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An Agent in Every Mailbox

January 10, 2014

An Agent in Every Mailbox.

An Agent in Every Mailbox

January 10, 2014

An Agent in Every Mailbox

My latest article in CounterPunch.  An Agent in Every Mailbox.

Forty years ago Senator Frank Church of Idaho during Senate committee hearings on investigation of the FBI and CIA and their misuse of power at home and abroad stated “We have seen today the dark side of those activities, where many Americans, who were not even suspected of crime, were not only spied upon, but they were harassed, they were discredited, and, at times, endangered.”

Malcolm L. Rigsby J.D., Ph.D. is assistant professor of Sociology and Coordinator of Criminal Justice at Henderson State University, Arkansas.  His recent study involves religious conversion in prison comparing Islamic and Christian converts and transforming sociality.

War is Peace?

July 12, 2013
What does the phrase “war is peace” mean? In George Orwell’s novel 1984 the government had convinced the people that war was the only answer to achieve peace and security. The outcome had become a perpetual war. What happens when a nation enters a perpetual and un-winnable war? is the “war in terror” in which we as Americans now find ourselves enmeshed such a perpetual and unwinnable war? If so, such a war which promotes continual US interventions within other sovereign states in the name of peace loses its credibility. Perhaps more importantly, such an ongoing war and the growing fears that accompany it has led the federal government to take alarming steps toward the reduction of American civil rights. One example is the degree of surveillance by which our government infringes each citizens right to freely move about and express their views. It is clear by the released information associated with the so called Edward Snowden affair that we as Americans are becoming disenfranchised from our essential freedoms of which our own patriots, once called traitors by England, dearly sacrificed life, family and money. Disenfranchisement of our Bill of Rights and freedoms thorough surveillance in the name of freedom our President says must be accepted. Meanwhile we are swamped by enormous amounts of information that somehow it has become more difficult to sort out the truth of the data and consider it “knowledge”. It is the large amount of “swamping” information accompanied by inability to sort it out as truth or fiction that is leading our society to a state of social anomie formulated by Emile Durkheim, where knowledge, wisdom and virtue become irrelevant. It is in this state of indeterminable irrelevance that the people lose direction and are urgently seeking direction. They seek direction and in the state of mind of loss they are willing to accept a charismatic leader regardless his/her qualifications, qualities, or quantitative work history. 
Where does this lead a nation’s people?  The answer is exactly anywhere the charismatic sovereign directs them, unquestioningly.  The government through the sovereign and band of oligarchs direct the people to their own social power building objectives.  The people become subservient to the government.  The government is no longer to serve the people and is no longer accountable to the citizens, rather the citizens are increasingly accountable to the government.  The democratic government is fragile form of government.  Easily, in the name of the people’s best interest, democratic government can become subject to a small elite band that become the oligarchical ruling party.  When two parties continually fight over party methods, but their objectives are the same, such as to control and gain power of the society, the country’s government is ripe  for a re-alliance of the parties.  Without the knowledge of the citizens, a small powerful oligarchy may then form, making one party only a general flunky; an “image” of a party, but without power to speak for anyone, itself or the people.  The oligarchy must then become offensive as well as defensive.  It must invade offensively the citizens and other potential critics both temporally and spatially.  Freedoms of speech, press, and privacy must be defensively monitored and laws written, revived or reconstructed in a way to persecute any potential enemy or critic.  Events both international and domestic must be engineered and deployed in order to blind-sight the public, both domestic and international, so that the conversion from a democracy to an oligarchy may be complete.  Anyone who is critical of forcefully opposes the shift in government, such as Edward Snowden, is labeled traitor and or criminal.  See More

Othering

July 12, 2013
Vintage Press 1978, with new forward 2008.

I have been reading Orientalism by the late Edward Said.  In considering “otherness” he examines the Orient or the East as opposed to the Occident or the West.  His research assumption is that the other (the orient) is not simply inert, or in other words it is not simply an existence filling space and time.  Rather, the other not only exists in it’s own right, but it is also subject to an image both created by others (as if it were inanimate).  As such the identity and understanding, expectations and responses to and in regards to is partly due to the other itself as well as those making a comparative analysis of the other’s existence.  Quoting Vico, Said writes “men make their own history” paraphrasing they (mankind) knows what they have made and this establishes the culture and geographical setting for othering.  While geographic settings are not man-made setting they create a spatial difference in which to more easily distinguish and reflect each other.  Those with power and authority (the othering group) may more easily compare and distinguish the less powerful (the othered group).  Even within this creative process of comparing the other the othering group (the West/ Occident) three qualifiers must be realized.  First, the othered group maintains some degree of autonomous existence.  Hence relying on a discussion of Disraeli, Said notes that the East is not simply in existence due to some idea constructed by the West.  Each have their own histories and customs, Second, these customs and histories are not to be fully understood without a comparative analysis of power.  Lack of power by one group makes the labeling process possible by which the othering group is enabled to make labels stick.  In this instance there is a history of relative power between East and West and this enabled the othering process.  Third, within othered identity there is always a certain amount of reality.

Civil vs. Political Society

July 11, 2013

In consideration of Gramsci’s discussion of civil v political society: civil society is made up of voluntary (rational and non coercive) associations and affiliations such as schools, families, unions. Political society is centered on the state as an institutional hub for institutional support organizations that are bureaucratic in form, (the military branches, the police) whose role is direct domination of the polity. In civil society there is culture by consent of the people. Groups freely seek to dominate various issues and shift as necessary for sake of influence. This illustrates power struggle, but the type that is not usually open and in the forefront of daily activity in the society; it is hegemonic. Problematic is when this latent power that shifts between segments of the society halts and becomes embedded within one group. Culture shifts from one of the people, created by the people to one imposed upon the people.

Institute of Interfaith Dialog Presentation

May 1, 2013

Institute of Interfaith Dialog Presentation.

Institute of Interfaith Dialog Presentation

May 1, 2013

IID-Presentation-18April2013

Malcolm L. Rigsby presents Religious Conversion to Islam or Christianity in Prison

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