Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The HUGE disconnect between participatory democracy and military/militarism.

For me the Washington Post article today about the Rand 'advertising/marketing/branding' study for the Pentagon (links below) once more brings into focus and reinforces the major, likely insurmountable philosophical deficit of this admin (and its lackies both in the military and outside of it) — i.e., the Bush-Cheney administration's failure to understand much less practice participatory democracy both abroad and at home.

I see it in my ex-marine father and too many of his 'greatest generation' cohorts — especially the southern ones — who were entrained by the military, taught 'obedience to authority' through their WWII military service at tender teen ages and never grew beyond it. These men made great followers, committed to rule enforcement, upholding the rule of law (theoretically), but not so great independent thinkers and not very deep thinkers.

They naively believe that if only everyone followed the rules, all would be okay. They fail to analyze the context of the rules, much less the context of history. They are so easily confused and overwhelmed by analyzing rhetoric vs actions, hypocrisy and all the contradictions of power holders (not to mention downright mendacity and outright lying) that it was simply easier to have stopped thinking or learning to think way back when. Following orders, upholding social order has been their greatest strength — and strongest commitment — since those days.

It's also their most glaring deficit. They are still being willingly entrained by the Bushes, Cheneys, Limbaughs, O'Reilly's, etc etc — those who reap great personal wealth and power from the greatest followers' superficial grasp of democracy — one in which majority rules and following the rules defines their primary understanding of democracy — while failing to remember we are a republic, which theoretically upholds and protects the EQUAL rights of any and all citizens who are considered minorities.

The challenge for the advertising study ... was to find "something we can learn from Madison Avenue or from the marketers, the best in the world, that might help us when we're trying to deliver a message about what democracy is." ... the problem is "how we influence them to be on our side, or at least not be an enemy" when "what they see is armor." The goal of such studies ... is to distill what works and incorporate it into future training.

The fact that this recent Rand study is organized around the concepts of advertising, branding, and marketing the concept of democracy instead of actually modeling, teaching and practicing participatory democracy demonstrates the glib shallowness of this administration (its handlers, thinkers, strategizers and its military leaders). It shows both a severe contempt for and a foundational failure to understand much less practice participatory democracy.

Yet, once more, it does indicate their complete commitment and servitude to the fundamental mandates of capitalism: Selling for Profit (and power) ahead of everything and everyone else.

What is that saying — something along the lines of: great soldiers don't necessarily make great citizens?

We already know of one worse-than-poor, layabout national guardsman who has made possibly (likely) The Worst President Ever.

Sadly, disturbingly, this war, this administration, the severe lack of critical thinkers in the military industrial complex prove it with a vengeance.

If there was ever a time to Question Authority, this is it. We stand at the edge of an epochal precipice — full of world-life-society-country-citizen-altering challenges — and our responses to them will determine whether Americans will step forward to actively participate in our rapidly fading democratic heritage (and think critically about who benefits from the decisions which are made by those in power) or stand still to passively consume, produce profits for the powerful and rich, and remain obedient to authority except in the most superficial, self-destructive, meaningless ways.

Do we have any hope for meeting the challenge? What do you think?

The Washington Post article, entitled "The Pentagon Gets a Lesson From Madison Avenue: U.S. Needs to Devise a Different 'Brand' to Win Over the Iraqi People, Study Advises" is here:

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