18 March 2012

The Organization

Public Opinion by Walter Lippmann, 1921, Excerpts

The priest, the lord of the manor, the captains and the kings, the party leaders, the merchant, the boss, however these men are chosen, whether by birth, inheritance, conquest or election, they and their organized following administer human affairs. In American politics we call it a machine, or “the organization.”

There are a number of important distinctions between the members of the machine and the rank and file. The leaders, the steering committee and the inner circle, are in direct contact with their environment. There are particular men they hope to see elected, particular balance sheets they wish to see improved, concrete objectives that must be attained. They decide. They give orders. They bargain. The Many can elect after the Few have been nominated. The art of inducing all sorts of people who think differently to vote alike is practiced in every political campaign.

The size of a man’s income has considerable effect on his access to the world beyond the neighborhood. With money he can overcome obstacles of communication, he can travel, buy books and periodicals. The income of the individual and the income of the community determine the amount of communication that is possible. Differences of income make a profound difference in contact and opportunity. From the existence of differing economic situations you can tentatively infer a probable difference of opinions. If men are economically situated in different ways, they can then be induced to hold certain views.

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