By Philip Green (auth.)
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Additional info for American Democracy: Selected Essays on Theory, Practice, and Critique
The state, in other words, is not a neutral bestower of rewards to the just, but rather an arena in which class and group conflict takes place, and it will not “wither away” before classes and groups do. When we turn from the question of the original acquisition of property to that of “just transfers,” the ideology of the minimal state fares no better. According to Nozick, the proper mode for making “just transfers” of property is the free market—not the coercive powers of the state. But the most 46 ● American Democracy important aspect of the free market, without which fortunes could never have been built up and giant corporations could not exist, is the free market for labor.
Populist antistatism” focuses our attention, not on the popular role of government agencies in “interfering” with the free market, but on their unpopular, bureaucratic role in preventing the free expression—not to mention the realization—of communal and group interests. Thus freemarket ideology has a significance that extends far beyond the influence of its most visible adherents because it helps to set the tone for, and to define, the boundaries of the popular discussion of public policy. 1 Proposals to redistribute power over immense agglomerations of capital, to redistribute unearned wealth, or to bring industrial workplaces, monopolized mass media, or professions that provide essential public services under democratic public control, are assaulted with the kind of “libertarian” passion one would expect to see directed against a proposal to abolish habeas corpus or freedom of speech.
Beyond that, posing the question of representation leads us beyond the narrow bounds of the power elite/pluralism debate; to deal with it, we must rethink the conceptual foundations of democratic theory, which the pluralists, and anti-pluralists as well, never quite did. On the other hand, it was indeed the critique of pluralist social science, highlighted by the formation of the Caucus for a New Political Science within the American Political Science Association that began the effort of leftwing political theorists to probe more deeply into the determinative relationship between social hierarchies and political power.