Distinguishing Structures from Individuals and Primary from Secondary Factors Part 2
By Dennis Loo (3/7/14)
Systems are qualitatively different from the individuals who occupy those systems. Systems operate according to system logic … – from Part 1 of this series
Systems that involve people can be usefully understood as a consistent pattern of mutual expectations among those within the system and that system vis a vis other systems. People occupy statuses and roles within systems and their behavior and attitudes are primarily shaped by those statuses and roles, not by their individual personalities. As I state in the Preface to Globalization and the Demolition of Society:
Individuals do not principally give systems the character that those systems possess; systems and structures principally shape individuals’ behavior. (p. xii)
If you are operating within a system and are abiding by that system’s logic, your actions are predictable within certain parameters. Everyone individually is a little different – some more different than others – but the nature of a system is such that highly idiosyncratic individual behavior is just that, idiosyncratic and not the norm. If most people did not adhere to the norm of a given system, then that system would not be a system.
Distinguishing Structures from Individuals and Primary from Secondary Factors
By Dennis Loo (3/3/14)
You cannot fix a system unless you understand how it works. This is something that people understand when it comes to everyday things like machines - such as a car that is not running or an iPhone that is on the blink - or a person whose health is troubled. You have to know how a car works, how iPhones work, and you have to understand how a person’s body works in order to have a chance at fixing them when they start to break down.
While we know a tremendous amount about human-made machines and how they work, that knowledge is not something equally shared in the population. Most people consult a mechanic who has specialized training in automobiles when their car malfunctions and make an appointment with someone at the “Genius Bar” in the Apple Stores when their iPhone starts working improperly.
When it comes to people’s health, you don’t have to know everything there is to know about the body because there is still much that we don’t yet understand, as biological systems are much more complex than automobiles. But there are certain fundamental matters that we do understand, such as that viruses and bacteria can cause illnesses and that we have immune systems that help us to stay well and that routinely fight off germs that we encounter constantly. Usually people who are ill will go to experts who have devoted themselves to studying and treating illnesses – physicians and other health care deliverers.
The New Legal Principle: The Presumption of Guilt
By Dennis Loo (2/28/14)
You’ve all heard the lesson in school or in citizenship classes, repeated many times with great pride: what distinguishes the US from tyrannies is that we are all treated as “innocent until proven guilty.”
Candidate Barack Obama made a special point of invoking this principle while running for the presidency in 2007-8. After convincing millions that the presumption of innocence and his opposition to torture and to warrantless surveillance were what distinguished him from the despised Bush White House and why we should vote for him, he has … since … stopped talking about it.
Instead, in his speeches since assuming office, he’s spoken about the importance of “balancing” our freedoms and liberties with “security.” He’s warned that there are those who are “out to harm the United States” and that these people cannot be tried and he will not release them.
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Second, in order to get at the truth and because the ways in which humanity's historic striving for understanding and its capacity to wonder and imagine are very rich and diverse, we seek to reflect that richness and diversity on our site. See "About Us" on navigation bar. We intend to be engaging and compelling, as the best investigative journalism and art are, and relentlessly scientific, rigorous, and direct, as those who cherish the truth are. We believe that we can be both accessible and sophisticated. As Loo lays out in his book,
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)
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