Reviews of Globalization and the Demolition of Society
From Choice, 2/1/12:
Loo, Dennis. Globalization and the demolition of society. Larkmead Press, P.O. Box 1173, Glendale, CA 91209, 2011. 416p index; ISBN 9780983308102, $27.95. Reviewed in 2012feb CHOICE. Sociologist Loo (California State Polytechnic Univ., Pomona) has written an atypical book for an academic sociologist: it is well-written and jargon-free; requires no prior understanding of sociological theories, methods, or statistics; and is critical of the reigning worldwide political-economic system. That profit-based system, neoliberalism, emerged at the end of the Cold War. Loo's goal is to "help bridge the divide that exists between the world of theory, scholarship and science and the broad public." His basic thesis is that systems and structures are the primary shapers of individuals' behavior. Given that Presidents Bush and Obama function within the system, one should not be surprised to find a great amount of continuity between the policies of their administrations. On the basis of this thesis and the ideas of a number of classical social theorists, Loo examines current phenomena ranging from the role of elections and mass media to inequality and the war on terrorism. His position that an understanding of the system is a necessary condition if one is to participate in system change makes sense. However, his paraphrase of Archimedes, "give us one percent and we can lift this country and this world," concerns this reviewer, and will probably concern other readers too. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers/public libraries. -- M. Oromaner, formerly, Hudson County Community College
[A comment from Dennis Loo - I'm very pleased that Choice's review shows an accurate understanding of the main content and objectives of my book, that he sees the continuity between the policies under Bush and under Obama, and that he praises the writing in the book. Authors who get reviewers with that much understanding should be grateful - and I certainly am! The last sentence in the review does puzzle me, however. I'm not sure why he thought my paraphrase of Archimedes is problematic. The point I am making there is that public opinion is always and everywhere shaped and disproportionately affected by a small fraction of the population who play a leading role. To change the direction of this country does require that we get a small fraction, roughly 1%, to contend against the direction that the existing leaders and authorities are taking us down. We need people brave enough to take the moral high ground, and demand accountability, justice, fairness, and subordination to the law rather than the lawlessness that characterized Bush and now Obama and that characterizes neoliberalism worldwide. By doing so, they can turn the tide of majority public opinion. And, as I point out in various places in the book, public opinion would be on their side, but the expression of that widespread opinion exists in nascent form now, evident from public opinion polls sometimes, but it's not organized and it's not fully formed. We can see this, for instance, with the impact of the Occupy Movement. Polls show, with only one exception, that a majority of people support the Occupy cause, yet that opinion isn't reflected in the attitudes and actions of public officials. What matters in state craft isn't what the actual majority position is; what matters is what is represented as the majority opinion. Archimedes' point was that if you can find the right fulcrum point, you can move the entire earth. That fulcrum for moving the entire society and world in my paraphrase is the most advanced elements of the people. If my reviewer's concern about this point is that he thinks that it's undemocratic to speak of a fraction of the population taking a leading role, then he's missed my point that moving a group of people always requires leadership and that good leaders who actually represent the highest and best interests of the society and of the people are the only way for the broad masses of people to realize their group's needs and goals. As I write in the Preface: "Individuals and groups, in particular, are not separate from and opposed to each other but in fact different expressions of a single integrated process. Individuals cannot accomplish what they do without group support and group sustenance; groups, in turn, rely upon individual leaders to organize the group and thereby advance the groups’ interests." (Emphasis added, p. xii) This is a point that is a major, recurrent theme within the book that I attack from different angles throughout the entire book.]
From the MidWest Book Review, 10/11
The concept of society is that the group can do better than the individual. "Globalization and the Demolition of Society" is an argument from Dennis Loo that Neoliberalism and free market fundamentalism seeks to destroy ideas such as the social safety net, unions, and any government regulations that stand in the way of profit, and that both the political parties of the United States have been shifting this direction for years, leading to a potential bleak future. "Globalization and the Demolition of Society" offers an intriguing look at corporatism and the philosophy behind it, ideal for social issues and political studies collections.
From Paul Craig Roberts, 1/12/12 at his website PaulCraigRoberts.com
Three Books to Stimulate Thought
"January 11 was the tenth anniversary of amerika’s Guantanamo torture prison. National Public Radio commemorated the anniversary by airing critics and defenders of Washington’s violation of US statutory law, the Geneva Conventions, and the US Constitution. Listening to the former government officials justify their crimes, I realized that I was listening to those who had set the table and served the agenda that transformed the US into a criminal police state. Here was confirmation of Professor Dennis Loo’s theory of democracy in which an elite decides the agenda and the subservient media prepares the electorate’s receptivity.
"In his new book, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (2011) Professor Loo suggests that democracy without an independent and aggressive media becomes a disguised form of dictatorship. People think that by voting they are determining outcomes when in fact they are merely legitimizing agendas decided by the elite."
Roberts also mentioned Loo's book in his January 6, 2012 article "The Dismal Economic Outlook for the New Year:"
"We were even lied to about US war casualties. As Dennis Loo points out in his book, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (2011), the 4,801 Americans killed in action in Iraq leaves out the 50,000 suicides of veterans and active duty US troops. The truth of the matter is that the casualties of the Iraq war are as high as those of the Vietnam war."
“A brilliant exposition… compelling written and readily grasped, yet profound in its synthetic treatment . . . . Loo’s analysis of the inherent, self-reinforcing logic of neoliberalism and the ‘War on Terror’ . . . is a potential game changer.”
– Sharon Araji, 2011 President, Pacific Sociological Association, Professor of Sociology, University of Colorado, Denver
“[A]n adventure in cognitive rebellion.”
– Peter Phillips, Professor of Sociology, Sonoma State University, President, Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored
“Dennis Loo has identified the enemy of humanity and of the very earth as neoliberalism, and the system of advanced capitalism and imperialism that it promotes and defends. It is a daunting and implacable enemy, but as he also points out, it is increasingly failing in its efforts to control events. Herein likes the opening for the resistance, which he says must come from those brave enough to openly challenge its fact-challenged ideology, and to openly resist its efforts at control. It is, he says, much like those popular movies in which super alien races invade the earth, but are ultimately defeated when small groups of humans, and ultimately the whole of humanity, refuse to submit. A powerful call to action and rejection of cynicism.”
– Dave Lindorff, founder of ThisCantBeHappening.net and author of The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's, 2006)
“Dennis Loo has written an important, valuable book, Globalization and the Demolition of Society, that explores the real solutions that we must enact to rescue the US, even humanity from the clutches of globalization and the neoliberals who employ the devastating powers, tools and weapons of globalization. He describes just how bad things are, including the ineffectiveness of many of the approaches that naive activists (most of them) spend most of their time engaging in. Loo explains how and why depending upon the media and upon elected officials will do little to make a difference. This book will open your eyes and get you thinking in new ways that will make it much more likely for you to be able to make a difference.”
– Rob Kall, founder/publisher of OpEd News and host of The Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show 1360 AM, Regular Contributor, Huffingtonpost.com
“Reading Dennis Loo's book is like opening the curtains to daylight in a dark room.
“For those perplexed and dismayed by the current American political scene and rhetoric, for anyone who wonders, "How exactly did we get here?" Globalization and the Demolition of Society, by Loo, a professor of Sociology, provides empowering knowledge of the crisis facing us. His book traces the rise of neoliberalism, the political expression of globalization, and its tightening grip on the media, highlighting current examples such as the "war on terror" in a smart, lively manner. He looks at why and how democracy cannot work under current circumstances. Personally I was very moved by Loo's excavation of unexamined American myths about the individual vs. society. Loo shows how devaluing the role of the group and the community is a tactic used by the corporate media to further the atmosphere of separation, fear and growing economic inequity.
“While Loo covers considerable intellectual ground and complicated historical developments his language is always accessible and conversational. I would recommend this book to any one interested in understanding and changing our world.”
– Adriana Scopino, Freelance Editor
“Globalization and the Demolition of Society is a clear, critical analysis of globalization and its outcomes. Instead of taking a pro-globalization or anti-globalization stance, Loo presents an analysis of how political and economic changes have occurred over roughly the past forty years. How are our lives different because of globalization? Loo points to the role of the media, crime, and misinformation to answer this question. The ‘war on terror,’ ‘death panels,’ and more are explored in great depth to understand the impact of the rhetoric beyond the initial splash.
“In careful detail, Loo explains the path to demolition and offers a way to rebuild from the wreckage. What if the role of leadership in relationship to the led were different? A more open society will benefit from the gifts of leaders and the working class. What if ‘more democracy’ was not limited to voting? If people participated more directly and freely in policymaking, not only would more people participate, but they would be heard in more meaningful ways.
“There are many books on globalization, but Loo's book contributes something distinct. The political and economic changes wrought over the past forty years are critically and systematically mapped out. Readers will follow Loo's path of bread crumbs and arrive at the conclusion understanding the steps that have unfolded to result in the Demolition of Society.
“Beyond making this distinct contribution to an extensive literature, Globalization and the Demolition of Society is also very readable--it is sufficiently clear for audiences new to globalization, and it is written in an engaging manner. Readers will connect with the material and not find themselves overwhelmed by the language. It is also distinctively sociological, taking a holistic view of society and the changes undergone by institutions and individuals in our globalizing world.”
- Keri E. Iyall Smith, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Suffolk University, Co-Editor of Societies Without Borders, societieswithoutborders.org
“[A] seminal work… a much needed incisive analysis that provides readers with a sense of urgency regarding the false utopianisms of globalization. Loo, a faithful voice from the left, embarks on a courageous sociological journey of the intellect, of activism, and of consciousness-raising in ways that remind us that one is never too socio-historically close to assess the human condition under 21st century capitalism.”
– Jack Fong, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, Cal Poly Pomona
“My colleague on the Steering Committee of World Can't Wait, Dr. Dennis Loo, has a new book on a huge topic, even for a sociologist, Globalization and the Demolition of Society. It's really several books in one, and ambitious. You wouldn't expect less, since his last book was Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush & Cheney.
“Dr. Loo does more than recount the destruction of the global environment on the altar of capitalism-imperialism. He goes after the fundamental flaws in the ideology of the people who run this country. I can imagine students walking into his class with the typical mindset that, with all its flaws, ‘at least the United States has democracy and freedom.’ And, bam, suddenly those assumptions get challenged. Think of this book as that course, without the quizzes and homework, but with the back-up material.
“This brother is brave, and he has not lost his 60’s roots. From the introductory pages, he criticizes postmodernism and religious fundamentalism, both Christian and Muslim, and goes on to show their philosophical affinity…to which I say, hallelujah. Anyone with a university education in the last 20 years has to have been deeply influenced, and possibly paralyzed by postmodernism; even those who have no idea what the term means are infected with the idea that ‘reality is what you make it.’ Loo compares this to a religious view:
“’Reason and science present obstacles—instead of indispensable tools—to literal textualists’ preferred agendas for the planet. Reality, to religious fundamentalists and postmodernists, is what you make it. Reality is what you (or God/Allah) will it to be and want it to be. Postmodernists believe that the notion of truth “is a contrived illusion, misused by people and special interest groups to gain power over others.” Facts “are too limiting to determine anything.”’
“In contrast to that philosophical framework that denies it’s possible to determine what’s objectively true, Dr. Loo argues that it is necessary, and possible, to understand and confront what is objectively true, an important distinction if we want to act to change the world. That in itself is a huge contribution. And that’s only the first book within his book.
“Dr. Loo tackles the underlying why and how of these outrages which I call systematic crimes. If enough people read this book, it could help change the course of history.”
-- Debra Sweet, Director of the World Can’t Wait
“In a world marred by the drive for profit, ever-expanding empire, and deepening and intolerable inequalities, Dennis Loo's Globalization and the Demolition of Society presents a pivotal contribution in the realm of ideas to the struggle for a whole new world. While many scholars on the Left have grappled with either the ramifications of globalization on our planet or with what neoliberalism represents, Loo not only goes beyond what others have analyzed, he also calls for a system change to repudiate the political economy of capitalism-imperialism and its current political expression of neoliberalism. He marshals the facts to prove how anything less than a system change will not and cannot lead to getting rid of capitalism's internal contradictions. Loo confronts neoliberalism from the intersectional bases of world politics, the US' interests, and human relations. He employs analytical tools and examples from the realms of sociology, history, political economy and popular culture.
“Loo's analysis begins with a vigorous critique of the most influential paradigmatic tools that are currently being used to analyze and make understandable what is happening in the world. He examines the relationships between perception, subjectivity and objective reality. Loo exposes the ways in which the current analytical tools rely on postmodernist and pragmatist principles in constructing a view of the world that feigns truth and objective reality. He also grapples with religious conversatism's role (western, eastern and middle eastern) in implementing and reinforcing a motivated representation of the world as divorced from examining and understanding the world and working to change it. Loo exposes the underlying affinities of the Religious Right and that of postmodernism in abandoning reason and science.
“Loo locates where neoliberalism's historical underpinnings lie, where its current trajectory leads, and what response is needed to reverse its continuing expansion. He goes on to underscore neoliberalism's essential logic of generating increasing insecurity, instability, paranoia and fear and how this logic has become entrenched. In one of the most remarkable arguments in this book, Loo goes beyond Naomi Klein's widely cited argument about the intentional nature of neoliberals' triggering of crises. He shows that some of the worst crises are ones that neoliberals aren't purposefully instigating: these calamities are the inevitable by-products of the logic and working out of that logic of neoliberals' constantly creating and profiting from more insecurity and their treating their cynical use of power as if it were independent of any objective realities. Loo takes us on a journey through the New Deal and Depression of the 1930s and 1940s to the national liberation struggles, the Cold War, and the 1960s' Cultural Revolution to the rise of the Right. Loo's reading of these events constructs a tapestry by which we can deconstruct our previous understandings.
“Loo also grapples with how neoliberalism's ideological influence finds expression among the public's sentiments. For instance, he elaborates on how the justification for increased surveillance by the state becomes supported by the public under the falsely propagated notion that it will somehow lead to increased security, in part because the very way the ‘war on terror’ (WOT) is being carried out reinforces its alleged rationale by fueling anti-state terror. He compares the WOT to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy where a parent is secretly harming his or her child in order to make certain that the child is wholly dependent upon his/her parent. His refutation of the "ticking time bomb" justification for torture (a linchpin of the WOT) is elegantly simple and entirely persuasive.
“Loo elaborates on the role voting, elections and the media have in further paralyzing the public's ability to understand their own sentiments in relation to public policies' implementation. His compelling critique of democratic theory's fundamental shortcomings and the fact that voting cannot and never has brought about fundamental change is crucial to anyone interested in social change. He exposes the role that Obama's policies have had in furthering neoliberalism's aims and perpetuating public disorder.
“In advocating a system change, Loo engages with questions of leadership, the seizure of state power, the role of the modern privatized state, and the nature of bureaucracies. His analysis of bureaucracies both illuminates Weber's and Robert Michels' analyses and takes their analyses of bureaucracies deeper. He further develops the relationship between persuasion and coercion in light of the destruction of the welfare state and the withdrawal of social welfare policies and programs. He demonstrates that coercion, the use of outright terror and the abrogation of the rule of law, are the logical outcomes of the rise of the neoliberal state. Loo unearths the tension between freedom and necessity and how necessity can be transformed into freedom. His analysis illuminates how these contradictions have been handled incorrectly under the current order and how attempts to handle them differently under the current system can only rely on increasing the use of surveillance, deception, and the force of the police state.
“Loo challenges our notion of what can be done given the historical moment we currently find ourselves in. Unlike Durkheim's notion that social inequality is a natural phenomenon, Loo expands on Marx's understanding that there is nothing inevitable or eternal about class oppression continuing. He presents us with the ideas that we have to be grappling with and what actions we have to take to contribute to ending social inequalities.
“This book is a must read for those who seek to open their minds to new ideas about how to orient themselves to the world situation, yet remain undecided about which course of action is needed. This book is fundamental for those who seek to contest the new normal of the disorderly new order. As may be apparent from this review, the book is complex and very rich. Loo does not compromise his arguments by oversimplifying the issues, yet he conveys these matters in ways that are very accessible and clear.“
- Linda Rigas
Anyone wanting to understand--or better understand--how the U.S. political and economic system has become so dysfunctional will do well to read Dennis Loo's Globalization and the Demolition of Society. Loo not only catalogs a history of recent abuses, principally during the Bush and Obama administrations, but explains how the problems we face are not merely problems of particular people in power but problems with the system that go to the core of how the system is constructed. In essence, Loo explains, this system could hardly function in any other way than the way it does, much to the detriment of all but the very wealthy.
As such, this book will be invaluable for the Occupy Wall Street movement and anyone else in detailing why not just officeholders but the system itself must change; for anyone trying to get a handle on the spectacular abuses of political, economic, and financial power of recent years; and for those who suffer in the midst of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression and see only disdain from our political leadership in both parties. It's a mammoth undertaking, and Loo pulls it off with a highly readable style that means if there is a single book that one should read to understand our present dilemma, this is it.
- David Benfell