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Distinguishing Structures from Individuals and Primary from Secondary Factors

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.

What people generally overlook, however, is that while expertise is needed to deal with the inherent complexities of matters such as repairing machines or treating human illnesses, they don’t similarly understand that politics involves more complexity than machines and because politics involves human behavior and systems, a lot more complexity is involved and you need to have much more sophistication to operate in the realm of politics effectively than experts who are consulted need to fix machines.

The upshot of this is that, first of all, the rhetoric and theory of democracies that the people are the deciders through their votes is absurd. The average person does not know enough and is certainly not sufficiently informed by mainstream media and by public officials and political parties to make sensible decisions.

It’s not that the average person isn’t smart enough. It’s that they don’t know and they have not been informed as to how political power is actually exercised. Even those who sincerely and diligently try to inform themselves about politics by daily keeping up with the news and reading in-depth analyses in the magazines, listening to news analysts on TV and radio, reading political analyses online, etc., and even most of those who make their careers as scholars about politics do not know anywhere nearly enough to make sound decisions about politics.

This is a situation that can be fixed.

But it cannot be fixed as long as people adhere to the assumptions present in democratic theory that hold that you have a democracy as long as the people have a right to vote and “express their choices” through their votes and through contact with their political representatives.

Voting does not decide public policy. It is a myth that voting decides public policy. It is also a myth that the public decides public policy through their votes.

With few exceptions, people are not taught in schools and again with only a few exceptions, they are not taught in any other arena in public or private life that systems and system logic trump individuals. Many people reading this last sentence probably don’t even really understand it because they have probably never heard the idea that systems trump individuals. Even those who study sociology or anthropology, disciplines that would not exist without this fundamental principle that systems trump individuals, have a hard time with this principle and either don’t fully grasp it or don’t fully apply it in all matters, especially when it comes to politics. Even sociologists and anthropologists are not immune to this error. Many of them are not consistent in applying this principle in all matters.

Most people, including even some sociology students, say something like the following: “What do you mean, systems trump individuals? Individuals make systems what systems are. Social life is a product of the individuals who make up social life. People are selfish and greedy, that is why we have a society that is characterized by a lot of selfishness and greed. If people weren’t naturally self-centered, then society would be better than it is. But it’s human nature for people to be egocentric and greedy. Capitalism is the way that it is because of the people in capitalist societies: capitalism is an extension of human nature.”

This is what many people believe. They believe it because media, popular culture, and public officials tell them this daily and minute-by-minute.

The problem is that it’s wrong.

Systems are qualitatively different from the individuals who occupy those systems. Systems operate according to system logic, not because of the choices and values of the individuals in those systems. One of the ways that people express differences with this fundamental truth is by saying things like “things are messed up because the people are messed up. If they weren’t so self-centered, stupid, and/or lazy, they’d put some energy into finding out what the truth is and they’d do something about injustice and unfairness. Injustice and unfairness persist because the public is to blame for being in denial and being more interested in their own personal concerns or distracted by their technological toys.”

This all too common view grows out of the assumptions inherent in democratic theory. Democratic theory asserts that the public is the one in charge. The public elects those in public office to represent them and the public by its buying habits and by its viewing, reading, and listening habits determines what is in the media and what policies come about.

Thus, if things are messed up, blame the people.

One of the central problems with democratic theory is this assertion: it takes the entire onus of blame off the shoulders of elites in public office, media, and business more generally who are the authorities of these systems. Democratic theory says that it’s all the doing of the public because the public supports those in leading positions by voting for them or buying their products, whether those products are tangible objects such as TV shows, movies, music or other commodities, or non-material products such as ideas.

Why do people who might otherwise know better tend to think this way? They do this because they have unconsciously adopted the assumptions of democratic theory: society and systems are the way they are because the majority of people in those societies and systems choose to make them that way. If members of the public weren’t choosing the way they’re choosing then things wouldn’t be the way that they are. This is what democratic theory preaches.

This is not, however, how systems come to be what they are. Systems shape the individuals in them more than the individuals in systems shape the systems.

Everyone knows this in other areas such as when they are at their place of work. There are unwritten and unspoken rules for how to behave there (as with the rest of social life) and if you contradict through your words and/or actions the workplace culture, you are going to be in trouble.

When the leader of the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, Philip Zimbardo, was asked to provide his insights into the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, he said that he was not in the least bit surprised that American soldiers were guilty of committing atrocities against Iraqi prisoners. He had already seen how the social context determines how people will behave and think in the Stanford Prison Experiment in which Stanford undergraduates were randomly assigned to play either prison guards or prisoners in a Stanford building basement. The simulated prison experiment was to last two weeks but it was shut down within a few days because it became all too much like a real prison almost immediately.

In the film that he made about the Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo brings up the “Fallacy of False Attribution.” This is when people incorrectly attribute the operations and nature of systems to the values and behaviors of the individuals in those systems. Torture is not something that occurs because those doing the torturing are malevolent individuals. Torture happens when those in authority direct those under them to carry out torture. While some of the people torturing others may in fact be malevolent individuals, torture does not happen by governments because individuals in general are malevolent. An Empire that wants to stay an empire will engage in atrocities as part of its arsenal to try to hold onto power. Empires such as Rome, the British Empire, and the US Empire do this not because those in authority such as Caesar or the Prime Minister or the President are evil individuals (although some of them might be evil) but because the system, in this case an empire, requires this for the empire to continue to be an empire. Empires by definition can only exist because they plunder and oppress whole nations and populations. Empires maintain an enormously unequal relationship with those that they dominate. If they did not use enormous amounts of violence to maintain their power, empires would be unable to stay empires because the nations and people that they plunder would successfully resist their being dominated. Empires use generous amounts of savage force to try to intimidate those who would otherwise resist being dominated. They do not stay empires because the majority of people who are dominated by them willingly allow themselves to be dominated and plundered. People of oppressed countries do not vote to be plundered.

Part 2 is here.

Comments   

 
0 # katgrl15 2014-03-04 22:02
Typically I aim at the individual being the reason behind why society is structured and functions in the way that it does. I never place blame on the systems or the ones in power because I have been taught to believe that we as people, are the ones that can change an issue or a problem that is currently at bay in society. Recently I was corrected and learned that prison racism is not due to the individuals in the prison itself, but the administration ensures that racism exists in order to maintain control and shift the heat from themselves. Michelle Alexander states that, “As described in chapter 1, both caste systems were born, in part, due to a desire among white elites to exploit the resentments, vulnerabilities , and racial biases of poor and working-class whites for political or economic gain”. Alexander shows that the white elites, those apart of the systems, are at blame for the white individuals in the poor working class being used in order to ensure power stability.
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-09 02:52
I can relate to you in the same perspective. I especially believed that when it came to those who were in prison or in jail it was due to solely their choices but now I realize that their situation isn’t merely made up of poor choices. That there is a greater political force that has made an extensive effort to oppress minority groups and this is clearly demonstrated in the numbers of the war on drugs and the demographics of those in jails, Alexander states in The New Jim Crow “Ninety percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses in many states were black or Latino, yet the mass incarceration of communities of color was explained in the race-neutral terms, an adaption to the needs and demands of the current political climate”.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-01 20:24
Yes, as Dr. Loo mentioned in class, people are considered to be "bad people," when they break the law. Why? It is not because they are actually "bad," it is because "offenders," have rebelled against the rules that have been made. How? Rules are deemed to be "violated," for example when someone steals because they are hungry. It is hard to believe that someone can be considered bad, because they were trying to quench their thirst or hunger.
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0 # sintricity08 2014-03-04 23:25
I admit to believing in a false definition of democracy before coming to college and learning its true intentions in class. I never voted because I felt it wouldn't help anything, but I still did not fully believe it until now. I feel it is just the outcome of what a capitalist society and system promotes. We are materialistic and wanting in nature because we are born into this ideology, and therefore why is it so hard to think people at the top (the bourgeoisie)are not just extreme materialistic thinkers who want to exploit those below them (the proletariat)? They realize that to stay on top they must control and expand because they're system and ideology demands it, and unfortunately there are consequences for this continued expansion.
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0 # Rod24 2014-03-07 21:20
I agree with you, before taking this course I too believed in what the gov't was saying they represented. Of course, just like anyone else I was a bit skeptical about the actions that were being taken on our behalf, as a nation, but never did I think that things were as extreme as I now know they are. Its true, ppl do not believe that the bourgeoisie would exploit the proletariat as they have done and continue to do until today. We live in a capitalistic nation and things will continue to stay this way until more ppl begin to believe the facts for what they are. We are all entitled to our own opinion but it is up to us to decipher the truth from the b.s. we have been fed thus far.
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0 # Jasmin Burgos 2014-03-09 07:56
I have to agree with you, I as well as you had the term "democracy" in a different concept. I thought that definition that was presented to us was being taken into effect. But after taking this class I have realize that I've been living a lie for quite some time. Voting makes us feel good because we think that we are voicing our opinions t hrought that ballot, the question is: how many of those ballots are actually taken into consideration? It's crazy when you think about it and that's probably why a lot of people decide not to engage in such issues.
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0 # bmcotran13 2014-03-05 05:52
The earliest I remember our votes having no power was with the election of George W. Bush. As a young girl, I could tell something was fishy when Bush's # of votes were less and he won. Shouldn't the American ppl have realized something was going on at this point? As a young girl, yes, I thought it was strange G.W.B had won, but it went one in ear and out the other. This applies to grown men and women as well. Even people who are college educated do not learn the truths of the government. Dr. Loo is the only professor that I have had in 4 years to expose the truth of our government to his students. It is not fair that we are blamed when things aren't going well, given the fact that our votes mean nothing! The bureaucracy that runs the U.S. has strayed so far from the constitution, its sickening. Constitutional rights have been violated & our government uses unchecked power. Systems may shape the individuals, but new individuals need to reshape the system of our government.
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0 # KG7 2014-03-05 14:36
I completely agree w/bmcotran13. As this was the case with the latest presidential election in 2012. Romney won 48% of the popular vote versus 38% for Obama. It makes one think why we bother voting. Very similar things take place at the state level as well. For example, in 2008 the citizens of Cali. voted to pass Prop 8, but was then later struck down by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutiona l. What I don't understand is if a law can later be overturned on the grounds of it being unconstitutiona l, why is it put on the ballot to be voted on in the first place? To me it makes no sense and again makes me question why we even bother voting, even though I still do. It is evident that systems trump individual choices.
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-06-09 03:43
I think the whole system is bull. We are really only allowed to pick one of two people. Out of the 314,000,000 people we get two choices. What is up with that? You cannot tell me honestly that the people in power do not know the outcome of before the race truly begins. With the government spying on everyone and social media it is not that difficult to get the “dirt” on someone before they are picked to represent that party. Go ahead and vote and feel that you have a say. 314,000,000 people cannot all be happy with the two choices given. We will not know how sweet the other side is until a majority of these people make their voices heard and demand a change.
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0 # bmcotran13 2014-03-05 06:08
Weber says on page 151 in McIntosh, "Bureaucracy naturally welcomes a poorly informed and hence a powerless parliament at least in so far as ignorance somehow agrees with the bureaucracy's interests." By parliament, I am sure Weber would mean our congress, but I feel that this statement also pertains to the general public. This is again an example of the system shaping the individual. They are secretive and do not want us to know what is going on, so the ones who do not care will remain ignorant. The ignorant ones will continue to believe their votes matter. We need to restore our system in a manner where the votes do matter. How is this something we can work towards? Will the individuals ever be able to shape the systems?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-05 13:50
For systems to change it is necessary that a movement commence and persist long enough and powerfully enough to produce a change of the system. The existing system has to be smashed and replaced by a new one. This is something that cannot be done within the framework of the extant system except insofar as those building and participating in the movement I'm talking about are operating within and outside that system until the old system is eliminated.
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0 # Katgrl15 2014-03-06 01:35
I think people would get too discouraged to even try to think about and create a successful plan to eliminate the current system. I'm not sayings it's impossible, but to have several people trustworthy enough to take on the job is unrealistic. Honestly the way the system is currently will remain the same until an event, like Nazi Germany, occurs and even then it would be too late. Too many people nowadays are fearful or what could happen to them and fearful of punishment to cross the line of overthrowing the systems. Most people would rather endure what the system is implementing and how it functions to ensure peace of mind and state in their individual life.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-06 01:55
What do you mean by saying that having several trustworthy people is unrealistic? Do you literally mean "several?"
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0 # katgrl15 2014-03-06 02:04
I literally mean several trustworthy people. In order to eliminate the old system you mentioned that we would need people within and outside the system to collectively achieve the goal of shutting down the current system. The people that would be inside would have to have been elected or deemed the correct people in which we entrust the task of eliminating the system and I think people would want trustworthy people that they can rely on and depend on to get the job done. Nowadays it is unrealistic to find several people with these characteristics .
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0 # OLI 2014-03-09 02:47
Quoting Katgrl15:
... Too many people nowadays are fearful or what could happen to them and fearful of punishment to cross the line of overthrowing the systems. Most people would rather endure what the system is implementing and how it functions to ensure peace of mind and state in their individual life.

I feel like this relates to me because I am scared to stand up. I am in the military, and we have several classes within our unit that tell us we cannot be for a single political party but for the one that is in place. If we get caught in any form of protest, it will be a negative charge to us as a soldier. Me as a soldier for the 3 year, I want to have that clean slate and being the good follower to get a job that could keep us in a healthy living situation.
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0 # Daniel Carrillo 2014-03-06 00:47
Democracy means all members of society participate equally in government, but if you look at the individuals who make up Congress it is easy to see we have anything but a democracy in our country. If we truly had a democracy half our senators and representatives would be women, 13% of them would be African American, and the majority of them would earn much less than $100,000 a year. Instead, we have mostly White, rich, older men as elected officials who have had their campaigns financed by a handful of very wealthy people who also use their financial might to persuade or threaten other elected officials into doing things such as voting to restrict voter rights. This handful of wealthy people also controls the media in the US, which works to fool Americans into believing our safety depends on the government's ability to eavesdrop on our conversations, or to otherwise encroach upon our personal freedoms.
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0 # lcdisney37 2014-03-09 05:12
I agree with Daniel in the fact that most of congress is made up on rich white men. How is democracy equality when most of these men probably have the same view? If congress was diverse, most likely there will be different points of view because different people are raised in different environments. Therefore different perspectives would be brought up due to the possibility that they could have possibly encountered obstacles that makes them think differently.
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0 # LeslieB 2014-03-11 05:42
I agree with Daniel. It has always been the wealthy white man who has set the rules and until now such remains to be true so how can we ever expect any real change? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. So perhaps the majority of us have gone insane voting every 4 years for a new leader expecting this one to be the "good" one who will bring change and maybe for once actually keep his promises. Its the same game being played only thing that changes is the player, unfortunately.
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0 # Daniel Carrillo 2014-03-06 00:48
The Supreme Courts ruling that corporations are people, in addition to the emergence of Superpacs, has helped to aid and abet the few who control are country.
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0 # bmcotran13 2014-03-07 01:37
In Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Dr. Loo states, "Classical democratic theory holds that political leaders and the mass media are the people's servants; leaders and the media mirror want the people want."- pg. 217
As we know, our votes do NOT count towards the makings of policies or elections. Our government should not be allowed to call itself democratic. Since our votes do not matter, the gov't should stop holding elections. It is so enraging, it makes me want to never vote again. Our leaders and media absolutely do NOT mirror what the public wants or needs. We have two options, we either never vote again, or we do something about this. A "smashing of the state" needs to take place. The mass public needs to be enlightened about the truth behind these systems. If systems make up the individual, it makes sense that there are liars and cheaters in this world. This must mean that there are also good ppl, whether in gov't or in the general public. Continued....
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0 # PD06 2014-03-07 01:44
I agree with the whole idea that the system shapes the individual more then the individual shape the system. The system shapes and alters individual behaviors so well that most of us don't even notice that it happens. For example, the majority of students know that when they go into class, their desk needs to be facing forwards towards the teacher. This is not something that was taught or told explicitly to them, but instead it is a behavior that the system have ingrained into students at a young age. Fun fact, did you know that one of the reason why the experiment at Stanford had to stop was because Philip Zimbardo took on the role of the warden so well, he started believing that he was a real warden?
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0 # ktli 2014-03-09 02:26
I also agree with this idea. Most of us behave and think upon the social norm. Society sharps and manipulate our value and believe. The Stanford Prison Experiment also could be applied to war time. It sort of explains the cruel behavior of Nazi soldiers to Jewish people. I don’t think all those Nazi soldiers are evil or like killing, yet, I think most, at least some, of them were controlled and manipulated by their army. Anyway, it’s just my point of view.
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-06-09 04:17
The United States is like the Milgram experiment on a large scale. We the citizens have been socialized to obey authority and follow the rules. Our socialization has molded us into believing the government is at the top of the food chain. The government is the one making and policing the rules. The government is dominating. We the citizens are the submissive that rarely question authority. The government is there to protect its citizen’s right? I think that is what we are supposed to believe, but there has been too much hidden from the American public and more and more officials are tired of the lies. They are coming out and confessing to the American public the truth. I can only imagine the extent of the lies we are told. If we are lied to about one thing there are ten more.
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0 # bmcotran13 2014-03-07 01:45
Going with what Katgirl15 has said, we do need several trustworthy people to help begin with the smashing of the state. If there are any people in gov't who are honest and trustworthy, they either must not know what is happening behind closed doors, or there must not be any honest & trustworthy ones. As mentioned in class, Gandhi did not resort to violence, but I feel that a revolution in the US would be violent. How do we start "smashing the state" without protests and uproar? The bureaucracy that runs the US is electing officials on their own and letting us think that we have the power. How do we acquire someone in power who is looking our for the people's best interests? The public masses need to come together and demand a reform in gov't. I realize we have been discussing how we would "smash the state", and it would be a slow process that took place within the existing one, but I am just very confused as to what that entails.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 04:16
The principle underlying the slogan "smash the state" is that the existing state is structured in order to promote & sustain the existing forms of inequality & exploitation. It's consistent with the fact that systems have their own systems logic and no matter who is in them, whether they're "good" or "trustworthy" people or not, to function within that system they have to "go along to get along." In other words, they have to cooperate with the logic and processes of that system, no matter what their personal or ideological sentiments might be. While any revolution that has ever happened as in fact drawn upon the covert assistance of some who are within the system that is being overthrown, the key to such a revolution lies with those who are outside of the system.

There's a big difference betw reform & revolution. Smashing the state isn't a reform. It's the dismantling of the old system & a rebuilding of a radically different system structured for very different purposes.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 04:18
The principle underlying the slogan "smash the state" is that the existing state is structured in order to promote & sustain the existing forms of inequality & exploitation. It's consistent with the fact that systems have their own systems logic and no matter who is in them, whether they're "good" or "trustworthy" people or not, to function within that system they have to "go along to get along." In other words, they have to cooperate with the logic and processes of that system, no matter what their personal or ideological sentiments might be. While any revolution that has ever happened has in fact drawn upon the covert assistance of some who are within the system that is being overthrown, the key to such a revolution lies with those who are outside of the system.

There's a big difference betw reform & revolution. Smashing the state isn't a reform. It's the dismantling of the old system & a rebuilding of a radically different system structured for very different purposes.
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0 # Wolffian 2014-03-07 04:06
The illusion of democracy as we learned in class today, was an eye opener. I always admire and believed that America was a democratic. I truly believed at one point that peoples votes counted and that their opinion did matter; however reality is that it doesn’t. How then can we fix a system that is broken? Marx said, “You smash the system that is in place, and replace it with a new one” It sounds easier said than done, but now I believe the words of Dr. Loo, “Sometimes the minority of the people are the ones that make the difference.” I hope that one day the minority will smash the system and I’ll live to see it.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 14:26
Quoting Wolffian:
The illusion of democracy as we learned in class today, was an eye opener... How then can we fix a system that is broken?

To say that it's "broken" would lead one to try to fix it b/c you're assuming that it's not working the way it's supposed to. The system IS working the way that it's supposed to and the way we can expect it to, based upon capitalism's essential nature and based upon the premises of democratic theory. Thus, it's not "broken." The saying, "It doesn't matter who you vote for as long as you vote" acknowledges that voting is a show rather than how public policy is actually determined. As you referenced, what does matter is not where the majority of peo are in their minds at any pt in time but what the leading minority who set the norms are. It all turns on what set of norms are being set. Are they abt narcissism or abt the needs of the whole, and what system is in place?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 14:30
Quoting Wolffian:
The illusion of democracy as we learned in class today, was an eye opener...How then can we fix a system that is broken? Marx said, “You smash the system that is in place, and replace it with a new one”

To say that it's "broken" wd lead one to try to fix it b/c you're assuming it's not working the way it's supposed to. The system IS working the way that it's supposed to & the way we can expect it to, based upon capitalism's essential nature and based upon the premises of democratic theory. Thus, it's not "broken." Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 14:32
Part 2: The saying, "It doesn't matter who you vote for as long as you vote" acknowledges that voting is a show rather than how public policy is actually determined. As you referenced, what does matter is not where the majority of peo are in their minds at any pt in time but where the leading minority who set the norms are at. It all turns on two things: 1) what sys is in place and 2) what norms are being set. R they abt narcissism or abt the needs of the whole?
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0 # KG7 2014-03-07 14:34
Democracy is an illusion and I can't help but feel this is not what our forefathers had in mind (over turning the popular vote) when creating the concepts of democracy. Listing examples of instances where the less than 5% got the 95% vote overturned would be time consuming as there are many. When the Constitution was created much of it was meant to protect WE the people from government (the government having too much power). So if the 5%'ers can get a law overturned that 95% of the people voted for, aren't the rights of the 95% now being violated?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-07 14:45
The Founding Fathers were slaveowners and the Electoral College and the US Senate were created as breaks on too much democracy because they did not trust too much democracy.
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0 # KG7 2014-03-09 03:17
Yes, I agree/confirm that the Founding Fathers were slave owners.
Can you please explain what you mean by the electoral college and the US Senate were created as breaks. What do you mean by breaks?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 05:06
Quoting KG7:
Can you please explain what you mean by the electoral college and the US Senate were created as breaks. What do you mean by breaks?
The Founding Fathers overall didn't trust the masses and introduced certain measures to act as barriers to allow elites to contain or overrule what the masses might do. Those barriers included the Electoral College and the US Senate. The EC was put into place so that the actual election was by electors who could if they wanted to, overrule the popular vote for president. The Senate is not based on proportional representation but 2/state no matter how many people live in that state.
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0 # PD06 2014-03-07 18:34
That's how the system works KG7. We think we are in power by voting on laws and who the president is, but in reality it is the laws and the people we elect to be president are already been selected for us by those who are in power. We have just this illusion of majority rule and democracy. All we are doing instead are voting on laws and people that the wealthy and powerful have deem acceptable for them and then giving us the illusion of having "power" to vote.
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0 # KG7 2014-03-09 03:31
It's truly sickening! Can you imagine what would happen if the masses caught on/learned, truly pealed away the layers of how our "Democratic" system really worked? I've got some years under my belt (I've been privy to a handful of Presidential elections)compa red to many of my classmates and it's awesome that these conversations are being had because many truths are being spoken and revealed.
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0 # Rod24 2014-03-07 21:13
I completely agree that the ppl do not shape the systm but the systm shapes the ppl. It is in the interest of our "democracy" for us to believe that we are the ones w/ control and if we want change we must "vote" for the change because this is the only way for our voices to be heard as a nation. Nevertheless, such a statement is false. The United States continues to call itself a democracy due to the fact that we get the opportunity to vote and our votes "matter". Reality is that our vote does not matter, the only reason voting is truly a concern is so that we can continue to carry the title of a democracy as a nation. As long as the ppl are voting then we are fulfilling the definition of what a democracy is. How can the individual shape the system if the individual's thoughts/feelin gs do not matter? In the past I might have believed that democracy is an end in itself but now I feel that as ppl become more aware of what our "democracy" really is it will result in a means to an end.
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0 # AP158 2014-03-07 22:05
Part 1- This is a very interesting article because our society believes that we live in a very democratic environment. In where we decide as a group who will be our leaders, and which will be the laws that we abide by. Both Loo and Hassine addressed the issue of uneducated individuals that receive either bad healthcare or unfair sentencing. For example, in Hassine “Life without Parole” he talks about the epidemic of AIDS that is present in prisons because of the amount of unprotected sex that many have. Hassine talks about the story that an inmate named Tony experienced, when he was diagnosed with AIDS he was just told not to have sex. Tony was never told why not to have sex and continued having sex with many of the inmates and who knows how many of them he infected as well.
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0 # AP158 2014-03-07 22:05
Part 2- Loo brings up a very good point that “Usually people who are ill will go to experts who have devoted themselves to studying and treating illnesses – physicians and other health care deliverers.” But when an individual is in prison they are not treated by adequate physicians that can educate the inmates of how dangerous AIDS can be. Inmates are not always informed on how they can protect themselves and others. Loo also brings up a very interesting topic, which is that many of us still believe that we live in a democratic society. That is not how our society or system works. Although a majority of peoples opinions and thoughts are asked for, they do not necessary apply to the laws and rules that are decided.
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0 # AP158 2014-03-07 22:06
Part 3- Another major problem that is present in our society is that if something is not affecting us directly we tend not to be involved. For example, the over crowed prisons that are across the country do not receive attention from many because they don’t even know that issue exist. Receiving an education is very important because it allows a person to expand their educational horizons. Problems that we never believed were there are now being exposed to us, causing many of us to realize that we need to make a stand and make a difference in our own way to help our society.
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-08 03:42
(Part 1) After reading this article I was struck by something that Dr. Loo brought up and made an important connection to something we have been talking about all quarter in class. Dr. Loo states that “people incorrectly attribute the operations and nature of systems to the values and behaviors of the individuals in those systems”. I think this is a profound statement because in providing the example of torture I was able to connect the idea to the area of cops in general. Cops and correctional officers are seen in a generally negative light due to their tough personas. We talked in class about the working personalities of police officers and guards, which often include the need to appear efficient, suspiciousness, the need to feel respected (both in regards to their own badge and cops in general). Some people even classify them as racist, which I disagree with. I do not believe that it is the police that are racist, but rather the CJS that practices institutionaliz ed racism. I believe
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-08 03:43
(Part 2) cops’ personas to be the work of their training and the way that the CJS requires them to be, not how they would choose to act on their own accord. Dr. Loo talks about the fact that torture is not done by malevolent individuals, but rather it is done because authority figures direct those under them to carry it out. I believe that in general this is the case with many cops. I do not believe that they are malicious or malevolent, as they are so often made out to be. Instead, I believe them to be told that they have to fit into a certain mold to be successful, which I know to be far from the truth. I believe that their job can be done successfully in taking a more tolerant approach. In “Life Without Parole”, Hassine describes that he while in Grateford he was “surprised to discover that there was no open hostility between guards and inmates. As, a matter of fact, [he] would come to see that many inmates and guards went out of their way to establish good relationships with each
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0 # Lyndsey Morris 2014-03-09 01:41
I think you gave a great example about cops. Almost everyone that you come into contact with usually agree that cops are all the same. They are stereotyped to be mean, tough, out to get you type of people. I also agree that they mostly are this way. But is that because they are all like that as individuals? No, it makes better reasoning to say that their career and surroundings make them that way. As you put it, they are successful only if they follow this criteria. So I wonder if most people when they think about it would agree that maybe cops could escape this stereotype, would they be able to be people who everyone looks up to for ever scenario? Maybe in time we could start to change the way something thinks when they meet someone who introduces themself as a police officer. I think this could be a good thing because not every cop should be labeled as a bad person, and this isn't fair to those.
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-10 23:46
Yes, it is absolutely heartbreaking to me that so many cops get labeled as bad guys, because I personally have a large number of high up police officials in my family. I am proud to come from a long line of cops that are some of the most caring and giving men I have ever met. They do a great deal to give back to the community and due to their higher up positions in their districts they do correct other officers when they are abusing their power, acting in a manner that is unnecessarily violent, or are violating a person's rights. They have told me themselves about the many flaws of the system and how they do not always agree with the practices put in place because they say that it breeds certain authoritative entitlement feeling in some officers, but not all cops are like that. Some cops go against the system and are still good at their job. It is upsetting to hear negative generalizations on the basis of the actions of a few because I know that many of them are amazing people.
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-08 03:44
(Part 3) other” (16). This demonstrates a more humane approach is possible. I think it is important to address the fact that police officers and guards aren’t always as tough as they come across. They fear for their lives everyday just as the prisoners themselves do. For example, the Super Bowl Sunday Chicken Riot, started out with one guards confronting a prisoner for breaking the rule that no food was to leave the dining room, and turned ugly when dozens of inmates started to riot, “every guard on the block was assaulted and some were even locked in cells” (Hassine 99). It is not to say that all cops are innocent as it is important to remember that as with the example of torture, there are sometimes malevolent individuals, that some cops do abuse their power and are dangerous people. We can see this with the death of Kelly Thomas and many other cases across the country. However, I wish to emphasize that some malevolent individuals (in this case, some cops) do not represent the
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0 # Beks113 2014-03-08 03:51
(Part 4) the profession as a whole. According to the Marxist's view, "police are the tool of the rich man's rule". Therefore, it is important to remember that way that the CJS works and the way that police are told to function in their jobs are the result of a the system being institutionally racist, and does not necessarily reflect individual prejudice or malice.
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0 # mv46 2014-03-08 14:56
(1)As I read through this article I realized how ignorant I was before taking classes like the one I am in now with Dr. Loo. I always have believed that voting makes little to no change in the government, but now knowing the facts it surprises me how right I was. This article is correct in the notion that people aren’t evil, but the system makes them that way. People tend to do things in response to demands from higher authority. As with the Stanford experiment, the Milgram experiment proved the same to be true. It was a little change in direction as with the Stanford experiment showed how obtaining certain roles can change a person or putting them in an authority figure. It showed how obtaining power can change a person. The Milgram experiment tested people to see how far they would go in obeying an authority figure. The results from it showed that obedience to an authority figure is very powerful form of social control and could make ordinary people do unpredictable things.
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0 # mv46 2014-03-08 14:56
(2) We have grown up in a system where we are taught to obey those in higher authority whether we believe it’s right or wrong. We follow the rules of our managers, teacher, parents, elders, etc. We have been taught to question less and just follow what someone more “wise” says. Getting educated is a way to overcome this and start to think more critically towards many things. The most obvious relationship of these kinds of theories can be depicted throughout the prison system, but looking at it more critically we can see this at our criminal justice system. Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow depicts many examples about how officers are put through tough decisions because they have to obey the authority above them. They make them discriminate and yet this system creates racism in our officers. Examples could be the NYPD stop and frisk. Now this can be an example relating the Milgram experiment where an authority figure tells them what to do.
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0 # mv46 2014-03-08 14:57
(3) An example relating to the Stanford experiment can be how “…the Supreme Court authorized the police to use race as a factor when making decisions regarding whom to stop and search, police departments believe that racial profiling exists only when race is the sole factor. Thus, if race is one factor but not the only factor, then it doesn’t really count as a factor at all (Alexander pg.131)”. The more power you put on a person or a system of authority the more they are condoning to using that power transforming them into something they are not. As stated by one of Dr. Chavez lectures Max Weber defined domination as the probability that a command with a specific content will be obeyed by a given group of people and power as the ability to carry out ones will despite resistance.
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0 # mv46 2014-03-08 14:58
(4) This authority and power the government has over its citizens that is gained by brainwashing by many forms of media, legislation passed, etc. has brought about domination of us citizens and built the power of the government without much opposition. Now it’s up to people to create opposition and a movement must commence as Dr. Loo stated.
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0 # mart909 2014-03-08 22:45
This power that the government has over the people continues to grow daily. They in fact do manipulate by all the forms you state. Only certain information they acquire is released and they decide when is the right time to reveal it, however this information of course is not something we should always believe is the truth. At first I did not really believe there was any possible way to go up against the government but now I do in fact believe that change is possible and for that to happen there has to be movement from all parts of the country.
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0 # KLR 2014-03-08 21:13
I have always believed that our democracy has never really been decided on the individual peoples vote. The President isn't chosen based on popular vote. That is decided on the electoral college. On the state level, people get to vote, but it always seems that whatever gets voted in, usually gets overturn. Even when we vote to raise taxes to allocate something like repairing the roads, that money usually gets reallocated to something else and that is the end of it. This really shows that the elitists still make the final decision for us even after we vote a certain way. We truly do live inside that system. Unfortunately that system is capitalism.
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0 # mart909 2014-03-08 22:40
I definitely agree to with this article. In order to something to be fixed the problem has to be known as well as the entirety that surrounds what is to be fixed. What we went over class within democracy was something to really think about. Most people definitely believe they really have a say in this country. The only reason they believe that is because politicians have made it clear that every single vote counts and people believe this. Just because people vote does not mean that they are taken into consideration. It is just some day that was created so that the people actually feel like they have control of this country.
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0 # screamingrelaxesme 2014-03-09 02:11
I can’t even count the amount of times while being in the final years of high school and transitioning to college all the school teachers and professors who embedded the idea in me that voting was the “American thing to do”. That as a responsible caring citizen of this country that voting was my duty and that in order to have my voice heard I had to do it through a ballot. I can even recall coming home one day and asking my mom if she voted and her answering, “Voting doesn’t make a difference, they choose who they want anyways”; I was pretty angered by this especially when I had developed this idea that voting was the initial step to fixing our current problems. I thought those who didn’t vote did not have a right to complain about the state of our country since no effort was made on their part to change the direction of which we were headed, through votes. Boy was I wrong. The older I get and the more things don’t and haven’t changed the more I lose faith in our DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM.
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0 # ktli 2014-03-09 02:25
I absolutely agree the idea, “Systems shape the individuals in them more than the individuals in systems shape the systems.” As Durkheim claims that society exists independently as a thing in itself. Society is a system that is occupied by its systemic logic, people in the system are ruled by this logic. In other words, social institutions group society, but institutions don’t need specific individuals in it. Yet, most people don’t realize this, even myself. Before I took Dr. Loo’s class, I thought people behave based on their willingness. For example, most people think democracy is a fair, however, I think it’s not always the case. I don’t think democracy always unworkable and it would not be desirable anyway, as policy would be inconsistent and subject to the influence of the media, public relation people and other trends.
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0 # GA23 2014-03-09 03:33
I believe people our socialized to how the system works. People are seen in a certain way because of how the criminal justice system has shaped them to be. For example police officers are seen in a negative connotation because of how they are depicted in every single media form we can get our hands on. Sometimes we even witness these things in person. For example, there was a dispute in front of my house between a lady and her daughter and the police had to be called in. I did not know when they showed up until I heard the lady screaming at the officers. She kept telling them that they were bad people and that they should leave. She was being very disrespectful and saying how she did not trust them because they were filthy pigs. The officers although were only doing their jobs. Next thing you know the lady is tackled to the ground and handcuffed. She is still kicking and screaming and three officers had to restrain her. She did not want to comply fighting every single action they did.
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0 # GA23 2014-03-09 03:39
This lady obviously had a bad view of the police maybe because of certain other incidents. It is so strange though how instead of being seen as the "good guys" they are seen as "pigs." This although is not their fault, when they are working to become officers they are implemented with certain ideals that they need to practice therefore making them seem like trouble makers or racists. In reality the police may not be this way they are simply just doing what they were taught to do.
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0 # Crystal 2014-03-09 06:47
I agree with GA23. Many perceive police officers as the "bad guys who want to take away people's freedom and rights." People who have a negative perception on police officers may have had a bad experience with them but when someone needs desperate help or when someones robbing them who are the first people they call? Yeah, people may not agree with certain job duties they perform but there main duty is to protect and serve despite what people think about them.
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0 # GA23 2014-03-09 03:49
#mv46 Mentioned the Stanford experiment. This although sheds a different light on the way police officers work. The experiment gave a certain power to people and they abused it. Are cops abusing their power because they simply know they have it? Power allows people to be above others and it seems that they feel that they can exercise this power if they simply need to. Example is a friend of mine was arrested and eventually beaten for no reason because the police simply "felt" this person was withholding information which was not the case at all. They also shot their dog with a pellet with no reason to just because they felt the dog was dangerous when the dog is only a puppy. Talking to this person I learned that they felt as the police were simply exercising their authority because they knew they could get away with it.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 04:44
There's a certain tendency in some of the comments to overstate the role of structure and understate the role of individual choice. While as I argue in the article structures are primary, that doesn't mean that the secondary aspect of individual's choice is non-existent. Primary doesn't mean all and everything. It means that it's the main influence, but there is still scope for individual decisions. For ex., re: comments about cops just carrying out their training & orders. Consider the matter of rapists. While rape is something that is encouraged by patriarchy, that doesn't relieve rapists of culpability for their actions. While the POTUS acts on behalf of capitalism-impe rialism, when Obama assassinates peo and lies to us abt what he's doing, he is still culpable as an individual for his actions. Systems are dominant but individuals are still responsible. It's just that holding individuals wholly responsible is wrong b/c the system that breeds these behaviors is the main issue.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 04:49
One of the salient points that Phillip Zimbardo made abt his Stanford Prison Experiment was that while not all of the "guards" were as mean as other "guards," not a single one of the guards stood up against his fellow guards. This applies to peo in other professions besides prison guards. Cops, for ex., who don't agree with the actions of their fellow cops but who don't stand up against them for murder and unjust beatings are allowing that to go on. There is another angle to this as well: the culture of police departments is such that racism, sexism, and brutality are not only tolerated in gen'l but expected. That doesn't mean that all cops are this way b/c not all of them are, but the institution of police play a specific role in capitalist society - they are the enforcers for those in power and the repressive apparatus for that power and exploitation. Those of us who have been in protests know that telling cops they're just being used is useless.
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0 # lcdisney37 2014-03-09 04:50
I think most of us are guilty of believing that the system is structured on what we think because that is the way we are brought up to think. I know my parents always told me it was important to vote because our decision on who we vote for will affect how our society will be shaped. It is true that we do only believe what is said in the media, but they do not fully uncover the truth about politics and that is what they are paid to do, only uncover the "good things" about politics. This also plays apart with charisma when it comes to politics. I think back to the time when Obama was being re elected and they announced he had won with out announcing what the other states had voted for, I remember thinking it must be because he is a good president. This democratic system is corrupt and we need to learn to shape it and stop letting it shape us!
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 04:51
One of the salient points that Phillip Zimbardo made abt his Stanford Prison Experiment was that while not all of the "guards" were as mean as other "guards," not a single one of the guards stood up against his fellow guards for sadistic behavior. This applies to peo in other professions besides prison guards. Cops, for ex., who don't agree with the actions of their fellow cops but who don't stand up against them for murder and unjust beatings are allowing that to go on. There is another angle to this as well: the culture of police departments is such that racism, sexism, and brutality are not only tolerated in gen'l but expected. That doesn't mean that all cops are this way b/c not all of them are, but the institution of police plays a specific role in capitalist society - they are the enforcers for those in power and the repressive apparatus for that power and exploitation. Those of us who have been in protests know that telling cops they're just being used is useless.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 05:02
I would further illustrate the point about structure and agency (i.e., individual choice) w/ "RandyB." His attitude that it's ok for the US military to target and kill children w/ drones, etc., (see thread http://dennisloo.com/Sample-Data-Articles/two-news-items-about-drones-requiring-no-comment.html) & that no one being held at GTMO is innocent & that they can be held until the "war on terror" ends, is profoundly IMMORAL. While I don't blame him personally for his immorality b/c he personifies a system, he IS responsible for his attitudes.
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0 # Lyndsey Morris 2014-03-09 06:16
Before this I didn't see how political power worked either. It states most people think the individuals vote for what they want&we shape the system. This is the way I thought. That if our system was goin down hill it's b/c people aren't making the right choices 4 it. As I read, this isn't the case. The system has a huge influence on the individuals&tha t is what changes the system. The example of the prison experiment made this fact clear to me&is what made me understand this concept the best. The guards&prisoner s were all successful students from the same school but when u put them in their roles, they changed their personalities&b ecame people who they weren't on an everyday basis. So this to me showed that putting someone in a controlled environment shapes how the individual acts, not the other way around.
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 06:32
"He had already seen how the social context determines how people will behave and think in the Stanford Prison Experiment in which Stanford undergraduates were randomly assigned to play either prison guards or prisoners in a Stanford building basement. The simulated prison experiment was to last two weeks but it was shut down within a few days because it became all too much like a real prison almost immediately." This experiment conducted by Phillip Zimbardo, was to determine how authority positions affected a person; how would they act when placed in a position of power over another individuals well being. The study offered troubling results. People who, with no prior history of being violent, can act violently and do terrible things to other people because of authority. Yet another experiment, conducted beginning in 1961 by Stanley Milgram, had a very similar question he wished answered...
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0 # KT10 2014-03-09 06:37
Not until recently, did I think that people can change the system and that they had more power to change the government. Once I started college, my views began to change once I took political science and even this class and learned more about the wealthy in America, and how much power and money they had. Even if there were a few amount of people governing a state, they ruled the majority because of the money they had. I was ignorant to believe just because, we picked a black president, that discrimination would disappear and that so much things like unemployment and the economy crash would be cleaned up after Bush, but obviously people can't fix all of that unless there were a major revolution. It's all institutionaliz ed, just because we have a "democracy", doesn't mean that all minorities or women would be treated fairly.
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 06:37
...The main question that was trying to be answered in the Milgram Experiment was simply this, "How far were people willing to go while following orders from an authority figure?" In other words, were people willing to compromise their own values and continue despite how they were feeling about what their actions were doing. The premise of the Milgram Experiment was that two actors were involved in the experiment, one acting as the "student", while the other was the "experimenter". The third individual involved was a person from society who acted as the "teacher", and had no inkling that this experiment was staged...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 06:42
...The student was then hooked up to an electrical generator and would receive an electrical shock, beginning at 30 volts and increasing by 15 volts with each incorrect answer, all the way up to 450 volts, a lethal electrical charge. The teacher was given a sample of the 30 volt shock before being taken into an adjoining room where they could not see the student, but could hear them. The student was then given word pairings in which they were to remember and later give back to the teacher when asked what the pairings were. With each incorrect answer, the teacher would then deliver the shock to the student, believing that the teachers cries and screams of pain were real. When expressing discomfort and a desire to end the experiment, the experimenter would then give the teacher a verbal prompt, instructing the teacher that they must continue the experiment...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 06:48
...Even when the student no longer cried out in pain and their screams no longer sounded (all of which were simulated on a previously recorded tape), most of the individuals continued delivering increasing voltage shocks to the student, all the way up to the lethal 450 volt charge. They continued despite their desire to halt the experiment and no longer participate. They continued merely because someone, who they believed had real authority, merely told them that they must continue for the experiment to succeed. (A video of an experiment modeled after the Milgram Experiment can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6GxIuljT3w). Were the individuals that participated in either the Zimbardo Experiment or the Milgram Experiment evil or malicious people? It is possible, yes. However, I would argue the vast majority were not...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 06:53
...I would argue that the people who mistreated those acting as criminals in the Standford Prison Experiment, and those that acted as the "teachers" in the Milgram Experiment were merely individuals that let their new-found power over another control them, and let a person in a position of believed authority convince them to continue doing horrible things and causing others pain because that was what was required of them. This is true of those individuals in the U.S. Military that participated in the acts at Abu Ghraib. Is it possible that they truly were malicious people that enjoyed what they were doing to another human being? That is certainly possible, however, it is also possible that they were given power over others that they abused, and were told by those in authority over them that these actions they were committing were necessary for the "greater good"...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 07:16
Yet another example of running away with power entrusted to you and obeying those in authority over you for the "greater good" is shown in "Life Without Parole" by Victor Hassine. "...Unnecessary strip-searches and pat downs that are repeated obsessively are actually reminders: AT ANY TIME WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT WITH YOU!" (pg 7). This in particular is an example of the abuse of authority that guards have over those involved in the jail and prison systems today. They legally have the authority to control everything an inmate does; they are the lords over the inmate's life. They can control, to an extent, what part of the prison population they are housed in. They control whether or not the inmate goes to solitary confinement. It is very true that many guards don't abuse their power. However, in a system that is dominated by fear, it is inevitable that, at some point, something is going to happen that will be regretted...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 07:22
...Yet another example of how much authority and influence guards have over the inmates at the prison they work is shown in "Life Without Parole". Hassine tells of his experience speaking with another inmate, David, about the abuse he suffered. "When I got to Graterford [Prison], I took protective custody lockup twenty-four hours a day. A guard came down one day who had a pass for me to go get legal mail. He unlocked my door and left. I got up out of bed in my underwear and was rushed by approximately six or more inmates. I was raped numerous times" (pg 81). David was sexually assaulted by numerous fellow inmates, all due to the guard unlocking his protective custody cell door and leaving. There is no way those inmates were able to rush David that way by mere chance. Protective custody areas of prisons are specifically there to grant increased protection to certain inmates. I have no doubt that the guard who opened David's cell door knew that he would be assaulted...
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0 # Cal2009 2014-03-09 07:24
...Additionally , I have no doubt that that guard did this intentionally, undoubtedly due to some bribe he received in return for his actions. This is the kind of thing that perfectly demonstrates the actions of those individuals that participated in the Stanford Prison Experiment. They were granted positions of power over others and abused that power.
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0 # CH 2782 2014-03-09 08:25
I agree with Rod 24. “People do not shape the system, the system shapes us” however, I do not blame the people nor the government for its actions. It is neither the system nor the people’s fault to blame, it is both. The system for providing its people with information that they only want them to know, and the people’s fault for not finding and searching the “right” information. Many people choose to be ignorant about social problems, not necessary they do not know about the information. Perhaps many of the individuals hid through their ignorance as an excuse for not participating or taking action to the problem.
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0 # CH 2782 2014-03-09 09:02
I agree with Rod 24. “People do not shape the system, the system shapes us” however, I do not blame the people nor the government for its actions. It is neither the system nor the people’s fault to blame, it is both. The system for providing its people with information that they only want its citizens to know, and the people’s fault for not finding and searching the “right” information. Many people choose to be ignorant about social problems, not necessary people do not know about the information. Perhaps many of the individuals hid through their ignorance as an excuse for not participating or taking action to the problem.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 14:42
Quoting CH 2782:
I agree with Rod 24. “People do not shape the system, the system shapes us” however, I do not blame the people nor the government for its actions. It is neither the system nor the people’s fault to blame, it is both.

It's both, but it's not both in equal measure. See the 2nd part of this article where I address specifically what's problematic about eclectic reasoning and putting equal value on both the primary and secondary factors. You're also making assumptions based on democratic theory that peo know what they need and are actively in denial. While this describes some peo, it doesn't not explain most peo for whom the main problem is that they do not know what they need to know and don't even know that they don't know what they need to know.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 14:53
Quoting CH 2782:
I agree with Rod 24. “People do not shape the system, the system shapes us” however, I do not blame the people nor the government for its actions. It is neither the system nor the people’s fault to blame, it is both. The system for providing its people with information that they only want its citizens to know, and the people’s fault for not finding and searching the “right” information.


This is an ex. of eclectic reasoning that I discuss the problems with in the 2nd part of this article. While both structure and individuals are involved here, they are not equally to blame. How can it be people's fault for not finding the right information when they don't even know a) that they're being lied to and b) where to find good information? Most peo don't know what they don't know. While there are some who actively deny facts that they don't like, this doesn't describe most people.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 21:45
Quoting CH 2782:
“People do not shape the system, the system shapes us” however, I do not blame the people nor the government for its actions. It is neither the system nor the people’s fault to blame, it is both. The system for providing its people with information that they only want its citizens to know, and the people’s fault for not finding and searching the “right” information. Many people choose to be ignorant about social problems


You're being eclectic. I get into directly in this article's Part 2. While both structures & individuals are factors, they aren't equal in importance. If you say they're both important what you're in effect doing is negating the importance of structure & are left w/ no basis on which to do anything b/c "it's everyone's fault." It's not peo's fault if they don't know something they shd know and to say that they're actively denying the truth only describes a relatively sm % of the population - the RandyB's of the world.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-09 21:52
That should have said: "I get directly into this in this article Part 2." How can it be peo's fault that they aren't searching for the "right" info when they a) don't know that they're being lied to in the first place, and b) wouldn't know where to find the "right" info?
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0 # sintricity08 2014-03-09 18:38
I totally agree that it is a combination of both, yet there still is a big role in the fact that people do not know what they do not know. I did not know about the extent of things in our government before this class because I simply did not know. And me not knowing was because who was I to search for the real answers if I did not know where to search? I feel a lot of people are and were in similar shoes at one point.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-01 20:39
I felt the same way before taking Dr. Loo's class. For example, I had no idea that the government monitors everything we do. I am disgusted by it, and I can not help but wonder what else is kept from us? We basically can not accuse the government of violating our rights, if we are aware of being violated. It really disgusts me, how is our government any different than the regimes in third world countries?
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0 # marym 2014-03-09 20:51
People do not shape the system, the system shapes the people. Before entering college I thought voting made a different I was so naive about it all, we do not actually make changes in our democracy but the democracy makes us believe that we do and it’s all to their benefit. Democracy isn't fair and the policies that are being created are not very consistent there is too much influence by the wrong people that is being put out to the public.
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0 # LeslieB 2014-03-11 05:31
I think understanding the idea that the system trumps the individual is hard for some people, myself included, because it’s a lot easier blaming a person or a party for how messed up things are than it is blaming the entire system. The idea that someone is at fault is a lot easier to accept because it allows you to hope for change. If someone is directly at fault all you do to solve the issue is get rid of him/her. When you accept that the entire institution is the problem the solution becomes almost unimaginable.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-03-11 17:27
Quoting LeslieB:
When you accept that the entire institution is the problem the solution becomes almost unimaginable.
That's why the motto of this website is "Sometimes asking for the impossible is the only realistic path." LOL. What is considered impossible or unimaginable is chiefly due to the fact that a) it's been ruled off the table by those who benefit from the existing system and b) structural change IS a big thing. On the other hand, when you come to understand that the existing sys cannot be redeemed and that it's threatening the survival not only of peo but the planet itself, then what's more unimaginable, looking the other way or dealing with it?
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-01 20:47
I like this, "The system trumps the individual, and that is hard for some people." That is exactly right! For many, denial is the best policy, or a means of coping and surviving. Many feel that they are in control of their lives, by being a law abiding citizen, and going to school. When in reality, we are in control of nothing. We can not be in control unless we are aware of what we are and are not in control of.
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0 # Christine Lopez 2014-06-01 16:31
We live in a democratic societey . The average person is not informed how political power is excercised. According to the democratic theory it asserts that the public is in charge and it elects the official who they would like them to repesent the people. we as a society had been taughtt that we can vote to elect a public officials. After reading this article It mentions that our votes do not have power to elect who we believe would be more suitable.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-06-01 20:34
This is a controversial topic for many, our systems. We all follow a system in order to survive, whether we agree with the system or not. Fear is what keep many of us from revolting against systems, as well as ignorance. Many of us are ignorant to just how controlled we are by our systems. For some people, political views are often based on family tradition or family norms. As I usually say, "We live for freedom, and freedom is a lie."
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12