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From consensus to paralysis in the United States, 1960–2010

The United States in Decline

ISBN: 978-1-78350-829-7, eISBN: 978-1-78350-830-3

Publication date: 24 June 2014


I trace and explain how the ratcheting of corporate mergers and deregulation transformed the structure of elite relations in the United States from 1960 to 2010. Prior to the 1970s there was a high degree of elite unity and consensus, enforced by Federal regulation and molded by structure of U.S. government, around a set of policies and practices: interventionism abroad, progressive tax rates, heavy state investment in infrastructure and education, and a rising level of social spending. I find that economic decline, the loss of geopolitical hegemony, and mobilization from the left and right are unable to account for the specific policies that both Democratic and Republican Administrations furthered since the 1970s or for the uneven decline in state capacity that were intended and unintended consequences of the post-1960s political realignment and policy changes. Instead, the realignment and restructuring of elites and classes that first transformed politics and degraded government in the 1970s in turn made possible further shifts in the capacities of American political actors in both the state and civil society. I explain how that process operated and how it produced specific policy outcomes and created new limits on mass political mobilization while creating opportunities for autarkic elites to appropriate state powers and resources for themselves.



Lachmann, R. (2014), "From consensus to paralysis in the United States, 1960–2010", The United States in Decline (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 195-233.



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