The American Political Tradition is one of the most influential history in the world. Despite the outsize global media attention paid to American politics and elections in particular, the unique characteristics of American government and political culture remain something of a footnote within political theory and philosophy.
A Nation of Immigrants:-
Within the span of a hundred years in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, a tide of emigration set from Europe to America. The most impelling single force which induced emigrants to leave their European Homelands was the desire for economic opportunity and England was the first to seize it.
Between 1620 and 1635 economic difficulties of an unprecedented character had swept England and there was no work for a multitude of people. Even the best artisans could earn just a bare living. Bad crops added to the distress.
In addition, England’s expanding woolen industry demanded an increasing supply of wool to keep the looms working and the sheep, raised in their anxiety to make best of the opportunity, began to encroach upon soil hitherto given over to tillage.
Simultaneously, religious upheavals played their part. A radical sect of Puritans, known as the Separatists had migrated to Holland during the reign of James I in order to practice their religion as they wished. Some years later a part of this group decided to emigrate to the New World where in 1620 they founded the Pilgrim colony of New Plymouth.
In Britain, too, immediately after the accession of Charles I to the throne, Puritans, who had been subjected to increasing persecutions, followed the Pilgrims to America and established Massachusetts Bay Colony. But Puritans were not the only colonists driven by religious motives.
Dissatisfaction with the lot of Quakers led William Penn to undertake the founding of Pennsylvania. British Catholics, also, under Cecil Calvert’s inspiration founded Maryland. The pace of emigration accelerated during the arbitrary and despotic rule of Charles I. After the triumph of Cromwell many Cavaliers King’s men left Britain in sheer horror and colonized in Virginia.
In Germany the oppressive policies of various petty princes helped to mount high the number of the emigrants. On the whole, the settlers who came to America in the first three-quarters of the seventeenth century, the overwhelming majority was the British. There was sprinkling of Dutch, Swedes, and German in the middle region, a few French Hugucnots in South Carolina and elsewhere, and a scattering of Spaniards, Italians, and the Portuguese.
But they were hardly ten per cent of the total population. After 1680, however, Britain did not provide any appreciable number of immigrants. A majority of them had come from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, and France for varied reasons.
For a considerably long time immigration remained a steady stream and the population which numbered to about a quarter of a million in 1760 amounted to more than two and a half million in 1775.
The immigrants from Britain not only brought with them English language, but also Anglo-Saxon traditions of civil liberty and self government reinforced as they were by Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and the Habeas Corpus Act. They transplanted all these traditions, in fact, the whole fabric of the Common Law in their new homelands. For the most part, the non-English Colonies adapted themselves to the traditions of the original settlers as they adopted the English language, law, customs and habits. The process of amalgamation had the obvious result of inter-mingling the different cultures and thereby producing a new culture-a blend of English and Continental characteristics conditioned by the environments of the New World.
Before Colonies could be established in America, it was necessary to have legal authorization to do so. This was granted by the King of Britain in Charters, granted in some instances to trading companies, in others to individuals and in still others to the colonists.
The basis of government in each colony was the supremacy of the Crown, although there was the lack of controlling influence on the part of the Government in Britain. The colonies were , during the formative period, free to a large degree to develop as their inclinations or force of circumstances dictated. This large degree of self-government exercised by the colonists resulted in their growing away with Britain whenever in the years to come the Government attempted to regulate their conduct.
The colonists had indeed, become with the lapse of time, increasingly Americans rather than English and this tendency was strongly reinforced by the blending of other national groups and cultures which was simultaneously taking place. How it operated and the manner in which it laid the birth of a new nation was vividly described in 1782 by St. John Crevecouer.
What then is the American, this new man? He is either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you find in no other country. I could point out to you to a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife -was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys and the new ranks he holds.
In 1763 at the end of the Seven Years War the French were driven from the North American Continent. New territories came under British control, and money was needed to administer them. The British Government had incurred huge debt fighting the French and it was decided that the Colonies should bear a part of the expenses of administration and defense of the Colonies.
At the same time, attempts were made to enforce the trade laws more rigorously, and to tighten the control over Colonial affairs. It spread a wave of deep resentment amongst the Colonies. Businessmen wanting to develop their own industries merchants and shippers wishing to trade with nations other than England; planters believing they could get better prices from the Dutch and French than from the English; speculators wishing to buy western land all these and others found reason to chi under the heavier taxes and harsher restrictions.
But those who resented and protested had hardly thought of independence. What they exactly wanted was the repeal of the onerous laws and to leave the Colonists as much alone as possible. Their protests, however, stirred up popular feelings and radical men like Sam and John Adams in Massachusetts and Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson in Virginia seized the opportunity and appealed to the emotions of the colonists in the name of natural rights of men, and of government resting on the consent of the governed. They quoted Locke on individual liberty and human rights.
The result was a deliberate disobedience of the obnoxious laws and orders. The Colonial Legislatures frequently withheld appropriation of salaries for officials and soldiers until their demands were conceded to or their grievances redressed. After the accession of George III to the throne in 1760, the British Government decided to deal firmly with the recalcitrant subjects. This caused resentment fanned to revolutionary fervor. All attempts at conciliation failed and by 1776 the Colonists were faced with the alternatives of submission or rebellion and they chose the latter.
The Declaration of Independence:-
The Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776 announced the birth of a new nation. It declared the Colonies States, each independent of the Crown and politically independent of others. At the same time, it set forth a democratic philosophy of man’s natural rights, popular consent as the only just basis for political obligations, a limited government, and the right of the people to revolt against tyrannical government.
The Revolutionary War dragged on for about six years with fighting in every Colony. With Cornwallis’s surrender on October 19, 1781 the military effort to halt the Revolution was, however, over. When the news of American victory reached Britain, the House of Commons voted to end the war. Soon after Lord North’s Government resigned and the new Government assumed office to conclude peace on the basis of the Declaration of Independence. The Treaty was finally signed in 1783. It acknowledged the independence, freedom and sovereignty to the thirteen Colonies which became the States.
The Continental Congress which managed the common affairs of the Colonies during t early stages of the Revolution met and functioned without any constitution or fundamental law. It was created to meet an emergency and was looked upon merely as a temporary expedient. But when war appeared imminent and the advantages of union became more manifest, it was resolved to place the common government on a firm and permanent basis with larger powers and definite authority.
On June 12, 1776, the day after a committee was appointed to prepare a declaration of independence, Congress appointed another committee consisting of one member from each Colony to prepare and digest the form of a Confederation to be entered into between these Colonies.
In November 1777 an instrument called the Articles of Confederation was finally adopted by Congress, which was to go into effect when ratified by all the States. All States except Maryland ratified the Articles during the year 1778 and 1779. Maryland, too, ratified them on March 1, 1781 and on the same date the Articles went into effect. They constituted the first Constitution of the United States of America.
The Confederation, thus, formed was styled a firm league of friendship, under the name of the United States, and its declared purpose was to provide for the common defense of the States, the securities for their liberties, and their natural and general welfare. For the more convenient management of the general interests of the United States an annual Congress of delegates, to be chosen by the States, was established.
No State was to send less than two and more than seven delegates, and each State was entitled to only one vote regardless of its size or other considerations. Unlike the Continental Congress, the Congress of the Confederation had definite and express powers to deal with certain subjects of common concern to declare war and make peace, to send and receive diplomatic representatives; to enter into treaties to coin money; to regulate trade with the Indians; to borrow money; to build a navy; to establish a postal system; to appoint senior officers of the United States Army (composed of state militants); and a few other powers of a like character. Approvals of nine of the thirteen States was required to make important decisions.
The Articles of Confederation, however, did not give two most important functions to Congress, i.e., those of taxation and regulation of commerce. All that the Congress could do was to ask the States for funds. The Central government, therefore, existed on the doles of the State Governments. Nor had the Articles made any , provision for an executive department or for a national judiciary, with the single exception of a court of appeal in cases involving captures on the high seas in time of war.
During the revolutionary period it did not matter much. But the post-war complications created insoluble problems. The war had inflated the currency and it circulated at about one-thousandth of its face value. The sky-high prices had dislocated the economy of the country and everybody groaned under the crushing burden of the excessive prices. In the absence of a uniform rate of exchange the international trade had come to a standstill. The Central treasury was nearly empty and the States had become defaulters in their payments.
Creditors were reluctant to lend and public securities were sold at a fraction of their face value. The Congress was helpless and it had no means to remedy the chaos. The conditions were yet more demoralizing in the dealings of the States with each other and the Central Government. The latter had, according to the Articles of Confederation, sole control of the international relations, but a number of States had begun their own negotiations with foreign nations.
Nine States had organized their independent armies and several had little navies of their own. There was a curious diversity of coins minted by a dozen foreign nations, and a bewildering variety of State and national paper bills. Each State regulated its commerce and some States even discriminated against their neighbors. The result was continuous jealousies, dissensions, and sometimes reprisals and retaliation between themselves. For purposes of foreign and inter-State commerce each State was, in sum, a nation by itself, and the Confederation was simply a non-entity.
Movement for Revision:-
The climax was reached when all attempts to improve the Articles of Confederation had failed and the States were on the verge of Civil War. Washington, Hamilton and many other political leaders, who had labored to bring together. the States in bonds of Union, were convinced that the Government of the Confederation must either be revised or superseded entirely by a new system.
The Congress of the confederation was a government of the States and not of the people. It was weak because it lacked four things which every strong national government must possess: the power to tax, to borrow, to regulate commerce, and to maintain an army for the common defense. And to have a strong government possessing all these four powers, the Central Government must really be a government of the people belonging to one singlet nation. Washing, ton wrote. I do not conceive that we can exist long as a nation without our having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade the whole Union in as energetic a manner as the authority of the State governments extends over the several States.
Disputes between Maryland and Virginia over navigation in the Potomac River led to a conference of representatives of five at Annapolis in September.1786. Alexander Hamilton, one of the delegates, convinced his colleagues at the conference that the subject of trade regulation was bound up with other essential questions and it was, accordingly, necessary to call upon all the States to appoint representatives in order to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to exigencies of the Union.
The Annapolis convention adopted a resolution fora general convention of delegates from all the States to meet in Philadelphia in May 1787. The Continental Congress was at first-indignant over this bold step, but finally it reluctantly endorsed the idea in February of that year. All the States except Rhode Island appointed delegates to participate in the convention.
The Philadelphia Convention:-
The Philadelphia Convention was in reality a constitutional convention as it was charged with the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation. It assembled on the second Monday in May, 1778 and was composed of fifty-five members. It was, in the words of Jefferson, an assembly of demigods.
A French Charge, writing to his government said If all the delegates named for this Philadelphia Convention are present, one will never have seen, even in Europe, an assembly more respectable for talents, knowledge, disinterestedness and patriotism than those who will compose it. The men who actually guided the destinies of the emerging nation were George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin, Franklin, Edmund Randolph, Gouverucur Morris, James Wilson, and many other distinguished gentlemen.
The Convention actually met on May 15, 1787, in the Independence Hall and unanimously selected George Washington as the Chairman of the Convention. It was then decided that Voting should be by States, each State having one vote; that the deliberations of the Convention should be behind closed doors and kept secret; that a quorum should be seven States and that a majority vote would be competent to ratify all decisions.
Within five days of its meeting the Convention made a momentous decision when it adopted Edmund Randolph’s resolution that a national government ought to be established consisting of a supreme legislative, executive and judiciary. Thus, as Madison later wrote, the delegates with a manly confidence in their country simply threw the Articles aside and proceeded ahead with the consideration of a wholly new form of government.
The delegates recognized that the predominant need was to reconcile two different powers–the power of the autonomous States and the power of the central government. They adopted the principle that the functions and powers of the national government, being new, general, and inclusive had to be carefully defined and stated, while all other functions and powers were to be understood as belonging to the States.
They recognized, however, the necessity of giving the national government real power and, accordingly, accepted the fact that it be empowered among other things, to coin money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, and make peace.
At the end of sixteen weeks of deliberations and after ironing out many vexing problems, on September 17, 1787, a brief document incorporation rating the organization of the new government of the United States was signed by unanimous consent of the States present.
But a crucial part oft e struggle fora more re ct union was still ahead. The Convention had decided hat the constitution would become operative when it had been approved by Convention in nine out of the thirteen States. By the end of 1787 only three had ratified it. There was a widespread controversy.
Many were alarmed at the powers which the constitution envisaged to give to the Center. These questions brought into existence two parties, the Federalists and the Ant federalists those favoring a strong central government and those who preferred a loose association of separate States,
The controversy raged in the press, legislatures, and the State conventions. Impassioned arguments poured forth on both sides. Patriots like Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and others opposed the proposed constitution on the plea that it contained no Bill of Rights and, consequently, it would prove dangerous to the liberties of the people.
The Federalists conceded to the demand of the inclusion of a Bill of Rights as soon as the new government was organized. This promise, which was carried out soon after the new government came into being by the adoption of the first ten amendments, enabled the wavering States to support the constitution.
The Constitution was finally adopted on June 21, 1788.2 The Congress _of the Confederation enacted that the new government should go into effect on March 4, 1789. In the meantime Senators and Representatives were elected as the first members of the new Congress, and George Washington was chosen first President of the Union. Thus the old Confederation passed away and the new Republic entered upon its career.
Today, the United States of America consists of fifty States including the States of Alaska and Hawaii. The country covers an area of more than nine million square kilometers. Hawaii lying in the Pacific 3,200 kilometers from the mainland, and Alaska 3,170 kilometers (by the Alaskan Highway through Canada) to the north-west.
It is a varied land of mountains, plains and plateaus. About two-thirds of the people live in towns and cities, one-third in rural areas. A publication of the United States Information Service, thus, describes the land and the people: The United States is a country of great diversity vast cities and small villages; roaring factories and quiet fields, busy streets and small churches for meditation.
Geographically, there is a variety too-lakes and deserts; prairies and mountain ranges; rocky sea coasts and sunbaked plains. And at the core of this varied land are the people-the most varied of all, for they stem from countries and social levels throughout the world. But in spite of many differences, certain traditions-freedom, equality, individual rights are common to all and are taught in the home, in the church, and in the schools.
The Native Americans -A Tragic Story:-
A tragic chapter of the American political tradition is the genocidal violence directed against the native American people who numbered about a million when the white emigrants set foot on the territory which is today known as the U.S.A. As distinguished with other native American cultures and nations such as the Mayas and Azteks of Mexico and the Incas of Peru, who had developed advanced civilizations, the North American Indians had remained sociologically at a less developed level.
These forest dwelling communities lived partly by the cultivation of corm and partly by hunting and fishing. As Parkes points out, Most of them were relatively peaceful, though a few, like the Iroquois in what is now upstate New York, became highly militant. Their political organization was simple and fairly democratic. The chieftain of an Indian tribe had limited powers, and important decisions were made by the tribal council.
Fields and hunting areas were held by these Indian communities in common and were not divided into private properties. Agriculture was often managed by the women while the men engaged in hunting and fighting. The European settlers learned from them how to grow maize crops, a number of vegetables, medicinal and narcotic plants, particularly tobacco.
The Europeans began to occupy their common lands, clearing forests and claiming all such land as their private properties. This brought them into conflict with the Indians. There was continuous fighting between the two races. The average European “usually came quickly to the conclusion that the only good Indian was a dead Indian. That ts how the genocidal war against the Indian people commenced.
Henry Parkes concludes For nearly three hundred years the record of white-Indian relations in the. United States was a tragic story of misunderstanding, broken agreement, treacheries and massacres, Eventually the white peoples took possession of almost the whole country, and the surviving Indians, reduced to one fifth of their original number as a result not only of warfare but also of the liquor and diseases brought by the white men, were herded on to reservations.
By 1875 the United States army had broken the back of Indian resistance and their struggle for freedom and democratic rights. Most of the Indian communities were forced to settle on desert and semi-desert lands assigned to them. But no sooner had the program been completed than gold was discovered in the Black Hills country in the South Dakota reservation, and a flood of white adventures invaded the lands of the Indians.
This led to the most serious Indian conflict, the serious war of 1876. In addition to being driven out of their land, the Plains Indians had also lost the economic base of their society. For countless centuries they had acquired food, clothing, and shelter from the meat and skins of the buffaloes who had roamed across the Plains in immense herds totaling perhaps 13,000,000 animals. But the white men almost exterminated them within a quarter of a century.
There is an important lesson for us to learn from this ongoing genocide of the heroic Indian race, lasting for three centuries, that the American political tradition is rooted in violence and there is a link between this genocidal violence and dropping of atomic bombs on two Asian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as America’s desire to retain nuclear weapons, capable of destroying the whole human race, for eternity.
But there is a silver lining to this tragic saga. Citizenship was ultimately granted to all Indians by the American Government in 1924. Some of the Indians became educated and to a large degree assimilated into white civilization. Their population, which was reduced to 200,000, by now, has Started increasing slowly. They are now researching their ethnic cultural roots and may ultimately enrich the multi-ethnic character of America’s political democracy by their free and equal participation. After all, it is their country which was usurped by the European emigrants and aggressors and the indigenous inhabitants fully deserve a share in the fruits of modern American development and enjoyment of democratic rights.
The Institution of Slavery:-
Another negative feature of the American political tradition has been the institutionalized oppression and exploitation of the Afro-American people who were brought from Africa by the British and other European slave traders and sold into slavery to the planter aristocracy of the southern United States. First, they had employed poor whites as servants on contract basis to till their fields but soon found out-that a permanent labor force in the form of Negro slaves imported from West Africa was much more profitable.
The first cargo of Negro slaves reached Virginia from Africa in 1619 and in the early years of the 18th century the black slaves almost completely replaced the white servants. According to Henry Parkes, English slave-traders and American planters were led by economic interest to fasten upon American society an institution which was to cause irreparable-harm for many generations to come a plantation-owning aristocracy was slowly emerging .
In accordance with the English feudal tradition, it was generally assumed that wealthy landowners were entitled to exercise leadership and become a ruling class the average small farmer accepted upper-class rule as being in accord with the laws of God and nature.
Thus it is not true to argue that America had no feudalism tradition. Slavery, as an institution, was even more oppressive and exploitative than medieval serfdom. The total slave population increased from nearly 800,000 to 4, 000, 000 in 1860. Most of them worked as farm laborers on the cotton plantations of rich and owners who sold their produce to British traders.
Modem slavery, in its origin and usage was, therefore, an instrument of rising capitalism. In this respect, it can be distinguished both from Greco-Roman slavery and medieval European feudalism. Despite its profitability for the plantation landlord, the rising Northern bourgeoisie was opposed to it as these capitalists wanted the emancipated slaves of the South to come to the North and work in their factories as wage-workers.
Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the liberation of the slaves from January, 1863. But the social and political implications of this supposed emancipation were negligible. Direct disfranchisement of the Negroes was prohibited by the Fifteenth Amendment. But the same result could be obtained through indirect methods such as poll tax or literary tests which were fraudulently used even to disfranchise Negro graduates.
Intimidation was another device to keep the blacks away from politics and voting. The black people gradually migrated to the Northern cities and practically almost to all other states in search of jobs and were concentrated in the urban ghettos and4 slums. They were continuous victims of discriminatory racial laws and economic exploitation.
By long-established traditions, the Negro people were considered inferior to the whites, in sharp contradiction to proclaimed American ideals of liberty and equality. In the middle decades of the twentieth century these traditions were increasingly under attack. In the 1950’s and 1960’s there was a sharp increase in Negro militancy.
The Supreme Court and Federal Administration had propounded new definitions of Negro rights but so far they had little concrete effect in improving social and economic conditions of the Negro masses. In the earlier phases of the movement, it was led by a moderate Negro priest, the Reverend Martin Luther King who believed in non-violent resistance to discrimination.
The white racists resorted to violence killing many activists of the movement and thus wanted to intimidate all other agitators into submission. A civil rights march of 200,000 participants persuaded Congress to pass its most effective and comprehensive measure for Negro rights i in July 1964.
This legislation, however, did not change the basic grievance of the Negro people which was simply economic misery. By mid-sixties a new group of young militants had largely taken control of all Negro organizations. Their favorite slogan was Black Power. Starting in the summer of 1965, the mass poverty of the slum population produced a frightening series of violent explosions in several American cities. Rioting became widespread killing and injuring thousands and destroying properties on a huge scale. The police retaliated with brutal violence and shootings, thereby demonstrating to the Negroes the government’s hostility to the cause of Black liberation. In April, 1968, Martin Luther King, the apostle of non-violence, was martyred and his assassination sparked renewed ghetto riots. The Negro freedom-fighters were crushed by greater State violence but the outcome of the struggle was the recognition by the ruling elites that greater Participation will have to be allowed to the Black people in running the American political system in future and their living conditions will have to show a marked improvement both in social and economic spheres.
Growth of Pluralist Democracy :-
American society, according to S.E. Finer, is highly pluralistic, where a myriad freely formed associations co-exist, of all types and traditions. U.S. society contains a large number of sub-cultures based on ethnic origin, religion or region while government is founded upon, dependent upon and accountable to the organized public opinion in society, the social structure is relatively much more fragmented, unstable and inherent. It would be wrong to say that American society is open-ended: Yet there may be some truth in arguing that, unlike Europe, it does not have a traditional aristocracy, a sort of ruling elite, that dominates high positions of the state. At the other end of the scale, the American working class does not have a party of its own, on the European pattern, which can fight its class battles against the dominant class i in American society.
There was indeed a landlord class before the war of Independence in 1776, which sided with the British Crown, so it was as much a civil war in thirteen colonies as a war of liberation against British rule. After the defeat of the British, the estates of the Loyalist landowners were confiscated. This was the first great blow at the landed aristocracy. The second occurred when the planters aristocracy was destroyed in 1865 as a result of the defeat of the Southern confederacy in the Civil War, In the absence of a hereditary ruling class based on landed property, America has lacked any kind of permanent ruling elite in the European sense. However, the growth of capitalist industry gradually created a new upper class in American society based on the possession of wealth.
However, it is difficult to agree with S.E. Finer when he says: Whereas the one great cleavage that still persists in Britain is the horizontal one between capital and labor, this is not only greatly attenuated in the United States, but is simply one amongst a great number of other cleavages, which are very different in kind. While the social structures of all advanced capitalist countries in Europe and North America may not be exactly identical, the cleavage between capital and labor is their most characteristic feature every where. So pluralist democracy there functions within the constraints of a system that recognizes the ascendancy, even supremacy, of a power elite, to use a phrase popularized by C., Wright Mills in the context of the American society after the second world war.
In the United states, citizens enjoy universal franchise, free and regular elections, representative institutions and fundamental rights. Both individuals and groups take full advantage of these rights, under effective protection of laws, and independent judiciary and a free political culture.
As a result, no U.S. government can fail to respond to the desires and demands of competing interests, whether related to labor or capital, which are both treated supposedly on an equal footing. A leading theorist of this democratic-pluralist view argues that in this political system all the active and legitimate groups in the population can make themselves heard at some crucial stage in the process of decision.
Other pluralist writers “suggest that there are a number of loci for arriving at political decisions, that business men, trade unions, politicians, consumers, farmers, voters and many other aggregates all have an impact on policy outcomes, that none of these aggregates is homogeneous for all purposes; that each of them is highly influential over some scopes but weak over many others; and that the power to reject undesired alternatives is more common than the power to dominate over outcomes directly.
Another writer, who himself disagrees w with the plurist interpretation of the American polity, summaries it as follows in relation to the United States Congress i is seen as the focal point for the pressures which are exerted by interest groups throughout the nation, either by way of the two great parties or directly through lobbies.
The laws issuing from the government are shaped by the manifold forces brought to bear upon the legislature. Ideally, Congress merely reflects these forces, combining them into a single social decision. As the strength and direction of private interests alters, there is a corresponding alteration in the composition and activity of the great inter est groups labor, big business, agriculture, Slowly, the great weatherman of government swings about to meet the shifting winds of opinion.
There are elites in different social, economic, political, administrative, professional and other spheres. But they lack cohesion to constitute what C. Wright Mills called a power elite. Elite pluralism is a guarantee that power in society will be diffused and not concentrated in a dominant class.
Harold J. Laski contested the Pluralist democracy thesis in his monumental work entitled The American Democracy. Ralph Miliband criticized its assumptions in The State in Capitalist Society. Both have argued that in the ultimate analysis, capital dominates labor in the American political system. Business groups, rather than trade unions, finance and control political parties ads well as state institutions.