Posts Tagged ‘Theory’

Analysis Goes Way Back In The Way Back Machine

June 18, 2017

“Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited, and obtainable goals. The term masses applies only where we deal with people who either because of sheer numbers, or indifference, or a combination of both, cannot be integrated into any organization based on common interest, into political parties or municipal governments or professional organizations or trade unions. Potentially, they exist in every country and form the majority of those large numbers of neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to the polls.

It was characteristic of the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and of the Communist movements in Europe after 1930 that they recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who never before had appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been “spoiled” by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the power of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with other parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

pg.311-312, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, 1951

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DIY Analysis

February 19, 2016

Analysis and theory, can’t find one without the other. Apple’s dictionary defines theory with “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” as well as “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action”. Theory is often disparaged in favor of action or tradition, but even extreme conservatism (“because that’s the way it’s always been done”) is a theory in itself (“an idea used to…justify a course of action”). Sometimes theory is obvious, as in Kent Mallett’s “Land bank to eliminate Second Street eyesore” (2-18-16 Newark Advocate). Mallett quotes Newark Mayor Jeff Hall as saying “The purpose is to put properties back on the tax rolls.” That’s the theory. But wait, elsewhere Mallett writes “After the building has been razed, the vacant land will be sold to nearby business Gutridge Plumbing for $100.” and a little after that “He [Gutridge] said if the vacant building next to the Elks can someday be removed, the open space would be a good spot for a community center.” Does a community center put a property “back on the tax rolls”? Here’s another one for you. “CEO channels Bernie Sanders in opposing AEP and FirstEnergy plans” by Tom Knox for Columbus Business First (2-17-16). It covers the ongoing PUCO petition by AEP and FirstEnergy to bill Ohio electric users for keeping active and maintaining redundant coal fired power plants which are unnecessary and not profitable (kinda like a spare tire or battery, just in case…). Knox quotes competitor Dynergy Inc. CEO Bob Flexon as saying “For the Democrats, Flexon cited a way for Sanders to highlight his frequent and fervent lamenting of the country’s income inequality. “Bern runs around and he talks about how the game is rigged,” Flexon said. “The middle class is getting screwed. And quite honestly, folks, that’s how I feel about these PPAs. These only exist for Wall Street.” PPAs are power purchase agreements, long-term contracts that Ohio utilities American Electric Power Company Inc. and FirstEnergy Corp. want with their subsidiaries to reduce risk and guarantee income.” At the end he quotes him again with ““When Bernie Sanders says the middle class is getting screwed and Wall Street’s winning, this is an example of that,” Flexon said. “That’s what’s happening here and the only way you can fight it is to speak up. I’m going to lose the battle if it’s just Dynegy. We’ve been carrying the sword on this thing, fighting this thing and we’re just getting streamrolled by it.”” Which brings us back to theory, “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” as well as “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action”. Sanders’ theory is the foundation of his presidential wannabeism. It certainly is not “the way it’s always been done”. Flexon’s theorizing about AEP and FirstEnergy’s proposed PPAs inadvertently exposes the more important, underlying theory of democracy (which Flexon appears to share with Sanders). Democracy itself, as a way of governing, is a theory, made possible only by a self governance through the active involvement and engagement of the governed into the affairs of governing (“That’s what’s happening here and the only way you can fight it is to speak up.” Sanders repeats an analogous appeal with all of his stump speeches.) Is AEP and FirstEnergy’s PPA proposal an example of the middle class getting screwed for the benefit of Wall Street? Is the game rigged?