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By youngian
Membership Days Posts
#361505
Lord Brett wrote:Currently reading (in short sections, in the loo) Francis Wheens How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World. It's now ten years old, but the sections taking Thatcheite economics to pieces are as vital today as they were then.
Wheen gathers some great Mail Vs Science material and make an excellent point that the self-appointed voice of no-nonsense Middle England common sense is one of the leading purveyors of worthless unscientific mumbo jumbo that stems way beyond a horoscope column.

My next (sort of) WW1 related read-
Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna by Adam Zamoyski
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rites-Peace-Nap ... +of+vienna" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Even in the 19th century it must have felt peculiar that swathes of Europe were dominated by autocratic feudal monarchs most of whom successfully crushed liberal and nationalist movements in 1848. Advocates point to the Congress System providing an unprecedented peace for Europe for 50 years but how much responsibility shoud it take for WW1? Niall Ferguson touched on this point in his programme last night but otherwise there has been a lack of historical context in the BBC's WW1 season (Austrian prince shot-Kaiser sabre rattles-trenches).
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
#363582
Really looking forward to reading David Harvey's new book, which is out in a couple of weeks.

http://www.profilebooks.com/isbn/9781781251607/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The preface is here for anyone who wants to have a gander.

http://www.waterstones.com/wat/images/s ... 251607.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
 
By Samanfur
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#364203
If you liked Keep Taking the Tabloids, give Romps, Tots and Boffins: The Strange Language of News a try. Written by a former tabloid journalist with no illusions about being perceived as a hypocrite and a good grasp of how to skewer news values. I think we need to adopt its "Journalese Fear Scale", and eagerly await the opinions of anyone else on the subject. :)
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
#364634
Haven't got round to reading Thomas Piketty's new book Capital in the 21st Century (currently receiving a lot of attention in the economic blogosphere and even in the mainstream liberal press), but this review from Doug Henwood is very interesting. Seems to confirm my initial reservations, if I'm honest.
Piketty’s book could have done with a pruning. It is original and very important, and deserves a wide audience. But even a connoisseur gets winded after four hundred pages, much less six hundred plus. It’s often wordy and repetitive. But it is not in any sense heavy going. The prose is clear, and there’s a minimum of math—Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, has little taste for conventional (meaning mostly American) economics. Early on, he is critical of his discipline’s “childish passion for mathematics” and its lack of interest in other social sciences or culture. He often refers to novels, particularly those by the likes of Austen and Balzac, that illuminate the world of wealth—something you’d never find in the latest number of the American Economic Review. And he takes passing swipes at prestigious US academic economists, who generally find themselves near the top of the income distribution and who, not coincidentally, believe that that distribution of income is just and efficient.

But the major frustration of the book is political. Piketty clearly shows that short of depression and war, the only possible way to tame the beast of endless concentration is concerted political action. The high upper-bracket tax rates of the immediate postwar decades couldn’t have happened without serious fears among elites—fresh memories of the Depression, threats from strong domestic unions, competition on a global scale with the USSR, which, for all its problems, was living proof that an alternative economic system was possible. As those things waned, upper-bracket taxes were lowered, wages and benefits were cut, and capital’s increased mobility led to increased competition among jurisdictions to offer a “favorable investment climate”—meaning weak regulations, low wages, and minimal taxes. All these trends have contributed to the concentration of capital over the last thirty years, as wealth and power have shifted upward on an enormous scale. None of these features will be reversed spontaneously. Nor will they be altered through “democratic deliberation”—several times Piketty notes the hefty political power of the owning class—or improved educational access, as Piketty actually urges at one unfortunate point. Brushing up the working class’s skill set is no match for the power of r > g.
http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/2101/12987" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The bit I've highlighted is, for me, crucial to understanding where we are now and it's a point that many social democrats still fail to grasp. Without the perceived threat of the Soviet Union (and strong domestic labour movements) there would have been no Marshall Plan and no post-war social democracy. So elites won't make major concessions unless they're scared into doing it - "the rich are only defeated when running for their lives", as CLR James put it in The Black Jacobins.
By Andy McDandy
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#365243
I'm about halfway through "Them and Us" by Will Hutton. Interesting analysis of why we're where we are, and what needs fixing. I'd be interested in the opinions of anyone who's read it.
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
#365450
Another book to add to my Amazon wishlist, now several hundred strong. Never, ever gonna read them all.
In Massacre in Malaya: Exposing Britain’s My Lai, Christopher Hale offers an important contribution to the reassessment of British counterinsurgency. Hale gives a very useful account of the Batang Kali massacre, its subsequent cover-up and the circumstances under which the atrocity re-emerged. But Massacre in Malaya does much more than its title suggests. For Hale, the importance of Batang Kali is that it provides a lens whereby ‘the entire history of British rule in Malaya, both direct and indirect, is thrown into sharp relief as a long and troubling chronicle of slaughter and deception’. He quotes one Imperial apologist who described Malaya in the 1930s as ‘a Tory Eden in which each man is contented with his station and does not wish to change’. The reality was somewhat different, with native labourers treated little better than slaves and ‘the plantation gulag … a realm of violence’. The infant Malayan Communist Party (MCP) was actively involved in organising resistance. And here lay one of the great historic triumphs of the British secret police: the secretary general of the MCP, Lai Tek, was a British agent.
http://review31.co.uk/article/view/225/ ... l-business" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
#365711
Suspect this might be of interest to some on here.
Arun Kundnani's book, vastly more intelligent than the usual "war on terror" verbiage, focuses on the war's domestic edge in Britain and America. His starting point is this: "Terrorism is not the product of radical politics but a symptom of political impotence." The antidote therefore seems self-evident: "A strong, active and confident Muslim community enjoying its civic rights to the full." Yet policy on both sides of the Atlantic has ended by criminalising Muslim opinion, silencing speech and increasing social division. These results may make political violence more, not less, likely.
The book closes with discussion of the new European far-right's embrace of Zionism – it is now Islamphobic rather than antisemitic. In "creeping-shari'a" scaremongering, the tropes of classical antisemitism are clear. Rightists "ascribe to Islam magical powers to secretly control western governments while at the same time [seeing it as] a backward seventh-century ideology whose followers constitute a dangerous underclass".
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/a ... ror-review" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

By the way, the Asian Youth Movements mentioned in that review are analysed in detail by Anandi Ramamurthy in Black Star, which is worth reading.
 
By Samanfur
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#366158
Currently reading The Prime Minister's Ironing Board and Other State Secrets: True Stories from the Government Archives. Written by a former Private Eye journalist, so the style's quite flippant; but there're some very interesting, very revealing little missives tucked in amongst stories like the titular ironing board and the Prince Philip stories that never saw print.

Wait until you read what Saint Maggie reckoned that CHOGM stood for. :? :evil:
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
#366160
Quick heads up for anyone who's interested - all Verso books are currently available at half-price from the publisher's website. No idea how long this offer will go on for so don't hang around.

http://www.versobooks.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'd suggest you get on it but it's doing some serious damage to my bank account. Picked up some Robert Brenner, Peter Linebaugh, Arno Mayer, Marshall Berman and a few other bits and pieces besides.
 
By Samanfur
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#366271
Cheers - it looks as though I'll be putting in even more inter-library loan and special order requests than usual for a while. :)

(And the site says that the 50% discount ends on the 14th of April.)
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