Oracle FAQ Your Portal to the Oracle Knowledge Grid

Home -> Community -> Mailing Lists -> Oracle-L -> RE: DBA - Job boundaries & perks [history of unions & american exceptionalism]

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

From: Eric D. Pierce <>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 10:39:22 -0800
Message-Id: <>

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 exceptionalism".

(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-- 'selfserving      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
Received on Thu Dec 21 2000 - 12:39:22 CST

Original text of this message