Outline C.B. Macpherson’s Models Frances Fox Piven’s Disruptive Power
Macpherson’s Analysis 1.Main forces of change 2.Ethical concerns
Forces of Change 1.“underlying reality of the prevailing or past relations between wilful and historically influenced human beings” and 2.“the probability or possibility of future changes in those relations” (3)
Ethical Concern “Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth—that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible” (Weber 1978:128)
Models’ Assumptions about society and its people. On the latter point, two important questions emerge: 1.what do people think is democracy? 2.what do people think it should be?
Earlier Models Defined democracy as the rule by the people, so the assumption was that it was a classless or a one-class society.
Liberal Democracy Assumes Capitalism Class inequality Market mediates between capitalists and workers
Participatory Democracy must come from existing practices, desires and ideas of people it must contain “equal right of every man and woman to the full development and use of his or her capabilities” (114)
Unit of Analysis how can we mediate between Macpherson’s individualism and a collectivist understanding of social mobilization?
Frances Fox Piven peoples’ protests are most effective when they act “outside of electoral norms;” this is when electoral-representative procedures are more likely to realize their democratic potential” (2)
Democratic Ideal periodic elections Parties aggregate atomized voters Limit executive power Unicameral legislatures Specified short terms Open legislative deliberations
US Reality Increasing inequality Uncontroversial issues (parties) Lobby power Plutocracy Trust in Washington: 75% in 1964; less than 20% in 1990s
Paul Krugman “our political system has become utterly, and perhaps irrevocably, corrupted” (cited on p. 13)
Yet, Popular Achievements Most democratic institutions Abolition of slavery New Deal and workers’ rights (1930s) Civil Rights (1960s)
How has this happened? “rare intervals of nonincremental democratic reforms are responses to the rise of disruptive protest movements, and the distinctive kind of power that these movements wield” (18)
Disruptive power “... democratic successes flow not from the influence of voters and parties taken by themselves, but from the mobilization of a more fundamental kind of power that is rooted in the very nature of society, in the networks of social interdependence or cooperation that society implies. I call this disruptive power...” (18)
Interdependence “... the leverage inherent in interdependencies is potentially widespread, especially in a densely interconnected society where the division of labor is far advanced” (20). Disruption = activation of interdependent power. Protest movements mobilize disruptive power.
Disruption “a power strategy that rests on withdrawing cooperation in social relations [it] may be noisy... and it may be disorderly and violent, but whether the withdrawal of cooperation takes these forms is entirely contingent” (23)
Conditions to engage in disruption 1.How people understand social relations. 2.Rule breaking. 3.Coordination. 4.Overcoming constraints. 5.Withstanding disruption. 6.Withstanding threat to end interdependency relation.
Rules (“... work to suppress the actualization of the interdependent power inherent in social cooperation”, p. 27)
Explaining US’ Big Bangs (1930s and 1960s) Historical institutionalism Reformers and experts’ ideas Power elite theories Electoral shifts and realignments
The Future “intimate connection between what people think is possible in politics and what they think is right” (141).
The Future “People do not complain about the inevitable, and certainly they do not mobilize to change what they think is inevitable, but once new possibilities... are evident and within reach, popular aspirations also expand” (141-142).
Conclusion “the mobilization of collective defiance and the disruption it causes have always been essential to the preservation of democracy” (146). My question is whether we can still consider that the United States has a democracy worthy of the name.