Monday, September 15, 2014
Dewey & Culture, Rocker & Anarchy, Ferguson & Politics, Lippmann & Information, Morgenthau & Power, Chang & Capitalism, Pollin & Economy, Davidson & African Lies. Build your own knowledge. Ignorance is the venom
Inform doesn't mean indoctrinate someone, doesn't mean only to show the side of the coin that is more convenient to us. Education doesn't mean imposing a thought, but rather stimulate the mind to a flexible growth, elastic and variegated. It means helping in the journey, encourage, diversify the proposals and themas, making the mind like a plant with continuous shoots and fruits, not a vessel to be filled with notions soulless.
The information, including the independent one, is often filled with errors, articles "copy and paste" is often not verified by those who wrote it and neither by who report the news from different websites, passed off as absolute truth. The Internet is an almost inexhaustible supply of news, articles, statistics, interviews, data, surveys, you can find everything but the opposite of everything too. Who writes on this blog love the information in its authenticity, without brush of ideology between the lines, without compromise, at least here.
If the car that we use for years continues to break down, losing pieces, leaving us strended, with costly bills at the mechanic, we must consider the idea of changing it. This does not mean that we are against the car, but it is to make a logical argument that goes to our advantage. Similarly, the economic, political and social system is like a machine that decades ago had promised amazing progress, the elimination of poverty, narrowing the gaps between rich and poor countries, the success of the free market, globalization, protectionism, the production line vs the local artisan, growth without limits vs the conservation of resources, a wellness continuous as a rain, without exception. This system, this machine is showing the limits of its promises, losing pieces, is routinely repaired to make a few more miles, because his supporters continue to make rivers of money. They do not want change, they do not want the welfare of all, but only of their Elite, and those related to those elite, an army of followers, in a spiral of power and privilege.
We could say that the West has become rich and prosperous because it lived on the shoulders of developing countries, which were once colonies: raw materials, spices, gold, diamonds, oil, have been largely taken from South America , Africa, Asia and the Middle East and redistributed in Europe and North America.
The story has an endless collection of studies by scientists, economists, philosophers who had already predicted the failure of this system. They had done this in difficult times, when the free market, privatization was at the peak of a development that would be revealed later with feet of clay.
This article will show some of these scholars who had studied why this system could not work. There would be many, many more, but the intent is not to make a list, but to stimulate the reader to deepen these studies, sorting through the pages of history, where everything is already written, diagnosed and expected. A present without memory is intended for an increasingly uncertain and devastating future .
On the concept of "education" we find John Dewey (1859-1952), represented in the authoritative branch of the US pedagogy and philosophy, according to him the experiences are not imposed by the teacher, but arise from the natural interests of the students and the task of the educator is to accommodate these interests to develop through their sense of sociality.
Teaching, according to Dewey, must be dictated by a process of continuous evolution, each term should lead to the next, in a steady growth, a free movement. Is there an inherent continuity in educating, or rather there is a series of acts aggregates with each other? Often we are studying on finished topic, targetless. It is not real growth, a step that leads to the next step, but a series of concepts for their own sake, something imposed by teachers. A system of thought that we will be bringing over in the society. Those who teach should understand this: we must develop a quality mental process , not the right answer. Every great advance in science has come from alternative thoughts, out of the classical canons of the established theories. A farmer plans its harvest in accordance with the surrounding nature, each season can be different depending on the external variables: sun, wind, rain, pests, soil. Must understand and predict, and so should do a teacher, every day, every step, every student is different and this requires a fit for their needs.
What the teacher suggests is not the result of his choices, but of a superior system that decides which texts adopted, which method developed for the students, even if it is less than desirable. It creates a conflict. As if the an external authorities impose to the farmer to plant potatoes in a most suitable soil for tomatoes, or sow at this time even if it was less suitable for planting.
For this reason, Dewey points out: a good democracy is the one that stimulates and promotes independent and active thinking . Otherwise, it drift toward a single thought, a single color that looks like an indoctrination. A dictatorship of the majority that does not discuss but should impose its system. The individuality is annihilated to make way for mass, a group that has to make up the numbers, without too many questions. Aristocracy is a form of government in the hands of a few, considered "The top ones", controlling the State on the behalf of the community. The oligarchy is its degenerate form, where those "Top ones" still impose the power but for their personal profit. According to Aristotle: "those few exercise power improperly, or because they do not have the right or they do it in violation of the laws or, finally, as the exercise to favor special interests at the expense of the community." Returning to the present day, and considering, for example, the power of the "democracy" in a referendum, often not respected. Or a policy increasingly mired in corruption, or investing in armaments and not in education, we can refer to the reality around us as still democratic?
If we analyze the complexity of the dominant system we cannot speak of the writer, thinker and activist Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958), an authoritative exponent of anarchist thought.
This thinking model, today trivially dumbed down as a group of violent that don't want any kind of authority, would deserve a separate article.
Already in the beginning of his book "Anarcho-Syndicalism" Rocker defines anarchy as the abolition of all the economic monopolies and of all political and social institutions that impose themselves in the society. People often forget that industries not ends in themselves, but should only be a means to secure to every man his natural subsistence, allowing him to advance culturally. An economy without rules begins when the work represent the "whole" and the person the "nothing". The rhythms of nature are forced into those monotonous and repetitive assembly line. The huge military expenditures that each government imposes on its citizens together with the war debts, are the price of the supposed protection from the State to the people. Rocker's is dates 1947 but it could have been written by any opponent of the free market of today. The power of the state, the author continues, is nothing more than a grotesque caricature of the present society.
Anarchy would like abolish this form of government with its authoritarian principles, like governmental guardian, where under the excuse of forming a more civil and moral man makes him, in reality, a slave, inevitably oppressed and exploited. The role of the people, continues Rocker, is now to ratify the decisions taken in other rooms, to adopt doctrines prepared elsewhere by their "superiors", passively observing the changes of society. The Social Revolution, the formation of a people finally master of his own choices is the ultimate goal. Rocker, as the majority of anarchists, was not a communist. Both communism and fascism were seen as extreme forms of politics, to be avoided.
Capitalism is also seen by the author, as the desire to subjugated millions of individuals to a force that pushes governments and empires towards goals that will foster a narrow circle of people. The modern Capitalism is limitless, it can move with cold selfishness to somes and embody the "providence" for others. The technical and scientific skills have progressed considerably, but the mass was not enhanced, rather the opposite.
To maintain this apparatus many technological advances have served to eliminate the neighbour, creating masses of killers in uniform, where bureaucracies are soulless tyrants, where from the cradle to the grave we are oppressed by police States, where the land is filled with cells and prisons, informers and spies. The growing technology used up against the human personality and the submission to a fate in which the majority surrenders, is the reason why the desire for freedom is less alive today among men, replaced by that of economic security. Anarchism is not the perfect license for all social problems, it is not the utopia of absolute order, does not believe in perfection or in a final goal for the population. Rather an unlimited improvement of the social order. Anarchism recognizes the relativity of every idea, every institution and every social class. Even freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every individual to develop his skills and talent which nature has endowed, and to put these gifts for the betterment of society. A society with less interference by governments or religions, and more efficient and harmonious human personality will become for the benefit of the individual and the community.
It looks like the thoughts of a "Gandhi" rather than an anarchist, perhaps because our vision of anarchy is distorted.
A precise analysis of the dynamics of the Political Parties and their ultimate goals is presented by Professor Thomas Ferguson (1949-), political scientist, author and journalist of economic and political issues.
In his most interesting work "Investment Theory of Party Competition" is analyzed in detail how the Business Elite Establishments influence and direct the choices of political parties not the voters.
Given to the high costs that are used to drive a political system, hardly unattainable for ordinary voters, the groups of business are the ones shaping the policies, where the different political coalitions represent the investors in the game, not the voters, this is the core of the theory of Ferguson.
Who gives money to the various parties has its own reasons of investment and therefore control of the State. Investors are divided by their final scope, just as political coalitions: there are the ones to make profits in the employment sector, those in the capital investment, those for the free market, those who support protectionism, the biggest investor is rarely a union, was the case in the creation of the British Labour Party, for example. Political parties are the arms in the action of the control groups that move in the rear.
To not upset anyone, after a certain number of years happens, according to Ferguson, a "Realignment" , usually due to some event of public resonance: a violent crisis, a war, a scandal. This sort of "turning point" enables powers to reshuffle the cards, to change the political puppets at the top, in order to give citizens a sense of renewal and justice.
To earn the trust of the citizens, their votes and then the victory for the Lobby behind the political of the moment, you have to talk about abortion, rights for homosexual, war, so as to ensure the victory of dominant groups, the end justifies the means, and the end is profit and power.
Other influential thinker, writer, political commentator and journalist Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), who first coined the term "Cold War" and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.
For Lippmann the figure of the journalist was like a mediator between the groups in power and the people. The latter could not understand the dynamics of the policy, then the journalist acted as a "filter" to simplify these issues for the public. This hierarchical idea clashed with John Dewey egalitarian vision of the information: the more the news was shared the more you can spread the democracies and the free debate.
Lippmann, famous for his interview with Khrushchev in 1958 and in 1961, it never bent to sensationalism and towards the tastes of the mass public, but trying to remain separated by them: an observer talking about the facts. His most important book is "Public Opinion" of 1922, where we compare the relationship between the world and its events and the ability of citizens to understand them fully. Lippmann set out to understand and study the influence of the stereotype and the mechanisms for the formation of this phenomenon. According to Lippmann the social stereotype is a distorted and simplified view of social reality: the stereotype, he adds, is constituted by mental images created to simplify the reality and to make it understandable to the masses.
Those who know and understand the reality and its events often tend to manipulate them, creating a semblance of that same reality that can be easily assimilated by the people. The authentic aims are hidden to most. Here propaganda got its best soil to grow, according to Lippmann, propaganda could not exist without some form of censorship, a barrier between the event itself and what is being said and filtered to the public. (To underline Lippmann opposition to the Vietnam War)
But the blame for this system is not in the censorship itself, but in a sort of resignation, anemia, a lack of hunger by news from public opinion, which would have the means to access a deeper Acquaintances (he says Lippmann in 1922 now with the Internet should be even easier).
"With a dollar will not even buy a candy, but people pretend to be informed buying newspapers still cheaper."
The news are editorial choices, seeds sown to the citizens to create some public opinion, says the author. In the modern world where the word "Leader" is often associated with total inadequate persons, Lippmann explains his idea: "The basic evidence to value a leader is that he leaves after him other men with the same the conviction and will to continue his work." The present history is pretty far from the idea that describes Lippmann. Politics is more like a race to the sensationalism, helpful interventions to gain some votes, without a real desire to embark on a path of progress for all.
Lippmann concludes with a jab to the Democracies, "When all think alike, no one thinks very much."
One of the most prestigious figures of the twentieth in studies of "international policies" was, without a doubt, Hans Morgenthau (1904-1980), for two times Adviser to the State Department, under President Kennedy and under Johnson. His views against the war in Vietnam saw him dismissed from his assignment. His thinking is focused on the relations of power between Nation, as it develops, what are its consequences and how it is interpreted by the population.
His most important work, which is considered a pillar in the branch of international politics is titled "Politics Among Nations".
For the scholar the struggle for power is universal in time and space, and this is at an undeniable empirical level.It's impossible denying that over the centuries, regardless of the economic, social and political condition, the Nations have always met in relation for power.
International politics, like any kind of politics, is a struggle for power. States' actions cannot consider moral principles.
His vision is part of the Realistic School , indeed, according to some he would be the founder. The human nature cannot change, international politics are guided by strict laws and those who do not adapt will suffer the consequences. A Machiavellian vision , very Hobbesian, where humanity is essentially competitive and selfish, his famous phrase "Homo Homini Lupus" - every man is wolf to another man.
The presents facts can just confirm that this line of thinking. Disagree with Morgenthau means not understanding the world political situation, still believing that those who face proxy wars is doing it in the name of some noble cause. Today as never before we are faced a indiscriminately struggle for power, a sort of revival of the "cold war" between the USA and Russia, but with new co-stars such as China and Middle Eastern countries. The logic of conquest are dominant on the logic of peace and stability. Are we really still masters of our fate?
To get a more detailed picture of the current situation worldwide, we must consider the shape of Ha Joon Chang (1963 -), a leading economist and Professor at the University of Cambridge. Chang has been a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and Oxfam.
His thinking is a frontal attack to neoliberalism world, to the policies to reduce or completely cancel the custom tariffs in the developing world countries, and the new arrangements for the free market promoted by the WTO (World Trade Organization). From an article on "Le Monde Diplomatique" in 2003:
The paradox is that the same countries, now industrialized, that promote the free market, at the time of their economic development, rarely used those rules, which nowadays are impose to the developing countries . This is the core of Chang idea, who goes into more detail. The England of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had merely protectionist policies, especially for the production of raw wool, to discourage exports. The same procedure was adopted between 1721 and 1846 with new trade agreements on the "Law of Grain." Protective tariffs, export subsidies, import tariffs on refunds of revenue generated by exports. During that time the rate of British protectionism was one of the heaviest in Europe. When in 1846 the "Law of Grain" was repealed, England moved toward a free market, to favor the landed aristocracy and initiate a sort of "imperialism of free trade." Trade liberalization has been the cause rather than the result of economic development.
From this position of global domination, for the British Empire impose the free market was a natural step. The country had reached the summit of power with protectionism and now throw away the ladder that had helped him in his rise, promoting the free market.
Always Chang points out that between 1830 and the Second World War the United States has adopted the highest average of protectionist tariffs in the manufacturing sector in the world.
Only after the end of World War II the US economic policies turned to the free market. As reported by Chang in his long article, the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, who led the country from 1869 to 1877, one of the main architects of the Unionist victory in the American Civil War, said: "For centuries England has could rely on protectionism, obtaining satisfactory results. there is no doubt that this past system is the reason for its present strength. now after two centuries of protectionism, the country is adopting the free market, more useful to its current needs. Very well, so will the America do the same within 200 years old, coming from protectionism and promoting free trade."
For the "positivists" of Neo-liberalism and Globalization who point out the stunning growth of the last 20 years economies in the world , Chang responds with some numbers: "The world economy is growing more in the 60s and 70s of the last century, about 3%, versus 2% of the last 20 years of "stunning" budget. considering the growth per capita in the developed countries we are witnessing a decline from 3.2% to 2.2%, the same goes for the developing countries from 3% to 1.5%. numbers that include the dizzying rise of India and China, otherwise these rates would be even more miserable. Neoliberal experiment has failed in its promises of wealth, sacrificing equality and the environment. "
But how is it possible that this model is still the better promoted economic recipe, supported by the industrialized countries and the world's most influential economic organizations? Chang responds that the "whole" is supported by an economic-political-ideological system that can only be compared with the power that the Church had in the Middle Ages in Europe.
The 'influence of the major international bodies such as the World Bank, IMF, WTO, which they exercise over the media (to misinform) and on the political agendas of the USA, the UK and the major industrialized countries, is predominant. Those who work in the developing world countries, for these organizations has excellent salaries, their silence and their complicity is simply paid a good wage.
According to Chang the only trade agreements that can achieve good results, are those whose bring together countries with similar levels of development (such as Mercosur), not agreements that force countries economically different in the same way of market. This is what imposes the WTO, for example, weakening and marginalizing the developing countries, in favor of the powers that are the Multinationals and planetary oligarchies.
Similar ideas also for Robert Pollin (1950-), American economist, co-director of PERI (Political Economy Research Institute). In a 2010 article, "The Wall Street Collapse and Return of Reality-Based Economics", is pointed out that the financial deregulation, encouraged by governments to growth and stability, has produced bad outcomes. The measures, in early 2000, to cancel the "Glass-Steagall", a rule to control and limit the affairs of banks and financial institutions, created after the collapse of the American stock market in '29, along with measures by Clinton administration with the "Financial Service Modernization Act," has actually gave free rein to an uncontrolled market, fruitful seed of the crisis that still stands in the world system. Pollin recalls how the financial crisis of 2007-08 is not isolated fact in the American landscape but rather a peculiar characteristic: the market crisis of 1997, the speculative bubble of the 1999/01, a sort of cyclical crisis that hits the markets and more over the citizens. Certainly not for the big institutions: Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JP Morgan and few others, always saved by injections of public money from the Federal Reseve Bank (FRB). One of his pupils, Alan Greenspan, who served as President from 1987 to 2006, is the main author of this deregulation wild. There are three important figures in support of Neoliberalism, Robert Lucas, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, each with its awards and economic degrees. Hayek argued that the socialist economies were doomed to fail because they offered no decision-making power to the people to freely choose and inquire about financial options, but actually limited the radius. His fame grew with the collapse of the Soviet bloc Socialist-1989 The paradox of his thought, according to Pollin and Cassidy (another scholar and author of the book "How Market fails: the logic of economic calamities"), is the utopia that the free market will provide full information to the citizen, that does not explain, for example, in the collapse of the subprime 2006/07, which has seen many taxpayers losing their homes or savings life. So the information was there, but completely distorted from reality.
Pollin defines neoliberalism, with all its "axioms" a mere utopia.
In the process of information nothing should be taken for granted. The international mosaic is artificially mixed up to not get a semblance of truth. Africa chapter is one of those fundamental pieces to understand how the education system is full of loopholes, as the photograph of a continent has now become an irrefutable axiom. You do not have to understand, but digest that notion.
Basil Davidson (1914-2010) was one of the top British expert and scholars of the planet Africa. He contributed with his studies and his documentaries to an image of the continent cleared of stereotypes and false visions. He pointed the finger to an economic system that has reduced Africa in a perpetual emergency.
In his studies (fundamental is "The Black Man's Burden: African and the curse of National-State") Davison shows how this vast territory has always been under the yoke of the "conquistadores" Europeans. A human and financial colonialism that has never allowed the native people to be masters of their own destiny, but it has always imposed a "westernized " model of development.
The history of Africa seems to begin with the arrival of the white man, "before" there are no records.
Basically, the model of the "nation-state" has recent origin, can be placed after the French Revolution (1789), when France became the first European Nation. It was taken for granted by the Government to apply this formula also in the process of decolonization of Africa. The proposed alternative as a Federation of States, without tearing off the differences but making them a treasure, were ignored. The idea of the nation, for Davidson, he simply tightened up the wealth for the elite in power, not the prosperity for the community. Africa has great examples of past civilizations that have created wellness for its people, such as the Ashanti Empire in the west of the continent, in the area of the present Ghana. An empire built in the seventeenth century, with its own bureaucracy, a thriving economy, civil rules, elections, functional transportation , all swept away by the "colonial progress." Or as the Yoruba society, even older, almost a mythical era if compared with the disasters nowadays. There were several movements to fight for the liberation of Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Angola, all regularly frustrated by the USA and the Soviet Union. The point of no return for the African peoples were summarily decisions, especially by the British, on the creation of boundaries that have torn identity or fueled conflicts up to the present day.
Davidson concludes on: "Modernizing reforms in West Africa in the late nineteenth century were similar to those implemented by Japan during the same period, the potential for development was essentially no different from the potential created by the Japanese in 1867"
The world is respecting the agreements on the environment?
The war is a faraway memory?
The interests of the strongest Nations are for renewable energy or for the value of a single human life?
How many people live on less than $ 2 per day, why the rich are getting richer, the middle class must act like stunts and the poor are getting poorer?
The work is still professional growing or subtle blackmail?
The new millionaires of globalization are sustainable or are not aware of the damage of their businesses?
Each question has its answer, is our common interest to be curious, inquiring, do not leave it to others the right to answer on our behalf. For now the cries of fools are winning, perhaps because who is right remains in a doubtful silence. Resistance always. Ignorance kills more than a gun. Maremmcinghialaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa