[EM] language/framing quibble

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Sun Mar 8 11:14:31 PDT 2009

Fred Gohlke wrote:

> Political parties have controlled our existence for 200 years.
> During that period, we have seen incredible advances in technology,
> but, instead of those changes redounding to the benefit of the
> people, they have empowered a few at the expense of the rest of us
> ...

150 years is more correct.  Over that particular period, advances in
technology and democracy have tended to favour the parties and
increase their level of control:

  In the meantime the structural transformation of the bourgeois
  public sphere had set in.  The institutions of social-convivial
  interchange, which secured the coherence of the public making use of
  its reason, lost their power or utterly collapsed; the development
  toward a commercial mass circulation press had its parallel in the
  reorganization of the parties run by dignitaries on a mass basis.
  The advent of equal citizenship rights for all altered the structure
  of parties.  Since the middle of the last century [i.e. the 19th
  century] loosely knit voter groups have increasingly given way to
  parties in the proper sense - organized supralocally and with a
  bureaucratic apparatus and aimed at the ideological integration and
  the political mobilization of the broad voting masses. In Great
  Britain Gladstone [1809-98] introduced the caucus system.  With this
  buildup of an apparatus of professional politicians, organized more
  or less like a business enterprise and directed centrally, the local
  committees lost their importance.  The parties were now confronted
  with the job of "integrating" the mass of the citizenry (no longer
  really "bourgeois"), with the help of new methods, for the purpose
  of getting their votes.  The gathering of voters for the sake of
  bringing the local delegate to account had to make room for
  systematic propaganda, from the very start with the Janus face of
  enlightenment and control; of information and advertising; of
  pedagogy and manipulation. ^[1]

The rest of the book is equally apropos, for this thread.

[1] Jürgen Habermas.  1962.  The Structural Transformation of the
    Public Sphere.  Translated by Thomas Burger, 1989.  MIT Press,
    Cambridge, Massachusetts.  p. 202-203.


Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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