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.