RAD Analysis: Reduce Democracy (2 of 11)

Chomsky lays out the reduction of democracy as an ongoing battle between the elite and the populace over property rights. This age old conflict seems to have two obvious solutions, create institutions that reduce democracy or create institutions that promote equality.

Founding Father and Classical Liberal, James Madison, argued that protecting an individual’s right to private property was critical to American democracy. This is why the original draft of the Constitution did not provide for the direct election of senators; this change would not come until 1913 with the passing of the 17th Amendment. Instead, the ranks of the Senate were filled by elections from within state legislatures. This was an attempt to strike a balance between the interests of the elite and the populace.

On the other end of the spectrum is Aristotle. Like the Classical Liberals of the 17th and 18th centuries, he believed that inequality could create a crisis for democracy in which the populace would seek to take and redistribute property held by the elites. However, Aristotle’s solution was to reduce inequality through market regulations. In order to accomplish Aristotle’s aim, states would have to some extent fix prices and wages thus creating a more equal distribution.  Continue reading “RAD Analysis: Reduce Democracy (2 of 11)”

An Analysis of ‘Requiem for the American Dream’ (1 of 11)

Like many other people my age, I have joined the ranks of Netflix and Hulu users forsaking traditional cable. I can honestly say I don’t particularly miss it. Netflix has plenty enough series and documentaries to keep me entertained. One documentary I come back to on a semi-regular basis is Requiem for the American Dream. This is an hour long interview with the renowned economist Noam Chomsky about the current economic system and its relationship to inequality and its effect on democracy.

RAD is organized around ten points that Chomsky calls ‘Ten Principles of the Concentration of Wealth and Power.’ In the following posts I will analyze each point outlined in RAD. I highly suggest that anyone interested in sociology, economics or politics gives this documentary a watch. It’s well worth the time.  rad

The Folly of Protesting for the Sake of Protesting

College campuses around the nation seem to be seething over with despair and frustration. Nearly everywhere student organizations are banding together to display their angst for the world to see.

My own peers hosted a protest just about two weeks ago. One of the organizers and speakers asked if I would show my support. My first question was ‘What exactly is this protest against?’ His response…’Love Trump’s hate.’ This quickly solicited a whole host of follow up questions and subtle critiques.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I am concerned with the social and political ramifications of Trump’s ideology, but these protests that are seemingly against nothing need to stop. The fact of the matter is, as unfortunate as we may find it, Trump is going to take office come January. We should actually all be wishing him good health and what not because Pence far more reminiscent of Emperor Palpatine than our orange commander-in-chief, but I digress.

One of my favorite academic writers, Guy Standing, has a wonderful quote in his paper The Precariat and Class Struggle in which he describes the emergence of a new social class, the precariat, that I fear many of us will find ourselves a part of.

“The flames of struggle quickly expire in futile days of protest if all the struggle is about is being against what is happening.”

If a protest does not have a clear list of concerns and demands then it is going to fail. Movements cannot be sustained by vague mission statements not to mention the kind of perception generated in the public when confronted with protests of this nature.

I am not derailing protesting in general. It is our right and sometimes even our duty to so. What I am asking is that we only protest when our goal is clear. My fear is that by the time Millennials and Precarians mature and develop plans to address our real, growing concerns, the public will have already written us off. Protesting without a goal this early in the game is a disservice to our greater, formulating cause.