the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world











2003 May 12


For translation of an unfamiliar word, place the cursor over the word.


Politics is the attempt by an element of society to influence society. Political science is therefore a subset of sociology, the same field as political sociology. The conventional divisions in the specialties are at most a matter of emphasis, with sociologists focusing more on groups, political scientists more on institutions and individuals, but neither doing so exclusively, so that in fact both consider, and must consider, groups, institutions, and individuals. And since these groups, institutions, and individuals are attempting to influence society, either to change it or to preserve it unchanged, they require power, and the use of this power then becomes a primary object of the study of politics.[1]

The study of the world, natural and human, is best described as phenomenology, the study of apparent reality. The subject of investigation is not usually, perhaps not ever, the way things are, but rather the way things work. This does not make it fruitless. The phenomenal reality of a wave in physics is reality of a sort. But what seems to be a material object of fixed size and shape moving through space is in fact a pattern propagating through a medium, and the real motion of material objects takes place at a much lower level. Without suggesting that the formulation of propagation theory was easy, it can be said that phenomenology in society is more difficult and problematic, due to the greater complexities of the social atom ― the individual. To subvert the hierarchy of Comte, sociology is in fact a subset of psychology, broadly defined (and to exclude the mistakes that may be present in state-of-the-art psychology); the laws that govern society are ultimately derived from the laws that govern individual human behavior. This is, of course, referring especially to normal or “rational” psychology and not merely psychopathology.

Power in society lies first with the individual, including physical power and intellectual power, with the latter including things like intelligence, knowledge, and charisma. On the social level, power lies in the connections among individuals and ultimately among groups; the individual derives power within the group and society from its position within that network of interpersonal connections. The group’s power is, at a maximum, the sum power of its members, weakened by the imperfection of its internal connections.

Humans can be grouped, and do group themselves, based on actual or perceived convergence of interests, comprising psychological benefits (goals and beliefs) and non-psychological benefits (material interests). Those groups, including groups of one, then participate in social interactions in pursuit of those interests, using their actual power in response to perceived (whether actual or not) opportunities. This is the political process, of which any narrower definition is unsustainable.

It is crucial to note that all of these forms of power are relative: one person is stronger or smarter than another, weaker or less smart than a third. One group is larger or more cohesive than another, smaller or less cohesive than a third. The power distinction between the élite and the masses is relative and so only relatively useful. Absolute power distinctions, between those ‘inside’ and those ‘outside’ of the system, or between the ‘institutional’ and ‘non-institutional’ methods they might employ, are subjective and so not useful. Group formation is fluid, which is why the concept of phenomenology is so important. For any particular interest, there is essentially an ad hoc group in its pursuit. The phenomenal stability and continuity of certain groups is attributable to persistent interests.[2]

Politics within society is a free-for-all of power. Groups take advantage of power and opportunities (both of which must be both actual and perceived) to pursue their interests. They do this constantly. They do it simultaneously with other groups pursuing their own interests.

To limit the drama of the metaphor, this power mêlée is of course not a single-day battle in which half the combatants are killed and one small group emerges victorious, since it is in fact ongoing and no group ever wins for all time. Nor does it happen with blinding speed; the byzantine machination that seems so much a part of typical politics is also an example of groups acting simultaneously for the pursuit of interests using all available resources and opportunities. A well-attuned sense of caution is an intellectual resource, as is an accurate perception of opportunities, including the lack of opportunities.

But the usual stately conception of politics, both in the fixed system and in the everyday lives of members of society, is artificial. Politics is not orderly; it is not, even in the institutions of the state, polite. It is self-interested, insistent, and contentious.

Power is power; there is no fundamental or absolute distinction among forms. The ability of the group to secure its interests is dependent on some form of power. But there are various measurements of this ability, with groups standing in relation to other groups as more powerful or less powerful in a given way. The tools used to create and wield power bear a direct relationship to power. Examples include force, networking, organizing, persuasion, indoctrination, numbers, guile, wealth, and intelligence. This power can in some cases be the basis of securing more power; though there is no certainty of that.[3]

In a contest for power between contending groups with conflicting interests, each will use its perceived advantages, and all forms of power are equal in this contest.[4] Because perception plays a role, there is no guarantee that the choices made will be pragmatic. Indeed, one of the advantages a group may seek is the encouragement and exploitation of irrational behavior among others. But the outcome is entirely pragmatic. The result of the contest is based entirely on relative strengths across all forms of power, and the degree to which various forms of power are effective under the circumstances. Forms of power, modes of action, become institutionalized ― come to be used routinely ― when they work. Of course, effectiveness is also relative; seldom does a tactic or effort achieve everything it was intended to achieve.


Sidney Tarrow defines contentious politics as taking place when “ordinary people, often in league with more influential citizens, join forces in confrontations with elites, authorities, and opponents”. A social movement is then an organized and sustained instance of contentious politics. At a bare minimum, this definition requires that “ordinary people ... join forces in confrontations with ... opponents”, if it is assumed that those opponents need not be the élite or the authorities.[5] If so, then a distinction must be drawn between ordinary citizens and other, extraordinary citizens. And this is bound to be an arbitrary distinction, in defiance of the principle that power is relative. Some will be deemed ordinary, some extraordinary, for no definable reason. If, in fact, the confrontations must be with élites or authorities, there must be a second distinction made, also arbitrary. The definition cannot be relative, for if it is, it says nothing more than that contentious politics takes place when two groups confront each other, and one has more power. It must be establishing a dichotomy of inside and outside.[6]

Doug McAdam critiques élite theory for its assumption of almost-unchecked élite power, and pluralist theory for its assumption of irrationality for any action outside of established political bounds.[7] In these critiques he is correct. His critique of the main body of resource mobilization theory is correct in devaluing the élite contribution to the success of any broad movement. But he himself accepts William Gamson’s distinction between members of the polity and challengers ― in other words, between insiders and outsiders. And he further accepts that insiders will act, as a group, to perpetuate the distinction, regardless of ideological considerations.

But in fact, contentious politics is regular politics. A social movement is a regular interest group. Tarrow’s and McAdam’s definitions follow the élite theory in insisting on a distinction where there is none to be made. The terms used to describe so-called contentious politics apply to regular politics just as well. Framing, consensus formation, consensus mobilization, répertoires of contention, political opportunity structures, cycles of contention, and even cognitive liberation[8] are all applicable in studying all of politics.

The resource mobilization model described by John McCarthy and Mayer Zald in 1977 can, as other observers have noted, fit a broad range of organizations. The scheme of social movement organizations and industries could easily be applied to all non-governmental organizations, including lobbying groups within the political process, and parties themselves. McCarthy and Zald were careful to consider other resources (besides the obvious money) as a part of the process. With some imagination, this scheme can be seen to work with governmental as well as non-governmental organizations. Even something as immediately objectionable as the idea of a conscience constituent for the government is not, on examination, far-fetched; does no one ever voluntarily place resources of any kind at the disposal of the state, simply because it is the right thing to do?

The discussion of symbolic and semiotic interaction in framing theory should quite naturally encompass the activity of the entire political spectrum. Those who would oppose any social movement, whether (as is supposed) the state and élite, or a countermovement, must engage the movement in the same arena, using the same techniques. While in the beginning there is less of an incentive for the more powerful to employ novelty in the symbolic interaction, should the less powerful make any progress in reframing the debate, the more powerful will usually have the sense to attempt to win the new debate as well; and failure to do so often heralds their demise at the hands of the challenger. And when that happens it becomes apparent that all power is equal and no one is immune to the relative strengths of others.

Élite theory often insists upon a higher degree of credit to the élite allies of a challenge to the system.[9] Generally, if a mass movement has purported allies in the élite, they are thought to be looking for ways to coopt the movement for their own ends and to benefit from the movement’s challenge in their internal game with élite opponents, but also to be willing to abandon the movement and “circle the wagons” should the movement genuinely threaten the system and their own influence thereby. But a relativist conception makes clear that the movement and its more-powerful allies are in fact allies, are in fact using each other. It is wrong to suppose that those in the system cannot have idealist goals, or that those challenging the system with idealist goals do not have a practical understanding of realities. A small or reformist victory by a broadly-defined political faction, including representatives from across the spectra of power, can indeed be a victory. And the success of a revolution is not necessarily a disaster for incremental reformists within the system.[10]

It may be that the premise that power is relative is conceded by political sociologists in theory; it is not, however, put into practice if they maintain the notion of contentious politics and social movements, which depends on an absolute distinction. The Potter Stewart standard ― that inside and outside in politics need not be defined, so long as we can identify them when we see them ― is, while perhaps not intellectually satisfying, tempting at least in that it provides a basis for moving into a discussion of what seems to be a distinct form of politics. The phenomena in question are real, and the discussion seems meaningful. And indeed, it is meaningful, as politics. It is not, though, a distinct form of politics. The line between inside and outside, between élite and mass, is blurred in countless examples.


The 1920s Ku Klux Klan in the US Midwest was a political grouping that clearly fits the lay idea of a social movement. It does not, however, fit the technical definition. In terms of economic and political power, the movement’s participants ranged across the spectrum. Certainly they included numerous individuals who might be considered ordinary citizens, and in terms of numbers the Klan could well be categorized as a mass movement. But they were most definitely not in confrontation with élites and authorities. The élites and authorities were among them. And taken as a whole, the participants in the movement were the quintessential insiders. The Klan was organized to defend the interests of those who were already privileged, against the interests of those who were not. In fact, the very effort of framing engaged in by the Klan was an insider appeal. The idea of 100% Americans, as they self-identified, was exclusive, and favored those who were already favored. The Klan was not even a countermovement, at least in the Midwest, as there was no threatening effort by Catholics, Jews, and blacks to win power or in any other way upset the status quo. The Klan existed to keep things forever from changing ― certainly a political stance. But it was not in any way a threat to the more powerful element of society; it was the more powerful element of society organized to protect itself against threats that did not exist.


Dan Rostenkowski, in 1989, was considered one of the most powerful politicians in the country, through his control of the tax and budget processes as chair of the US House Ways and Means Committee. But when, during recess, he attempted to defend a new proposal ― to pay for catastrophic Medicare coverage for seniors through a means-tested surtax on the beneficiaries themselves ― some of his own constituents, representatives of elderly groups, castigated him during a private meeting. As he attempted to leave the meeting, he was hounded by television reporters and then, spectacularly, found himself trapped in a motionless car being physically assaulted by enraged seniors. Naturally this made national news and played as a spontaneous outburst of the aggrieved poor, using an ancient répertoire of frustration protest against the mighty.

But the meeting and its aftermath were at least partially the result of an ambush, a planned encounter designed to produce melodramatic political theater. And the second antagonist, after the supposedly-aloof lord from Washington, was one of the most effective lobbies in the country, represented by powerhouse groups like the AARP, acting on behalf of a constituency that had long been painted as eminently worthy and sympathetic, and that, moreover, voted more consistently and in larger proportions than possibly any other. The plan under discussion would extend state assistance to the needy at the expense of those who could well afford it; but the absolutists in the seniors’ lobby rejected any condition on this entitlement. In the end, one of the most feared forces in Washington politics managed to defend the interests of its most affluent members in a contest with a person who was, for whatever reason, genuinely working to help the disadvantaged; and yet the story as it is colorfully remembered is one of David slaying Goliath.


At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Dèng Xiǎo Píng, third-ranking leader[11] in the Chinese state and a veteran of the Long March, was purged from power, and was the target of a major public campaign of criticism. In 1973, he was rehabilitated, and eventually became the leader de facto of a moderate opposition to the Cultural Revolution, the Gang of Four, and Máo himself, as the opposition’s original leader, second-ranking leader Zhōu Ēn Lái, deteriorated in health. At Zhōu’s death, Dèng was purged again. Máo died in 1976; Dèng managed to secure his own rehabilitation in 1977 from the Máoist leadership, was restored to the second-ranking position, and by 1978 was effectively China’s first-ranking leader until his death in 1997. His rise and fall, as well as the careers of most in Máoist China including Máo himself, took place in a vacuum of most of the “objective” measurements of power ― wealth, stable-form political authority, mass support. The determinant for power has been personal authority and interpersonal connections. Dèng had been in and out of grace with the mercurial Máo; but when in grace, he was to others in the power structure an old and respected colleague. The moderate anti-Máoists followed his lead before Zhōu’s death and then again after Máo’s death because of recognized personal ability and social power, and it was not necessary for him to rebuild an organization or work his way back to the top. In the absolutist assessment, Dèng went instantly from inside to outside to inside to outside to inside. Such a vacillation does not capture the real story of Chinese politics. When Dèng was working in a factory during the Cultural Revolution, he was still one of the most powerful figures in the country, behind just a handful of others.[12]

The Cultural Revolution provides another argument against an absolutist conception. The only constant before and during the Cultural Revolution was the primacy of Máo. At every level of Chinese society and the political system, power relationships were inverted. Not only were prominent leaders disgraced and purged, but throughout the traditionally hierarchical and deferential Chinese society, subordinates were encouraged to turn on their superiors ― children on parents, students on teachers, workers on bosses. The radical youth movement of the Red Guards reads exactly like the traditional social movement, based among outsiders and challenging élites. But at the head of all of this was Máo, with his conception of permanent revolution and the value of strife. Like every successful movement, the Red Guards increased in power. But the Red Guards during their ascendancy were no longer outsiders. They were the dominant force in Chinese society. They were, for practical purposes, the executive arm of the government, and since they were only loosely organized (if one can even speak of organization), the structure of society was chaotic in a way that gave the survivors a perpetual distaste for disorder. And yet those forced down by the temporary ascent of the Red Guards did not lose their superior experience or education, did not lose their social connections, and did not lose their biological seniority. All of these forms of power were available to them not only in offering limited resistance to the Guards, but also in resuming some degree of normality when Máo eventually called off the Red Guards, midway through the Cultural Revolution. This fact establishes the resistance as a countermovement; and though its members had been in the élite just a few years before, their level of disenfranchisement at the time was in many cases complete.

To further complicate matters, the Cultural Revolution played out as a conflict between different mass elements, between different élite elements, and between various mass and élite elements, and Máo prodded the process on from various points. Máo’s move against the Red Guards involved a mass mobilization of workers. Before that point, the extra-legal Small Group (whose leaders would later be known as the Gang of Four), closely tied to Máo, allied with spontaneous and not-so-spontaneous radical mass sentiment, while the three pillars of the post-revolution establishment (party, army, bureaucracy), each with large reservoirs of organizational, administrative, and, in the case of the army, military power, formed shifting alliances among themselves, with conservative mass sentiment, and even with Máo and the Small Group. Since there was no electoral system, the standard democratic pluralist model cannot be used; but a broader pluralist view becomes possible, of multiple sources and forms of power being used simultaneously, with loose organizations unquestionably based in the masses acting both on their own initiative and in alliance with more powerful elements which nonetheless had (as in the army) a strong mass basis. And at the height of all was a leader who encouraged an ideology, and to some extent the practice, of direct wielding of power by the masses, as a matter of principle.


During the 1996 US presidential election cycle, Bob Dole was the majority leader of the Senate and therefore the highest-ranking Republican in the country, a former presidential candidate and vice-presidential nominee, and the favorite of the “establishment” and the power-brokers within the Republican Party. But with all of that, this advantage was insufficient to repress or defeat the insurgent candidacy of Pat Buchanan, a speechwriter and commentator, in the New Hampshire presidential primary.[13] He was humiliated by nominal members of his own party in favor of another member, in a small state where the Republican “establishment” is heavily networked. The Buchanan campaign played to a populist base, and defied the usual issues of Republican politics. Imagery used by Buchanan in his various presidential campaigns (in 1992, 1996, and 2000) has included ‘peasants with pitchforks’ and other revolutionary and outsider clichés. But especially in its overt opposition to immigration, Buchanan’s platform is paradigmatically insider. Buchanan himself is well-educated, has held positions in the federal government, and through his media employment has generally been privileged to the sort of fame and influence that would place him squarely in the élite.


The democratization and partial devolution of the Russian empire that took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s (the end of the so-called Soviet Union[14]) was the result of a movement within Russian-imperial society that was opposed to Stalinism even before Stalin took power. In the beginning it was an opposition squarely within the élite who knew him best ― Lenin himself used his Testament to oppose Stalin’s accumulation of power, and Stalin’s first historical opponent was Politburo rival Trotsky. The opposition to Stalinism waxed for a time with his power, and then fell inversely as the danger of opposing him grew. But the presence of anti-Stalinism as a movement may be inferred from, if nothing else, the speed with which Khrushchev broke with Stalin after his death. The 1956 Party Congress speech that denounced the excesses of Stalinism gave new force to the movement, and was a literally-seminal influence on a young Gorbachev and his future allies. Stalinism wasn’t dead, as Brezhnev proved; and it still exists, though at present it bears more resemblance to the traditional powerless movement, confined to demonstrations and nostalgic symbolism and the ineffectual protest candidacy.[15] But for decades after Stalin’s death, the most important story in Russia was the struggle between Stalinists and anti-Stalinists, and it was played out at all levels. Historians have the party chair to document the conflict, with Stalin, Brezhnev, and Chernenko alternating with Khrushchev, Andropov, and Gorbachev. But the more common reading of Gorbachev’s reforms describes an attempt to ride and channel a wave of popular discontent, to reform within the party as a means of holding off revolution against the party; and this is probably the correct reading.

The last gambit of the old order took place in a most dramatic fashion, suggesting to pessimists that the dream of reform was just that. While Gorbachev was out of Moscow temporarily, a committee comprising the heads of all the power structures in the old Russia proclaimed itself the new government of Russia and detained Gorbachev.[16] Events were to show the strategy of the committee as one of intimidation and reliance on passivity. The streets of Moscow filled with demonstrators, daring the committee to crack down, which it failed to do ― perhaps conceding a bluff, or perhaps aware of its tenuous control of the state apparatus. At one memorable point, Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian Federation and the most successful vote-winner in the country[17], climbed onto a tank and waved one of Russia’s traditional (pre-Bolshevik) flags, specifically Great Russia’s variant of the white, blue, and red Slavic tricolor. The tank is both an instrument and a symbol of power, and defiance of the tank was a common countersymbol in the twentieth century, in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and two years earlier in China’s Tiān Ān Mén democracy protests. The nationalist flag had been a central symbol in the provincial (minority-national) opposition to the Russian empire; among ethnic Russians, the Slavic tricolor had been a symbol of anti-Stalinist sentiment.

The contest at that moment was the mêlée encapsulated. The traditional leaders of the apparat had attempted to undo a significant social change, but in rebellion against the supreme leader of the apparat to whom they were traditionally deferent. A former apparatchik, now heroic tribune of reform, exploited the mass symbols of protest then in use, and helped turn popular opposition to the reactionary putsch, opposition in nominal support of the limited-reform effort of Gorbachev, to the defeat of both reaction and limited reform. In doing so, he enhanced his own official power; but he also secured the power of the masses in the new democracy, whose discontent would eventually turn against him. And for all of the apparent ability of the dissident élite (Yeltsin) and masses to correctly judge the opportunities and seize the day, things could easily have gone as they did in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and China.


The civil rights movement differed from most interest groups in democratic countries for a specific reason: its beneficiaries were unable to participate directly in the electoral process. Achieving their inclusion in the electoral process was a goal of the movement. But the répertoire that the movement relied upon, while appropriate to a disenfranchised group, has been adopted into the répertoire of groups throughout the political process, including those that do well in electoral politics. This includes boycotts and protest marches, and to some extent civil disobedience. And clearly the movement included as conscience constituents those who could participate in elections, and it appealed to voters and elected officials, as the March on Washington was designed to do.

There was certainly mass support and mass participation in the movement. But to the extent that Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Dwight Eisenhower furthered the goals of the civil rights movement, even they were members of the movement de facto, patrons if not necessarily conscience patrons. The leadership of the movement was drawn largely from well-educated middle-class ministers. The tactics employed, from lawsuits to nonviolent resistance, were products of brahmin practices and brahmin theory. Nonviolence in particular was a choice made by the élite within the movement and taught to the mass participants. The Baptist church was a great organizational strength of the movement, but on occasion an organizational hindrance. The movement was composed of overlapping organizations, and was itself a good example of an informal organization of many individuals who belonged to no formal subgroups. The success of the movement encouraged and fed overlapping movements of the same and later periods in US history, just as it had drawn and inherited from the labor movement.


Under this model of interest groups, the traditional social movement is easily explained. It is formed because of a perceived convergence of interests in a particular influence on society. It employs the methods it does because of real and perceived resources and opportunities. Like the civil rights movement, it will use conventional electoral politics, when this is available and effective and is perceived as such. It will use other methods if they are perceived as more available or more effective. The same, usefully, can be said of other interest groups.

It is counterproductive to ignore the evidence of our senses; but we must give consideration to various interpretations of what seems to be taking place in society. It is possible to have meaningful dialogue about the civil rights movement, for instance, as a phenomenon. But in it there was a continuum, from the individual to society at large, of interactive decisions that created the apparent reality. The civil rights movement is a classic social movement; it is, not coincidentally, a classic example of the fluid formation of an ad hoc group pursuing a set of interests using the full scope of its power and opportunities, theoretically indistinguishable from a political party, a lobbying group, an armed insurrection, a faction of a ruling clique, an entire ruling class, a lone individual refusing to pay taxes or carving graffiti on public property, or the state itself.


1. This definition of politics is quite inclusive, obviously. But the definition is a priori, meant to elucidate the term ‘political’ in the sense generally intended. If the definition then comprises some activities that are not conventionally taken to be political, that is because they are in fact political despite the conventional assumption. And a group that may exist not solely for political reasons may act politically on occasion nonetheless, when and only when it exercises power to influence society.

2. It may also be that the size of a group is affected by the degree of definition of the interests; though there is no empirical reason to favor the assumption of a union of interests or an intersection of interests. The collaboration between the Sierra Club and Amnesty International USA has not produced a group of their combined size working on their combined issues, but rather a much smaller group, working on the narrow issue of protecting the human rights of conservation activists. This restriction to an intersection of issues is common for coalitions of civil-society organizations; though the possibility that the union of membership will work on the union of issues is still held out. In some contrast, so-called interest groups in the political process generally affiliate themselves with a political party that then takes on their combined strength and works, to a large extent, on all of their issues.

3. Much of power is convention, an agreement (whether formed under duress or not) to concede control to the presumed superior in a presumed contest, based on the outcome of previous contests or even estimations of shifting situations. The fact that the military in a democratic state yields to the elected government, and thereby to the electorate, is not from inferior physical power, obviously, but from inferior organizational power. The elected leader commands a conventional loyalty from the military, as well as other members of the executive, including the (usually) vast bureaucratic ministries. A military commander contemplating a seizure of state authority must gauge the extent to which other forms of power will line up against him - other soldiers, bureaucrats, the populace at large.

4. It is important to note, as the question of effectiveness is raised, that some methods may be effective at achieving some goals but not others. To cite a crucial example, violence is chosen by some if it is deemed effective. It is avoided by others as a matter of principle. These pacifists are also, though, using every available and effective method, based on their own goals. Since their goals include a society that is free from violence, they cannot accomplish their goals using violence; violence is not perceived as an effective resource. “For in the long run, we must see that the end represents the means in the process and the ideal in the making.” King, in Dudley, ed.

5.That is, that the definition should in fact be read “elites, authorities, or opponents”.

6. Dave Strong makes this distinction explicit, formally defining a social movements as an “organized group of people, outside of the ruling elite, who engage that elite in contentious interaction to bring about some type of change”, and informally as “outsiders fighting with the establishment, typically in ‘impolite ways’, to change society in some way”.

7. That is, outside of established political bounds as defined by the critic suggesting irrationality; in McAdam’s critique, a proponent of the classical models.

8. As an extreme example, if cognitive liberation is taken as the realization of powers and opportunities not previously recognized, even the very powerful are capable of it. A tyrant who suddenly discovers new means of oppression has been freed from previous misconceptions, ominous as that may be to the tyrant’s subjects.

9. McAdam notes this as well, but seems to support the notion of élite groupthink.

10. Confer the later discussion of Russia. While the instigators of perestroika and glasnost’ may have intended to stay in power, the liberalization of public discourse, and the relaxation of state tyranny, that prevailed in Russia would seem to be in line with the desires of many of the reformers, probably including Aleksandr Yakovlev and possibly even Gorbachev himself. And opposition to radical economic restructuring is, from our current vantage point at least, an increasingly-defensible stance.

11. The very personalized form of rule in Máoist China does not provide for a clear hierarchy, with official party and state positions changing with some frequency, sometimes signalling a loss of power but other times a lateral shift. The relative power of the top leaders is based on my own assessment; the only assessment that is unlikely to be disputed is that of Máo (from 1935 to 1976) and Dèng (from 1978 to 1997) as first-ranking leader, and their own official positions changed during the course of their respective reigns.

12. Indeed, in an assessment of modern Chinese figures, very few can have claim to more political ability than Dèng. Máo, by virtually any account, would figure at the top, for the unparalleled scope of his autocracy and the length of his unbroken reign. Zhōu survived as Máo’s closest subordinate throughout the Máoist period, even while leading an essentially-opposed faction, and might thus reasonably be ranked next below Máo. Dèng’s self-rehabilitation, and his unchallenged reign from then to his death, place him a good deal ahead of the brutal and unsuccessful Chiang Kai Shek, the even less successful (if also less ambitious) Sun Yat Sen, and Dèng’s successor as first-ranking leader, Jiāng Zé Mín (who can only be said to hold power, not to wield it), as well as a succession of Máoist leaders who came and went, such as Liú Shào Qí, Lín Biāo, and Máo’s wife Jiāng Qīng, chief of the Gang of Four.

13. Another participant in this contest was publishing magnate Steve Forbes, with an estimated net worth of $439 million.

14. History will note the continuity of tsarist Russia and Bolshevik Russia, essentially co-extensive and dominated by the same nation, albeit under different ideological guise. The Soviet Union was at most a dynastic period, and Stalin et cetera emperors in all but name. The Russian Federation was the largest unit of the empire in the Bolshevik period, and included traditional Great Russian areas and Siberia. This is the Russia of today; but it remains a geographical and national empire of the Russian people. And Russia’s colonization of the periphery of its empire has left enduring ethnic issues in devolved provinces of the empire, as well as providing some degree of common culture and economic cooperation.

15. The autocratic behavior of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin as successive presidents of Russia, both democratically elected and both enjoying (originally) large mandates, has suggested to many a tolerance in Russian culture of the strong hand; to others it is confirmation of political requirements in the government of a large centralized state.

16. The State Committee for the State of Emergency was: Vice-President Gennady Yanayev, Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov, KGB chair Vladimir Kryuchkov, Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov, Interior Minister Boris Pugo, Defense Council Chair Oleg Baklanov, Farmers’ Union Chair Vasily Starodubtsev, Association of State Enterprises president Aleksandr Tizyakov, presidential chief of staff Valery Boldin, KGB presidential security head Yuri Plekhanov, and party secretariat member Oleg Shenin.

17. In the dramatic first free election, for the Congress of People’s Deputies, Yeltsin chose to run in the largest single constituency, Moscow at large, and outpolled the officially-sanctioned candidate five million to four hundred thousand. Kaiser, p260-5. He later won election to the parliament of the Russian Federation, election within the parliament as president, and finally, direct election as president of Russia, with forty-five million votes. It was this position that he held at the time of the putsch.

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Dave Strong. Unpublished course syllabus. 2003.
Sidney Tarrow. Power in movement, second edition. Cambridge, 1998.
Howard Zinn. The limits of non-violence. Freedomways, 1964 Winter. Reprinted in Dudley, ed.



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