As the very phrase "power structure" suggests, it is not easy to change power arrangements, even in a country where people have won freedom of speech and the right to vote. To start with, it is necessary to understand the intricacies of a power structure and how it was constructed in order to change it -- that's where the power structure research discussed in other parts of this site comes in.
The articles in this section (listed below) include analyses of progressive politics and past movements for social change in the United States. They may seem "old" and "historical," but they are as relevant today as they were in the past because activists still do not take social science research seriously.
For example, there are new attempts to start third parties, even though the Green Party won enough votes in 2016 to cost Hillary Clinton the electoral votes of Michigan and Wisconsin. With the prospect of Donald Trump's re-election, the votes for the Green Party declined in 2020, which helped the Biden/Harris ticket win in Michigan and Wisconsin. But left-wing third parties are back on the agenda for 2024, even though studies of electoral systems in many different countries show that a vote for a left-wing third party is equivalent to a vote for the right-wing party. That's due to the nature of the American electoral system, which is a "single-member-district plurality system"; a progressive third party in Canada or Germany just doesn't have the same impact as a third party does in the U.S. Although third-party activists ignore this "structural" fact, the Republicans understand it, and often provide funding for third-party efforts that siphon votes away from the Democrats.
Similarly, it is still valid to say that "socialism" has inherent flaws, on the basis of findings in both sociology and economics. This point is relevant because there are socialists active in the Democratic Party and third parties. And since "socialism" has long been a catch-all, fear-and-smear term in American politics, being able to point to "socialists" who support Democrats helps the Republicans hold on to the centrist voters who play a big role in single-member-district plurality elections. So those who do not take the social sciences seriously end up working against their own cause.
And it's still relevant to say that any threat or use of violence is highly counterproductive. It may be frustrating to read that any form of violence helps the more conservative of the two parties in any two-party system, but those are the findings from social science research.
This document suggests possible steps that might make it possible for liberals and leftists to work together on economic programs and thereby have more success. However, the most immediate goal would be to reach out to more centrists and moderate conservatives in order to halt the ongoing move to the right.
It's necessary to know what works and doesn't work, and what role activists can play. So the centerpiece of this section describes what can be learned from the social sciences about creating greater equality.
This is an essay based on research in psychology and social psychology that brings together ideas and findings that may shed some light on the differences between leftists and rightists.
Activists spend an enormous amount of time worrying about, dissecting, and criticizing the media as a major source of their problems, but this document suggestions that the media are not that influential and can, in fact, be used constructively by activists on many occasions.
Massey claims that many centrist Americans will vote for candidates who stand up for their liberal principles, but I don't think they'll be willing to bet on a divided and contentious set of liberals and leftists who cannot develop new strategies to work together in the face of their ongoing failures in bringing about greater equality and access to markets. Liberals cannot do it alone, and leftists have to refocus their energies.
Social change may require change-oriented elites on the inside as well as activists on the outside. Social psychologist Richard L. Zweigenhaft -- with whom I have co-authored several books -- explains this point in a wonderful talk he gave at an elite private school in 2006. He then follows up with a paper originally published in Radical Teacher in 2009.
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