Two Points About What We Face
By Dennis Loo (4/28/14)
This article is prompted by many people's comments that the public is powerless in the face of invincible governments and that "human nature" dictates that people are driven by selfish desires for material wealth.
First, if authorities were truly impregnable because the populace is all too bought off, "fat and happy," mall-obsessed automatons, then authorities would not need to be spying on everyone in the world. They would not have to be passing and using the most repressive legislation seen in generations or, in some cases, ever in US history. Obama would not have had to be put forward by the powers that be as the first black to be US president to superficially change the face of US imperialism and be the supposed savior to keep millions within the system’s fold. He would not have to have a "kill list" that he adds names to every Tuesday and he would not be using rendition, torture, indefinite, and preventive detention. Obama would not constantly be talking about the importance of upholding "the rule of law," "due process," "transparency," being opposed to torture and the holding people at GTMO, and so on, while doing the exact opposite of these things, if most people, especially those who are soceity's opinion-leaders at all levels, did not value these things. The media and public officials would not have to conceal, lie about, and distort what the government is actually doing.
Obama or whoever else is in the White House could instead say something like this: “We’re the sole imperialist superpower in the world and what we say goes, no matter what the law says because we make the rules, and if you don’t like it, then we will crush you. Now, the rest of you Americans: go spend more money so the rich can get richer!”
This is worth really thinking through. If you do that, you will see that indeed, if most people were really as selfish and philistine as so many people believe and have been taught by authorities to believe, then there would not have to be misdirection and outright lying by authorities about what they are doing and why they’re doing them. They would not have to pretend that they are operating based on high principles. They could be straight with people.
Now, as a slight aside here: There are pundits and political leaders whose appeals to their followers are not very different from such blatantly xenophobic and might-makes-right rationales. There is a social base for this kind of appeal. It’s just that the proportion of the US population that can be mobilized around that appeal is a small portion of the population and it’s a particularly disreputable and overall - there are some exceptions – frankly rather stupid section of the population. The majority of people aren’t knowingly going to follow along with such a crowd of yahoos if for no other reason than that jingoists,’ male chauvinists’, and white supremacists’ values are so blatantly disgusting. While the Republican Party has an active and fired up social base within it that knowingly or unknowingly adheres to these values, even the GOP could not survive as a party if it had to rely solely on that reactionary social base and had its moderates in its social base flee from the party.
Second, the vast majority of people have not been taught how to think critically and they have specifically not been taught how to think dialectically. This latter issue of dialectical thinking is true of even most of those who have had the best educations that money can buy. This is evident in all kinds of matters, but I want to focus on how this comes out with regard to how people see politics and social dynamics: their thinking tends to be mechanical, static, and/or one-sided. It can only be such if they don't know dialectics.
Most people don’t see things in terms of the systems that we exist within and how that shapes and affects what people do and how they see the world. You simply cannot really understand what’s going on in politics and in society if you don’t understand how systems work and don’t base your thinking explicitly and consciously upon that knowledge.
For example, people who say that the problem is the people because the people are philistine, think that capitalism exists because the public as a whole is only interested in crass individual self-interest. If this were really true then we would not have a society because societies can only exist because of mutual interdependence and support. Families themselves would collapse because parents would no longer go to the trouble of raising and caring for their children who are a net drain on parents’ material resources and couples would no longer remain together because being in a relationship involves too much self-sacrifice and compromise to suit crass material self-interest.
To be continued.
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Second, in order to get at the truth and because the ways in which humanity's historic striving for understanding and its capacity to wonder and imagine are very rich and diverse, we seek to reflect that richness and diversity on our site. See "About Us" on navigation bar. We intend to be engaging and compelling, as the best investigative journalism and art are, and relentlessly scientific, rigorous, and direct, as those who cherish the truth are. We believe that we can be both accessible and sophisticated. As Loo lays out in his book,
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)