We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Recommended articles for Wednesday 4/11/2018

In the ideology of US despotism, the compass of civilization includes states that submit to “US leadership”, a euphemized version of “US tyranny,” while states which favor an international order based on the UN Charter’s ideal of the sovereignty and equality of states (Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela are among the supporters of this alternative, democratic, order) are relegated to the category of barbarism. Once a state has been located outside of civilization, Western legal traditions—testing accusations against evidence and the assumption of innocence until culpability is credibly demonstrated— no longer apply. The “barbaric” state becomes guilty of all acts of which it is accused, regardless of whether there exists credible evidence to corroborate the accusation.
The Russian military has found no trace of chemical weapons use after searching parts of Syria’s Douma allegedly targeted by an “attack.” Photos of victims posted by the White Helmets are fake, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. 
If we lived in the pluralistic society that liberals imagine we live in, then you might think there is some disagreement among the major think tanks in the U.S. But both left and right, including the Brookings Institute, the Institute for National Leadership, the Heritage Foundation, The National Endowment for Democracy and the Jewish Institute for National Security all sing the same song. Isn’t it a serendipitous occurrence they all sing in such beautiful harmonies? We think it has something to do with Russia going off the dollar and creation of an Eurasian independent world-order. 
This introduction to Butler's article struck me personally because in my senior year at a major university I wrote a paper in which I made the same argument: attacking the belief that we live in a "pluralistic society", a doctrine dogma declared by one of the American gods of sociology, Talcott Parsons, at the time (1963). I receive a grade of "D" for that effort, and I knew that the same fate would await me in nearly all universities if I pursued an advanced degree in sociology. I was disciplined for not accepting the conventional ideology--another illustration of what Jeff Schmidt argued in his book Disciplined Minds.

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