On Nelson Mandela's Death
By Editors (12/8/13)
The following comes via Revolution Newspaper. What should make people wonder is how someone who is believed to have been such a hero on behalf of the oppressed is being lionized by people such as Barack Obama. How can he have been both a revolutionary hero and someone that Obama and others who justify using assassination and the entire apparatus of their coercive and persuasion apparatus, including torture and detention, also celebrate? Something is amiss here. As Dennis Loo wrote in Globalization and the Demolition of Society (2011):
The failure to recognize the central role of force in politics has drowned many a political struggle in blood or rendered it a failure through co-optation. The uprooting of regimes of domination and plunder cannot occur without a powerful struggle that includes, without exception, at least some degree of violence. The American Revolution against the British imperialists was not accomplished through a vote. The revolutionaries did not use tea to shoot at the British soldiers; they used bullets. The British did not say in response to numerous petitions from its colony, “Oh, all right, you want to be free, you shall be free. We’re leaving now. Best of luck, what?”
The end of apartheid in South Africa provides another instructive example. The white minority regime eventually ceded power in 1994 to a black majority but it did not do so without the African National Congress’ prior prolonged armed struggle. The eventual peaceful transition via negotiations for multiracial elections circumvented the necessary destruction of the mechanisms that had for so long violently subordinated the black majority. In the absence of that vital restructuring that cannot occur simply through substituting who is in high office, the condition for black South Africans has not been fully transformed and much suffering continues, except now under darker-skinned leaders.
Why Politics is More Than a Game
By Dennis Loo (12/7/13)
Expanded 12/7/13 8:30 pm PST
Both those who follow politics and those who don't follow it are likely to agree that politics resembles a game. Partisans in this country who align themselves with either of the major political parties or with third parties tend to see things in terms analogous to how sports fans see their own teams and that of their rivals: horrah for my team (party) and boo for the other team (party). When the other team is offsides then the ref should have called it, but when my team is offside, well, they just weren't!
Trending for the last two days on Twitter, for example, is #LiesObamaToldUs. Among those tweeting are a fair number of GOP partisans who repeat the rightwing's favorite beating-a-horse-to-death themes - Obamacare, Benghazi, and Obama allegedly not being an American citizen or Christian or pro-capitalist. The tweets are mixed, however. Yesterday most that I saw (since there are so many, it's hard to know the exact proportions), including my own, were critical of Obama from the Left, for his violations of civil liberties, bailing out big business, persecuting whistleblowers while claiming he's for transparency, assassinating people with drones, and riding roughshod over due process and the rule of law. Some of Obama's defenders bemoaning the trending topic accused other posters of either being racists or of being naive about the fact that politicians lie. Apparently some people think that lying by their leaders is acceptable and nothing to tweet about since "they all lie." One might then wonder what such "realists" think about the fact that they are alright with being lied to all of the time and why they aren't up in arms about a political system that is merely a charade and aren't furiously demanding that things be made right. That their government is assassinating people, including hundreds of children, and has suspended the Fourth and to significant degrees the First Amendment, and is fiddling while the world burns from Global Warming, such folks seem okay about.
Individuality vs. Individualism
By Dennis Loo (12/2/13)
Everybody knows that capitalism promotes the greatest scope for individual expression and that communism does the opposite. Everybody knows that communist-led governments suppress individuality and everyone is supposed to be exactly the same, or at least receive exactly the same allotments. If you’re interested in freedom of thought and movement, then you must be a fan of capitalism (or libertarianism or anarchism) because it guarantees the greatest freedoms. Communism, on the other hand, will lead to and has led to the ruthless suppression of individuality; groupthink will replace the full flowering of individuality.
Or so goes the commonplace view.
Is the common wisdom actually correct?
Answering this question takes us into heady territory that involves grappling with some of the central practical and philosophical questions that humanity confronts.
In exploring and answering this question we first need to make an important distinction: the difference between individualism and individuality.
Individualism is an ideology that privileges and celebrates individuals over the group.
Individuality is the recognition that individuals are different from one another.
Individuality, in other words, is a fact. Anyone who fails to recognize or refuses to recognize that individuals are different is being absurd. Not only do individuals come in different sizes and colors, they are endowed with different abilities and interests, some of which are subject to a great deal of modification by environmental factors and some that are not.
Individualism, on the other hand, as an ideology, is a very different matter.
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)