Monday, May 14, 2012

Doctrinal paradigm shift

Anybody not concerned with the evolution of the Unitary Executive beginning in the Reagan Administration, and begun by a group of right wing legal scholars and attorneys -- the founders of The Federalist Society started in 1982 -- is missing out on a chance to observe a potentially significant political force in the transition of our national politics from a nation concerned with bettering and civilizing ourselves starting around 1776, to a globalist, neoliberal, transnational corporate orientation.  Some call that orientation "empire", but that's a difficult term to apply in its commonly accepted strict definition.

The United States as a federal entity has evolved into one of history's most notable mass military institutions.  At this moment in time, all the other military-related entities on the planet (nation states in name for the most part) together do not equal the expenditure and the mass destructive power of the United States' Military Industrial Complex.

Whenever a relatively small group of elites get their hands on that kind of power, history has demonstrated to us, time and time again, that they often become (or perhaps they are simply the ever-present sociopathic elements) compromised in their moral and ethical understanding of how to behave as part of the whole human community, and they end up using the hierarchically organized power at their disposal for ends that often involve incredible civil societal destruction along with cavalier violations of individual human rights in the process.

Personally, my observation of the U.S. military since I was first involved back in Vietnam is that it is among the least civilized entities on this planet, combined with being one of the most thoroughly authoritarian in structure.  That people in this nation idolize it, consider becoming a part of it to be a form of extreme patriotism also gives me pause to think about the civilizing potential of this nation, its constitution and its rule of law.

I've downloaded and begun reading the U.S Army Internment and resettlement pdf document, and I must say, it conforms to my expectations about the mechanistic, authoritarian, ultimately inhumane organization that will, as commanded, carry out an efficient internment and resettlement program if so directed.  And if we have no counter legislative or judicial buffer to these increasingly paranoid Unitary Executive proclamations of power, now made in what it has self-determined to be a perpetual war on something or another (the fundamental legal principle behind the Unitary Executive in our history, Lincoln used it), we ought -- as ordinary civilians who simply want to live decent lives, who are going to be seen in various military terms as collateral damage, terrorists, or whatever broad terminology they may apply while they quibble over legalities as they are abridge citizens' natural rights -- to be concerned.
From the Preface:

Field manual (FM) 3-39.40 is aligned with FM 3-39, the military police keystone FM. FM 3-39.40 provides guidance for commanders and staffs on internment and resettlement (I/R) operations. This manual addresses I/R operations across the spectrum of conflict, specifically the doctrinal paradigm shift from traditional enemy prisoner of war (EPW) operations to the broader and more inclusive requirements of detainee operations.

Additionally, FM 3-39.40 discusses the critical issue of detainee rehabilitation. It describes the doctrinal foundation, principles, and processes that military police and other elements will employ when dealing with I/R populations. As part of internment, these populations include U.S. military prisoners, and multiple categories of detainees (civilian internees [CIs], retained personnel [RP], and enemy combatants), while resettlement operations are focused on multiple categories of dislocated civilians (DCs).

It addresses the "doctrinal paradigm shift from traditional enemy prisoner of war (EPW) operations to the broader and more inclusive requirements of detainee operations."  Doctrinal paradigm shift...

I can't help thinking of the OWS movement, and its worldwide correlate movement towards citizen involvement and what might be considered democracy -- or might be considered democracy if it weren't such a threat to the established world order of U.S. defined democracies, which our military has been so involved with establishing -- and maintaining..

"detainee rehabilitation"... hmmm. What is "rehabilitation" in the minds of the military commanders who will be directing these activities?  I remember being "rehabilitated" in boot camp. I still have recurring images of the grinning sado masochistic people in charge.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zombie Politics

Wow.  Finally.  Someone has made some sense of this fascination with zombies I see all around me these days. Anyone who's familiar with the critical works of Henry A. Giroux knows what a brilliant cultural critic he can be. In his recent book,  Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (Popular Culture and Everyday Life) he unleashes a metaphorical and symbolic analysis of the political and pedagogical conditions of our current state of affairs using the pervasive popularity, even obsession, in our culture for those cuddly zombies.  That state of affairs includes "a growing culture of sadism, cruelty, disposability and death in America."

Henry has been named as one of the top fifty educational thinkers of the modern period.  His most recent, Education and the Crisis of Public Values, (published in July 2011, less than a year after Zombie Politics) offers yet another serving of his insights into a nation of zombies who are further putrefying themselves by destroying their education system, as the nation continues to shift away from democratic public values towards a market-driven mode of education.  In the process we witness it creating a system that's changed our nation's teachers from citizens we can admire into objects of humiliation, from valued members of an important institutional feature of democracy to a profession to be shamed and blamed for problems essentially created by the businesses and politicians who they supposedly influence.

And I give you The Powell Doctrine from 1971 as exhibit A for the corporate-organized national zombie "value" drive mounted against the "liberal"-minded educators seen to be endangering our "American Free Enterprise System" (that last from the title of the Powell Doctrine).

Anyone interested in a taste of Zombie Politics can read a two part excerpt published at

Zombie Politics, Democracy, and the Threat of Authoritarianism - Part I

Zombie Politics: Dangerous Authoritarianism or Shrinking Democracy - Part II

On the coming revolution

I have personally observed a bewildering number of interpretations of Marx's structural analysis of Capitalism. The following represents maybe a condensation of one, and one that probably Marx himself would have never proposed, nor even implied.

Anonymous wrote:
Here is how Marxism is supposed to work:
1)      Overthrow the capitalists
2)      Establish the dictatorship of the proletariat
3)      Redistribute the means of production to the workers
4)      Workers set up their cooperatives
5)      When that is all done, the dictatorship of the proletariat dissolves itself and they join the workers

This has to be the essence of naiveté. There ain’t no powerful group that will dissolve itself. It would much rather stay in power and have the other schmucks become workers and then lord over them. Somehow “communism” always gets stuck in the dictatorship-phase. That is why I term it a naïve utopia.

Though I don't doubt that idealists of any stripe could produce such a formula --  idealists, after all, see the world idealistically -- Marx himself was more of a structural materialist, which of course has its shortcomings dealing with the psychological realms of human behavior. But he also provided some interesting ways of analyzing social phenomenon.

To understand Marx's social theory you have to have at least a rudimentary understanding of his notion of the Greek's original recognition of a what they viewed as a natural process that's always taking place, threading through and along with a lot of other societal processes, and one that can be improved upon if people are conscious of it. That is what Marx referred to as the dialectic, which has been central to Indian and European philosophy since antiquity.

A dialectical process is different than debate.  One is a "reasoning together with empathy" kind of process while the other is more like combat.  Debate can override the dialectical process in a society and dominate it.  Debate can be better recognized as an egotistical process that takes place amongst those who are committed to their points of view and support them as if to the death.  Dialectical reasoning is a process where the contradictions are presented, observed and can be resolved through efforts at mutual understanding.

The ancient differences between rhetorical sophistry and dialectical dialogue is probably one of the most apparent phenomenon one can observe in modern society, or would be, if there were enough opportunities to observe a dialectical dialogue taking place.  Unfortunately, perhaps thanks to the nature of how we go about imagining our society and the way it is shared through technologies like television and radio, all supported by commercial principles, it seems that the sophists always have center stage in the process.  After all, sophists, renowned for their love flamboyancy, illusion and spectacle as a form of persuasion, mark the more desired features of extroverted personalities that make a sales and an objectively commodity-oriented social system work.

These sophistic emphases in style can be selective so that they will generally tend to appeal to baser emotions in crowds of people watching rather than to the higher reasoning that can take place in a quiet atmosphere among friends sharing tea and coffee along with their conversation.  That's a style of conversing which could also entail the incorporation of evolved nuanced emotions, if those also happen to be encouraged by society; emotions that connect rather than disconnect heart/mind.  But we don't see many examples of that these days.

Dialectical reasoning praxis has dwindled now to only a few practicing introverts who pretty much have to find ways to exist at the margins of modern societies, while an extroverted society as a whole burns brightly, consumingly, perhaps even to the extent of eventually achieving a form of mass necrophilia through an entrenched societal objectification processes.

Marx took this dialectical concept and attempted to develop a structural analysis of society where a materialistic-based dialectic is taking place. This was in a kind of philosophical contradiction to the prevailing views of idealism at the time. He was completely unaware of the psychological power of the processes he was trying to describe in their infancy to absolve those material contradictions he perceived. As we have witnessed -- with some degree of horror at least for me -- through the Twentieth Century, mass absolution would be achieved by modern day media techniques, which, anyone might observe, act quite effectively to transform and mold human thinking to fit the form of the capitalist mode and means of production, which Marx, in his time, imagined to be a natural part of that material-based dialectical process, inspired by an expected consciousness-based struggle (which in fact was taking place at the time, think of the Luddites as one example, when he was observing industrialization taking root in Manchester England) as the result of recognition by people of their contradictory circumstances as tools of the owners of those production features.

We may be seeing why Marx's predicted dialectical historical process -- whereby those who are oppressed would necessarily rebel against their oppressors -- will finally come about in a way that the mass media can no longer diffuse with spectacle and illusion.  We are seeing movements against the status quo in a planet wide revolt now that the Capitalist contradictions have run to an extreme, abusing not just people but the planet itself.  Perhaps it has only been delayed and therefore exaggerated by factors Marx could not have predicted.  One of those factors would be the evolution of technologies based on cheap, condensed stored energy.  We call them fossil fuels these days:  Oil, coal, gas.