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The second reason for business dominance is that political participation in a mass society costs a lot of money. Voting may be free, but setting the agenda is enormously expensive.

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To work out and put forth a detail political program at the national level requires information, organization, and publicity, and all these require cash. So what else is new? In contrast to most individual voters, such investors generally have good and clear reasons for investing to control the state, and the resources necessary to sustain the costs of such an effort. These major investors define the core of the major parties, and are responsible for sending most of the signals to which the rest of the electorate responds.

Of course, the electorate must actually respond, which sets some limits on investor dominance. Still, seen in this perspective, voter sovereignty turns out to be as much a myth-- and exactly the same sort of myth -- as consumer sovereignty. Just as high start-up costs for firms and the unequal availability of credit drastically limit economic competition, the high cost of political mobilization and the unequal availability of publicity drastically limit political competition.

And so they do, beginning with the New Deal. According to the conventional wisdom, the Democratic Party is now in crisis because of the collapse of the New Deal coalition, which dominated American politics for several decades. That coalition included organized labor, urban immigrants, Southern and Midwestern farmers, blacks, and liberal professionals.


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The New Deal, in this conception, expressed a wide popular consensus for state intervention to mitigate poverty and inequality, regulate business, and encourage popular participation in government and trade unions. A historic realignment has taken place: the electorate has moved to the right. The trouble with this argument is that the electorate has not moved to the right. Ferguson and Rogers reproduce a vast array of polling data showing that popular support for New Deal liberalism has remained essentially constant throughout the last several decades. And in foreign policy, except for brief periods following intense propagandizing by elites, popular support for intervention and increased military spending has not increased.

All this may sound like wishful thinking, but Ferguson and Rogers have the figures. Why, then, has the electorate overwhelmingly voted Republican in the last two Presidential elections? Once again: it has not.

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On both occasions, the electorate has abstained in large numbers -- nearly half of all eligible voters did not vote. Scholars agree that among nonvoters a category that includes most of the poor and unemployed , Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1. When those percentages are added to the actual vote totals, the Republican majority vanishes. Like most other recent Presidential elections, those of and were basically referendums on the economy.

Carter engineered a slowdown just before the election; Reagan engineered a boom in ; in both cases, the predictable result ensued. There has, undoubtedly, been a turn to the right in American political life recently: not in popular attitudes, but in public policy and in the positions of the two major parties. The real New Deal coalition, they argue, was an alliance of capital-intensive industries, investment banks, and internationally oriented commercial banks.

Here and throughout, the authors name names.

Property, Community, and the Contradictions of Modern Social Thought, 1st Edition

The members of this bloc had two things in common, both of which set them in opposition to the labor-intensive, domestically oriented manufacturers that formed the core investor bloc of the Republican Party. First, being capital-intensive, they could afford a tactical alliance with organized labor and were not nearly so threatened by the new social welfare programs, such as unemployment insurance, which reduced the insecurity and passivity of the workforce.

Second, being major actors in the world economy, they were vitally interested in low tariffs, global free trade, and an active US diplomacy. From these two orientations were derived the broad outlines of the New Deal: liberalism in domestic policy, internationalism in foreign policy. Like all real-world phenomena of any magnitude or importance, this New Deal coalition was not a cut-and-dried affair. The interests of all Democratic investors did not cohere perfectly: there were plenty of internal conflicts, mainly over the shape and extent of government intervention in the economy, and there were defections at the margin.

Beginning in the ls, however, the United States simultaneously became less competitive in and more integrated into the world economy.

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What brought this development home even to Democratic business elites was the recession, by far the most serious up to that point since the Great Depression. For several complex, intertwined reasons, this recession and the long-term economic decline it gave expression to produced a rightward shift among business Democrats. First of all, decreased growth and profits generated pressure for wage restraint, which meant an assault on organized labor.

Part of this anti-labor campaign was an attack on social welfare programs, which were vulnerable for another reason as well: taxes could not be raised to pay for social spending, since during a severe recession companies could not pass along those taxes to already hard-hit consumers in the form of higher prices. This capacity assumed new importance after The rise of OPEC had produced a vast influx of petrodollars into American international banks; and since these banks had to find somewhere to invest this money, they turned to the Third World.

The international banks, formerly oriented toward Europe, had been charter members of the New Deal investor bloc and consistently skeptical about military adventurism; their defection was crucial. Will the resulting eclipse of the Democratic Party be permanent?

Probably not. The more obvious and less important reason is that the Republican Party cannot, in the nature of things, attract stable mass support. Republican hegemony can only be based on continued working class apathy and disorganization. The latter is, alas, not at all unlikely. What is unlikely is that divisions among business elites can be suppressed indefinitely. Urban real-estate interests and many local banks are ambivalent about massive cuts in social spending and infrastructural aid, which threaten the economic viability of Northeastern and Midwestern cities.

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All these groups have their own reasons for keeping the Democratic Party alive, provided the Democrats continue to disavow serious efforts at redistribution and regulation. Yes, the Democratic Party will survive. Right Turn is an extremely impressive, and depressing, book.

At first the reader is bound to be exhilarated — it is such a virtuoso piece of analysis and documentation. And the detail is staggering.

Visit emeraldpublishing. Abstract Purpose — The purpose of this paper is to investigate the theory and practice of stakeholder democracy. Findings — The paper concludes that stakeholder democracy is both real and nominal in the political sphere, but restricted and contested in the private and public sectors in the economic sphere. Please note you might not have access to this content. You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account. If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.

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