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C. Wright Mills (1916 – 1962)


American sociologist, best remembered for studying the structure of power in the U S in his book The Power Elite.
C. Wright Mills
Kindness and friendliness become aspects of personalized service or of public relations of big firms, rationalized to further the sale of something. With anonymous insincerity, the Successful Person thus makes an instrument of his own appearance and personality.
Mills quotes
Nobody talks more of free enterprise and competition and of the best man winning than the man who inherited his father's store or farm.
Mills
They know of no solutions to the paradoxes of the Middle East and Europe, the Far East and Africa except the landing of Marines. Being baffled, and also being very tired of being baffled, they have come to believe that there is no way out—except war—which would remove all the bewildering paradoxes of their tedious and now misguided attempts to construct peace. In place of these paradoxes they prefer the bright, clear problems of war—as they used to be. For they still believe that "winning" means something, although they never tell us what.




Mills C. Wright quotes
The market is sovereign and in the magic economy of the small entrepreneur there is no authoritarian center… in the political sphere… the equilibrium of powers prevails, and hence there is no chance of despotism.
Mills C. Wright
The broadening of the economic order which came to be seated in the individual property owner… dramatized by Jefferson's purchase of the Louisiana Territory… "The supremacy of corporate economic power… consolidated by the Supreme Court decision of 1886 which declared that the Fourteenth Amendment protected the corporation… [the New Deal, leading to], within the political arena, as well as in the corporate world itself, competing centers of power that challenged those of the corporate directors.
C. Wright Mills quotes
The top of modern American society is increasingly unified and often seems wilfully co-ordinated: at the top there has emerged an elite of power.The middle levels are a drifting set of stalemated balancing forces: the middle does not link the bottom with the top.The bottom of this society is fragmented,and even as a passive fact,increasingly powerless:at the bottom there is emerging a mass society.
C. Wright Mills
The economy - once a great scatter of small productive units in autonomous balance, has become dominated by two or three hundred giant corporations, administratively and politically interrelated… The political order, once a decentralized set of several dozen states with a weak spinal cord, has become a centralized executive establishment which has taken up into itself many powers previously scattered… The military order, once a slim establishment in a context of distrust fed by state militia, has become the largest and most expensive feature of government.
Mills C. Wright quotes
The more we understand what is happening in the world, the more frustrated we often become, for our knowledge leads to feelings of powerlessness.
We feel that we are living in a world in which the citizen has become a mere spectator or a forced actor, and that our personal experience is politically useless and our political will a minor illusion. Very often, the fear of total permanent war paralyzes the kind of morally oriented politics, which might engage our interests and our passions. We sense the cultural mediocrity around us-and in us-and we know that ours is a time when, within and between all the nations of the world, the levels of public sensibilities have sunk below sight; atrocity on a mass scale has become impersonal and official; moral indignation as a public fact has become extinct or made trivial.
We feel that distrust has become nearly universal among men of affairs, and that the spread of public anxiety is poisoning human relations and drying up the roots of private freedom. We see that people at the top often identify rational dissent with political mutiny, loyalty with blind conformity, and freedom of judgment with treason. We feel that irresponsibility has become organized in high places and that clearly those in charge of the historic decisions of our time are not up to them. But what is more damaging to us is that we feel that those on the bottom-the forced actors who take the consequences-are also without leaders, without ideas of opposition, and that they make no real demands upon those with power.
Mills
An expensive arms race, under cover of the military metaphysic, and in a paranoid atmosphere of fright, is an economically attractive business. To many utopian capitalists, it has become the Business Way of American Life."
Mills C. Wright
It is the political task of the social scientist — as of any liberal educator — continually to translate personal troubles into public issues, and public issues into the terms of their human meaning for a variety of individuals. It is his task to display in his work — and, as an educator, in his life as well — this kind of sociological imagination. And it is his purpose to cultivate such habits of mind among the men and women who are publicly exposed to him. To secure these ends is to secure reason and individuality, and to make these the predominant values of a democratic society.
C. Wright Mills
In the formulas of 'personnel experts', men and women are to be shaped into the 'well rounded, acceptable, effective personality.' Just like small proprietors, they cannot higgle over prices, which are fixed, or 'judge the market' and accordingly buy wisely.




C. Wright Mills quotes
For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end,...Such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own.
C. Wright Mills
The point is that we are among those who cannot get their mouths around all the little Yeses that add up to tacit acceptance of a world run by crackpot realists and subject to blind drift. And that, you see, is something to which we do belong; we belong to those who are still capable of personally rejecting. Our minds are not yet captive.
Mills quotes
[A]s a proportion of the labor force, fewer individuals manipulate things, more handle people and symbols.
Mills C. Wright
In a society of employees dominated by the marketing mentality, it is inevitable that a personality market should arise. For in the great shift from manual skills to the art of 'handling', selling and servicing people, personal or even intimate traits of employees are drawn into the sphere of exchange and become commodities in the labor market.
Mills C. Wright quotes
America - a conservative country without any conservative ideology - appears now before the world a naked and arbitrary power, as, in the name of realism, its men of decision enforce their often crackpot definitions upon world reality. The second-rate mind is in command of the ponderously spoken platitude. In the liberal rhetoric, vagueness, and in the conservative mood, irrationality, are raised to principle. Public relations and the official secret, the trivializing campaign and the terrible fact clumsily accomplished, are replacing the reasoned debate of political ideas in the privately incorporated economy, the military ascendancy, and the political vacuum of modern America.
C. Wright Mills
In the United States… a handful of corporations centralize decisions and responsibilities that are relevant for military and political as well as economic developments of global significance. For nowadays the military and the political cannot be separated from economic considerations of power. We now live not in an economic order or a political order, but in a political economy that is closely linked with military institutions and decisions. This is obvious in the repeated "oil crisis" in the Middle East, or in the relevance of Southeast Asia and African resources for the Western powers…
C. Wright Mills quotes
America is a nation with no truly national city, no Paris, no Rome, no London, no city which is at once the social center, the political capital, and the financial hub.
C. Wright Mills
These men have replaced mind with platitude, and the dogmas by which they are legitimated are so widely accepted that no counterbalance of mind prevails against them. They have replaced the responsible interpretation of events with the disguise of events by a maze of public relations.
Mills C. Wright
We know well that all new cultural beginnings today must be part of world culture; that no truly intellectual life can occur if the mind is restricted; that no art can have genuine and everlasting value if it is not in a universal language. East and West. God knows there is enough restriction. Enough laziness of stereotypes. Smash them, we say to ourselves. And the only way to do that is to open up a true world forum that is absolutely free.


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