After The Trouser People this was the second book I read in Burma about Burma. This book was actually my preferred choice, but I couldn't find it in B...moreAfter The Trouser People this was the second book I read in Burma about Burma. This book was actually my preferred choice, but I couldn't find it in Bangkok before going to Burma. Finding "Finding George Orwell in Burma" in Burma took me a while and was quite difficult, but not as impossible as you would think after reading the book. It is crazy how different I experienced Burma than the writers of these two books barely 8-10 years ago. At times the country now feels annoyingly touristic and especially in the last half year there have been some big changes (lets see how permanent they will be...), so books like this are now sold more and more and people started speaking out publicly more often. The bookshop owner of Hsipaw was delighted when I told him this book was now openly sold in Yangon, which means he could start selling it too. When visiting Burma today you won't be as much hassled as Emma Larkin was while writing the book.
Still reading the book in teashops in Burma is sometimes a bit of a surreal experience. The book works well, the Burmese joke (/prophecy) on how Orwell ended up writing three books about Burma is cruelly funny. And I'm sold to the basic premise that Burma did a lot more to change and shape Orwell's future outlook on life than generally understood. The idea of writing about Burma using Orwell generally works rather well and better than I expected. Although, the author does not really end up finding all that much of Orwell himself in Burma.
As for books about Burma, I slightly prefer the Trouser People to this one, even though I've always been a big fan of George Orwell. But if you're more interested in George Orwell rather than Burma, the choice should be clear.(less)
I have finished the book just a couple of hours ago and I just spent the last hour reading the reviews and commentary on goodreads. Some of the review...moreI have finished the book just a couple of hours ago and I just spent the last hour reading the reviews and commentary on goodreads. Some of the reviews here are extremely good and mirror my thoughts on the book and write them down more eloquently than I ever could, so I'm not going to put too much effort into writing this review. I should not exaggerate too much and go all "best book ever!!", but this is among the best books I have ever read and certainly unlike anything I have read in recent years. I suppose the closest to something like this I have read is Tolstoy's War & Peace, which I loved but read 5+ years ago.
I have read quite a few good books the last years, but it took this book to re-realize how important reading is and how people should continue reading books like Middlemarch rather than just the usual 'fun' internet and news articles. It is more than entertainment. It is all about creating empathy for the world and its inhabitants around you. It is all about understanding other poeple's motives and why they do what they do. George Eliot understood people and she is more insightful into what makes everyone tick than anything else I can remember reading. In Middlemarch you get to know a number of characters really-really well, you see them develop, you start looking at them in different ways, you understand why they perceive the other characters the way they do, why they clash, everything. It's brilliant. It turns the characters of recent and more than decent books I read into caricatures from a Hollywood action movie.
George Eliot also nails down some fundamental insights on human nature and life every now and then. I regret that the copy I read wasn't my own so I couldn't underline scribble down. I felt like quickly looking up one part on Mr Bulstrode that I remember:
The service he could do to the cause of religion had been through life the ground he alleged to himself for his choice of action: it had been the motive which he had poured out in his prayers. Who would use money and position better than he meant to use them? Who could surpass him in self-abhorrence and exaltation of God's cause? And to Mr. Bulstrode God's cause was something distinct from his own rectitude of conduct: it enforced a discrimination of God's enemies, who were to be used merely as instruments, and whom it would be as well if possible to keep out of money and consequent influence. Also, profitable investments in trades where the power of the prince of this world showed its most active devices, became sanctified by a right application of the profits in the hands of God's servant.
This implicit reasoning is essentially no more peculiar to evangelical belief than the use of wide phrases for narrow motives is peculiar to Englishmen. There is no general doctrine which is not capable of eating out our morality if unchecked by the deep-seated habit of direct fellow-feeling with individual fellow-men.
But a man who believes in something else than his own greed, has necessarily a conscience or standard to which he more or less adapts himself. Bulstrode's standard had been his serviceableness to God's cause: "I am sinful and nought—a vessel to be consecrated by use—but use me!"—had been the mould into which he had constrained his immense need of being something important and predominating. And now had come a moment in which that mould seemed in danger of being broken and utterly cast away.
How's that as a statement with the 20th century in mind? This self-interest versus idealism is a recurrent theme throughout the book for some of the characters (Bulstrode, Lydgate, Mr Brooke to an extent).
Beautiful writing and use of language overall.
Minor criticism I would like to make though is one of class though. George Eliot obviously shows compassion towards the weak and an interest in political economy, but all the characters that are fleshed out are however middle and upper class. Whenever a peasant or a lower class gets involved in the story, their dialogue is written in an incorrect-English slang with sometimes almost a bit of a comic intention (Mr Brooke vs Mr Dagley with Fag the sheep-dog and the pitchfork-wielding anti-railtrack crew were all rather comical for instance). I am not saying that Eliot's treatment of the lower classes is wrong or anything, their speech at the time was probably quite different from the gentlemen and gentleladies at the time, but I would have loved to see Eliot writing out one of those characters to the extent of a Fred Vincy or a Nick Bulstrode. (less)
Great book. I never really knew much about the "kleyne luyden" and Abraham Kupyer etcera, so it was about time I got that cleared up a bit. It's a fas...moreGreat book. I never really knew much about the "kleyne luyden" and Abraham Kupyer etcera, so it was about time I got that cleared up a bit. It's a fascinating family background that works well as a framework to explain all of 20th century Dutch history. (less)
While I have been living here in Bangkok for over half a year now, I noticed I hadn’t read any Thai literature at all. I came across this book on a fr...moreWhile I have been living here in Bangkok for over half a year now, I noticed I hadn’t read any Thai literature at all. I came across this book on a friend’s bookshelf and figured I might as well read it. I already had my preconceptions on the book before I started reading. It’s a classic in Thailand that has been turned in several theatre-plays, movies and tv-series. As the monarchy is constantly in the background throughout the book (Four Reigns referring to the reigns of four different Kings), which is a very sensitive topic here and impossible to criticize, I already knew that the book basically had to be royalist propaganda. But this in itself could make for an interesting read, seeing how the Thai history is written down in novel form in the way the Thai establishment wants you to understand it. Especially when it includes the death of King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII), who died as an 18-year old in an “accident” with a gun-shot in his head. This death has never been clarified, although this didn’t stop three servants from being executed on charges of conspiracy to kill the King. This incident becomes even more interesting when you take into account that the author, Kukrit Pramoj, was an important politician himself at the time. His brother Seni Pramoj, who basically became the first Thai Prime-Minister after WW2 just a few years earlier, played a prominent role in the aftermath of the King’s death, as he accused then current Prime-Minister Pridi Banomyong (a socialist) for being responsible for the King’s assassination, which is by all accounts extremely implausible. The Pramoj brothers, royal descendents of Rama II and part of the then newly founded Democrat Party, cooperated a year later in a military coup to oust the government, which saw Seni Pramoj rewarded with a high position in the cabinet of the new government (that ironically was ousted by yet another military coup 112 days later).
With this background the book gets another dimension. It is not just a novel for entertainment, but it also promotes an ideology that corresponds with the political viewpoints (and interests) of the author, who was Prime-Minister himself for year in the turbulent Thai mid 70s. It’s the ideology of royalists and reactionary conservatives, that talk of freedom and democracy, but will gladly support a coup against an elected government when it threatens the established establishment (be it the socialist threats of the past or today’s Shinawatra family), yet carefully balancing between leftist populist sentiment from the people and the visible and less visible hands that interfere in Thai democracy to this day*. The short Prime-Minister terms of both the Pramoj brothers in the 70s are most illustrative of this, particularly Seni Pramoj’s last term as Prime-Minister in 1976, in which he was ousted (again) a day after the Thammasat Massacre. Since Thailand became ‘democratic’ in 1932 it has seen 17 different constitutions and over 20 mostly bloodless coup d’états, with more than once the military doing a self-coup against its own government.
This book explains how Thai people are meant to see the world. If Ayn Rand´s “Atlas Shrugged” defines an ideology that explains modern America with all its ruthless profiteering, then “Four Reigns” should be seen as the book that defines mainstream Thai ideology or “Thainess” as they call it. The basic tenets of this “Thainess” can be summarized as loyalty to the Nation, Religion, and the Monarchy. In 1981, Kukrit Pramoj writes in the preface of this English version of the original Thai book from 1953 that he hopes that those friends of Thailand who do not read Thai, will now “gain a little more understanding towards us”, implying that farang can never truly understand “Thainess”, which is also the common argument from many Thais when you are critically discussing the elephants in the room of Thai politics. And indeed, the book puts out a defense of the Thai ideology that you regularly run into when you live here. While it explains many specific details that were new to me, in general terms it confirmed more what I had already suspected. Rather that changing my outlook towards Thai society, it strengthened some of the more negative thoughts I already had.
The characters can be seen as caricatures, outlining the values that Kukrit Pramoj wants to either promote or put in a negative light. That is not to say that all the characters are flat and one-dimensional, at least not more so than other novels normally are, but the characters do tend to be the perfect stereotypes of their times and the values they hold. Some of the characters are extremely sympathetic, like the main-character Phloi for example. The story follows her life, as she is put into the Grand Palace as a 10 year old girl and later lives with together her high-society husband. The book basically explains Thai history in that period through Phloi’s eyes, mostly based on her relationships with the people around her.
Phloi portrays the ‘ideal’ Thai woman; she is perfect, beautiful and completely flawless throughout the book. At times the book almost reads as a guide on how to be a proper Thai woman, which of course comes down to fully sacrificing yourself to your husband at all costs: being there for him at all times; being a good cook; taking care of the kids all by your own; never holding your own opinion against him, keep it for yourself when you disagree with what he says; don’t dare to be insulted when he fathered a child without ever telling you; and to suggest him, when he feels depressed, to have more than one wife (or extra-marital affairs and massage parlor visits as it would be in modern Thailand); did your potential partner cheat on you? Fully forgive him in the sweetest of words (all these examples are from the book). Although things have thankfully changed quite a bit in Thailand, you can still recognize much of it. Some feminist emancipation is still drastically needed in this country.
Just as Phloi is written down as the ideal Thai woman of her times, she is also portrayed by Pramoj as extremely likeable. This trick of making all the characters that support Pramoj’s ideology pleasant and those opposing not-so-perfect is used throughout the book. All the royalists in the book are virtuous, while the bureaucrats that take control after the absolute monarchy is dissolved are all clumsy, self-interested and greedy. The characters of royal blood however, from the Kings (that are always at a distance) to a minor princess like Sadet, who adopts the young Phloi in the Grand Palace, are described as absolutely perfect and virtuous, devoid of any negative characteristics. They are all handsome, well-behaved, treating everyone with affection and being perfect dutiful servants towards their subjects. From time to time, one can overhear conversations of the King or Queen talking to commoners, knowing about all their personal issues. The Queen knowing the name of this peasant she had met many years ago, the King talking with this old farmer without teeth as if they were friends, “nothing too big or small for his wisdom and compassion”. It’s the classic propaganda that we in the West often ridicule, think of Kim Yung-il’s fieldtrips and the corresponding photo-ops. Thailand is however filled with similar photos and videos of King making fieldtrips to all corners of the country, inspecting the thousands of royal development projects, for which public accountability and assessment of success are of course completely out of question.
It's the basic outline of the Thai ideology in which all the politicians are seen as greedy and bad, while the royals are ‘above politics’ and keep the country on track. The King is the source of all that is good; he’s selfless, never smiling or enjoying earthly pleasure, but dedicating his life to improving the Thai nation. The (current) King is portrayed as a brilliant scientist telling politicians what to do, as one who is (literally, I kid you not) capable of providing rain for the crops, and as a bringer of justice by the annual royal pardons. Politicians however can do no good and are the source of all misery. In history classes Thai children will learn of all the good things done by the royals, but young Thais are unlikely to know much of statesmen as Pridi Banomyong or Puey Ungpakorn.
Of course we also get the revisionist history of the Thai monarchs as true democrats. The role of Rama VII in the three years after the revolution is mostly ignored. In reality he stifled the democratization process by co-opting the military side of the Promoters (in opposition to Pridi and others), and attempting to create a limited monarchy rather than giving up his executive and legislative powers as in Europe’s constitutional monarchies **. In Thai ideology however, the king is ‘above politics’ and would never intervene for its own interests, so the focus instead is on how the new bureaucrats in power (including Phloi’s son An***) immediately start constricting freedom of speech (which did happen, but as if there was such thing under absolute monarchy?). Rama VII is portrayed as being as democratic “as any of them [in the government], if not more” (496). When Rama VII finally decides to abdicate in 1935 after 3 years of uneasy cooperation with the government, Ot (the most agreeable son) tells her mother “Democracy hasn’t been with us for very long, and now we’ve lost one of its staunchest champions”.
Besides the revisionist fairy-tale of Thai monarchs as true democrats, another major element in the ideology of “Thainess” is spirituality and religion. While nowhere becoming super-natural or turning into downright fantasy, throughout the book the Thai’s superstition is quietly supported. The rituals and amulets always seem to help, at least nowhere future events contradict expectations raised by their practice and usage. Many of the future events, especially the dying of characters close to Phloi, are in some way predicted by signs or feelings. The end of the four reigns in particular is always preceded by major signs, especially the death of King Chulalongkorn. The appearance of the Halley’s Comet in 1910 worries Phloi as it must be a bad sign, she is then calmed by her husband some days later, telling her that it had nothing to do with them at all, as the comet must have signaled the death King Edward VII who must have accumulated much, much, much merit, so that even they in Thailand could see it (sure enough it is always good to prop up foreign monarchies a bit, in support of your own****). But of course, less than one page later it is announced that Rama V unexpectedly died, even though he died all the way in October, five months after the death of King Edward VII and the appearance of the comet. Unsurprisingly, during Rama V´s cremation the sky darkened, thunder struck and rain came pouring down (280-284). This cliché however could really have happened considering it took place in Thailand’s rain season.
*** Phloi has four children in the book, all of them caricatures to explain the changes in Thai history in that time. On is the royalist soldier, banished to prison for a decade after participating in the Borawat rebellion. Praphai is the beautiful daughter who exemplifies the changes for women in the modernizing Thailand with her taste for modern fashion and hi-so parties. An and Ot are however among the first upper-class Thais to go abroad for an overseas education. An is the overly ambitious son, is a participant in the 1932 coup and becomes a powerful bureaucrat, who then slowly becomes disillusioned by the new government and regrets his past actions. Ot is the easy-going and most sympathetic son, who is less ambitious than An, but much wiser and constantly in support of the royalty. It’s worth pointing out that An went to study in France like most of the coup plotters including Pridi, while Ot went to study in England like the Pramoj brothers did. I doubt that this is purely coincidental.
**** It might be because I am more perceptive to it here, but it seems I see about the same amount of pictures of the Dutch monarchy as I do back in the Netherlands. The celebrity magazines in Thailand are all about news on European monarchies. The official pictures of the Thai monarchy often include visiting foreign monarchs. And during the British royal wedding madness last year I (and any other Caucasian in Thailand at that time) was hailed several times by Thais sharing their excitement with me, as if care.(less)
I'm happy I picked up this book from the shelf as a light-read for on the beach for a couple of days. And it was brilliant for it. Didn't take any eff...moreI'm happy I picked up this book from the shelf as a light-read for on the beach for a couple of days. And it was brilliant for it. Didn't take any effort to get into as well, and was in fact quite hard to put down. I also finished it in two days. I think the book became even better for me because I started out the day with reading Adorno's Culture Industry, on how capitalism corrupts culture and leads to people living meaningless empty lives entertained by meaningless empty entertainment.
Will is pretty much an extreme subject of this process, as he deliberately avoids doing anything meaningful, fills his days with the most pointless entertainment produced by human civilization. Real people that attempt to do meaningful things, live real lives and attempt to understand how things really are become upset and depressed (like Marcus' mother). To Will, it's better to live fake lives and indulge in the artificial.
Just this coincidence of topic from two completely different books on the same day gave me a funny feeling. Other than that, it's just what it is really. A quick, easy and highly entertaining book. It's not going to change your life or anything. There is no deep take-away moral in it. If you really want to analyze and debate it, you would obviously talk about the title "about a boy" and wonder who the boy really is in this book: Marcus or Will. I'd say they're both boy and adult. The title is quite brilliant if you think of it. The story and characters are fun and realistic (although not too deeply explored). Just a well-written book really, can't go wrong with it. I suppose I should go watch the movie now.(less)
I liked it. It makes me want to go to Myanmar, which I should really do while I'm still living in Bangkok. The book feels a bit like a diary, without...moreI liked it. It makes me want to go to Myanmar, which I should really do while I'm still living in Bangkok. The book feels a bit like a diary, without really going towards some sort of climax. But the author seems really likeable, the situations where he has to carefully deal with the cultural differences are hilarious. I also liked the writing on Myanmar politics, as the author is quite closely involved himself by working for the heavily censored first foreign-owned daily newspaper, it adds quite a bit of nuance to the usual Western liberal Aung San Suu Kyi worship.
Probably the best book out there on expat-life in Myanmar.(less)
Borrowed this book from a friend while living in Bangkok. This was my daily BTS read for a bit more than a month. It's hard for me to put into words w...moreBorrowed this book from a friend while living in Bangkok. This was my daily BTS read for a bit more than a month. It's hard for me to put into words what I liked and did not like about this book. But lets try. It's an interesting introduction to the fucked-up lives of dirty farang ('foreigner' in Thai) expats living in Bangkok that seek to escape their past. There are many of them here and I bet this is one of the the best books written about them. I liked it enough to recommend it to anyone with an interest in Bangkok. It's well-written and as shown in other reviews here, it has some beautiful prose here and there.
I liked the somewhat cynical approach towards Thai culture and the colourful farang characters. I identify with the writer's appreciation of chaotic Bangkok and the urge to follow random roads until they end on late hours. It's a bit of a travel book in that regard. Bangkok is filled with little secrets, unexpected sights hidden in side-soi's, or sometimes just unnoticed in that street you walk through every day. This book describes these sorts of places, analysing and writing about them. I do have some different world views than the writer and sometimes he seems a bit fatalistic. It's hard to describe what exactly bothers me here, but I suppose I'm a bit more idealistic. At the same time though, while he distinguishes himself from the dirty sexpats and from the Thais themselves (be it yaba-addicts in Klong Toey or hi-so 'housewives' in Thong Lor), it's without pretension or arrogance. I appreciate that.(less)
The first couple of hundred pages were slow to get through. I actually turned down this book to start reading and finish a non-fiction on geopolitics...moreThe first couple of hundred pages were slow to get through. I actually turned down this book to start reading and finish a non-fiction on geopolitics instead (David Harvey's the Enigma of Capital to be precise, highly recommended). I hadn't read a historical novel for years, but remembered really liking Umberto Eco's Baudolino as a teenager, so I was expecting this one to be a pageturner. Didn't happen that way.
I picked up reading The Name of the Rose two months after stopping and I'm glad I did. It only turns into the pageturner I expected in the last hundred pages or so, but there's a lot in this book. Not that I will, but it's the sort of book that you can re-read many times and find different interpretations and discover Eco's own philosophies. There's also a lot of Latin used in it. As I've never learned Latin, I just skip it and to be frank, I frequently skimmed over other lenghty prose. No matter how well-done, and I understand why it is important and ought to be included, I'm not really interested in reading a full chapter of an old monk remembering his first and only sexual encounter in his life back when he was a novice, and whether it was the devil that lured him or not. I get the idea.
What I really like is that the novel is written from the perspective of an old monk that writes down this important story of an eventful and disastrous week of an old abbey. It is a devout god-fearing monk that never truly understood the events and the logic of his master. But you, as a 20th(/21st) century educated reader, interpret 'his' (or well, Umberto Eco's protagonist, of course) story in a different manner. Understanding the nuances that the original writer who wrote it all down did not.
What I also liked was the insights it provided in all these struggles within the Catholic Church I had never heard of. The whole Poverty of Christ debate, the power struggle that is behind the discussion on heresy, how the Vatican both coopts and destroys dissenting thought in order keep up its hegemony. In particular, I found the discussion on whether Christ had property or not fascinating, as it related to a fundamental political conflict, but is then through all the ideological filters merely discussed as a theological dispute, with nobody stating what it truly is about; namely, class struggle. I can think of some real world examples where you can see the same thing.(less)
[Forced myself to write a critique/summary for myself after carefully reading this classic. It's a bit long, but may be interesting for some others he...more[Forced myself to write a critique/summary for myself after carefully reading this classic. It's a bit long, but may be interesting for some others here. I thought it was great. It's not an all-encompassing argument against markets that I expected it to be, as Polanyi is not opposed markets persé. He just completely annihilates the more utopian view of markets of liberals. Some said Polanyi was dry or hard to read. I disagree, some of his prose is quite beautiful, but it may depend on what you're used to.]
Where should one begin in reviewing a classic like this one? It was always recommended to me as a forgotten classic, a great critique of markets, ignored by the mainstream, and highly relevant to our times despite being over 60 years old. And relevant it is; it is a great assault on the idea of self-regulating markets, an idea that sadly still seems to inform most of today’s mainstream discourse. There is some uncanny resemblance between the events Polanyi writes about and many of the things still going on in our own neoliberal era. Furthermore, this book is also about the break-down of the market society and its collapse into the Great Depression, which makes it even more relevant considering today’s crisis of capitalism.
The Great Transformation is a work that combines several disciplinary fields of the social sciences which ought not to be separated: anthropology, sociology, history, (political) economy and political science. It’s all in there. Polanyi gives a history of the emergence of the market economy and its social implications. Its greatest strength and what makes it so uniquely different from other books is its rediscovery of society. Society is the perspective taken, rather than for example class (which is dismissed as crude Marxist dogma by Polanyi). When explaining the social dislocations from imposing the market economy, it’s society that suffers and consequently brings forth its reaction. Markets did not naturally evolve or start out of individual acts of barter (NO, people did not barter in ancient societies, anthropologists never found a single society to do so out of the thousands that have been researched). Markets were actually imposed on the people by government intervention from the very beginning. History shows that regulation and markets grew up together, but it was the idea of the self-regulating market that found ground during the Industrial Revolution was a complete reversal of this trend.
In the ‘ideal type’ market economy all production is for sale on the market and all incomes derive from these sales. This means that markets are there for all elements of industry, not just goods, but also for labor, land and money. Interest is the price for money and it’s the income for those that are able to provide it (the financiers); rent is the price for the use of land and also the income for those who supply it (the property-owners); wages are the price for the use of labor and the income for those who sell it (the workers). The market economy assumes that supply at a definite price will equal the demand. Production and distribution depend on prices, for prices form the income that ensure the distribution. The brilliant insight here is of course the recognition of Polanyi that land, labor and money, despite being subjected to the market, are obviously no commodities; they are not produced for sale! That is why Polanyi refers to them as fictitious commodities. The commodity description is entirely fictitious, but this fiction is used to organize them. They are being bought and sold on the market; their price depending on supply and demand. All this to enable the self-regulating market.
A market economy, in which the economic system is controlled, regulated and directed by markets alone, exists only in a market society. As when land and labor are being turned into commodities, it is society itself that is being subordinated to the market. This was utterly new and beyond people’s imagination before the Industrial Revolution. Mercantalism, with all its tendency towards commercialization, never attacked the safeguards which protected these two basic elements of production -land and labor- from becoming the objects of commerce. For the market society to work, the homo economicus had to appear, the idea that human’s primary motive is to maximize gain. But the early laborer could not be lured into the factory, as he did not feel compelled to make as much money as he could, where he felt degraded by the work. Only the threat of corporal punishment and starvation, not the allure of high wages, would make him sell his labor on the market. The masses first had to be pauperized and forced off the lands before a labor market could come into being. As Polanyi argues, it is much more social status than monetary gain that humans crave.
In rewriting the history of the Industrial Revolution and the establishment of the market society, Polanyi comes up with a highly interesting account of all the contradictions coming out of obscure laws in England at that time. Nobody truly understood the reasons for poverty at that time, often going for morality tales like Hannah More’s Christian suffering (blaming it on drinking tea was common as well!), the connection between a higher total trade and unemployment wasn’t seen. The intellectuals at that time believed the more poor people there were, the more wealth as well. The Speenhamland laws led to a market economy without a labour market and no reliable statistics. It was during this time of confusion that economic theory was founded. The discovery of economics was astounding. Interestingly enough, back then it was natural science that gained in prestige by its connection to social science (instead of vice-versa!). The triumphs of natural science had been merely theoretical and were of no practical importance, while the discovery of economics critically hastened the great transformation and the establishment of the market society. The creators of machines were mere uneducated artisans who often could barely read or write.
Because of the overall confusion the great minds did not really understand capitalism and many came up with the dues ex machine of Nature, with the most well-known example the Malthussian law of population. They thought of economic society as subjected to laws from Nature rather than human-made laws. Ricardo combined the naturalistic and the humanistic, with the laborer being the only force to create economic value in his theory of value (mistakingly adhered to by Marx according to Polanyi), who was then again subjected by the self-regulating market that followed the inexorable laws of Nature. Polanyi puts the proto-socialist Robert Owen forward as the only person who saw the meaning of it all. He understood that what appeared to be as an economic problem was in fact a social one. In economic terms the worker was certainly exploited and did not receive a fair exchange. But in spite of exploitation, it was the massive social dislocations, degradation and misery that was truly problematic. And here Owen rightly called for legislative interference against the devastating forces from the self-regulating market.
But at that time the dominant intellectuals thought differently. The word laissez-faire may come from France in the mid 18th century, it was only in the 1820s that it began to stand for its three classical tenets: for a labor market, the gold standard and free trade. Economic liberalism became a secular religion: “Born as a mere penchant for non-bureaucratic methods, it evolved into a veritable faith in a man’s secular salvation through a self-regulating market”. It is no coincidence that Adam Smith’s constantly quoted “invisible hand” has such a divine connotation. Laissez-faire became a secular faith that was pursued with evangelical fervor in order to make the market economy reality. In the 1830s it suddenly became policy, the 1832 reform created a free labor market, the gold standard became the automatic steering mechanism, and England started to depend on food from overseas sources. Under the self-regulating market the most productive and inventive would be able to survive and the British believed their factories would be able undersell to the rest of the world. This also meant the expansion of the market system on a world scale powered by the might of the British Navy.
But there was nothing natural about laissez-faire. It was enforced by the state, which required enormous increases of centralized legislation, control and intervention to introduce free markets. Furthermore, freedom of contract is not a principle of noninterference as liberals argue; it destroys noncontractual relations between individuals, it imposes atomistic individualistic organization on societies. Laissez-faire was not a method to achieve a thing, it was the thing to be achieved. Paradoxically, the philosophy that demanded the restriction of state activities and intervention, could not but entrust the same state with the new powers and instruments in order to establish laissez-faire. If laissez-faire means the opposite of interventionism, how then can laissez-faire claim to be laissez-faire? And ironically enough, while laissez-faire was planned, the counter-movement against laissez-faire was not. While laissez-faire was utopian, that what Polanyi calls the ‘double movement’ was spontaneous and pragmatic and became successful in the 1860s in protecting a broad range of vital social interests against the expanding market. Liberal economists as Mises, Spencer, Summer and Lippmann have a mistaken interpretation for this double movement, explaining it on impatience, greed and shortsightedness. These writers blame the rise of socialism and nationalism for frustrating economic liberty and they often point to trade unions, Marxist intellectuals, greedy manufacturers and reactionary landlords as the villains in their narrative.
Polanyi also connects the emergence of the market society and the subsequent double movement with colonial expansionism. There was a time that even the tories considered colonies to be a waste, but after the double movement caused protectionism, countries ´irrationally´ stopped trading with each other as much and instead started ´trading´ with the overseas market. As a result the colonial population was subjected to the same kind of social dislocation as the British people were earlier. The introduction of market organization of land and labour broke up the village life and subsistence living. This -much more than the mere brutal economic exploitation- caused massive famines in for example India. And colonial societies were even less capable of protecting themselves against the market forces than the British peasantry.
His discussion of the Great Depression and the Gold Standard is of great contemporary relevance. There are many similarities here with the current crisis and the adherence to euro. The European elites are doing everything they can to keep inflation low and maintain the euro while simultaneously imposing austerity and social misery upon the periphery, disregarding the democratic wishes of the people there with more and more technocratic rule. And just as liberal economic theory in Polanyi´s time ignored country differences and their trade imbalances, putting Great Britain on the same rank and footing as Denmark or Guatemala, the creators of the European single market and monetary union conveniently failed to see problems that would come out of a monetary union without fiscal and political union (despite being warned by plenty of people that saw it coming).
David Harvey explains the contemporary dauntingly complex political-economic structures under which we live with a Marxist perspective that takes issu...moreDavid Harvey explains the contemporary dauntingly complex political-economic structures under which we live with a Marxist perspective that takes issue with some of the most fundamental issues in our world. The word Marxist may scare people, but this is not an overly difficult book filled with scary difficult Marxist terminology, it is actually a highly readable book for people who have never read anything Marxist oriented literature. You can safely recommend this to friends that still have the predominant neoliberal mindset. It might just open their eyes.
A brief warning on this though, despite being highly readable, it is sometimes easy to read over some complicated conceptualizations of Harvey that may make a lot of sense when you read it and you might just gloss over it, but they actually need some time to be processed in your mind and before you truly understand what Harvey is going on about.
Harvey claims that the capitalist system needs 3% compound growth in order to sustain itself, which in the end is impossible to sustain environmentally and socially. If I remember correctly he arrives at this 3% simply by looking at world’s GDP growth over the last 100 years, but I think this is a central assumption in Harvey that could be put into question. As money is of course simply a social construct in order to allow exchange, the amount of money used then is just a number that is not necessarily related to the real depletion of resources for production. Despite this though, it is clear that capitalism leads to endless and immense production and constantly has to reproduce itself, in which plenty of ´barriers to capital flow´ have to be circumvented. According to Harvey crisis occur whenever capitalism cannot maintain its 3% compound growth. Crisis here then, are the irrational rationalizers of an irrational system.
It is interesting that Marxist analysis of what is going on is often not really that different from conventional perspectives. Bernanke’s ‘global saving glut’, which according to Stiglitz really is a dearth of investment options, is the same as what in the Marxist tradition is called overaccumulation of capital. It is obviously not the US state or US households (/labour) that has a saving glut, as they have been running a huge deficit, but US corporations have 1.82$ trillion just lying around. At the same time the deficit spending of both the state and households is only possible with China and other countries having a similar ‘saving glut’ so they can buy US bonds.
Harvey defines as the spatial-temporal-fix as a solution to capital surplus. Investing in huge infrastructure speculation as America’s railroads in the 1800s, Paris’ boulevards in 1850s, Europe and Japan’s WW2 reconstruction, South East Asia’s property boom that burst in ’97, but and also the pre-2008 housing booms in Phoenix, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. In The New Imperialism, a book from 2003 of David Harvey which I read earlier, he pretty much predicts the mortgage collapse that ended up happening in 2008. China’s current saving glut now is obvious in its gigantic infrastructure projects, they’ve constructed complete new towns are still waiting to be populated, and there are weekly articles in the Financial Times speculating on when China’s property bubble is going to burst.
Unexpected highlight: the last chapter on Lenin’s question “what is to be done?” and “who is going to do it?”. I expected vague abstract solutions with the 6 spheres in mind, and we are indeed not offered some sort of clear step-by-step plan or coherent alternative system. But Harvey does not talk around it and does come up with the usual New ‘New Deal’ and proposals for deficit-spending into environmental technology. Instead we get a full-blown call-to-action that is as emotional and skillfully articulated as the Communist Manifesto´s last paragraph. It’s a call for a full revolutionary dismismissal of the capitalist system, a call to dispossess the capitalists of their property, wealth and power (as dispossessions can be necessary and progressive), in which violence is most likely unavoidably. And here Harvey is of course just as vague as Marx was on how this communism (or whatever name this alternative system would be given to, as Harvey sees the problem of using a word with such a problematic connotation) is supposed to look like.
Noteworthy as well. Harvey suggests that rather than using the banner of communism (as it is such a loaded term) we should call our movement the “Party of Indignation”. This is particularly noteworthy considering Stephanies Hessel’s “Indignez Vous!” and the indignados in Spain and Greece at the moment. Makes you wonder whether Stephanie Hessel may have read some Harvey, but I guess they probably arrived at that labeling independently. Anyway, the political mobilization that Harvey is waiting for might as well be happening these days with at least the Spanish and Greek youth being properly mobilized. (less)
It's been some years since I've read this book and I would love to re-read some of it to find out whether my opinion has changed over the years. But t...moreIt's been some years since I've read this book and I would love to re-read some of it to find out whether my opinion has changed over the years. But this is probably one of the best books on punk (ethics) and DIY ever written.
Norman Brannon publishes interviews with several hardcore bands from his Anti-Matter fanzine of the 90s. Not the usual "what are your influences, your favourite band" questions, but real personal questions to young people that play in hardcore-punk bands, who often feel a bit alienated from society, and what drives them. The result is not just interesting to people that are interested in these bands or even hardcore-punk in general, but to basically anyone.(less)
I finished reading this book in less than two weeks, which is quite fast considering I only read while I'm in the skytrain. But with this book I found...moreI finished reading this book in less than two weeks, which is quite fast considering I only read while I'm in the skytrain. But with this book I found myself reading and walking through the crowded Bangkok streets at the same time, occasionally pushing over some Thai people.
A flawed genius that wrote one of the most important and influential books in human history. Marx here comes by as a sectarian asshole alienating almost all his comrades all the time, as being mostly dirt poor, but also as being unable on giving up on bourgeois conveniences (private secretary, maid etc) that fitted a man of his caste (and therefore leading his family to unnecessarily suffer from lack of food), as a loving housefather that becomes a real softy at old age, as one that jokes together with Engels about nigger jews, of him (supposedly) impregnating the maid, as a serious binge-drinker, and how he rises and falls in infamy several times in his life. It's a fascinating subject and I didn't know Marx's life was that interesting. Also, sad are the endings of all Marx's children, with all the daughters that outlived him killing themselves leaving Karl Marx without any grandchildren. That Lenin spoke at Laura Marx's funeral in 1911 claiming that her father's ideal would soon become reality is also a fun little tidbit.
Don't expect a critical engagement with Marxist theory or anything like that. This is about Marx, the human. Although, there's enough on the theory in it that can help you pretend what you're talking about when discussing Marxism with your friends. Quite interestingly, Francis Wheen does however make the case that people should take Marx's theory seriously and he was writing this book in the "end-of-history" late 90s. And propping up Marx and highlighting how relevant is as a critique of today´s capitalist society was a brave thing to do in a mainstream publication in 1999, but reading it in 2011 after 3 years of economic meltdown this appreciation of Marx almost seems rather tame.
Highly recommended to everyone though. While I've not read any of the other bibliographies on Marx, this must be -the- book you have to read if you're interested in Karl Marx's personal life, which is in fact pretty damn interesting.(less)
I have had this on my to-read list for years. This is the first Situationist text that I have read and its influence is obvious, while reading it I re...moreI have had this on my to-read list for years. This is the first Situationist text that I have read and its influence is obvious, while reading it I recognized a lot that I had seen before in other cultural artefacts that came after it, from punk bands as Crass with which I sort of grew up to anarchist and political zines I’ve read over the years. As with everything, it’s good to finally read the original. It is also good read one of the main ’68 texts yourself rather than just the usual historically appropriated accounts of what it was all about. With the events May ’68 in your mind, it’s crazy to see to what extent writers like Vaneigem sort of expected something along those lines to happen. But it is also shocking to see to what extent we have actually regressed in achieving the radical changes Vaneigem envisioned.
The foundation of Vaneigem’s theory was to me surprisingly orthodox Marxist. Most of his account of history is basically the same as the one you can find in the communist manifesto. The bourgeoisie superseded the feudal system, which enabled capitalism and the creation of the proletariat. But the dominance of the bourgeoisie is only a transitional phase in the development of humanity, as the very same capitalism that they created allowed for the progress in productive forces and technology which will allow the proletariat to take over and finally actualize the egalitarian visions. The main thing that Vaneigem and the Situationists add is that it is not just about material conditions, which in the rich industrialized countries took the proletariat beyond the struggle of survival, it is the poverty of everyday life. The poverty of choice offered by our shallow consumer society, the lack of imagination, the alienation, and that all the liberal freedoms offered are a sham. “Anyone who talks about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life – without grasping what is subversive about love and positive in the refusal of constraints – has a corpse in his mouth”. According to Vaneigem, we’re past the struggle of survival, as in many parts of the world we have achieved a decent enough standard of material well-being. We’ve got our fridges and televisions. Now we want to live, not just survive. He loathes the work-ethic that was (and to a smaller extent still is) a big part of the Left, in for example the right-to-work campaigns and simplistic narrowing of class struggle to wage-bargaining. He reminds that the Latin word for labour means suffering. “Today the love of a job well done and belief in the rewards of hard work signal nothing so much as spineless and stupid submission”.
It is easy to see the appeal of all this, it´s not material poverty that pisses off young radicals in the ‘rich West’, it is this poverty of everyday life that makes us want to throw bricks at the cops. Vaneigem wants to give free reign to subjectivity, to our individual desires to live intensely. The theory he sets out is logical and coherent, but to me ultimately unsatisfying. You can write of the ‘rich West’ all you like, and we’re still free from the risk of starvation, but what’s left of the fat Keynesian-Fordist welfare state? This radical critique written in the heydays of welfare state capitalism made me angry. Angry at the so-called ‘social-democrats’ that have been destroying the welfare state, our social security, social housing, labour rights, healthcare-system and public services, by completely giving into neoliberal reforms. But also angry at Vaneigem, that constantly belittles all the achievements of that welfare state that was once ours, and which was achieved by socialist parties, through trade-union organizing, and militant leftists of all these ‘-isms’ that he loathes (Socialism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism etc). I wish we still had expanding welfare state with its annual wage increases that he bemoans. I am not saying that we should go back to the welfare state of the past and leave it at that, far from it, I completely support Vaneigem’s analysis of the poverty of everyday life, but I think that the revolution required to overthrow it is much more probable with the leftist militantism of the 60s and 70s that he despises still around.
What it basically comes down to is that I detest the puritanism of it all. This puritanism is present in Vaneigem´s writing and also in many other anarchist writings. He is against all kinds of hierarchy, against all kinds of reform and against any kind of sacrifice, as your actions should always come from your own true inner self (what is this true inner self anyway and how can we know?*), never from an “ideology” or leader. Never cooperate with more ‘reformist’ organizations. No mass organizations. Only self-managed communities and small radical cells. “I have already said that the confused conflict between so-called progressives and reactionaries comes down to the issue whether people should be broken by the carrot or the stick”. No nuance seems to be possible for Vaneigem, all reform is reactionary. “I want to live intensely, for myself, grasping every pleasure firm in the knowledge that what is radically good for me will be good for everyone.” Alright, it’s fine if you want to have fun in your actions towards social change and revolution, but don’t fucking belittle all those other people that work fucking hard for social change in different ways, because you’re whole theory is only rationalizing your own selfish ego by pretending everything will change because you and some others are “intensely following their inner desires”. If you don’t want work hard improving the political consciousness of the ‘masses’, then don’t, but fuck off belittling those who do. I mean, get real, politics is dirty. If you’re truly serious about achieving social change** then prepare to get your hands dirty and know that some foul Machiavellian shit needs to be pulled off by someone somewhere sooner or later.
The problem is that Vaneigem lacks a theory for social change. Vaneigem explicitly does not want to write a “what is to be done” step-guide towards revolution ala Lenin, but the question of how you want to achieve the social change towards a radically different system remains. Without it, what remains is merely an intellectual legitimation for petty violence, vandalism and shoplifting. There are never enough of those of course, but still. The system is not scared of you living out your “true inner desires”. Vaneigem’s idea is that everyone’s harmonized individual perspectives will successfully construct a new coherent and collective world. But how do you get there? Vaneigem expected that people were fed up and would soon collectively live out their subjectivity, but this simply never really ended up happening, perhaps except for a month in ´68. In the last chapters Vaneigem becomes a bit clearer on what the revolutionary approach ought to be. “Each phase of the revolutionary process is a faithful reflection of the ultimate goal.” Prefigurative politics it is I suppose.
I hoped that the part on culture, the spectacle, and how capitalism and the commodity form corrupts culture and leisure time would inspire me, but after reading the brilliant Culture Industry essays last year this part wasn’t much more than an Adorno-for-5-year-olds. I was quite curious about the part on sexuality, but the whole Wilhelm Reich fetish is weird to me and seems and typical 60s. Then there’s Vaneigem loathing the moralism of many leftist side-issue struggles and he beats up the anti-racist and anti-antisemetic hobbyhorses of the Left (“we’re all just niggers to the rulers of this land” to quote Crass) which is entertaining, but I am not sure whether I agree. There were some parts that I really liked though. It is filled with a vast array of highly quotable sentences. Besides, I found the conceptualizations of roles, specialists, stereotypes and power actually rather insightful. On the masochistic nature of humans in their everyday life for instance:
“Consider a thirty-five-year-old man. Each morning he starts his car, drives to the office, pushes papers, has lunch in town, plays poker, pushes more papers, leaves work, has a couple of drinks, goes home, greets his wife, kisses his children, eats a steak in front of the TV, goes to bed, makes love and falls asleep. Who reduces a man’s life to this pathetic sequence of clichés? A journalist? A cop? A market researcher? A populist author? Not at all. He does it himself, breaking his day down into a series of poses chosen more or less unconsciously from the range of prevalent stereotypes.” [..] “The satisfaction of a well-played role is fuelled by his eagerness to remain at a distance from himself, to deny and sacrifice himself” “We live our roles better than our own lives”
And on power:
“Slaves are not willing slaves for long if they are not compensated for their submission with a shred of authority”
“There is no Power without submission”
“Power is partial, not absolute”.
His concept of Power is vague and abstract, but you do get a sense of what he means. I like the insight that those that climb the ladder, the specialists, subject themselves to Power the most. The specialists are the masters-as-slaves. The more they climb the hierarchy, the more Power, but also the more restricted on what they can do with this Power. I do sort of agree here, changing the system from within by climbing the system’s hierarchy most of the time does not work at all. Vaneigem expected the proletariat to collectively rise and live out their subjectivity. To let us all become masters-without-slaves. Sadly, WE’RE STILL WAITING. Anyway. Let’s end this critique with the spectacle of some more brilliant Vaneigem quotes.
“The millions of humans being shot, imprisoned, tortured, starved, brutalized and systematically humiliated must surely be at peace, in their cemeteries and mass graves, to know how history has made sure that the struggle in which they died has enabled their descendants, isolated in their air-conditioned apartments, to learn from their daily dose of TV how to repeat that they are happy and free”
“To consume is to be consumed by inauthenticity, nurturing appearances to the benefit of the spectacle and the detriment of real life”
“Whatever you possess possesses you in return. Everything that makes you into an owner adapts you to the order of things”
“the feeling of humiliation is simply the feeling of being an object”
“the abstract, alienating mediation that estranges me from myself is terribly concrete”
* Vaneigem is also not going to convince me that he wrote all these books and read even more out of a “pure inner desire to live intensely”) I mean, everyone seeks to rationalize their own behaviour, but nobody truly knows why we do what we do. I just do not believe in some sort of repressed pure inner desire that exists somewhere in all of us. ** It’s kind of typical of this day and age that I say social change rather than revolution. The word revolution simply isn’t part of me and many other’s vocabulary as it seems too far away.(less)
So I had heard of this book more than half a year ago after already living in Bangkok for some months. I couldn't believe it. A book about a dystopian...moreSo I had heard of this book more than half a year ago after already living in Bangkok for some months. I couldn't believe it. A book about a dystopian future with biotech corporations going crazy for profit with Bangkok as a setting, including all the Thai political intrigues during the reign of Rama XII? With no good&evil simplistic nonsense but all characters that just follow their own plans for good reasons. And this book also won prices as one of the best things science-fiction had to offer in recent years? It sounded like the perfect book.
It took me some time to actually find the book in the stores and then I didn't even buy it as I'm a bit frugal. But some months ago a friend of mine got a copy and asked if I knew it. Yes I did and I made him promise to let me read it when he finished.
So yes, earlier this month I was finally reading the book I had been looking forward to for a long time. But sadly for the Wind Up Girl, I was reading Middlemarch simultaneously, and especially in comparison with a book like Middlemarch it becomes painfully apparent how simplistic and flat the characters in the Wind Up Girl are. It is probably a bit unfair to compare an 'easy entertainment' science fiction book with one of the greatest works of English literature, 99% of the world's books have embarrassingly flat characters compared to those in Middlemarch. But it annoyed me.
I am not an expert on writing, but is of course rather impossible to write a book with an ambitious setting as the Wind Up Girl, a background that you will have to explain to the reader, with many plots, and a complex set of characters with plotlines that all come together to a satisfied ending, and then to still have characters that are not 100% flat in comparison to those in George Eliot's Middlemarch in less than 400 pages.
But still, it annoyed me. What I particularly disliked how much stereotypical they were, the Thais, the Japanese wind up girl, the ambitious American, the hard-working Chinese man that wants his clan to recover. They are all extremely xenophobic and incapable of understanding the other character. The culture clash between them is so over-exaggerated it becomes unrealistic. All the foreigners are either farang, gaijin or laowei depending on the character's background.
It just becomes a bit too cliché'ish for my liking. Lazy Thais, hardworking Chinese, sleazy farang, overly devout Buddhists. The white shirts versus trade. The glorious monarch being foreseeing enough to build walls in order to protect Bangkok for the rising tide (unlike the world's other big cities that are flooded - slightly ironic even considering the fall of 2011). Yes, there is even a bit of monarchy propaganda in it with King Bhumibol being referred to as great scientific monarch that developed the country. I can forgive that though. And also the biotech corporations and an economy based on... calories? I'm a bit sceptical, though I can suspense my disbelief, it's science fiction after all.
There are plenty of things that I did like though. The last 100 pages saved the book for me. It is quite brilliant how it all comes together. And there are so many things happening. Quite unexpected ending even and satisfying without the kind of Hollywood-ending feel. I do like the idea of an Expansion and a Contraction of world history. And the setting continues to be amazing. I like recognizing the landmarks of Bangkok in the book. It sucks me in. I also like the use of Thai (and other Asian language) words everywhere. I do wonder how that works for someone who has never been in Thailand as the book might be harder to follow. I guess for them it would make it more exotic, like as if it would be on an alien planet with an alien language. I suppose it works quite well.
As for real world parallels. It is not in any way a critical assessment of current Thai politics as a form of parody that I hoped for. It just takes contemporary 'mainstream' understanding of Thai politics with the yellow and red shirts, the corruption, Buddhism and the monarchy, and then takes it to a 22th century setting. But no real critical understanding. Not much on how Buddhism and the monarchy is used to oppress lower classes and maintain the status quo. Parallels of the characters with the real world? (view spoiler)[You could link Akkarat to Thaksin and the Somdet Chao Praya with.... the crown-prince. They might be inspired by it and there are some connections, but they certainly don't fit completely. Thaksin didn't exactly have the military with him and the crown prince... (oh shit I'm breaking Thai lese majeste laws and may be imprisoned for 20+ years) is not so clever and well-respected as the Somdet, despite the similarity in their sexual cravings and exploits. (hide spoiler)]
Anyway. Recommended? Depends on your standards. Want a quick fun entertaining read with a thought-provoking science-fiction setting? Go read it. Do you live in Thailand or know Bangkok? It will make it better. Did you just read Middlemarch or you are looking for a book with some fundamental insights on the human condition? Don't bother.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Ben dit boek begonnen te lezen in December 2010. Ik heb het toendertijd niet helemaal uitgelezen aangezien ik in de tussentijd een jaar naar Azië ben...moreBen dit boek begonnen te lezen in December 2010. Ik heb het toendertijd niet helemaal uitgelezen aangezien ik in de tussentijd een jaar naar Azië ben geweest en geen zin had om zo'n dik boek mee te sjouwen. Heb het afgelopen weken nu eindelijk uitgelezen.
Het is een ontzettend leesbaar boek en van Reybrouck legt op overtuigende manier uit hoe Congo betrokken is geweest in alle belangrijke gebeurtenissen in de 20ste eeuw. Wil je 20ste eeuw begrijpen? Kijk naar Congo. De geschiedenis van Congo is uitermate fascinerend.
Ik wou eerst dan eerst ook 5 sterren geven, maar na het lezen van een boek ga ik altijd even na wat andere mensen er van vonden. En naast een enkele andere kritische recensie hier op goodreads kwam ik uit op kritiek van Joris Note. En ik moet zeggen dat ik die kritiek me eigenlijk behoorlijk overtuigt. Ik ben helemaal eens met zijn stelling dat van Reybrouck's geschiedschrijving een de-politiciserende geruststellende revisie is van het Belgisch (en Westers) verleden in de jaren rond de moord op Lumumba. Met name ook van Reybrouck's portret van Lumumba als een naïeve idealist is uiterst problematisch en valt in de hedendaagse tendens om idealisme dood te relativeren wat natuurlijk uitermate goed fungeert om onze eigen apathie en nihilistisch consumeren te rationaliseren. Van Reybrouck zelf is uiterst sympathiek en zelf-relativerend, hij geeft continue aan "een geschiedenis" te hebben geschreven, maar dan nog de kritische kanttekening van Joris Note is volkomen terecht.
Graag wil ik ook nog even een paar liedjes van ene Congolese Belg die zijn roots herontdekt heeft met u allen delen aangezien ik die zelf moeilijk uit mijn hoofd krijg: Karibu Ya Bintou, Independence Cha-Cha.(less)