Follow by Email

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It has been a while since I've updated this blog. Since my last post I've been working on a project that is  similar to this blog but is more structured, goal oriented, collaborative, and well I'm proud to say mature. SocioPoliticoNurd has without a doubt documented my growth as both a sociologist, in the sense that I've been able to develop my interests and my thought processes, and as an activist who has been attempting to make sense of the social world and change it for "the better." I'd like to point out, due to my respect for the field of sociology, that this blog in no way deserves to be associated with sociology since it is not concerned with research methodology (a growing interest of mine) but is only sociological in the colloquial sense (discussion of sociological concepts). I decided to post on here because I've been writing so little due to the new project, and because I've become more inclined to write more lengthy and academic work. So due to the lack of writing I have been doing I have decided to jump back into the blog for a quick post.

I seriously had this idea that lasted a total of 5 seconds:

At some point after reading history books, economic books, psychology theories, social theories, anthropology, etc. etc. you forget HOW you thought before you read everything that you have. Your thought processes haven't changed, you still rely on schemas and scripts, but they just aren't the same as the one's that you used before. You have experienced a PARADIGM SHIFT, or have unconsciously adopted a NEW IDEOLOGY. Perhaps I'm being to extreme when I make these statements, but that's what it seems like to some extent. And this is what is frustrating. It is frustrating because the point of the entire endeavor was to flee ideology, wasn't it? But let's accept that this is true, that we have done nothing but adopted a new ideology. What can be said about this fact? Is it good, is it bad? The post-modernist in me says these questions are pointless. Perhaps a true post-modernist would say that these are good questions. I guess where I am currently is at the point where I am asking myself is ideology a relative concept in regards to good and evil? Surely a racist, sexist, homophobic ideology is less desirable ideology than an ideology that is tolerant, open, blah blah blah. Answering this question would require one to use one's ideology to determine the answer. Perhaps I haven't shifted paradigms or adopted a new ideology, but have gathered more information so that I can be come more ideological than before -- using facts, theories, and laws to strengthen my ideology. Some people often assume that ideology is a set of beliefs that shape one's thoughts and actions but are untrue, and that if one can escape ideology one can obtain truth. But wouldn't one have to abandon all beliefs in order to escape ideology? If we are psychologically predisposed to create schemas and scripts to deal with our social world then isn't it impossible to be free of ideology? If this is true then does one just choose between what ideology is better than the other?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How to be political when excluded from the realm of politics

Three words: Life-Style Politics.

These three words might be associated with ideas like veganism, riding your bike, and not buying corporate goods like Nike, Coke, etc. And while I support these forms of life-style politics (for whatever reason), I want to argue that even these political acts are politically bankrupt and in a way just commodities -- in essence we are buying the experience of being political. 

The way I understand politics is it is the act of shaping society through influential techniques for the benefit of one group. Therefore if we are denied the chance to participate in shaping our lives by the hoops and hurdles of bureaucracy, etc. then we should not pursue that realm of politics. Instead I am arguing that we implement the political process in our daily lives. For example, if there is a problem like grandparents staying at home during the day sitting in front of the TV, then this is what we should focus on, and work with others in our local areas to solve the problem. By working with other to address everyday problems (and I want to emphasize that the problems chosen should not be typical political problems like low wages, but issues that we don't even think of as being political).

I think that by implementing the political process into our everyday lives we can draw attention to the fact that the public is not actually involved in city, state, national, and international political issues.

In solidarity with the experimental committee. 

Experimental Democracy!

The Myth of Honesty

There's this idea that being an honest person is respectable. An example of this is Abraham Lincoln who was later, as everyone knows, nick named Honest Abe because he could never tell a lie. The name Honest Abe, at least to my understanding, is not used nowadays to be pejorative.

Nowadays, and perhaps this has been going on for centuries, people will be malicious to someone but excuse their behavior by stating "I'm just being honest." For example, imagine Tom asks Steve if he looks good in his new shirt. Steve takes a look at Tom and says "That is the ugliest shirt I've ever seen! Why would you buy that hideous thing?" Tom replies with "why are you being so mean?" and Steve responds "I'm just being honest." Tom, the victim of brutal honesty is then forced to evaluate the situation by weighing the fact that Steve is both hurtful and honest.  Steve's behavior is without a doubt hurtful, but his actions are shielded by the virtue of honesty; and this is the problem.

In our society we have an understanding, at least to my knowledge, that honesty is the best policy, that you can never go wrong with telling the truth, and that honesty is the basis of good relationships. But like so many general statements, this isn't true, honesty is not always the best policy, you can go wrong with telling the truth, and honesty is not always the basis of good relationships (I'd argue that it is never the basis of good relationships). Instead honesty is only the best policy in situations where it is the most appropriate answer. For example, when one is in court on trial, honesty is the best policy because it is the most socially desirable response. When someone asks for directions, honesty is the best policy because it is the most socially desirable answer. But in many social situations, honesty is not the most socially desirable answer. For example, if you run into someone that you haven't seen in a while, like an old co-worker, and they say "it's so good to see you," the most socially appropriate answer is not "well I don't ever think about you, and I actually think you're a little dumb, and I really don't miss you at all," but something along the lines of "it's so good to see you too."

But what does it mean that honesty is not always the best policy? One interpretation is that protocol is the best policy, that you can never go wrong with following protocol, and that protocol is the basis of good relationships. We are not a society that respects unrestrained honesty, but a society that respects honesty when it is appropriate, and therefore we are a society that values protocol more than the truth.

Friday, June 29, 2012

analyzing reality through a systems perspective: constrained by the law and capitalism

(Scully from X-files can only think practically which means through the paradigm that she has been raised under, while Mulder thinks outside the paradigm and is able to see things that remain invisible to others)


There is without a doubt a deficiency of creativity in how we analyze our reality.

Perhaps not because we are unimaginative, but maybe because we are constrained by the perspectives of law and the culture of capitalism.

For example, a discussion of Bank of America forclosing on a house that results in the removal of a home owner, the common debate is between a liberal arguing that the Bank is unethical, and a republican arguing that the bank has done nothing wrong and that the former tenet is responsible for their actions and must pay the consequences. The liberal is reacting to the socially (unjust) conflicting laws that allow institutions to get away with such things. The republican is reacting based on the rules of the system while disregarding issues of right, wrong, justice, injustice, morality, etc. As they debate, they do so by arguing within the rules of the dominant legal and economic system, instead of from an alternative legal and economic system. One can not begin to challenge the legal and economic system if the questions they are asking do not challenge the system.  Asking whether an action is legitimate is concerned with an issue from within a system; we should be asking questions like "is law legitimate?" if we want to understand our reality and its complexity.

So what? 
Progressive mainstream news sources present issues from within the sphere of law and capitalism and rarely ever analyze issues creatively or imaginatively. They focus on whether issues are constitutional, efficient, profitable, etc. There is a lack of diversity in how the mainstream media analyzes politics, and this influences how the public discusses the political.

Sorry this post sucks.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is The Left Religious?

There is this disconcerting question among activists, the left, and anti-capitalist rhetoricians: is anti-capitalism, communism, anarchism, etc. religion-esque? This question is disconcerting because like a critical analysis it challenges the set of beliefs one has. Unlike a critical analysis that points out a contradiction or assumption in a belief, the accusation that anti-capitalism, communism, anarchism, etc. is religious-esque seeks not to point out contradictions or assumptions but to undermine through associating it with religion.

For the sake of my argument I'll abandon my post-modernist paradigm and argue that there are three three kinds of beliefs. 1. Religious beliefs 2. Secular beliefs 3. Philosophical beliefs. The first two are similar in the way that they do not require or encourage believers to challenge their beliefs but to have blind faith. For example, a Christian is required to believe without question that God created the earth, then created Adam and Eve, and sent Jesus his one and only son to teach us how to live and die for our sins. Or for example, one might believe that education is the best thing for someone, or that men and women are naturally better at some things than the other, and that heterosexuality is normal. What religious believers and secularists have in common is neither set of beliefs are based on empirical evidence or pure reason. Philosophical beliefs, contrary to religious beliefs and secular beliefs are based on both empirical evidence and pure reason. I bring this up because last night some friends and family got into an argument about beauty which led to my sister's fiance arguing that all beauty is socially constructed, and my uncle arguing that beauty is subjective. This eventually led to the discussion of capitalism being fundamentally corrupt, and at one point my uncle called my soon to be brother-in-law prophetic "sort of like a fundamentalist Christian." I interpreted this as a jab at my sister's fiance, and I immediately wanted to defend him because I have also been the receiver of similar accusations. I think that any anti-capitalist, communist, anarchist, etc. accused of proselytizing or being dogmatic can turn the finger and argue that secularists are actually more like religious bigots because although the left and secularists are fervent about their beliefs, at least the far left and post left (IDK about post-left) base their beliefs off reason and are open to new interpretations.

But maybe I missed the point, maybe the statement that the left is religious-esque is not about their beliefs but about their stridency and proselytizing. While not everyone on the left believes in raising consciousness, etc. a number of us do, but so does the right, and so do the bipartisan. Politics just like religion is all about morality and how one should live their life -- if you think it's not then I'd ask if you are confusing politics with government -- the latter being the process of running a system that is based on ideology.

Anyone who has an understanding of semiotics can tell you that there are three aspects to a word: the sign, the signified, and the signifier.

(to be continued)
Going back to

I want to point out that there is a difference between religion and philosophy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

10 Documentaries That Everyone Should See

I created this list in order to help people interested in activism, social problems, and politics get acquainted with various contemporary issues. I hope that this list provides you with a source of informative, thought provoking, and entertaining documentaries and launches you into political activism. So grab a date and enjoy. Please share this on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Introduction to Social Problems

1. People like us: Social Class in America: 
"A sprawling look at the class system in the United States, ranging from WASP elegance to trailer-park desperation, with lots of other stuff in between. "  (If someone finds this online please add the link to the comment section)

2. The Corporation:
"Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance."

3. Maquilapolis:
"Just over the border in Mexico is an area peppered with maquiladoras: massive sweatshops often owned by the world's largest multinational corporations. Carmen and Lourdes work at maquiladoras in Tijuana, and it is there that they try to balance the struggle for survival with their own radicalization in this documentary."

4. Teached:
 "More than half a century after Brown v. Board of Education integrated U.S. schools, African-American and Hispanic students still perform far behind white students, and urban, minority youth are dropping out in record numbers. TEACHED Vol. I, a trilogy of three short films, provides a hard-hitting look at public education in America, exposing how the system virtually guarantees that certain populations will continue to fail."

5. Manufactured Landscapes:
"Photographer Edward Burtynsky travels the world observing changes in landscapes due to industrial work and manufacturing."

6. The Century of The Self:
"The Century of The Self is an award winning British television documentary film. It focuses on how Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, and Edward Bernays influenced the way corporations and governments have analyzed,‭ dealt with, and controlled ‬people."

7. Food Fight:
"A fascinating look at how American agricultural policy and food culture developed in the 20th century, and how the California food movement rebelled against big agribusiness to launch the local organic food movement."

8. Manufacturing Consent:
"A film about the noted American linguist/political dissident and his warning about corporate media's role in modern propaganda."

9. Tough Guise:
 "Tough Guise systematically examines the relationship between pop-cultural imagery and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century."

10. Death on a Factory Farm:
 "Death on a Factory Farm is a 2009 television documentary film concerning the animal rights abuses at the Wiles hog farm, and the subsequent investigation and trial."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Francois Hollande

Francois Hollande's recent victory in France's election was seen as a significant event in world politics. Hollande's election has led political junkies to ask "what does this mean for the rest of the world?" Certainly this is a symbolic victory for socialists -- libertarian or state socialists. But nothing but promises have been made by Hollande and the socialists. Although material changes haven't happened, Hollande's election may have threatened the global capitalist economy. If Hollande's victory can inspire other countries to elect socialists, then capitalism is in a precarious state.
We can hope for the best, but Hollande's victory does not let us off the hook from organizing our communities and changing ourselves.