Nope, not a spot on NPR or some wild accusation by Glenn Beck…..but rather an explanation and a bit of history…..
Politics! As my readers will know that I enjoy all things about politics….all the little things as well as all the really big things…..but what is meant by the term politics? According to Gore Vidal the word politics is a combination of two Greek words…….poli meaning the people and tics which are blood sucking insects…..
Back in the day……way back to as early as the Greek city states……politics referred to the operation and the administration of the state or the sovereign….everything else fell into the realm of social or private…it is a recent invention to include just about everything as political…..our leaders wishing to claim responsibility for all things good in our society and dealing out blame for all things that are bad, all are happening because of political decisions made by the state or its opposition…in other words blame everything on nature of politics.
Issues like marriage, guns, prayers, flags, etc….these are social or private issues and do not belong in the realm of politics….these are decisions made by an individual and not by a government. I know…I know…this sounds a bit libertarian….believe me these issues have only recently been associated with the study of politics……personal opinion…..they were introduced into the conversation because some had NO idea how to govern and they were used to divide and conquer a populace.
In these days of limited government/small government maybe a real good place to start would be to limit the politics to issues that actually pertain to the governing of the masses……..I realize in these days that the concept of government be about the running of the country and to stay out of people’s lives is a novel concept….but what the Hell? We could do no worse than the system we have today.
Theatrics is NOT the way to have a successful government……and since that is true……we have a dysfunctional system of governance…..lack of civility, disrespect and lack of national unity….the three pillars of American politics…….is going to kill a system that our Founders were proud of……if only they could see it now!
College of Political Knowledge
Since the invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq the US has been accused of trying to nation build….and of course this has been denied by all involved…Bush/Rumsfeld/Gates/Clinton/Cheney/Obama…..yada yada….all those in Washington have denied the accusation…..we were at war to remove AQ, destroy the Taleban, find WMDs, execute Saddam and on and on…a whole litany of reason why we dropped that first bomb…..we are assured almost daily that we are not involved in nation building……but is that the truth?
Let us look at just what nation building is…….to build a nation one needs to have 5 ingredients……these are…..identity, legitimacy,penetration, participation and distribution…..without all 5 there is NO nation to build……let me simplify this for my readers……
Identity–the people must identify themselves as one people…..that will not happen in Afghanistan….they see themselves as Pashtu, Tajik, etc……
legitimacy–a government must have the respect and willingness to go with the wishes of the people…..Afghanistan has NONE of this with thye exception of Kabul and Karzai and his cronies….
penetration–the nation must have the support of all its citizens and that includes those people in the isolated areas……Afghanistan will have NONE of this for the small villages feel that they must fend for themselves against all comers…..
participation–the residents must feel that if they take part in the system that their concerns will be addressed by whoever wins the election….Afghanistan will have NONE of this….ancient suspicions will always lead the vote……
distribution–this addresses the wants list of the people…….the villagers will always want more than they get and the ritzier people will always get what is more than they possibly deserve….and then there is the distribution of laws….will all people have the same rights? In Afghanistan, we know this will NOT be true……
Now with the knowledge of what it takes to build a nation…..what are our chances of Afghanistan becoming a fully functioning nation? My opinion….slim to NONE!
If NONE is the correct answer……..now ask, just what the Hell are we doing in Afghanistan?
On a side note…..this just in from Newser website……..
The head of Afghanistan’s central bank resigned yesterday, and says he won’t return to the country for fear of reprisals thanks to his investigation of the Kabul Bank corruption scandal. Abdul Qadeer Fitrat is currently in the US, the New York Times reports. In a scathing resignation letter, he says Hamid Karzai’s administration constantly tried to block his inquiry, threatened him with legal action, and even “used law enforcement agencies against the staff of the central bank.” “Some known circles were plotting against me,” he said in an interview on Afghan TV, though he declined to name names. The head of Karzai’s high commission on corruption, Azizullah Ludin, shot back that they blamed Fitrat himself for Kabul Bank’s problems, while an official in the attorney general’s office said they had charges against Fitrat. But Western diplomats, the Times notes, view Ludin with skepticism; he presided over Afghanistan’s fraud-ridden 2009 election.
And my friends will be the major obstacle to Afghanistan becoming a fully functioning nation…..CORRUPTION!
College of Political Knowledge
Subject: American Government
With the 2012 election season quickly approaching all those candidates, or should I say, all those presumed candidates are trying to find the best hook to excite the American voter…the socialist tag is waning…..so what could they blame on Obama that would start the masses jerking off to vote?
I have it! American is in DECLINE and it is Obama’s fault!….his policies and those of the liberals are destroying our once great nation….sounds good? You betcha and it will make a helluva hook for Americans that listen to Limbaugh, Beck and other such notables…..
But the question remains…..Is America In Decline?
I believe it is! And it has been since the 90′s with all the terrible decisions made by our leaders…… And now you would like to know why, right?
After 30 years of some vague policies that have done little to improve life for most Americans….we are now entering into a period where , if things do not change, the Middle Class will be gone for as it is today, it is disappearing slowly…..
Millions of Americans see corporate power as the obstacle to progress and the negation of the democratic ideal of government of the people, by the people and for the people. They see that their vote means little and in most cases….NOTHING to the elected representatives……that their (the people’s) desires and concerns are seldom met, if at all……
Chrystia Freeland writing for Reuters:
Global capitalism isn’t working for the American middle class. That isn’t a headline from the left-leaning Huffington Post, or a comment on Glenn Beck’s right-wing populist blackboard. It is, instead, the conclusion of a rigorous analysis bearing the imprimatur of the U.S. establishment: the paper’s lead author is Michael Spence, recipient of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences, and it was published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Spence and his co-author, Sandile Hlatshwayo, examined the changes in the structure of the U.S. economy, particularly employment trends, over the past 20 years. They found that value added per U.S. worker increased sharply during that period – 21 per cent for the economy as a whole, and 44 per cent in the “tradable” sector, which is geek-speak for those businesses integrated into the global economy. But even as productivity soared, wages and job opportunities stagnated.
This conclusion is a very big deal – Spence is telling us that global capitalism is working the way it should, but that the American middle class is losing out anyway. Since global capitalism is the best way we’ve come up with so far to run our economy, that creates quite a dilemma.
Spence is honest enough to admit that he has no easy answers. But he has posed the right question. American politicians in both parties are focused on a budget debate that is superficial, premature and ultimately about something pretty easy to figure out. Instead, we should all be working on the much bigger problem of how to make capitalism work for the American middle class.
Political games and partisan bullshit is bringing about the decline and the American people have NO one but themselves to blame!
Sad to say, my friends, America is in decline…..and if we fall….how long will the rest of the world stand? I am NOT preaching American Exceptionalism here but that so much of the world depends on the US for so much….how long can it last if the the US fails in a big way?
For decades conservs have tried to say that liberals are some suffering from a mental disease or that it is a sickness or some such dribble……oops! It seems someone has found a liberal gene…..
Appearing in the latest edition of The Journal of Politics published by Cambridge University Press, the research focused on 2,000 subjects from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. By matching genetic information with maps of the subjects’ social networks, the researchers were able to show that people with a specific variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to be liberal as adults, but only if they had an active social life in adolescence.Lead researcher James H. Fowler of UC San Diego and his colleagues hypothesized that people with the novelty-seeking gene variant would be more interested in learning about their friends’ points of view. As a consequence, people with this genetic predisposition who have a greater-than-average number of friends would be exposed to a wider variety of social norms and lifestyles, which might make them more liberal than average. They reported that “it is the crucial interaction of two factors – the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence – that is associated with being more liberal.” The research team also showed that this held true independent of ethnicity, culture, sex or age.
Fowler concludes that the social and institutional environment cannot entirely explain a person’s political attitudes and beliefs and that the role of genes must be taken into account. “These findings suggest that political affiliation is not based solely on the kind of social environment people experience,” said Fowler, professor of political science and medical genetics at the Univer. of San Diego.
Okay, I can just hear Limbaugh, Beck and the rest of Right Coast radio jerking off…..so liberals are born and conservs are made…is that about it?
College of Political Knowledge
Subject: Government/Political Philosophy
For this lecture I could start where corporatism was most pronounced…that would be with the “illiterate Italian and the Krazy Kraut”….but that would start a whole new conversation into the merits of such regimes and I will not have that conversation at this time….
But I would bet that you have no idea what “corporatism” is and how it works…let me help….
I will use a more modern definition of the term….we have talked about the whereto fores of the Kraut in the past….Corporatism is a means of incorporating organized interests into the process of government….it refers to a tendency in mature liberal small L not the large L) democracies for organized interests to be granted special privilege and institutional access for these interests to policy formulation…..
T put it another way…it is an way of state which develops along with republican style democracy….corporatism has become entrenched in the economic and social levels of a democracy….corporatism is quickly becoming an end point of democratic rule where special interests and state have become the one and the same….
There you are…a description of what is happening in the US with the oil, health, drug and financial interests…they all have unlimited influence over the formation of policies that effect us all.
You think not? The Supreme Court recently made it legal for corporations to use their unlimited funds to influence the direction of the country…not that that is unusal….it has been happening for decades if not longer…..
These corporations are now in the drivers seat of government….before they were a passenger with a good amount of influence but thanks to SCOTUS…they are now driving the country….
Is the trip into corporatism good for the country and the people that live here? Is this inevitable or is it just a phase of our government? Once the corporations have the power, how do the people take it back from the special interests?
College of Political Knowledge
Subject: Political Theory/Political History
I believe that politics travels in circles…..and so did the Greeks…..wish I could remember which one of the ancient political philosophers came up with the theory….but I do recall he was a Greek dude…..
Okay, the theory of recurrent cycles runs something like this…….the Greeks thought that monarchies degenerated into tyranny, tyranny was overthrown by aristocrats which degenerated into oligarchies that exploited the population, which was overthrown by a democracy, which slid into the instability of mob rule, which brought about a strong individual that set himself up as a monarch…….and the whole process would begin again…
Now in the modern world there could be a few exceptions to this theory…but the main jest of the theory is as true today as it was in 400 BC…….Greeks were pretty damn sharp in their philosophical ramblings……but when they were coming up with this theory, there were about a gazillion city states in the country and each one of them went through a process that got them to the birth of democracy….but it did not always end there……
Look around today, pick a third world country and you can plot this theory without using Google.
A good example will be Pakistan and the political upheaval the floods may have (an upcoming post, I may sure). The military seems to be doing its job but the government is a bit slow in response, other than looking for cash….this could be a deadly event for the present government.
It seems that Pakistani militants are trying to take advantage of the situation on the ground……
The worst floods in decades, triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains more than three weeks ago, have overwhelmed the Pakistani state’s ability to respond.
One major risk is Islamist charities and militants successfully exploiting anger over the government response, even as the United States and international allies rush to deliver additional aid.
The senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said militants were even dispensing money for victims.
“There are certainly clear indications that the insurgents and affiliated groups are trying to use the flood and the relief from the flood to try to gain support for their broader effort of being able to control large parts of Pakistan,” the official said.
Do not look now….but those darn cycles may be in the process again……..
The College of Political Knowledge
Subject: Afghan Politics
I thank my friend Quin over at Quintessential Havoc (blogroll will get you to his site) for making me think about this….I enjoy it when my talents are put to the task and Quin does have a way of pulling my chain….thanx my friend…..
As the war in Afghanistan drags on into its 10th year, there are many that are asking just what is the end game in the country, me being one of many that is asking. There are many vague excuses for the continuation of the armed conflict….you noticed I said vague? Yes vague…..is it to get al Qaeda? How about the Taliban? We are trying to give Afghanistan its first stable government in a thousand years. But we are NOT there to build a nation. What would you call it when one country imposes its political beliefs on another through the use of arms?
In case you are not sure….it is called NATION BUILDING………
Because of the tribal mentality of the country there is only ONE logical and rational answer….a DICTATORSHIP! Sorry people…..you must be realistic….there is NO way that Afghanistan will ever have a stable representative government like the US in the foreseeable future. The only viable alternative is a dictatorship…like it or not….
We have seen how weak the president/legislation example is in Afghanistan? There will NEVER be a stable form of representative democracy in Afghanistan. An authoritarian dictatorship would be the ONLY answer for stability. If you like we could call it a guided democracy if that makes you more comfortable.
An authoritarian dictatorship would have a command of the political system but is kept in check by other institutions like the church or the military. And that brings us to another point…Afghanistan needs a strong general that can command ALL the army and keep it in tow.
Saddam comes to mind…..that much hated dictator of years past…..but if you look at the societal part of his reign you will find education for all, including women, health care for all from cradle to grave, inexpensive energy, abundant food…granted his rule had its ugly sides but there was relative peace within the country…Afghanistan could use a good dictator at this point if they are ever to move into the 21st century.
Or another example is Libya…..an authoritarian state with an assembly of 700+ seats elected from the people’s committees….this could be a sample of what to do….give the heads of the different factions a seat in government, in the Jirga…..
Like it or not, without what I outlined the US and its troops will be serving and dying in Afghanistan for a generation or more. Let us NOT delude ourselves…..calling for a democracy will NOT make it so. Many people have many definitions for democracy , but to think that Afghanistan will ever have an American style democracy is just a pipe dream, at best.
Subject: Political Theory/Government/
As usual I must give the usual suspect the credit for turning me on to this subject (and the headaches that go with it) Quin of Quintessential Havoc (my blogroll will get you this this insightful person and his site)…..we have had exchanges on the need to limit and/or reduce the size of government….I first studied this subject when I was in grad school and the subject of Libertarianism was taught……
If you have even a small grasp of politics then you already know that the Libertarians are all about smaller government….but it goes beyond just the smaller size issue…there are those within the movement that see a way to all but eliminate government altogether…basically foreign policy would be the only thing that a Federal government would be in control of…if they got their way……..
I believe it was Robt. Nozick that said that it was not the state’s place to propose an end solution to the problems of society (that may be a bit simplified, but you get the idea)…that to bring about economic equality would entail the government interfering unacceptably in individual’s liberties……he believed that state taxes were a forced labor by government to redistribute wealth…( I guess that is a common Libertarian belief)…..
Nozick proposed a “Minimal State”….meaning that the state was to be cvonsigned to foreign policy and all else would be privatized, including such services as the police…..he believed the fundamental rights of property overrode everything else and to legislate it was a communal overriding of the individual’s well being….
So Nozick’s minimal state would be small, every Libertarians dream, and the people would be left to their own devices….basically, to me it says, people will be poor because they want to be poor…….
I do not agree with him…..I think that a government free from interference would produce a vast society of ignorant, unemployed and homeless individuals….I think many people would agree that this cost would be a bit excessive…….
So is a “minimal state” possible?…….I think not….for a true economic justice would be good for the country as a whole, both rich and poor alike…….a balance needs to be found between NO justice and Maxed out justice….there is a balance point but so far it has eluded me as well as everyone else…..
Subject: Government/Political History/Political Theory
For months now an avid reader Quin of Quintessential Havoc (go to blogroll it is an insightful and well done blog) and I have been bitching about bureaucrats and their influence on most governments….so I sat about to explain bureaucracy and its functions….not one of my more simple of endeavors……
I tried for several days to find an opening for this ……but each time it did not seem to have a good enough hook to catch the imagination of the reader……
Bureaucrats? Bureaucracy? What comes to mind when I mention those words….(pause for reflection)…..How about inefficiency? Or red tape? Would buck passing enter your mind? Maybe unfeeling? Would stupidity do it for you?
We all have an opinion on what a bureaucrat is….the most notable are a/holes, lazy, do-dahs……but there is a real honest to God definition of bureaucracy…..
There are a number of different meanings….1) a system of administration carried out on a continuous basis by trained professionals, 2) a system of government where leading executive positions are filled by professional administrators……
No matter which one is your favorite…the very mention of bureaucracy sends chills down most people’s spine……bureaucracy is an endless stream of meetings and order…though both are extremely inefficient…the bureaucrat when faced with a dilemna the answer will be that the rules were not followed or that the proper paperwork was not submitted…it is NEVER the fault of the bureaucrat…..
Personnel changes, like when the new Pres comes in, never changes the bureaucracy, if anything the new admin will adopt to the bureaucracy….just look at the Obama Admin….a prime example…..then tampering with the budget of a bureaucracy seldom changes anything at all….a cut in the budget will bring about cuts in much needed programs…not in the personnel make-up….and then if we throw money at the bureaucracy….nothing change….the money will be spent on raises, enlarged staff, studies, commissions, consultants and more do-dahs….
Mediocrity is the rule of a bureaucrat, they are not conscientious or make no sacrifices or for that matter, they are not particularly innovative ….but the one characteristic that they all possess is loyalty….but that is not particularly a good thing…rather it is self-preservation…..for the one thing that is important to the bureaucrat is their longevity…..
But can bureaucracy ever be controlled?
So they say….but you decide……
The elitist say that role of political leadership and advocate a design to secure political of the bureaucracy; this includes the appointing of top executive positions…..and then there are theorists who believe in open government and advocate the open access to government documents and information…..the participatory theorist looks at the need for participation on the local level on the grounds that the character of policy cannot be separated from the manner of its execution…..
The bad news is that if representative form of democracy or government to work properly then a massive amounts of administrators (bureaucrats) is needed and then when the legislative branch becomes more dysfunctional the more bureaucrats are needed to make the government work……
So the bottom line is…if there is an accurate way to control and make a bureaucracy more efficient it is not known or the person is keeping it to myself…..there is lots of talk about the control….but none of it seems to work….why?…..because those that would make it work are part of the problem…the bureaucracy….a conundrum that has NO answer short of a total replacement of the system we have……and that is not an answer either….why?…..all systems need a degree of bureaucracy to succeed…the conundrum continues…..
Note: Paper #4 will be on Participatory Democracy–I know the suspense will be almost intolerable but stay tuned….