HAVE WE in fact reached the end of history? Are there, in other words, any fundamental "contradictions" in human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure? If we accept the idealist premises laid out above, we must seek an answer to this question in the realm of ideology and consciousness. Our task is not to answer exhaustively the challenges to liberalism promoted by every crackpot messiah around the world, but only those that are embodied in important social or political forces and movements, and which are therefore part of world history. For our purposes, it matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso, for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage of mankind.
It allows for private ownership of property unlike communism but opposes bureaucracy.
Once practiced in ancient Athens as a system for electing public officials, demarchy uses lots to appoint people to various offices of power.
In the essay “Nigger: the meaning of a word” Gloria Naylor discusses the essence of a word and how it can mean different things to different people in a myriad of situations.
In fact, the notion that ideology is a superstructure imposed on a substratum of permanent great power interest is a highly questionable proposition. For the way in which any state defines its national interest is not universal but rests on some kind of prior ideological basis, just as we saw that economic behavior is determined by a prior state of consciousness. In this century, states have adopted highly articulated doctrines with explicit foreign policy agendas legitimizing expansionism, like Marxism-Leninism or National Socialism.
Believers in this line of thought take the relations that existed between the participants in the classical nineteenth century European balance of power as a model for what a de-ideologized contemporary world would look like. Charles Krauthammer, for example, recently explained that if as a result of Gorbachev's reforms the USSR is shorn of Marxist-Leninist ideology, its behavior will revert to that of nineteenth century imperial Russia. While he finds this more reassuring than the threat posed by a communist Russia, he implies that there will still be a substantial degree of competition and conflict in the international system, just as there was say between Russia and Britain or Wilhelmine Germany in the last century. This is, of course, a convenient point of view for people who want to admit that something major is changing in the Soviet Union, but do not want to accept responsibility for recommending the radical policy redirection implicit in such a view. But is it true?
From the tenor of the August 3 meeting of corporate and labor leaders, and a look at the composition of the new labor board, it appeared that corporate moderates within the corporate community were prepared to adopt a more cooperative stance toward organized labor. It seemed that they might be willing to accept the collective-bargaining solution that had been urged by the National Civic Federation and the Commission on Industrial Relations in the Progressive Era, then implemented for the duration of World War I, then reluctantly accepted by railroad executives in 1926, then supported by the Norris-LaGuardia Act, and then legislated by Congress as part of the NRA deal. The presence of Swope and Teagle seemed to signal that two of most respected and powerful corporate leaders in the country were now in favor of a more cooperative approach to labor strife. So what happened?
After further discussion, the two groups reached general agreement on the subcommittee proposal and they formally approved it the following day. President Roosevelt accepted the agreement immediately and the next day announced the formation of a National Labor Board to arbitrate strikes and seek voluntary consent to section 7(a). Corporate moderates had forged a compromise with labor leaders in the way that their general approach to most problems and the earlier efforts of the National Civic Federation on labor issues would lead us expect. In the process they developed a new government structure (another example of state building) and thereby gave renewed legitimacy to collective bargaining and government mediation of labor disputes. In all, the written record provides practically a minute-by-minute account of how the corporate community and organized labor created a new government agency with little or no involvement of the White House, but most of the social scientists that write about the New Deal ignore the work by historian Kim McQuaid (1976; 1979) almost as much as they do that by Gitelman (1988). In any case, the passage of the act is a classic example of how a new law, in this case the National Industrial Recovery Act, can lead to outcomes that no group anticipated or desired, but it is also a demonstration of the importance of government in shaping -- and even supporting -- class conflict.
Most of the successes under the Reading Formula were with small businesses in minor and fragmented industries that were neither big enough nor organized enough to resist worker pressure and a government board, especially coal mining, clothing, and building construction, which accounted for half of all union members in 1934. It also seemed possible that the employers in those industries had reason to hope that bargains with unions might help put an end to destructive competition through cuts in wages and prices (Swenson 2002, p. 144). Despite its auspicious start, however, the National Labor Board's authority and prestige were diminished in late 1933 by the lack of a legal underpinning and enforcement powers to overcome opposition by the large industrial employers organized into the Special Conference Committee, NAM, and strong trade associations, all of which refused to accept the board's decisions.
The protest movements did not go very far in the South because they were met by racial epithets, violence, and jailing (e.g., Grubb 1971, pp. 70-71). Nor did the meager emergency relief payments disrupt the labor market. Despite protests by liberals, local relief administrators cut off payments when more workers were needed for planting or harvesting (Mertz 1978, p. 49; Schulman 1994, pp. 31-32). Nonetheless, the southern landlords were extremely disturbed by the farm workers' protests, and by the involvement of "outside agitators" (i.e., liberals and leftists). The Department of Agriculture therefore had to deal with strong pressures from the landlords and liberals outside government, who were the most visible combatants in a class struggle that pitted the better-off farmers and plantation owners against the massive number of displaced farm hands and their liberal allies, with small family farmers somewhere in between.
Liberals within the Roosevelt coalition, both southerners and northerners, responded to the exclusion and exploitation of tenants and sharecroppers by demanding relief and reform for all southerners, black or white, that had lost their livelihood. In effect, they assumed the leadership of the farm workers' battle with plantation owners through their access to the media, their presence in some federal agencies, and a few pipelines to the White House. In reaction, there was an attempt by the White House to create agencies and programs aimed at relieving some of the devastating poverty in the South without alienating the wealthy whites that controlled the regional Democratic Party. Put another way, the Democratic Party and plantation owners faced the classic dilemma about relief payments analyzed by Piven and Cloward (1971/1993): such spending is necessary to forestall disruption, but it must be accompanied by rituals of degradation and eliminated as soon as possible so that work norms and the willingness to work for low wages are not undermined.
By December 1933, Wagner had decided that the basic principles established by section 7(a) and the Reading Formula, along with various board rulings concerning procedures for implementing them, had to be written into law outside the structure of the NRA (Bernstein 1950, p. 62). To that end he held a meeting in early January with labor leaders and a lawyer from the Department of Labor to decide what topics would be covered. This meeting began a process that led to an eventual defeat for the corporate moderates, so it's important to note that the following account of it makes use of my new archival findings that were not known to most scholars until 2011, and have yet to be taken seriously by the social scientists and historians who laugh about the idea of Rockefeller influence on labor legislation.