Friday, May 17, 2013

More Books

 Reading Susan George's book Another World Is Possible If ... , Susan George has been writing great, readable stuff since the 1970s. I've read A Fate Worse Than Debt and How the Other Half Dies. If you want a good introduction to the political-economic history of the postwar period and how we've found ourselves in this sorry state, I'd recommend giving her books a try.

What makes this work a little depressing is that it's from 2004, and in it, George makes the entirely reasonable argument that if there's to be any hope for social justice in the world, then the population of Europe must stand up to the USA's neoliberal onslaught and expand their welfare states and their environmental regulations and all the other things that we embattled leftists in North America recognize as the source of Europeans' generally better living standards (all things considered).

Alas, the neoliberals are in the driver's seat in Europe now as well, and are succeeding in their divide-and-conquer strategy to destroy the European welfare state and bring on the inequalities of wealth and the resultant financialization of the European economy that has so benefitted North American elites.

I also picked up the paperback version of the fourth volume of Robert Caro's awesome biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson; The Passage of Power. I'm afraid that I haven't actually read the first two. I've only read Master of the Senate, but it was fan-fucking-tastic. I've only just started The Passage of Power but the writing is top-notch. I'd curl up with it for a few days and read it cover-to-cover but I'm so behind in everything else in my life that it'd have terrible consequences.

Also, a while ago I mentioned that I was reading The World That Never Was by Alex Butterworth. I can't say enough about it. It's a sweeping survey of what has become a fairly neglected portion of political history: The story of anarchism, terrorism, and the state's response to it. Butterworth writes as a principled liberal. He's critical of the anarchists but he's more critical of the hypocrisies and corruptions of the system they rebelled against. He paints the anarchists he describes as flawed human beings, but nonetheless, human beings inspired by noble, humanist ideals. Furthermore, he shows how the police apparatus of provocateurs, double-agents, international law-breaking, was, in the final analysis, more dangerous than the anarchist bomb-throwers it was designed to combat. That is the focus of the book. It's not intended to be a history of anarchist thought or philosophy.

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