Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Bretton Woods System?

*Before I get going on my blog entry, I just want to point out that as I looked at the two blog entry questions for this week, unlike the majority of my classmates, I chose to blather on Bretton Woods System rather than Alien Ambassador. Even though I missed the whole discussion on this subject and do not 100% understand the system, I would rather write on it because I personally think that the idea of Alien Ambassador speaks for itself and is too outrageous and ridiculous that I don't even have anything to say about it other than 'I think it is the most absurd idea I have ever heard.'

If I understood correctly, Bretton Woods System was established in 1940s post-WW2 to rebuild the international economic system when the global recession was dragged out for too long after the Great Depression in 1930s. Based on the ideas of fixed exchange rate, the gold standard, gold-dollar conversion system, and the establishments of IMF(International Monetary Fund) and IBRD(International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) for post-war reconstruction and development of underdeveloped countries, Bretton Woods System has done a pretty good job fulfilling what it was expected to do at the time especially during the post-war reconstruction and the Cold War. It helped to stabilize the currency trade market and stimulated the flow of currency between nation-states. It established the first set rules of international commercial and financial relations.

However, as the global market and economy changes time to time, the system has become unfit for the fast changing global economic system. After 1960s, the loss of credibility of US dollar and international liquidity dilemma arose
and in 1970s, the U.S. dollar became weak and unstable because of the deficit of the US due to funding of the Vietnam War. After Nixon's claim to terminate convertibility of the dollar to gold, Bretton Woods System has naturally become almost extinct.

I think Bretton Woods System's collapse was completely natural and even helped the evolution of the global economic system. The currency market has become dependent on the law of supply and demand which temporarily enabled the currency to circulate more freely among major industrial nation-states. Stepping into 1980s, capital exchange between countries rapidly increased due to technological development and the arrival of information-oriented era. The global economic linkage has expanded not only to North America and Europe, but also to Asia, South America, and even to Africa.

As the international economy evolves and expands, I believe it demands a newly adjusted Bretton Woods System like many other have argued. A new system to regulate and spur the global economy is needed. A number of world leaders, like the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy
and the English Prime minister Gordon Brown, have argued the need of an adjusted Bretton Woods System, aka Bretton Woods System 2. As the world is becoming multipolar, shouldn't only the U.S. dollar the measure of currency exchange, but also those of other major economic countries, and that of further more countries should work together to establish a multipolar international monetary system.

-dearest Wikipedia
-bunch of Korean websites

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Astronomical Mistake: The Latest UN Appointment From a Realist's Perspective

The United Nation's appointment of the Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman as the alien contact ambassador is a grave mistake. This appointment will not only lead the UN to become more obsolete as a world player, but will also threaten the state security of each of our world's sovereign states. By appointing an individual that represents a far weaker member state than any of the P5+1 states, the United Nations has ostracized the strongest world players by attempting to limit their influence in future world events and debate. The lack of an outlet for key players to voice their concerns and advocate for their own self-interests will lead to a breakdown of this new UN institution because the world's most powerful and largest states will ignore any United Nations conclusions in favor of their own state security centered agendas. After the United Nations becomes obsolete in the eyes of larger powers, the rest of the world will follow, realizing the UN institution assigned to deal with inter-planet diplomacy is the not the balancing institution they thought it was, which will lead to relative chaos as each state begins to jockey to become the dominant world power. As simple anarchy turns to chaos, the weakness of the world political structure will become evident to any interstellar visitor, which may insight aggression from said visitor. Therefore, although at first glance this new United Nations appointment may appear to be an attempt to balance against the world's greater powers, it will be ineffective because it holds no true authority over and does not attempt to appease the most powerful states, which will cause a breakdown of the institution leaving a chaotic and dangerous world political system with any previously planned action for otherworldly visitors in shambles.

The Bridge to another World

My biggest fear in the entire world, no joke, is an alien. Ever since I can remember, the mysterious extra terrestrials have been the very epitome of all things unknown. It is not that I am scared that they will be mean or I find them menacing because I know nothing about them. It is because they are unknown! There are no empirical studies with them. We have no idea how they would communicate with us or how they would react. So, let’s just call this situation A PRIORI or essentially the theoretical deduction, rather than the observation of our co-living… species? Things? See we have no idea! I think what we need is an ambassador. Someone to communicate with the aliens. Now if we utilized the different International Relations Theories(I guess now they could be “Inter-global Theories” I think the best way we would approach this was from a Constructivist point of view.

Why constructivist? Well for one thing, there aren’t really such strong preconceived notions as the other two. Realists would have a general because these aliens would be seen as, well as Hobbes so wonderfully puts it: SOLITARY, POOR, NASTY, BRUTISH, AND SHORT. So we should dominate them. Take it as you will. Because after all we are in a anarchic interglobal order with no checks and balances and although realism does not = militarism but here, this might be the most obvious form of dominance. A liberal ambassador would be interested in inter global trade. But why? I mean we don’t even know if the aliens have a form of trade like ours. So that leaves constructivism because honestly we don’t know. Remember, we are working with no previous experience with the aliens. Constructivism is all about situationalism. The epoch of time dictates social and cultural mores. Constructivists also believe that it takes hard work on both sides to sustain a good relationship. Our relationship with the aliens could progress into friendship, but there is an etiquette in this. I think Wendt’s article on ANARCHY IS WHAT STATES MAKE OF IT is completely applicable here. On page 404 he discusses the “mirror” and how “the self is a reflection of an actor’s socialization”(404). I love it when Wednt says “society would be impossible if people made decisions purely on the basis of worst-case possibilities. Instead most decisions are and should be made on the basis of probabilities”(404). In our situation, when the aliens come down, our ambassador should be very observant and open to what the aliens will do. If they come with open arms, we shall embrace them. If there is a possibility for attach, we should be on security and be cautious. We should illustrate our strength too. This is similar to Wendt’s paradigm on page 405. We are creating intersubjective meanings.

All in all, as Wendt says, “interaction rewards actors for holding certain ideas about each other and discourages them from holding others(405)” and this will “create a relatively stable self and other regarding the issue at stake in reaction(405). We could have something WONDERFUL with these aliens if we focus on communication and observe them. I have hope for our inter global communication. Cultures can be shared and through this osmosis of communication can we begin to understand each other. The shrouds of mystery can be cast and my fear will become comfort.

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Extraterrestrial Visit!

If the UN were to sit naively back and assume that there is no need for preparation for an extraterrestrial visit, then we are in deep trouble. Yes, the media has created a Hollywood image of an “alien:” tall and scaly with oblong shaped eyes and a sphere head. Furthermore, we never take them seriously or expect the ‘human’ to destroy them. Yet, it is paramount that we escape this mindset and realize that there are other beings out in other universes other than humans. It is not completely impossible that a visit from them will happen, and thus we should be prepared. The article, “United Nations to Appoint Alien Ambassador?” raises some ideas of what might happen if we were to come in contact with other species than ourselves. To begin with, Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, will become the link between the head alien communicator and the UN (or really, planet Earth). To bring to light our class discussion last Thursday, we will have a solution as to who should be the first person the head alien should contact. If we were not to appoint someone, then there would be immediate chaos as to what should be done. Questions of whether or not to blockade off the city will be pre-decided and considering that it is the United Nations, the world would know if a situation like this should occur. For example, a spaceship lands and there is confusion as to if we should hide and protect the president or have him prepared to speak as the planet Earth representative. With an ambassador, that problem is already solved.

The mere act of anointing someone to this position shows that we are not ignorant to other “international relations.” Even if, “they might not be the friendly cosmic neighbors that we have been looking for,” we at least recognize they do exist. And who’s to say that that might prevent an attack because these creatures see we are trying to understand them? Another benefit is that this paves the road for the future. Future generations will look back and see what steps we have taken to provide communication between numerous universes. The UN can’t help but only build upon it as technology and contact increases.

Thus, it may seem rudimentary from a surface level to support a UN official to research an event that might never take place. Yet, despite this, the fact that we are going through with it carries a greater weight. It’s like preparing for a test that might not happen: it’s better to be safe, than sorry.

(As a side note, I would like to point out that our planet Earth representative is not a Caucasian, northerner, Christian male but a Southeast Asian woman.)

Week 5 - Reflection

Higher Authority in control
As we discussed about PTJ's authority and what actually gives him or makes him lose his authority, my brain got almost overloaded with too much thinking and processing, trying to figure out the concept. When PTJ asked us what would make us lose respect to his authority, and many of our class said if he hadn't been in class for so long or he had acted abnormally out of boundaries and what not, and I all agree with them generally but I also thought that if a being in higher authority, that even PTJ had to submit to, existed and dismissed PTJ from his authority, I would lose a sense of respect to his authority. I always thought that every real life situation, even in the realm of World Politics, we need someone or whatever in control that can direct, keep the order and mediate. I don't think we human can peacefully and harmonically live without a higher authority in control.

Bottom Line - Stability and security
Our Thursday discussion was about what kind of advice we would give the President in relation to IR theories when a outerspace space ship launched a little shuttle and it's on its way to land in the Whitle House Lawn. We've discussed and learned about three basic IR theories, and personally I thought realism was the most outdated because #1, it's the oldest theory, and #2 the world is now so different from then so it's not very applicable to today's world. However, when it came to this kind of extremely threatening situation like our scenario here, everything came down to one thing regardless of whatever the theory is up-to-date: stability and security. Our group said that we will declare DefCon 1, which is the very highest level of defense condition, get ready for the worst that could happen, evacuate the city and the white house and block the media for the sake of citizens not to freak out. Whatever theory one might have agreed with the most, but on this scenario, it proves that realism might be ourdated for being here around for awhile, and definitely the one that explains very core and basic of how a society works. Also when the globe was to meet this crisis again, the whole world sets aside their own individual desire and identity, whether it identifies itself again by its responsibility and expectations for it in the situation. It kind of brings the idea of constructivism into the picture but I am not sure I fully got the relation between the crisis scenario activity and constructivism. But I look forward to finding out the unfolded link between them two and learning more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reflection (Week #5)

Personally, I found our latest visit to the European Union delegation both entertaining and informative, from Dr. Deak's use of the adjective “sexy” to his opinions on the incorporation of Turkey into the EU and the EU delegation’s role in Washington compared to that of the member state's embassies. However, what I found most interesting were the parallels and differences Dr. Deak emphasized between the US Constitution and the defining document behind the European Union: the Maastricht Treaty (Treaty on European Union). In particular, he mentioned the phrases “to form a more perfect union” (Preamble to the United States Constitution) and “to continue the process of creating an ever closer union” (Treaty on European Union). Dr. Deak said that the phrases “more perfect” and “ever closer” were what he believed most clearly differentiated the goals of the United States from those of the European Union. He explained that the words “ever closer”, included in the Maastricht Treaty, define the European Union's goals to not simply leave different European cultures unchanged, but to actively preserve them. Although, political structures and economies may blend, and individual European cultures may continue to “strive for harmonious coexistence” (France and Germany), Dr. Deak's interpretation of the “ever closer” (but never perfect) clause entails that individual state identities and cultures will remain permanently unaltered. In contrast, the continuous goal for a “more perfect” union in the United States implies that our union is already perfect and therefore culturally we are united as well. Now whether either of these interpretations of defining lines in these two formative political documents were realised is a debate that could likely take another ten to twenty pages. However, what these interpretations say about Dr. Deak's positive view of the Union I think is undeniable and perfectly explain why he finds the arguments over Turkish culture rather than its political and economic structure quite “un-sexy”.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reflection #5

Later, after Thursday’s class, a group of us were sitting around and we inevitably got onto the topic of our class discussion: how would and should we react if a spacecraft landed in front of the White House? We began by reviewing what was discussed and how probable each course of action might be. But as the conversation evolved, we got onto the topic of our planet Earth in comparison to the rest of the universe. Our world is so minute in relation to the rest of the galaxies and planets that it really puts the concepts of international relations into perspective. What if, we speculated, these ET’s come from a universe where these theories of international relations are much grander, broader and have a greater impact? If you think about it, world politics on planet Earth is essentially the interactions between microscopic organisms on blotches of land (This is not to say that the theories of IR are unimportant here; I am merely putting our physical planet into perspective). How would we look and how would these visitors react if we were to mobilize our forces but then at once see that what they have to combat us is proportionally greater? It really puts things into perspective for me to think that our interactions are drastically different from that elsewhere. Furthermore, it is mind-boggling to contemplate what other theories of interaction are being implicated elsewhere. What other communication capabilities are being used? It seems that we have so much more to learn and reflect than what we originally thought was the case.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oh the Spools of Communication

I really enjoyed Wendt's article. Through the thick wool that was his rhetoric, a strong aspect of his argument unfolded before my very eyes: COMMUNICATION

INTERACTION REWARDS ACTORS FOR HOLDING CERTAIN IDEAS ABOUT EACH OTHER AND DISCOURAGES THEM FROM HOLDING OTHERS. this is page 405 by the way. By my capital letters, you can tell how excited I am. Communication is the antithesis of Hobbsian state of humanity that man is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" because someone who thought like that would say humanity can not be trusted. And the type of communication that I am discussing is the type that is very Hegelian. Hegel was all about the process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. As in the synthesis, through this osmosis of conversation, if you will, is about a mutual understanding. It is intersubjectivity and cooperation. How exciting is that? And through this intersubjectivity and through these little syntheses that occur, we as a nation state can change our image. But how? And what does this change in identity mean? THIS IS SO FASCINATING! Ok sorry for freaking out, its just that constructivism gives me hope because I like the fact that we are not these stagnant figures. We are constantly fluxing, but the concept of a FLUX is an institution. So back to the 4 ways: 


1. intentional transformation.  

2. denaturalization. identify practices that reproduce seemingly inevitable ideas about self and other 

3. change identity of others that help sustain those systems of interaction

4. teach other states ones own state to be trusted, not a threat. 

A good example of this is the USSR. The USSR utilized ALL of these to break down and for Russia to change her image. 1. the state cast the principles of Lenin. 2. recognized/ became SELF AWARE(I love this term because it leaves room and potential for change. Emerson, and please look him up, talks about the sudden importance of Epiphany and how when we have it, we are the most motivated to do something about it because it is innate of us. Innateness is by the way a huge ideal of constructivism)crucial role of  soviet aggresive practices played in conflict and why things had to change. 3. An example of changing identity of others is through communication and discussing what the Soviet was doing about the image. Its like when statements were issued about what EXACTLY is the identity of Russia and how change was going to go underway. And finally 4. Gorbachev pulled troops out of Afghanistan to demonstrate a change in Russian foreign policy. You see why this excites me? Because through discussion, WE CAN MOVE FOREWORD. And I love that. But you are probably wondering why I love it or why change is so exciting to me. Because through the exchange of ideas and foils and differences, we can REFLECT on our history and the spread of ideas. We can adjust our state for the betterment of our societies. Stability does not always mean stagnant behavior. A leader can still be considered strong, yet listen to his people and change policies appropriately after the osmosis os discussion. But keep in mind there has to be checks and balances. If you flip too fast, your people will question your ruling. But you must keep in mind that you, yourself, as a leader, are listening because it is not always about stability. In my opinion, a good government is one that adheres to the will of her people. 

But at the same time, I want to address another issue. That does not mean that if a crazy leader wants to come to power he can because the people will it so. Due to the osmosis of conversation and discussion, a happy medium can be found. At the same time, I will NOT allow history to meld issues. I believe on a one to one level or a short term level, there should be catalysts in the works. Kierkagard would certainly agree that if we see something wrong, we should stand up and address it. I AGREE COMPLETELY. I think that through these little catalysts, discussions can form, and with that syntheses can be reached, and with that, the face of governance will change. Don't you see? Its a cycle people! Change is our institution. We can make things happen. If we act and discuss. Oh, the spools of communication. Indeed. See what happens when you pull a thread, you are left with hands tied in string. Liberating? I hope so. 

The awesome philosophers I was talking about:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Smack dab in the middle of the most chaotic region of the world would be a bizarrely shaped area of land. Politically, this mass of land named “Gagatopia” would be a Constructivist state, while philosophically it would be Exceptionalist. In other words, Gagatopia’s norms and identities would be constantly shifting which would result in a nationwide feeling of supremacy. It’s not a mystery that Lady Gaga is quite comfortable with herself. She is not afraid of the image she’s creating for herself and the effects she is having on young girls worldwide. What’s not to say that this outlook could not be used statewide? Bright makeup and meat dresses would become the norm; and the citizens of Gagatopia would inevitably scrunch their noses at the blandly dressed foreigners. Furthermore, as mentioned in the podcast, “stability is not presumed,” so it takes work to create a homeostasis. Because of this, Gagatopia would invariable experience an era of complete chaos and incrementally find ways to balance out the culture.

The state identity would, from a Constructivist’s perspective, be constantly shifting. Because Lady Gaga herself is so outlandish and extreme, her precepts would impact the populace. Freedom of dress, speech and actions would be full fledged. Since the norm would be bubble dresses, it would not be unusual for a politician to show up in similar attire to an international convention. As discussed in class, there are certain characteristics we associate with someone who shows up in a bikini to class. One student mentioned it might be an opportunity to flaunt her body which detracts from the studies. Many mentioned it was overall inappropriate for a classroom setting. Despite this, Gagatopia would promote this dress code. Brilliant male and female politicians would trapeze into conference rooms scandalously clad. A high school senior would show up for an interview wearing rainbow colored makeup. Because this is the norm, a Constructivist would say, “There is nothing wrong with this. This is our state identity.”

Consequentially, the citizens of Gagatopia would realize how different they are from the outside world. Some might feel at unease while the majority would confidentially fluff their hair and pride themselves on their appearances. This application of exceptionalism, in that “a state is exceptional and does not need to conform” to the status quo would be prevalent. For example, a typical Gagatopian would presume, “since our state promotes bikinis in classrooms, we have every right to wear bikinis at international conventions.” Slight arrogance and complete freedom of expression would reign. Yet as time goes on, Gagatopia will no doubt create stability through their cultural identity. Like any fad and any famous pop singer, the times change and a new star begins to shine. When this occurs, finally Gagatopia will settle down.


We are the crowd, we are co-coming out

You little monsters 

He ate my heart, he a-a-ate my heart

He ate our hearts, he a-a-ate all of our hearts

Lets go across the sea

You little monsters

I can’t help myself

I’m addicted to a life of material 

It’s some kind of joke 

I’m obsessively opposed to the typical

All of me and my little monsters

Bang Bang

Beautiful, dirty dirty rich rich dirty dirty 

Beautiful dirty rich 

Dirty dirty rich dirty dirty rich beautiful 

Beautiful and dirty dirty rich rich dirty 

Bang Bang

We don’t have a price, ready for those flashin’ lights

Fame, fame, baby, the fame, fame

Isn’t it a shame, shame, baby? A shame, shame.

Cause we gotta taste for champagne and endless fortune


I’ve had a little too much, much

All of the people start to rush, rush by

I love this record baby, but I can’t see straight anymore

Baby, there is no more super star

Call all you want, but there’s no one home

And your not gonna reach my telephone

Don’t call me Gaga

No more my little monsters

Boy, we’ve had a real good time

And I wish you the best on your way

Back home, make your way little monsters

I never thought we’d fall out of place

Fame monsters

Its not that I don’t care 

Its just things are complicated

Don’t call my name, don’t call my name, Alejandro

I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe, Fernando

Don’t bother me, Don’t bother me, Alejandro

Bang bang, we're beautiful and dirty rich 

Bang bang, we're beautiful and dirty rich 

Bang bang, honey monsters

You look good enough to eat

Now let me eat your heart. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 4 - Reflection

This week's discussion was very interesting for me. We discussed whether or not the U.S. should force democracy on other countries or not. I noticed that a lot of people think that the states should be let develop democracy on their own and go through the slow transition to and self-realization of democratic system. However, I personally think that it is right for the U.S. as a super power amongst nations to take the responsibility and actively promote democracy as it is believed to be the 'best' of what we've got. If legitmate use of force is necessary, I believe, that can be done also .
Imperialism is not believed as the greatest form of world politics any more, but I think because it existed, democracy was able to be promoted and infiltrated into many countries. During imperialistic period, the U.S. and the major world powers of that time went around the globe and basically colonize a lot of places and had them open their doors even with some violence or military force if needed. It is a different context and setting nowadays, but still at best so far.
Even just looking at the example of South and North Korea and how they turned out, the necessary enforcement can be justified and used to promote democracy. If south Korean government did not get any guidance or help or etc., I can't imagine what might have happened. Sometimes it is hard to realize what is good and bad for you, so in that case, you would need someone to tell you what it is or even to enforce it.

There should be a self-set limit on interference, but as long as one doesn't cross the line, the act of enforcement can be justified.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reflection (Week #4)

In class we discussed the role of the United States in promoting democracy and whether or not direct intervention in a state's internal affairs is necessary to encourage a democratic world or whether we should simply maintain our state as a functional example of democracy in order to allow the emergence of a democratic political systems internally.

Personally, I believe letting states develop without direct intervention of the United States is the best way to promote international democracy because not all states have the capacity for democratic elections because they lack the stability. For example, the recent Afghan elections have resulted in violence, including kidnappings of campaign workers and election officials, as well as the murders of political figures and supporters. If democratic elections are too strongly encouraged in a state they can lead to further internal instability. Therefore, a democratic system of government should be promoted in a more passive manner that would allow a state to pursue democratic elections on its own when it is stable enough to successfully transition, which would result in stronger democracies. The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which was adopted by the African Union in 2007, is a prime example of this. Although the charter was signed in 2007, it was designed to promote a slow transition to democracy by 2015, and as of the end of 2010, 13 African nations are on track towards full implementation including Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. The charter is proof that it is possible for a group of countries to instigate a relatively peaceful transition to democracy without direct military intervention of the United States

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The thrusting of democracy upon a country is the anti-thesis of democracy. To me, the concept for the people, by the people is what I deem as true. That is true democracy to me. If the country is not acting in the interests of its people then the people have every right to stand up and change the system. In this Kierkagaardian catalyst of standing up for what you believe, our government cater to the needs of its citizens. But keep in mind, democracy is a societal self-realization that is inspired by conversations that occur on the global stage. For example, America's involvement of Iraq and "spreading" democracy was not justified at all. It made the US look like these new age crusaders. There was a social division of US versus THEM. As if we are these vigilantes. I do not like that. I do not like that because I think that there are other ways to be the catalyst for change. I have mentioned in another blog about the importance of the osmosis of conversation, I think through this process, democracy is not forced. But there is a discussion about it or there are subliminal messages that spread democracy. For example, India fell in love with the image of America through Hollywood that later influenced Bollywood. My father fell in love with the idea of "freedom" by watching Indian films that addressed financial gain and self-prosperity. In the film shree 420, a man goes to the city and seeks a lifestyle for him that is all about individual economic gain, a concept that was somewhat foreign to India. With music and images of luxury like this, it motivated Indians like my father to look outside of India. In the process of that desire to look out into the rest of the world, it opened Indian society to look at the world in an economic context because they wanted things. In the process, economic growth leads to conceptual trade. This is how you slowly open up the conversation for democracy. Here is a video of what I am talking about: 

Reflection #4

During our discussion last Thursday, I left the classroom pondering Professor Jackson’s statement of the world being divided into an “us” group and a “them” group. There’s America as the ‘advanced’ nation who, in essence, paves the road to success for the “them” countries. We see ourselves as the first modern nation to utilize democracy and make it work while the others stagger on in hopes of becoming like us. We have the largest and most powerful military and have bases all around the world to keep an eye on the farthest corners of the world. Yet, despite all of this, I feel it’s important to point out the irony that we really aren’t the “us” but in actuality, a part of “them.” To begin with, to say one is a pure American is a debatable statement. We are all foreigners on this land (except for the Native Americans) and our society is as mix of preexisting cultures and beliefs. Is there really anything original in America that has not been previously implemented? The Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Muslim, Jewish and Christian immigrants have all lent their flavors and spices to our land. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all. In fact, it could be quite useful in international relations. But, because this is the case, it is important for us to realize where we stand culturally. Furthermore, I wish we would realize how degrading and in a sense, racist, we are in perceiving the world from an “us” “them” perspective. A recent example of this was illuminated to me upon my close friend’s return from Burma. She spent half a year in Burma and Nepal as a devout Buddhist nun. Like her Burmese sisters, she shaved her head and meditated for hours upon hours. But despite all of this, the people around her were still slightly hesitant. They were so used to the facade of superiority the US is so commonly associated with that it stunted her. Typically, not many Americans are found at this reserved monastery in the mountains. Because she, an American, was there, the natives instantly felt a sense of unease. I am quite sure in stating this was not due to the fact that she was just any foreigner, but in fact, an American. Most of us, whether we realize it or not, carry around a set of expectations and implications.Therefore, I hope for America’s sake that we stop elevating ourselves, whether explicitly or implicitly, and understand that there is no such thing as a ‘superior’ nation, culturally.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Managerial Democracy: Basis for or Simple Byproduct of Elections

Although regular elections can be considered a technique used by managerial states to “channel participation away from unpredictable, disruptive, and spontaneous forms of [political] participation”, this should not diminish their political or social value (Opello and Rosow 158). Democratic elections help to keep the government responsive to the needs of a current population. Because a democratic government is updated relatively frequently, it stays relevant to a constantly developing world and state. Additionally, because a representative democracy is held accountable by the general population, politicians are more inclined to voice their constituents concerns in order to maintain their current position in government. However, this mentality of consistent campaigning is also the price to be payed for maintaining a government responsive to the needs of a population, by making it significantly less efficient. Nevertheless, it is the fact that elections allow a government to be run with the consent of the governed that makes it an effective tactic of managerial states. If the people believed their views were not being acknowledged by the government, they would resort to other more unpredictable and disruptive forms of political participation. It is this sense of political participation, which would not be present in a state in which the citizenry is ignored, that pacifies a population. Therefore, the managerial aspect of regular elections should be seen as a byproduct of successful representation of a governed body, rather than as a corrupting factor, thus allowing the positive and beneficial qualities of egalitarian elections to show.

would you rather live in a society that did not have governmental elections?

Despite the fact that elections might have been overly emphasized and praised, I still believe that elections are one of the most fundamental and pivotal aspects of democracy. Therefore, I would not want to live in a society that did not have elections.
The right to vote has long been the center issue for liberalization and democratization. Every society and civilization has struggled for the right to vote. To have the right to vote meant to be recognized, valued, and heard by the ruling. Political acts started with voting right, even almost every human rights movement were started off by fighting for the right to vote. Elections not only are practical system of democracy, but also are the symbol of our possession of rights, and the meaning of life worthy of man. Elections help citizens feel a sense of responsibility for their own society in which they live and practice that responsibility in order to make better society for themselves.

I, however, do not agree with making voting mandatory. I think citizens should still have the right to choose to vote or not to vote. Not practicing the right to vote can be also a form of political acts, and I believe one should not be forced to form an opinion and to make a decision, otherwise, he or she will be more likely to make a poor choice and that will eventually work against the intended purpose. I would rather have people not vote than have them be forced and make a careless decision. Participation in political acts or civil duties should be encouraged and promoted but should not be forced on people for I personally believe that they have the right to be apathetic about politics.

In conclusion, elections, with no doubt, play a critical role and can never be taken out of democratic societies. Yet, voting should not be mandatory because it may cause a contrary effect.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


When I was in elementary school, I could not wait to vote. Voting was a duty that I would wear like a medal on my chest. When I was growing up, I firmly believed that my one vote would one day begin change. I could "rock the vote" if you will. My choice would make a difference in issues concerning education or social security.  But in fifth grade, voting was reduced from the nirvana of political public participation to a club I could never get into. I realized all too soon, that this propaganda for change and vote and being the only country where we could make a difference was just words. Does my vote really mean a thing?

 According Opello's and Rusow's NATION STATE, the managerial state is set up into bureaucracies. Bureaucracies are a "sum of individuals engaged in administering public services"(140). The citizens get to participate in the government on a local level. The German Historian Max Weber said that bureaucracies are most efficient means of exercising control control over large amount of human beings. This is because the citizens feel as though they have a say in the government. Participation is key. It gives an individual empowerment. Are they really making a difference? Now that is the question. Come voting time, America is on edge. The media dishes out the histories of candidates, policies, this country is on the buzz. It empowers this nation. Opello and Rusow say that "elections 'domesticate' and pacify participation and transform it into a routine, peaceful public activity(158). Routine being the key word. Looking at the election from a cultural anthropological sense, the election is a public ritual that bonds this country. Often the focus is between two states. Politics in this nation goes back and forth. Back and forth. I believe that it really at the end of the day is not about the outcome. Honestly, what will my one vote do. I am barricaded by the frontera that is the electoral college. It is about the reflection in this country. The reflection within ourselves. We think about the issues and wonder how could we get involved. Talk about stability, we trust the system. But we are convinced that we have the choice. Think about how campaigning works in this nation. WE are the consumer. WE. They are "working for us" to please us. You see, often it is a science: how to win the love of your nation. How to say what. But we feel empowered. The candidates must convince us. And knowing that we have this POWER is what stops us from marching in the streets. We have always known we have had the power. After all, we are AMERICANS. You see how words become full of life when we believe them? We are convinced that we run the country. That is why democracy works in our country. We believe in the phrase "for the people, by the people". Because we are the consumer of our decision. We have the choice. I will leave you with this video that I think resonates with my argument. This is a promotional video for voting(more inspiring propaganda) about voting. But I love the lyrics because we must "STOP, TAKE SOME TIME TO THINK, FIGURE OUT WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU". Because afterall we are "making a decision" but in reality, we are making the decision to discuss the politics in this country and global issues and have an opinion about what is happening around us. Even if it is for a month before the elections. 

The Need for a Little More "Umph"

Instead of answering this question by simply saying that, “yes we should have elections” as opposed to obliterating them due to lack of national pride, I looked at this problem from a different angle. Yes, there are ways in which Democratic elections “de-politicize” the people but what good would come about it we were to rid our society of them? To answer this question another way, it is possible to amend the ways we handle our elections in the US. It is commonplace in America for an everyday citizen to absentmindedly sit down in front of the computer and do a quick research about a candidate that moderately appeals to him/her. Come election day, this individual would mutter about having to get up extra early, go to the polling station, vote, and then promptly forget about the whole ordeal. Simultaneously, half way around the world Africans, Iraqis, Thai, Afghans and many others are taking to the street in rage over the absence of their right to choose. They are denied this privilege we consider ‘basic’ and because of this, their societies are instilled with more forms of passion and interest in politics.
These differences should raise a red flag for us. This doesn’t mean we need to go out and murder our neighbor because s/he has a different political affiliation. Rather, maybe we’ve taken our right to vote for granted. Here, we know that despite our gender, race or nationality we can elect a candidate we feel is best. So why is it that (as a whole) we don’t exhibit such passion as other nations do? During the last election, I felt like a citizen of one of those countries who had so much to say and so much to do, but could not legally vote. I remember feeling so balled up with political energy, yet had no way of channeling it.
The way I looked at America as a whole and the way a Thai might look at America’s general political involvement were probably similar on some levels. Our nation today has already laid down the groundwork for a democratic society. Generations of us are so used to living in a free world that we can’t compare to other states that are in the process of wanting and creating a democracy. For example, in March of 2010, thousands took to the streets in Thailand to protest the supposedly Democratic government. There were no elections and the general consensus was to dissolve the Thai parliament. As swarms upon swarms of protesters joined the ever-growing crowd, a term called “Cruel April” went into effect to describe the deaths and the casualties inflicted on the people. An average person would be more astounded by the gory deaths then by the denial of a fair vote.
Because we are allowed a democratic election, we invariably take it for granted. There is an element of patriotism of taking to the streets (preferably nonviolently) and really believing in a certain candidate. It is in our greater interest to perhaps show more national pride than we have in the past.

Monday, September 13, 2010


First of all, I am very regretful for missing out on our visit to Newseum on Wednesday lab. It looks like everyone had a very interesting and valuable experience there and I look forward to visit there myself sometime.
That leaves me with one option to talk about – in-class discussion on Thursday.
We talked about realism and how the U.S. could be benevolent or not, and what makes it different from any other hegemony from the past. I just want to briefly touch on the role of the U.S. from a realist perspective that what the U.S. is doing now is a modernized form of realism. Since the world and the way it operates changed so much over time, military power by itself is not all you need to be the hegemony. You would also have to have dominance over non-military areas such as cultural, economic, and technological. The U.S. not only has the best military power and capacity, but also has the cultural, economic, technological, and social power over the world. Movies and music from American pop culture are in theaters and every corner of streets all around the world. The United States is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. The majority of existing and active humanitarian organizations and volunteers are from the United States. It is almost as if the world would not be able to function without the existence of the U.S. You can’t imagine the world without the U.S. present.

The U.S. might be playing benevolent to be recognized as hegemony, but I believe it is, at the same time, extremely threatening to the other nations. If the U.S. turns away from one, the others will do so too just to be in favor of the U.S. The reason is that no one wants to annoy the U.S. because almost every aspect of them is depended on it. The U.S. has become so benevolent to the point that its excessive benevolence is even threatening to countries. If the U.S. stops practicing its benevolence over one country, it will literally be in such chaos.

Maybe the way of maintaining the status of global hegemony has evolved a little and become complicated, but the core of it and the basic rule of dominance have never changed. Today’s hegemony just has to be benevolent enough to be threatening.