Friday, January 23, 2009

Will there be change, Part 2

Stephen D. Krasner - the political scientist, the Stanford Professor, the former Director of Policy Planning at US DoS – is apparently the only polysci author who actually has a strong sense of humor. While writing “Are Bureaucracies Important?”, which was a direct response to Graham T. Allison's “Models and the Cuban Missile Crisis”, Krasner decided to add a nifty little subtitle. “Allison Wonderland” is a clever little play on words that goes to show that at least one polysci writer has a sense of humor.

Anyways, moving onto the real topic for today...

In this essay, Krasner asks a very interesting question, one that I will attempt to answer in a very basic and non-complex manner:
What sense to vote a man out of office when his successor, regardless of his values, will be trapped in the same web of only incrementally mutable standard operating procedures?



Personally, I find very little stock in this actual idea. We can already see the vast policy differences between Obama and Bush, and they have only switched office for a day or so. We can see that Obama is actively attempting to remove the 'harmful' foreign policy decisions that Bush instated, and we can see that there is already a fight brewing over this. There is a clear and obvious change with every president, not just in staff, but in attitude. Looking at various ones, we can argue that it is more there attitude then position that causes the changes.

But is the Obama/Bush switch really a good candidate to analyze this?
As with all data, there will be outliers. From Lincoln to FDR to Obama, there have been only a few presidents that drastically changed the status quo. I believe that this is not what Krasner was looking at; it seems as though he was actually looking at most of our leaders, the ones who do not attack the standard. With that in mind, we can toss out the above mentioned changes...

So, instead we must focus on the small changes, but mainly on those that switched parties, as that is the best way to analyze what Krasner contended.

Was there a drastic change between Bush and Clinton? No, as Bush himself changed the Reagan policies to be more liberal. The dramatic change did not happen, it was slow and in the middle of one admin.. Yet, somehow we vote Bush out based solely on the idea that Clinton would change things up.

What about between Clinton and Bush take two? Not really, it wasn't until a drastic act changed the world that the real change became clear. As far as I know (based on Wag the Dog) Clinton would have acted roughly the same as Bush. Yet, somehow, we considered the election of Bush to be a mandate and bringer of change. The change that Bush brought to the equation came quite slowly, as it didn't foment until late 2002-early 2003.

As one of the Gaia regulars, PockyBot, would say, the NWO/the Elite actually control the politicians already (see my disclaimer at the bottom of the 9/11 post). As much as I disagree with this statement, I think that it has some bearings of truth. The elite do, in a way, control our leaders as they are the main path to the ears. They are the top brass, they are the top diplomats, they are the top thinkers. They are not in some large conspiracy, nor doing this out of their own interests, but they are controlling it simply to keep the status quo.

The status quo needs to be preserved. It keeps the country running smoothly and makes sure that everything is tested long before it is implemented. This sort of system keeps us alive, and it keeps our country alive. That said, however, how can there be change if the elite, AND THE COUNTRY, want to keep the status quo?

The answer, quite frankly, is that they can't

But what if they have a different philosophy?
This is actually the most important challenge to this position. Philosophies matter, a ton, but are they actually important? We elect based simply on the philosophy part, because we have already seen that the change doesn't happen. Sure, Obama is going in all ready to change how everything is done. So did Congress in 2006, and guess what, nothing changed. The philosophical differences are important, but they do not seem to change how the overall system works.


So, I have to agree with Krasner, it seems as though the overall policy of each politician will in the end be no different then that of the previous one. Too many outside factors impact each and every leader. Sure, Obama is going in with high hopes and plans on changing the World. The question is, will the World let him change it?




What do you guys all think?

36 comments:

Ander said...

I am not going to comment on all of this now because it's too much to write but,

I adhere to the "investment theory" of politics, which holds that all meaningful, high-stakes political action amounts to battles between ever-shifting "coalitions of investors competing to control the state" and its "monopoly of violence."

So from that perspective his question is extremely relevant. The state is an authoritarian structure that is immortal. It doesn't matter who occupies it. It's outcomes will always be the same because it only has one set of tools for accomplishing it's ends. In that set of tools is, at the one extreme, military violence, and the other extreme, psychological fear or manipulation. It's called the public relations industry. They talk a lot about "perception management." And yes please don't argue that there aren't good leaders and that there are good public relations corporations. Yes there are plenty of examples. But on the whole, the social good they are supposed to bring on a large scale is very hard to find evidence for.

Ander said...

In other words, how can you have humanitarian war?

Barga said...

nice retort

you should read some of the arguments about annexing the Philippines, they would appeal to your ideal here


pretty much the whole contention by Allison was that it went that way. In Allison Wonderland, however, it was easily countered

Ander said...

Well I would like you to point to a period in history when one of these structures, who's last justification always is the security of people, hasn't harmed large numbers of people? All the way back to the pyramids. Those were extremely authoritarian governing bodies. As societies became freer, the government ran into a problem. They could no longer whip people like the rulers of the past to keep them in line. So they used the printing press, the radio, and the television. Built large propaganda apparatus and controlled the flow of information. Why? because people started demanding rights and getting in the way of "the enlightened ones" "the more capable members of society". So they needed to take care of this problem and started studying psychology and these different things. What we came up with was the printing press, radio, and TV.

Ander said...

What we have is forms of government that just pillaged and raped, then a subsequent series of reformed government, that wasn't "as bad" but always ended up harming people. well, to an atrocity type scale at some point. they have always harmed large amounts of people while they are in place. No matter the prosperity they bring.

Barga said...

The Cave Thought Experiment much?

WE need governments, which you seem to be against, but are striving for fairer and fairer governments as we progress

Our government is fair, some elected leaders are not

Ander said...

A government is "the organization, that is the governing authority of a political unit,"[1] "the ruling power in a political society,"[2] and the apparatus through which a governing body functions and exercises authority.[3] "Government, with the authority to make laws, to adjudicate disputes, and to issue administrative decisions, and with a monopoly of authorized force where it fails to persuade, is an indispensable means, proximately, to the peace of communal life."[4] "A compulsory territorial monopolist of protection and jurisdiction equipped with the power to tax without unanimous consent."[5] Statist theorists maintain that the necessity of government derives from the fact that the people need to live in communities, yet personal autonomy must be constrained in these communities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government


I agree we need a form of organization and agree with "the fact that the people need to live in communities," but I do not agree government is the best means of organizing or that people need to be forcefully constrained in these communities.

Ander said...

I am not pushing for "fairer" government. By design the government at its very ends is not meant to be fair. You are trying to make something inherently tyrannical less tyrannical. I don't believe in less tyrannical.

Barga said...

I go by hobbes far more then I go by wikipedia. Governments exist to protect us from the anarchic state of nature. We need them, but they need us.

Ander said...

I don't particularly care about one person's philosophy since each one of us chooses what our philosophy is. He made good points but I go by definition and information.

Be careful using the word anarchy. By definition it simply means no state. You are either an archist or anarchist. If you are an archist you hold true that authority through force has a just place in the organization of society.

I consider myself to be an anarchist but anarchy and chaos are not synonymous. In order for a society and communities to exist outside of being forced into them requires a different type of organizational apparatus. One where force is not a legitimate.

Ander said...

One way to think of it might also be, by believing in a state you believe something about human nature to be imperfect in some way and that there must be a human force to correct that imperfection. On top of that you also accept there are people who can see what is "perfect". That is because you believe in them to correct "imperfections" in people. They do this by making laws, launching wars, and putting people in jail or fining them. There are consequences for your behavior relative to another groups opinion of that behavior.

I think perfection in ones life can only be determined by that person. I also don't believe I can make anyone do anything. I can if I hold a gun to their head because I have made the immediate choice to choose between my life or a circumstance I would not normally choose to ever be in. Yes thats making someone do something, but everything is a choice and when you control the choices, you are coercing people. I don't believe we need to coerce people to improve the world and increase prosperity.

Ander said...

Not to mention a philosopher who died in 1679. He had no conception of the technology that exists and the circumstances we live in.

Ander said...

or the amount of information available to you and I.

Barga said...

Ander, the nature of humanity is in chaos and anarchy, but we do not belong there. That is why we form governments (or bonds) that protect us from that state

Barga said...

http://dispatch.com/live/content/editorials/stories/2009/01/24/Sullivan_SAT_ART_01-24-09_A9_F5CL8T7.html?sid=101

This is what happens when we do not give enough respect

Ander said...

Ander, the nature of humanity is in chaos and anarchy, but we do not belong there. That is why we form governments (or bonds) that protect us from that state


You are saying we don't belong in out natural state. You assume our natural state of existence and organization is somehow flawed and therefore need a state to force us into a "better" form organization that protects us from those "flaws". We are constantly fighting against am established natural system and its natural limits than we cannot alter. We are at war with ourselves and one we can never win.


Forming governments and forming bonds are two totally different things. We can form bonds and communities without forcing people into them because it is our natural state. There are people that are going to want to form their own communities and bonds for whatever specific reasons meet their needs and wants. For me to take a gun or the law and say what they are doing isn't "good" or "right" for the people in our "national community" therefore you must stop or I will throw you in jail, is completely absurd.

Barga said...

"You are saying we don't belong in out natural state. You assume our natural state of existence and organization is somehow flawed and therefore need a state to force us into a "better" form organization that protects us from those "flaws". We are constantly fighting against am established natural system and its natural limits than we cannot alter. We are at war with ourselves and one we can never win."

-WE do not belong there because if we are there we are not human. Humans automatically group into tribes which immediatly removes us from the state. The natural state of the world is anarchy, the natural state of humans is tribal--


"Forming governments and forming bonds are two totally different things. We can form bonds and communities without forcing people into them because it is our natural state."

--Actually, a tribe is a government, and you just defined a tribe--


" There are people that are going to want to form their own communities and bonds for whatever specific reasons meet their needs and wants. For me to take a gun or the law and say what they are doing isn't "good" or "right" for the people in our "national community" therefore you must stop or I will throw you in jail, is completely absurd."

--That is taking the tribal status further. I was nto arguing if big government or intrusive government was wrong or right, merely arguing that government is right and natural--

Ander said...

so we as humans, don't belong in human nature.

What do you mean by government and anarchy? you are saying our natural state both involves being governed or told what to do by "more enlightened" members of society and at the same time having no government.

Anarchy simply means no authoritarian, hierarchical, governance where one person or group of persons is dictating what everyones nature should be.

You can't say both are our natural state of existence.

Anarchy does not mean chaos and I don't believe our natural order is chaotic. It's a natural system with a natural order just like anything else. There isn't anything wrong with it. To say there is would be justifying every racist, homophobe, bigot on the planet. Gay people will be gay people no matter how many guns you point at them. Black people will be black no matter how many you put in jail.

Ander said...

I am saying having someone telling me how to live and how to interact is not natural and on top of that it is undesirable to almost everyone. Who do you know that wants to be told what to do all the time and how to do it?

Ander said...

there is a difference between organizing and governing. I agree that our natural state involves being organized but i do not agree that being organized involves a hierarchical structure who's primary form of persuasion is force and coercion.

JoeMcB said...

As long as social, business, religious, governmental hierarchies exist, your life will be affected by those who are at a higher tier. That is not freedom. We, as an intelligent race, should recognize that coercion, by any means, is immoral. The only truth, which is in fact self evident, is that each person should be in control of his own actions, and no one else's.

JoeMcB said...

Saying that "the natural state of humans is tribal" is inaccurate. The 'naturally' ocurring tribes of our human history are actually examples of one person or group of people (tribal leaders) coercing the rest of the group into behaving as they see fit.

Our sophisticated society of today is no different than that of the tribes people of the past and present. We hold certain avenues of information in high regard for no reason other than that it's socially acceptable... that we're told it's correct.

I think the wealth of information that's available to us today should lead us away from being influenced by myths and dogma.

Barga said...

@Ander

"so we as humans, don't belong in human nature."
--Natural state =/= human nature--

"Anarchy simply means no authoritarian, hierarchical, governance where one person or group of persons is dictating what everyones nature should be."
--Anarchy means no government of any sort, which includes tribal groupings--

Barga said...

@Joe

"As long as social, business, religious, governmental hierarchies exist, your life will be affected by those who are at a higher tier."
--Yes, there is this issue. However, I adhere to a non-rigid hierarchy ideal--

" That is not freedom. We, as an intelligent race, should recognize that coercion, by any means, is immoral."
--Why is it immoral? Prove it

"The only truth, which is in fact self evident, is that each person should be in control of his own actions, and no one else's."
--Why is this? Does a mother not control a baby? Is this immoral?--

"Saying that "the natural state of humans is tribal" is inaccurate. The 'naturally' ocurring tribes of our human history are actually examples of one person or group of people (tribal leaders) coercing the rest of the group into behaving as they see fit."
--Go read some basic polysci or philosophy intros--

Ander said...

those polysci intros are written from the perspective of and to support and defend our current hierarchical system of authority. Of course they are going to say it's natural for one group to dominate another and that it is legitimate.

--Anarchy means no government of any sort, which includes tribal groupings--

Thanks you proved my point and contradicted yourself between me and Joe. That statement is inline with what we are both saying.

"Saying that "the natural state of humans is tribal" is inaccurate. The 'naturally' ocurring tribes of our human history are actually examples of one person or group of people (tribal leaders) coercing the rest of the group into behaving as they see fit."

Ander said...

maybe you should read something other than polisci. politics is not a science.

Ander said...

We know that many political ideologies explicitly assume that ordinary people are too stupid to be able to manage their own lives and run society. All aspects of the capitalist political agenda, from Left to Right, contain people who make this claim. Be it Leninists, fascists, Fabians or Objectivists, it is assumed that only a select few are creative and intelligent and that these people should govern others. Usually, this elitism is masked by fine, flowing rhetoric about "freedom," "democracy" and other platitudes with which the ideologues attempt to dull people's critical thought by telling them want they want to hear.

It is, of course, also no surprise that those who believe in "natural" elites always class themselves at the top. We have yet to discover an "objectivist", for example, who considers themselves part of the great mass of "second-handers" (it is always amusing to hear people who simply parrot the ideas of Ayn Rand dismissing other people!) or who will be a toilet cleaner in the unknown "ideal" of "real" capitalism. Everybody reading an elitist text will consider him or herself to be part of the "select few." It's "natural" in an elitist society to consider elites to be natural and yourself a potential member of one!

Examination of history shows that there is a basic elitist ideology which has been the essential rationalization of all states and ruling classes since their emergence at the beginning of the Bronze Age ("if the legacy of domination had had any broader purpose than the support of hierarchical and class interests, it has been the attemp to exorcise the belief in public competence from social discourse itself." [Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom, p. 206]). This ideology merely changes its outer garments, not its basic inner content over time.

Section A.2.17
http://infoshop.org/faq/secA2.html

Barga said...

Nature is anarchic, humans are tribal
that is what I meant


Also, Hobbes is not polysci

Ander said...

So how is human nature not anarchic? Tribes were created by humans and therefore can be undone by humans.

Ander said...

Humans are social.

Ander said...

Tribes were created as a way to organize socially.

Barga said...

wouldn't it be easier to post in one comment at a time, including all of your statements??



Nature, outside of human control, is anarchic
Humans attempt to control it by making tribes, that is our nature

Ander said...

yes but unfortunately not everything comes into my head in a nice one post paragraph.

Our nature is controlling and as such we have a choice in what we control. We can choose to attempt to control people lives or we can recognize that everyone needs control over their own lives.

Barga said...

Well it should...

Ander, if everybody controlled their own lives, then how could you justify stopping me from going on a killing spree?

Ander said...

What's stopping you now? Not to mention I couldn't stop you until you started.

What is stopping you now is "the fear of jail" In an anarchist society the fear of not having human contact, access to food, access to water, etc exists. I believe that most true anarchist communities will resort to ostracism to deal with justice issues. Nobody is forced to deal with anybody. Therefore, everybody is free to NOT deal with somebody. Not only is ostracism cheap and easy, it is also non-coercive.


Ostracization is a functional strategy for groups with out top down hierarchy. Take for example the !kung san of the kalahari, they often practice ostracization to not only repel trouble makers, but to prevent the seizing of power by individuals in the group.

Small communities or urban neighborhoods can set up local task-forces of citizens to figure out "who dunnit". A database that somehow safeguards individual privacy can allow networks of these committees to figure out patterns for larger-scale crimes like serial murders.

Once they figure out the perpetrator, it seems to me locking people up purely for punitive reasons is stupid and will accomplish little as a deterrent under anarchism. Programs like community justice in the USA are suggestive of what to do in cases like drunk driving accidents. For the really heinous stuff, perhaps the solution lies in treating serious criminal behavior like rape and murder as a psychiatric case and coerced hospitalization may be the only way to deal with it. There should be no place for retribution in an anarchist society.

There are any number of answers to that. There is no one way to deal with that but murder and rape have always been pretty much universally taboo and when you look at the people who commit those crimes, their behavior is extremely anti-social. So the question for me is why is a social animal displaying anti-social behavior to such an extreme? I believe on the whole and majority it's the guns and cages society has created for people. Backing them into corners with no other options.

Ander said...

If authority can be justified it is still okay to use in an anarchist society, it's just that the circumstances that exist where it is just are so few that it is hard to justify. There are many options that can be tried before you get to choosing an authoritative option.

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