Welcome Stanley Aronowitz (CUNY) (StanleyAronowitz.org) and Host Javier Trevino (Wheaton College and his books)

Taking It Big: C. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals

Early in the introduction to Taking It Big: C. Wright Mills and the Meaning of Political Intellectuals, Stanley Aronowitz states clearly his reason for writing the book: “to achieve nothing less than to help restore [Mills] as one of the preeminent social thinkers of the past sixty years.” Indeed, Aronowitz, himself one of America’s most prominent social thinkers, has been doing just this kind of restoration work on Mills for the past decade; first with his much-cited 2003 article, “A Mills Revival?”, followed the next year by his editing of the eponymous C. Wright Mills in three volumes. But this time, in what is perhaps only the second intellectual study on Mills (the first, which also displays the same photo of Mills on its dust jacket, was produced by Daniel Geary in 2009), we get a full-length treatment of Mills’ work and thought on the political intellectuals who he so admired but also derided.

The book’s title of “taking it big” refers to Mills’s admonition to his students to grapple with the larger problems of contemporary significance; and Aronowitz takes it big in considering Mills’ notions of political and social power and the prospects for radical social transformation. Accordingly, we learn of Mills’ insider-outsider relationship with the New York intellectuals of the postwar period—Dwight Macdonald, Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, Irving Howe, Sydney Hook—most of whom were obsessed with the “Russian question” and eventually moved to the Right. The book discusses Mills’ relentless pursuit throughout his life of agents of democratic change; first with labor leaders, later with cultural workers of various kinds, and finally, toward the end of his life, with the students of the New Left.

Particularly intriguing is Aronowitz’s chapter on what is arguably Mills’ most popular book, White Collar, on the alienated and frustrated American middle classes and on the rise of the intellectual as technician. As well there is a detailed discussion on Mills’ most famous and controversial book on the structure of power in American society, The Power Elite. In the penultimate chapter we get Aronowtz’s answer to the inquiry of what is a political intellectual: “a thinker who persists in writing, speaking, and teaching unauthorized ideas.” Today however there is a general decline of intellectual life in the U.S. and the political intellectual has become an endangered species. As more and more of our dissenting thinkers have recently left us—think of Edward Said, Václav Havel, Christopher Hitchens—who is there to replace them? What we require, says Aronowitz, is a theoretical discourse on the history and the role of intellectuals. Taking It Big helps us consider that history and role.


[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

78 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Stanley Aronowitz, Taking It Big: C. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals”

BevW March 16th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Stanley, Javier, Welcome to the Lake.

Javier, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Hi Bev and Stanley. It’s my pleasure to host.

Stanley, I’m grateful for this opportunity to discuss your recent book on C. Wright Mills and the political intellectuals. It is superbly written and very intriguing. Let me begin the discussion by asking: Given your long-time interest in Mills, how is it that you came to write this book now?

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 1:59 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

hi I am here ready to take questions.


dakine01 March 16th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Good afternoon Stanley and Javier and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon.

Stanley, I have not had an opportunity to read your book so forgive me if you address this in there but why did Mills’ reputation as a social thinker need restoration? Is it because he had been a contemporary of folks like Kristol and there was/is an assumption that he had become a neo-con? Or is it because he stayed on the left and so many of his contemporaries moved to the right that his reputation suffered?

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

In early 2002 I was asked to edit a book on Mills’ critics for Sage Publisher. I reviewed more than 400 articles, reviews etc. and selected 90 of them for a three volume series. But I was generally dissatisfied with both the critics and the fans. So I decided to address Mills’ genuine contribution to our social knowledge and our culture, to focus on why he may be considered the most important American social critic of the 20th century, or at least as important as any of the others

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

You hit the nail on the head. Kristol, Daniel Bell, and even some more progressive writers regarded his work as flawed, but did not address seriously the depth and range of his contribution. Even the fans know his work, mostly,from the work The Power Elite or The Sociological Imagination . these are important contributions, to be sure. But I argue that White Collar, his work on the middle class and his essays on the cultural apparatus are perhaps equal or more important because they address the vital question of why Americans are not in a state of perpetual rage

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

There were several topics that I found particularly interesting in your book that I had not before run across; two of these are the “Russian question” and “historical materialism without historical Marxism”? Can you expand on these notions in relation to Mills?

BevW March 16th, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Stanley, Javier, could you give a bit of background about C. Wright Mills for our younger readers. Why is he important to us today?

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
In response to BevW @ 8

I think that Mills can be a model for young readers today. Typically undergraduates may be familiar with his notion of the sociological imagination but know practically nothing about his involvement with the larger social issues of his day: the expanding military-industrial complex, the nuclear arms race, U.s. involvement inLatin America, etc. These are not just issues of the past. They have relevance to today.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:20 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 7

Well, Mills was associated with a group of anti-stalinist radicals early in his career. They were members of the celebrated New York intellectuals who were molstly, if not exclusively Jewish- American Marxists. In the early 1940s an especially after World war two the prevailing question for them was why and how the Bolshevik Revolution failed to start the process of liberating the Soviet people and did not usher in a period of democratic revolutionary activity in the West. Mills absorbed these debates but insisted that the task of American radicals was to address our own US society and its history, not only to critique the past, but to restore the American radical traditions and to identify those forces in the present who could point the way to a brighter future.

In this quest, he also had developed a significant critique of what became known as Marxist orthodoxy, much of which he considered mechanical and tin eared. But he said that anyone who was not influenced by Marx himself was seriously deficient as a social thinker. Recalling that Marx said, famously, “I am not a Marxist” Mills wholeheartedly accepted the proposition that history was constituted by economic, political and cultural institutions and that one could not state, in advance,which of these was the more influential at any given time. That, he said, was his version of “plain” marxism, a view that was fiercely independent of dogma.

masaccio March 16th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Could you talk a little more about why Americans aren’t in a perpetual rage?

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 2:30 pm
In response to masaccio @ 11

I think that the absence of rage today is due to the same reasons as in the 1950s. Back then, as today, Americans are too involved in what Mills called the American Celebration, too willing to rely on American exceptionalism as a answer to every political and social issue. Mills says that the American middle classes were not even reactionary–they we inactionary. Complacency continues.

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Stanley, I’m so glad you wrote about “White Collar.” What do you make of most liberal NGOs, the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party’s language that only addresses the middle class, but never the working class? What do you think C. Wright Mills would say about it? I’m a Madisonian and I’m glad to see a graduate of the UW-Madison Sociology Dept. get a whole book written about him. First William Appleman Williams from Paul Buhle, now C. Wright. Thanks for writing the book!

PeasantParty March 16th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Welcome, Stanley.

I’m late getting in here so if you have already answered this question I’ll catch up.

What can we do about the Sunday programs with George Will and other bobbleheads that push talking points? I have stopped watching and try to encourage others to do the same. There have been documentations weekly on the lack of counter thought and political input.

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 2:34 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 12

What do you make of groups, then, such as “Reclaim the American Dream”? Would C. Wright say of this NGO and ones like it (hell, even Tea Party groups) “This is old wine is new bottles”?

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:35 pm
In response to BevW @ 8

C. Wright Mills was born in Waco, texas in 1916. His family moved to Dallas where Mills attended elementary and high school. He went on to study at University of Texas/Austin after a year of frustration at Texas A an M where he started in engineering. At Austin he majored in philosophy and sociology.There he read thorstein Veblen the great American economist from whom he gained some of his iconoclastic dispositions. For PhD he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin at Madison and chose sociology as a discipline. But he never lost his interest in philosophy. There he studied with a number of prominent theorists of social relations and of labor relations, notably Selig Perlman and Hans Gerth, a German refugee who introduced him to the work of Max Weber. Mills obtained his first job at the University of Maryland in 1941, while completing his dissertation on sociology and pragamatism, a work which combined his interest in philosophy and the sociological study of the institution of higher education. After five years at Maryland, he went to New york, then the hotbed of radical intellectual thought where he worked at Columbia University as a researcher, until he was finally appointed to the faculty.
Early in his career he believed he would become a labor sociologist, among other interests. His first book The New Men of Power: America’s Labor leaders published in 1948 was prescient to the current decline of the labor movement. followed by White Collar and his most famous book The Power Elite which I call his trilogy of US social structure. His book The Sociological Imagination is still widely read and at the end of his life at age 45, he was working on a major project on the Cultural Apparatus which, might have been the last part of a tetrology. Throughout his adulthood he suffered from heart problems which he ignored and probablykilled him

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 2:37 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 15

Steve, Yes I think he would say old wine in new bottles. The political structure has not changed much since Mills’s time. I’ts about America having a love affair with itself. Isn’t that the Tea Party?

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 17

Tea Party yes, but also groups like “Reclaim the Dream,” too. Very interesting. Guess that’s why we study history!

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 12

NGOs today have largely been incorporated into the liberal consensus and share in the American celebration. If they have any independence at all its over single reform issues. Except for Occupy Wall Street, they rarely confront inequality and almost never address power

RevBev March 16th, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Along with the personal narrative, would you describe him and some of
his relationships? It seemed to me that something kept getting in his way, so that it appeared that he would be completely “done” with people he hadworked with or known pretty well. His professional disagreements seemed
very personal as I read the descriptions and often ended in a falling-out. Is that accurate?

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Speaking of Occupy. Mills kept his distance from social movements. Do you think he would do the same with today’s Occupy movement?

BevW March 16th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Stanley, Javier, Piggybacking on Steve’s question, would C. Wright say the 1950s McCarthyism / Birchers and today’s Tea Party/GOP are similar – or has American politics moved into new areas?

PeasantParty March 16th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Thank you for the response to Javier above.

I have been studying Marx through Prof. Wolff. There are so many things there that would address our run away, criminal capitalist system. I would love to see a day when capitalism as it is now could be tamed using some of the Marxian theory.

fatster March 16th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Thank you for joining us, Professor Aronowitz. I would appreciate knowing your assessment of Professor Hodges’ take on Mills as contained in Hodges’ “The Fourth Epoch: Epilogue to the Unfinished Social Philosophy of C. Wright Mills.” My apologies for making such a request, but I learned you’d be here only a short while ago. A brief explanation would be just great, if you don’t mind.

Many thanks.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:44 pm

You are right about the Tea Party. About the power structure: Mills was ambivalent whether the top layer of political power–the executive branch–was truly independent of the two other institutions of power, the large corporations and the military. I am about to embark on a study of the contemporary structure of national and global power to a)update Mills after more than 60 years since the Power Elite and b)to test whether his bold statement that at the national level we have n democracy still holds. He always insisted that his writing was about the present. Some of it could have been written today. But his approach is the one I want to follow to find out what needs to be changed

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

As a more general question, did C. Wright have any type of relationship with the late, great William Appleman Williams? They’re similar scholars in that they both critiqued American Exceptionalism, American Empire and the Power Elite that manned the ship. I’d assume that they’d have to have been friends/allies in the scholarly world, especially both being UW-Madison PhD’s, but wasn’t entirely sure. I have some recollection of Paul Buhle writing about their friendship in his biographical sketch about WAW, but wasn’t sure, plus perhaps you came across other historical archival material that revealed other stuff?

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

I believe that although Mills was intolerant of the choices of many of his colleagues and friends who, however reluctantly “chose the west” during the cold war and veered to the liberal center, his breaks with them were largely political and principled. Irving Howe he retained a friendly relationship, but it did not prevent him from leveling some harsh critique. At the end, he had few American friends and sought friendships with English radicals

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 2:53 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 26

I do’t know about his relationship with William Appleman Williams, but a footnote (page 298) in the book C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings states: “Mills was not asked to testify at the McCarthy hearings, but when a colleague, the historian William Appleman Williams, was subpoeaned, Mills worried that he would also be summoned.”

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Mills kept his distance, but I wonder whether, given the social composition of Occupy–middle class college educated young people–whether that distance might have been closed a bit. He was,after all, the sage of the 1960s youth movement and the New Left

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 2:59 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 21

Mills would be observant enough to recognize the differences between the McCarthy period and now. then there was a vast EAStern commmunist bloc, powerful Western CPs in France and Germany, China had experienced in 1949 the victory of a Communist revolution. And the US govt repression was initiated by the Democrats in the late 1940s and 1950s against a weakened, but in some places, still important CP(unions, Hollywood,some black communities). Today, the Soviet Union is no more, CPS around the world are either shriveled or left-liberal, and in the United States while we still have leftists, there is no Left.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:04 pm
In response to fatster @ 24

Hodges is entirely correct to resume Mills’s work on the Fourth Epoch. for those unfamiliar with the term, it really is a euphemism for what we now term post-modernism. Mills argued we had entered postmodernism in the 1950s. It is marked by an eclpse of grand narratives such as we know in Marxism and liberalism, it focuses on small changes and renounces fundamental transformations and advises us to be eminently pragmatic in politics. Mills analyzed this trend, but was largely sympathetic to Taking it Big like the ideas of Marx and Veblen.

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Not that C Wright made it a habit of advising the Left/leftists, but what do you think he’d advise U.S. leftists to do today in order to build a real Left? And was there an equivalent bloc/group to the funded NGO liberal groups today during C. Wright’s time? Reason I ask is because that may be part of his Power Elite analysis that you’d insert into yours, but which was absent to his due to its non-existence when he wrote the book in 1956,

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 26

I could not find much on whether Mills had a direct relationship with Williams. But given his own work on power it is unimaginable that he was not familiar with Contours of American History or Williams work on US foreign policy. That their stuff is complementary, I have no doubt.

PeasantParty March 16th, 2013 at 3:10 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 32

but what do you think he’d advise U.S. leftists to do today in order to build a real Left?

IMHO, I think he would be harsh and tell the Left to get off their arses and get behind the leaderless Occupy Wall Street group. I think he would push to get back to the era of direct democracy.

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Stanley, Your focus, as with Mills, was on the leftist intellectuals. What do you see as some of the major stylistic differences between today’s left intellectuals and the neo-con intellectuals?

fatster March 16th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Thank you very much, Professor Aronowitz. Hodges was an extraordinary thinker.

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I’m very glad you brought up Countours. That book offers a ruthless scholarly critique of corporate liberalism and the bipartisan consensus on empire. Did C. Wright have anything to say about either of these two things: a.) The ideology of liberalism and its role in perpetuating the empire b.) “Empire as a Way of Life” from the country’s founding to the present?

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:13 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 32

I cannot imagine that Mills would not want to see formed a political organization of the Left today that would be non-sectarian, not affiliated with any sect(he was contemptuous of them) and would focus both globally and especially on the United States. It would have to be a left that took the cultural questions seriously. By culture he signified not so much art as the mass culture institutions of television,film and education. Today few on the left take these issues as central to their practical as well as theoretical concern. For Mills, at least at the end, without intervention and analysis of cultural apparatus, we are spinning our wheels.

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 37

I should say, any of my questions are fair game for answers from both Stanley or Javier. :)

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Speaking of these questions and of the death of real hard-hitting left questions in the academy, would you say a guy like Russell Jacoby/Robert Jensen of U-Texas, Austin or someone like Chris Hedges outside of the academy, fits the bill of the sort of intellectual C. Wright Mills stands for? (for Stanley or Javier)

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 39

Regrettably, I’m not familiar with Contours. But as for liberalism, Mills thought it and orthodox/statist/stalinist marxism were both bankrupt. I’m not sure what he would have seen as a “third way” of sorts, except as Stanley mentioned, a belief in direct democracy. But for this to work you need an active, engaged, citizenry. Which we don’t currently have.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:18 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 35

The neo-cons are the organic intellectuals of the corporate and military power elites. They serve in state, defense departments of the federal government as well as form think tanks like Heritage,the American Enterprise Insitute that issue policy papers that have become the mantra of centrist liberals as well as conservatives. For instance, the idea that education is best served by evaluating students and teachers by their performance on high stakes standard tests. Left intellectuals wallow in second and third tier universities,and occasionally have some influence on specific issues. But they are not, generally speaking, organic to any major social movement, political force or class. Which is not to deny that some of their work remains salient to our times

RevBev March 16th, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Is anyone other than Hodges following up on the kind of
work that Mills was doing?

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:21 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 40

I think Mils stands for the “free” intellectual in the sense of Mannheim. Are there any intellectuals today totally free from sponsorship, patronage? Certainly not in academia.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:22 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 40

Jacoby has been silent for a while. But Hedges is out there and often calls the shots accurately. What he and others lack, in contrast to Mills, is the cool,analytic framework or a deep appreciation of the cultural apparatus. Yet, in general the few edgy journalists like Chris and Jeremy Scahill correspond more closely to Mills’ prescription than most academics.

BevW March 16th, 2013 at 3:24 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 44

Javier – is this academia control via employment or funding of the institutions?

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:25 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 41

Lets put it directly. A vital left requires organization of activists and intellectuals, workers and middle class people. There is a general reluctance to do that nowadays. For example, with all of the extant intellectuals on the Left we do not have a single radical think tank that approaches the scope of the Heritage Foundation.

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:26 pm
In response to BevW @ 46

Both, but I think more the latter, what with being dependent on grant money soft money. Stanley is right about academic intellectuals being largely confined to second–tier colleges where they are a bit freer to write and speak, but with heavy teaching loads and other commitments.

eCAHNomics March 16th, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Late to the party, haven’t read comments, so if my question has been answered, ignore it.

dissenting thinkers have recently left us

Pun intended?

Senior woman here. Pink diaper baby friend, also in his 60s, told me years ago (BW, i.e. before George W Bush) that there is no left left. Not just in U.S. but globally. End of History, I suppose.

Do you agree?

If so, why? If not, where are the intellectual lefties today? I need to find them. Not in the public intellectual world (apologies to Dawkins) near as I can figure out.

Private funding of universities by rich right wing extremists is my current hypothesis. Comments?

eCAHNomics March 16th, 2013 at 3:27 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 44

You beat me to it; see my 49.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:28 pm
In response to RevBev @ 43

Some people in cultural studies like Randy Martin and Andrew Ross at NYU, Bob McChesney at Illinois, Dan Schiller and Margaret Somers at Michigan, Glen Ford an independent black scholar. But they operate like entrepreneurs rather than collectively. Their individual work is exemplary, but lacks force, in part, because it is not presented from a unified standpoint or platform.

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:30 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 50

Perhaps some independent journalists. it seems to me that Christopher Hitchens was pretty free to speak his mind. No?

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Stanley, like Mills, you also have an interest in education. Do you see the American educational system as providing the next generation of political intellectuals?

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Did C. Wright ever address technology and its role in perpetuating the status quo/making things worse, akin to McChesney’s new book? Or are we talking about a different ballgame for today in terms of that and how it plays into power analysis? And I think there is one more sociologist out there that’d make C. Wright proud: G. William Domhoff, author of the “Who Rules America?” series. His problem is that it doesn’t AT ALL tackle the cultural part. (question open for answering from host and/or moderator)

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:35 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 49

Yeah, I answered earlier, but descriptively. Here is a quick analysis. We lost the past visions of Communism and Socialism to a)the end of those countries that followed the broad outlines of Stalinism which was counter-visionary and b)a Socialist movement that settled for welfare capitalism and worked within a bankrupt liberal parliamentary system. Only the anarchists retained the vision of a society of direct democracy based on workers and community councils that were autonomous from state control. Occupy and a few grass roots social movements that were/are governed by popular assembles carry the torch, but they are without, at least for now, without visibility. In sum: we need to create an anti-statist left thatis inspired by direct democracy as Mills would have it, but remained tentative about how to organize a new society. We haven’t had a new articulated vision in decades.

PeasantParty March 16th, 2013 at 3:36 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 49

dissenting thinkers have recently left us

Not yet. Gonna give it 5 more.

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

As concerns technology, I know that Mills saw all the new-fangled office gadgets of his time–electric typewriters, collating machine, adding machines–as tying down the middle class employees. It has only intensified. I can;t seem to be away from my email for more than 10 minutes before I get nervous. By the way, I’ve checked it probably 5 times since this discussion started.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:40 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 53

Oh no. We are moving in exactly the opposite direction. the schools are places of conformity and universities are following the playbook of highs schools towards vocationalization, i.e. training, and privatization. That would be one of the tasks of a new political formation:to educate a new generation of political intellectuals. As you may know, in the last chapter of my book on higher education, The Knowledge Factory I outline a curriculum for a new education, beginning with philosophy, history, literature and science in a global scope.

CTuttle March 16th, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Aloha, Stanley and Javier, Mahalo for being here today at the Lake…!

… Left intellectuals wallow in second and third tier universities…

That is a powerful indictment on our current plight…! Will there ever be any sort of leftist funding, to counter the well funded MIC apparatchik…?

PeasantParty March 16th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I would like to be the first person to tell you that Occupy is still going and is strong. Mainstream Media refuses to report on them.

Occupy has done several remarkable things lately.

One, they set up camp to feed and help all the Sandy, NJ people after the hurricane.

Two, they have organized a system to take money and pool it to pay off mortgages that are about to be foreclosed upon, saving those families from sleeping in tents.

Three, they have done the same pooling to buy medications for people that are unemployed and/or can’t afford insurance.

Honestly, they are still working. The media does not want you to know.

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:42 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 54

I think Domhoff extended Mills’s power elite thesis in the right directions. I especially find interesting reading about the elite education that those in the 3 circles of power receive: prep school, elite colleges university, marrying the right persons, being listed in the Blue Book, the right exclusive clubs, etc. Has this changed?

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:45 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 57

Mills questioned technology but never explored its implications for work, everyday life and politics thoroughly. That would have been the task of his projected study of the cultural apparatus. Some of us, as you may know, have begun that work: Mcchesney, Andrew Feenberg and myself. My book The Jobless Future–about technology- was just published in a second edition by the University of MinnesoTA Press and McChesney’s Digital Disconnect just appeared by the New Press

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:46 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 52

Hitchens is an interesting case. He was certainly an iconoclast, but at the end of his life veered toward the political center, except on cultural questions where he was often on the mark.

Steve Horn March 16th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Last question from me: did C. Wright have much/anything to say about anarchism? Both the Battle of Seattle and the current Occupy movement do sort of fit the bill in terms of “direct democracy” that he was seeking. Did he ever entertain it or was it absent from his analysis? (question fair game for either of you!)

Again, thanks so much for your book and I look forward to your update on The Power Elite, Stanley!

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:49 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 59


I don’t see any leftist funding. Lots from the Right and the Center, but no left. Obama can get lots of contributions from the center.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Will there be leftist funding> Not by the govt or the corporate foundations. Leftist funding will come when tens of thousands dig in to their pockets for $5, $10 or even $100 contributions. And we need organizations to perform the work of collecting the money and forming the think tank(s)

RevBev March 16th, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Is there any optimism in the outlook? There are certainly some talented
people being mentioned.

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 64

In his letters and autobiographic writings, collected by Kate and Pam Mills, his daughters, at one point he exclaimed “I’m a goddam anarchist”. On the one hand it should be taken as his critique of authoritarianism of the LEFt and the liberals. On the other hand, he offered no sustained discussion of what he meant except to favor direct democract

BevW March 16th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Stanley, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and C. Wright Mills.

Javier, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Stanley’s website (CUNY) and book (Taking It Big)

Javier’s website (Wheaton College) and books

Thanks all, Have a great weekend.

Tomorrow: Richard Lingeman / The Noir Forties: The American People From Victory To Cold War; Hosted by Richard Kreitner

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

FDL Book Salon has a Facebook page too

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:53 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 64

I don’t believe he said much about anarchism. Which, now that you mention it, is odd, I suppose. Mills wanted what he called “the properly developing society.” But I don’t think he had a “vision” of it, or another alternative; his was more like a sentiment.

fatster March 16th, 2013 at 3:54 pm
In response to Javier Trevino @ 61

Going to the right schools, marrying within (or “up”) one’s station, Blue Book, exclusive clubs, etc., means one gets to enjoy a certain life style. But it’s still all in the service of capital, isn’t it?

A. Javier Trevino March 16th, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Thanks Stanley and Bev, and everyone who participated and “tuned in”

Stanley Aronowitz March 16th, 2013 at 3:57 pm
In response to RevBev @ 67

Well, Occupy exhibited what Gramsci called optimism of the spirit, but always insisted on pessimism of the intellect. I am confident we will found a leftist think tank soon and am hopeful of the start of a serious nonp-sectarian radical political formation in the near future. I have some well educated grad students who populate community colleges, union activist groups and are doing some good writing. But we have to be straight. This is a time when, although the capitalist system is failing billions of people around the planet, the Great Fear and the sense of mass powerlessness still prevails

RevBev March 16th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Thank you. You wrote a fascinating book. Thanks for being here.

fatster March 16th, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Context is key. Just as in Marx’s famous quote (per Engles), “I myself am not a Marxist.”

Thanks for a great discussion!

CTuttle March 16th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I hear ya…! But, we still have the numbers…! I just got home from the largest protest march in Hilo town in over a decade…! Over a thousand people gathered together and marched throughout our downtown, shutting it down…! Honestly, I’d only expected about 100 to show up, since it was all set up on Social Media sites, it was part of an inter-island protest against Monsanto and GMO’s, with no press or radio ads…! ;-)

CTuttle March 16th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Mahalo Nui Loa, Bev, Javier, and Stanley for another excellent Book Salon…! *g*

fatster March 16th, 2013 at 4:16 pm
In response to RevBev @ 74

Thanks a bunch, RevBev.

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