The following (11) documents are reviewed but unpublished essays authored by the Executive Director. They are vital background research prelimary to the core research agenda and public sociology campaigns of TATO. The inform the critical worldview that is paramount to TATO.
The Zeitgeist Movement: Alter-globalization, Complexity, and Conspirituality
The recent literature on political sociology and social movements revives the quest to understand the relationship between social structure and political orientation. It also points to a complexity turn and suggests that ‘new social movements’ form an important part of alter- globalization. A new global social movement called The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) provides a fruitful case for analysis. With a 500,000 global member base, a broad evolving frame, and a decentralized, deterritorialized, networked structure of volunteers, TZM is a socio-cultural force with important political implications. Both TZM’s ideology and underlying political concerns offer interesting insights into the process of globalization and cultural evolution. In this paper, I demonstrate the salience of the ‘new political sociology’ approach – which entails the ‘complexity turn,’ among others – both through TZM’s self-identification as complexity movement as well as their networked structural qualities. I will explain TZM’s process of reflexive framing and its popularity based on New Age and conspiracy theory precursors. Finally, I will discuss the mutual insights between the academic literature and the movement’s tenets, principles and beliefs, with regards to complexity, conspiracy, and renewed concerns over global governance.
Theory of Conspiracy: Analyzing Hidden Power in Globalization Processes
Israelpolitik: Regimes of Truth and the Clash of Definitions in the “Promised Land”
(UBC-SFU Mack Eastman United Nations Essay Prize)
Conspiracy Theory (CT) is a pejorative umbrella term that refers to a large body of fringe theories from across the political spectrum used to explain events by way of secret plots. The bulk of CT blatantly violates academic methodologies and is therefore dismissed, but this paper navigates through the contestable grey area where real conspiracy ends and speculation begins. The 9/11 attacks reinvigorated a wide range of conspiracist thinking, and now roughly 42 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. Government and the 9/11 Commission covered up evidence that contradicts the official explanation. Prior to 9/11, the dominant academic view towards „conspiracy theory‟ was dismissive, considering it a form of cognitive fundamentalism; In the 1960s, historian Richard Hofstadter defined the pathological "paranoid-style" of thinking, and a concomitant trend of anti-intellectualism, that has been a consistent feature of American politics since the birth of the nation.
For better or worse, “truth” and power have always had a paradoxically insidious and complimentary relationship with each other and to war and society. Often power masquerades as truth, resulting in atrocities like the Nazi holocaust, but sometimes truth can undermine power, like with the American civil rights movement or Ghandi’s non-violent resistance to the British. Unfortunately, either way the process is usually bloody. The Israel-Palestine conflict is a potential watershed for the struggle between truth and power. Not to be crass, but due to the complexity of the issue disinterested observers might appropriately label both the conflict and its commentary a “clusterfuck.” In such a contentious and hostile environment how do we filter the fact from the fodder? In this paper I will show that there are competing regimes of truth within the secular Western world. Although framing the issue as such may be viewed as artificial, in light of a multiplicity of discourses, for my purposes I would like to isolate the two strongest currents, between cosmopolitan and egalitarian thinking intellectuals and latent hegemonic power interests (namely of the United States and Israel). I will argue that the latter dominates the discourse on the question of Palestinian statehood, through the perception and exaggeration of a “clash of civilizations,” in order to maintain and expand its geopolitical foothold in Near East. I will then attempt to offer some strategies and appeals to pragmatism that help expedite the peace process.
Corporate Cosmopolitanism: Global Citizenry and White Collar Crime
How does the phrase “Think global, act local” apply to corporate actors? Can a corporation be a ‘global citizen’? To understand these questions and their daunting implications we must define two concepts: ‘global citizen’ and ‘white-collar crime.’ Broadly understood, a global citizen is somebody who can see through the arbitrary social constructions that divide us, identifies with greater humanity, and acts accordingly. White-collar crime, a more problematic concept, can be generally viewed as a social deviation in a professional framework that does not directly entail physical harm to others, but harm nonetheless. Surprisingly, these concepts are rarely recognized, yet both have large consequences for the world. The average citizen fails to comprehend how his/her actions reverberate throughout the world, and likewise the average white-collar criminal considers his/her actions as victimless crimes. When scaled to the level of multi-national corporations (MNCs), the unintended consequences of this self-centered mentality constitute a new sociological challenge. Since a corporation is legally considered a person, we must find new ways to nurture the development of the corporation through a process of socialization. In this essay I will explore these two concepts and discuss the prospect of a corporate global citizen.
Lost in Space: A Realist and Marxist Analysis of US Space Militarization
The weaponization (or militarization) of space refers to a process that started with the Cold War and accelerated in the early 1980s with the Strategic Defense Initiative anti-ballistic missile program. Today, in a technologically advanced post-9/11 world this brings new political implications and consequences. In 1999, a United Nations resolution entitled "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space" unanimously opposes such endeavors and classifies space for peaceful use only. Only two states abstained from this resolution: the United States and Israel. The US Space Command, now US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), published a document in 1998 titled Vision for 2020 that declared America’s ambitions for “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment. Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict [sic].” What can explain the US’ exponential obsession with putting weapons in space after the Cold War ended?
Self-centered Social Theory: Overcoming European Ethno-history and the Crisis of Sociological Knowledge
Not Historicism: Contemporary Historical Materialism and Global Social Change
Is social theory doomed to be little more than European ethno-history? The simple answer, I argue, is no. But what is being asked here is to what extent the particular contemporary worldview or zeitgeist of modern Europe is shaped its own hegemonic history, as well as a biased view of that history. Moreover, our difficulties are compounded by a crisis in sociological knowledge. The question posed is a troublesome one because it forces us to look at the grave misconduct justified by social theory in the past, which in turn causes us to be overly skeptical of the very social science we practice. Through globalization, ways of knowing become pluralised across time and space, for better and for worse. In order address the root causes of today's problems we must first overcome the eurocentric ethno-historical worldview, and second, extricate violent tendencies from international politics. In this paper I address the two issues raised in the question: how to defend social theory against manipulation by hegemonic interests and how we might put the crisis of sociology in perspective. Social theory is not doomed in any way, but certainly has its challenges, and social scientists must be methodologically determined to overcome its limitations.
The question I will set out to answer in this essay is “does ‘historical materialism’ provides a good starting point for understanding social change?” One must enter into such a crowded field with humility as well as trepidation. To think of orthodox historical materialism is to refer to something that was never articulated by Marx himself, but rather Engels, who was doomed to fall short in summarizing Marx’s grand project (Wood, 2005: 12). There were ambiguities in Engels’ version as well that have led many to misunderstand Marx’s intent. Despite this, we have many different conceptions of historical materialism. Generations of scholars have attempted to invoke Marx’s spirit in their advanced theories. In this paper I will determine the utility of historical materialism in contemporary social theory as an important component of macro-historical globalization.
The Quickening: The Acceleration and Growth of Global Civilization
Broken Hardt, but still works: A Critique of “Empire”
Time is running out, in a sense. Space is collapsing in on itself, sort of. Globalization has transformed the way we conceptualize time and space. Marshall McLuhan describes how, through communications technology, we have broken down geographically based power disparities and created a "global-village". David Harvey calls it a 'time-space compression' which produces different forms of temporal acceleration. Judy Wajcman writes that this phenomenon is now a major theme in the sociological analysis of post-modern society (59, 72). Communication, transportation, manufacturing, and global awareness have all be revolutionized and accelerated by technology, which has collapsed the temporal-spatial distances between people around the world. But it is not a uniform shift of time or space across all categories, or for all people. The nature of time as we perceive it continues to be distorted and stretched, but in different directions. In this paper, first I will discuss how globalization is driven by the imperative of growth and how technological innovation 'buys us time'. Second, I will discuss the varieties of temporal acceleration and inequalities therein. Third, I will endeavour to discuss the implications for "us" in the near future.
In Empire, Hardt and Negri articulate the emergence of a new ontological paradigm for global politics. Their basic thesis is that "Empire" is the new global sovereignty. The book has attracted widespread praise as well as criticism. Gopal Balakrishnan calls it "a work of visionary intensity" (Di Nardo, 2003) while Pietro Di Nardo says there is "nothing fundamentally new in it" (Ibid). At any rate, the work has generated an interesting discussion among many scholars who agree that the political nature of the global order is transforming. In this essay, I will review several competing opinions, critically evaluate Hardt and Negri's thesis, and offer my own interpretation of where it is prescient and where it is lacking. My general position is that while Empire is a salient description of the contemporary world in a state of upheaval, it is decidedly vague in some of its language, and its conclusions could be more powerful if some alternative approaches were employed. I argue that their theory is in large part falsified by events of September 11th, 2001 followed by the Iraq War (2003), but Empire is nevertheless emerging slowly through the fallout, while the recent Middle East revolts (2011) give credence to their notion of multitude. The book's large scope covers the themes of the global market, globalisation, sovereignty, disciplinary society and society of control, biopower, immaterial labour and the multitude (Hoy, 2005). I would like to focus on the notions of globalization, sovereignty, and Marxism in giving my critique.
Globalization: The Big Picture
Globalization is a very complex and contested macro- process. Understanding it across all levels allows us to construct simple secular models to overcome the gravest meta-problems. This white paper lays out the abstract framework for world peace and global government, via a systematic critique of the core pathologies of globalization. The urgency stems from the rapid human destruction of the planet's biosphere. A constellation of new theories presents a clear social pathology that compels game-theoretical agreement over the best solutions to these global meta- problems. Dovetailing with metamodernity, the advent of quantum sociology enables us to redefine human rights in holographic (universal) terms. Finally, we attempt to abstract a rubric that will guide policy towards a teleological end-point, steady state, or 'permaculture.'
Western and non-Western Systems of Thought:
Socio-cognitive Worldviews, Regimes of Truth, and the Prospect of Consilience
This paper examines the proposition that there are distinct “Western” and “non-Western” systems of thought. The deeper question that needs addressing here is, as I frame it, what are the valid (true, scientific, politically just) Western and non-Western ways of thinking and how can they be integrated? We must also consider the answers when they produce conflicting conclusions. While they may seem contradictory on the surface, they may be holistically integrated on a deeper level. I have organized this paper into three sections. The first details the traditional West vs. East dichotomy of thought systems. Second, I analyze critical conceptions of knowledge construction and how this relates to the first section. This is concerned with the ways of knowing within a state or culture; a hierarchy of social epistemology. Third, I discuss the prospect for consilience, the unity of knowledge across fragmented scientific disciplines, as well as bridging East and West ways of thinking, and elite and mass forms of knowledge.