Friday, May 8, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics: Part 9

I identified one final ideological-institutional cluster - or, more aptly, micro-cluster. A little further to the left of the Progressive cluster I noticed a very small network of several think tanks (e.g. Institute for Policy Studies and Center for Economic & Policy Research) that I called the Reformist Left. Associated with these institutions are a handful of figures such as Noam Chomsky (academic), Joseph Stiglitz (economist - formerly with World Bank and Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers), Barbara Ehrenreich (journalist), and Mark Weistbrot (economist). As far as I am aware, there is no significant corporate funding or affiliations with politicians, and it is primarily an intellectual domain.

The Reformist Left is more critical of The Establishment than the Progressive cluster, yet not exactly revolutionary either. It is certainly more sweeping and trenchant in its critique of globalization and U.S. foreign relations than the Progressive cluster. It is also incisive, like the Progressive cluster, in its criticism of structural inequalities. The economic position of the Reformist Left is also similar to that of the Progressive Cluster - Keynesianism, though possibly even stronger in its support for unions and public programs.

I chose the word "reformist" to place this ideological position in the context of the longstanding divide between the reformist and revolutionary left. The reformists are often derided by the revolutionary left, especially in Europe where their institutionalization in the form of Social Democrat parties seen as a sell out. Strict revolutionaries, for their part, are criticized as being incapable of enacting any social change. The revolutionary left, I should note, comprises a number of different ideologies, groups, and agendas.

Nothing left of progressivism has ever had much political clout in the United States, although presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (who, it should be noted, is running as a democrat) has apparently been fundraising quite well. From what I can tell, once working class whites in the U.S. overwhelmingly shifted to Liberal-Centrist, Religious Right, and Radical Right positions, the Reformist and revolutionary left remained as the domain of academics, with some non-academic activists of color included. That is not to say that all of academia is leftist, of course; just that a large proportion of leftists in the United States tend to have some connection or other to academia (even just as drop-outs). Therefore, I would place both the Reformist Left and revolutionary left (all its varieties) squarely outside of The Establishment, while noting that the Reformist Left is a little less adversarial to The Establishment.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics: Part 8

Loosely linked to the Liberal-Centrist cluster is another ideological-institutional cluster that I dubbed Progressive (back to the creative names, I know). It is, perhaps, comparable in size to the Neoconservative cluster. Also, somewhat similarly to the Religious Right, its ideological position seems to be driven primarily by feelings, values, and social issues rather than intellectual purity or well-defined economic or political principles.

Progressives do not seek to radically altar the status quo, but promote values of equality and fairness within the confines of the current system. They want capitalism, but they also want to blunt its sharpest edges and thus tend to opt for a Keynesian form of neoliberalism, often with paired with some support for unions. In the area of foreign policy, they do not object to war per se and are frequently taken by the humanitarian rhetoric produced by the Liberal-Centrist cluster, but they are cautious about military intervention and skeptical of the ends to which such intervention is often directed, generally preferring negotiations and sanctions. Like those in the Liberal-Centrist camp, they are enthusiastic about the ability of science and technology to drive human Progress and are interested in green alternatives. The biggest departure from the Liberal-Centrist cluster is progressives' willingness to identify the structural inequalities at the base of many civil rights issues, and they often advocate deeper changes in this area.

The Progressive cluster consists of think tanks such as the Center for American Progress, the New America Foundation, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; advocacy organizations like; media outlets like Air America, ThinkProgress, American Public Media, The Atlantic, and the Huffington Post; and figures such as Anne-Marie Slaughter, George Soros, Chris Hayes, Christiane Amanpour, Fareed Zakaria, Jimmy Carter, and Robert Reich. Funding comes from some of the same foundations that support Liberal-Centrist institutions (Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Rockefeller Foundation), along with others like the Open Society Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Kellogg Foundation. In addition to foundations, support also comes from labor unions, groups like AARP and NAACP, as well as foreign governments.

There is also a good deal of corporate funding of Progressive institutions. The predominant sources are the technology, telecomm, and entertainment industries, with significant support from the financial sector as well. One could surmise that the attitudes and values associated with the type of people in Silicon Valley and Hollywood explain their preference for Progressive institutions. When one hears stories about CEOs limiting their own pay or raising their employee's wages, it is usually a newer technology company of some sort. Furthermore, all three of the former industries have an interest in keeping the purchasing power of most people in the U.S. relatively high, so they can afford to buy their products.

It is possible to cynically view the willingness of Progressive figures and institutions to engage in identity politics as part of a base-unification/mobilization strategy similar to the way the Religious Right represents the Republican Party's cooptation of religious fundamentalists. From this perspective, the Progressive cluster allows an outlet for marginalized groups to express their frustrations with certain forms of oppression without too radically challenging the status quo, and to ultimately channel that frustration into political activity supportive of the Democratic Party (and hence, the status quo). I have not come across much empirical evidence of such overt strategizing, though that is not to say that it doesn't exist. This is an area for me to research further.

One thing is certain, though: after being virtually non-existent for several decades (especially during the Clinton era), the Progressive cluster has not only grown in size but also influence in recent years. Just as there has been a war within the Republican Party, one hears frequent commentary about whether Hillary Clinton will be able to win over the progressive wing of the Democratic Party (represented by Elizabeth Warren). Although, unlike the Republican Party, which has an entire ideological-institutional cluster representing the melding of different ideological positions, the Democratic Party remains substantially aligned with the Liberal-Centrist cluster and it only gets the support of progressives because progressives feel they have no other option and must choose the lesser of two evils (see Nader in 2000 election). Yet, the Progressive influence is strong enough that even an otherwise Liberal-Centrist Establishment media outlet like MSNBC has included voices to cater to progressive social concerns and gives hollow warnings about income inequality and corporate influence in politics.

The Progressive cluster occupies only a small niche within the Establishment, but it will be interesting to see how that position changes as it increases its strength.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Defining The Establishment

Or:  The Material Structure of Ideology and Politics:  Part 7

Of the ideological-institutional clusters I have described so far, Bridge Conservative is the largest. Rivaling Bridge Conservative is another cluster that I am calling Liberal-Centrist. I use the word "liberal" to signify affinity to classic liberalism - primarily a mix of economic liberalism, civil rights, and secularism, embedded within a grand narrative of Progress. Furthermore, Liberal-Centrist ideology corresponds most closely to the mainstream of the Democratic Party, although figures from both parties are prevalent in this cluster. I appended the word "centrist" to clarify that the word "liberal" was not synonymous with "left wing" in this case, as this ideological position is often identified as the center of the political spectrum.

The Liberal-Centrist cluster does not contain any shadowy advocacy groups writing legislation behind closed doors (at least, not that I am aware of), unlike Bridge Conservative; however, the Liberal Centrist cluster does not need this sort of activism to maintain political influence, because it is, more than anything else, The Establishment.

The infrastructure of the Liberal-Centrist cluster consists of highly influential think tanks such as the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment, the RAND Corporation (a think tank created to serve the interests of the Dept. of Defense), and the Council on Foreign Relations, along with advocacy groups such as the controversial National Endowment for Democracy (often accused of meddling in foreign affairs and supporting the overthrow of elected governments). The funding for these institutions comes from large foundations (Ford Foundation, Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, MacArthur Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Rockefeller Foundation, etc.), U.S. government agencies (the Dept. of Defense, USAID, the Federal Reserve, DHHS, etc.), foreign governments, the World Bank and other regional development banks - in other words, the most powerful governmental and financial institutions in the world. Allying with these institutions is an impressive roster of establishment political figures such as Leon Panetta, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice, and Dianne Feinstein (notice all the connections to the State Department), along with equally establishment media outlets like The Washington Post, TIME, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and MSNBC.

The ideology of the Liberal-Centrist cluster differs from Bridge-Conservative more in style than substance. Both are committed to neoliberalism, with Liberal-Centrist advocating some economic controls to ensure stability (and Bridge Conservative professing adherence to strict Friedmanism). Both support militarism (e.g. "stopping ISIS"), though the Liberal-Centrist support is framed in the secular rhetoric of humanitarian intervention and spreading democracy (Bridge Conservative employs more religious framing - good vs evil, etc.). Liberal-Centrist ideology is more amenable to civil rights than Bridge Conservative in theory, though often the commitment to competition, market freedom, and other matters take priority. In other words, Liberal-Centrist figures like to profess the value of protecting and enhancing civil rights - it sounds and feels very nice (whereas it makes many Bridge Conservative figures feel like they're being attacked) - especially as it pertains to other countries, but they are unwilling to make the deep, structural analyses that would allow them to actually do anything effective in that vein. One of the biggest differences between the Liberal-Centrist and Bridge Conservative clusters is that while the latter concerns itself with the assault on traditional values, the former takes a keen interest in technological innovations and "green" alternatives (environmentalism is perhaps the biggest point of departure between the two clusters). Another difference is that Liberal-Centrist ideology is more compatible with international collaboration, foreign aid, and support for transnational organizations, such as the UN, while Bridge Conservative, especially to the extent that the Radical Right and libertarians are influential, is more suspicious of internationalism and foreign aid - even though, in practice, foreign aid and transnational organizations are employed as leverage to further the same economic and political goals abroad.

The Liberal-Centrist cluster also enjoys a wellspring of corporate support. My own research indicates the financial, pharmaceutical, and arms industries to the be the most prevalent private benefactors. The support of the arms industry (which now also provides a variety of other important defense and security services) makes sense, considering that the military/defense/security establishment is embedded within the Liberal-Centrist cluster. Similarly, with the cozy relationship between the Federal Reserve/federal regulators/development bank execs and the financial industry - complete with revolving doors and bailouts - it is not hard to understand that source of support either. And the pharmaceutical industry has had success within The Establishment, writing the portions of the Affordable Care Act relevant to its interests

In some crucial ways, conservative politicians are correct when they align themselves with Main Street and link Democrats/liberals with the interests of Wall Street. It is true that the conservative ideological clusters have more power at state and local levels, hold more sway over teenage boys who've discovered Ayn Rand, blue collar workers who fear the effects of immigration, the 80-year-olds who spend the day watching Fox News, and the religious fundamentalist family next door. It is also true that the Liberal-Centrist agenda is hegemonic and institutionalized at larger - national and transnational - levels. Yet, there is a common substance of support for the ideas and institutions that constitute the global power structure - American hegemony, the military, capitalism, economic growth. In the one case it is packaged in a rhetoric of tradition and religion that resonates more with the wary masses who need something to fight for; in the other, it is packaged in the rhetoric of Enlightenment philosophy and science that appeals to the idealistic technocrats and professionals who work tirelessly within the global power structure to serve "the greater good."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics: Part 6

Tying together the Religious Right, Neoconservative, and Libertarian clusters is an ideological-institutional cluster that I have termed Bridge Conservative. This is where the heart of the Republican party and major organs of political action lie. I could have dubbed it "Mainstream Conservative" - however, I wanted to emphasize the most important aspect of this cluster: it is not a distinct ideological position in itself, rather a collection of material networks connecting (hence, "Bridge") and bringing together ideas and figures from Religious Right, Neoconservative, and Libertarian clusters - and to some extent even the Radical Right.

The Bridge Conservative cluster consists of numerous think tanks including the Heritage Foundation, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Citizens Against Government Waste; media outlets such as, The American Spectator, the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, and the Fox News Channel; and advocacy groups like Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). All of the institutional infrastructure receives financial support from a wide array of corporations and foundations such as the Olin Foundations, the Bradley Foundation, Scaife Foundations, and the Koch Foundation.

What this coalition amounts to, in practice, is a solid foundation of neoliberalism (deregulation, privatization, spending cuts), general flag-waving and fist-shaking in the direction of terrorists and "bad guys" (though exact foreign policy positions vary, with support for intervention more likely when Republicans are in charge), and a good dose of "traditional values" and the White Christian Persecution Complex (one need only look at how gay rights issues are currently being handled by the Republican Party to see variations here as well).

As neoliberalism is the common thread uniting these institutions, neoliberalism accordingly serves as the focal point for political action. Perhaps the most notorious mechanism linking the intellectual world of think tanks to real legislative action is the work of ALEC. It has come to light in recent years how much influence ALEC has exerted at the state level. Ideas become incarnate via model legislation crafted by ALEC, which is then passed on to conservative lawmakers and often introduced word-for-word as bills in state legislatures. ALEC's legislation can predominately be characterized as neoliberal - e.g. Right to Work, opposition to environmental regulations, corporate tax cuts, privatization of education - although some effort goes into maintaining structures of discrimination against people of color (Stand Your Ground, Voter ID. Three Strikes laws, border security).

The extreme neoliberal policies promoted by this activist coalition certainly coincide with the interests of many corporations, and indeed, corporate funding in this arena is not lacking. Perhaps the most prominent source of corporate funding of Bridge Conservative enterprises is the energy industry. Although Exxon, the most profitable corporation in the industry, spreads its money fairly widely across the spectrum, it appears that most of the focus of the industry is on Bridge Conservative institutions. The oil companies certainly benefit from the relaxation of environmental regulations. It is worth noting that other significant contributors to Bridge Conservative causes also abide in existential conflict with government regulations - specifically, the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries. The latter is to some extent impeded by safety regulations, but more importantly, their extraordinary profits depend on a lack of pricing regulations - i.e. their ability to set prices arbitrarily high.

The Bridge Conservative cluster allows for the political collaboration of a variety of individuals and institutions committed to neoliberal orthodoxy, with support from some of the most profitable corporations. It definitely exists within the realm of the Establishment, but it is the next cluster I will discuss that really defines the Establishment.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics: Part 5

Another ideological-institutional cluster bearing certain similarities to the Neoconservative cluster is the Libertarian cluster. The Libertarian infrastructure is composed of think tanks like the Cato Institute, the Ayn Rand Institute, the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, the Reason Foundation, and the Heartland Institute, along with the advocacy group Americans for Limited Government. Much of this institutional infrastructure has notoriously received financial support from the Koch brothers and their associated organizations.

The parallels between the Libertarian and Neoconservative clusters consist of the facts that both are more intellectually/academically based (though Libertarian much, much more so than Neoconservative) and that both have carved out niches for themselves within the Establishment from which they can exert varying degrees of influence over policy. The similarities end there. While the Neoconservative cluster has religious undertones, the Libertarian cluster is mostly silent on matters of religion (and some people associated with the "libertarian" label are anti-religious, though I will have more to say on the variation momentarily). Secondly, while neoconservativism almost verges on a form of "soft fascism" with its celebration of executive power and military conquest, libertarianism advocates the limiting of all federal government power and is predominately isolationist.

In this way, the political and economic agenda of the Libertarian cluster is nearly identical to that of the Radical Right, so much so that the two are sometimes conflated in popular discourse, and some individuals and groups whose views would more properly be categorized as Radical Right - such as the Tea Party and Gary North (representative of Christian Reconstructionism) - have associations with some Libertarian institutions. As a general rule of thumb, one can characterize the difference been the Libertarian cluster and the Radical Right as a matter of social liberalism vs. social conservativism verging on theocracy (and to a secondary degree, intellectualism vs conspiracy theory-laden populism). There are some figures, such as Ron Paul and Andrew Napolitano, who maintain connections to both the Radical Right and the Libertarian cluster and are difficulty to categorize. Ideologically, both Paul and Napitano are religious and pro-life, but otherwise tend to adopt liberal stances on social issues and advocate separation of church and state. Furthermore, and unsurprisingly given libertarianism's intellectual roots, within the Libertarian cluster there have been splits and schisms, and variations in the degree to which social liberalism is emphasized and affiliations with religious conservatives are tolerated.

Given that the Libertarian ideological-institutional cluster is a key source and exponent of the ideas of economic liberalism - the cornerstone of the Establishment order - the institutions and individuals comprising the Libertarian cluster are in a position of real policy influence and hence occupy a small position within the Establishment. However, the Libertarian opposition to most government functions and most military interventions ensure that its position within the Establishment will never be more than marginal.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics: Part 4

As promised, the next ideological-institutional cluster that I will be describing is the Neoconservative. Neoconservative figures and organizations received more public awareness after some key neoconservative leaders increased their power in the George W. Bush administration. The Neoconservative cluster consists of think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; media like The Weekly Standard; and a glut of significant political figures such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Bill Kristol, and Charles Krauthammer,

Just like the Religious Right, plenty has been written about neoconservativism. From what I can tell, its origin may have been two-pronged. First, it is often noted, and the name "neoconservative" itself derives from the fact, that one source of neoconservativism is former anti-communist liberals who made a conservative turn as a reaction against the New Left. However, it is difficult to see traces of the "liberal" aspects of neoconservative origins as it exists today, and the political clique that I see as the second major source of neoconservativism, who made themselves the ruling faction during the George W. Bush presidency (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al) from what I can tell were never liberal at all.

Neoconservativism, as represented in the ideas and polices of the Rumsfeld Clique, is more intellectually-based (compared to the Radical Right and Religious Right). A number of members of the Rumsfeld Clique were students of, or attended classes at, the University of Chicago and are said to be influenced by the philosopher Leo Strauss. At the same time, most prominent neoconservatives have religious influences, to some extent shared by the Radical Right and Religious Right. While the latter two clusters are composed primarily of fundamentalist Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons, the religious base of neoconservativism appears to be fundamentalist (Zionist) Protestants and conservative (Zionist) Jews. This partial religious affinity may explain some of the associations with the Religious Right (in addition to the strategic aspect discussed in the previous post).

Like the Radical Right, neoconservatives have a clear political/economic agenda, but their political views are diametrically opposed to those of the Radical Right. While the Radical Right remains anti-authoritarian in political matters, neoconservatives idealize a strong executive branch and throughout their political tenure have sought to expand the powers of the branch as much as possible. Neoconservatives also have an interventionist foreign policy, while the Radical Right remains isolationist. In fact, as a strong contrast to the Radical Right, neoconservatives seem to idealize naked power (in the hands of the "right" people, of course) and the use of violence to obtain their ends. In economic matters, on the other hand, the Radical Right and neoconservativism share a neoliberal (supposedly "free market") approach.

After the ultimately disastrous outcome of the Iraq War, neoconservativism lost a lot of political clout and some neoconservatives resigned, under varying circumstances, during the Bush presidency. However, the election of Obama did not result in the complete purging of neoconservatives from the political establishment, and some maintained ties with the State Department (e.g. Robert Kagan and his wife Victoria Nuland). Furthermore, many neoconservatives retain influential positions in think tanks and conservative media outlets. Therefore, while the Neoconservative ideological-institutional cluster no longer wields the power it had a decade or so ago, it still remains an influential faction within the Establishment.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics: Part 3

Another very conservative ideological-institutional cluster I labeled the Religious Right (yes, I am relying very heavily on existing categorizations). Belonging to the Religious Right are think-tanks such as the Family Research Council, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the Council for National Policy; advocacy groups like Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, and the National Organization for Marriage; and figures such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Erik Prince (the founder of Blackwater), and Tony Perkins. Pat Robertson, for his part, is a Christian media mogul whose ventures include the Christian Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club.

There are two notable features of the Religious Right.

First, there is a certain amount of overlap between the Radical Right and the Religious Right, as some of the same religious figures and organizations have affiliations in both clusters (for example, Cleon Skousen and other extremist elements of LDS). In fact, the Radical Right and Religious Right have a shared religious basis: extremist-fundamentalist Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons. The primary difference between the two clusters is that the ideas promoted by the Radical Right contain a very detailed and consistent political/economic vision that is integrated with social-religious beliefs and attitudes, whereas the discourse and activities within the institutions of the Religious Right privilege religious belief and social issues (marriage rights, abortion, etc.), and pay only secondary (if any) attention to political and economic issues, resulting in a degree of diversity in the political/economic positions held among individuals associated with this cluster.

In contrast to the consistently anti-establishment positions of the Radical Right, the second salient feature of the Religious Right is its tenuous relationship to the Establishment. I will be able to more fully flesh out exactly what I mean by "the Establishment" when I finish outlining the other ideological-institutional clusters. For now, I will briefly explain two aspects of this relationship. First, individuals, such as Irving Kristol and Donald Rumsfeld, who are more closely associated with the Neoconservative institutional-ideological cluster (the subject of my next post), which has carved out a space for itself within the Establishment over the past few decades, also maintain secondary affiliations with institutions of the Religious Right. The extent to which this relationship is strategic or based on genuine religious beliefs is hard to guess. However, there is definitely some degree of strategy involved, and the second aspect of the relationship between the Religious Right and the Establishment is, in fact, the history of a strategic alliance.

The history of the creation the Religious Right in the cooptation of religious fundamentalists by the Republican Party is fairly well known, so there is no need to detail it here. The important point that I want to make is that the institutions that were ultimately employed as an instrument of Republican control over a large voting bloc have actually never had more than a thin connection to other conservative ideological-institutional clusters nor that aspect of the Establishment that is shaped by the Republican Party. It was always a purely pragmatic relationship and the ties could easily be severed. (Witness the problems caused for the Republican Party by recent religious freedom bills and the pragmatic rhetorical shifts taken by some Republican politicians.)

It can be concluded, then, that although the Religious Right has perhaps a stronger institutional base than the Radical Right, it is still rather limited, primarily consisting of a handful of think-tanks, religious organizations, and business ventures. The Religious Right may, accordingly, be viewed as more of an outgrowth of a few related religious movements that was exploited for political purposes. This is not, of course, to deny the religiosity of many prominent politicians and societal power-holders. It is to say that their thinking is guided more directly by institutions and ideologies with clear political/economic agendas that may also happen to harmonize with their fundamentalist religious beliefs.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics: Part 2

Although I find that the use of political spectrum terminology (right/left) often obfuscates more than iit aids discourse, sometimes it's impossible to avoid it entirely. In fact, that is how I mentally organized the ideological-institutional clusters that began to emerge for me. And now, in this series of posts, I will proceed more or less from right to left.

One of the ideological-institutional clusters that was closest to the fringe I termed the Radical Right. Think tanks associated with the Radical Right include the John Birch Society, American Policy Center, and the National Center for Public Policy Research. Also associated with the Radical Right are Rousas Rushdoony (founder of extreme fundamentalist Christian Reconstructionism), Glenn Beck (and other figures from LDS), the Constitution Party, and the Minuteman Project.

From some preliminary investigation, it appears that the Radical Right has its origins in white-supremacist anti-communism, along with the religious fundamentalist politics that emerged in the 1970s. The key concerns of the people and institutions of the Radical Right today are nationalism(/anti-immigration), isolationism, anti-authoritarianism, and religiously-based social conservativism. They extol "small government" principles, but are also suspicious of large corporations, and expense overseas military expeditions. They are also weary of transnational organizations, the UN in particular.

The societal ideal of the Radical Right is best illustrated by the communal concept of The Citadel.

As I mentioned earlier, the Radical Right is more of a fringe cluster. The institutional network is thin compared to the more mainstream clusters I will be describing later. Its primary base of support is extremist religious organizations, although its odes to free market principles harmonizes with most other ideological clusters and corporate interests, and an "anti-science" coalition has been forged with such corporations as Phillip Morris, who produce faux research challenging dominant scientific appraisals of the effects of smoking, pollution, etc. The National Center for Public Policy, for example, is devoted to the production of this "alternative" science.

At the same time, the Radical Right's anti-authoritarian and isolationist leanings ensure that more extended relationships with interests inside the political establishment will not develop and its institutional infrastructure will necessarily be limited.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Material Structure of Ideology and Politics

Due to things going on in my life I haven't posted in a really long time. I almost don't feel like I know how to do it anymore!

Also, for some reason, I haven't really felt like I've had much to say. That might mean that I am surrounding myself with too many people/viewpoints that correspond to my own. Maybe I'm even getting lazy because other people can formulate my thoughts for me.

One extraneous thing that I HAVE done is independent/amateur research on think tanks. I've been interested in seeing how the networks of different ideologies and political strategies are institutionally manifested. This is part of my long-term goal of more thoroughly dissecting the structure of power in the modern world. (Parasitically, of course. I will almost always have to rely on the work of others)

My starting point for this little project of mine was come up with a list of U.S. think tanks and then look at:

1) Individual and corporate backing
2) Membership and affilliations
3) Associated media
4) Connections to activist organizations

As I started to putting this information together, I saw that the think tanks on my list clustered into a number of groups sharing some characteristics.

My plan is to describe each group in successive posts.

Stay tuned.