All gangs and mafias have their own initiation rituals and modes of operations. The same is true of the two different gang cultures being studied here – the Crips and the neo-Nazis. In the autobiographical account of Monster – one of the leaders of the gang – we learn about the initiation rites, organizational structure, modus operandi, economic targets, treatment of rivalries, etc. The Crips is a predominantly black gang that hogged headlines during the post-war decades of the 1950s and 60s. In some ways the Crips represented a militant underground movement parallel to that of the Black Nationalist movement. While the Crips adopted some of the violent methods of the movement headed by Malcolm-X, it is not political in nature. So, despite its racial affiliation, the means and ends of the gang are largely anti-social. Likewise, in the film American History X, we are exposed to a dark underground cult of American society. Commonly referred to as ‘skin-heads’, the . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Imperialism enables a state or country to increase its sphere of influence by seizing control of foreign territories. The film Apocalypse Now, based on the story Heart of Darkness, was produced in 1979 during the Vietnam War era and explores the role imperialism played in US foreign policy. The film highlights the drawbacks of imperialism by revealing the atrocities committed by the US Military, allegedly, in the name of freedom. The most tragic aspect of the Vietnam War was the huge numbers of civilian casualties, including women and children. Indeed, the chemical warfare exercised by American troops in the form of deploying Agent Orange (napalm) for deforesting the region is a major disaster for the local population. As a result of contamination of these heavy toxins, a whole generation of children was born with deformities and genetic mutations. Hence those who are apologists for imperialism are on the side of the unjust.
Military intervention in Vietnam was a part of a . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
The Bretton Woods system was the result of a grand financial conference at the culmination of the Second World War. The participants were delegates drawn from 44 Allied countries that were in coalition against the defeated Axis powers. The main purpose of the conference was to organize and regulate the international monetary and financial systems, which were thrown into disarray during the war. The chief outcome of the event was the signing of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The conference laid the foundation for the later emergence of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The priorities and economic models adopted by the WTO are a marked contrast to that of the Bretton Woods regime. The mantra of WTO since 1972 has been international trade liberalization. The Marrakech Agreement of 1995 officially replaced the other GATT regime. Although free trade is paid lip service, the arrangements are more favorable to countries and business corporations with bigger . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
There are several contradictions between the concepts of democracy and unfettered globalization. Professor Dani Rodrik’s work on the subject is about elucidating these contradictions which is at the centre of many political debates today. One of main reasons why deep globalization is antagonistic to national democracy is the undue power wielded by international capital. For most part what appear to be foreign investments into a local economy is actually fluid speculative capital. If the investment firm perceives the return on their investment to be unimpressive then it would not hesitate to pull out capital from the financial markets. This would lead to a fall in share prices and huge nominal losses to the other stakeholders – local partners, local firms and the national government. So the power of international capital gives its wielders the power to dictate terms to local governments, which in turn undermines democracy and nation-oriented policy making. There are numerous . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Much of Sageman’s data set focuses on the central organization of Al Qaeda. Do you feel that this can be generalized to the larger jihadist movement?
Sageman’s contention that Al Qaeda is now a decentralized and more diffuse organization is quite correct. After the killing of Osama bin Laden and his top rung of aides, there seem to be a weakening of command-and-control style of organizational leadership. Sageman’s data, drawn heavily from the Islamic diasporas from across the world bear this view. The new modus of operation is for discrete and disparate groups of a few individuals to conceive and execute acts of terror. The result is that the scale of these acts tend to be smaller and its targets less specific. That there were no acts of terrorism to match the human and collateral damage witnessed on 9/11 supports this view. Hence what is observed with Al Qaeda is applicable to the broader jihadist movement.
Discuss the roles that social networks . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
The most prominent message of 1984 is that totalitarianism destroys all that is civil and noble in human beings. In the novel, Orwell writes “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four. Once that is granted, all else follows.” The converse of this quote is that by disallowing fundamental freedoms that are inherent to humanity Big Brother and his Party are able to produce a dehumanized, mechanical race of people. In other words, dehumanization is both the cause and effect of a totalitarian political system. This essay will take this as its thesis and flesh out arguments and evidence in support.
There are several methods adopted by the party to dehumanize its population. One such is the rigid scheduling of everyday activities for the people. This is most pronounced for members of the Outer Party and Inner Party and less so for the Proletariat. Winston Smith, the protagonist of the story, is a member of the Outer Party. As a result he is subject to strict daily . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Grace Hong’s essay titled ‘The Possessive Individual and Social Death: The Complex Bind of National Subjectivity’ offers numerous insights into historical social constructs. Focusing on the evolution of American history since the time of the Declaration of Independence, the author charts a cogent description of how the socio-polity resisted progressive changes. The book is focused on women of color feminism and the culture of immigrant labor. But prior to arriving at their specific discourse, a broader framework of understanding is laid out. Hereby, two important terms are introduced by the author.
Possessive individual traces its origins to the framing of the constitution, whereby, only the propertied white males of the new country were accorded citizenship. Not only were blacks (who were slaves at the time) were excluded, but so were women and a large section of white male population. The privileged minority of propertied white men enjoyed laws that . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Malcolm Gladwell has attempted to create a unique style of scholarship that navigates between science and popular culture. As a result he has earned the wrath from both quarters. For example, scientists accuse him for being simplistic or lacking in rigor. On the other side, commentators from mainstream media accuse him of bringing esoteric scientific concepts to popular discourse. Yet, his book The Tipping Point has sold more than a 3 million copies. His other titles such as Blink (2005), Outliers (2008), David and Goliath (2013), etc, continue to fascinate and provoke in equal measure. Despite the controversies surrounding some of Gladwell’s inferences, his ideas and philosophies have become assimilated into popular discourse. It is an interesting exercise to study how the most important social movement of recent times – Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) – measures up in relation to the author’s theories. This essay endeavors to perform the same.
The Occupy . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
Freedom of the Press is an essential aspect of functioning democracies. Be it an institution or an individual, the liberty to express openly is the most important of attributes. The press, in particular, being the Fourth Estate of a democratic society, is expected to be bold and articulate. But ground realities differ from ideal conceptions of the function of the press. In the real world, an array of external factors coaxes or coerces the press into acting against democratic principles. These include advertisers, political parties, businesses and even special interest citizen groups. In this backdrop, it is interesting to analyze the state of freedom of press in the world today. It is an interesting exercise to find out which countries are exemplary and which are at a nadir. After all, freedom of press has an immediate bearing on the lives and prospects of citizens. It is not an abstract idea whose relevance is confined merely to the academia.
The Freedom House . . . Read MoreContinue Reading
The eleven years of Margaret Thatcher’s reign, which spanned through the 1980s were known for the social turbulence they caused. The right wing political ideology that has come to be called Thatcherism is deemed reactionary in many ways. To given an example, a pub near the Underground station at Highbury and Islington in north London was forced to paint the following sign blank under Thatcher’s conservatism: An Equal Opportunities Pub Regardless of Race, Creed, Nationality, Disability Or Sexual Orientation. This illustrates the deep impact of Thatcherism in all domains of cultural life. This was a period when “the very existence of society was placed in doubt, when the belief that greed is good was promoted as a moral imperative. It was also the decade when London came to seem like another country.” (Street, 1997, p. 106)
Cinema, being a major cultural product, was especially subject to pressure from the conservatives. Cinema as an industry suffered . . . Read MoreContinue Reading