Monday, February 13, 2012

Citizens Defeated: A Critical Look at Citizen's United vs. The Federal Election Commission By: Bryan Lutz

It is without question that the internet affords us the ability to connect with each other like never before. If I wish, I can conduct my own investigation into real world issues and post my analysis online for the world to see. The affordances of blogs, social networking and websites, allows users to join into a conversation with my work, adding an interactive component that is not possible with Television or Print media. This is perhaps no more obvious than with the Arab Spring, where individuals used the internet to network, build an identity, and advocate for the world they wish to see. Though the success of these efforts vary wildly, and it is worrisome that countries willing to use violence against there people experienced more of a liability with internet networking, Tunisia and Egypt at least have a dialogue about how they will be governed in the coming years. This is perhaps more than we can say in the United States.

Image from OccupyReno's Website
Since Citizen’s United vs. the Federal election commission, our democratic process has become even more skewed to favor the rich and powerful. Since Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy has decided that money is equal to free speech, the wealthy can now created non-profit organizations that will lobby furiously for any candidate who legislates in favor or corporate welfare and smaller government. This is apparent with the creation of the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and Karl Rove’s non-profit groups American Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies among others. These groups are necessary because the RNC went nearly bankrupt under chairman Steele, no small irony here from the party that fancies itself as the “party of fiscal responsibility,” but I digress. While the rich are able to advocate without inhibition for what they want, the rest of us, who by no coincidence also comprise the bottom 90% of earners, are left out to dry.

As protests emerge around the world as governments reduced to toothless animals fail their populations. The wealthy have failed us all. Students in Greece, Italy, Chile and Britain having taken to the streets in protest over the rising costs of education. Citizens in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and, of course, Tunisia and Egypt, rise in protest of corruption within their government that favor the rich and powerful. Within the US, people in Ohio and Wisconsin especially have picketed their state capitols almost weekly to demand that government workers retain the right to Unionize and to retain much needed government social programs. Yet the voices of thousands seem to pale in comparison to a few hundred with deep pockets. But perhaps not for long.

The internet allows us to communicate across borders and at nearly the speed electrical current.

We have allowed ourselves to be tread upon by giants. My generation specifically is so caught up in television shows, video games, binge drinking, dating websites and magazine covers. They sit like zombies in their chairs, clearly seeing injustice, express confusion at what they are witnessing, like the plot of a bad movie, but feeling innocuous about what to do about it. They are so concerned about being seen as a failure in the eyes of their parents and they lack the critical consciousness to see how their parents doomed them from the start.

Our fathers and mothers stand at attention to essentialized gender roles and for their corporate masters. They are incapable of seeing how the social construction of race allows them to turn a blind eye to millions of people who are the victims of prescribed socioeconomic stratus. They are hollowed by the fact that if they have wealth, that it bought the no happiness. A lesson they all knew from the Beetles, but forgot when they felt they needed it to raise children. And in many ways they were right. They needed to provide stable homes for us. But many missed that threshold. And those who surpassed it, cannot not explain how they are still miserable. Very few found happiness, they are the most enlightened of us all, and they are most likely educators. The sins of the father are only obvious when he strikes you or leaves you behind.

However, the education has afforded my generation little favors, and it is only getting worse. Throughout my primary education, no one asked me what I wanted to know. No one told me that my path for knowledge is the reciprocal product of my embodied self, my environment, and the people around, all both effecting and affecting each other in a way that is kinetic. No. I was told what I needed to know so that I could perform for a standardized exam or some other authority dictated reason, who may or may not have been well informed (or misinformed) themselves.

I felt like I was wrong all the time. My readings of a world history of fiction were lost on me because they were taught apart form the contexts and biographies of the authors who wrote them. The interpretations were dictated for me to regurgitate, and if they made no sense to me, my merit was less than a compliment. The same was true with math. I was never taught why the equations worked or, most importantly, what they enabled me to do. I was only taught how they were formulated to reach a conclusion. Abstract. Devoid of experience or any relationship with other forms of knowledge. Meaningless. But I better know it if I want to go to college, a necessary precursor, we were told, for getting a job. With most of my generation currently under employed or unemployed, it is apparent that our mothers and fathers told us another lie.

All the while I was told I was among the best and brightest in the world, a hollow promise when you feel you know nothing.  

Whatever we event, someone will try to commidfy. Whatever passion we explore, will be autotuned and paired with a pretty youth. As long as we remain silent, obedient, and automated, we will share the fate of our parents. We will only be able to do the best we can within a system that continues to rape us. 

As teachers are forced to cheat a flawed system to maintain their funding.

We have a revenue problem. Our only spending problem is that we are not spending enough. The people with the most say in our government have little to gain from a growing middle class, at least in the short run, which, as they have demonstrated, is all they mean to see.

The classroom is our best defense, but only if we expand our conversation beyond the classroom.

Plato didn’t teach his students to work for a corporation, he taught them to be philosopher kings.

Out students can spread the virus.

Our world is an complex prism of fluid binaries, magnetic and gravitational forces of form and meaning that shape who we are as our fragile bodies cope with the overwhelming stimuli.

The internet is becoming networked in a way that is akin to the human brain. The line between us and the technology we create is becoming blurred. But no one said that technology had to be statically structured, enslaved to capitalism,  or antithetical to our biology—though at times it is all of the above.

But I am asking for a recognition of potential and utilization of technology for the expressed purpose of liberation. If all meaning is a constant negotiation, then lets use the internet to keep the conversation going and to include everyone.

The algorithm must change.

Magnetic fields are caused by electrons moving through a conductor.

Kanada, Democritus and Leucippus where the first to imagine that there were small molecules called atoms that could not be divided. Their ideas were validated centuries later by modern science. I propose that we may like atoms. We cannot be divided in the sense that our identities and our identity performances cannot be separated within us, and we use identity to both relate and define to each other. Relationships are kinetic. Imagine that each of us is an atom. Perhaps Heraclitus was the first to speak of dualism and the unity of opposites. Taoism speakers of oppositional forces working upon each other to shape the world. Derrida put things in binary oppositions in order to understand how all meaning is relational. And queer theory looks at the fluidity between them.

We shape our understanding of reality through language. Language is relational through it polar opposites. Between these opposites there is no schism. All is unified. A field of tension like a magnetic field.

Hippocrates “Life is short, [the] art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgment difficult.”

Coincidentia oppositorum means the coincidence of opposites.

The test of any idea is in the lived experience of individuals. But this can be misleading, solipsistic, blind to the forces that attempt to divide it.


According to Joe, my writing is superfluous.

What are the ways in which truth changes over time? I think we could say that alcohol is uncivilized in the sense that it is a drug which impairs our ability to reason but that we do this, in part, because there are barriers to conversation otherwise. Its only empirically proven effect is to lower our inhibitions. So we do this purposefully in order to impair our judgement and to allow ourselves to relate to each other differently, perhaps better. But this has reprocussions because this purposeful cognitive impairment can result, in extreme cases, in us murdering ourselves and each other with our cars, beating our spouses and children, and becoming so dependent that a bottle is preferred to a roof. These are contemporary truths about alcohol. However, alcohol once served the purpose of a safe libation. We had not yet mastered the ability to purify water within urban environments, so we fermented barley, grapes and in all sorts of creative ways in order to ensure that the liquid (which we didn’t know actually dehydrates us) we drank was clean enough to consume with our meat which was salted as not to taste that it is rotten.

Internet networking problematizes the private/public dichotomy.

Website as a way to construct and become visible.

Social media cannot be used to incite violence.

We are threatened with Pandora’s Box anytime we talk about values, but that is where the science of morality comes in. Human cost is a zero sum game. Thus, any corporate or government program that causes suffering automatically becomes a multiple of zero, and must be correct if it is to be permitted to exist.

            The Arab Spring provides us with a valuable heuristic for the power of social networking and New Media—and the need for such a pedagogy is evident. Traditional writing instruction puts the teacher as the sole evaluator of student work. Feminists pedagogies have created collaborative environments where student and teacher alike work together to evaluate composition. Global turns in composition have used portfolios to collect large bodies of work from students, rather than single essays, that offer more holistic measures for evalution. And standardized tests, thought useful as perhaps a form of evaluation, are far from legitimacy as the sole way of assessing writing. Assessment, that dirty thing that instructors often do in secret, will not be the focus of this essay. I mention this only because assessment is often the only goal for students. English departments are charged with teaching students how to compose, and we do this, often brilliantly, by creating simulations of writing tasks for students. Service learning has tried to move beyond this by situating students in real life writing contexts. But students are not always able to concentrate of questioning such contexts. Instead they must value acquiring skills alone. Technology may be the answer to resolving this schism.

            This article is offered as a potential model for teachers who would like to explore with students the potential for using blogs as a way to publish student compositions for the expressed purpose of civic engagement. It requires little resources to produce and little technical expertise to create and maintain—certainly a concern for instructors working with dwindling resources.

            This assignment combines Facebook, Twitter and Blogging in much the same way. Students

Our students are developing a literacy that we are unfamiliar with. It allows them to construct identities and the identities are performed both in cyber space and on the ground. Meaning that they are loose tropes, memes, and experienced chains of metaphors and memories, and convinced they have a handle on things.

We could call this

Map out what it could mean for the human condition. Look at the whole as an exponent of two. If nothing is anything without establishing a relationship, then the lowest exponent is two. The power and polarity needed to hold this bond would look like a binary with fluidity built in. The binaries construct identities, these complex, socially constructed metaphors often take the form of entire narratives that follow a linear progression as the body passes through geographies, often gathering narratives to adapt to its own sense of identity. Acquiring new and shedding old.  

No comments:

Post a Comment