Globalization And The Demolition Of Society

Globalization And The Demolition Of Society

by Dennis Loo


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780983308102
Publisher: Larkmead Press
Publication date: 08/01/2011
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dennis Loo is a prize-winning scholar and Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona. He serves on the Steering Committee of the World Can't Wait and is known in his discipline and on the web for his articulate, principled, and incisive social analysis.

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A War of the Worlds

Since the 1980s, political systems across the globe have been undergoing relentless and radical restructuring. This tectonic shift in the nature and role of politics in people's lives has been and is being carried out under the signboard of installing market forces and unrestrained individualism as the director for all matters personal and public.

Reminiscent of H.G. Wells' depiction of extraterrestrial aliens invading the US in his classic The War of the Worlds, no arena has been spared from this full-scale assault. The proponents for free market fundamentalism bring with them not only concrete programs that they are fervently and meticulously inserting into place but an entire army of philosophers of privatization who hector us from every media outlet conceivable, generating a drumbeat of scorn for any who object. "There is no alternative, this is the panacea," this army's foot soldiers and generals tell us; nowhere and nothing is immune from their demand that they must take over and take charge. The acolytes of the invisible hand are visible everywhere we look.

This book refuses and refutes these invaders' agenda. Using market forces and individualism as the organizers for economic and political affairs is a recipe for ever-expanding inequities and the shredding of the social fabric, leading inevitably to myriad disasters on the individual, regional, and global level. It will not do to attempt to mildly modify this invasion, gesturing and gesticulating at the margins. The response to this assault that is occurring on every conceivable level requires an equally comprehensive retort, an alternative vision for our society.

To address this here on the most general level, in a highly concentrated distillation of the key themes of this book: Humans are not first and foremost individuals. Everyone and everything that exists does so only in relationship to other beings and to other things. Individuals and groups, in particular, are not separate from and opposed to each other but in fact different expressions of a single integrated process. Individuals cannot accomplish what they do without group support and group sustenance; groups, in turn, rely upon individual leaders to organize the group and thereby advance the groups' interests. We are not fundamentally solitary, autonomous, and exclusively self-interested individuals driven to maximize personal material rewards; we are beings who are primarily shaped by our relationships, especially those generated by our society's political and economic structures. Individuals do not principally give systems the character that those systems possess; systems and structures principally shape individuals' behavior.

Genuine freedom does not and cannot come from ignoring one's obligations to other people and by spurning necessity and material reality. Freedom can only exist on the basis of first recognizing and coping with necessity and then acting to transform it. Moreover, material wealth is not the proper measure of the worth of a person or a society. The pursuit of individual—and corporate—opulence and the downgrading or outright dismissal of the intimate and indispensible connection we have to each other and to the earth are the road to catastrophe for the people and for our planet.

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Chapter Three

Courting Catastrophe and Sabotaging Everyday Security: Neoliberalism's Dangerous Dance

[T]he neo-conservative ideologues, who should really be called neo-liberal ideologues, are in the driver's seat at the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies and the Congress. Their agenda is global, not national, and their objective is monopoly, not free markets. This is an all-or-nothing let's-roll-the-dice group of thinkers who are nothing if not bold.
     — Chris Sanders, 2004

The likeliest and most dangerous future shocks will be unconventional...
Their origin is most likely to be in irregular, catastrophic, and hybrid threats of 'purpose' (emerging from hostile design) or threats of 'context' (emerging in the absence of hostile purpose or design). Of the two, the latter is both the least understood and the most dangerous.
     — Nathan Frier, 2008

Finance capital does not want liberty, it wants domination.
     — Rudolf Hilferding

The ocean will take care of this on its own... it's natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is.
     — Rush Limbaugh on the BP Oil Disaster

Neoliberalism's proponents' audacious agenda of unrestrained power coexists with their startling indifference to their policies' damage to people and to the planet. This adds up to a devastating and historically unprecedented combination. The dangers inherent in their high stakes gamble, a gamble they have drawn the whole world involuntarily into, guarantees not prosperity for everyone, but insecurity for all. For neoliberalism not only produces increasing endemic insecurity—troubles at the level of day-to-day life—but it also leads inexorably to episodic disasters on a regional and world scale. Perversely, the more calamities the neoliberals provoke, the more they grandstand amidst the rubble of those catastrophes, demanding even more power in their hands.

The neoliberal state's supplanting of the welfare state, for this reason, represents the single most consequential fact of our time. Since states function—and continue to function—as the primary means by which society's resources are allocated within a country, the struggle over who holds state power, how that power is exercised, and in whose interests, has been the pivotal struggle for humanity for centuries. The neoliberal agenda, in both its GOP and Democratic incarnations, requires that neoliberals take hold of and relentlessly wield state power to carry out the neoliberal vision, irrespective of any of the GOP's antigovernment rhetoric. Far from becoming less relevant, the state continues to be an arena of extremely sharp contention and a leading actor in the unfolding drama.

Much mystification and misinformation surrounds the character of politics, the making of public policy, and the nature and role of state power. I begin here then with a brief but concentrated discussion of those matters. Effecting real changes means that we must cut through the mist of misrepresentations to uncover political authority's essential elements.

The Nature of State Power: the Role of Force and the Matter of Legitimacy

Political authority, as the sociologist Max Weber put it, is the ability to get people to do what you want them to do, even when they do not want to do it. The only way to assure compliance from those who cannot be persuaded and who resist is to use force. If you do not have the ability to overcome resistance, then you lack political authority. Even in situations where force is not employed and is not necessary as in, for instance, clubs or associations, when there is not consensus, even if the majority rules, someone still has to move the activity and agenda forward. Someone has to make an executive decision. If no one does, then all activity grinds to a halt. When the stakes are as high as those in a nation-state, all the more reason why any government, so long as governments exist, has to use coercion as part of its arsenal to exercise political authority.

Contrary to most conventional notions, therefore, the hard nucleus of state power is coercion, not consent of the governed. When people refuse to pay their taxes and make it clear that they will not ever pay them, the Internal Revenue Service comes knocking on their doors, backed by guns. They present the recalcitrants with a choice: pay or be arrested or die. Another example of the state power of coercion occurred in 2000 in Miami. Miami's anti-Castro Cuban emigre community refused to allow Elian Gonzalez to return to his father (his sole surviving parent) in Cuba; so, the US government, having failed to persuade Elian's US relatives to give him up, finally came to their home and, bearing guns, extracted Elian.

On a grander scale, when a government finds itself in serious trouble with people who are demanding that the government resign, the state will bring out rifles and tanks and reasserts its authority; this is a strategy that works as long as the military remains loyal to that government. Prior to that point, states routinely—daily, hourly, and minute by minute—deploy force to lesser degrees through the use of police and other agents of social control; they also fully utilize the organs of public opinion-making in order to prevent matters from reaching a juncture where the populace is roiled into a general state of upheaval. When the state's ordinary and quotidian efforts fail, however, then the tanks roll out.

The state's use of force is not unique. The ability to impose one's will through force operates in many well-known ways on the interpersonal level as well. Robbers use a gun or other weapon, and a rapist gets what he wants through violence and the threat of more violence if his victim does not comply. The criminal underworld famously employs lavish amounts of force, intimidation, and terror. The robber, the rapist, the mafia, and the state thus share in common the fact that they use force. The difference between a state and other individuals or groups is that, as Weber put it, a state is a state because it possesses a monopoly over the means of legitimate violence. Notably, Weber does not describe a state as a body of officials who draw their power from the consent of the governed. Consent applies to his definition of a state only to the degree to which most people continue to see the state's coercive actions as legitimate. The US form of government today represents no exception to this rule.

A combination of two elements makes governmental force putatively legitimate. First, government actions are legitimate because most people see them as legitimate. Many people consider the armed forces' actions in waging war as legitimate because their country's military is doing it. Even if the war that military is waging is based on lies, the fact that it is "our" military doing it and that they are now committed to a war theatre and find themselves in "harm's way" makes that war reasonable—or at least tolerable—in many people's eyes, unless the war goes badly or drags on too long. People think (when the war is not going badly) that the government must have a good reason to do what it is doing. These are our sons, daughters, and spouses, and this is our government, they think. The government would not expend such gigantic sums, cause such catastrophic destruction, and kill people on both sides without reason. It would be unthinkable for an individual to act this way and thus it is very hard to believe that a state would knowingly do such terrible things on such a grand scale without a just cause.

Table of Contents

Preface: A War of the Worldsxi
Introduction: Laying a Foundation for Politics of a New Path: Contests Over What is Real and What is True1
Chapter 1: The Paradox of Preeminence29
Chapter 2: The Neoliberal State's Origins and the Rise of the Right: Wars, Revolutions and Insurgencies66
Chapter 3: Courting Catastrophe and Sabotaging Everyday Security: Neoliberalism's Dangerous Dance116
Chapter 4: The "War on Terror" (Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy)187
Chapter 5: Why Voting Isn't the Solution: The Problem with Democratic Theory215
Chapter 6: Media: the New Faux Public260
Chapter 7: The Prospects for Change309
  Appendix 1359
  Appendix 2361
  Appendix 3369

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Globalization and the Demolition of Society 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dolmons More than 1 year ago
Globalization and the Demolition of Society by Dr. Loo is a challenging reading and yet a very thought provoking one, one that forces you to leave your comfort zone and come to grip with what is really going on in the world right now. One might even say that the book is premonitory. It was written before the massive uprising in the Middle East started, and before the current financial tumult hit the roof again. Loo provides many explanations as to why this social and economic havoc was foreseeable, the flaws inherent to capitalism being the main culprit. Loo argues that the most fervent and ruthless advocates of capitalism are the Neocons. Loo points out that many elected officials of capitalist countries are Neocons, and as such they have failed to fulfill their role of leaders. Neocons only seek profit. In order to justify and satisfy their unquenchable greed for profit, they have redefined the concept of 'democracy" in their own terms. By "democracy" they don't mean equal rights and opportunities for all; rather, their definition of "democracy" is restricted to how much freedom they can get in their pursuit of indefinite profit. The Neocons currently rule the world, Loo argues. They dictate and/or greatly influence public policies around the world to serve their own interest. The impact on societies around the world has been devastating. Recent instability and uprising in the Middle East and in Europe are symptomatic of such turmoil. This is a perfect time to read this book given the current state of the world for this book perflectly illustrates the flaws of the current system, and how things might get worse if structural change does not take place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading Dennis Loo's book is like opening the curtains to daylight in a dark room. For those perplexed and dismayed by the current American political scene and rhetoric, for anyone who wonders, "How exactly did we get here?" Globalization and the Demolition of Society, by Loo, a professor of Sociology, provides empowering knowledge of the crisis facing us. His book traces the rise of neoliberalism, the political expression of globalization, and its tightening grip on the media, highlighting current examples such as the "war on terror" in a smart, lively manner. He looks at why and how democracy cannot work under current circumstances. Personally I was very moved by Loo's excavation of unexamined American myths about the individual vs. society. Loo shows how devaluing the role of the group and the community is a tactic used by the corporate media to further the atmosphere of separation, fear and growing economic inequity. While Loo covers considerable intellectual ground and complicated historical developments his language is always accessible and conversational. I would recommend this book to any one interested in understanding and changing our world.
markaleshnick More than 1 year ago
The country is alarmed to hear the Fed's most recent statement, declaring anemic growth and job creation for the next two years. The multiple wars continue. Torturers roam the land free and making millions on book tours. Wealth inequality is greater than during the Gilded Age. Tea Partiers, manipulated by billionaires like the Koch brothers, set the agenda in Washington and Obama once again proves his mettle as someone who adopts extremist GOP policies while making it appear to be the middle way. The people are desperately seeking answers: what is going on here? Professor Loo's book addresses this question (and more) in a very unique way. In tracing the rise of the Right and how it now sets the nation's political agenda, for example, he looks at the Right's origins in the 1960s' crime issue. According to conventional and scholarly opinion, the public became resentful and fearful of social protest and black demands for equality, lumping protest in with crime, turning punitive and selfish and thus providing wind for the Right's sails ever since. Loo shows in an amazing feat of detective work and analysis that media, public officials, and the pollsters themselves manipulated the polls allegedly showing this shift, with a fair amount of the data actually being fabricated. Loo writes in summing up his findings and raising it to a higher level of generality that applies throughout his book (he traverses a tremendous amount of ground in this extraordinary book): "Reactions by any group to other groups' actions and demands are more contingent than inevitable in the sense that political leadership-the stance that political leadership takes on a given question or set of questions-can be and usually is decisive. Put another way and with greater specificity, what is seen as the majority position matters much more than what actually is the majority position. Majority views do not hold sway as much as does the dominant presentation of what the majority view supposedly is-at least in a putative democracy where rule by the majority is the dominant shibboleth." This book should be required reading in institutions of higher learning across the world for those seeking answers to these questions and other equally important ones.
lmpLP More than 1 year ago
Globalization and the Demolition of Society is truly an eye-opener. Dr. Loo takes some of the most prevalent social issues of today and explains how they have derived from negligent leadership. The book is an inspiration to protect ourselves and our world from the dark side of capitalism.
cook6969 More than 1 year ago
Reading this book is like savoring the sauces in French cooking - a distillation of concentrated flavors. Bon appetit!
LR44 More than 1 year ago
In a world marred by the drive for profit, ever-expanding empire, and deepening and intolerable inequalities, Dennis Loo's Globalization and the Demolition of Society presents a pivotal contribution in the realm of ideas to the struggle for a whole new world. While many scholars on the Left have grappled with either the ramifications of globalization on our planet or with what neoliberalism represents, Loo not only goes beyond what others have analyzed, he also calls for a system change to repudiate the political economy of capitalism-imperialism and its current political expression of neoliberalism. Loo's analysis begins with a vigorous critique of the most influential paradigmatic tools that are currently being used to analyze and make understandable what is happening in the world. In part, Loo exposes the underlying affinities of the Religious Right and that of postmodernism in abandoning reason and science. Loo locates where neoliberalism's historical underpinnings lie, where its current trajectory leads, and what response is needed to reverse its continuing expansion. Loo goes beyond Naomi Klein's widely cited argument about the intentional nature of neoliberals' triggering of crises. He shows that some of the worst crises are ones that neoliberals aren't purposefully instigating: these calamities are the inevitable by-products of the logic and working out of that logic of neoliberals' constantly creating and profiting from more insecurity and their treating their cynical use of power as if it were independent of any objective realities. Loo also grapples with how neoliberalism's ideological influence finds expression among the public's sentiments. For instance, he elaborates on how the justification for increased surveillance by the state becomes supported by the public under the falsely propagated notion that it will lead to increased security, in part because the very way the "war on terror" (WOT) is being carried out reinforces its alleged rationale by fueling anti-state terror. He compares the WOT to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy where a parent is secretly harming his or her child in order to make certain that the child is wholly dependent upon his/her parent. His refutation of the "ticking time bomb" justification for torture (a linchpin of the WOT) is elegantly simple and entirely persuasive. Loo exposes the role that Obama's policies have had in furthering neoliberalism's aims and perpetuating public disorder. His compelling critique of democratic theory's fundamental shortcomings and the fact that voting cannot and never has brought about fundamental change is crucial to anyone interested in social change. Loo engages with questions of leadership, the seizure of state power, the role of the modern privatized state, and the nature of bureaucracies. His analysis of bureaucracies both illuminates Weber's and Robert Michels' analyses and takes their analyses of bureaucracies deeper. In further developing the relationship between persuasion and coercion, Loo demonstrates that coercion, the use of outright terror and the abrogation of the rule of law, are the logical outcomes of the rise of the neoliberal state. Loo does not compromise his arguments by oversimplifying the issues, yet he conveys these matters in ways that are very accessible and clear. It is a must read for those who seek new ideas about how to orient themselves to the world situation, yet are undecided about which course of action is needed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
stevetran More than 1 year ago
Dennis Loo offers a dialectical vision into society that critically analyzes our perception of "What is reality?" Loo blends a historical comparative analysis starting from the Enlightenment to today with a sociological investigation on the power relations between leaders and the led. He challenges his readers to question "The Way Things Are," and even devises "The Prospects for Change." I have found this reading helpful in cultivating my mind toward a higher level of understanding and into an effective critical thinker. I recommend this book to those who want to learn about society and social change. This book is dedicated to those who are interested in how the destruction of people's minds and freedoms has become a design of the neoliberal state. If Howard Zinn were alive today, he would tout that not since Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine should a work deserve as much attention and acclaim as Globalization and the Demolition of Society.