The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 11:36 am
This book is a post WWII look at the social, political, and economic structure of America, and of it's future. The book deals with what Mills would consider the three branches of power that really run this country: the military, corporate, and political. These branches work with one another to provide a continuation of the elites and to ensure constant power within America.

Mills starts off with a history of the rich from John Adams, to the Aristocratic Elite in both the North and the South during the 19th century, to Corporations and WWI, and finally up to WWII and the New Deal. Mills demonstates the three branches overlapping and coming together at different periods in history and of an inevitable 5th stage of the elites, which would take place after WWII. Mills deals with the psychology, social, and economic aspects of the elite and their place in American History.

This book is incredibly well written and is presented in a Chicago format which allows the reader to look at footnotes on the bottom of the page it's referenced. Mills is incredibly astute, precise, and cooridinated in his portrayl of the elite (and future elite) in this country. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in the American elite.

Here are some qoutes to spark some interest.

"Money-sheer, naked, vulgar money- has with few exceptions won its possessors entrance anywhere and everywhere into American society."

"Always in America, as perhaps elsewhere, society based on descent has either been by-passed or bought-out by the new and vulgar rich."

"The professional celebrity, male and female, is the crowning result of the star system of a society that makes a fetish of competition."

"And many of the very rich who have inherited their wealth have spent all their lives working to keep it or increase it. The game that has interested them most has been the game of big money."

"What has happened is that the very rich are not so visible as they once seemed, to the observers of the mucrkraker age, for example-who provided the last really public view of the top of American society. The absence of systematic information and the distraction of 'human-interest' trivia tend to make us suppose that they do not really matter and even that they do not really exist. But they are still very much among us-even though many are hidden, as it were, in the impersonal organizations in which their power, their wealth, and their privileges are anchored."
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