In 1946, Encyclopedia Britannica
and Harold Lasswell
produced an educational film about the nature of Despotism. Calls to mind contemporary examples of despotism, and (in view of Lasswell's own views on the subject) raises some interesting questions about the uses and misuses of persuasion and propaganda.
Film link via the Prelinger Archive
, previously discussed here
posted by washburn
on Mar 16, 2006 -
Democracy comes to the English Channel as the island of Sark
, the last feudal government
in Europe, is switching to a semi-democratic system
. Previously, only the 40 landowners, out of a population of 500, could vote, and the island was ultimately ruled by a lord, the Seigneur
. Though the "serfs" were quite happy
with the arrangement, the winds of change arrived in the form of the enigmatic billionaire Barclay twins and the European Court of Human Rights
. One old Norman law that still remains, however, is the "Clameur de Haro
" where any person can demand the immediate end of any action that infringes their rights by yelling "Haro, Haro, Haro" and reciting the Lord's Prayer in French.
posted by blahblahblah
on Mar 10, 2006 -
Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win: SDS is reborn.
Founded in 1959 and imploded ten tumultous years later, the Students for Democratic Society was one of the most dynamic and controversial
forces at work in organizing a mass movement against the Vietnam war, particularly among draft-age kids. The group's original manifesto, Tom Hayden's Port Huron statement
, still rings prophetic in Bush's
America. Now SDS is relaunching and planning its first national convention since 1969
, with a new crew of young radicals issuing calls to action
to their own supposedly apathetic generation: "We seek liberation from the dominant business interests that have degraded our cities, paved over our communities, drowned out small business, and commodified our culture... Cooperative self-reliance is the only moral and material salvation of our nation, and the only release from a system that demands each of us be an accomplice to its heinous crimes
posted by digaman
on Jan 27, 2006 -
Meet the Bloggers
is a group of Ohio citizen journalists who have been interviewing state political candidates, podcasting the interviews and taking questions from anyone who is interested in the candidate's policies. [more inside]
posted by sciurus
on Jan 10, 2006 -
Prone to Violence
FROM THE French Revolution to contemporary Iraq, the beginning phase of democratization in unsettled circumstances has often spurred a rise in militant nationalism. Democracy means rule by the people, but when territorial control and popular loyalties are in flux, a prior question has to be settled: Which people will form the nation? Nationalist politicians vie for popular support to answer that question in a way that suits their purposes. When groups are at loggerheads and the rules guiding domestic politics are unclear, the answer is more often based on a test of force and political manipulation than on democratic procedures.
posted by Postroad
on Jan 7, 2006 -
"I learned this week
that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story
..." President Bush really
did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here
.] And in yesterday's rare press conference
, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues
that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
posted by digaman
on Dec 20, 2005 -
UK politics filter: WriteToThem.com
tells you who your MP, MEPs, MSPs, and Welsh and London Assembly members are, and will send letters to them on your behalf. All you need is your postcode. It's a service of MySociety.org
, the charity behind PledgeBank
, where you can promise to do something worthwhile if other people join in (last seen here in June
— please sign up to save Christopher Robbin
). The charity's latest project, HearFromYourMP.com
, lobbies MPs to provide regular email updates to their constituents, like this one
posted by londonmark
on Dec 15, 2005 -
Vote, damn you!
Residents of Ascension Island
have been taking part in their second ever general election
, but they have been so apathetic that the returning officer gave up trying to enrol voters and just signed up all 697 of them herself.
Meanwhile, further South, it’s also election day in the Falkland Islands,
complete with flying ballot boxes
and a campaign in which, (rightly or wrongly), even 23 years after the conflict, many of the candidates
juggle the usual municipal chit-chat that occupies a population of under 3,000 with matters of international diplomacy, such as
councillors’ visits to the UN
,and whether Argentina should be ignored, resisted or befriended.
posted by penguin pie
on Nov 17, 2005 -
Iraqi insurgents are rejecting al-Qaida
in favour of the political process. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad spent 5 days with an Iraqi resistance group during the constitutional vote, and found that al-Qaida involvement in the insurgency-particularly their tactic of targetting Iraqi police and soldiers-is both unwelcome and unwanted. Instead many Sunni are looking toward using the democratic process to achieve their ends.
posted by MadOwl
on Oct 27, 2005 -
Harold Pinter at 75.
In One for the Road
, the protagonist is Nicolas, a whisky-sodden interrogator who has brought in a family for questioning
(and, it is implied, raping and torturing). In the short, sharp shock of The New World Order
, we eavesdrop on a conversation between two torturers, held over the top of their mute, blindfolded victim's head ("We haven't even finished with him. We haven't begun."). In Ashes to Ashes
, the interrogation of Rebecca by Devlin takes a sinister turn as we learn that her ex-lover participated in state-sponsored violence. In Mountain Language
, a sadistic guard plays power games with a group of mountain dwellers, who are forbidden from speaking in anything but the language of the state. In Party Time
, Pinter lampoons the smug security of the middle classes, portraying an insufferably élite party which carries on regardless of the violence and terror on the streets outside.
Now, for Pinter's 75th birthday, some of the tormentors and the tormented so potently etched in his later plays are assembled together in a new dramatic work
with a musical setting by the composer James Clarke.
posted by matteo
on Oct 7, 2005 -
At this challenging time for President Bush, let us reminisce
about the system
him. Will the next election be different? Do you want it to be? What are you going to do about it?
posted by Pretty_Generic
on Sep 12, 2005 -
China's non-interventionist approach to Africa.
They recently lifted 200 million of their own people out of poverty
. Unlike the G8, they aren't concerned about corruption, aid, debt relief, social impact, human rights, the environment, or spreading democratic ideology
. They build governments, hotels and industrial plants in Sierra Leone, export 60% of oil from the 'genocidal' Sudanese
, sell weapons to both sides in war zones and deal arms to embargoed dictators like Mugabe. They'll be the third largest investor in Africa at the end of this year. The People's Republic of China: threatening
- or Jeffersonian
posted by Bletch
on Jul 5, 2005 -
"freedom" as a goal of US policy, what are the real benefits of democracy? In the developing world, no democracy has ever had a famine
as Nobel-winner Amartya Sen demonstrated
, and citizens of democratic nations have equivalent economies, longer lifespans and better educations
than autocracies. Unfortunately, it appears that democracies do go to war
with each other (although less, statistically
). On the other hand, high levels of political freedom decrease terrorism
and prevent genocides
. Obviously, democracies also do bad things
, but is there a better form of government
posted by blahblahblah
on May 30, 2005 -
How Rich is Too Rich For Democracy?
At what point does great wealth held in a few hands actually harm democracy, threatening to turn a democratic republic into an oligarchy?
It's a debate we haven't had freely and openly in this nation for nearly a century, and last week, by voting to end the Estate Tax, House Republicans tried to ensure that it wouldn't be had again in this generation.
But it's a debate that's vital to the survival of democracy in America.
In a letter to Joseph Milligan on April 6, 1816, Thomas Jefferson explicitly suggested that if individuals became so rich that their wealth could influence or challenge government, then their wealth should be decreased upon their death. He wrote, "If the overgrown wealth of an individual be deemed dangerous to the State, the best corrective is the law of equal inheritance to all in equal degree..."
posted by mk1gti
on Apr 20, 2005 -
Democracy is kufr.
(A 26-page PDF.) "The democracy which the Kaafir West promotes in the Muslim countries is a system of Kufr. It has no connection whatsoever with Islam. It completely contradicts the rules of Islam..."
Lots of interesting reading at 1924.org.
(Look for the "PDF Version" links, they're a dim light gray in my browser.)
posted by davy
on Mar 23, 2005 -
Jorge Bonilla is hospitalized with pneumonia from sleeping at the restaurant where he works, unable to afford rent on wages of thirty cents an hour. Domestic worker Yanira Juarez discovers she has labored for six months with no wages at all; her employer lied about establishing a savings account for her.
In 1992, Fordham law professor Jennifer Gordon
founded the Workplace Project
to help immigrant workers in the underground suburban economy of Long Island, New York. She has written a book
,"Suburban Sweatshops", to describe the experiences of these immigrants
. More inside.
posted by matteo
on Mar 15, 2005 -
Some good news!
The greatest problem Africa faces is bad government. When the President of Togo died earlier this month, the constitution dictated that power should go to the head of Parliament, until democratic elections could take place. The army expressed their regret that this couldn't happen, since the head of Parliament was out of the country. This was due to the army closing all the borders. They instead gave power to the ex-President's son, and altered the constitution to remove any reference to presidential elections. Now, it looks like progress is being made through protest and peer-pressure.
posted by Pretty_Generic
on Feb 22, 2005 -
Elections on the US model?
Now that the voting is done, questions are starting to arise . . . Sunni Moslems in Kirkuk had an exemption from the boycott of the vote. But of 38 designated polling centres in the Hawija district, only 19 actually opened, and the electoral commission had only sent 50,000 ballots to the district, even though more than 100,000 voters were on the rolls.
Of course, things like that happen often in places new to voting, like Ohio.
But wait, there's more! Kurdish Christians were not able to vote when balloting materials arrived inexplicably late, and Iraq's interim president said a shortage of ballots at some polling places may have kept tens of thousands from voting.
There's been a lot of news about suspicious elections all over the world
during the last few years. How can we restore our faith
in the democratic process?
posted by kyrademon
on Feb 3, 2005 -
While Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declares a "bitter war"
against democracy, Josh Muravchik
suggests that Realists—"those who are skeptical of injecting issues of freedom, democracy and human rights into the conduct of foreign policy"—have historically been less in-step than pro-democracy Idealists. Responding to Bush's Inauguration Day comments about confronting tyranny in the coming years, many Iranians cheered
posted by jenleigh
on Jan 26, 2005 -
Greeks, postmodernity, and the rethinking of democracy
Found this fascinating interview on openDemocracy by way of meat-eating leftist
. Greek opposition minister George Papandreou, son of former socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou
, says some interesting things about the changing nature of representative democracy and the new fluidity of citizens' political and social identities.
Given our diminishing democracy in this country, it is refreshing to hear a politician say that individuals in society need to be empowered and that political leaders must listen to and trust individuals.
posted by mountainmambo
on Dec 27, 2004 -
"I have become more and more aware of the Stalinist tactics and mentality of much of the American Right..... Relentless insistence on unity, on the existence of an unprecedented and overwhelming external threat, and on the total moral depravity of political opposition were all integral to Stalinist propaganda, and they are a growing part of conservative rhetoric in the United States today.....[Hateful] rhetoric was the prelude to a terrific acceleration of state murder in the Soviet Union....when I read posts on right-wing websites and blogs such as Free Republic or Little Green Footballs, I am reminded strongly of the rage and rhetoric of the young Communist Party activists in the late 1920s....The drive to sustain the administration's alternative world, and the blind hatred and rage of many of President Bush's supporters, may well have disastrous consequences for America."
[ Matthew Lenoe, author of Closer To The Masses. Stalinist Culture,Social Revolution, And Soviet Newpapers
. Harvard University Press, 2004 ] An op-ed, by someone who knows a bit about totalitarianism, it reminds me of Metafilters 36201
, 32747 24363
posted by troutfishing
on Oct 28, 2004 -
In 1934, the only thing standing between a fascist coup
and democracy in the United States was the courage and honor of one man
posted by euphorb
on Jul 29, 2004 -
Thought June 30th was a real handover of power to the Iraqis? In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. ... The new Iraqi government will have little control over its armed forces, lack the ability to make or change laws and be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit U.S. approval, say U.S. officials and others familiar with the plan.
posted by amberglow
on May 26, 2004 -
The wisdom of crowds
and the miracle of aggregation
, arguably, are the reasons why markets
work as well as they do. As New Yorker
James Surowiecki explains in his new book
, "consider the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
. When a contestant on the show is stumped by a question, he has a couple of choices in asking for help: the audience or someone he's designated as an expert. The experts do a reasonable job: They get the answer right 65% of the time. But the audience is close to perfect: It gets the answer right 91% of the time, even though it's made up of people who have nothing better to do than sit in a TV studio and watch Regis Philbin." The new, new tipping point?
posted by kliuless
on May 25, 2004 -
The September Project
-- On 9/11, libraries big and small will host events where citizens can participate collectively and think creatively about our country, our government, our community, and encourage and support the well-informed voice of the American citizenry.
A Day of and for Democracy.
posted by amberglow
on Apr 21, 2004 -
Gift hub - Connecting Funders, Active Citizens, and Advisors. Phil Cubeta
, who is known to many as the weblog world's Happy Tutor
(et al.), wants to stop just talking about philanthropy
and actually do something. Now this a Corporate Guy that I actually respect. He's recently decided to 'go from satire to sermon, from noting problems to working for solutions,' and brought together
some other smart and influential people
to talk about philanthropy, activism, volunteerism, charity, social movements, civil society, and emerging democracy
, and is one of the people organizing an Open Space for Giving Conference
. Can a webby philanthropic bridge
be built between the chaotic, emergent ferment in the wired world and the world of corporate wealth
? I don't know, but I wish him luck.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken
on Apr 13, 2004 -
Bush's Speech on the Spreading of Democracy This is a massive and difficult undertaking -- it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. (Applause.) The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.
Since this speech
was posted earlier, I just thought it would be good if we are exposed to ideas from both sides.
posted by VeGiTo
on Nov 10, 2003 -