Friday, December 24, 2010

How We Think About Government and Politics

The following is taken from a book entitled, "Deadly Paradigms: The Failure of US Counterinsurgency Policy." I have changed a few words and left out some to illustrate how we think about government and politics not limited to the role these thoughts play in other nations. It is, I think, quite enlightening.

The basic assumptions are that "domestic political violence can necessarily have only bad consequences for...development; the lower the level of domestic violence, the better necessarily the prospects for [development]; and therefore nations and governments [including ours at home] need to be automatically 'shielded' against violence...if they are to proceed with effective development." Note should be taken that this thinking, this kind of political science, is applied to all "nations and governments," not just foreign ones.

And this continues: "The perceived necessity of order became the necessary priority of...programs which came to be defined as 'developmental.'....'There must be an adequate measure of internal order, internal stability, if a nation is going to progress in an orderly fashion in the social, economic, and political arenas. The alternative is disruption, disorder, violence, and frustration of the aspirations of the people'....Officials defined the maintenance of order as the first priority, for 'if a government is to govern, it must be able to enforce its edicts....Compliance with the law or stability must prevail.'"

Again, note should be taken that this thinking, this "political science" is applicable to all governments and all nations. "Order" and "stability" are primary, are essential, even or especially at the expense of disruption and illegal behavior. If you have ever wondered about what, for example, is called "educational reform," you should think about it in light of these passages. "No Child Left Behind" or "The Race to the Top," the programs of Shrub and Obama, are essentially compatible with an agenda of securing order and stability, even of "pacifying" the people in ways that make, according to this political science, development and progress possible and even inevitable. However some questions arise and some implications are visible, as follows:

"...the assertion that the law must prevail begs the questions of whose legality is being enforced and its legitimacy. That these questions are rarely asked reflects the strength of the standard explanations...."

Moreover, note the implications for our view of governments, all governments: "strengthening democratic institutions" is confounded with "political stability" as "interchangeable." "Since instability arises from below...governments [read from "the people"], then even illiberal acts...are justifiable. Thus, despite a preference for representative government, the 1969 report of the Presidential Mission...asserted...that 'the question is less one of democracy or a lack of it than it is simply of orderly ways of getting along.' In fact, to manage...discontents, an authoritarian regime may be required or even recommended...." [pp. 85-86]

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