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.
  • Main Argument: The government of Antebellum America was "a predatory state in its dealings with non-white Americans but a contract state in respect to the internal governance of the dominant group, Anglo-American males". (2)

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. Thus, the conflict that led to the Civil War was the question of whether the West would be white and homogeneous or biracial and permitting slavery.

  • 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.” In practical terms, European Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans live with social/culture divides and are only interacting through coerced political/economic integration. They also recognize the duality of the American state.

The Anglo-American State maintained the stability of the American Plural Society. This required complex institutional design; on one hand, state maintains legitimacy through republican design for citizens (Anglo-American men). On the other hand, state actors use brutal control over non-citizens in order to maintain and expand slavery.

  • 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.
  • Founder's intentionally design two forms of capacity: 1)contract state shapes America through incentives and persuasion. 2)predatory state intended to coerce through dominant force. (page 5) Thus, the state remains "weak" domestically but strong with respect to military/fiscal powers.

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 in order to achieve support for constitutional order of 1787. 2. During Jefferson and Jackson eras, political pressure to expand Westward and demands for expansions of slavery by Southerners increased. 3. Post Mexican-American War, political order becomes unstable because Northern white farmers and Southern white plantation owners see Western land as zero-sum game. 4. In the context of the federal system, political elites supported sectional extremism; frame the issue of slavery in the West as uncompromising. 5. Lincolns' election -- with his platform of denying Westward slavery-- triggered Southern secession and civil war.

The Limitations 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.
  • According to North, contract states maximize wealth for society whereas predatory states maximize the revenue for the group in power. North identifies the USSR as a predatory state.
 *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 broadly a predatory state while the dominant group was internally arranged as a contract state. The Constitution is premised on popular sovereignty; national government abides by rules of the game in settling Anglo-American disputes. However, the consensual support for this system predicated on constant economic growth which requires state predation. (12)
  • State oppression is not "but a contract state in respect to the internal governance of the dominant group, Anglo-American males" (13).
*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 soft 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 which was premised on the military and fiscal clauses of the Constitution.