Tag Archives | political science

In Defense of Obama

Obama Chesh 2.jpg

Photo: Elizabeth Cromwell (CC)

Paul Krugman has penned a lengthy essay for Rolling Stone on why President Obama is getting a raw deal from virtually everyone, including an opinion that “Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history”:

When it comes to Barack Obama, I’ve always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.

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The Constant Confrontation

StateOutDate_Disinfo_300x250[disinfo ed.’s note: the following is an excerpt from The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better by Gregory Sams.]

Whoever is in power got there because they fought their way there, whether using ballots or bullets, argu­ments or artillery. Those holding the reins of power at the top of the pyramid may change from time to time, but the power structure embedded in the bureaucracy of the state remains in place. This includes the military, the civil service, and the bankers controlling our money supply. The structure in which they thrive was originally brought into existence by kicking out a previous power structure or sometimes even an entire race. There are very few instances in history where power has been willingly relinquished without a fight—very few instances of these “public servants” saying “Hey, we’re not very good at this and think somebody else ought to have a shot at it.” Paranoid doddering old rulers will grip deter­minedly the reins of power until they are struck down either by disease, coup, or a popular uprising.… Read the rest

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Is the Central State a Necessary Evil, or a Flawed Form of Government?

StateOutDate_Disinfo_300x250[disinfo ed.’s note: the following is an original essay by Gregory Sams relating current events to his new book The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better .]

Does anybody really believe that politics is working, aside from those in power? As the powerful new tools of our information age chip away at the mask of the sovereign state, endemic corruption is revealed across the political spectrum. People are taking to the streets en masse in protest, sometimes bringing down corrupt regimes only to see the same corruption and inefficiency arising in new regimes. The Egyptian people fought hard for freedom and won a choice between authoritarian masters. In the Ukraine, one group of corrupt thugs recently violently replaced another group of corrupt thugs, with their respective backers arguing on the international stage over which corrupt thugs hold the moral high ground. The world’s great democracies denounce an overwhelmingly popular vote by the people of Crimea, and call the gentle Russian intervention a hostile and unacceptable violation of sovereignty.  After Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, the hypocrisy of it is overpowering.… Read the rest

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Operation Mindcrime: The Selling Of Noam Chomsky

from Stevertigo at Wikimedia Commons

[disinfo ed.’s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on November 15, 2001. Some links may have expired.]

Author’s note: This interview was originally published in REVelation magazine (#12, Summer, 1995): 30-38. This piece captures a transitional period in world politics that exerts a powerful influence over today’s Culture Jammers and anti-globalization activists. Post-NAFTA Americans have became aware of the maquiladora; the Zapatistas seized cyberspace; Jose Ramos-Horta has since been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize; Australia has stepped back from Paul Keating’s mid-1990s drive into South-east Asia; Noam Chomsky continues to lecture, teach, and write. The article title, of course, refers to Queensryche’s progressive rock album Operation: Mindcrime (1988), one of the finest portrayals of how ‘radical’ drones can unwittingly become an integral part of the Reaganite entertainment-as-oppression system that they are (supposedly) fighting against.

18 January 1995 was an extraordinary day for Sydney.… Read the rest

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How To Be A Dictator

dictatorIn the Economist, political scientist Alastair Smith explains, in a series of simple tips and instructions, how you too could successfully bend an entire nation to your cruel will:

It doesn’t matter whether you are a dictator, a democratic leader, head of a charity or a sports organisation, the same things go on. Firstly, you don’t rule by yourself—you need supporters to keep you there, and what determines how you best survive is how many supporters you have and how big a pool you can draw these supporters from.

You can’t personally go around and terrorise everyone. Our poor old struggling Syrian president is not personally killing people on the streets. He needs the support of his family, senior generals who are willing to go out and kill people on his behalf. The common misconception is that you need support from the vast majority of the population, but that’s typically not true.

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