By Samuel DeCanio
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Additional resources for Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State
My theory of state autonomy focuses on the informational division of labor between elites and the public, and on elites’ dissemination of explanations for events that inﬂuence popular conceptions of politics. It is important to note that I do not argue that public opinion and electoral demands never inﬂuence politics, nor do I argue that public oﬃcials are inattentive to public opinion. Despite recognizing that popular demands may inﬂuence election outcomes and remove parties from power, the crude messages and explanations which elites disseminate, and which inﬂuence public opinion, are made persuasive by the public’s ignorance and voters’ resulting inability to recognize distortions and falsehoods.
Unlike classical realist and neorealist theorists of international relations, I make no assumptions regarding the motives or objectives that states or voters pursue. Nor do I make any assumptions regarding the rationality of the units (states, parties) populating each system of political competition. Before I proceed further, it is necessary to deﬁne certain terms. Unlike Max Weber, I do not deﬁne the state solely by its monopoly of legitimate coercion. The state’s monopoly of legitimate coercion is merely a means the state uses to secure the type of authority that is speciﬁc to it.
Although many ﬁnanciers assumed Chase would ignore this statute and accept bankers’ checks as payment for the loans, he insisted that the banks transport tons of bullion from Eastern cities to Washington. The impracticality of this decision was the initial indication that Chase would be a diﬃcult partner for New York banks.
Democracy and the Origins of the American Regulatory State by Samuel DeCanio