The Liberal Version of Individualism: Meritocracy and “Equal Opportunity”
By Dennis Loo (12/11/13)
This is Part 2 of a series. The first installment “Individuality and Individualism” can be found here.
The spectrum of political opinion in the U.S. is customarily depicted as that between conservatives and liberals. In most people’s minds those ends of the spectrum are at least roughly equivalent to the Republican Party (conservatives) and the Democratic Party (liberals). The span between the two perspectives is the scope for what is considered legitimate and realistic differences of opinion – if you are outside of those parameters, then your views are seen as either too extreme or outside the pale and not to be taken seriously.
What is not well understood is just how much the GOP and the Democrats actually share; what the two of them share is far and away greater than what they differ on. I am speaking here principally of the leaders of both parties rather than the rank and file membership and particular individuals’ party affiliations and registration. Most people in this country align themselves with one or the other party or are Independents and while there are some significant differences among them (e.g., over gender and race), the underlying premises of conservatives, liberals and Independents share a substantially common origin.
Is Bureaucracy Here to Stay?
By Dennis Loo (12/10/13)
Anyone who seriously undertakes the task of addressing the problems that confront humanity has to sooner or later come up against the problem and the question of bureaucracy. The sooner one recognizes this the better because anything you do that dodges or seeks to avoid this question is time largely wasted. Bureaucracies are the formalizing and concrete manifestation of the need to organize group activity. Group activity is the sine qua non of human existence since we are first and foremost social beings and can only continue to exist through our sociality. You cannot even be born but through groups, beginning with a couple of the opposite sex who are your (biological) parents. And you cannot survive and become human - since being human isn't a feature only of having human DNA but of being taught to be human - without groups, including the other person together with you who make up a group.
Bureaucracy, however, concentrates within it both the reasons why it is so powerful but also why it is such a danger. In the first part of this article I explore different dimensions to this, drawing upon the work especially of the foremost theorist of bureaucracy, Max Weber, and that of his student, Robert Michels. In examining their work I expand and develop certain aspects of it and in so doing lay the groundwork for a resolution to the problems that both Weber and Michels were unable to find.
Pot Calls Kettle Black: Biden Lectures China About Press Freedom; NYT Applauds
By Dennis Loo (12/8/13)
Today's NYT approvingly cites Vice-President Joe Biden's speech in China on Thursday, “'Innovation thrives where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy, where newspapers can report the truth without fear of consequences,' he said in an address to American businesspeople living and working there."
I wonder if Biden simply forgot, when he was speaking of "where people breathe freely, speak freely, are able to challenge orthodoxy," about Chelsea (fka Bradley) Manning or Edward Snowden, or any of the other lesser known U.S. whistleblowers, who Obama and Biden have persecuted for daring to challenge orthodoxy and breathing and speaking freely?
Was Biden forgetting about what he said about Julian Assange's Wikileaks, which is as much a journalistic organization or more than any other that exists in the world today, for daring to "breath freely," in December 2010 on Meet the Press, calling him a "high-tech terrorist"? Perhaps Joe was suffering from ingesting too much MSG in China and temporarily lost his mind?
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)