Friday, March 06, 2015

C. Wright Mills

One of my favourite political thinkers has for a long time been C. Wright Mills (1916-1962).  Mills was an American sociologist known for books like White Collar (1951), The Power Elite (1956), and The Sociological Imagination (1959). He advocated a vision of radical, egalitarian democracy.

In The Sociological Imagination, he wrote about the need for social scientists to "translate private troubles into social issues," which he considered no easy task. Sadly, those with the power and influence in society have made good use of his advice. By using the tools available to them, they are often able to convince too many that their private troubles are their own fault or the fault of others who also have no power.

Mills had a weak heart and had several heart attacks before dying young. Reading his correspondences near the end of his life, it seems clear that his great worry over being targeted by the U.S. security state apparatus hastened his demise. Always a cost to annoying the wrong people.

Above is a classic shot of Mills on a motorcycle.

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