Carl Oglesby, RIP

September 14, 2011

Carl Oglesby, an early leader of the Students for a Democratic Society, passed away yesterday at the age of 76.  Obituaries for Oglesby fail to identify what I believe is his most important analytic contribution – his mid-70s description of elite politics in the US that he called the Yankee-Cowboy war.  Oglesby noted that the politics in the US were no longer following a left/right split; rather, old line capitalists centered in the banking industries of the Northeast (the Yankee Capitalists) were contesting with newer, more entrepreneurial actors in emerging industries, mostly in the South and Southwest (Cowboy Capitalists).  We can see the power shifting back and forth between these two elite factions even today – George W. Bush represented the Cowboy Capitalists (though his father was more of a hybrid between the two), while Barack Obama and his administration peppered with banking execs represents the Yankee Capitalists (to my friends who like to call Obama a socialist, I tell them that, no, he actually represents the Rockefeller Republican wing of the Democratic party).  Of  the two current frontrunners among his potential opponents in the 2012 election, Rick Perry repersents the Cowboys, while Mitt Romney is something of a hybrid but probably more of a Yankee – albeit with more economic and managerial experience than Obama.

I feel I should point out that although I reference many leftist analyses (Oglesby, Wallerstein, Klare, etc.), I myself am far from a leftist; however, I find leftist analyses and critiques to be powerful and useful, even though I usually disagree with their conclusions and prescriptions.

One comment

  1. […] capitalism in Washington – aided and abetted by both parties.  The only difference is in which particular businesses (or business sectors) that each side throws its weight behind.  I have great hopes that the Tea Party revolt maintains its ideals and changes this culture.  […]

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