A further important element of The New Men of Power was Mills’s exploration of the different publics that labour leaders have to deal with (Eldridge 1983: 65-9). On the one hand there was a small network of politically-savvy publics that actively sought to influence policy. They identified six of these: the far left, the independent left, the liberal centre, the communists, the practical right and the sophisticated conservatives. The last of these publics was shown to be particularly influential. On the other hand, there was the politically passive ‘mass’ public. Mills’ focus on the relationship between active and passive publics was particularly helpful (and appeared in the later works – see Eldridge 1983: 66). The way forward for the labour movement that Mills proposed echoed that argued for by G. D. H. Cole and others in Britain: shop floor democracy/workers’ control; the promotion of more extensive economic planning; and the formation of a labour party.
Mills remained a nonconformist both personally and intellectually throughout his life time. Mills was married four times. In 1937, he married Dorothy Helen James. During there short marriage, they had one daughter and divorced in 1940. By 1941, Mills was remarried with a second daughter on the way. Six years later, he was divorced again, and ready to move on to his third wife, Ruth Harper. Mills was married to Harper for twelve years before they divorced. Mills final wife was Yaroslava Surmach, the mother of Mills’ only son. Mills was also an active member of the American Sociological Society, serving as vice president from 1947 to 1948. During the last two years of his life, Mills became a public figure. “His tracts against cold War and the U. S. Latin American policy were more widely read than any other radical.” As his popularity grew, his Listen, Yankee was featured on the cover of Harpers Magazine. As he was preparing for a television network debate, he suffered a heart attack in December 1960. On March 20, 1962, Mills passed away in Nyack, New York. He died of heart disease. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in New York.