The Power Elite


The Power Elite Essay, Research Paper

C. Wright Mills argues that the fundamental decisions governing people s lives in our society are made and controlled by a power elite. He describes this elite as composed of people who share basic economic interests, and who occupy overlapping positions of authority in the highest reaches of the corporate, military, and executive sectors of our system. The average person is excluded from participation in, and control over, the major decision-making processes, the ones which shape the society s political direction and priorities. The United States, he suggests, is slowly taking on the contours of a mass society. In order for the nation to realize its democratic promise, he continues, a community of publics must emerge.

To understand and be able to compare Mills concept of the mass society with the notion of the community of publics first one must be able to understand the term mass society. In Mills concept of mass society the common person feels distant from the government. The common person feels that they do not make any decision that will affect they lives. The average person wonders why should he or she vote if their voice will not be heard. They feel powerless in the society which they live in and wonder who is the one making the laws and rules of society .

Mills feels that traditional democratic society has transformed in to a society in which people no longer care about the government, or are upset at the government. The average person feels that the government does not acknowledge their existence. They feels that they are people behind the scene controlling the political life surrounding them. The government does not try to stop the society transforming to a mass society but instead they are helping the problem of mass society.

People running in political parties distance themselves from the voters. In the past people running for political office would try their hardest to make the voters feel close to them. Candidates would go from city to city meeting voters to persuade them to vote for them. The average person felt that they were important and their voices were being heard. Now candidates barely go to places to meet voters, unless the candidates are underdogs. At present, the contact we once had with candidates and political figureheads are eliminated by media like TV, radio and newspapers. By the power elite eliminating the contact which the voters and the government once had, the government and people in the society become more and more distance.

Mills feel the decisions made in society are made by an elite group. This elite group is formed by three groups. These three groups are higher class, political people, and the higher levels of the military. This elitist group form the laws and rules which every part of society must follow. The concept of Mills mass society is the concept that Madison, in Federalist number Ten, was promoting. In Federalist Ten Madison argued that the higher class should be the decision makers because they were more educated. In Mills concept of mass society the higher class, highest levels of the military, and the high level in politics. This group of elite people are the decision makers.

Mills feels in order for the nation to realize its democratic promise, a community of publics must emerge. Mills concept of community of public brings the average person back in the political picture. Mills want the average person to feel that their vote means something. This concept also tries to make the average man s vote important. Publics will bring back the old fashion concept of democracy.

In conclusion I feel that Mills concept of mass society is very true. Mass society has been taking over what we once knew as democracy. Mass society is the evil of all average people, making average people feel powerless and nonexistent. We as a society must go back to the concept of a community of publics. We must realize that our votes do count and even if one s vote does not have an immediate effect on one s life, we as a society should still vote. We must realize that it is not a government conspiracy. It is us as a community not voting and not participating.

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