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  • Mehra, B.,Bishop, B. W., and Partee II, R. (2017). Small Business Perspectives on the Role of Rural Libraries in Economic Development. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 87(1), 17-35. Accession Number: 120479680.
  • Mehra, B. (2017).Cultural Re-Interpretation of Race/Ethnicity and Sexuality: A Gay South Asian “Voice” From Between a Rock and a Hard Place. In Diane L. Barlow and Paul T. Jaeger (eds.), Celebrating the James Partridge Award: Essays Toward the Development of a More Diverse, Inclusive, Equitable Field of Library and Information Science (Advances in Librarianship Series), Volume 42Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing.
  • Mehra, B. and Singh, V. (2017).Library Leadership-In-Training as Embedded Change Agents to Further Social Justice in Rural Communities: Teaching of Library Management Subjects in the ITRL and ITRL2. In Nicole A. Cooke and Miriam E. Sweeney (Eds.), Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom (pp. 247-286)Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

 The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt (1958)

Hannah Arendt is an acquired taste. I periodically reread books that I’ve read in the past to see if I read something different in a work the second time around. Arendt’s writings in my opinion are provocative from a political, philosophical and sociological perspective but once acquired one returns for a second helping.

Arendt is relentlessly thought-provoking regardless of what she tackles in the Human Condition she visits the active life as compared to the contemplative life. The influence of Greek philosophy on her thinking is evident.

In the Human Condition Arendt defines labor, work and action. My read is that labor is a natural condition of human life and the biological processes of the human body and the associated struggles the body endures. Work is viewed as providing an artificial world of things. Actions involves our individual political philosophies as played out every day whereby “men not Man live on the earth and inhabit the world” and in which actions take on existential meaning that is, responsibility for the self and the downstream effect of our decisions made on a daily basis.

During the course of her philosophical inquiry Arendt states “ To live an entirely earthy life means above all to be deprived of the things essential to a truly human life: to be deprived of the reality that comes from being seen and heard by others, to be deprived of an “objective” relationship with the thing that comes from being related to and separated from them through the intermediary of common world things, to be deprived of the possibility of achieving something more permanent than life itself.” Like the ancient Greek philosophers her perspective sheds light on whether the truly private human exists. We are human in relation to others and must assume responsibility for that “beingness” as her friend Heidegger might suggest.

In the end of her philosophical inquiry a paradox exists as the philosopher Cato observes about the human condition: “Never is he more active than when he does nothing. Never is he less alone than when he is by himself.”

In Arendt’s two volumes on Thinking and Willing, this reader comes away with a similar sense as this work on the Human Condition. It’s the obligation of humans with the resources to do so, to exist in the present moment while acknowledging the past and seeking a life of meaning beyond the illusions brought about by material gain.

theguardian

What would you do to help someone who felt deeply anxious about the future? Or who was dragged down by a sense of sadness and loneliness? How could you make a long-term relationship more exciting or alleviate your impression of being a loser?

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Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

Espionage or spying is associated with competition, money and power in its multiple shapes and forms along with the desire of rulers and heads of states, nations or tribes to enhance their ascendancy and dominant status while strangling dissent and channeling potential conflict. Psychologically it might be classified as strategic voyeurism with manipulative intent.

Historically, a person(s) spied on another person or people for the sake of a competitive advantage or control, be it economic, political, cultural, military, technological or involving significant resources such as access to food, water, slaves (both female and male), textiles such as silk or elements such as gold, silver or diamonds among others.The concept is ancient dating back to the Babylonian and Indian dynasties, Egyptian pharaohs and Chinese emperors among other rulers, thousands of years ago. Sociological context, physical geography and resources were and are compelling underlying factors.

The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese and people of India felt comfortable thinking of themselves as “modern” several thousand years ago. They weren’t ancient at the time. Time has a gravitas all its own. The dangerous pleasures and intrigues of espionage were pursued with the techniques and communication tools available at the time whether wrapped in papyrus, leather or messages in hollow reeds or individual letters and numbers on a stone tablet or meanings hidden within selected words in a manuscript or book or literally the whispering in a receptive ear.

Whether a secret rendezvous in the middle of the night in ancient Athens or Beijing, or the muted voices of two lovers over a bottle of wine in Venice during the so-called Middle Ages, or the passing of a slip of paper between “friends” in Istanbul during WWI and the electronic coded messages of World War II, or the face to face meetings between “colleagues” in a coffeehouse in Prague, Marseilles or Amsterdam, espionage was and is pervasive and intimate. There was the thrill, the tragedy and the loss the history of espionage alludes to. The famous spies have a celebrity quality attached to them but it’s the unfamiliar names or those known only to inner circles of power that have affected the outcome of events and in some cases, the overthrow of governments.

A significant difference in clandestine activities in the twenty-first century and those of a few thousand years ago are the tools such as the less intimate use of cyber and satellite and artificially devised channels of secret communication to serve as a means to obtain, exchange and selectively appropriate and even share information and disinformation, with an adversary.

Today the purpose from such information gathering activities also includes, industrial and corporate mechanisms that offer a strategic, advantageous position. The value of espionage is ancient – money and power under the metaphors accompanying fear and security. It’s the process in which one finds the fog of intrigue and the mist of pleasure.

As an addendum: In the United States, espionage was considered essential from the War for Independence and on. Espionage was not without controversy in the new republic. See The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, and The Espionage Act of 1917  (text) and Sedition Act of 1918  (wiki) enacted and followed by the slightly less contentious National Security Act of 1947  (text), that opened the physical and ultimately, digital doors and windows to covert activity of the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The amount of material on known espionage activities is voluminous in print, digital format and otherwise, online.

The twenty-first century has witnessed an elaborate mushrooming of digital and satellite espionage and mass surveillance activity. The future? Will there be a greater merger of corporate, military and government programs and projects to such a degree that humanoid and human activity become a more essential interwoven tool of espionage? Does one of the emerging questions then become whether humanoids are inadvertently programmed with the personalities of their programmers and resulting pleasures open to more complex deterministic relationships? The questions are endless. The core values of competition, money and power remain the same as do the metaphors of fear and security.

Critical Reflections on the Paranormal, Eds, Michael Stoeber and Hugo Meynell (1996)

Gathering dust on my shelf I decided to reread this slender scholarly work. Though studied by academics since the late 1800s with the founding of the Society for Psychical Research in London in 1882 and in the United States in 1885, the critical study of the paranormal has consistently drawn controversial observations regardless of the legitimacy of the studies. This collection of essays is a fascinating and thought-provoking introduction to the paranormal applied by scholars with academic rigor in their evaluation and quest for clarity.

Further, it should be noted that to interpret and systematize the phenomena associated with the paranormal such as extrasensory perception, telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis or telekinesis and mediumistic communications the contributors touch upon both upon the receiving subject and on the agent.

Deciphering what’s factual and what evidence might falsify one’s hypothesis should be kept in mind in Meynell’s opening chapter, On Investigation of the So-Called Paranormal. Meynell states that he intends to do two things: “To consider what is the proper way of investigating those actual and alleged phenomena which are often labeled ‘paranormal’ and to inquire about the bearing of such phenomena as the question of life after death.” The reading may appear complex but is readily digestible with a decidedly strong case for a class of experiences called paranormal.

In the next chapter, Donald Evans writes about Parapsychology: Merits and Limits. This is very well-reasoned and researched article that takes the reader through the process of determining the merits and limits of paranormal study.

David Ray Griffin writes about, Why Critical Reflection on the Paranormal is so important – and so difficult. He quotes William James, “The great field for new discoveries,” said a scientific friend to me the other day, “is always the unclassified residuum.” No part of the unclassified residuum has usually been treated with a more contemptuous disregard than the mass phenomena generally called “Mystical” (by which James meant phenomena now generally called paranormal). The author discusses the challenges and  development of a postmodern worldview that moves beyond both science and religion.

Terence Penelhum writes about Reflections on Incorporeal Agency. The author who has written numerous religious and philosophical studies like the other writers in this book takes intellectual care in his pursuit and arguments while exposing the reader to his frank thoughts about what we think we know. I once read his work on Survival and the Disembodied Existence and he is thorough. And reflecting on incorporeal agency his concern is indeed on incorporeality not eternity. It’s a relatively short essay that makes this reader want to know more while being mindful of the existence that I’m experiencing.

Susan j. Armstrong writes about Souls in Process: A Theoretical Inquiry into Animal PSI. This is a study from a Christian point of view, about animal psi from a receptive perspective and the author offers both anecdotal and empirical observations about the instinctual processes animals effectively use to determine where they are. Of all the studies in this book this is the most theoretical but would be of interest to those with a Christian persuasion.

Heather bottling writes about Medico-Scientific Assumptions Regarding Paradeath Phenomena: Explanation or Obfuscation? A wordy title but a very readable and articulate  essay that concisely reviews the deviations in the experiences of dying individuals while seeking a scientific and open-ended model to better understand the process and experience of what happens during the final moments of life and the moments afterward.

Stephen Braude writes about Postmortem Survival: The State of the Debate. This is a review of the literature on postmortem survival and the author discusses the challenges of measuring and distinguishing between extraordinary events and the Para-normal (which are fewer in number), given that the quest for understanding life after death has been going on since primitive man, which includes reincarnation. “The evidence for survival is only part of the total body of evidence in parapsychology, and the Para-psychological evidence is but part of the larger tapestry of psychology (and probably of psychopathology).”

James Horne writes about the Morality of Parapsychology. The final study is a discussion about the process and people investigating the paranormal. It addresses concerns about false and unwarranted beliefs and purposefully misleading that shouldn’t be confused with those who conduct their work bringing with them the rigors of scholarship while knowing their research may birth greater uncertainty in the areas of  religious belief and pure science.

The Argument Culture, Moving from Debate to Dialogue by Deborah Tannen (1998)

Written almost twenty years ago the author sought to tackle in an original voice,  “the pervasive warlike atmosphere that makes us approach public dialogue, and just about anything we accomplish, as if it were a fight.”

The author maintained, “…in the argument culture, criticism, attack, or opposition are the predominant if not the only ways of responding to people and ideas.”

If anything that idea the argument culture has intensified today. Tannen offers some thoughtfully researched gender based examples of how we use language that intensifies the messages and words move from being no longer thought-provoking to being provocative, demanding an equal response.

Politicians, the press, social media, litigation (where lawyers over state claims) and the manipulation of facts to win with a result of groups of people denying such things as the holocaust ever happened. Though she briefly notes race issues, the nature of racism itself is skimmed over though gender bias receives needed attention, which happened to have a greater press coverage in the 1990’s than race. She focuses on the press while demonstrating the increasing cynicism about and among the me first politicians.

Language is a complicated business as linguists have repeatedly demonstrated over the decades. Anything can be said to manipulate a person’s thoughts to thinking about life contrary to the facts. Lying for the purpose of gaining an advantage over your opponent has become a natural part of a politician’s life though salespeople would argue they learned to manipulate first though it can be said that lying has now become part and parcel of our overly competitive culture and results in “whom do you trust?”

In the argument culture all aspects of life is fair game with the goal of a ‘win – lose’ proposition. The author states: “At the heart of the argument culture is the habit of seeing issues and ideas as absolute and irreconcilable principles continually at war with each other.” She offers up the idea of not thinking in dualistic terms but looking at all sides providing a set of rules of engagement to help move from debate to dialogue.

The challenge: Is our culture primed for political and linguistic revolution while politicians and the wealthy go about metaphorically and in actuality seeking ‘to cover their tails’ and all within the context of a socialism for the wealthy and democracy for the poor, meaning those without will pay a greater price?”

 

Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

It occurred over a period of time. A middle-aged Englishman working on behalf of an employer of his special skills consulted with others about his findings that would best not be publicly discussed. He retrieved a confidential dossier from a fine leather briefcase and wearing his best diplomatic face he handed the document to said employer.

The document, the effect of a clandestine operation, if accurate was embarrassing though less than sacred, appeared to breathe life into an intriguing event in a cold place known for its unusual clientele and their games, that was in turn a bit too indiscreet for this middle-aged man of discretion who knew with good reason that the seeker of truth, as a Zen Buddhist might say, is wise to drop his opinions and look at the facts.

I also suppose he realized that arriving at ‘middle age’ has it own rewards, which according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV is from about 45 to 65 years of age, but what is a norm today? Personally I suspect he never thought any age was a definitive location on the mental health trajectory of any given person humbled by the education and experiences of life and within the context of their own genetics. Though admittedly the nature of his business cultivated the wrinkles on his face even when a specific reality had the distinct surreal flavor of a Luis Buñuel film while correspondingly his experience acknowledged that alternative relationships exist.

The man knew from years of intimate experience that the flesh and the mind age differently. So it came to pass that listening to a younger colleague while walking along the North Sea coast the woman grinned and suggested she had already known something others of her company may not have and so offered her older colleague the following insight to  humor him – that the human soul, if you make a leap of faith, is ageless, hence, no middle age.

And it’s worth noting that with each excursion the middle-aged Englishman took from the countryside to London or elsewhere he recognized it was different than the previous day’s jaunt. An existing moment is never precisely the same as a previous one, except he came to realize there was an interesting detail that remained identical in the beginning of each commute. For each time he got into the car and turned on the ignition and the radio turned off, he heard in the recesses of his brain the same classical guitarist playing the Second Movement (Adagio) of the Concierto de Aranjuez. Though never understanding why, it actually wasn’t a concern or so he decided. It was a just classical piece of music that found a home in his head. For ultimately the only thing that mattered was the rhythmic dialogue the music had with the journey of his spirit and the element of chance that he might not reach his destination as planned. It’s of some interest that his life currently retains a strategic quiet and one wonders if his mind moved on to the Third and Fourth Movements.

As an epilogue, on the shelf of Blackwell’s bookshop on Surrey Street, Charing Cross, London was a book by Ezra Pound that the middle-aged Englishman had mentioned to his younger female colleague while walking along the coast. Inside the book was a quote in one the chapters he recalled one morning while driving and listening to his mind play Rodrigo’s Adagio – “One of the pleasures of middle age is to find out that one was right and that one was righter than one knew at say 17 or 23.”

The New Yorker

HOW IMPEACHMENT ENDED UP IN THE CONSTITUTION

At the Constitutional Convention, in 1787, James Madison thought of a lot of good reasons to impeach a President. Members of Congress might want to consult his list.

 

At the Constitutional Convention, in 1787, James Madison thought of a lot of good reasons to impeach a President. Members of Congress might want to consult his list.PAINTING BY HOWARD CHANDLER CHRISTY; PHOTOGRAPH BY GRAPHICA ARTIS / GETTY

On the morning of Friday, July 20, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention, in Philadelphia, addressed the question of whether or not a President could be impeached while in office. A king might be beheaded, a Prime Minister toppled. What fate could befall a terrible President?

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Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

It’s not that I haven’t been game. I have. I have done things spontaneously like jumping out of plane at a height that I now wonder, what was I thinking? Or, experiencing a nude bicycle jaunt across town in the middle of the pack and chilling my butt. Or, relaxing behind a stage curtain waiting to introduce an eminent astronomer I chatted with about wormholes and making contact with alien civilizations. Or, the time aboard a ship I was crossing the South China Sea when a fellow crew member was washed overboard during a storm with whom I discussed the meaning of life the night before. Or trekking across a desert in a dilapidated bus; stopped and briefly interrogated by armed soldiers of a cause and walking off with another person toward a city in the distance. Or, the late evening sitting in a bar listening to a yet to be famous trumpet player’s soulful jazz. Or, the time spent flying in a sputtering twin-engine propeller plane above a slow-moving muddy river snaking through thick wooded terrain and landing in what looked like a runway converted from a pasture of sorts.

I’m game. Like when I parked a hundred yards at the far end of a sparsely filled parking lot and a man wearing a Brioni business suit that should’ve have been classier slammed into the side of my used four-cylinder sports car and sped away in his license plate-less premium X model pick up truck. Or, listening to the earnest appearing chatter of political shape-shifters and business do-gooders in legislative chambers, board rooms and on the social media interested in self-expression of financial interests or assuaging their narcissism while trimming the projected fat off of others and suggesting people should look benevolently upon them. Or, sitting in a pew, watching strangers with caffeine smiles worshiping a messiah they never physically met but with a metaphysical promise of eternal salvation as the gods of war on their only planet worthy of saving, was and are busy at work.

I remain game. Like driving across plateau at high-speed when a smiling officer of someone else’s law followed me to a gas station then approached to offer me a ticket to attend a banquet honoring him. Or, thirty years ago at a relatively young age, a long red-haired woman who performed my tarot card reading said really good things were in store for me but I needed to be patient as I was also a Saturday’s child along with being a Libra. Beauty, balance and a wealthy spirit arrive with age and an edge.

I’m still game and certainly not above it all. I wasn’t born into riches or with connections, a network or the implants of troubled honesty needed to manipulate in the name of the fathers of capitalism and competition, rather, my true vital source a Hindu woman once suggested, was that I was rich in experience and a silver spoon for my mouth is purchasable. She noted that a smile would eventually become a proverb for me like the brightness of the moonlight shimmering across the Bay of Bengal at night.

So with a grin and still game, taking chances here and there with the life allotted to me through happenstance and opportunity, eyes and mind wide open, to recognize serendipitous moments where my inner voice suggests “at last” all the while traversing the country’s geography for coffee shops in search of mysterious blends to sip while tasting morsels of pumpkin bread.

Peripheral vision has its place

galleries, museums, fashion shops, ethnic restaurants

long and short bodies with legs attached

crossing avenues filled with traffic

walking on Yonge Street

conversations with strangers

one thing leads to another

finding myself at a weathered table

listening to an existential voice

sitting on a chair across from me,

estrangement the person suggests

with a nod of condolence in a thick accent

the cost of empty theologies and misappropriated economics

imprinted in flashes on the digital billboards of the mind

sipping our spiked almond amaretto coffee

adapting to our status with a grin,

toasting the nonsensical and the possibilité of life. 

 

Also, in Rhythms

The Money Cult, Capitalism, Christianity and the Unmaking of the American Dream by Chris Lehman

Much has written about the interweave of Christianity (especially Protestantism, capitalism, the industrial revolution and the American Dream). Several historians have tackled the subject such as John Kenneth Galbraith though few theologians have perused the subject in-depth without apology though Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Marty had some excellent thoughts about it. Mike Novak tried to offer cover for capitalism but stumbled intellectually. Why? There is no cover. Though this work is written by a journalist the result remains exceptional with some added provocative scholarly insights.

The author’s work rips apart the myth that Wall Street bankers are ‘Prometheus’ job creators. Religion in America was never really secularized, and instead the market was sanctified, as this study so aptly documents.

Lehman shows how the wealthy are/were able to manipulate the thinking of average Americans in believing that people became wealthy as a result of God’s work. In other words, “God appoints different outcomes to different people and the poor must embrace a benevolent view of their social betters.”

The protestant assault since the industrial revolution on the public conscience amounted to creative destruction – “a relentless dismantling of old structures of enterprise in the perennial quest for new and improved system of production through the conversion of believers.”

The resulting development of the prosperity gospel is hypocritical, manipulative and has done more damage to democracy than previously thought. The author states, ”It’s important not to absolve the current mega corps of prosperity minded mega pastors for their silence before the unconscionable spectacle of American rights and so far successful effort to create socially engineered suffering for the poor in order to realize short-term gains….” the well-heeled players in capitalism are just that – players.

The author relates, “How the once austere and communal version of dissenting Protestantism developed such a ripe recruiting ground for sanctified capitalism of our financialized, upward skewered and uniquely destructive market order.”

Lehman has offered a provocative, well researched commentary on the symbiotic relation between Christianity, capitalism and the abuses of the privilege / wealthy. The future is uncertain at the best and Lehman’s work is frank, readable and quite disturbing as is the future of the United States.

In the early 1930’s during the autumn of the year,

my father stood in a bread line with his father

In downtown Detroit off Woodward Avenue

between deep breaths and the feeling of humility,

his father said, “Humor and love are essential.”

 

A few decades later, I remember my father coming home,

turning on some music and opening a couple of beers,

as my mother and he celebrated their life together

having moved into a brand new house.

 

Sometime during the late 1960’s

I remember discussing the events of the day

we talked for hours about human pursuits

and later I shared conversations with theologians

about the existential nature of existence

before I became a ‘missionary’ abroad.

 

After working and traveling to different places on Earth

listening to folklore, enhancing my knowledge

my father asked me what I thought

we shared translations of our journeys

with knowledge comes the realization how little we know

as fathers and sons do about the meaning of life…

and then my father became my best man at my wedding.

 

Different directions were pursued

I remember my father most in the things we cared about

laughing at the nonsense humans engage in

while retaining our sense of the tumultuous seas and

calm waters of a father and son relationship.

 

In the end we agreed in the spirit of Martin Luther’s thoughts,

that is, everyone must do two things alone,

our own believing and our own dying;

so we traveled our respective paths

understanding the blessings of ‘family’

and friendships made along the way.

 

Also, posted in Rhythms

Dawn breaks; it’s only the sun

the East smokes, & only my bedroom’s singing

Yet I am doomed to have done

The Time my alarm clock’s ringing.

 

He drags bare feet out of the cave

In ragged soft robes is fear

when he sought the land of the saved

when the flash comes: Empty Mirror

 

Children sprawled naked on living room floor

where angels of anxiety laugh in each other’s arms

Hidden like diamonds in the clock of the world

Then we go driving drunk on boulevards.

 

Baby, talk to me, and I’ll return

to get lost on highways in allegiance

to catch pure emerald flame and burn

in a stupor of wine and silence.

 

You gave me black rainy gaps of time,

My Great Art learned in desolation

You gave me the traffic of night in paradise

as we shared a cigarette in frustration.

 

Your windshield full of tears

Rain wets our naked breasts

We kneel together in the shade

Then beat apart the best.

 

He strikes the guitar to be reborn

Made drunken by this legend

of a girl come to mourn

her forgotten sexual angel.

 

All loves fall, they fall to fire

In a war between dreams and time

a temptation to touch desire

and take it to bed before they die

 

If I let the mind fall down

as something else in gray matter

to feel sensation of the gone

to feel reality and my soul shatter.

 

*Shantith defined as ‘peace’ (see T S Eliot)

Also, posted in Rhythms

My Life and Times by Henry Miller, (1971) I’ve found the weekend a good time to read Henry Miller. Having read the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer at a younger age, along with Erica Jong on Henry Miller, The Devil at Large, I thought I had pretty good insight into this remarkable and brilliant author’s mind. I purchased this book at a small bookshop on a side street in Ann Arbor a few decades ago and it sat on the shelf for too long and unappreciated.

Miller has away of jolting the human conscience even, vanity aside, and especially during this age ,which may prove to be the final act of democracy, the continuing rise of resistance and anarchy or will the peoples suffer from oppression/depression. Miller knows depression & war, humility and humor and maintains an orderly office and desk, but finds within, “a raging chaos.”

In response to why he wrote the book when so much has already been said in his earlier biographical works, ”I am not sure I can give a convincing answer to the question, except to say that through conversation, or what the French call entretiens, one often approaches a subject or theme from a different angle. Stripped of literary pretensions or flourishes, the facts and events of one’s life emerge more starkly and thus, to many readers, more intelligibly and comprehensibly.”

In another notation for the person of thought and or emotion: “To the person who thinks with his head, life is a comedy. To those who think with their feelings, or work through their feelings, life is a tragedy.”

Miller reveals his bemusement of societal norms as in one example, he plays Ping Pong across from a naked woman; “no matter how important or glamorous my opponent may be I never let him or her distract me.”

 The author discusses his paintings and the creative process, how one stroke of the brush leads to another and correspondingly how one thought leads to another.

Miller’s writings are provocative, raw, symbolic, insightful, humorous, opinionated and passionate – an individual with a profound understanding for the ambiguity surrounding the nature of sexuality, politics, censorship and the word and the images words create.

This tabletop visual autobiography serves up samples of his humor and seriousness in writing, while simultaneously offering a glimpse into the inner workings of the author’s efficacious mind. The images and photos are visualized words. From this writer’s perspective the work is a gem.

Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It) by Elizabeth Anderson (2017)

This is a book that’s been long overdue. Anderson offers a scholarly and thought-provoking study of how corporate America is a form of private government. She discusses how the average employee in the private sector acts as if the free market still existed. The author demonstrates that the free market is a myth with the research to back it up.

Since the industrial revolution employers have made the rules through dictatorial means – invasive policies and the paycheck (and the secrecy that surrounds it) to name just a couple of tactics and decisions about the employee’s professional and personal life. And, as an employee learns early on – you fall in line.

Anderson offers a historical context and delineates the role of race and gender in the workplace among other factors. Unions are anathema to numerous corporations and businesses. And, employers meanwhile want less federal, state and local governance to allow them even greater latitude and control over the lives of their employees both on and off the job.

“In the workplace, employees can be fired for their political speech, recreational activities, diet, and almost anything else employers care to govern,” including race, religion, gender (transgender), and personal agendas. Clothing, manners and other characteristics are not off limit to the employer. Privacy doesn’t exist nor does worker freedom. Employee activities are orchestrated and sold as being in the best interest of the worker and the success of the business.

Today the United States government is essentially an oligarchy backed by an authoritarian President and his cabinet made up of millionaires and billionaires. Less government is sought by much of corporate America, though perhaps not all. Government acts as a check and balance in normal times of a thriving democracy.

The solution? If democracy in some form continues to exist then finding better ways to allow employees freedom in expressing ideas, personal space and dress, input into the workings of the business, shared responsibility and opening the dialogue including approaches to improve on the job training while alleviating discrimination in all its forms. That’s part of the solution.  Communication is key. Is that possible in this age of technology, the omnipresent camera and increasing mistrust? The United States is in the midst of one of it’s most unsettling times since the American Revolution with powerful interests scrambling for greater power and greater wealth. The future?

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