Tag Archives: democracy

Tocqueville’s Democracy in America – As a Framework for The Future

It’s the most important work on American democracy and the US in the 1830s. Democracy in America is a very long book 1000 pages though. The truth is that every American and every Political Scientist should read it.

Two ways to look at it:

  1. It’s a historical artifact: it’s historical.
  2. Work of political science and sociology.

The French Revolution ruined the de Tocqueville family wealth. The author studied, Voltaire, Rouseau, Pascal. In the 1830 July Revolution , Tocqueville takes the oath for the new Burbons. Tocqueville wanted to try looking into the US for prison reform. However, he wanted to identify lessons from US democracy, it’s inclination; what should we fear or hope for in this new democratic movement emerging in the US? The Trail of Tears occurred in the 1830s….Also the Nullification Crisis. There was also slavery; bu Tocqueville observed a ‘classless’ society.  

Funny Associations:

  • The Voluntary Association / Local Sovereignty
  • American Bible Society; Temperance Society;
  • The Lady’s Association for the Benefit of Gentle Women of Good Family Reduced In Fortune Below the State of Comfort To Which They Have Been Accustomed.
  • Voluntary Associations: don’t rely on the government to solve their problems.
  • Democracy at the local level then is far more robust. Tocqueville and his co-author won a cash prize for their research.
  • The federal government was very small; voluntary association was central and patriotism is evident.

  • The Hierarchies of Power could be crushed as long as we are all being treated free and equal….and meeting up to talk about it.
  • Freedom and Equality are mutually re-inforcing. But then we asked;
  • Freedom and Equality seem to pull in different direction….
  • Locke wanted to separate powers; but it’s an institutional device.
  • How to combine popular rule with political wisdom?
  • “1835 Democracy in America”
  • America is a blank slate. Tocqueville thought that France would become like America: democracy is likely to revert back to monarchy.
  • Equality of conditions: this is the equality of conditions (equality of opportunity). It’s a gradual spread of the concept.

Features of American Democracy:

I) Local government: localism: local democracies are the cradle of civil society in townships. The institutions of putting the democracy in the reach of all the people were not that expensive to build. The people are legislating and organizing. Alexis de Tocqueville told his readers to read Rousseau every day;

The township format itself is Aristotelian. The township exists by nature. There is the old Polis character described by Aristotle which Tocqueville believes is very important for a democratic society.

II) Civil Association: these voluntary groups are immensely powerful and energizing. There is the mother science concept; uniting in associations. Trying to fix common goals; civic association.

Robert Putnam: happy for social capital. The decline in association is the Bowling Alone phenomenon. These are not natural times; It’s a learned activity; the Civic Society goes into decline as our isolation cripples our Civic Associations.

Are we in a couch potato crisis? Yes, in 2018!!

III) Spirit of Religion: America is primarily a puritan democracy; early Puritanisms. Religion will not disappear because of the decline of faith; it’s rather a shift in faith. We can’t separate faith: dignity of the individual. Tocqueville looked at religion purely for social effects.

Increase the number of factions in order to prevent anyone from being the dominant one.

The idea of democracy does claim that this idea that political correctness is a danger.

Moral of the State:

  • Compassion, restiveness,
  • Democracy has made us gentler: broadcast tv has made us indifferent to others in our group.
  • Bill Clinton “I feel your pain.”

Political Educator: – There is a divine

  • Restful. We want to ask what kind of people we create.
  • What is the democratic statecraft? A new political science; it’s based on a novel history of human agency; as any reader knows there is a power in history.
  • It’s like we are part of an immense process. 
  • Certainly the pendulum has swung away from civil society in many ways. But generally online interactions are positive.

The Value of Means: An Analysis of Aristotle’s The Politics

By evaluating the theoretical implications of Aristotle’s The Politics, this essay will accomplish four objectives. First, it will show the structure and definition of the constitutional regimes discussed. Second, this essay will demonstrate the correlation and dynamics between aristocracy and the polity. Third, it will argue that the polity is possible especially with a middle class. Finally, this essay will argue that the aristocracy and polity form the basis of Aristotle’s ideal city.

Aristotle has two distinct theoretical focuses; one is the theory of the ideal city while the other is a variety of constitutional models within realizable cities. The ideal model is discussed most lucidly in Book VII and VIII while the tangible regime options are laid out in Books III and IV. Aristotle divides the just and unjust regimes declaring that any regime acting to serve the common good is just (kingship, aristocracy, polity) and any regime acting to serve those in power is unjust (tyranny, oligarchy, democracy) (1298b26). By structurally dividing his focus, Aristotle wishes to demonstrate not only an abstract ideal city but also “[the best] possible, and similarly also the regime that is easier and more attainable for all” (1288b37) from the six models mentioned.

Pertinent to the understanding of the best possible regime, Aristotle’s The Politics diverges from the Republic in that he supports the value of the collective superiority of the multitude giving them authority within society in democracies and polities. Of the unjust constitutional regimes, democracy favours the implementation of a strict equality where the poor and the rich are treated as equal actors of authority (1291b29-30). Democracy is “the best of the bad sorts” (1289b8) of regimes envisioned and the democracy is desirable to an extent because an equality-based polis could serve to foster more inclusive community interaction much like the polity. Of the other pertinent unjust constitutional regimes, an oligarchy is present when the wealthy and better born have authority over the multitude. Democracy thus argues for a more inclusive citizenship than an oligarchy and so the polity, which is just, mirrors democracy while aristocracy, which is also just, emulates oligarchy.

There are three just regimes that compete in the conceptualization of equality arguing that certain individuals and social classes are to be the ideal and only rightful authority in the state. They are the outstanding person (kingship), the few (aristocracy) and the many (polity). Although Aristotle claims that kingship and aristocracy are the best forms of government, he admits their improbability having asserted the collective superiority argument that “aristocracy would be more choiceworthy for cities than kingship” (1286b1-3). This is only possible with the unlikely superhuman leader. While both kingship and aristocracy are established on the basis of virtue, Aristotle also warns subsequently that it is “rare to discover men who were very outstanding in virtue, especially since the cities they inhabited were so small” (1286b7-9). Here, he asserts that there is a minimal chance of either an aristocracy or superhuman kingship from arising. Fortunately, the third just regime type called the polity does not require virtue (1294a23) as a prerequisite for authority.

The relationship between aristocracy and polity is very complex because they are similar but different. Aristotle admits that aristocracies “either fall outside [the range] of most cities, or border on so-called polity; hence we may speak of both as one” (1295a30-33). Aristocracy and polity are then one in the same to an extent but can be differentiated by the provision of virtue and the openness to the multitude. Based on the three principles “disputing over equality in a regime, freedom, wealth and virtue” (1294a20-21), aristocracy is a mixture of the three while the polity only includes freedom and wealth (1294a23). An aristocracy would not accept ‘vulgar persons’ because of the prerequisite of virtue where as a polity’s citizens are free but wealthy and do not require virtue like aristocracy. While the polity and aristocracy differentiate on the basis of virtue, the polity is unique from democracy because it is just and allows for private property to be assured where democracy does not.

To further understand the polity, Aristotle uses the recurring motif in his work of the mean. The polity is the mean between oligarchic and democratic orders (1293b33). While there are several varieties of oligarchy and democracy, the polity is Aristotle’s best form of practical government over the other just constitutional models and stands to improve both unjust regimes. Since the polity strictly requires wealth and freedom (1294a17), the wealthy have more influence than the multitude on the institutions of government. Therefore, it is not entirely democratic but neither is it oligarchic and engages in mixing of legal organization, election of public office and merit between the two undesirable regimes as explained in Book IV, chapter nine.

The question remains as to whether the polity’s existence in reality is feasible. The polity first must be said to be the fifth regime type, which Aristotle admits, “because it has not often existed, it is overlooked by those who undertake to enumerate the kinds of regimes” (IV.7 1293a40). The polity has the curious inclinations of a free state with a wealth distributed (unlike Aristotle’s democracy) based on merit. Applying the theory of the mean, if there is a better mixture in the polity then the longevity of the regime is ensured. Unfortunately, where the optimum mixture lies is not conclusive and never indicated lucidly by Aristotle. This is likely due to the lack of examples of polity as mentioned above. The polity is not impossible but merely improbable, much like another form of mean called the ‘middling class’.

Polity is possible and would best function with the mean of the ‘middling class’. It is crucial for the viability of the polity that the domination of the middle class occurs by outnumbering the two extremes of rich and poor. Poverty and great wealth are morally corrupted extremes according to Aristotle because the ‘overly handsome, overly strong…or the reverse of these things, overly indignant, overly weak…[makes it] difficult to follow reason” (1295b6-7). The centrifugal forces of class interest would tear the polity apart, however Aristotle correctly observes that relative calm is possible with an expansive middle group. It is evident that these two means of polity and middle class parallel each other. It must be noted that at the time of Aristotle these means were both scarce.

Since polity and aristocracy are so closely related, Aristotle mixes aristocracy with polity over the issue of virtue as a mean when dealing the middle class theory. Aristotle states that if he was correct in Nicomachean Ethics “in believing that the happy life is one in accordance with virtue and unimpeded, and that virtue is a mean, then the middling sort of life is best” (1295a38). Aristotle ideally desired a strong virtuous middle-class, which would require a significant number of citizens only possible with a polity. Thus a polity must mix not only democracy and oligarchy but elements of aristocracy as well.
Aristotle’s mean theory is remarkably apt for modern liberal democracies, which require a durable middle class. The middle class is the balanced centre that ensures neither the two extreme classes gain full control under their political self-interest. “Where the multitude of middling person predominates either over both of the extremities together or over one alone, there a lasting polity is capable of existing” (1296b36-38) similar to when there is a properly mixed polity. Conclusively, with the recent emergence of the domination of the middle class in the 20th century, Aristotle would likely be pleased with that element of modern society.

Polity falls short of the ideal city because nothing can compare to the abstract ideal city extrapolated in Book VII and VIII. However, the necessity of virtue and public education are discussion points in regard to the polity and in Book VII. In the description of the polity, Aristotle supports the “wealthy [being] reared in similar fashion to those of the poor, and they are educated in a manner such that the children of the poor can also [afford it]” (1294b23-25). This and virtue are elements of the ideal city in Book VII. Therefore the polity sets the groundwork for the ideal city Aristotle wishes to create.
Identified in the polity, the designs of the best possible constitution play into the ideal city. The polity and aristocracy are precursors to the theoretical ideal city of Books VII and VIII. The intersecting relationships between polity and democracy, polity and aristocracy in addition to aristocracy and oligarchy are complex and subject to interpretation. The various constitutional models all have benefits but Aristotle’s best possible regime is indeed the polity.

Word Cited

Aristotle, The Politics. Carnes Lord trans, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Key Takeaways from Basic Economics by Sowell

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy

by Thomas Sowell (conservative/laissez-faire/libertarian)

Sowell constantly tries to show the virtues of the free market. He doesn’t claim that it has a social conscious but he does claim that it has positive consequences that could be seen as an invisible social conscious.
[Please note: Thomas Sowell is informed by libertarian principles, this article is not an endorsement of his views…I am intellectually free to explore different ideas. And so too should you be free to question and learn, am I right?!]

• What is Economics? Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses. A country’s legal and political system decides how their economic system functions and effects the all-important standard of living.

• The best example is the battlefield where medical personel must choose to use their resource between alternative uses. There will always be unmet needs. Some soldiers will need immediate attention in order to recover, some will recover on their own and some are too far gone to expend any energy on.

• Scarce = Reality. Scarcity is about the constraint on an individual institutions actions. Reality prevents us from building five swimming pools beside eachother. Reality constrains us. Scarcity constrains us.

• The basic tools and principles to analyse economics are shared between Oskar Lange and Milton Friedman. This book is about those principles. Economics can explain how the reforms in India and China have lifted 20 million and 1 million per year (respectively) out of poverty.

• Money doesn’t determine the standard of living (SoL) but the amount of exchange of goods and services does. Resources aren’t as important as the GNP. That is why Japan has a high SoL (with limited resources) and Urguay has a low SoL (with large resources).

[Please note: Thomas Sowell is informed by libertarian principles: the following is a précis of “Basic Economics”]

PART I: Prices and Markets

2: The Role of Prices

Prices dictate the underlying reality; the scarcity of resources. If you wanted to live in a beach house, your dreams would be stopped by the cost/price of that house. Cost/Price is not a barrier however but a representation of the scarcity of beach houses.

Even if government decided that beach houses was a right of every person and implemented a fixed price for the beach house, there would have to a lottery to use the beach house because of their scarcity. Rationing occurs despite government intervention. Rationining/Price/Scarcity = Reality

Thatcher said that Gorbachev did not understand free market economics because he was surprised that central planning was not used in Britain (wealthier than USSR). Prices dictate the rationing of food etc not a giant bureaucracy (Command Economy). Thatcher explains that bureaucracy can be rid of by the simple mechanism of price (Free Market Economy). If a company in Fiji finds a way to build shoes for cheaper prices then they will appear in Canada. Prices dictate how the free market functions. Prices represent needs, demand and supply. Prices convey a message about the worth of a product. We know that computer technology has improved because the prices have declined. Prices were the internet before the internet. They instantly dictated communications between individuals about how much something is worth and how much they are willing to buy it for. Like the internet, prices should not and cannot be managed by the centre. This is the demand supply interaction. Coordinated invisible hand works to help companies who are self-interested profit maximizers provide services for people.

In the Command Economy of the USSR, the prices of pelts was controlled centrally. This caused havoc when pelts piled up in warehouses and began to rot. Attempts to tell the Ministry of Light Industry that they should change the price was not heeded as the MLI had to control 24 million other prices as well. It is not humanly possible to do what Free Market prices do instantly. Yeltsin’s opinions of Free Market changed when he visited the US. The Lincoln Memorial was not as interesting as an organized Grocery store. How could it all be organized without massive lineups like in Russia?

Prices help to determine how scarce milk might be. For example, the yogurt, cheese and ice cream industries all rely on milk. If demands for cheese increase then more milk is required. This drives the price of milk up influencing costs for yogurt and ice cream. These producers will buy only as much milk as will repay its higher costs.

If a product is not profitable, the capitalist business will discontinue that product. The Command Economy is allowed to continue making those mistakes indefinitely at the expense of the SoL. Resources tend to flow to their most valued uses. Therefore, the market does not get flooded with cheese as the demand decreases once the market is saturated. From a society standpoint, the cost of anything is influence by how it might be used alternatively.

Popov and Shmelev said that USSR businesses would always ask for more resources than they actually needed. This is because they didn’t know how much they were going to need in the future AND the government would not question how much was needed. This was inefficient. The cost of making 1 ton of steel in the USSR cost 1000 kilowatts where in Germany it cost 300 kilowatts in 1988. Basically, USSR businesses were not forced to economize. These resources would not have been wasted if they could be purchased by alternative users in a competitive environment. The high level officials were not experts in the value of resources in a steel factory. If resources were denied, production would suffer and heads would roll in the central planning agencies of the USSR. If you compare Germany to USSR in 1988 you are looking at a price controlled economy and political/ bureaucratic controlled economy the effect is efficiency.

Similar comparisons can be made with Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Ghana had a government run economy while the Ivory Coast with much fewer natural resources was more free market. After independence from the UK, the Ivory Coast’s economy was so strong that the SoL of its lowest 20% was higher that Ghana high income earners. This changed with a reversal of roles when a socialist regime emerged in the Ivory Coast and a free market economy emerged in Ghana. The same occurred in the case of Burma and Thailand.

India gained independence in 1947 and was economically isolated for 4 decades. Its economy didn’t grow until the 1990s when they liberalized to a more free market economy. Now India is growing incredibly fast and the SoL (standard of living) is much higher for more people. The same is the case for China which liberalized some provinces slowly starting in the 1970s (with Mao’s death in 1976) and 1980s with agriculture being sold on the market at only 10%. By 1990, China realized that the liberalized areas were growing much faster than none liberalized areas. The economic growth rate meant more people rose out of poverty.

Knowledge is one of the scarcest of all resources. The USSR realized that they couldn’t coordinate their economy because the individual knows what the value of something is when they buy it. The key is that there are incentives in the free market that dictate when to correct mistakes and inefficiencies. Losses are as important as profit. Ironically, Marx and Engels understood the role of price fluctuations but their followers didn’t. Marx was concerned with efficiency. There were economists in the USSR who understood price fluctuations were important but Stalin shot them. Political control from the top was not something Marx wanted at all, n’oublion pas!

Price regulates how much a resource will be used. People buy more when the price is lower, people buy less when the price is higher. There is never a fixed quantity demanded. There is never a fixed supply either. The quantity supplied varies directly with the price. If the price of extraction of oil is lower than the barrel cost, the oil sands in Alberta make sense. With prices as high as they are, Alberta makes sense. There are always false predictions about running out of oil but those are based on prices as they are today. When people predict a shortage of engineers in the year ahead, they usually either ignore prices or impliclty assume that there will be a shortage at today’s prices. A larger quantity of something will be supplied if there are higher prices.

MythBuster: Prices cannot be controlled by an act of will on the part of the seller, therefore greed has nothing to do with high prices. There is the exception of cartels but that is rare. Competition will always rely on who can reduce costs of production in order to lower prices. Competition is the key to free market economics. The real value of something is fictitious. The price of something cannot be real or valid at some point and not at another.

When crops fail an area, “greedy” suppliers will rush to sell their grain because of higher prices. Compared to people motivated by ‘public interest’ who will not make risks and travel faster to sell their grain, the greedy suppliers will prevent starvation from occurring. They are so fast that they are better than humanitarian workers, so greed is good, according to Sowell. There is unfairness as part of free market economics, for example, when saddles were no longer worth much in the 1920s. Those economic areas collapsed and rewarded other people who were fortunate to be in the markets that they were in (i.e. oil). This unfairness to individual sectors is what allows for efficiency in the broader society and large majority of people. Ultimately, as Blanchet Dubois once said “I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers.” This is true of everyone in a free market economic system.

Synopsis of The Assault on Reason

The following is a précis of:



Al Gore’s introduction is designed to layout his central arguments and the ultimate solutions to an alarming crisis of reason that is emerging in the United States of America. Gore begins by noting that the representative democracy intended by the Founders is in a state of crisis where rational thought is being usurped by the way ideas are communicated. The media is obsessed with the triviality of Paris Hilton or O.J. Simpson motivated by sensationalism that leads to record profits for television conglomerates. Gore argues that cycle of image over substance began with the Simpson trial and has not been abated but rather has advanced – during the Bush administration – to new heights of mass manipulation. America rushed into the Iraq war because of the subservient willingness of media to co-modify ideas in an irrational and fear driven manner. Basically, substance is constantly being defeated by image in American political culture. Television is watched, on average, 4.5 hours per day by the American public. Reading is on a massive decline and political engagement occurs through visual representations in the television medium. Senator’s are too busy planning a 30 second campaign spot over actually discussing policy in a constructive forum…um…like the Senate. Meanwhile politicians are disproportionably from the most affluent class in America society leaving meritocracy in jeopardy against elite patronage. Gore turns to the emergence of the Age of Reason which begat the Founder’s intended democracy. Gutenberg’s 1450 invention of the printing press allowed a vast expansion in human knowledge. Literacy was once the foundation for democratic discourse in the marketplace of ideas. Today, Jurgen Habermas argues that the marketplace of ideas (public forum) is narrowing in scope; the electorate can no longer discern the difference between Democrat and Republican despite glaring ideological differences, according to Gore. The root of this emerging democratic crisis is, most centrally, the change in communication that has led to a feudalistic media sharing society. The media is sensationalist: “if it bleeds, it leads”. The line between entertainment and news is being skewed in American culture: citing Jon Stewart. Gore explains the philosophical underpinnings of his solution by explaining Marshall McLuhan’s thinking on media. McLuhan recognized that the medium is the message: the form of communication such as television/reading is more important than the content. McLuhan recognized that reading is an intensely cognitive process while television is counter-intellectual and stimulates the emotion centres of the brain excessively. Al Gore wants to return to a reasoned approach to democracy, which means that the citizens brain patterns themselves should to be reorganized in order for America to return to the democracy the Founders intended.

Chapter One: The Politics of Fear
The opening line of this chapter is also its central argument: fear is “the most powerful enemy of reason.” At equilibrium, fear and reason are both instrumental in survival. When fear dominates reason, however, irrational hatred and division lead to de-stabilization of the democratic institutions and there is a collapse of meaningful dialogue. The exploitation of fear is demagoguery while leadership harnesses some fear for constructive political change. Suppression and fear-mongering should be alien to the American way of life. He mentions that the assault through fear is destructive: McCathyism and the fact that the conflation of 9/11 and Hussein is still widely believed by over 50% of the American public. Bush’s yellow cake evidence has been revealed as forged. Clearly, when the ‘immune system’ of nation does not exploit these massive errors there is something deeply wrong. So what is happening to the human mind? Gore examines the human brain itself to suggest that emotional fear is processed in a unique manner that influences action. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is organized differently than other memories. PTSD memory is not organized in a time sequence but rather can emerge at any given moment to re-assert itself. The reasonable weighing of policy and action can be overwhelmed by these PTSD memories that are emotionally process in the amygdala. Even the historical memory of the Turkish invasion of Greece from 800 years ago still has staying power. Gore wonders how we reconcile these grievances in a democratic manner. Those who watched television on 9/11 were emotional scarred in the same level as someone who was in New York at the time. Television is able to invoke PTSD and orienting response . Television drives our brain receptors that are being excessively activated, thus triggering a susceptible to hypnotic fear. Professor Barry Glassner notices that fear-mongering requires repetition, irregularity and misdirecting. The horrifying picture of Abu Ghraib prisons, Vietnam and Iraq have fuelled the visual responses. 9/11 led the imagination to visualize other conceivably devastating events. Fear can be both legitimate or imagined fear but both are equally powerful forces. Invading Iraq was both tragic and absurd. Gore admits he trusted Bush like everyone else. Iraq was a new product for the 2002 midterms after Bin Laden was no longer a viable target. Curiously, DeLay abused the new Department of Homeland Security to track Democratic legislators and bring them to Congress for important votes . The politicization of the Iraq war, for partisan support, gives the Republican Party the national governing status that has marginalized Democrats. Bush and Nixon both disregarded their party policies to advance their re-election. Nixon explained that “people react to fear, not love. They don’t teach that in Sunday school, but it’s true.” A fearful society is what has emerged and it is jeopardizing America’s democratic foundation.

Chapter Three: The Politics of Wealth
Democracy and capitalism share an internal logic: they are part of a double helix that forms the structure of freedom, according Gore. Capitalism is however about competition while democracy is about equality. The Founders worried about the concentration of wealth as a threat to the harmony of these two principles. The forum of democracy is not open when the gatekeepers are affluent and dominate the marketplace of ideas. The meritocracy, where ideas can come from anywhere, is being blocked and the rule of reason is being manipulated. Gore sees the 30-second candidate commercial as the epitome of this manipulation. Votes are being purchased and the true interest of voters is being ignored or otherwise manufactured. Private foxes have been placed to guard the henhouses of American; that is – for example – the oil industry control climate change discussions. Corporations are outsourcing the truth. Corporate wealth has silenced the two-way conversation of democratic discourse. Halliburton undermined U.S. policy in Iraq, in fact, that policy prescription was in motion prior to 9/11. The Founders did not want this to happen; they even believed that those without property should not be allowed to vote because they would likely be influenced by the political leanings of rich property owners. Capitalism defended slavery, like it defended Bush’s Iraq policy. Lincoln feared capitalisms growing strength during the Civil war. Corporation have personal status as of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad 1886. Upton Sinclair and other ‘muckrakers’ were able to awaken the American consciousness when it was being threatened by vested interests. Radio was introduced in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy as a propaganda tool before it become accountable. Bernays was a propaganda genius and the father of public relations who turned women on to cigarettes by dubbing the ‘torches of freedom’. Advertising manufactures consent as Lippman and Chomsky noted. Each new media technology (cable, satellite and internet) requires an awakening from the corporate deceit engrained in the capitalist section of the double helix called freedom, however, today the awakening seems an insurmountable tasks. Greed and wealth now allocate power in America at the expense of democracy.

Chapter Five: The Assault on the Individual
Gore argues that the information revolution has had vast political implications. The individual has the potential to leverage massive political power. Illiteracy has emerged because of the dominance of television over the printing press and the continued infancy of the Internet. Blogs are an emerging check on mass media. The assault on individuals however is manifested in policies where the president can seize and imprison any citizen and suspend habeas corpus by using the label ‘unlawful enemy combatant’. This is Kafka-esq. Bush has circumvented the Supreme Court on numerous occasions. The Patriot Act allows for a ‘sneak and peak’ approach where citizens’ privacy can be invaded at the whim of Washington without a warrant. Internet, emails, phone the Bush Administration is monitoring calls and this could be used to win re-election or blackmail Democrats but no one can stop them, it appears. The FBI attends church meetings, rallies, political meetings and looks at bank records, credit cards etc. This is an absurd contravene the American constitution. Al Gore claims that 9/11 could have been prevented if the Bush Administration had been smarter. Gore lists a series of warning signs that showed Bin Laden had nefarious intentions. Gore does not believe Bush intentionally ignored that data to heighten the chances of attack but Gore does fear a Big Brother-style America. He adds that the surveillance information they gather for all American citizens is mostly superfluous and most of it should be cut out . The technology of surveillance is tantamount to a police state while corporations could be sold this data and are engaged in enhancing sales themselves. Some people believe that the concentration of power in the executive was what the constitution calls for but this not true. Immediately after 9/11 Arab immigrants were rounded up and sent to Guantanamo, this is similar to Japanese internment in the 1940s. Like the innocent arrests on American soil, elite decision-makers who did not emphasize legal rights for detainees caused the Abu Ghraib debacle. They then downloaded responsibility to the ‘bad apples’ involved in the scandal. Abu Ghraib was a former torture prison under Hussein; the only difference is the torturers. McCain’s anti-torture amendment was passed but Bush stated the president is not bound by the legislation. Gonzales has publicly stated that Geneva is ‘too quaint’ while Ingraham has argued that Americans love the show 24 because of the tough tactics and therefore they approve of the Bush Administrations strategy in Iraq. Gore thinks the Neilsen ratings should not be used to interpret public opinion. The dehumanization of Iraqi civilians is the first step towards the destruction of the soul of American soldiers. Anyone who questions these policies is unpatriotic and the drive to consolidate power in the name of national security is an old story. Some one has to change last page.

Chapter Six: National Insecurity

This chapter is dedicated to an attack on the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. America should be respected in the world but Bush has served to make America a growing target of international disgust. Unilateralism results in the suffering of an entire country. Gore believes that we should cause the change we wish to see in the world: there are other threats beyond terrorism. These threats include global warming, the water crisis, defeating drugs, corruption and HIV/AIDS. AIDS may kill more people in sub-Saharan Africa in the first decade of the 21st century than the entire war related death of the 20th century . These problems can be overcome much like slavery during the Civil war, hopefully without the bloodshed. Why has America gone astray? In every policy area, Bush-Cheney has been trying to reduce constraints. The United States has traded in respect for fear during the Iraq war. The pre-emptive doctrine of military engaging sovereign states that were not an imminent threat has totally discredited America’s foreign policy and destroyed international laws conventions. Why has the Bush administration abandoned Afghanistan, Gore believes we should finish the job there. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has also been ignored so that the military industrial complex can build smaller bunker busting nuclear weapons. Bush is only enhancing the likelihood that other nations will desire nuclear weapons. More states will join the nuclear club on account of Bush’s misstep on the CTBT. The weaponization of space is another debacle that rejects the Outer Space Treaty, which states that every nation deserves to travel in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Bush rejects the International Criminal Court because Americans have violated the Geneva Convention. Bush has turned a $5 trillion dollar surplus into a projected cumulative deficit of $4 trillion. Guantanamo has also harmed our prestige abroad: how can we criticize China’s human rights records now? Bush deserves the benefit of the doubt on preventing 9/11 but the CIA briefings: “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” showed that the alarms were ringing while no one cared. We should prevent catastrophe from other crises like climate change, in advance. Terrorism has been on the rise since 9/11. Bush’s failed policy in Afghanistan and Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place. Those who attacked these policies were sidelined or publicly humiliated. Gore believes that Bush senior should have deposed Hussein in 1991 but missed the chance. America had little foreign support and the UN was not supportive of the 2003 invasions, it discredited the entire international community. The enlightened vision of the UN, NATO as international organizations needs to be restored. America’s moral authority in the world needs to be resurrected or risk damage that is incalculable.