Anderson, Patrick D (2016-08). Bedtime for Democracy: The Power Elite as Sovereign Aristocracy in Neoliberal Amerika. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • Leftist political theory in Amerika has struggled to understand the two most important issues facing us today: sovereignty and neoliberalism. In their efforts to understand neoliberalism, most scholars rely on either neo-Marxist or poststructuralist (Foucault) approaches, and in their efforts to understand sovereignty, scholars commonly turn to Carl Schmitt's legalistic notion of sovereignty. Unfortunately, these approaches cannot produce a sufficiently descriptive account of sovereignty in neoliberal Amerika, which is why I turn to the sociological political theory of C. Wright Mills, articulating a power elite theory of neoliberalism that provides a ground for identifying the aristocratic structure of sovereignty in our historical period. First, I provide an empirically-supported account of the development of the Amerikan power elite from the 1950s to today. Rather than consisting of three directorates as Mills observed in the 1950s - political, economic, and military - the power elite today rules from only two directorates: the Corporate-Juridical Directorate and the Military-Juridical Directorate. Second, I turn to early modern political theory to identify two modes of sovereignty: legislative sovereignty and executive sovereignty, the latter of which consists of two principles, executive enforcement (of law) and executive prerogative. Third, I argue that, in neoliberal Amerika, the Corporate-Juridical Directorate wields legislative sovereignty and the Military-Juridical Directorate wields executive sovereignty. Ultimately, the Left should abandon its reliance on pluralistic and legalistic notions in order to understand the aristocratic sovereignty of the power elite.
  • Leftist political theory in Amerika has struggled to understand the two most
    important issues facing us today: sovereignty and neoliberalism. In their efforts to
    understand neoliberalism, most scholars rely on either neo-Marxist or poststructuralist
    (Foucault) approaches, and in their efforts to understand sovereignty, scholars
    commonly turn to Carl Schmitt's legalistic notion of sovereignty. Unfortunately, these
    approaches cannot produce a sufficiently descriptive account of sovereignty in neoliberal Amerika, which is why I turn to the sociological political theory of C. Wright Mills, articulating a power elite theory of neoliberalism that provides a ground for identifying the aristocratic structure of sovereignty in our historical period.

    First, I provide an empirically-supported account of the development of the
    Amerikan power elite from the 1950s to today. Rather than consisting of three
    directorates as Mills observed in the 1950s - political, economic, and military - the
    power elite today rules from only two directorates: the Corporate-Juridical Directorate
    and the Military-Juridical Directorate. Second, I turn to early modern political theory to
    identify two modes of sovereignty: legislative sovereignty and executive sovereignty, the
    latter of which consists of two principles, executive enforcement (of law) and executive
    prerogative. Third, I argue that, in neoliberal Amerika, the Corporate-Juridical
    Directorate wields legislative sovereignty and the Military-Juridical Directorate wields
    executive sovereignty. Ultimately, the Left should abandon its reliance on pluralistic and
    legalistic notions in order to understand the aristocratic sovereignty of the power elite.

publication date

  • August 2016