THE POWERS THAT BE: Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America by G. William Domhoff

THE POWERS THAT BE: Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Best known for his Who Rules America? (1967), Domhoff (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) here turns his attention from ""who"" to ""how,"" on the assumption that he has already answered the first question. Actually, the problems associated with his earlier study will not go away--Domhoff still sees only two classes, a ""ruling class"" of 0.5 percent of the population and the working class comprising 85-90 percent, with the remainder consisting of a lower upper class and the ""power elite"" employed by the ruling class to manage its affairs. Any class analysis as unsubtle as this can't be expected to produce a nuanced or sophisticated study of the mechanisms of domination, and so it is. Domhoff divides the processes of rule into four categories: the ""special-interest"" process whereby businesses and individuals secure tax advantages and favorable legislation through lobbying and control of so-called regulatory agencies; the ""policy-formation"" process, which enables the ruling class to merge its separate interests through groups like the Council on Foreign Relations (everyone's bogey), the Committee for Economic Development, Business Council, etc., which ""advise"" government and shape national policy; the ""candidate-selection"" process; and the ""ideology-process,"" which legitimates the results achieved by the other processes. What is missing from this schema is any coherent conception of ""interest"" or of ""power,"" since Domhoff could not possibly hold to a two-class model if he allowed for anything other than traditional economic power. A suitable follow-up to his earlier work, no less abstract and superficial.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Random House