|May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)|
|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
Is pluralism really how the United States operates in general? Although differing on details, many journalists, social scientists, and politicians would probably agree that it does work in roughly this fashion, at least most of the time. But pluralism has its critics too. They charge, first, that it does not adequately describe who governs and, second, even if it did, pluralism is an undesirable form of government.
More devastating to the theory, critics assert, is the severe inequality in the distribution of resources. Needless to say, the clergy can vote and hand out leaflets as the B-1 bomber example indicates, but can they really compete for power with industrial giants like Rockwell International? Does a small Quaker committee have the same impact in the marketplace of ideas as the Pentagon and its allies? Or, can a small group of environmentalists compete toe-to-toe with the chemical industry? True, the "movers and shakers" in government cannot and do not ignore the common person. But paying attention to the public is not the same as sharing power with it.
The top layers of society, according to pluralism's critics, have a distinct advantage. Political scientist E. E. Schattschneider put the matter simply: "The flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent." Politically valuable resources, in other words, tend to be concentrated among the rich and already powerful members of society. Those at the bottom have much less to work with. Thus, if success in the political arena depends on mobilizing resources, some groups will always have an unequal advantage.
The B-1 story is again instructive. President Carter's cancellation order seemed to give the National Campaign victory over its adversaries, Rockwell and the Pentagon. They were not vanquished, however, and neither was the B-1. Having been dealt a devastating blow, the air force switched tactics. It began pushing for a "strategic weapons launcher" (SWL) to carry cruise missiles. (Launched from the ground, submarines, or airplanes, cruise missiles are rockets that can travel a thousand miles or more with nuclear or conventional warheads.) Not surprisingly the SWL's specifications were designed in such a way that the B-1, now promoted as a missile carrier, would be the logical choice. Nick Kotz, "Money, Politics, and The B-1 bomber, Technology Review April, 1988, pp. 31-40. Congress, perhaps unaware of the ploy, appropriated $30 million for the project, and the B-1 continued to live in the shadows until a more sympathetic administration came along.
It didn't have to wait long because Ronald Reagan, a staunch proponent of increased military spending, won the presidency in 1980. Early in his term he persuaded Congress to allocate $4.8 billion to the B-1, and by 1990 more than 90 had rolled off the assembly line. Why did Rockwell and its supporters ultimately triumph? With the advantage of hindsight it appears that it was a flawed victory. The B-1 has encountered countless technical problems since it became operational, and many military analysts doubt that it can perform its missions satisfactorily. The entire fleet was grounded in 1989, for example, after one plane's movable wings ruptured a fuel tank. New York Times, March 29, 1989, p. 1.
Pluralists respond that in the give and take of politics everyone has to expect victories and losses. After winning in the early going, the B-1's opponents simply lost in the later rounds. Critics, on the other hand, claim that the fight was fixed from the beginning. Yes, the plane's opponents theoretically had the freedom to organize and fight. But what chance did they really have against an enormous company with friends in the legislature, subcontractors in nearly every state, and a cabinet department that ranks among the world's largest employers and that has classified data at its fingertips proving that the B-1, and nothing else, would meet the Soviet menace?
Such lopsided contests, critics contend, mock pretensions about competing groups, potential power, resource mobilization, and the rest of the pluralist dogma. Unused resources do not give people potential power. On the contrary, the concept only legitimizes the vast inequalities in influence in American political life, by creating the illusion that everyone who wants to can participate in decision making. The hard fact is that we live in a country dominated by a few extremely powerful groups. And, in fact, without abandoning the idea that politics is characterized mainly by competition among organized groups, many pluralists have conceded that the system frequently works to the disadvantage of the lower classes and the poor.
The answer, pluralists rely, is that the system is neither autocratic nor totalitarian; that is, leaders do not possess unlimited authority. Instead, the groups that ultimately make decisions draw members from all segments of society and govern by rules that most of us would consider fair. Furthermore, there are hundreds of these organizations at all levels of government--local, state, and national--none of which totally dominates the others. And the vast majority of citizens, while perhaps not in direct control, nevertheless have an indirect voice through the attention paid to public opinion. Last, and most significant, pluralistic politics is an open and dynamic process in which unused resources are available to both established groups and their potential opponents. If one group goes too far, others can take up the slack to bring it back in line.
Skeptics, however, point out that even if pluralism works as well as claimed, it still leaves 90 to 95 percent of Americans on the sidelines as spectators rather than participants. What are needed are institutions that encourage public involvement. Individuals are not truly free until they learn how to make decisions and accept responsibility for their choices. Holding leaders accountable is not enough: insofar as possible, the people themselves should formulate the policies that their nation will follow. A pluralistic type of government does not encourage this sort of involvement. With its emphasis on group competition, pluralism does not motivate personal development. Lane Davis, a political scientist, summarizes the point this way:
Popular participation is reduced to the manageable task of choices in elections. This kind of participation is, at best, a pale and rather pathetic version of the responsible and active participation which was the aspiration of classical democracy. Lane Davis, "The Costs of Realism: Contemporary Restatement of Democracy," Western Political Quarterly 17 (March, 1964) p. 43.
Return to Course Material
Return to H. T. Reynolds page
FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit exclusivly for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
ABUSE: IPs or network segments from which we detect a stream of probes might be blocked for no less then 90 days. Multiple types of probes increase this period.
Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers : Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy
War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotes : Somerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose Bierce : Bernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes
Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law
Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds : Larry Wall : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOS : Programming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC development : Scripting Languages : Perl history : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history
The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-Month : How to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite
Most popular humor pages:
Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor
The Last but not Least
Copyright © 1996-2016 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. www.softpanorama.org was created as a service to the UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License.
Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.
FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to advance understanding of computer science, IT technology, economic, scientific, and social issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law according to which such material can be distributed without profit exclusively for research and educational purposes.
This is a Spartan WHYFF (We Help You For Free) site written by people for whom English is not a native language. Grammar and spelling errors should be expected. The site contain some broken links as it develops like a living tree...
|You can use PayPal to make a contribution, supporting development of this site and speed up access. In case softpanorama.org is down you can use the at softpanorama.info|
The statements, views and opinions presented on this web page are those of the author (or referenced source) and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of the author present and former employers, SDNP or any other organization the author may be associated with. We do not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose.
Last modified: September 12, 2017