What caused state legislatures to abandon a rule that had existed since the late 1600s? Banking industry lobbyists persuaded them that it would be a lucrative move because it would bring business to their states.
The territorial aristocracy of former ages was either bound by law, or thought itself bound by usage, to come to the relief of its serving-men and to relieve their distress. But the manufacturing aristocracy of our age first impoverishes and debases the men who serve it and then abandons them to be supported by the charity of the public. This is a natural consequence of what has been said before. Between the workman and the master there are frequent relations, but no real association.
I am of the opinion, on the whole, that the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes is one of the harshest that ever existed in the world; but at the same time it is one of the most confined and least dangerous. Nevertheless, the friends of democracy should keep their eyes anxiously fixed in this direction; for if ever a permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy again penetrates into the world, it may be predicted that this is the gate by which they will enter.
Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowners of his day; presidents in the late 19th century were close to the railroad interests; for the Bush family, it was oil and other natural resources, agribusiness, and finance. But to be more exact, those who own income-producing property -- corporations, real estate, and agribusinesses -- set the rules within which policy battles are waged.
While this may seem simple and/or obvious, the reasons behind it are complex. They involve an understanding of social classes, the role of experts, the two-party system, and the history of the country, especially Southern slavery. In terms of the big world-historical picture, and the Four Networks theory of power advocated on this site, money rules in America because there are no rival networks that grew up over a long and complex history:
* No big church, as in many countries in Europe
* No big government, as it took to survive as a nation-state in Europe
* No big military until after 1940 (which is not very long ago) to threaten to take over the government
So, the only power network of any consequence in the history of the United States has been the economic one, which under capitalism generates a business-owning class that hires workers and a working class, along with small businesses and skilled artisans who are self-employed, and a relatively small number of independent professionals like physicians. In this context, the key reason why gold can rule, i.e., why the business owners who hire workers can rule, is that the people who work in the factories and fields were divided from the outset into free and slave, white and black, and later into numerous immigrant ethnic groups as well, making it difficult for workers as a whole to unite politically to battle for higher wages and better social benefits. This important point is elaborated on toward the end of this document in a section entitled "The Weaknesses of the Working Class."
Moreover, the simple answer that gold rules has to be qualified somewhat. Domination by the few does not mean complete control, but rather the ability to set the terms under which other groups and classes must operate.
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had brought into being all the preconditions for social revolution, they had destroyed the Middle Ages, established social, political and religious Protestantism, created England’s colonies, sea-power and trade, and set up alongside the aristocracy a growing and already quite powerful middle class. Social conditions gradually settled down after the disturbances of the seventeenth century and acquired a stable form which they retained until about 1780 or 1790.
There were at that time three classes of landowners, the aristocratical landlords, still the only, and unchallenged, nobility of the kingdom, who leased their estates in parcels and consumed the income in London or while travelling; the non-aristocratical landlords or country gentlemen (usually called squires), who lived at their country-seats, put out their land on lease and enjoyed among their tenants and other local inhabitants the aristocratic esteem which was denied to them in the town on account of their humble origin, lack of education and unpolished country manners. This class has now totally disappeared. The old squires who ruled with patriarchal authority the country-folk of the district and acted as advisers, arbiters and everything rolled into one, are quite extinct; their descendants call themselves the untitled aristocracy of England, as regards education and fine manners, luxury and aristocratic demeanour they vie with the aristocracy, which has little advantage left over them, and all they have in common with their rude and unpolished forefathers are their estates.
[...]England is now split into three parties, the landed aristocracy, the monied aristocracy, and working-class democracy. These are the only parties in England, they alone act as driving forces, and how they act we will perhaps try to describe in a later article.
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