Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Some retorts to the "Why do you hate America?" question...reprise

for the quasi-intellectually sarcastic: "I'll answer your question after you answer mine...have you stopped beating your wife?"

Friday, December 14, 2007

hmmm, i wonder if it will fly?

i just recommended Naomi Wolf's new text as a potential Book-In-Common for the Spring semester. of course, i agree with the premise (bought it, perused it, but haven't read it yet; i have actually misplaced it and might have to buy it again -- this aging crap really sucks), but i would do a critical analysis of it for the B-I-C program.

i would love to know how much students are aware of this kind of thinking and the extent to which they can even entertain the notion of the US being a fascist country (empire, actually).
we need to talk MORE about the entrenchment of social problems

my post to a sociology list...

prior to teaching FT, i worked in the human services field for a total of about 15 years. i worked as a grant-writer, substance abuse counselor, facility director, family educator, trainer, administrator, and director of program evaluation in the fields of urban youth service delivery, substance abuse and family violence. i learned much.

one of the things i learned that is relevant to me as a sociologist is that social problems and social solutions to these problems are insitutionalized; i.e., the services that are offered to allegedly ameliorate the social problem(s) are simply insitutionalized responses and never truly end the social problem. if they were meant to do this, then every human service agencies' mission statement would be the same..." to end (social problem)." of course, most human service agencies do not have this as a mission statement and/or if they do, they don't really work towards ending the problem, because the problem is something that is far greater than any one agency can address. why? because any social problem results from the way the entire society is organized; fundamental sociology, yes?

i see this insight as being the main lesson for students to learn; they are not going to get this anywhere else.

from here, i think it is important for them to begin to understand how certain ideologies support the structures that maintain the problem(s). in other words, what do we say individually and collectively that allow us as a society to NOT change the way that we are organized? inasmuch as social organization creates and maintains the problems (and the responses), then it is the fundamental organization that must change. of course many students care about others, but they are going to be sucked into the maw of "adult" responsibilities like everyone else and are, in all likelihood, not going to make a career of human service work (and if they do, they are still NOT addressing the actual issue). can they increase their awareness of how they, like everyone else, maintain social problems simply by participating in the organization? i think so.

i think that young adults are able and willing to see their part and understand that it is not merely their part that contributes to the problem (so they don't need to feel guilty), but it is all of our parts that do (to the extent that we, collectively continue to reproduce the structures everyday); subsequently, it is fundamental organizational change which needs to occur. i also think that young adults are acutely aware of the hypocrisy, duplicity and ignorance that characterizes much of "adult" life and these insights should be validated by us (Bush says that Mike McConnell comes to him in August to tell him he has news about Iran's nuclear program and Bush doesn't ask him what it is???? And we are supposed to believe that and let that lie there??? My students know bullshit when they hear it and I am grateful that they do).

i also think that is important for them to understand that we are all under social control and this contributes to what maintains the structures from day to day. does anyone else think it odd that the only time we talk about social control is in reference to deviance as if it was never in effect any other time? students, like most people believe that they are autonomous agents that seemingly exist independently of other people and are not influenced by anyone else (like the GAP add..."be an original" -- with the 30 million other kids that wear GAP clothing).

to me the hope lies in the awareness that we can build a different society; that culture does change. the notion that social problems are somehow going to disappear by hard work, without any consideration of the fundamental social organization that perpetuates them, is inadequate and incomplete. i don't want to offer my students false hope; i want to offer them compelling information on what is happening.

rant suspended for now...
Some retorts to the "Why do you hate America?" question...

for gutter mouths: "Go fuck yourself; have you forgotten that this IS America and I can hate anyone or anything i want???!! Read the fucking constitution, dumb-ass."

more for gutter mouths: "You stupid, shit-for-brains, i don't hate America, i hate stupid pricks like you who have to politicize everything and in the process destroy everything that this country was allegedly built on...stupid fascist."

for the intellectually minded: "How can i possibly hate something that has absolutely no material existence? Cretin."

a colleague of mine told me to keep my blog current. i was inspired by his remarks, hence i will resume observations, commentary, rant(s); they have been building for some time, so i do suppose the time is right.

textual vomiting to ensue shortly...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

the world doesn't need sociologists, the world needs to change.

the media, corporations, and elected officials have been in control of our collective mind for many years. no conspiracy theory here, just reality. if you doubt me, read Propaganda by Edward Bernays, the "father" of public relations -- he boasts about controlling the masses. funny thing is that sociologists, some of the alleged "intellectual elite" have collectively failed to recognize this. i suspect that some will guffaw when they read the above -- more evidence of precisely what i am talking about; the best kind of social control is unsuspecting, ingrained, automatic, knee-jerk. happens to sociologists, just like anyone else.

we know that there have been thousands of young people who recently have died for "America" and we also know that America has no material existence (no, i am not willing to argue this point; if you feel compelled to challenge it, please regard this as more evidence of social control). does anyone really think that the politicians who put them "in harm's way" (such a noble phrase; reminds me of "collateral damage") give one goddamn about them? other than making sure that they master the requisite "sorrowful" persona they parade around in public when the topic comes up. they don't lose any sleep over their loss. we all know that GWB is in bed, asleep, by 10 pm every night...hmmm, one would think that he might be losing SOME sleep over the situation he has gotten us into, but apparently not (sociopaths are like that, so no surprise).

here is a Nobel prize idea for ensuring that wars are brief(er)...make every official who voted for the war, view a picture of every soldier killed that day, everyday, every soldier, everyday, every soldier. they are always so concerned about the financial cost of war, how about getting close up with the real cost of the war?

the world doesn't need sociologists, the world needs to change.

here is a potentially powerful change wonders how many sociologists are guiding this (rhetorical question, please, no one tell me how many). one wonders who cares? people without food don't give a goddamn who gives them their food; kids who are dying of malaria don't give a goddamn who gives them their medication nor mosquito nets; African AIDS orphans don't give a goddamn if a sociologist or someone with no education whatsoever comforts them -- why are sociologists so concerned about being recognized for what they do...which is, what exactly? and why are sociologists not MORE concerned with actually acting to change things, screw who notices?

this has confounded me for years (going on 20); hence my decision to throw my lot in with the behaviorists. they actually have applications, based on years of empirical research and use them. they don't spend years agonizing over precisely what IS behaviorism or behavior analysis (and THEY have a bad rap).

i really think it is time that sociology grew up; privileged primadonnas who wring their hands in existential angst over the "meaning" of some ridiculous idea...while over 1 billion people live in urban slums. hey, no need to lose sleep over them, right? i mean the President doesn't, why should I?????

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

i am reading Chomsky's Media Control and he is articulating many of the observations that i have had about the public's lack of action in light of the insanity that we are engaged in -- throw a rock (Iraq, unchecked federal power, over-consumption, depletion of resources, etc). i used to listen to Chomsky, but wasn't too compelled by his arguments; despite his use of facts, time-lines, and specific events, i thought they lacked a firm empirical foundation (in other words, i thought he was being a knee-jerk radical). i now realize that i was wrong in this assessment; the Media Control text provides some of the sources that he draws on that can be independently verified. One of those, Edward Bernays' Propaganda is available here. I just downloaded it this morning, so i haven't read it yet, but i will. if Chomsky is correct in his reading of Bernays and the influence that he and this work had in the United States, then the public really is being intentionally manipulated, seduced, and reinforced for and through distraction. a very sad state, but good to know.

i am also re-reading Domhoff's Who Rules America (5th edition); i read the 4th edition last summer and want to re-read it in light of all that i have learned since. if you haven't read it, i would highly recommend it. if you are unfamiliar with Domhoff, i believe that he was a student of Mills' (if not, then heavily influenced by him) and he has been studying power and power structures in the US for the last 35 years. i think he knows what he is talking about; his work is empirically based, rational, and very, very compelling. this past weekend, my daughter and i spent the weekend at the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas where we took part in something called the Global Challenge. it is a simulation of how much of the "rest of the world" stable source of clean water, no water at all, no stable source of food, etc. my daughter spent the night in a simulated urban slum, complete with dirt floors, tin roof, discarded cardboard for walls, lots of heat, bugs, and one cup of rice for dinner to feed seven people. i slept in a simulated Thai house (quite an improvement from the urban slum) with way more food for the four people we had there, so we shared our food (and other resources, like a fire we had to start) with the urban slum folks and some of the others in the global village (varying housing arrangements and resource allocations).

bottom line...the majority of Americans have absolutely no clue how privileged we are, the impact that the amount of disposable items that we don't need but consume voraciously anyway has on the "those folks somewhere in Asia," how we take for granted many, many things that other people have to fight for. here we go back to Chomsky again -- why do we do this? because of the ubiquity of propaganda that infuses our social world.

lastly, i have adopted a behavior analytic (formerly known as behaviorism) perspective to understanding and accounting for human social behavior (as well as for developing interventions). it is a very powerful, historically empirical, and inherently sociological approach. Skinner, in fact, provided a superb analysis of social control and formal agents of social control in his Science of Human Behavior -- waaaaay better than any i have read in sociology, with possibly the exception of the Frankfurt school. the difference between Skinner and the Frankfurt school is that his work is based on science rather than philosophy -- a plus for me.