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RE: DBA - Job boundaries & perks [history of unions & american exceptionalism]

From: Rachel Carmichael <>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 20:37:40 -0000
Message-Id: <>


you have WAAAAY too much free time :)


>From: "Eric D. Pierce" <>
>To: Multiple recipients of list ORACLE-L <>
>Subject: RE: DBA - Job boundaries & perks [history of unions & american
>Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 10:40:38 -0800
>Well, if you want to refer our esteemed peers in the UK/EU to social
>science explanations of why socialism never took deep root in the
>USA, Seymour Martin Lipset's work is an excellent source.
>Lipset explains, with stunning insight, how the underlying value
>systems of anglo-imperialism (libertarianism, or "moral
>individualism") interplay/compete with the value systems of
>"collectivist" (socialist) politics *as cultural systems*.
>The main theme that Lipset has been concerned with is "american
>(Similar work has been done by another outstanding historian of
>"conservative" anglo-imperialist culture, Kevin Phillips in
>_The Cousin's Wars_, _The Politics of Rich and Poor_ etc.)
> (SIDE NOTE: Phillips explains Greenspan's attempts to control
> wild asset inflation (stock market) such as led to the
> "Great Depression" in the 1930s:
> )
>Back to Lipset, here is some analysis that references Lipset's
>critical early work on socialist politics in Canada vs. the USA:
> "In 1950, Lipset saw in the experiences of the Saskatchewan CCF
> the ways that democratic socialism could make for a more
> democratic society. Now Lipset no longer equates democratic
> socialism with an idealized form of democracy. His present
> position is that democracy thrives where there is a free
> market. ... Lipset's current take on U.S. exceptionalism
> continues to elaborate on his earlier observations about the
> absence of a working class socialist party. He has gone on to
> emphasize the value dimensions of exceptionalism--'personal
> responsibility, individual initiative, and voluntarism.' But he
> also looks at the dark side of that exceptionalism-- 'self-
> serving behavior, atomism, and a disregard for the common
> good.' ... In light of this new awareness of how the United
> States has generated negative and costly values and behavior, it
> is interesting to reread Lipset's initial assessment of
> socialism. There we hear a youthful optimism tempered by the
> growing realism of a social scientist.
> It is my own belief, that in general, the democratic movements of
> the left since the American Revolution were and are historically
> justifiable and necessary to attain the values of an economic and
> political and social democracy. In spite of their many and
> obvious failings in terms of democratic values, the alternative
> to them was a more rigidly stratified and sometimes a dictatorial
> society. ..."
>-----end excerpt-----
> "...Throughout this century, and especially since World War II, no
> theme has more preoccupied the fields of comparative politics and
> political sociology than the nature, conditions and possibilities
> of democracy. And no political scientist or sociologist has
> contributed more to advancing our thinking about democracy--in
> all its dimensions, both comparatively and in the United States-
> -than Seymour Martin Lipset.
> Of course, no article could do justice to the wide-ranging
> intellectual contributions of Seymour Martin Lipset. His books
> and articles have sought to elucidate such diverse phenomena as
> the political and social origins of socialism (or the absence of
> socialism), fascism, revolution, protest, ethnic prejudice,
> anti-Semitism, and political extremism; the sources and
> consequences of class structure, class consciousness, class
> conflict, and social mobility; the links between historical and
> social cleavages, party systems, and voter alignments; voter
> preferences and electoral outcomes; the dense reciprocal
> relations between values and institutions; the changing character
> of such diverse and specific institutions as
> [***]trade unions[***] and higher education (and even unions in
> higher education!); the determinants and dynamics of public
> opinion and public confidence in institutions; the role of
> religion in American life; the political behavior of American
> Jews; the conditions of the democratic order; and the differences
> between cultures, especially the contrast (which has fascinated
> him throughout his scholarly life) between Canada and the United
> States. Across this sweeping landscape of classical and
> pioneering issues in the social sciences, Lipset has brought a
> consistently lucid and striking accessible analytical style, and
> a breathtaking array of sources and evidence, that have made his
> works among the most popular and widely used, both by teachers
> and by researchers. More striking still, virtually every one of
> these issues he has explored authoritatively, both across nations
> and with a specific focus on the United States. And he has
> published with equal distinction as a social historian and as an
> astute commentator on the politics, culture, and conflicts of our
> time. Can any living social scientist lay claim to such a broad
> and broadly honored set of works?
> Of course, as with any great social scientist, Lipset's thinking
> has been strongly influenced by preceding theorists, including
> Robert Michels, Talcott Parsons, Karl Marx and, perhaps most of
> all, Max Weber. But with reference to the conditions of
> democracy, Lipset's intellectual affinity with Alexis de
> Tocqueville is also noteworthy. As Lipset observes in his
> introduction to Political Man, Tocqueville, struggling with the
> same momentous, nineteenth-century issues and conflicts as Karl
> Marx, came to very different conclusions. Rejecting the
> desirability or inevitability of conflict polarization and
> revolution, Tocqueville 'deliberately chose to emphasize those
> aspects of social units which could maintain political cleavage
> and political consensus at the same time' (Lipset 1981/1959, 7).
> This concern for the factors that contain political conflict
> within a framework of consensus, and so neutralize the demand for
> violent and revolutionary change, has been an enduring theme in
> Lipset's writings on democracy and society. Following
> Tocqueville, it has led him to an intellectual and normative
> interest in gradual change, political accommodation, and the
> sources of political legitimacy; in limiting the power of the
> state; and in independent, voluntary associations as one
> important means for controlling the state and otherwise
> developing the social infrastructure of a free society.
> An abiding concern for avoiding the polarization of conflict, the
> formation of extremist political movements and preferences, or the
> elimination of all conflict in a state-dominated 'mass society,'
> runs through Lipset's writing on the conditions of the democratic
> order. In Political Man he demonstrates the importance, for these
> democratic ends, of historical legitimacy, effective performance,
> social mobility, cross-cutting cleavages, as well as the gradual
> incorporation into the polity of newly mobilizing social groups.
> His analyses there of the dynamics of legitimacy and the effects
> of cleavage structure are among the clearest and most compelling
> in political sociology. These and related issues of democratic
> development are further advanced in The First New Nation, which
> highlights the importance of political leadership and political
> values, and the determinants and consequences of party systems.
> ..."
>-----end excerpt-----
> "...what, in the view of Lipset and Marks, have been the real
> underlying inhibitions on the progress of socialism in the United
> States: namely, the absence, on the one hand, of rigid class
> distinctions or of a popular resentment of capitalism and the
> presence, on the other hand, of a highly individualistic ethos.
> These signal attributes of American culture have created
> inhospitable soil for any movement founded on both class conflict
> and a collectivist vision.
> This same infertile soil may indeed be responsible dialectically,
> as it were) for a unique characteristic of American socialism
> that is stressed by Lipset and Marks: its rigidity and dogmatism.
> Whereas, for example, both the British Labor party and the German
> Social Democrats have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to
> jettison unpopular positions and abandon Marxist principles to
> expand their political base, socialists in the United States have
> repeatedly held to a pattern of unbending ideological rigor.
> Thus, during and after World War I, the party not only trespassed
> on the patriotic sentiments of American workers by opposing U.S.
> intervention in Europe, but compounded its difficulties by
> adopting a stridently [*****]anticlerical line[*****] that held
> little attraction for the movement's natural constituency.
> A similar lack of pragmatism was on display with respect to
> immigration. Instead of appealing to the thousands upon thousands
> of newcomers making their way to this land in the early decades of
> the century, many socialist leaders embraced a nativist position.
> This posture was made all the more absurd by the fact that the
> Socialist party was itself thoroughly dominated by recent
> immigrants, a circumstance that repelled native workers already
> prone to regard socialism as an un-American creed. ..."
>-----end excerpt-----
> "The big picture is that, from the get-go, our 'core values'
> glowed in the dark like Three Mile Island: an ethos of
> individualism, a Weltanschauung of anti-statism and a blank check
> from God. We sprang full-blown from John Locke's higher brow, a
> natural-born hegemony of the bourgeois money-grubbers --
> unscathed by medieval feudalism (with its fixed classes of
> aristocracy and forelock-tugging peasants); exempt from 19th
> century Europe's ideological power-sharing fratricides (by virtue
> of early white male suffrage, lots of land, waves of immigrants
> to assume the lousiest jobs while the native-born upwardly
> mobilized themselves and a ragtag diversity that undermined
> nascent class consciousness while permitting the merchant
> princelings to play workers of different racial and ethnic
> backgrounds against one another in a status scramble); and
> insulated from revolting developments -- insurgencies, mutinies,
> Jacqueries, even mugwumps and goo-goos -- by a political system
> so partial to the status quo that it's almost arteriosclerotic (a
> winner-take-all presidency, a fragmenting federalism, a bought
> judiciary and a two-party Incumbent Protection Society). ..."
> "Thus the whole idea of a labor party here, anything like those
> that developed in European nations, Canada and Australia, seems
> chimerical when we read how radicals such as the Knights of Labor
> and the Industrial Workers of the World -- more
> anarcho-syndicalist than socialist or Marxist -- disdained reform
> politics every bit as much as conservative craft unionists in the
> American Federation of Labor. The AFL in its turn worked just as
> hard to protect the skilled jobs of its white native-born
> membership from a lumpenproletariat of African-Americans and
> immigrants as it did to wring concessions from rapacious
> employers. (Until the Great Depression, the AFL actually opposed
> minimum-wage legislation, state provision of old-age pensions,
> compulsory health insurance and limitations on the manly
> workweek. Nor should we ever forget a 1902 pamphlet that Samuel
> Gompers wrote himself: 'Meat vs. Rice: American Manhood vs.
> Asiatic Coolieism: Which Shall Survive?')
>[ep, note: see recent anti-immigration policy statements of the
>Sierra Club, ultimate example of environmentalist elitism.]
> Or when we read how the Socialist Party, as fetishistic about
> doctrine as any Protestant sect, refused to join in coalitions
> with allies like the North Dakota Non-Partisan League, the
> Minneosta Farmer-Labor Party, the Commonwealth Federations of
> Washington and Oregon, the Working Class Union in Oklahoma or
> Upton Sinclair's Campaign to End Poverty in California -- and in
> many localities went so far as to expel, for 'opportunism,'
> members who joined a union or, even worse, ran for office on a
> coalition ticket and won a municipal election. ..."
>-----end excerpts-----
>Chapter from Lipset's book:
> "It is not difficult to show for example, that the two great
> political parties in America represent only one English party,
> the middle-class Liberal party. . . . There are no Tories . . .
> and no Labor Party. . . . [T]he new world [was left] to the Whigs
> and Nonconformists and to those less constructive, less logical,
> more popular and liberating thinkers who became Radicals in
> England, and Jeffersonians and then Democrats in America. All
> Americans are, from the English point of view, Liberals of one
> sort or another. . . . The liberalism of the eighteenth century
> was essentially the rebellion . . . against the monarchical and
> aristocratic state--against hereditary privilege, against
> restrictions on bargains. Its spirit was essentially anarchistic-
> -the antithesis of Socialism. It was anti-State. ..."
>---end excerpt---
>(and much more found via:
> )
>Lipset's home page (Hoover Institution at Stanford Univ.):
> > -----Original Message-----
> >
> > Sent: Thursday, December 21, 2000 8:10 AM
> > To: Multiple recipients of list ORACLE-L
> > We had a client from the U.K. who had
> > their people on-site here in the U.S. One
> > of their software guys was surprised to
> > hear that we software people didn't have
> > unions. We don't really have much protection
> > for our working conditions the way that some
> > software and computer industry workers do
> > in the U.K. and in Europe.
> > I guess it's a whole different paradigm here.
>Please see the official ORACLE-L FAQ:
>Author: Eric D. Pierce
>Fat City Network Services -- (858) 538-5051 FAX: (858) 538-5051
>San Diego, California -- Public Internet access / Mailing Lists
>To REMOVE yourself from this mailing list, send an E-Mail message
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Received on Thu Dec 21 2000 - 14:37:40 CST

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