In the spirit of the Enlightenment Fukuyama presents a case for the progressive nature of history. Namely that societies increasingly move towards eveIn the spirit of the Enlightenment Fukuyama presents a case for the progressive nature of history. Namely that societies increasingly move towards ever higher states of being. He identifies this as happening within two spheres. In the economic sphere where increasing levels of technological sophistication and organisation have resulted in much improved productivity. Secondly in the political realm where the march towards universal enfranchisement and political rights have led to the liberation of humanity. Ultimately he sees them leading towards an idyllic end point where we live in capitalist democracies.
I was really unsure whether to give this book two or three stars. On the positive, I can really understand why it has such a popular following. Fukuyama is definitely a gifted writer. His work can be quite exciting at times. Helped by how he writes in such a clear and easy to understand manner. There just seems to be a really nice flow. This is all the more impressive because he deals with material which is quite difficult to follow. I also found his employment of recognition as the primary driving force behind historical progress to be really interesting.
On the negative side he presents an overly simplistic view of society. Falling into the familiar trap of capitalist advocates, he treats people as mythical isolates acting autonomously. It is only by disregarding the complexities and interconnectedness between people that capitalism can be advanced as a fair and just system. It gets even worse when he acknowledges the existence of theories critiquing capitalism. They are presented in such a comically minimalistic manner as to make them devoid of any meaning. He essentially says they exist, without explaining them, then proceeds to say they are wrong. He will typically either cite the collapse of the U.S.S.R or claim that if you oppose capitalism or democracy it is simply because you oppose Liberty and Democracy. The same is said of Social Justice groups like Feminists. Which I found to be exceptionally disparaging. As most of his book concerning recognition is quite promising. Indeed it is entirely possible to bring his thesis to an entirely different conclusion. Namely one where said Social Justice groups represent a continuation of History's progress....more
Books about the history of Aotearoa New Zealand tend to predominantly be concerned with the history of Pakeha. When alternate ethnic groups are acknowBooks about the history of Aotearoa New Zealand tend to predominantly be concerned with the history of Pakeha. When alternate ethnic groups are acknowledged to exist, it is often through the lens of how they relate to Pakeha. Therefore it is always refreshing, and important, when it is remembered that despite their hegemonic position, Pakeha are not limits of history. In this book Manying Ip draws on interviews she conducted with five Maori Chinese families. Doing so presents us with an opportunity to get a more enriched, and inclusive, look at our country's history.
I found this book to be incredibly entertaining and informative. As someone who is incredibly interested in theories of ethnicity, I found this work to be quite illuminative and a very good companion. Historical context is highlighted for instance when she explores the experiences of people in different periods of Aotearoa New Zealand history. How one experiences their ethnic identity is influenced very much by sociocultural context. As this work highlighted, this context does not remain static at all. The experiences of youth today are quite a bit different to those growing up in the 1920s for instance. Not only that but as people actually continue to live through changing contexts, the manner in which they perceive their identity does not remain static. I found the explorations of how their perceptions and ethnic identifications changed throughout their lives, and not in a linear manner, to be valuable. It really brings home the point the social identity is not a neatly packaged destination, but rather a journey which one is constantly travelling. In general the way it compliments abstract theory of ethnicity has me really excited.
On another level it is also of interest in concerns to understandings of what constitutes a nation. Throughout the interviews with the families, various topics of national interest were discussed. Multiculturalism, the Treaty of Waitangi and Immigration were touched on. For people interested in such topics, they will find these perspectives to be of interest. Due to the nature of the book, these are in the form of more casual, not to be confused with uninformed, commentary. On that note this book is invaluable in how it brings more abstract topics of nationalism, ethnic relations and such to a more personal level. Often when discussing more abstract elements of politics and sociocultural theory we do so in a manner which paradoxically removes the people from the discussion. Politics is, or should be, about the people after all.
The writing style and presentation of this book makes it incredibly accessible to a wider audience. Which is quite important, as the material covered does have wide reaching importance. I would hope that this work does enjoy a wide readership as the understanding of people's experiences and live's provides a very crucial contribution towards the enhancing of social relations and, importantly, the addressing of sociocultural inequalities. A very highly recommended book!...more
Recognizing that scarcity is a key concept in how economic systems are approached, this becomes a central them to this book. Not all too shocking consRecognizing that scarcity is a key concept in how economic systems are approached, this becomes a central them to this book. Not all too shocking considering the title. However despite being so central to economics, Panayotakis presents a case that economists, and by this he means primarily neo-classical economists, have gotten it wrong. Initially he builds the case that the manner in which scarcity is commonly interpreted is limited. Indeed in it's attempts to be a value free science, it often presupposes many of the features of a neo-liberal capitalist society. Instead of being an informative and critical field, it becomes a handmaiden.
One area where this is demonstrated would be when it comes to the goals that people are pursuing. Neo-liberal politics does not concern itself with what the goals are. Whereas Panayotakis would argue that this is an important aspect to take into consideration, as the goals and aspirations of a populace do not spring out of nowhere. Rather they are influenced very strongly by sociocultural factors. Marketing for instance goes to great expense to attempt to shape these values, drawing on research conducted by psychologists and to a lesser extent other social scientists. This would be all good and well if it could be demonstrated that capitalism is an efficient means of addressing scarcity.
Panayotakis argues that this is not the case either. Looking at the culture of consumerism, as well as inequality and ecological destruction the case is presented that neo-liberal capitalism is having a disastrous impact. The problem he identifies is that the system promotes abstract logics of capital and profit which result in resources not being adequately employed towards the removal of inhumane conditions and ecologically destructive patterns of behaviour. Indeed the continuous need to increase one's relative profit results in the never ending pursuit of cost cutting and revenue increasing. These logics are in place, Panayotakis asserts, in large part due to the non-democratic nature of our economic system.
The book finishes off by exploring what an economic democracy might be like. He looks briefly at a few models which have been offered, identifying their relative strengths and weaknesses. He does not advocate what the goals of an economic democracy would be, outside of some rather general principles. Importantly he also spends a little time briefly postulating on what style approach would be required in order to bring this transition about.
Finally his writing style is incredibly clear and concise. I found it very enjoyable and easy to work my way through. Since he is advocating for a system which encourages more public participation, it is quite fitting that his ideas are presented in such a manner that a wider audience would be able to grapple with them. All in all a very interesting read. ...more
In an increasingly multicultural world, it is quite crucial that we learn the values of approaching each other with empathy and understanding. One keyIn an increasingly multicultural world, it is quite crucial that we learn the values of approaching each other with empathy and understanding. One key component of this can be through the sharing and learning of life experiences. It is from this vantage point that I find the writing of Xinran to be so valuable. Her work often focuses on highlighting the experiences of women which would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Sky Burial is based off interviews conducted with Shu Wen in 1994. It tells of a young Chinese woman going on a journey to Tibet in order to find her lost husband. It is set, initially, during the 1950s when China and Tibet were in conflict with each other. I won't go into the plot more than this, as I am not fond of spoilers.
As with her previous book, The Good Women of China, the writing in this book is clear and very much readable. She also covers the experiences of Shu Wen in such a manner that is not dis-empowering. I walked away from this book feeling incredibly awed by the Shu Wen's Strength. A very engaging book, and one which is very easy to get stuck in. Love it! ...more