Who Rules United States of America?
Posts : 190
Join date : 2012-03-22
Posts : 190
Join date : 2012-03-22
|Subject: Re: Who Rules United States of America? Tue 29 May 2012, 1:02 am|| |
Janine R. Wedel is a professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and a Fellow of the New America Foundation. She is the author of several books and many articles on some of the key systemic processes, structural causes and fundamental reasons behind what is, in her view, systemic corruption in the American and International economic and political systems.
Wedel writes about the privatization of public and foreign policy, corruption and the corporate state, and development and foreign aid through the unique lens of a social anthropologist.
Areas of Research:
International Commerce and Policy
Anthropology of Public Policy
Economic and Political Corruption
Foreign Aid and its Corruption
Privatization of Government Socio-Economic Policy and International Policy
In her book, Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market, Wedel explores the hidden, shadowy ways in which, in her view, today a small number of politically and economically powerful individuals employ their vast holdings of monetary and political capital to, she believes, deeply corrupt the American and international economic and political systems. Wedel also explores what she suggests are the new political and economic rules these shadowy power elite are writing to generously benefit themselves and their social networks, and what she sees as the highly negative implications for democracy and the rule of law. Her work assesses what she claims is the significant extent to which the new rules take us beyond traditional corruption and conflict-of-interest — and into an accountability-challenged era.
Using her knowledge of state-capitalist governments (in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall), the book seems to be a work of Investigative journalism in which Wedel investigates some of the elite persons she claims are quietly dismantling U.S. and international democracy and free-market capitalism from the inside. Labeling the new breed of U.S. and international political operators shadowy "flexions," Wedel finds individual roles as powerful corporate lobbyists, government insiders or elected (i.e., so-called 'democratically' elected) government officials converging into a single human network "snaking through official and private organizations, creating a loop that is closed to democratic processes." Wedel claims to show how a small, core group of flexions (for example, neo-conservative cold-warrior Richard Perle, retired four-star army general Barry R. McCaffrey, Barack Obama financial advisor Larry Summers, and others [including both so-called "Democrats" and "Republicans"] and several elite members of other political parties around the globe) have risen to enormous socio-economic and political power on an unprecedented confluence of four transformational 20th and 21st century developments:
government privatization, outsourcing and deregulation
the end of the Cold War
the growth of information technologies, and
"the embrace of 'truthiness.'"
By a flexion wearing several hats simultaneously (think tanker, retired military or government official, corporate representative, so-called "objective" expert), Wedel claims to show how a flexion can gain extraordinary insider knowledge and influence in order to custom-tailor a version of the "truth" benefitting the highest monetary bidder. In this way, flexions not only "co-opt public policy agendas" but "craft policy with their benefactors' purposes (monetary profit) in mind."
In Wedel's view, today's American and, more generally, Western socio-economic and "democratic" political systems do not appear altogether different from the various varieties/ flavors of State capitalism — the merging of state and private power — that characterized the Soviet Union (1922–1991), Russia and the constituent republics of the Soviet Union (1989-date), and Eastern Europe (1945–1989 and 1989-date).
Posts : 190
Join date : 2012-03-22
Posts : 190
Join date : 2012-03-22
|Subject: Re: Who Rules United States of America? Tue 29 May 2012, 1:47 am|| |
THE REAGAN REVOLUTION - John R. ''Bob'' Stockwell talks about it and US Shadow Government (1987)
Posts : 190
Join date : 2012-03-22
|Subject: Re: Who Rules United States of America? Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:48 pm|| |
- Quote :
- Agonism is a political theory that emphasises the potentially positive aspects of certain (but not all) forms of political conflict. It accepts a permanent place for such conflict, but seeks to show how we might accept and channel this positively. For this reason, agonists are especially concerned with debates about democracy. The tradition is also referred to as agonistic pluralism.
Agonists are skeptical about the capacity of politics to eliminate, overcome, or circumvent deep divisions within our society—of class, culture, gender, ideology, etc. As such, they find liberalism, communitarianism, and multiculturalism wanting. These theories — which have been the backbone of political theory for the past thirty years — are in essence optimistic about the possibility of finding a harmonious and peaceful pattern of political and social cooperation. Agonists, then, both claim that this optimism is unjustified and, hence, re-orient political theory to another question: How should we deal with irreducible difference? In the view of agonists, proponents of the aforementioned traditions, in keeping their eyes fixed on forms of utopian cooperation, have failed to respond usefully to the messiness of contemporary political practice.
Agonism is also opposed to an important strand in the Marxist conception of politics known as "materialism". Marx would have agreed with the agonists that society had always been full of conflict, when he wrote: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles". He also thought that the causes of conflict were inescapable features of present—i.e. capitalist—society. But, in his view, history would develop in such a way as to eventually destroy capitalism, and replace it with a harmonious society — which was his conception of communism. Especially during the 1960s and 1970s, many people, academics included, subscribed to a roughly Marxist analysis. Since then, many of those people have come to the view that the "materialist conception of history" does not give sufficient reason for hope about a harmonious society to come. Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau are amongst those who have come to agonism from a background in Marxism and the social movements of the middle part of the last century.
Thus, agonism can be seen as a response to the perceived failures of strands of idealism and materialism to accord with reality, and to provide useful responses to contemporary problems. It can also, in some sense, be seen as a development of theories that emphasised, even celebrated conflict, in a potentially less sensitive and responsible manner than agonism. For examples, see Carl Schmitt's essay The Concept of the Political and certain readings of the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. In any case, it is clear that any conception of the political that involves a celebration of conflict may entail an endorsement of the domination of some portion of society over others. Agonism, in opposition to any such trend, is avowedly pluralist in its political outlook. It sees political tensions as having an essential place in society, but believes that they should be approached discursively, not in an attempt to eliminate "the other".
Agonists believe that we should design democracy so as to optimise the opportunity for people to express their disagreements. However, they also maintain, we should not assume that conflict can be eliminated given sufficient time for deliberation and rational agreement. In other words, conflict has a non-rational or emotional component. These two positions mean that they are opposed to aspects of consociational and deliberative theories of democracy. The former, because it wants to mute conflict through elite consensus, the latter because it gives a rationalist picture of the aspirations of democracy.
Chantal Mouffe says, "I use the concept of agonistic pluralism to present a new way to think about democracy that is different from the traditional liberal conception of democracy as a negotiation among interests and is also different from the model that is currently being developed by people like Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls. While they have many differences, Rawls and Habermas have in common the idea that the aim of the democratic society is the creation of a consensus, and that consensus is possible if people are only able to leave aside their particular interests and think as rational beings. However, while we desire an end to conflict, if we want people to be free we must always allow for the possibility that conflict may appear and to provide an arena where differences can be confronted. The democratic process should supply that arena."
Agonism is not simply the undifferentiated celebration of antagonism:
Agonism implies a deep respect and concern for the other; indeed, the Greek agon refers most directly to an athletic contest oriented not merely toward victory or defeat, but emphasizing the importance of the struggle itself—a struggle that cannot exist without the opponent. Victory through forfeit or default, or over an unworthy opponent, comes up short compared to a defeat at the hands of a worthy opponent—a defeat that still brings honor. An agonistic discourse will therefore be one marked not merely by conflict but, just as important, by mutual admiration
—Political theorist Samuel Chambers
Bonnie Honig, perhaps agonism's most prominent advocate, writes: "to affirm the perpetuity of the contest is not to celebrate a world without points of stabilization; it is to affirm the reality of perpetual contest, even within an ordered setting, and to identify the affirmative dimension of contestation."
Critics of agonistic pluralist political theory may not necessarily disagree with this school of social and political thought's ethical aims and objectives. However, there are several possible alternatives. Foucauldian governmentality theory deals with interest group use of particular ensembles (or apparatuses) of discourse to produce a new context for the emergence of new subjects and identity positions. These may be negative or positive. For example, Yugoslavia's disintegration produced several new national identities within its successor states and within specific ethnic enclaves within those successor states.
Governmentality requires civil society to operate effectively, although Foucault and allied theorists do not regard civil society as an avenue of liberty against statist intrusion, but as a partial creation of particular forms of governmentality. However, governmentality should not be identified solely with the state, judicial, or formal representative democratic institutions. It may include such discourses as visible traces but does not restrict itself solely to them and may include the work of civil servants, administrative professionals, political theorists, economists, religious or nontheist ethical theorists, and others who seek to create new political subjects.
Over time, Michel Foucault and other governmentality advocates argued for disarticulation of some subject identities as the set of discourses that constituted them drifted apart, or realigned. Thus, "Yugoslav" national identity became impossible after the demise of communist ensembles of subject formation and maintenance, leading to the rise of new apparatuses of discourse to enable formation and governing of new subject positions. This does recognise that antagonisms exist, but may not always be tractable.
New identity and subject formations and positions are the result of interaction and particular tactical and strategic configurations. Therefore, "agonistic pluralism" may only describe a particular moment of political debate as opposed to providing an overall descriptive theory. This limits its explanatory and descriptive value, compared to alternative theoretical models.
Deliberative democracy is a second alternative model to the one that is advanced in the context of agonistic pluralism. It focuses attention on the establishment of democratic consensus through public participation within formal institutions, whether as formal opportunities within existing representative democracy or within the context of newly constituted public forums within civil society that consider and deliberate public issues. It emphasises collaboration and adaptation as an alternative to agonist models.
Posts : 190
Join date : 2012-03-22
|Subject: Re: Who Rules United States of America? Mon 13 Aug 2012, 12:53 pm|| |
- Quote :
- Iron law of oligarchy
The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It claims that rule by an elite, or "oligarchy", is inevitable as an "iron law" within any organization as part of the "tactical and technical necessities" of organization. Michels particularly addressed the application of this law to representative democracy, and stated: "It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy." He went on to state that "Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy." Michels stated that the official goal of representative democracy of eliminating elite rule was impossible, that representative democracy is a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite, and that elite rule, that he refers to as oligarchy, is inevitable.
Robert Michels found that, paradoxically, the socialist parties of Europe, despite their democratic ideology and provisions for mass participation, seemed to be dominated by their leaders, just like traditional conservative parties.
Michels' conclusion was that the problem lay in the very nature of organizations. The more liberal and democratic modern era allowed the formation of organizations with innovative and revolutionary goals, but as such organizations become more complex, they became less and less democratic and revolutionary. Michels formulated the "Iron Law of Oligarchy": "Who says organization, says oligarchy."
At the time Michels formulated his Law, he was an anarcho-syndicalist. He later gave up his socialist convictions and became an important ideologue of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy, teaching economics at the University of Perugia.
Michels stressed several factors that underlie the Iron Law of Oligarchy. Darcy K. Leach summarized them briefly as: "Bureaucracy happens. If bureaucracy happens, power rises. Power corrupts." Any large organization, Michels pointed out, has to create a bureaucracy in order to maintain its efficiency as it becomes larger—many decisions have to be made daily that cannot be made by large numbers of disorganized people. For the organization to function effectively, centralization has to occur and power will end up in the hands of a few. Those few—the oligarchy—will use all means necessary to preserve and further increase their power.
This process is further compounded, as delegation is necessary in any large organization, as thousands—sometimes hundreds of thousands—of members cannot make decisions via participatory democracy. This has been dictated by the lack of technological means for large numbers of people to meet and debate, and also by matters related to crowd psychology, as Michels argued that people feel a need to be led. Delegation, however, leads to specialization—to the development of knowledge bases, skills and resources among a leadership—which further alienates the leadership from the rank and file and entrenches the leadership in office.
Bureaucratization and specialization are the driving processes behind the Iron Law. They result in the rise of a group of professional administrators in a hierarchical organization, which in turn leads to the rationalization and routinization of authority and decision making, a process described first and perhaps best by Max Weber, later by John Kenneth Galbraith, and to a lesser and more cynical extent by the Peter Principle.
Bureaucracy by design leads to centralization of power by the leaders. Leaders also have control over sanctions and rewards. They tend to promote those who share their opinions, which inevitably leads to self-perpetuating oligarchy. People achieve leadership positions because they have above-average political skill (see charismatic authority). As they advance in their careers, their power and prestige increases. Leaders control the information that flows down the channels of communication, censoring what they do not want the rank-and-file to know. Leaders will also dedicate significant resources to persuade the rank-and-file of the rightness of their views. This is compatible with most societies: people are taught to obey those in positions of authority. Therefore the rank and file show little initiative, and wait for the leaders to exercise their judgment and issue directives to follow.
The "iron law of oligarchy" states that all forms of organization, regardless of how democratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop oligarchic tendencies, thus making true democracy practically and theoretically impossible, especially in large groups and complex organizations. The relative structural fluidity in a small-scale democracy succumbs to "social viscosity" in a large-scale organization. According to the "iron law," democracy and large-scale organization are incompatible.
|Subject: Re: Who Rules United States of America? || |