Princes of Business,’ op. cit. pp. 152-3. 47. Ibid. p. 264. 48. The quotation from Fortune is from ibid. p. 266; an d that from the executive is from an anonymous ‘president of a well-known corpo- ration,’ loc. cit. 49. Ida M. Tarbell, Owen D. Young (New York: Macmillan, 1932), pp. 232, 113, 229-30, 121, and 95-6. 7. The Corporate Rich 1. On ‘the managerial revolution,’ see James Burnham, The Man- agerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World (New York: John Day, 1941); for a detailed comment on Burnham’s vie w, see H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, ‘A Marx For the Managers ,’ Ethics, vol. LII , No. 2, January 1942. For the theory of the leading families, see Ferdinand Lundberg, America’s 60 Families, 1937 (Ne w York: The Citadel Press, 1946). 2. For the income distribution of 1951 compared with t hat of 1929, see Business Week, 20 December 1952, pp. 122-3; the income for both 1929 and 1951 is in terms of 1951 dollars. Cf. also Business Week, 18 October 1952, pp. 28-9. 3. For discussions of some of the general economic fac ts behind the changed income distribution, see Frederick Lewis Al len, The Big Change (New York: Harper, 1952), and Business Week, 25 October 1952, p. 192. 4. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Censu s, ‘Cur- rent Population Reports: Consumer Income,’ Series P-60, No. 12, June 1953, p. 4. 5. The figures on declared income for 1949 and its sources are com- puted from U.S. Treasury Department, Bureau of Inte rnal Revenue, ‘Statistics of Income for 1949, Part I, Preliminary Report of Individ- ual Income Tax Returns and Taxable Fiduciary Income Tax Returns filed in 1950’ (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1952), pp. 16-19. 408 NOTES 6. Corporate dividends made up the largest share of th ose 81 people who received from one to 1.9 million dollars (42 and 45 per cent). Es- tates and trusts made up the largest share (48 per cent) of the money received by the 20 people in the 2 to 2.9 million-d ollar income group. Capital gains accounted for 49 per cent of the money received by those earning three million or more. Dividends were, howe ver, secondary sources in these two last highest groups—39 and 43 per cent. See ibid, pp. 16-19. 7. Ibid. pp. 45-7. 8. Historical figures on million-dollar incomes from 1 917 to 1936 have been compiled by the Joint Committee on Intern al Revenue Taxa- tion of the Congress of the United States, ‘Million -dollar Incomes’ (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1938). In the years prior to 1944, individual incomes were not separated from estates and trusts. If one were to include these in the 194 9 returns to make them comparable with the 513 in 1929, there would b e 145 million- dollar incomes in 1949. On the proportion of families with incomes of less than $2,000 in 1939, see The New York Times,’ (5 March 1952) presentation of Bureau of Census data. 9. ‘Preliminary Findings of the 1955 Survey of Consume r Finances,’ Federal Reserve Bulletin, March 1955, page 3 of reprint. 10. Simon Kuznets, an expert with tax-derived data, finds that the share in total income after taxes of the richest 1 per cent (which goes down to families earning a mere $15,000) of the pop ulation has de- creased from 19.1 per cent in 1928 to 7.4 per cent in 1945; but he care- fully adds: ‘It must be evident from our presentati on that we encoun- tered considerable difficulty in contructing estimates with a high degree of reliability and in unearthing data for checking the several hypotheses.’ Yet, his are the figures upon which the great level ing up’ and the ‘de- cline of the rich’ theories are popularly based. These figures involve a certain amount of ‘estimates’ and ‘adjustments’ whi ch could be de- bated in great detail; but, the important debate ought to concern the data from which they are ‘estimated.’ From what we know—and we know only a small part—of the legal and the illegal ways of the heavily taxed, we seriously wonder if the drop from 19.1 to 7.4 per cent is as much an illustration of how well the corporate rich have learned to keep information about their income from the govern ment than of an ‘income revolution.’ No one, however, will ever really know. For the kind of official investigation required is not politically feasible. See Simon Kuznets, ‘Shares of Upper Income Groups in In come and Sav- ings,’ National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., Occasional Paper No. 35, pp. 67 and 59; and Simon Kuznets, assisted by Elizabeth Jenks, Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings (New York: National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., 1953). For one debate over the methods employed by Kuznets by means of a different inter- pretation of tax data, see J. Keith Butters, Lawrence E. Thompson and NOTES 409 Lyn L. Bollinger, Effects of Taxation: Investm ent by Individuals (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), especially p. 104. Incidentally, the proportion of income that goes fo r taxation of all kinds—which members of the several income levels pa y—has not re- cently been studied with care. During the New Deal, however, the re- sults of such a study by Gerhard Colm and Helen Tar asov for the TNEC (Monograph No. 3: ‘Who Pays theTaxes?’ see esp ecially p. 6) revealed that a person earning from $1,500 to $2,000 a year paid 17.8 per cent of his income in taxes, and was only able to save 5.8 per cent; while someone earning ten times that income ($15,00 0 to $20,000) had just less than twice as high proportion of his income taken away by taxes (31.7 per cent) and was able to save over five times as high a proportion (32.3 per cent). 11. Such cost deductions in any given year reduce t he amount of ‘depletion allowance’ since they reduce the size of the net income; but they do not affect the percentage allowed for depletion. See Roy Blough, The Federal Taxing Process (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1952) p. 318. All businesses were given a depletion boost as of 3 1 July 1954: in- stead of amortizing the cost of capital equipment bought equally over its entire useful life, two-thirds may now be deducted in the first half of its life. See The New York Times, 22 July 1954, pp. 1, 10. 12. See Time, 2 November 1953, p. 98. 13. On the gift tax, see Business Week, 7 August 1954, pp. 103- 104; and 13 November 1954, p. 175. 14. Business Week, 7 March 1953, p. 143. 15. Loc. Cit. On family trusts, see also Business Week, 9 October 1954, pp. 175 ff. 16. These facts and quotations concerning foundations a re from Business Week, 19 June 1954, pp. 167-9, 173. 17. Business Week, 17 May 1952. A survey of some 164 re presenta- tive corporations in 1952 revealed that only 8 per cent of them pay their executives by salary alone—cited by Richard A . Girard, ‘They Escape Income Taxes—But You Can’t!’ American Magazi ne, Decem- ber 1952, p. 16. 18. Girard, op. cit. p. 89. 19. At present such stock options are only open to exec utives who own less than 10 per cent of the company’s stock; but there is talk of liberalizing the option to include big owners, although at prices slightly higher than the market prices, so that the owner-ex ecutive can retain control of the company’s stock when new stock issue s are floated. On executive stock options, see Business Week, 4 April 1953, pp. 85-8; and 17 July 1954, pp. 52, 54. 20. Business Week, 25 December 1954. 21. Ibid. 19 July 1952. 22. The New York Times, 17 October 1954, p. F3. 23. Group life insurance, health, accident, disability, and pension plans are increasingly popular among the corporate rich. On new trends 410 NOTES in group life insurance and disability, see Busines s Week, 14 February 1953, pp. 78, 83; 26 September 1953, pp. 120, 122; and 24 July 1954; p. 65. On ‘split-dollar’ life insurance, see Business Week, 24 July 1954, pp. 64, 65. 24. Cf. Business Week, 20 June 1953, p. 183. 25. William H. Whyte, Jr., ‘The Cadillac Phenomenon,’ F ortune, February 1955, p. 178. 26. Cf. Business Week, 11 June 1955, p. 168 and 9 July 1955, pp. 40 ff. 27. Ernest Haveman, ‘The Expense Account Aristocracy,’ Life, 9 March 1953. Some 73 per cent of one sample of compa nies recently studied pay all or part of their key executives’ club expenses—see Girard, op. cit. p. 88. 28. The New York Times, 22 February 1953, News of the W eek Section, ‘Journeys’ End.’ 29. See Business Week, 15 May 1954. 30. See Business Week, 16 October 1954. 31. See Business Week, 9 January 1954. 32. Girard, op. cit. p. 89. Sf. also Business Week, 29 August 1953. 33. Marya Mannes, ‘Broadway Speculators,’ The Reporter, 7 April 1955, p. 39. 34. Ernest Haveman, op. cit. 35. Honore de Balzac, The Thirteen (New York: Macmillan , 1901), p. 64. 36. Quoted in Look, 9 February 1954. 37. Honore de Balzac, op. cit. 38. See, for example, ‘Hearings before the Subcommittee on Study of Monopoly Power of the Committee on the Judiciary ,’ House of Rep- resentatives, Eighty-first Congress, First Session, Serial No. 14, Part 2-A (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950) , pp. 468-9. 39. Theodore H. White, Texas: Land of Wealth and Fear,’ The Reporter, 25 May 1954, pp. 11 and 15. On Hugh Roy Cullen, see also The Washington Post, 14 February 1954. 40. The New York Times, 11 October 1953, p. 65. The Hat ch Politi- cal Activities Act,’ The New York Times continues, ‘makes it illegal to give more than $5,000 to any one national group. Bu t it allows an in- dividual to give up to that amount to each of any number of separate organizations and permits each member of a family t o make separate donations.’ 41. Harry Carman and Harold C. Syrett, A History of the American People (New York: Knopf, 1952), vol. n, p. 451. 42. Jonathan Stout, ‘Capital Comment,’ The New Leader, 5 De- cember 1942. 43. Quoted in The Reporter, 25 October 1954, p. 2. 44. John Knox Jessup, ‘A Political Role for the Corpora tion,’ For- tune, August 1952. NOTES 411 8. The Warlords 1. Cf. Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class (Translated by Hannah D. Kahn) (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1939), especially pp. 226ff, and Livingston’s Introduction, pp. xxii ff. 2. John Adams, Discourses on Davila (Boston: Russell a nd Cutler, 1805), pp. 36-7. 3. Cf. Ray Jackson, ‘Aspects of American Militarism’ C ontemporary Issues, Summer 1948, pp. 19 ff. 4. ‘Why An Army?’ Fortune, September 1935, p. 48. 5. See Stanislaw Andrzejewski, Military Organization a nd Society (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1954), pp. 68 ff. The best book on ‘militarism’ in the west is undoubtedly Alfred Vagts, A History of Mili- tarism (New York: Norton, 1937). 6. The generals and admirals selected for detailed stu dy were taken, in formal rank order—from top down—from official ar my, navy, and air force registers. The 1900 army men appear in the registers from 1895 through 1905, and include the following fifteen Major Generals: Nel- son A. Miles, Thomas H. Ruger, Wealy Merritt, John R. Brooke, Elwell S. Otis, Samuel B. M. Young, Adna R. Chaffee, Arthu r MacArthur, Lloyd Wheaton, Robert P. Hughes, John C. Bates, James F. Wade, Samuel S. Sumner, Leonard Wood, George L. Gillespie. Of the some 64 rear admirals appearing in the regis ters from 1895 to 1905, only those who appeared for at least three years were taken. This yielded 18 admirals, about the number appearin g in any given year: George Brown, John G. Walker, Francis M. Rams ay, William A. Kirkland, Lester A. Beardslee, George Dewey, John A.