Power Struggles in Capitalist Democracies and the Fate of American Labor Unions

Power Struggles in Capitalist Democracies and the Fate of American Labor Unions

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Power Struggles in Capitalist Democracies and the Fate of American Labor Unions


To some, "capitalistic democracy" conjures up the picture of a utopia where the free market is accompanied by individual liberty and social justice. To others, however, the term is more like a paradox—despite tremendous economic power, the advanced industrial nations are not immune from the evils of socio-political inequality as well as economical disparity. Amongst the capitalist democracies of the world, it is an established and well-known fact that when compared with the advanced industrial countries in Europe, the United States has the worst condition of economical-political inequality and social injustice. Its government is the least progressive, and its social inequalities the most deplorable. To explain the condition in the U.S. today, both the universality of capitalistic democracies and the peculiarities the American system employs—as well as this system's political and historical development—must be examined and explored.

As Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers articulated in On Democracy, a capitalist democracy is one that "if [it] is not just capitalism, still less is it just democracy" (Cohen 50). Indeed, despite the apparent political equality in a system that nowadays guarantees universal suffrage, the dominate socio-political structure in the United States and most western European countries does not allow—neither by intention nor in practice—free and equal competition between the capital and labor. Cohen and Rogers theorize that at the heart of this disparity lies what they call "the demand constraint" and "the resource constraint". In summation, the demand constraint states that because of the fact that the entire capitalistic econom...


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Clawson, Dan and Alan Neustadtl, Denise Scott. Money Talks: Corporate PACs and Political Influence. 1992.

Cohen, Joshua and Joel Rogers. "Structure". On Democracy. New York: Penguin, 1983.

"Government." Encyclopedia Britannica. Web ed. http://www.britannica.com

Indiana Historical Society. "Eugene V. Debs". 22 April 2001. http://www.indianahistory.org/heritage/evdebs.html

Judis, John. The Paradox of American Democracy. New York: Pantheon, 2000.

Lane, Charles. "Kohl Train". The New Republican Online. 18 February 2001. 20 April 2001. http://www.thenewrepublic.com/021400/lane021400.html

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