MEDIACRACY: American Parties and Politics in the Communications Age by Kevin P. Phillips

MEDIACRACY: American Parties and Politics in the Communications Age

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Phillips, art architect of Nixon's 1968 ""Southern Strategy"" (it became The Emerging Republican Majority, 1969) has constructed an interesting view of American political configurations. Drawing on the ideas of Herman Kahn, Daniel Bell, Daniel P. Moynihan, et al., he depicts the present as a ""post-industrial society"" where knowledge-oriented services have usurped the earlier industrial role of capital and goods. In the classic geopolitical pattern of American history, elitist New Englanders and other northerners have again squared off against the South, the southern Midwest, and the Southwest -- but with reversed party lines. The Democrats increasingly represent the affluent purveyors of the new commodities, the Republicans the disaffected blue-collar and rural elements. Unlike any previous elite, the ""knowledge sector"" stands to profit not from stability but from change -- which it institutionalizes with pilot studies, research and counseling services, steering committees, evaluation task forces, media coverage. (Phillips is a newspaper columnist.) He doubts whether traditional political institutions can continue to function within the projected growth of post-industrialism. The partisanship of Phillips' ideas is obvious, and a sneer or two often escapes him -- like the smart-alecky and irrelevant title. Generally, however, he is more interested in who thinks what than what they think -- this makes his approach either objective or amoral, depending on your principles. He is also too facile in asserting that the new ""knowledge sector"" is replacing capital-and-goods-based industry and finance; there are clearly some collusive relationships between the two. Still this vein is bound to open up increasingly; even those who mistrust Phillips' procedures can be grateful for his solid historical analysis and provocative statement of issues.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1975
Publisher: Doubleday