What is Power Elite, and What Does It Mean?June 26, 2021
About his work called Power Elite; This work was written by Charles Wright Mills in 1956.
Contrary to previous elite theorists, Wright Mills does not see elite management as an inevitable form of government, nor does he respect the view that elites are born with an inherently elite character. He stated that if some of the elites have the claimed characteristics, it is not because of their birth, but because of their privileged living conditions.
Although Mills said that his theory cannot be valid for every period of history; he thinks that it is largely appropriate for the 20th century (in fact, when considered together with the elite theories of Mosca and Pareto, Mills’s thesis is the antithesis of the views presented against democracy, that is, a Neo-Elite theory). Mills’ analysis of the power structure is pessimistic; tends to see men and women as pawns whose destinies are determined by the social actions of the elite.
According to Mills, democracy is a lie told to the citizens and the truth of the matter is different: The society is ruled by a triviumverate, that is, by the political-industrial-military elite with a triple interaction (Capitol-Pentagon-Wall Street). The triple schema in this interaction formed a “directorate”. The features of this elite (capital-power-army triangle) are;
It includes roles that can be exchanged (like a rich businessman with a factory can be a minister comfortably in the next period / Those who are at the top of any branch of the triple dictatorship can quickly and easily switch to the other branch).
They have similar social backgrounds.
No elite can be power alone.
Decisions on poverty, recession, economic depression and war are made by the ruling elite.
It is the basic principle of their work in secrecy (but their denial of this).
They have a very high prestige and the means to implement what they want, such as technology.
Political power is concentrated at the top levels of government.
It focuses on the power elite analysis of American society. As a matter of fact, according to Mills, while the economy in America, which was a middle-class society in the 19th century, consisted of independent production units that continued on their own, in a self-contained balance, the economic power was fragmented among these many small production units, while the economic and administrative units were in the process. and two or three big companies that are politically related to each other, and the power in the most important decisions to be taken in the economic field has been taken by these companies.
Today it is impossible to separate government and economic capital from big government, while military power is It has been on the rise since World War II. For him, “the military structure in America today forms an important part of the political structure” is “military capitalism”: because the focus of the political elite has shifted from national issues to international issues, which gives great military leaders a greater say in the decision-making process. recognizes. The economy is; it is experiencing both a war economy and a private company economy at the same time.
In this respect, Mills also opposes the equilibrium thesis that “Equilibrium” means “Government is a kind of automatic machine regulated by balancing its competing interests”. Looking at the historical turmoil of recent events on the American stage, it is possible to say that Mills’s discussion of the political elite is an entirely accurate prophecy. All indications are not of the sharing and distribution of power in society; It shows that power is monopolized, concentrated and centralized.
Milovan Djilas’s “The New Class and Slice in Socialist Society” and C. Wright Mills’s “Power Elite” are two works that complement each other in the socialist and capitalist order. According to Djilas, the bureaucrats and socialists of the old system have become the capitalists of the new system.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım