Young Meiser 2007

From Projecting Power
    • Main Argument:**
  • Young and Meiser argue that in antebellum America, a white racist supremacist order was dominant in all three regions of the nation—South, West, and North—and as a result, both the institutionalization of the early Anglo-American state and the political conflicts that ultimately led to disunion and civil war took place almost entirely within the context of this single institutional order
  • Civil war was politically about whether the West would develop as a homogenous society predominately white, or if it would be biracial, where the slaves would be welcome.

Viewpoint 1:

Desmond King and Rogers Smith - the relationship between race and American political development is best understood in terms of two evolving, competing “racial institutional orders”: a “white supremacist” order and an “egalitarian transformative” order.

Young and Meiser VP:

  • Generally accepting of King and Smith, **BUT** they believe an alternative approach better explains the role of race in the political and economic development of the United States from the Nation’s founding until the Civil War.

Reasoning: because the white racist supremacist order was dominant in all three regions of the nation, all the political conflicts that ultimately led to disunion and civil war took place almost entirely within the context of the single racial institutional order.

  • Young and Meiser see conceptualize antebellum American society as a plural society. “in which distinct social orders live side by side, but separately, within the same political unit.”

The Anglo-American State maintained the stability of the American Plural Society.

The state had to sustain its legitimacy through republican accountability to American citizens.
State actors had to exercise brutal, coercive control over large groups of non-citizens to maintain slavery and promote the geographical expansion necessary for economic growth. 
  • Because of this, Young and Meiser see the Antebellum American state as a dual state: “predatory” in dealing with non-whites, but a “contract state “concerning the internal governance of the dominant group, Anglo-American Males.
  • This was an intentional action on the founder's part. It was to have two forms of capacity: the power of the contract state was its ability to shape American development, and the power was the coerce through dominant force.

In summary, the duality ensured that Anglo-American society would do well because of the dispossession of native Americans and their land and the enslavement of African Americans.

*Potential issue: Fallcy of reification, meaning that states and racial groups are analytically perceived as social actors.
*Response: Looking at political entrepreneurs and the preexisting institutional orders as key independent variables gets rid of this issue. Do this by 

1. Anglo-American political elites focused on economic growth on geographical expansion 2. During Jefferson and Jackson, kept expanding westward 3. Mexican War, changed the perspective of the West as a zero-sum game for farmers 4. In the context of the federal system, pressed on tensions of slavery and how it wouldn’t be possible to compromise. 5. Lincolns' election triggered Southern secession and civil war.

The limitation of a Eurocentric World View

King and Smith VP: American political scientists have historically not been more successful than America itself in addressing racial issues

1. Absence of a firm theoretical foundation to explain racial variables 2. The focus of the subfield of American political development on “an economy-centered understanding that neglects race” 3. The wide acceptance of hartz’s thesis that American politics has been shaped by a consensual liberal, political culture. 4. (added by Young and Meiser) a shared intellectual tradition of European social and political thought that implicitly assumes social and cultural homogeneity in its social analysis, 5. (added by Young and Meiser) A focus on political behavior and the working of government that conceptually excludes non-citizens and non-voters from the explanatory model so American politics

Young and Meiser think that the tradition of falling back on European social thought leads American scholars to base their analyses of American politics upon the assumption that America is a homogeneous society with a single cultural identity. - Believe that if we look at theoretical perspectives of plural society theory and state theory we can move away from Eurocentric Thought.

Plural Society Theory and American Social Reality

*Plural societies - “in which distinct social orders live side by side, but separately, within the same political unit”
*J. S. Furnivall - says that European sociological, political, and economic theories were inapplicable to the realities of plural societies. 
 *in a plural society, the division of labor tends to be along racial or ethnic lines, and economic inequities tend to coincide with and reinforce social and cultural differences. Is only “held together by some force exerted from outside”
  *Furnivall furthers that plural societies arose as a result of the primacy or economic considerations in European colonial policy, which led to the immigration and commingling of disparate racial and cultural groups whose only social bond was economic independence. 

Based on this Pierre van den Berghe, had a useful list of key characteristics

1. Segmentation 2. Social structure compartmentalized

   1. relative absence of value consensus
   2. relative presence of cultural heterogeneity
   3. relative presence of conflict between significant corporate groups
   4. Relative autonomy between parts of the social system
   5. Relative importance of coercion and economic interdependence as bases of social integration
   6. Political domination by one of the corporate groups over the others
   7. primacy of segmental utilitarian nonaffective and functionally specific relationships between corporate groups and those who aren't. 

Plural society theory has had little influence on sociological and political analyses of American society.

Fosters a dramatic paradigm shift that forces us to see that throughout America’s history the fundamental economic, political, *and* cultural fault lines have been *between racial groups*

Toward a Theory of American Society

Issues with plural society theory

Richard Jenkins - “theoretically vapid” and “merely profoundly descriptive, going no further than the extensive cataloguing of concrete situations by reference to a classificatory scheme of ideal-type plural societies.”

Young and Meiser explain that PST, provides useful portraits of the types of multi-racial societies that were created by the processes of European colonization, in doing so it tends to reify the concept of the racial group and to treat it as a social actor.

Admit that it does have analytical shortcomings, plural society theory is more heuristic than explanatory in its value, but when they modified so it can be combined with other theoretical approaches.

Another significant contribution is that it changes the understanding of American society, causing us to look at economy along with it.

By looking at the economy allows us to utilize a variety of theoretical perspectives.

North’s Typology of Contract and Predatory States

*North believes that the US is a very successful contract state
 *The federal political system, checks and balances, and a basic structure of property rights have encouraged the long-term contracting essential to creating capital markets and economic growth.
 *Believes that the contract state and the predatory state are mutually exclusive categories, but Young and Meiser believe that the US was both a contract state and a predatory. 
 *The Anglo-American State was predatory, and it was the key means by which the new Anglo-American state demonstrated its effectiveness and gained legitimacy. 
*The founders intentionally designed the institutions to have two forms of capacity: low capacity regarding political interactions within the dominant governing group and high capacity for dealings with non-whites. 

The power was established through

1. The dominance of ideological power by state actors and their allies among the political elite 2. the effectiveness of the new Anglo-American state

The hard power of the predatory state was coercion through dominant force.