Increasingly the constitutional,
legal, political and other devices by means of which people were traditionally
supposed to ensure some influence over the shaping of their lives and their
society – if only negative influence – are becoming ineffective. This is not
merely in the sense in which they have always been ineffective for the
“labouring poor” in any but a trivial manner, but that they are increasingly
irrelevant to the actual machinery of technocratic and bureaucratized decision. ‘Politics’ are reduced to public
relations and manipulations. Decisions as vital as war and peace not merely
by-pass the official organs for them, but may be taken - by a handful of
central bankers, by a president or prime minister with one or two backroom
advisors, by an even less identifiable interlocking of technicians and
executives - in ways which are not even formally open to political control.
Hobsbawn (1971: 31)
The powers of ordinary men are circumscribed by the everyday worlds in which they live,
yet even in these rounds of job, family, and neighborhood they often seem driven by forces they can neither understand nor govern.
'Great changes' are beyond their control, but affect their conduct and outlook none the less.
The very framework of modern society confines them to projects not their own, but from every side,
such changes now press upon the men and women of the mass society,
who accordingly feel that they are without purpose in an epoch in which they are without power.
But not all men are in this sense ordinary. As the means of information and of power are centralized,
some men come to occupy positions in American society from which they can look down upon, so to speak,
and by their decisions mightily affect, the everyday worlds of ordinary men and women.
C.Wright Mills (1956: 3)