Monday, December 27, 2010

Understanding American Gov't and Politics

The following quotations are drawn from a book entitled "Deadly Paradigms," from which I have quoted before. I am now re-reading this monograph by D. Michael Shafer and have found that much of what he says regarding the American doctrine of counterinsurgency can be used to understand domestic policy in the United States as well - and on domestic policy so conceived, both Democrats and Republicans are, basically, in agreement. Here is one passage to illustrate my argument:

"What's good for governments, advocates argued, is more, and more centralized power." [Of course I could stop here because this argument seems basic to both liberals and conservatives today, even if they would disagree about where the government's centralized power is to be applied and/or about where this centralized power ought to be lodged, either in corporations or in the national government. But it is worthwhile to quote further.] "This is the key to both the assimilation of people newly mobilized [read: "alienated"] by modernization [read: "globalization"] and the innovation of policy necessary for political modernization [read:"modifying the Constitution"] and the destruction of the periphery [read: "destruction of rural, small town US"]. Thus, argued Neil Smelser, if 'undifferentiated [traditional] structures... constitute the primary social barriers to modernization... invariably a certain amount of political pressure must be applied to loosen these ties.' This action requires a stronger state, and it 'creates conditions demanding a larger, more formal type of political administration. Thus, another argument in favor of the importance of strong government during rapid and uneven modernization is based on the necessity to accommodate the growing cultural, economic, and social heterogeneity and to control the political repercussions of the constantly shifting distribution of power accompanying extensive social reorganization.' More government would be better government, because more is better and because it would be more modern government which is also better." [p. 63]]

If one understands "modernization" as an ongoing project, not a static or completed project - as we in the US generally do at least as regards this nation - then what is said here regarding the allegedly "developing" world is applicable to the US and would seem to make sense of a lot of domestic policies in the US. Power, either governmental or corporate and probably both, needs to be brought to bear on the people in order to overcome their attachment to those "undifferentiated structures" [don't you just love the bullshit language used to hide what is actually at stake here?] - that is, "traditional" structures, which in their naivete the people think important to the quality of their lives. For example, it is a ruse of those in power to argue that what is being called "educational reform" is simply a response to a "failure" on students' parts to meet certain "standards," apparently "standards" that were once met but now are not being met. Of course, these "standards" never existed in the past nor was anyone then interested in such "standards." People are today because the real motivation for "educational reform" - and why it has been embraced by both Bush II/Shrub and Obama/Barry, e.g., - is to overcome whatever resistance there might be to having an educational system that seeks to do anything other than prepare the young to be faithful, loyal, serious, involved, committed, and energetic EMPLOYEES or WORKERS. The college where I work has a motto, Learn, Achieve, Contribute, which just about sums this up. That education was once thought to have something to do with CITIZENSHIP, e.g., must be repressed or suppressed because if the young get that idea into their heads, there is no telling what might be the results. Can you imagine the havoc if the young got the idea that the government and the corporations were suppose to serve the people and not vice versa? Now there's a possibility that scares the hell out of both liberals and conservatives!

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