I don’t think any single piece of literature encapsulates our contemporary politics than Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style in American Politics. The only question left is, at what level of delusion does a society reach a tipping point in which a value consensus is no longer sustainable and the society falls? Click Here for the link at Harper’s. Click below for the PDF.
The Mismeasure of Man – Stephen Jay Gould This may not have been written by a sociologist, but Gould’s insights are certainly sociological and continue to be resonant in society perpetually wrestling with bigotry and discourses of group superiority.
Regular readers of this blog, especially those with a background in sociology and/or philosophy, will recognize that a great deal of my sociological imagination is informed by Michel Foucault’s theory of Power/Knowledge. Foucault_Michel_Power_Knowledge_Selected_Interviews_and_Other_Writings_1972-1977.
George Orwell had a powerful sociological imagination. Two of his most powerful essays are Politics and the English Language and Looking Back on the Spanish War. Both deal with history, language, politics and how they overlap with and distort reality…and consequently, knowledge.
Robert Merton wrote an important study on prejudice in which he decoupled the concept of prejudice from discrimination. Yes, it is possible to not be personally prejudice, and still discriminate. Yes, it is possible for a black person to discriminate against another black person because they are black. Read Discrimination and the American Creed:
Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force
I read the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations so you don’t have to. It’s my contention that elections should be all about the policies, not the personalities. We should develop an idea of the policies we would like to see in the world. These ideas should be grounded in sound scientific analysis. Then elections are simply a matter of which candidate is offering the policies that get us closer to the ideals I would like to see. Representatives from the Biden and Sanders wing of the Democratic Party recently got together and hammered out a compromise platform proposal. No, Bernie supporters, the proposal does not include everything you want. Biden folks, the proposal is a little more left wing than you may be comfortable with. It’s called compromise.
I have read the recommendations and highlighted the concrete proposals. In other words, I focused only on the proposals that can be objectively evaluated at the end of Biden’s term. So proposals that written, “Increase funding for…” or “Create a…” or “Double the amount of…” got highlighted because we can go back and look at the data. Proposals written as “Support…” or “Reinvigorate…” or “Focus on…” or “Provide significant…” did not get highlighted as they are not quantifiable.
Democrats under the leadership of AOC, Ed Markey and the Progressive Caucus put together a very general outline for a Green New Deal. Despite the right-wing outcry, this was really nothing more than a statement of principles. Well now, the Democratic Party has put together a more comprehensive Climate Crisis Action Plan. Before the mouth frothing rhetoric starts flying, I would suggest actually reading the plans.
Here’s the much-vaunted report from the IPCC that claims we have as little as twelve years left to do something radical with regard to climate change. We may have as much as 24 years left, but still! For those of us who believe it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to, oh, the collapse of human civilization, we are pretty focused on the twelve-year thing. Click Here
Human Costs of the War on Terror Since 9/11: The Costs of War Project out of Brown University has put together this report looking at the direct human costs of the war on terrorism. The numbers are staggering, but keep in mind that this report does not include indirect costs and blow-back. For more from The Costs of War Project, Click Here.
The latest IPCC Report is an eyeopener. If you think climate change is bad, you’re only scratching the surface. It’s actually worse than you think, requiring radical changes to our political-economy. Noam Chomsky claims that the Republican Party is the single most dangerous institution in the history of the world. This report explains why.
A Comprehensive national report on the dangers of climate change. Every few months a new report is coming out with dire predictions about doing nothing on climate change. There is one institution in the world that actually fights against a cleaner environment and that’s the Republican Party. They represent about 25% of the adults in a nation representing 5% of the population. Unfortunately, they have disproportionate power because of the political infrastructure they’ve built. It’s not just obstructionist politics, it’s nihilist politics.
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change: I don’t think I’ve read anything quite as informative and maddening in my entire life. We’ve known about the greenhouse effect since the same year On the Origin of Species was published in 1859. We’ve known that industrial use of fossil fuels was warming the Earth’s atmosphere since William McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan in 1896. By 1979, the science was settled. Burning fossil fuels was causing the Earth to heat up, and if this were allowed to continue, the consequences would be catastrophic, even to the point of ending human civilization. Instead of taking reasonable steps to solve a human-made problem we did nothing. Now we have to deal with the consequences, and they are coming upon us quickly. Our children and grandchildren will curse us forever. Of equal value is this pointed rebuttal by Naomi Klein. Also associated is the Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, otherwise known as the “Hothouse Earth Paper.”
NEW Global Wealth Report: In our political discourse with regard to the Green New Deal and Medicare for All the big question is, “how do we pay for this?” Corporate paid commentators then throw big, scary numbers around like “Medicare for All will cost $30 trillion!” They usually neglect the fact that this figure is over ten years–and we already pay $32 trillion. But the biggest piece of the puzzle that is left out, ensuring that we never get the big picture, is the fact that the United States currently holds over $100 trillion in wealth. That’s right now. In pocket. The question shouldn’t be “how do we pay for this?” The question should be “why don’t we pay for this?” Read the report Global Wealth Report 2019
Net Neutrality Under Attack Again: And the only people who want to end net neutrality are the greedy corporations who stand to profit from doing so. Look, we are all networked. The internet is now a necessary part of everyone’s life. So now is the perfect time to change the rules to make a fundamental cultural element and public good feed the troughs of the corporate pen. Ajit Pai and his curly tailed ilk are there for one thing and one thing only. You can contact the Corporate Fifth Column FCC Chairman HERE and let him know how you feel about his agenda. You can sign a petition HERE. and HERE. It’s also a really good idea to contact your legislator and let them know that you hold them personally accountable if net neutrality comes to an end without a legislative response. The bottom line is that so long as net neutrality is nothing more than a cabinet-level policy decision it is always going to be under attack. We need strong legislation protecting net neutrality if we are really going to fight this battle.
Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda: IndivisibleGuide_2017-03-09_v10 This is an invaluable guide for all of the new activists joining the growing movement against the dehumanizing agenda that Trump and the corporate conservatives of the Republican Party are bringing to the table.
For more information, go to the Indivisible Webpage.
The Citibank Plutonomy Report Over ten years ago, Citibank issued a report in which it openly discussed its plutocratic goals and those democratic processes that might interfere with their class interests. See, here’s the thing. The corporatists understand that we are in a class war. It’s working Americans who don’t see it. Consequently, we don’t realize that we really are in a war…and it’s a war for our very lives–and we are losing. Don’t believe me. Read it for yourself. Citibank Plutonomy Report
Creating Refugees: According to a report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project, the War on Terrorism has displaced over 37 million people (about the population of Canada). The report admits that this may be an underestimate, with the real number of displaced approaching 60 million (Italy) Read the Report Here.
Home is not so sweet for many women: The United Nations just put out a report revealing just how dangerous home-life is for women all over the world. Most female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner or a family member. The same is not true for men. And, in most cases, the perpetrator is a man. Among the least talked about yet clearest facts about violence is that it is gendered. To read the full report, click here.
Black Lives Matter: Probably one of the most important organizational endeavors to happen to the Civil Rights Movement in more than a generation. Click Here to go to the website. Click Here for the Twitter Feed.
The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty: We really should evaluate the values of a society that targets and exploits its most marginalized citizens. Poverty itself should be treated as a crime. Instead, we criminalize the poor. In essence, we criminalize the victims of our exploitative political economy. Click Here for the report. Click Here to see the related DOJ report on police conduct in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Freedom House Freedom in the World Report: The United States continues its decade long democratic decline. No, this is not a “Trump” thing, though it is clear that there is a Trump acceleration. Plutocratic erosion of American democracy has been a long process coinciding with the dismantlement of the New Deal and Great Society and the rise of the corporatocracy. The Great Recession appears to be the shock that delegitimized American democracy. The American government jumped to the immediate rescue of the plutocracy, but mostly left working Americans to fend for themselves with some indirect stimulus followed by imposed austerity. The very pretense of democracy is now gone and the monsters are sprung from their cages. Freedom House Freedom in the World Report 2019
The Economist also puts out a very interesting report on the status of World Democracy called the Democracy Index. You can access that here.
Single-Payer health care is now part of mainstream discourse, at least in the form of “Medicare for All.” It’s amazing how the Overton Window has swung. Once upon a time, it was all we could do to get even the most milquetoast reforms passed in the form of Obamacare…and even then, we were attacked as radical, left-wing extremists overseeing a government take-over of healthcare. Now, being attacked as left-wing doesn’t quite carry the same punch it used to. Now people are listening. Obamacare brought relief to millions, but the problems of the market-based health care the ACA helped prop up were unsatisfying. Now we can start talking about real reform. Here is a study done by the Political Economy Research Institute on the achievability of Medicare for All. Medicare_For_All_12.5.18
Mad Sociologist Features
On Obama’s Farewell Address—And a New Direction for American Liberalism: Did President Obama’s Farewell Address open the door for the possibility of a more progressive, left-wing, even “democratic” Democratic Party?