FIRST DRAFT - JANUARY 1999
NOTE: These recollections focus on my intellectual development and how the different strands in my life's work relate to each other. They are being written while I'm in a hospital bed recuperating from a broken leg. That means I cannot consult documents to verify dates and facts, but ultimately I will fill in the gaps. Moreover, I have promised my family a real autobiography which, I hope, will be an elaboration of materials offered below, including more personal and anecdotal information. As an intellectual rather than a personal history, however, this first draft will take up the following themes:
Chapter headings include:
Note that underlined words and phrases link to related texts, but underlined numbers in brackets permit jumps to the citation for a text -- use the BACK button to return to this text.
Chapter 2 of Riggs' Intellectual Odyssey
My cruise from Kobe to Seattle during the summer of 1935 was most enjoyable. I
particularly remember a fellow-passenger, a White Russian woman who had married an
American citizen and, after a long delay, had been able to get the necessary visa to
immigrate. She was a delightful companion and we shared similar optimistic but anxious
thoughts about what life in America would be like. We were both outsiders but from quite
different starting points: I was an American returning to a land I didn't know, and she was
a non-American worried about how she could fit into the new country she had only heard
about. I don't know what happened to her, but for myself, I was about to learn a great
Illinois and a Disillusionment
Upon arrival, I went by train to Scotia, New York, for a reunion with my grandparents
and uncle Ken with whom I had shared many experiences while were living there during
our 1930-32 furlough. There was little time for celebration, however, since they promptly
despatched me to Urbana/Champaign where I registered as a sophomore at the University
of Illinois. Since my choice of this campus had been based on the good reputation of its
Journalism School as well as its low tuition costs, I registered as a pre-Journalism major,
thinking that my high school experiences as editor of our campus weekly provided a good
background for a career as a foreign correspondent -- at least that was my unrealistic
hope. Experience soon persuaded me of my error and led me to switch to a liberal arts
major in Political Science.
Journalism students were expected to work for the Daily Illini where a rigid cohort system
prevailed. Freshmen did the grunt work, mainly reading proof until well after midnight,
Sophomores wrote local news, and a few paid posts were reserved for Juniors and Seniors
editors. Although I registered as a Sophomore, I was also a newcomer and so drew the
Freshman role and would not be eligible for any of the junior/Senior posts. Not only were
my Freshman duties tiresome, but I found the introductory course in Journalism a bore: it
taught what I already knew about how to write a standard news story that begins with the
who/what/where opening paragraph and trails off to a no-conclusion ending that the
editors can cut to fit their procrustean formats. To sharpen our skills, we had to write
stories about imaginary car accidents, house fires, and police raids. I decided that it would
be more interesting to study politics and hope that it might give me the knowledge that
would enable me to become a good foreign correspondent. Even that hope evaporated
when I learned that most foreign assignments went to reporters who had earned the
privilege by doing the grunt work on a city desk -- the hierarchic structure in the "real
world" replicated what I had seen at the University.
Economically, I came to Illinois
with only part of the money I needed -- my dad's stipend included a modest
allowance for the schooling of children, but not nearly enough to cover
even minimal costs. This meant I had to work part-time and count on
summer jobs. But in 1935 the Depression was in full flow and jobs were
hard to come by. Finally, with the help of a personal introduction, I
landed a post in the Architecture School as a book-repair man in its
library. Funding came from the National Youth Administration, a New Deal
agency -- I don't remember the hourly rate but it was pitifully small.
When I interviewed for the job, I was asked about prior experience and was able to offer
my Boy Scout scrap book and merit badge in "bookbinding" as supporting evidence. In
fact, however, it was a job where one learned by doing, and I became pretty good at re-binding books and repairing torn pages. The Architecture students use basic reference
works as desk-side models while preparing their drafts so their usage was rough. I also
learned something about library work and would occasionally help the students check their
books out and in. I remember working every Saturday afternoon while hearing fans cheer
the football games taking place in our near-by stadium. Painful necessity made sports
attendance a college luxury I could not afford. However, it gave me an introduction to
librarianship which was later to become an important part of my experience.
Politics and Political Science
Among my more memorable courses was an introduction to American politics by Charles
Hyneman who later became my colleague at Indiana University. His wry sense of humor
gave the subject a special interest -- his subsequent work on Bureaucracy in America,
based on his own Washington experiences during the War years, provided a bridge for me
between politics and public administration. A memorable course on British Constitutional
History taught me that the basic principles of a living constitution can evolve in a
parliamentary system whereas our separation-of-powers system lacks the parliamentary
source of legitimacy and, therefore, requires a time-consuming process of popular
ratification that defeats most amendments and makes the written document a powerful
constraint on change. A course in Philosophy dealt with the writings of Karl Marx and his
interpreters which turned out to be quite difficult but illuminating. It taught me about
class conflict and sensitized me to the urgency and drama of politics.
This also became a lively experience in my extra-curricular life. I became well acquainted
with a small coterie of campus radicals who infiltrated the liberal American Student Union
in which I became an active member. These were the hectic depression years when student
radicalism flourished. Some fellow students volunteered to go to Spain to fight against
fascism, and the girl friends they left behind would spend time knitting socks for them.
As I remember, there were three different bands among the radical students: the Norman
Thomas Socialists (Second International) were congenially willing to identify themselves as
members and they cooperated with non-Socialist liberals to agitate on housing,
employment, peace, race-relations, and related populist issues. The other bands were quite
The Pro-Soviet Communists (Third International) were quite secretive but during the years
of the Popular Front, they collaborated with the ASU and even "bored from within." They
would plan strategy at secret caucuses and coordinate their efforts to gain minority power
in a situation where most liberals were confused and unable to plan any coherent approach
to major public issues. I learned about this because they tried to recruit me and even
invited me to one of their meetings. Although I turned them down, my connection with
the ASU made me a suspect and, in later years, when I applied for a research job in the
State Department, I was rejected. It may not have been the ASU connection, but I was told
by a neighbor who was interviewed about me that when she told them I liked to wear red
ties, that was taken to be a dangerous sign. I changed my color preferences, but failed to
get security clearance.
The third group was very secretive: they were the Trotskyites (Fourth International) and I
could never be sure who they were. However, I got the impression that they were against
the liberals and enjoyed obstructionism -- their idea, apparently, was that liberal reforms
would merely postpone the coming revolution. To hasten the day of liberation, therefore,
they sought to help the enemy deepen the sources of oppression that would raise popular
consciousness and, some day, incite revolutionary zeal for real, not just symbolic, changes.
My main extra-curricular efforts,
however, were invested in the Cosmopolitan Club and the International
Committee of the student YMCA. The Club had a house in Urbana where I
came to live and, eventually, to serve as President. The motto of the
Club, which goes back to its founding as an international association at
the dawn of the 20th century, is "Above all Nations is
Humanity." I consider that a worthy ideal and, if we could have World
Citizenship, I would promptly apply for a Global passport.
Although I understand and appreciate
having a U.S. passport, I consider state-oriented patriotism a form of
dysfunctional parochialism that stands in the way of organizing our
globally interactive socio-economic system in any rational way. At the
Cosmopolitan Club students from many different countries lived and ate
together. My roommates were a Chinese, an Indian, and a devout American
Jew. We celebrated and learned from our differences and could not
understand why they would cause difficulties. This was my real
introduction to ethnicity, a subject that came to be important for me, as
explained in Chapter 5 .
As for the Y connection, our
committee sponsored a variety of educational projects, but one that stands
out in my memory involved field trips to local communities where, through
a local church or YMCA, we would hold "deputations." This meant that we
would discuss world affairs with community people and speak at public
meetings and church services. It was a valuable experience in town/gown
relations for me and helped me learn more about the American culture which
I had rejoined after growing up in China. I also used the opportunity to
discuss China and to relate my experiences there to life in the United
Experience as a Laborer in Texas
As the summer of 1936 approached, I became desperate about finding a summer job and
resorted to nepotism: I asked my uncle Robert, in Tulsa, Oklahoma to help me find
employment in the Standard Oil Company of Ohio where he worked as a geologist. With
great reluctance -- he said he did not believe in nepotism! -- he eventually found a slot for
me in an oil exploration team working in Victoria, Texas. On my way there, I stopped in
Tulsa and got a glimpse of country club life. Uncle Bob warned me urgently to work hard
in Victoria and not to embarrass him for having pulled wires to get me this assignment.
The oil exploration group went around Victoria to place torsion balance machines on the
ground and use them to measure gravitational forces that might indicate underground oil.
To protect the machines while they were slowly doing their work we had to erect a small
protective tent over each of them. Putting up these tents was a task for the low-man on the
totem pole, and that's what I did, serving as a replacement for rotating team members as
they took their summer holidays. I believe my job performance brought only credit to
Uncle Bob, and I made much more money than I had ever earned before -- it helped me
stay on at Illinois University.
Actually, the summer assignment proved to be an eye-opening experience for me. I
belonged to a small team of outsiders with no community roots so I felt free, during copious
spare time -- my assignment usually took only a full morning or afternoon -- to become
involved locally. In search of a social connection, I visited a Methodist church and was
immediately welcomed like a prodigal son. Although I protested that I could not sing, they
impressed me into their church choir where they had to put up with my inability to carry a
tune. However, our weekly rehearsals and linked social events gave me a window into the
life of the town's Methodist community.
Years later I learned that Max Weber had once done a study of religion and capitalism in
America and found that the Methodists were important. It appeared that they had such a
good reputation as credit risks, that aspiring entrepreneurs flocked to become Methodists.
I had to wonder, however, whether the causal cycle involved Methodists becoming
capitalists, or capitalists becoming Methodists. This may have been my first lesson in
circular causation, an idea I picked up later from Gunnar Myrdal, that became central to
all my thinking.
I got to know a very different social set through our landlady, a once prosperous lady
whose cattle ranch had failed after her husband died, and she managed to cope by renting
rooms in her mansion to members of our oil exploration team and managing a credit
bureau for Victorians. I spent hours in her company listening to her gossip about some of
her more picturesque customers. I suppose because I was a temporary hire, she felt I could
not betray her confidences.
Through her I met some of the upper class Victorians and enjoyed a few social occasions
with them. They were mainly Episcopalians and Catholics who more affluent than the
Methodists and had quite different cultural norms.. The contrast that stands out in my
memory hinges on attitudes toward swimming and drinking. The more affluent
Episcopalians frequented a road-side spa where a bar and swimming pool were available.
By contrast, my Methodist friends preferred to swim in the river and change clothes behind
a bush -- they thought drinking was sinful and the confined waters of a pool less hygienic
than the free-flowing river. Of course, my Episcopal friends thought the river was dirty
and changing clothes without the privacy of an enclosed stall was quite indecent. I came to
see that class differences could be linked with different religious and moral views, but it was
also possible for individuals to change their church affiliations, their jobs, and their socio-economic states. There were other denominational communities -- I believe Baptists were
held in lower repute than Methodists. However, it also struck me mobile individuals could
not only improve their economic prospects but also find more congenial friends by
By contrast, these denominational
differences were trivial compared with the caste-like distinctions that
separated the "white" from the "non-white" residents of Victoria. The
non-whites were not necessarily dark skinned -- they included many
Mexicans as well as the Blacks. I was not able to gain access to either
community so I could only observe them as an outsider -- but I could see
how scornfully the whites who kept them at a social distance while
exploiting them as workers. Their religious and occupational roles
available to the "non-whites" were strictly limited and cross-marriages
were forbidden. I came to see later that these communities were not seen
as ethnically different. Rather, they belonged to "racial" categories that
put them under caste-like restraints. No doubt Blacks could be Baptists,
but only in all-Black churches, and the Mexicans were Catholics, but only
in their own churches.
Victoria also gave me an opportunity to observe class-like ethnicity, quite different from
the caste-like racial structure. I gained access, for example, to a German community
whose members sponsored weekly dances at which one could drink beer and take a merry
fling with the polka, waltz, or schottishe, picking up partners on a random basis. Since I
greatly enjoyed dancing, I eagerly attended these events and made a few casual friends. I
believe the same could be said about the Jews in Victoria. They were stigmatized as
ethnically different but socially acceptable and, in due time, could be assimilated into the
main stream of life in the city -- they were viewed as racially "white."
As for the members of our oil team, they viewed themselves as transients and, so far as I
could see, established no community links. When work was over, they sought only to
entertain themselves. However, they always paid their bills and when they introduced me
to a local lunch counter, the hostess promptly invited me just to sign for my meals -- we
had no credit cards, but I was told that I could pay later whenever I had the cash. We were
clearly outsiders and, in this sense, non-ethnic and not-threatening. Moreover, we were
welcomed because we were well enough paid to be good credit risks and a restaurant would
favor us to get our business. The most transient people are tourists, gone after a few days
but welcomed because of the money they bring. I was not really a tourist, but my status as
a transient put me outside all the established social categories prevailing in Victoria but did
not deny me access to them.
Graduate School and Librarianship at Fletcher
The summer of 1938 meant graduation
and a shift of locus. I had decided to pursue a graduate degree and one
of the senior faculty members at Illinois sponsored me for a grant that
would have enabled me to stay in Urbana. His request was rejected,
however, and so I decided I must try some other place. I applied to the
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, in Medford, Mass. and was accepted
with a promise of financial support. However, when I arrived in Medford,
I learned that the support had strings -- I must work for my living. It
turned out to be a library job, clinched by me experience at the
Architecture School library in Urbana.
I became the assistant librarian and learned quite a bit about librarianship, even spending
a summer at the Columbia University Library School on the premise that I might become a
professional librarian. This trail turned, however, when I received a genuine though modest
fellowship from Columbia which enabled me to register there as a full-time Ph.D. candidate
in Political Science after I eventually won my M.A. at Fletcher in 1941. My experiences at
Fletcher also helped to shape my subsequent thinking and life ways.
The Fletcher School had just been created shortly before I arrived. Its library had been
acquired en bloc as a gift from the World Peace Foundation in Boston -- they wanted to
clean out their own space to permit new acquisitions to be accommodated. They also
allowed Denys P. Myers, a great book collector and scholar but not a regular librarian, to
move with the collection as its curator. He became my boss and I greatly enjoyed working
with and learning from him.
As an internationalist, he adopted the universal library classification scheme that had been developed in Brussels by the International Federation for Documentation. This involved rejected both the Dewey Classification and the Library of Congress schemes which had become standard in most American libraries. Although this choice confronted us with many difficulties, it was intellectually challenging and helped me understand the multi-faceted logic of conceptual relationships which was later to provide the core of the onomantic theory -- see Chapter 4.
As for the School itself, a $4 million Fletcher bequest to Tufts University had been ear-marked for the establishment of a Law School. However, the Board decided that this was
not enough money to create a viable school of law. While waiting for a decision, they
"borrowed" half of the grant to finance a a new gymnasium, leaving the unspent half to be
allocated later to Halford Hoskins, an eager promoter who offered to create a small
graduate school of "Law and Diplomacy," using the vacated gym as its home. The
gymnasium itself became our library, and the various other rooms in the building were
converted into offices and classrooms.
Hoskins negotiated an agreement with Harvard which enabled us to use their libraries, but
only on the condition we never had more than 50 students. Moreover, some distinguished
Harvard faculty members agreed to teach part-time at Fletcher, including Roscoe Pound,
dean of the Law School. Later, when Hoskins wanted to expand the school, he demanded
the remaining $2 million of the Fletcher grant, only to be told that the money was not
available. Protesting, he split with Tufts and formed the new School for Advanced
International Studies in Washington, DC. Although he took part of the faculty and many
of the library's books with him, enough remained to continue Fletcher as a very decent
school of international relations at Tufts.
I should explain that the re-located
books had been paid for by a foundation Hoskins created for the ostensible
purpose of supporting graduate education in international relations.
However, the foundation retained title to its book acquisitions which were
"loaned" to the Fletcher School. I had to paste the foundation's book
plate into all the new books, many of which were selected to support
Hoskins's research preferences which were heavily oriented toward Africa.
Later, when Hoskins parted company with SAIS in Washington, that school
became affiliated with Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and has, subsequently,
become a very successful institution, taking full advantage of its
propinquity with the State Department and Washington's international
Among my instructors at Fletcher, one that stands out in my mind was Roscoe Pound, then
dean of the Harvard Law School. He gave a course on Jurisprudence that always amazed
me for its scope and penetrating insights. Pound used to come to class with no notes,
speaking only extemporaneously from his vast memory. He always displayed his watch
with a Phi Beta Kappa key dangling from a gold chain so that all could see it. I thought
that a bit strange in a context where virtually all the students, including myself, were
members of Phi Beta Kappa but declined to wear our keys in public. I explain it as a sign
that he was personally active in this society, and his membership dated to an earlier era
when it perhaps meant a lot more.
Since Pound had spent some time in
China consulting about the development of its legal system, he had a
special interest in Chinese law and encouraged me to write a term paper on
this subject. I spent a lot of time on the project and learned much that
I had never known before about the institutional basis of Chinese society.
More particularly, it helped me understand how a very powerful mandarin
bureaucracy was able to manage the affairs of a vast empire and yet remain
under the effective control of the emperor. This lesson was to prove
influential in my later work on comparative public administration and
constitutional democracy -- see Chapter 3
and Chapter 6.
In ancient times the chief architect of the Ch'in Dynasty was Han Fei Tzu. We all know
about this dynasty because of the fantastic archeological finds at Sian where an army of
warrior statues was buried to support the dead emperor in his after-life. It was the first
dynasty to create a large-scale unified domain and it gave its foreign name to the country
-- the Chinese do not use this name in their own language, preferring to identify with the
next, Han, dynasty, or to speak of themselves as the "central country", a term reflected in
references to the "Middle Kingdom."
The Legist principles elaborated by
Han Fei Tzu told how an emperor could amass and preserve power by the use
of rules that enforced the rule of law, imposing strict rewards and
penalties on all his subjects. These principles contrasted with those
recommended by Confucius who stressed humane values and obedience to
superiors. In his view, the Superior Man was a scholar-official who had
mastered the classics and embraced humane values. An elaborate system
based on written examinations was adopted in later dynasties and gave
China the first important class system, defined by the ability of
individuals regardless of family status to rise to higher and better
positions. This system also gave the emperor a vast and powerful
bureaucracy that was able to hold the empire together for long periods of
Although logically contradictory, the Legist and Confucian principles were complementary
and have enabled Chinese Empires to survive for long periods of time, maintaining control
over vast domains. The emperors were Legists and used Confucianism as a state cult to
indoctrinate bureaucrats who were schooled to obey the Emperor and administer the
country. I don't remember the details of my paper, but I do remember my final visit with
Pound, at his Harvard Law School office. He was surrounded by great piles of books and
files on the floor. From behind his desk, he smiled and encouraged me while announcing
that he liked my paper and would give me an "A". The Chinese system was uniquely
effective among classical imperial traditions and helps to explain the wealth and prosperity
of that society during centuries when Western Europe was at best a semi-peripheral area in
the World System, entangled in long-continuing wars and feudal strife. Although Pound's
theory of jurisprudence was essentially Western, he also had profound respect for the
achievements of the Chinese traditional system.
Columbia University and the War Years.
Although the Fletcher School did focus on international relations, it provided a broad
background of studies designed mainly to equip its graduates for careers in the foreign
service. In my case, however, I was determined to continue my graduate studies and work
for a Ph. D. Because I was working half time in the library, it took me three years to
complete my M.A. in 1941, after which I went to New York to continue my graduate work
under a fellowship. I enrolled in Columbia University to major in International Relations
and minor in Comparative Philosophy, which was a cover for my intention to study
traditional Chinese political theory and practice.
All started well but in December we were all stunned by the Japanese attack on Pearl War
and our entry into the War. After a few months I had to make a hard choice about
military service. My father had been an ardent pacifist, and I had found the Friends
Meeting House in Cambridge a very congenial place to meet others who shared my own
views. After much deliberation, I declare myself a conscientious objector and asked for
admission to the Civilian Public Service, a project administered by the Quakers for
alternative service by c.o.'s. Having been accepted, I started into a new non-academic
phase of my life that I will report on in a separate chapter. However, I should mention here
that during this period (1943) I met and married Clara-Louise Mather, my lovely and
loving wife to whom I am still married and we look forward to many more years together.
I also entered a project for volunteers to serve in war-torn China as members of an
ambulance service organized by the American Friends' Service Committee. I was sent to
the Alexian Brothers' Hospital in Chicago for training but, eventually, the plan was foiled
by an act of Congress that stopped our project. Although my war-time experiences were
relevant to my career and thinking, they were not a part of my university education and so
I return to an account of my continuing experiences at Columbia University.
My fellowship was extended but, with a wife and family to support, it was also inadequate
and so I had to work full-time to make a living. Luckily, I was able to secure an
appointment as a lecturer in the City University of New York where I taught a wide array
of courses -- our normal load was five 3-hour courses each semester, and I had to cover the
gamut from American to Russian politics, and International Relations to Comparative
Government. I'm not sure how much my students learned, but I learned a lot. The Russian
course was especially lively because my students included pro- and anti- Soviet enthusiasts
who challenged me and each other with hot debates. I learned that people confronting the
same facts with different ideological perspectives could reach contradictory conclusions. It
made me wary of conventional wisdom that merely reflects widely held prejudices, a lesson
I had to apply when confronting problems of comparative public administration, as
discussed in Chapter 3.
Dissertation Research as a Launching Pad
After completing my courses and taking my comprehensives, I was free to start research on
a dissertation that was eventually published as Pressures on Congress . It dealt with
the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act as a case study of the interface in American politics
between Congress, interest groups and Federal agencies.
The starting point was accidental.
I was looking for a topic in international relations that would focus on
U.S. relations with China. One day I got into a conversation with Harriet
Mills, a friend who shared with me our childhood experiences in China,
notably in Nanking. She told me about a remarkable but unused collection
of documents that recorded the work of the Committee to Repeal the Chinese
Exclusion Acts. Early in the war a group of Sinophiles, including Walter
Judd and Pearl Buck, had talked about the need to remove from our
legislation several laws that explicitly denied rights of immigration to
Chinese. They viewed them as not only unfair and racist in character --
we had no other laws denying immigration rights to a named ethnic cagegory
-- but also our relations with China as an ally in the war with Japan were
hampered by this insulting legislation.
I had known Walter Judd as our family physician in Shaowu, as noted in Chapter 1. He
had become a member of Congress and played a leading role in sheparding the reapeal
legislation through the House of Representatives. As for Pearl Buck, I had met her in
Nanking where she kindly autographed a copy of The Good Earth for me. Her husband, J.
Lossing Buck, was my father's colleague in the University Of Nanking. College of
Pearl had experienced great difficulty finding a publisher for The Good Earth until, finally,
she offered it to the John Day Company. Although everyone recognized the novel's
intrinsic merits, there were no precedents for a serious novel about Chinese characters, and
publishers worried they would not find enough customers to make it a profitable project.
However, Richard J. Walsh, president of the John Day Company, happened to be
interested in Asia and recognized the merits of the book which, indeed, became a best seller
and prize winner. Walsh also fell in love with Pearl Buck and she found life on the literary
circuits more exciting than sitting in Nanking with a professor who was preoccupied with
his monumental project on Land Utilization in China. Eventually, Pearl decided to swith
partners, divorced Lossing and married Richard. Their new partnership included many
more books to come and, eventually, a serious venture into national pressure politics.
The venture was initiated by Donald Dunham, an American consul in Hong Kong, who
contacted Richard Walsh in the summer of 1941 to urge that something be done to repeal
our racist anti-Chinese laws. Walsh, who was also the editor of Asia and the Americas,
readily understood and started exchanging views with interested persons to see what could
be done. He eventually agreed to chair as small Citizen's Committee to Repeal Exclusion
which was formally constituted in May 1943. It launched and managed a political
campaign which led to the adoption of repeal legislation by the end of that year. A full set
of committee records was kept by Walsh at the John Day offices, and I was given
permission to study them in detail. They provided the skeleton on which my dissertation
I cannot summarize the story here --
it is told in full in my book (1950). However, I want to mention certain
aspects of my findings which affected my later work. First, I found the
history of the anti-Chinese movement in California to be a fascinating
subject and spent a lot of time accumulating facts I had to omit in the
thesis itself. The exercise persuaded me, however, that historical
context should be very much a part of any social science inquiry --
without it, current events can easily be misinterpreted. I have recently
underlined this point in an essay, The
Impeachment , which compares the current context of
divided government with the very different set of forces and
considerations that moved the Founding Fathers to include the impeachment
clause in our Constitution. The historical data also opened a window for
me to understand the dynamics of ethnic prejudice in American society and
politics -- see Chapter 5.
I also found, while reviewing the literature on pressure groups in American politics, that
they consistently simplify the story by major omissions. They typically focus on the major
organized groups that lobby in Congress to achieve some legislative goal. I found that this
omits important elements of the legislative process in America such as the role of catalytic
groups that are able to mobilize and hamper action by the major pressure groups, the role
of bureaucrats and interested government agencies, and the internal composition and
structure of Congress itself.
First, I learned that the major organized pressure groups can, themselves, respond to
pressures and they need help from outsiders to establish coalitions among different groups.
To perform this function, a many small informal ad hoc roups are created to focus
attention on a specific issue, to mobilize support and block opposition in major civic
organizations, and to coordinate strategy in the management of pressures on Congress.
Because they lack a broad base, these groups cannot act in their own names and they may
well shy away from publicity. Their success depends on their ability to secure the support
of organizations with a mass base and strong financing, and to curtail opposition by likely
opponents. What the media may report usually involves presentations in Congress by
major established organizations. There may be no interest in the subvisible influences that
carefully put the pieces of the puzzle together.
A contemporary example of this process involves the efforts of a small group of anti-Clinton
activists who provided impetus and financing for the Paula Jones suit against President
Clinton and, always hovering back stage, for much of the follow-up efforts of the
independent prosecutor, Kenneth Starr -- see the New York Times, 24 January, "Quietly,
Team of Lawyers who Disliked Clinton kept Jones Case Alive." According to this account,
witten by Don van Natta and Jill Abramson, which appears to have escaped the attention
of all the current TV shows on the Impeachment effort, some of the most serious damage to
the President "...came not from his high-profile political enemies but from a small secret
clique of lawyers in their 30's who share a deep antipathy toward the President, according
to nearly two dozen interviews and recently filed court documents." Details can be found
The Citizens Committee may be seen as a prototype -- it lasted for less than a year and
had a budget of less that $5000 -- the anti-Clinton group spent more than $80,000
contributed by Peter W. Smith, a Chicago financier who was a major donor to Gopac,
Speaker Newt Gingrich's political action group. Such groups are hard to track because
they are often ephemeral and their records are scattered or lost. It was pure good luck that
led me to this "treasure trove" on the basis of a random conversation with Harriet Mills.
I thought one reason for this omission may simply be the lack of a suitable term for it -- I
decided to call it a catalytic group, and my own inquiries at the time enabled me to identify
hundreds of existing groups of this kind. I should add that this was one of my own first
experiences with the need to identify a new concept and propose a term for it -- something
I repeated many times in later years. If van Natta and Abramson had known the term,
they might have been able to write about a shadowy "catalytic group" responsible for
launching and coordinating the impeachment effort against President Clinton.
A second point involves the internal dynamics of Congress and the important though
subvisible role that individual members can play. They may become in-house lobbyists
linked with an external catalytic group. I found, for example, that Walter Judd became a
key actor in campaign to repeal Chinese exclusion acts -- his interest issue reflected his
own experiences in China and his strong personal commitments and enthusiasm. However,
precisely because of his identification with China causes, his "freshman" status, and his
identity as a Republican in a Congress dominated by Democrats, he knew that he should
not sponsor any bill on the subject or seek any media attention. Instead, he became an
internal lobbyist and helped recruit leading members from both parties, especially from the
West Coast and the South, the main centers of the anti-Chinese movement, to become
sponsors of the bill that eventually passed. He worked in continuous contact with a
lobbyist employed by the Committee to coordinate its activities in Washington.
A third point that has been widely ignored involves the activist role of members of the
bureaucracy. As mentioned above, Donald Dunham, a foreign service officer, initiated the
repeal process by personally contacting Richard Walsh. Later, more formal but
confidential support from the State Department became an important element in the
process as did the efforts of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Finally, although the President's signature, which was obtained on February 9, 1944,
terminated the repeal process, his signature reflects only in part his personal preferences.
The president relies for guidance on an elaborate machinery in the Bureau of the Budget (it
may have changed since 1943) whereby all departments of the government are notified of
pending legislation and, later, of bills that have passed, inviting them to register their
views, for or against, with relevant arguments. These responses are summarized and given
to the president for his information when he makes his final decision. Thus the support of
both the State Department and the INS were not only influential in Congress but also,
later, in the White House.
Thus, although my thesis was relevant to the study of Sino-American relations, its main discoveries, which I had never anticipated when I began work on the project, involved the catalytic function of small subvisible groups, the legislative process, the important role of individual members of Congress working behind the scenes, and very importantly, the views of career officers in relevant agencies of our governmental bureaucracy. The latter point was particularly important in my later move into the field of comparative public administration, as reported in the next Chapter. At long last, I received a Ph.D. from Columbia University, but I'm not sure when because, for some reason I cannot recall, I found that I could not attend the graduation ceremonies and I don't know just when they occurred. However, this formality brings the story of my university education to an end.
1950. Pressures on Congress: A Study of the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion. New York: King's Crown Press. 260 pages. Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University. Reprinted, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972.
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