(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘power

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually”*…

 

Law enforcement officers across the United States are using a variety of weapons on protesters during demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality. George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. The fatal encounter has triggered a wave of protests across the country and around the world. Many of the events have been peaceful but some have turned violent, with scenes of arson, looting and clashes with police.

Authorities have imposed curfews on dozens of cities across the country, the most since the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968…

weapons

Often described as non-lethal, these weapons can seriously injure, disable and even kill. Police have used them against peaceful protesters as well as members of the press during the demonstrations.

Chemical Irritants

Chemical irritants include tear gas and pepper spray, which cause sensations of burning, pain and inflammation of the airways.

Public health and infectious diseases experts have opposed the use of chemical irritants such as tear gas, saying in an online petition that they could increase risk for COVID-19 by “making the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection.”

Because chemical irritants can spread widely, bystanders and individuals other than the intended targets can be exposed to the chemicals…

Reuters unpacks what U.S. police are using to corral, subdue and disperse demonstrators: “Weapons of Control.”

Attorney General Barr insists that pepper spray is “not a chemical”; but of course it is (as its manufacturer brags and the CDC agrees)– and a particularly dangerous one during the coronavirus pandemic.

See also “Crocodile Tears,” a history of tear gas and its use, and “The Power of Crowds,” a historical consideration of attempts through time to manage or constrain mass gatherings and of the resilience of the crowd.

* James Baldwin

###

As we come together, we might recall that it was on this date in 1872 that Samuel Butler‘s Erewhon was published.  A satirical utopian novel, it skewers Victorian society in a manner reminiscent of Swift’s dismantling of 18th century society in Gulliver’s Travels.  Butler meant the title, which refers to the “country” he describes, to be understood as the word “nowhere” backwards (though the letters “h” and “w” are of course transposed).

220px-Erewhon_Cover source

 

Written by LW

June 9, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are”*…

 

machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli has a bad reputation. Ever since the 16th century, when manuscript copies of his great work The Prince began to circulate in Europe, his family name has been used to describe a particularly nasty form of politics: calculating, cutthroat and self-interested. There are, to be sure, reasons for this. Machiavelli at one point advises a political leader who has recently annexed a new territory to make sure to eliminate the bloodline of the previous ruler lest they form a conspiracy to unseat him. He also praises the ‘cruelty … well-used’ by the mercenary captain Cesare Borgia in laying the foundations of his rule of the area around Rome. However, Machiavelli did not invent ‘Machiavellian politics’. Nor was his advocacy of force and fraud to acquire and maintain rule the cause of individual leaders using them. What then did Machiavelli do? What did he want to achieve?…

Machiavelli’s  name has become synonymous with egotistic political scheming, yet his work is effectively democratic at heart; Catherine Heldt Zuckert explains: “The people’s Prince.”

[image above: source— also worth a listen on this subject]

* Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

###

As we ponder power and presentation, we might send traitorous birthday greetings to Mildred Elizabeth Gillars; she was born on this date in 1900.  After failing to find a career in the theater, vaudeville, or music in New York City, she left the country, ending up in the 1930s in Berlin… where, in 1940, she became announcer for the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG), German State Radio.  She broadcast English-language propaganda throughout World War II, earning (with her colleague Rita Zucca) the nickname “Axis Sally.”  She was captured after the war and convicted of treason by the United States in 1949.

AxisSallyMugshot source

 

Written by LW

November 29, 2018 at 1:01 am

“This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts”*…

 

FCC

A couple of years ago we visited Little Sis (the opposite of Big Brother)– “Those in power must spend a lot of time laughing at us“…  The site has added a nifty new feature, Oligrapher, a tool for visualizing networks of influence using LittleSis data.

Map your own webs of power.

* Adam Smith

###

As we we note again that it’s all about who you know, we might wish a Buon Compleanno to Luigi Pirandello, the dramatist and novelist best remembered for Six Characters in Search of an Author.  He was born on this date in 1867, turned to writing when the family sulphur mines failed, and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934.

The Author, Found

Written by LW

June 28, 2016 at 1:01 am

Freudian Slips…

From Fox News, announcing the big news story of May 1:

BREAKING NEWS
Obama Bin Laden Dead

Still, Happy World Press Freedom Day!

As we remember that, to paraphrase Craig Newmark, a free press is the immune system of a democracy, we might wish a crafty Happy Birthday to Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli; he was born on this date in 1469.  Machiavelli wrote comedies, poetry, and some of the best-known personal correspondence in Italian; but he is best remembered as a Man of Affairs, first as a servant of the Florentine Republic in a time during which Medici influence was on the wane.  His most famous work, The Prince— first published as a pamphlet in 1513– was written mid-career to gain favor with the Medici, who were at that point regaining dominance in Florence.  The essay on the exercise of power (inspired by Cesare Borgia) not only failed to win over the Medici, it alienated Machiavelli from the Florentine public; he never again played an important role in government.  Indeed, when the Florentine Republic was established in 1527, Machiavelli was effectively ostracized.

But published in book form posthumously (in 1532), The Prince began its steady growth in influence.  And indeed today, Machiavelli is considered one of the fathers of modern political theory.

Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito (source)

%d bloggers like this: