Monday, February 15, 2010
When the Guns Blared...: In late 1942, the German Army (Das Heer) introduced the Tiger I (Panzer VI) tank. It was the German Army's answer to the Red Army's infamous T-34, which roamed the Eastern Front during Operation Barbarossa. As a heavy tank, the Tiger's armor represented one of its most formidable aspects. Likewise, the tank's 88mm gun also instilled great fear in the Allies. Yet due to the Tiger's nearly impregnable armor, it was rather slow when compared to the U.S. Army's M4 Sherman. Another downside related to its heavy armor was the snail-like pace of the tank's production capacity. But the Tiger signified a quintessentially German tank. Its assembly process followed the business paradigm of quality over quantity; unlike the Americans who pursued the exact opposite paradigm. In its first years of operation, the Tiger scored big gains as it advanced across the Eastern Front deep into the Soviet Union. At the same time, the German Army created reserve (mechanized) divisions in France to help fortify the Western Front. Ultimately, the Allies overwhelmed the Germans with superior productive capabilities, and thus, ended the myth of invincibility that surrounded the Tiger.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Politicizing through Ridicule: In 1971, the godfather of community organizing, Saul Alinsky, published his Rules for Radicals. It primarily addressed the New Left movements of the 1960s, which sought to broaden the ideological stance of the Old Left - where traditional Marxism (class-based oppression) and trade unionism reigned supreme. Although he despised labels and never officially joined any political organization, Alinsky's words and actions surely placed him in the liberal camp. By its very nature, community organizing is a left-wing phenomenon, especially since it focuses heavily on shared interests instead of self-interests. And Alinsky's Rules for Radicals has become the quintessential manifesto for community organizers, as it juxtaposes Machiavelli's elite (sustaining power) with Marx's proletariat (attaining power). In effect, Alinsky admonishes his readers to attain power is by ridiculing the politics of those who already have it. That is, make yourself a victim of the Establishment or the ruling political structure. Victims garner sympathy and sympathy provides victims with social mobility. The cycle builds upon itself until the victim eventually becomes the perpetrator. Much of what Alinsky professes leads the reader to believe in the old Nietzschean aphorism that "might makes right." In a way, therefore, Alinsky's ethics are purely subjective, which is why community organizing often lacks a clear sense of purpose.