Atomization

From Kleptopedia

Participation

Political Participation is any activity that shapes, affects, or involves the political sphere. Political participation ranges from voting to attending a rally to committing an act of terrorism to sending a letter to a representative. Broadly speaking, there are three types of participation:

  1. Conventional Participation: Activities that we expect of good citizens. For most people, participation occurs every few years at election time. People strongly committed to politics are more likely to participate on a regular basis.
    • Example: Conventional political participation includes voting, volunteering for a political campaign, making a campaign donation, belonging to activist groups, and serving in public office.
  2. Unconventional Participation: Activities that are legal but often considered inappropriate. Young people, students, and those with grave concerns about a regime’s policies are most likely to engage in unconventional participation.
    • Example: Unconventional political participation includes signing petitions, supporting boycotts, and staging demonstrations and protests.
  3. Illegal Participation: activities that break the law. Most of the time, people resort to illegal participation only when legal means have failed to create significant political change.
    • Example: Illegal political participation includes political assassination, terrorism, and sabotaging an opponent’s campaign through theft or vandalism.

Most democratic citizens feel that some level of political participation, particularly conventional participation, is admirable and acceptable. But political participation can be hard: One must find time, and perhaps money, in order to participate. So why do people do it? People participate in politics out of a sense of the following:

  • Idealism: Some participate because they believe strongly in a particular idea.
  • Responsibility: For many, participation is a responsibility of democratic citizenship.
  • Self-Interest: A person might work to promote issues and causes that personally profit that person.
  • Enjoyment: Some simply enjoy public activity, either because of the activity itself or because of the friends they make while politically engaged.

Paradox

Rational choice theorists have argued that participation, particularly voting, is irrational. In a large country, the probability that one’s vote will decide the outcome of an election is microscopic. Because participation has costs (time to vote, effort to learn about the candidates and issues, and so on), the costs of voting outweigh the benefits. In other words, voting does not make sense for people as an activity. Another way to think about this issue is to consider the person who votes because he or she desires to have an impact on the government. If he or she votes out of a sense that the one vote will make a difference, then this person will be sorely disappointed. The truth is that one vote does not make a difference. At the same time, however, if everyone who votes ceased to believe in the power of voting to effect change, then no one would turn out for elections and the democratic process would stop functioning. Political scientists call this phenomenon the Paradox Of Participation.

Nonparticipation

In some countries, large parts of the population do not participate in politics at all. In the United States, for example, only about half of all eligible people vote in presidential elections. Such nonparticipation signifies a number of attitudes:

  • Contentment: Lack of participation indicates satisfaction with the status quo—if they were upset about an issue, people would participate.
  • Freedom: In a democratic society, people have the freedom to not participate.
  • Apathy: Many people do not know much about politics and do not care.
  • Alienation: People do not participate because they feel that no one in power listens to their views and that the government is, at best, indifferent to them.

ATOMIZATION

Atomization.

FACTIONS

The problem with falling into line with the duopoly paradigm (e.g. Democratic v Republican) is it's designed to force people into a self-regulating (and group-signaling) repetition of factional loyalty affirmations, and since the real world isn't represented by either 'faction' of mostly grasping, corrupt political orthodoxies, the people end up having to misrepresent a distorted version of the world to fit the needs of the loyalty affirmation. This distortion ends up calcifying into a divergence, fed by fake news and false prejudice.

Want some examples? #defundthepolice doesn't mean no police, Alex Jones doesn't support school shooters, Rogan doesn't hate trans people, Black Lives Matter isn't trying to destroy the family, Trump isn't the next Hitler, Boris isn't the champion of the patriotic Briton, Cummings isn't trying to set up a fascist database, Biden isn't going to tax the corporate oligarchs, Russia didn't impact the 2016 US election, wearing masks on public transport isn't an affront to your freedom, locking down whole cities is an affront to your freedom, Putin isn't an evil modern Stalin, Putin isn't the everyman savior of the Russian people, Xi Jinping isn't a socioeconomic mastermind, Xi Jinping isn't a communist dictator. Etc Etc.

In America, for instance, Democrats think everyone else is a homophobic gun-toting Nazi looking for ways to deny climate change, force rape victims to have babies and lock immigrants in cages. Republicans think everyone else is a pedophile enabler who wants to take away guns, censor free speech, kill babies, raise taxes and destroy their way of life.

Identity politics is encouraged, as a way to atomize, by forcing collisions: purity statements, condemnation of perceived 'other team' untermensch, then the disgruntled target of the condemnation reacting by getting sucked into joining the opposite team. And the cycle perpetuates.

The whole game of team factions is banal and stupifying. It tears the potential for popular unity apart; not because of any real ideological differences between citizens but because it degrades everyday debate into a contest of petulant proletarian monkeys throwing their own excrement at the sound of foghorns.

POLARIZATIONS

Polarization theory.

CONSPIRACY THEORY

Conspiracy theory.


"Popular revolt against a ruthless, experienced modern government, which enjoys a monopoly over weapons and communications, ... is simply not a possibility in the modern age... People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid." - Soren Kierkegaard

DIVIDED AND RULED

Divide and rule (Latin: divide et impera), or divide and conquer, in politics and sociology is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy.

Elements of this technique involve:

  • creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects to prevent alliances that could challenge the sovereign
  • aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign
  • fostering distrust and enmity between local rulers
  • encouraging meaningless expenditures that reduce the capability for political and military spending
  • Historically, this strategy was used in many different ways by empires seeking to expand their territories.

[Immanuel Kant] was an advocate of this tactic, noting that "the problem of setting up a state can be solved even by a nation of devils" so long as they possess an appropriate constitution which pits opposing factions against each other with a system of checks and balances.

The concept is also mentioned as a strategy for market action in economics to get the most out of the players in a competitive market.

INDOCTRINATING THE YOUNG

{Stephen J Lyons @stephenjlyons}

I remember my initial indoctrination. I was an average student in Dewitt Clinton Grade School, on Chicago’s northwest side. Above the blackboard in our homeroom hung an ancient loudspeaker that blared the impossible-to-sing Star Spangled Banner every morning at eight o’clock sharp.
We were ordered by our teacher to place our hands over our hearts and face the music, so to speak. Afterward, we had to pledge allegiance to the flag: “…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Our assembly hall had two portraits: one of a slaveholder, George Washington, and one of a slave emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. We were taught that all white founding fathers were beyond reproach, almost saintly. Thomas Jefferson’s Black mistress was never mentioned. Nor were his, or Washington’s slaves, ever referenced in the history books we were required to read, memorize, and then parrot in our homework essays.
Pounded into our young, impressionable brains was the tale of Christopher Columbus “discovering” America, even though there were millions of native Americans residing here at the time of his amazing discovery.
Manifest Destiny was sold to us as a necessary pacification of those hostile Indians. No one mentioned the wholesale slaughter or the rapes. The courageous General George Armstrong Custer was ambushed at Little Big Horn by red savages, but we never learned about the battle of Big Hole, when US troops slaughtered 90 members of the Nez Perce tribe.
Air raid drills were also a regular feature of our indoctrination in public school. We were told to put our heads down on our desks as if somehow that would protect us. We believed it would. Sometimes we were made to quietly march — “single file, Indian style” — downstairs to the air raid shelter and wait for the all-clear signal.
Never was it explained in terms we could understand why we had such air raid shelters. Something about a potential bomb and a mushroom cloud. No one explained to us that the only country ever to employ the dreaded atomic bomb was our own United States, and that the dropping of bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed tens of thousands of innocent Japanese men, women, infants, and babies.
“Unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust.” - Thomas Jefferson

TRUMP, OLIGARCHY AND LEFT-RIGHT BULLSHIT

A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market. But as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become disempowered and less secure. Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington and state capitals are overwhelmed by money coming from the super rich, Wall Street and big corporations. Divide-and-conquer makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage.

So why do we continue to hear and use the same old “right” and “left” labels?

The oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted. In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy. The oligarchs know politicians won’t bite the hands that feed them. So as long as they control the money, they can be confident there will be no meaningful response to stagnant pay, climate change, military bloat or the soaring costs of health insurance, pharmaceuticals, college and housing.

There will be no substantial tax increases on the wealthy. There will be no antitrust enforcement to puncture the power of giant corporations. There will be no meaningful regulation of Wall Street’s addiction to gambling with other peoples’ money. There will be no end to corporate subsides. CEO pay will continue to skyrocket. Wall Street hedge fund and private equity managers will continue to make off like bandits.

So long as the oligarchy divides Americans – split off people of color from working-class whites, stoke racial resentments, describe human beings as illegal aliens, launch wars on crime and immigrants, stoke fears of communists and socialists – it doesn’t have to worry that a majority will stop them from looting the nation.

Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage. Trump is the puppet master. He has been at it for years, long before he ran for president. He knows how to pit native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, whites against blacks and Latinos. Trump can make the working class believe they’re losing jobs because of 'deep state' bureaucrats and Hillary Clinton He is well-versed in getting evangelicals and secularists steamed up about abortion, equal marriage rights, out-of-wedlock births, access to contraception, transgender bathrooms. He knows how to stir up fears of brown-skinned people from “shitholes” streaming across the border to murder and rape, and stoke anger about black athletes who don’t stand for the national anthem. He’s a master at fueling anxieties about so-called communists, socialists and the left taking over America. He can make the white working class believe they’ve been losing good jobs and wages because of a cabal of Democrats, “deep state” bureaucrats and Hillary Clinton.

From the start, Trump’s deal with the oligarchy has been simple: he’ll stoke tribalism so most Americans won’t see CEOs getting exorbitant pay while they’re slicing the pay of average workers, so most Americans won’t pay attention to Wall Street demanding short-term results over long-term jobs, won’t notice a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations”. Alaska’s governor is trying to destroy its universities. The state may never recover.

The only way to overcome the oligarchy and Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy is for the rest of us to join together and win America back. That means creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of working-class, poor and middle-class Americans who will fight for democracy and oppose oligarchy. White, black and Latino; union and non-union; evangelical and secular; immigrant and native-born – all focused on ending big money in politics, stopping corporate welfare and crony capitalism, busting up monopolies and stopping voter suppression. This agenda is neither “right” nor “left”. It is the bedrock for everything else America must do.