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The power of citizen participation

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Several times, the concepts analyzed in theory and the ‘how should it be’ don’t really happen in reality, for social scientists like me it’s a constant struggle to analyze reality and society and try to come up with proposals to improve the situation and the life quality of people, and sometimes they don’t happen to be quite as real as we would want.

But in politics everything could happen, because the human being is unpredictable, that the main reason that makes hard to predict situations and behaviors for social scientists.

The concept, for which I’m developing this piece, is citizen participation, that has overcome this limbo between theory and reality and has proven to be an useful tool to empower the people and to make their rights, human rights, respected by governments and businesses.

Citizen participation refers to the process in which citizens interact with governments, not only in the decision-making process but also in the making of public policies and programs at the local and national level.

The fact that citizens participate in public decisions and acts is a politic act, the media and education have made wrong in binding politics only referring to political parties and elections, politics is far more than that, politic refers to the public issues, not restricted to elections; that means that there are several ways to do politics and be an active part of the political scenario of your community and country than only voting.

Citizen participation, that is in essence, political participation, empowers people to make them capable of demanding government and corporations to respect their rights, to make policies, actions and programs that benefit the development of the population and to protest against those that just benefit the elite or that harm a part of the population and community.

It is well known that developing countries have problems with their politicians and political scenario, but this is not restrictive to developing countries, developed countries also share this problem, a clear example of this is the election of Donald Trump in US, that shows clearly the decay of politics in that country.

Therefore, considering the difficult situation we have to live referring to politics, should we stay still and suffer the consequences? Are the citizens incapable of doing a change? Is this a burden that we have to hold indefinitely? Well, let me tell you something, the answer for these three questions is NO.

To illustrate what I’ve stated I will put the example of Mexico, my country.

For decades, the government and politicians in Mexico abused their power, stole unbelievable quantities of money from peoples taxes, committed elections fraud, took decisions that only benefitted themselves and the elites and the people did nothing, our society just continued their lives without even knowing, in some cases, what was going on. But luckily, this is changing.

In the past weeks, several protest have risen all over the country as a consequence of the widespread discontent of the population exacerbated by the rise of the gas price of 25% in one day and in some places of Mexico this rise went over 50%, along with local unpopular measures un some states, like Baja California, where a new ‘local law’ was emitted to raise the price of water by 20% in 2017 and to rise each year, rise that wouldn’t need the approval of the local congress and another local edict that would make mandatory to pay for new license plates in 2017.

The core problem of these measures isn’t the rise of the prices, it is the fact that the local and national governments take decisions without consulting the population, where there is supposedly a democratic regime, along with the corruption scandals that revolve around the president, governors and legislators that have awaken the anger and discontent of the people.

Beginning in the second week of January, people in different cities across Mexico, with more intensity in Mexicali, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Chihuahua and Mexico City went to the streets; the people marched and protested with messages against the rise of taxes and prices in general, against the government corruption, the exorbitant salaries of legislators and others.

Along the rallies and protests, people in Mexicali and Tijuana blocked the gas deposit of

“PEMEX” the State gas company of Mexico and blocked highways, as well as the international border crossing between US and Mexico to make the government listen to the demands of the population.

On January 15th more than 50,000 people in Mexicali protested; they marched to the city hall, never before, that much people went to the streets in the city to stand up against the government decisions. In 21 of 32 of the mexican states hundreds of thousands of people woke up.

2 days after the impressive protest in Mexicali and Tijuana, the governor of the state of Baja California emitted an edict to cancel the state law and the new license plates payment. A political event that never happened before in Baja California, and most important: a direct result of the citizen participation of the populations.

With a record-low approval of 12%, Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president is in trouble, especially with the corruption scandals surrounding him and his cabinet, along with the unpopular measures that harm the life quality of the population. Furthermore, legislators including local and federal, approved for themselves a Christmas bonus of more than 100,000 peso that is approx. 5,000 USD and another 4,000 USD bonus for the gas, considering that their monthly salary is more than 5,000 USD, a mount that is not necessary.

In a democratic system, the people should have the right to express, to demand and to be consulted in public decisions, the new focuses of modern States are the management by results focus, the governance focus, that include more transparency, accountability and citizen participation.

Americas

The Despair of American Youths under an Overly ‘Critical Society’

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A recent tragic incident in the United States has stunned the world. This incident, is not merely “domestic terrorism”, but its root cause, that of a “critical society”, is far more serious than people think.

Payton Gendron, from Conklin, New York, drove a few hours to Buffalo, which is about 200 miles away, to a predominantly African-American, low-income neighborhood, about 3 miles north of the central Buffalo. It is surrounded by residential areas, a university, a nearby Family Dollar store, and a fire station. –

In an act that shocked everyone, Payton Gendron pulled up his rifle and walked into the supermarket, and started killing people, women, the elderly, and cashiers. Not only did he shoot at the unarmed people, but he also broadcast the gory scene of the massacre live on Twitch. This vicious mass shooting incident left at least 10 people dead and 3 others injured. Of the 13 victims, 11 were black.

In the aftermath, it was horrifying to discover that the white young man who did the mass shooting was only 18 years old. “This is the worst nightmare that any community can face, and we are hurting and we are seething right now”, said Mayor Byron Brown.

After the incident, President Joe Biden urged unity to stem racial hate as a remedy to get rid of the “hate that remains a stain on the soul of America.” Biden said that, “violence inflicted in the service of hate and a vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group. A hate that through the media and politics, the Internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced”.

The so-called “Great Replacement Theory” alluded to in the speech of President Biden in his condemnation of the massacre refers to the belief that immigrants or other people of color are “replacing” white Americans. Propagated by the media and the Internet, and deliberately exaggerated by political shows and politicians, there are those who become firm believers that the “Great Replacement” is the reality and the future of the United States. The Buffalo massacre is but one of the countless hate crimes. In today’s American society, no one is completely happy, and everyone seems to have different reasons for dissatisfaction, disappointment, and hatred.

The reason for this is that the U.S. is typically a “critical society”, which does not often offer much justice and truth. Instead, discrimination, grievances, conspiracies, and hatred more often than not emerge in such a society seemingly plagued by despair and pain. The real United States might not be exactly like this, of course. Yet, countless people from all over the world are eager to come to America by all means to seek hope there, not knowing that Americans, especially young people who are overwhelmed by disappointment, are not hopeful about the future.

There are many reasons why the U.S. has become a critical society.

Education in the U.S., with its strong emphasis on critical thinking, trains young people from an early age to not only possess critical spirit, but also to have critical point of view. This started with English composition among young children, and continues to dissertation among college students. Such critical spirit is like a contagious disease, which is easily transmissible. In books, in movies, in TV shows and newspapers, in culture as well as in fashion, Americans are always criticizing all the time, trampling. Yet, their critical mind does not come with constructive strength. There is a serious lack of respect for the classics. It is as if only through crushing the past and the traditions that allows them to show their superiority.

The cultural model that balances the critical and classical, empirical and traditional do not seem to be the dominant model in American society, nor an integral part of its popular culture. American institutions of higher learning, which are supposed to be places where the classics are taught, are now the venues that instill radical critical thinking. Therefore, the non-technological departments in colleges there are nothing short of houses of madness. This has led to a pernicious consequence of increasingly polarized critical thinking, turning the U.S. into a very harmful critical society.

In such as overly critical society, it is difficult for people to see the presence of the classics that represent all things positive. Since everything can be criticized, then everything is problematic, where there are flaws everywhere, where everything is imperfect. In an overly critical society, no one is normal, and everyone has a vicious side. If one cannot find shortfalls in a person, then standards will be raised up or lowered down, or new standards are invented, so that everyone becomes the target of criticism. All doubts are noble, and the classics themselves are the best objects of doubt.

The biggest problem with a society like this is that there is no hope, only hate. All that is left is despair. A young man like Payton Gendron is actually just a victim who goes astray in such a society. In an overly critical society, every young adult is in despair.

The U.S. today is already very worrying enough, its future is even more so. With the Internet, disappointment and hatred are ubiquitously amplified. From the country’s power center to its legislature departments, in terms of constructing, developing, and protecting the nation, the professional politicians there contribute less than regular nine-to-five office workers. These politicians expose, create, amplify, and criticize any possible flaws of political opponents without hesitation, in accordance with the modus operandi of professional politicians there. Such amplification and role model effects have made the United States a desperate country.

The world of information is complex, and not everyone possesses the ability to process information objectively, and not everyone should be expected to do so.

In the face of all kinds of information sweeping in, using the “believe it or not” mentality to deal with the survival challenges of the modern information society is a major blunder. The right approach is to recognize and analyze information, but this is too difficult for the average person and requires good training in information analysis. In China, it seems that there is only one think tank that has that kind of training in both critical and empirical information analysis. In this sense, Chinese academia does not always lag behind its counterpart in the United States. As for the U.S., the path of seeking science and technology to solve overly critical problems through specialized information processing is most certainly not going to work. Technology will always be objective, and as it can be used to clarify doubts, it can also certainly be used to create problems.

To bring things to a close, the sole way for the United States to get more people to see the light is for its society to make changes and move out of an overly critical society.

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Americas

Are Biden’s Troubles of his Own Making?

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Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

What a fractious world we live in.  The somnambulist Biden has woken up in his nocturnal wanderings to hear complaints about China for its sea incursions close to the littoral areas of allies like Taiwan and Japan.  Thus at the “Quad” (Australia, Japan, US and India) meeting in Tokyo, he reaffirmed US support for Taiwan, militarily if need be, to defend Taiwanese independence in what appeared to be a reversal of policy as earlier the US had recognized it as a province of China.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) an economic union of the Quad and other Asia-Pacific countries has been revived — Trump had buried it earlier, aiming presumably higher but missing.  Mr. Biden announced its reincarnation as the new Inter Pacific Economic Federation (IPEF).

All of which is the least of Mr. Biden’s headaches.  There’s a full blown war in Ukraine to consider.  And he promptly announced a $40.1 bill military aid package for Ukraine.  Defense contractors couldn’t be more pleased.  Lockheed Martin stock is up 6 percent in two days as it ramps up production of the Javelin anti-tank missile, doubling it according to the CEO to supply Ukraine.

Congress has now passed a $40 billion aid package.  The amount is not trivial.  For comparison, India, a country of more than a billion people with the third largest defence budget in the world, spends less than half that sum on weapons procurement.

The real question is going to be Mr. Putin’s response.  He might well call it a move aimed at slaughtering young Russian boys, when he himself is asking for peace talks.  Even President Zelensky, the quintessential blowhard politician, has been forced to admit that 50-100 Ukrainian soldiers are dying daily.

American interference in Ukraine has a long history.  The planning and participation in a coup eight years ago (when Biden was vice president) and the selection of future leaders thereafter are all documented.  On lack of European support for it at the time, Victoria Nuland, the then Deputy Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs responded famously, “F–k the EU.”  She has the dubious distinction of being the chief promoter of the so-called “soft coup” which led eventually to the fall of the elected Viktor Yanukovych government and thence to the divisions in Ukraine.  The results have been the deaths of an estimated 13,000 people and the displacement of millions.

Since 2014 about one million refugees have left the country as a result of wars in the Donbas.  Another 1.6 million were internally displaced.  Following the latest fighting in 2022, the number of Ukrainians who have left the country has risen by another 6.6 million and another 7.7 million are displaced from their homes to other parts of the country.  That in total is over a quarter of the country’s population of 44 million. 

It is painful, pitiful, atrocious and appalling that in the 21st century, political leaders instead of resolving disputes have behaved in a manner ending in a human tragedy of these proportions.  Let’s just say, none of the participants need queue up for a Nobel Peace Prize, although one had already received it before this and other misadventures. 

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Americas

The WW III that Biden and All Other Neocons Are Leading U.S. Toward

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Official White House Photo by Erin Scott

The intensely neoconservative U.S. President Joe Biden is leading the world into a World War III against both Russia and China, but despite the U.S. spending annually around half of the entire planet’s military expenditures (not only in its ‘Defense’ Department but in its Treasury Department and other Government agencies), America is actually inferior to both Russia and China regarding leading-edge geostrategically crucial technologies of both nuclear and laser weapons, and is getting farther behind each year, because for both Russia and China their own national sovereignty is what their enemy, the U.S. Government, aims to conquer, whereas no one poses a threat to the U.S. Government’s continuing rule over its own people (it becomes increasingly a police-state). The U.S. Government is the only and supreme champion of sanctions and coups and invasions for regime-change producing the creation of new vassal-nations throughout the globe, whereas both Russia and China must protect themselves from that or else become themselves new U.S. vassal-nations. So: they are laser-focused on NOT allowing America to grab their nation. Truly, for them, this is an existential issue, NOT a matter (such as is the case regarding the U.S. Government) of growing to become the world’s first and only all-encompassing global empire (a luxury that only America’s billionaires, who control the U.S. Government, require). This basic distinction is the reason why whereas the U.S. has over 800 military bases spread throughout the planet, Russia and China are concerned ONLY about not allowing U.S. forces to be based so near to their borders as to enable a U.S. missile to annihilate their capital’s command-and-control within less than ten minutes and so to enable the U.S. Government to grab control of them so fast that the targeted nation’s (Russia’s and China’s) retaliatory weapons won’t be launched in self-defense.

Consequently, for example, the geostrategically-focused CRUX youtube site headlined on May 23rd “Why The World Fears Putin’s ‘Flying Chernobyl’ Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile”, and reported on Russia’s emerging “Buravestnik” nuclear-powered nuclear-warheaded missile that will be able to avoid all known types of anti-missile detection and tracking technologies and that will be able to fly for any distance because of its nuclear fuel. Though that pro-U.S.-Government, anti-Putin, CRUX-produced video says “Experts have underlined the threat that … this weapon may pose to the environment and human health” due to radioactive waste that’s released into the air during its flight, because there is no space inside the missile to store waste, even America’s National Defense magazine has admitted that “the amount of nuclear waste that this will produce is very tiny, … basically negligible,” which is hardly what CRUX headlines it as being — a “Flying Chernobyl.” CRUX went on to say, “Experts say that Putin’s Cold War mindset has normalised the development of such doomsday weapons.” It’s all regime-change-in-Russia propaganda.

In other words: the neocons’ aim to destroy Russia so fast that Russia won’t be able to destroy America in retaliation, is hogwash that’s probably funded, ultimately, by corporations such as Lockheed Martin, whose sales are exclusively or mainly to the U.S. Government and its allied governments (vassal-nations), which U.S.-and-allied weapons-making firms’ stock-values have soared ever since the end of the Cold War in 1991. It ended only on Russia’s side in 1991, but this supercharged it on America’s side.  This unleashed a solely military-industrial-complex-controlled U.S. Government, which demands an ever-increasing percentage of the U.S. Government’s expenses to go toward its military, which, nonetheless, is privately owned and controlled; and its profits have soared.

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