Volume 17, Number 1, Spring 2014

Contents

REGULAR ARTICLES

Administrative Ironies and DHS Performance Reporting ...................................................................................................................... 1
R. J. Herzog and K. S. Counts

SYMPOSIUM

Symposium on Politics of Fear in Dark Times: Visions of
Democracy, Freedom, and Open Society ........................................................................................................................................... 31

D. Stanisevski

Symposium Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................................... 32

D. Stanisevski

Foreclosure and Dispossession: The Case for a Feminist Critical Theory for Public Administration ................................................. 37
J. L. Eagan

The Virtues of Politics in Fearful Times .............................................................................................................................................. 65
M. W. Spicer

Dark Times for Workers with Disability: Shame Experiences for Workers with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – A Creative Non-Fiction, Collective Case Study ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 89
M. H. Vickers

ABSTRACT. These are dark times for Australians with disability: Labour force participation rates are just 53% (compared to 81% for able bodied), and declining; earnings are around half that of those without disability; access to the Australian Disability Support Pension (DSP) is being restricted; and, most disturbingly, around 45% of Australians with disability are currently living at or below the poverty line (Bennett, 2011). A creative non-fiction, collective case study of the Shame Experiences for workers with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is presented. Shame is a powerful social emotion resulting in strong feelings of defeat, failure, and rejection – at work, it is at the root of much suffering, and may contribute to people with disability leaving work prematurely. However, shame is subject to influence and, therefore, amelioration.

“…For we knew only too well: Even the hatred of squalor makes the brow grow stern. Even anger against injustice makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we who wished to lay the foundations of kindness could not ourselves be kind. But you, when at last it comes to pass that man can help his fellow man, do not judge us too harshly” Bertolt Brecht, (1939/1959, p. 177). It is with the plea that it is in the “dark times” that weakness shows that Brecht (1939/1959, pp. 175-177) calls upon the posterity to not judge them, the revolutionaries in exile, too harshly (see Leeder, 2000, p. 211). The weakness of which Brecht speaks is the weakness of passivity and “the curtailment of humanity” (Leeder, 2000, pp. 211-212; for a discussion see also Arendt, 1955/1995; Stivers, 2005, 2008; King, 2005). In the times in which the posterity would live, Brecht tells us (1939/1959, p. 177), one would be able to be finally kind to other human beings, but in the dark times such kindness is not possible. It is not possible for in the dark times kindness could be dangerous and difficult to practice. Indeed, the dark times often bring about visions of us against them, visions of struggle for bare existential survival (Stanisevski, 2011). In the perceived struggle for survival in the dark times one increasingly becomes callous to the inhumanity that is all around (Leeder, 2000, p. 211). The spirit of this existential struggle for survival captures even those that resist the injustice of oppression --------------------------------- * Dragan Stanisevski, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Mississippi State University. His research focuses on issues of diversity, civil rights, and multiculturalism, deliberative democracy and democratic governance, political and public administration theory, and public budgeting. Copyright © 2014 by Pracademics Press and that fight for social transformation that is supposed to lay the foundations of kindness. Brecht (1939/1959, p. 177) hence pleads with the reader: how could one be kind amidst unkindness? Those who are reading Brecht’s (1939/1959, p. 177) words in the posterity might be able to be kind, they would be in different times, in times that are no longer dark, but the immediate need is to break the clouds of darkness. And yet, the times are still dark, perhaps not as dark as at the eve of the World War II, the time in which Brecht wrote, still dark nonetheless, dark in a different way. And there rests perhaps the ultimate contradiction; the revolutionaries that wanted to lay the foundations of kindness could not themselves be kind in the dark times, the argument goes at least. Nevertheless, what if every time has its darkness as well as its brightness? When are we to be kind to our fellow human beings if we are to always wait for the clouds of the dark times to dissipate, something that may never happen? Can we fight against injustice without our voices growing harsh, without us becoming unjust as well (Brecht, 1939/1959, p. 177)? Perhaps we could. Still, such possibility seems predicated on the assumption that we could substitute Brecht’s (1939/1959, p. 177) anger as the drive against injustice with a realistic commitment for creating a better world in which kindness towards a fellow human being is something imbedded in the practice that simultaneously combats injustice and constructs the realities of our daily existence (Arendt, 1951/1976, 1958; Berger and Luckmann, 1966; for a discussion see also King, 2005; Miller, 2005; Stivers, 2005). The end does not justify the means, as one could ascertain from Brecht. It is the means, always grounded in the practice of the daily existence, that endlessly create and recreate the world in which we live (see Arendt, 1955/1995, 1958, Heidegger, 1927/2008; Stivers, 2008, pp. 125-140). In fact, it is the practice of kindness that unlimitedly makes that world less dark, less alienated, and more just (see Stivers, 2008, p. 153). We often retreat from the possibility for practicing kindness towards our fellow human beings. In retreating from this possibility we also retreat from laboring towards creating a world that is open for genuine explorations of the possibilities of human existence. For Popper (1966/1971, p. i, p. 172), the retreat from the “open society” and back towards what he refers to as “tribal” or “closed” societies is driven by the intrinsic desires to remain in the predictable and routinized world of customary traditions and imagined safety (see also Giddens, 1991; Stanisevski, 2011). So, the dark times become times when fear is amplified and often artificially manipulated to give an impression that the inhumanity of the contemporary moment is necessary (Stanisevski, 2011, p. 72). The visions of democracy, freedom, and open society in the dark times that confront the exploitation of human instincts to fear the different need to recognize the immanency of the practice of kindness for dissipating the dark times. But, when and how could we make this recognition? This special issue provides three visions of democracy, freedom, and open society in the contemporary dark times. First, Jennifer Eagan develops a reinterpretation of the classical feminist critical theory by expanding on Marcuse’s (1968) notion of “foreclosure.” The foreclosing of which Eagan and Marcuse speak is the foreclosing of the possibilities of thinking radically differently, of imagining the unimaginable. Eagan is not merely accentuating the power of negation, but she indicates radical opposition to the masculinization, which is not simply restricted to sex or gender, that pervades the modern society with its overemphasis on rationality, atomistic individuation, and alienating objectification. Instead, Eagan suggests feminist critical theory that imagines the self as dispossessed and as such it sees the project of liberation not as something that ends, as Brecht imagined it would, but as something which always struggles to resist the foreclosing of that which is currently unimaginable. Michael Spicer, on the other side, highlights the virtues of politics in plural societies and particularly points out the importance of the practice of certain kind of tolerance, tolerance as willingness to hear the other side in the process of adversarial argument. Spicer connects tolerance to politics of fear. Specifically, he identifies politics of fear as an enemy of politics with its intrinsic inclination toward enhancing security at the expense of liberty and political engagement. In outlining the implications of his theoretical argument Spicer calls for an embrace in academia of Hampshire’s (2000) idea of listening to the other side while immersed in the inevitable conflicts that emerge in the practice and the study of public administration. The last, but by no means the least contribution, in this special issue is Margaret Vickers’ article that draws our attention to the dark times reflected in the shame experiences of workers with multiple sclerosis (MS). Vickers describes shame as “… an experience of being in the world as an undesirable self, a self that one does not wish to be” (citation from the article). Shame produces very painful emotions, Vickers continues, that overtime become associated with a sense of powerlessness and withdrawal from social communication which then reinforces the painful experiences of shame. Vickers applies this theoretical understanding to the phenomenological inquiry of the theme of “…Shame Experiences for workers with MS” (citation from the article), using a creative non-fiction, collective case study as the main methodological vehicle. Confirming her initial expectations with the study, Vickers concludes that shame remains a harmful outcome for workers with disabilities and calls for reshaping the workforce environment for these individuals with an appreciation that shame is amenable to change. The three articles included in this special issue address from theoretically different perspectives the importance of certain form of kindness towards others, either in form of Eagan’s feminist critical theory that welcomes thinking of the unthinkable in the life experiences of both women and men, or Spicer’s emphasis on tolerance as willingness to listen to others that challenges the fear of expressions of difference, or in form of Vickers’ call for understanding the experiences of shame of workers with disability and for empathy towards their lived experiences that offers possibilities for change and improvement. The road to a society that is in the brighter times is an eternal aspiration of humanity. This special issue from different perspectives shows that we do not have to wait for injustice and discrimination to disappear in order to endeavor towards kindness. The practices of kindness and empathy towards our fellow human beings themselves are invaluable in resisting the evils of the dark times which nevertheless always remain looming in the background.

ABSTRACT. While many warn about the failures of politics, this article argues that politics serves to resolve conflicts of interests and values among us in a manner that limits the use of violence and also protects and fosters value pluralism and freedom. Public administration scholars often look to science to improve governance but science cannot resolve our many conflicting ends and values, nor can it take proper account of the freedom and resulting sheer unpredictability that we have come to experience within our own tradition of politics. It is argued that the practice of politics requires not a science of governance, but simply a certain kind of toleration, namely a willingness to hear the other side and to engage in practices of adversary argument. Implications for the “politics of fear” are also discussed.

ABSTRACT. Objectivism is the critical lens used to view organizational communication of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The Government Performance Results Modernization Act of 2010 changed requirements for such communication by mandating that agencies like DHS emphasize performance goals and targets to be achieved in the upcoming years in their performance reporting.  Interpretivism is the sense-making lens used to view changes in performance reporting.  This study focuses on performance target reductions, new performance measures, and retired performance measures documented in a DHS annual report.  Nineteen performance measures were selected and discussed from empirical interpretivist and institutional interpretivist lenses.  When intepretivism cannot match what is reported with what would appear to be logical, administrative ironies are established.

ABSTRACT. Using Marcuse and the 2008 economic crisis as a starting point, this work proposes a feminist critical theory for public administration that could inform how public administrationists can see themselves as defenders of human values against a status quo which favors masculine and market forces.  Through an exploration of Marcuse’s concepts of one-dimentionality, foreclosure, masculinization, and feminist socialism, this work asserts the need for a feminist critical theory for public administration theory and praxis that responds to current social injustices and explores a more complex analysis of the subject as subjugated and dispossessed. The conclusion proposes some directions that such a theory might take in the future.

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