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Trump, Pence: How to Best Take Them On - Part 5

Trump, Pence: How to Best Take Them On - Part 5

By Dennis Loo (6/30/17)

In no particular order, these are some of the pitfalls that we can avoid:

Setting an Example

When we make mistakes: we correct them and make a sincere public apology. Not everyone will do this, but we need to set an example. At times everyone errs. Many of us are smart enough to realize that we aren't the best at everything, and we can learn from others and from the experience. In fact, humility is a hallmark of being smart, whereas arrogance - e.g., repeating many times that we are the very best in the world at ... - is a sure sign that we aren't smart enough to realize our own human limitations. The smarter you are, in fact, the more humble you are, because you realize that there is so much more to find out. 

When I was eighteen or so, I thought that I knew a lot more than I knew at the time. 

To paraphrase Hemingway here: if you're 18 and think you know more than you do, then you haven't yet lived enough. If you're forty and still think you know everything you need to, then you've got no head. 

Setting an example is especially needed when POTUS is a thug, a hothead, a madman, and wants journalists beaten up or worse.

The Democratic Spirit (small 'd')

Unlike the game that Democrats and Republicans play where they both do not want real participation by the masses except as pawns in their game - the Democrats could call supporters into the streets against the GOP and against Trump, but notice that they won't ever do that - we desire people's fullest participation, the more the better. I am talking about a radically different model in which representative governance, although it has its place, does not match essentially how we do things at all. Hands on and full knowledge shared is our credo rather than secrecy and "alternative facts." Of course it will then be messy, but that is what we're after. 

Let me give you an example and in the process, fulfill an obligation where I said elaboration was coming: the democratic spirit (small d) of as full knowledge as possible, to as many as possible, so that we can make better decisions and all learn in the process, rather than just get our way or that of a small circle of people or our class only benefits, is our aim, so that, as Mao put it regarding the Cultural Revolution - our goal is to transform people's world outlook. You can't just declare something will happen. People have to partake, get their hands dirty, do things from soup to nuts, to understand a thing or a process. You can just wave your hands or pass a law or say that such will be so, but people have to find out themselves and we need to treasure their knowledge and use it, wherever good ideas come from, whether top or bottom or in between. We are not re-inventing the wheel but building upon those before us and we need to study those historic lessons in an ongoing way as part of our study. That is what is meant by democracy as a means to an end, not an end in itself, the latter being what happens now. The "people have spoken" with their votes, we are told. But the people don't decide on what the final choices are, the party leaders decide this. So what's voting and the whole elections charade got to do with "the people have spoken?" It doesn't. 

The Role of Bureaucracies

The ones who run our world to a great extent are bureaucracies. The worlds we live in are multiple, overlapping bureaucracies. The modern world especially cannot dispense with and must heavily rely on bureaucracies to work.

What is the bureaucratic spirit and how well does it get along with the democratic spirit? That is a question never posed directly by authorities. When a scandal such as corrupt official is discovered, it is seen as just that - an exception rather than something built in. So I will let you in on what those who run this system don't say:

The bureaucratic spirit is secretive, narrow, monopolistic, virtouso at what they do, the routinization of regular tasks, spreader of misleading information or outright lies, hierarchical, and compartmentalized. This is the very opposite of the democratic spirit which operates through full investigation, spreading and sharing of knowledge, and egalitarian (though leadership of the right kind is always needed). What I have listed are features of any bureaucracy, public and private. You cannot solve this by saying, "Well, we'll just rid of bureaucracies then" (so private bureaucracy is per se better than public?), nor do you change things by putting certain people in charge of the bureaucracies.

I will tell you an anecdote to illustrate this last "solution." Somone was taking over a major bureaucracy. At the start, he told everyone around him that he didn't want "yes" men around him but the truth always. He sincerely meant that. But despite this, he nonetheless found that it was very difficult finding out what was truly going on. Here was someone who really did want, and actually tried, to get the truth! How often is that even the case, where someone seeks the truth? 

It's important to realize that the traits that characterize bureaucraces are not a distortion or corruption of their nature, because you may have the wrong people in them, but a by-product of their very nature, an extension of routinely and expertly (usually) handling those matters. Bureaucrats such as within the police department or the Intelligence Community must believe that they are better than others at their jobs. If they didn't think this then something is wrong. Turf fights happen all the time because in part one agency thinks it can do a better job than another. Again, this is what you would expect given the nature of bureaucracies that they believe they know more than those in the public or those elected to oversee them (e.g. Congressional Committees). In some ways they do know better because they handle this kind of thing all the time. But unlike the famous line delivered in the film A Few Good Men when Tom Cruise's lawyer character goads Jack Nicholson's character on the stand to declare "You can't handle the truth!" the experts must be watched by others. Bureaucrats (such as the FBI) often exceed their (legal) boundaries because they think they know better than we do and they believe (though not all of them) that their cutting corners at times is justified. That is why, for example, National Security Letters from the FBI to the FISA Court asking for permission to watch someone or collect data frequently overstep what they are justified in doing. 

Their virtuosity in handling the routine (e.g., the spouse of a murdered other spouse is often the perp) is a strength of bureaucracies but at the same time their Achilles Heel. It's a very sharp problem when bureaucracies encounter the novel. They are in some respects worse at detecting and dealing with the novel event or person precisely because of their structure and their customary mode. And they automatically and as an extension upon the very logic which drives them and makes them good at what they do, often exceed the law. Anyone who tells you there is not an inherent tension between elected officialdom and civil servants wants to mislead you. This nonsense talk we hear about the "deep state" is part of this, as if they have just discovered a bureaucracy exists. Bourgoeis democracies rely heavily upon bureaucracies to run matters, but like a sleight of hand trick, they tell us look here, not there. This is especially so when trouble breaks out (e.g., 9/11; airlines mistreating passengers; cops murdering yet another black; a high official is caught obstructing justice, etc.)

I am going to refer you to this for the remainder. The question deserves your patient attention and consideration.

To be continued.


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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