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The Weapon of Criticism Part 3: Humans’ Conscious Dynamism

The Weapon of Criticism Part 3: Humans’ Conscious Dynamism

By Dennis Loo (4/7/14)

I am going to expand on the central point I made in Part 2 regarding the chronic and pronounced underestimation by existing systems of humans’ conscious dynamic role. (Part 1 is here.) This is a point worth elaboration; it’s a perspective that very few people in the world have ever been exposed to.

According to Democratic Theory, the public’s role in politics is at most to vote every few years to determine who will rule over them. As Karl Popper put it:

[D]emocracy, the right of the people to judge and to dismiss their government, is the only known device by which we can try to protect ourselves against the misuse of political power; it is the control of the rulers by the ruled.

Popper thus rules off the table from the start that the people can and should move over time to more and more actually govern themselves. The very best that democratic theory offers is that the people can “protect ourselves against the misuse of political power” by those who the people elect. The goal of genuine self-governance is treated as not even worth considering.

Democracy, according to this view, is at the very most a barrier against tyranny. Democratic rule, according to this view, is satisfied when people vote. In other words, democracy = the vote. If the rulers become too tyrannical, the people can “throw them out” through their votes and replace them with rulers who are less tyrannical.

How does this truncated version of authentic popular rule in any real way constitute popular rule? The actual decision-making is being carried out by elected officials who can readily promise that they will do such and such while running for office, and then once in office, use their positions to misrepresent and conceal their actions and do largely as they please. Consider all of the promises that Obama made before his election and the promises and representations that he has made since being in office. In almost every single instance, he has done the exact opposite of what he promised to do, even as he continues to claim rhetorically the opposite of this. When his predecessor Bush was running for office he campaigned against “nation building” but this is exactly what he (wildly unsuccessfully) attempted to do with Afghanistan and Iraq, and that Obama has continued to try (also unsuccessfully) to do.

Those few individuals who might be running for office honestly trying to represent the public interest and who manage against the odds to get elected find out once in office that they are vastly outnumbered by careerists, bureaucrats, lobbyists and the major party bosses who let the upstarts in on how things are really done. If you persist in trying to act on behalf of the public interest in the face of the institutional forces in play, you are swallowed up, marginalized, or ejected. Consider what happened to then NY Governor Eliot Spitzer when he moved to try to clamp down on Wall Street bankers’ reckless practices prior to the 2007-8 economic crisis. Had he proceeded the crisis might have been at least mitigated. But he ignored the warnings he got to desist and in return all of a sudden his personal penchant for high-priced call girls was made public and ended his political career. Among journalists and politicos, the personal foibles, corruption, or scandalous behavior of public officials is an open secret that is almost never revealed publicly, except when such persons violate the unofficial codes for co-operating with the powers that be, and then all of a sudden those hidden flaws are “discovered.” For those whose personal lives and histories contain no scandals, it is enough for false accusations repeated over and over again by prominent figures to ruin their careers and reputations.

The political institutions themselves and the economic structures that they represent are not designed to treat democracy as a means to an end but to perpetuate a facade of authentic popular rule by treating democracy as an end in itself, satisfied by virtue of the fact that the people have voted. See here for elaboration on this further.

This brings me to the heart of this essay: humans’ conscious dynamic role.

What do I mean by this phrase? People are capable of doing great things, even people who are below average in intelligence and even people who are handicapped in various ways – physically, psychologically, emotionally, etc. But this potential for great things is something that doesn’t come automatically or easily and it cannot be unleashed without a certain approach being applied.

An illustration of this is can be seen in the worlds of sports and music. It takes a great coach/teacher/mentor to guide athletes and musicians to reach their potential. What a great coach does is help individuals and teams become much more than those individuals and teams thought that they were capable of. Everyone who has had the gift of having a great mentor in their life knows what I’m speaking of here: we can do much more than we think but it takes someone who believes in us and who has the requisite skills and knowledge to help make this happen. This requires training and great effort.

If you subscribe to the dominant theory about politics – democratic theory – then you have already discounted and devalued humans’ conscious dynamism by believing that the public’s role is to merely vote every few years. Even if the public wasn’t being lied to systematically and continuously, even if they were being told the unvarnished truth, if their sole political role is to vote every few years, then they couldn’t possibly ever exercise real power. Hence, democratic theory’s perspective on the conscious dynamic role of people is that it doesn’t exist. Humankind will never achieve what it is capable of as long as democratic theory continues to be the dominant perspective.

As I wrote in the last segment of this series, the other expression of this erroneous perspective is that those who hold power are invincible and that the task of overturning their oppressive manipulation and repression is too much, will take a very long time, or at least, there is no guarantee that revolutionary efforts will be successful and therefore it is better not to try.

This also severely and dramatically underestimates people’s conscious dynamic role. First, as to the question of guarantees: what person being recruited to a top basketball program as a prospect is going to tell the coach that they will come “only if s/he can guarantee a basketball championship”? What would a recruiting coach think about such a ballplayer? You know the answer to this already: they’d think this player was weak-willed and self-centered and they would not recruit such a player. No one can guarantee you specific results. No one can guarantee you victories, let alone championships. They can only guarantee that they will try their best and that if you try your best that good things will happen. Anyone who seeks guarantees in life is a coward and humanity would never have managed any of the great things that it has done if the people responsible for leading the efforts to do those things would only do such things if there were guarantees ahead of time of success.

Second, as to the question of how long such an effort for revolutionary changes might take. This is essentially a variant on the insistence of a guarantee. No one can tell you when efforts will be successful and anyone who asks for such a guarantee or who says that it “might take a lifetime” or “several generations” is looking for an easy way out and an excuse not to do what needs to be done. As the great investigative journalist I.F. Stone once said, to see social change you have to be willing to lose and lose and lose until one day someone who believes in what you believe in wins because you were willing to lose over and over again so that the chain of efforts that you were part of could happen.

Third, as to the question of feeling like you’re just one person and what can one person do: this goes back to the conscious dynamic role of people – all social change originates in small groups of people initially and in single individuals who decide that they are going to fight for what’s right, no matter what. Social change is not for those who scare easily. It takes backbone and a willingness to be unpopular and to do things, say things, and stand for things that the masses are not doing, saying, or standing for. What brave and determined people do as individuals has a huge impact on what those who witness this are willing to now consider and subsequently do. Brave people aren’t really born. Bravery is the willingness to do what needs to be done and you emerge as a leader by virtue of what you’ve decided to do, not who you are or think you are or what others think you are before that point.

The history of humanity demonstrates over and over again what extraordinary achievements are possible when people commit to a path and are not hemmed in by beliefs about the alleged limitations of humanity. We are exceptional beings, especially as groups led by courageous individuals, if we allow this to blossom and consciously grasp that dialectic between groups and their leaders.

People who have received the requisite training to see through the bald-faced lies and hidden flaws of exploitive systems are a force that it is nearly impossible to stop.

Comments   

 
0 # James Dewey 2014-04-09 22:21
The main focus on this article from my perspective is that the way in which our rulers are elected into office is not acceptable. The conscious collective is simply too malleable in order for rulers to be elected through merit. The article states that the incumbent rulers all have their own personality flaws, and if they don't anyone could make one up, once these flaws are then exposed to the conscious collective, then their term has essentially ended. Democracy essentially runs off of the conscious collective of the electorate and potential rulers can mold their image into one that will get them elected.

the issue with this system is that it is so systematic that whenever someone becomes unpopular, they are done and it is onto the next "ideal" person for the job. The issue lies in the revolving door of the office, when one ruler is "bad then its onto the next "better one" yet there is no inherent change in the system that produces these bad rulers.
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0 # Sadiez Moreno 2014-04-13 03:18
Your explanation of Democracy and our using voting as a means to govern our land reminds me of Ray Lotta's talk that occurred earlier this week. I feel as though you both have the same perspective on the voting process that takes place in the United States. I believe that he referred to us as being "asleep" for 4 years, waking up and going back to sleep for another 4 years until it was time for us to vote again. This, I think, is an accurate observation of just how much we DON'T control as much as we think we do in this country.
In regards the points you made about individuals that possess bravery and courage, I agree with you that it takes hard work, determination and the persistence to be able to stand your ground on deserted soil. However, I think that today's society is producing people that are just the opposite. Everything is getting easier due to technology, and people aren't really having to work for anything; they are mere sheep behind a keyboard.
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0 # CamouflagedWife 2014-04-13 15:36
Quoting Sadiez Moreno:
I believe that he referred to us as being "asleep" for 4 years, waking up and going back to sleep for another 4 years until it was time for us to vote again.

Sadiez, I think Ray Lotta's talk spoke a lot about the truth of the people, as i quoted you from his talk above. We really do just allow for government to control our "freedoms" because we are in a trance up until elections come again. We like to believe we control our lives and society as a whole, but we really don't. It takes a huge amount of drive and strength to fight for our rights and freedoms, especially when people don't fight with you because they conform to the idea of "not knowing" and living in a false peace. In society now, we have become more and more like robots to the government and their ideas. Yet there are few, like Ray Lotta and Dr. Loo, who choose not to allow government to hold them down. They stand up and I believe we must all stand up for something greater as well.
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0 # giovanna sesrrano 2014-04-21 18:16
I can agree with you about how they both try to point out how us as citizens are not truly aware of what is happening. The government conditions us into thinking we have the power when in reality we do not know. The use of manipulation and false information is fed to us and we receive it without ever having to question in. Like you said in Lotta's talk he referred to us as "sleeping" citizens that get to chose who will control our nation and that we have the control to decide this. I can also agree that us as a whole do not have if any control as what gets done in this country, but the idea of thinking we do have the power tends to satisfy most of us.
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+1 # cutemeow 2014-04-13 18:57
People of America have a lot more power than we think. Although we allow our government to control our freedoms among other things, we also have an abundance of resources to change the systems. Compared to other countries, Americans are privileged with education, technology, and freedoms to speak out against our government. With these factors alone, Americans have incredible amounts of power that may or may not be being used to their full potential. This is where the humans’ conscious dynamic role comes into play. Future generations must be taught to utilize these resources,so that our systems of government may gradually change to become more geared towards the people. Just this discussion alone is a start towards change. It takes one person to stand out so that others may hear their voice. Like you said, social change starts in small groups. Its only a matter of time before opinion can grab momentum and spread.
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0 # MayDay 2014-04-13 23:50
Quoting cutemeow:
abundance of resources to change the systems...Americans are privileged with education, technology, and freedoms to speak out against our government.

Hi! I agree with what you are saying but I wonder exactly what resources you're talking about? Changing democracy as a whole system, even gradually, would be difficult and time consuming. If people would like to live in this type of society, where we are influenced to hold importance to material goods, then it would be more sufficient to change peoples' moral ideals before government change can happen. You also proposed that social change starts with small groups too, but how do we as individuals start to emulate the importance of social change? The only way we can do that is if people are willing to not accept the way they live. People have to be discontent with their personal lives before actively participating in social reform. Generally speaking, the public is too blinded by material goods.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-14 04:04
Quoting MayDay:
Generally speaking, the public is too blinded by material goods.


Social dynamics and specifically social change do not operate as matter of everyone moving to the same beat and norms being set by the majority. Group members follow norms set by those who are looked to for leadership. Social change doesn't need and has never been accomplished by getting the majority to do something in the early stages. Change begins in small groups and then spreads. Revolutionary change would need to start with smaller numbers of people, those who care the most ardently, and who can set new norms. The existing system isn't the existing system b/c the majority want it that way.
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0 # LA305302 2014-04-14 01:29
Although I do believe we will in a nation that is of capable people to change, the reason why many do not is because of the lack of information to do so. I view the voting process like giving a toddler their own pretend cell phone and they think it is real. The government wants us to believe we are in charge of electing president. yet, they have to pick an electoral college to make our decisions. If there is something that we need to change in order to make things more democratic, is change the way we are allowed to fund politicians while they are running for office. the uneven amounts of funds, and the promises that are to made to those who fund the politicians is a reason why we are in such tyranny. the power is just revolving around those with the means to survive.
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0 # Elizabeth arroyo 2014-04-15 21:12
I don't think it is always the lack of information is the main reason why people do not stand up to make a change. It's like in Lotta's discussion when he addressed the issue of the IPhone and the danger other kids have to go through so our phones do not over heat. Yes, due to that lecture everyone that was present now knows the negative affect of the iPhone, but who is actually going to give up their phones?
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-04-14 02:41
The article talked about change and having to try over and over even if you fail. Quote from article “Social change is not for those who scare easily”. Being scared is a feeling. I think there is more to being scared or not being scared, emotionally speaking. I see that if enough people advocated for change eventually it could happen. I feel it takes a special kind of person or personality. Bravery is found in each individual at different levels for different situations. Not everyone is cut out to do certain jobs. I am sure not everyone could handle being a mortician even if it paid $200,000 a year. I would consider a veteran brave, but if they develop PTSD should we look at them as being scared easy? I think that continued rejection or lack of measurable progress from advocating change can wear a person down and get in the way of their self-esteem. It is like looking for a job and getting turned down over and over.
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0 # Elizabeth Arroyo 2014-04-14 04:45
The comment that democracy = the right to vote looks great on paper, but when it comes to choosing a president, sometimes it feels like we have to pick the "lesser of the two evils." Yes I agree that having the freedom to vote is a right that not all people are lucky enough to have, but I feel like once our president is picked that citizens involvement in politics end. People have the right to protest and stand up for what is right or fair, but people don't. They just complain and do nothing about it. I believe that yes it takes courage to stand up for what is right, but I think that people's fear of the law or the people that enforce the laws overpowers their strength to stand up for what is right.
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0 # soad 2014-04-14 05:30
The people of the United States only come together every 4 years to vote to put someone in power and over the past few decades, our Presidents have been either a Democrat or a Republican. However, there are so many people who want a change but fear a revolution of some sort. The term 'revolution', to some people, has a negative connotation, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Fighting for a change is not easy and will take a lot of courage and strength, but we shouldn't worry about being the black sheep in the room.
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0 # marcam 2014-04-14 18:12
When Americans go to vote every four years it is called democracy because they vote for who they want to have as President. They vote for whom they want to have as a leader and for whom “promises” change for the best. At the end nothing changes because those Presidents, republican or democrat, come from the same place, money from corporations. All they are interested in are the elites of society. People should unit and create a revolution. A revolution that would give more power to the people, not just being able to vote for someone every four years that doesn’t hold up to the promises they make.
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0 # Heng Chang 2014-04-15 22:13
People make promises all the time, but we also break those promises. Presidents can promise us the things that we want to be changed and what we want to hear, but in reality, that is just the way to persuade us to vote for them. We underestimate ourselves, our abilities, and our power. We've been holding on to the wrong hope, when in reality, we are supposed to find hope in ourselves, not the government and the people governing. When we want something to be done or changed, the fastest way is to depend on yourself and to make that change yourself.
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