Week 7 Reflections

This week’s video/reading struck me as being particularly interesting due to the enduring legacy of the quest for ‘order’. Even today, Donald Trump, like Ronald Reagan before him, and Eisenhower before him, uses rhetoric about the US military as if it’s in dire disrepair and needs to be rebuilt, needs more money. As absurd as this line is, and has always been, it strikes a key with people due to the implication that more guns, bombs, soldiers, and technology, means more ‘order’. One specific aspect that I liked was the connection between the autocratic rule of somewhere like Mexico, and the fact that in many part of America, working class people lived in a similar state of racial dictatorship. Democracy in the US has always been tenuous, with the vote of a wealthy, enfranchised, white man, historically carrying much more weight than any other vote. As J. Edgar Hoover once said, “Justice is merely incidental to law and order.” We can even see this today, in the US you cannot vote if you’re a felon/on parole. This is a situation disproportionately faced by Black Americans, the large scale incarceration of whom has historically been tied to the ever-present specter of ‘law and order’.

I felt that this section carried a pretty profound sense of hopelessness. It seemed to suggest that as we advance within our societies, we can never seem to advance horizontally, or democratically. The way something like the telegraph could so quickly become a tool of repression, and how extreme the repression of some of these new technologies could be, was quite stark. The most significant question I was left with, is how do you deal with this problem of power? As Jenny Holzer once described; “The abuse of power comes as no surprise”. There are many recent historical examples of despotism and autocracy being used to rapidly industrialize, or modernize a country. Arguably, the three greatest superpowers today (USA, China, & Russia), are built on effectively free labor, and the blood of their detractors.

A final connection I made was in response to the conclusion of the first paragraph in Dawson; where he’s describing how impressive the modernized Mexico looked on the eyes, in comparison to the chaos that was growing every which way. What popped into my head when I heard this was, for whatever reason, the Olympics. The Olympics (as well as other major, global sporting events) have a long history of making appearances in order to cover up political turmoil or shortcomings. Even here in Vancouver, the reason every bus bench now has those little rails to separate the seats was a direct response to the upcoming Olympics; it wasn’t good for business for people to see that there is a significant homeless population in Vancouver, and of course, instead of say, freezing rents, or working towards more public housing, the city decided to further criminalize homelessness, and to make our bus benches inhospitable. Far more jarring, we could look at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where the government massacred students and labor demonstrators ten days before the Olympics; a bloody bandaid of a solution.

3 thoughts on “Week 7 Reflections

  1. roberto pelayo mazzone

    I totally agree with your post. The ”problem of power” and how we deal with it is so complex because the people who can insure change for the benefit of nations populations are in the fact these powers. The power brings modernity and as society’s become increasingly modernized and wealthy, the lower classes as we see in latin america continue to the lack the funds in order to experience a modernity environment.

  2. Audrey Valerio

    The impacts of any new technology in a community are interesting to track. When something entirely new, such as the telegraph, camera, and railroads are introduced to a society with no primer, unforeseen repercussions such as increased governmental control over citizens can result. I feel like western society is currently going through a process such as this with the rise of digital technology, such as health and mental issues resulting from overuse of smartphones and other electronics. As these devices are useful and can be put towards productive use, they come with their own set of downfalls and difficulties to navigate.

  3. Thalia Ramage

    I love your first comment about seeing more military power as more order and that’s just my favourite about the US government. They cry that the military needs more money, and yet there are places without clean water. I had no idea about the little rails on bus benches in Vancouver. I only thought about a very old post with those little rails that were very close together and the caption was something about the city hating fat people, but I had no idea they had that other use as well. The point about the Olympics made me think of the Rio de Janiero Olympics, where the stadiums weren’t completely finished by the time it began, the water for sailing was of such a terrible quality that athletes refused to participate, and then the diving pool water turning bright green.


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