Interesting perspective at the depth of a survey of 20th Century history, but I would have liked greater depth in the numerous philosophies presented.Interesting perspective at the depth of a survey of 20th Century history, but I would have liked greater depth in the numerous philosophies presented. This book covers the evolution of society, economics, and politics from the hierarchical empire model through primarily Western means toward networked individualism. We've replaced geographically distinct community with personal autonomy, but also with a greater capacity for networking, leading to new communities that are more intellectually cohesive. Through the 20th Century, we traded sociopolitical hierarchy for self-determination and economic growth. We ended up with several new hierarchies in the process: the 1% and the 99%, the educated and the less privileged, the First World and the Third World. The progression through relativism, uncertainty, and individualism all prompted new, Postmodern ways to exploit the Id and the Ego (yet another hierarchy, one that we never lost), bringing us into a socioeconomic hierarchy that is even more difficult to leave behind. Networked community helps, but even with #Anonymous and #Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter and #ExxonKnew and so many other movements, we've still yet to rid ourselves of the exploitative influencers and make a lasting organizational effort toward social and economic justice....more
Interesting and, at times, frustrating account of Obama's first two years as President. Major egos, especially his economics advisers, protecting theInteresting and, at times, frustrating account of Obama's first two years as President. Major egos, especially his economics advisers, protecting the President from his own responsibilities make for an ugly picture of policy coherence and general confidence. Dealing with the fallout of the financial sector meltdown at the end of the Bush administration would have been enough to deal with, so the health care (really, health insurance) reform story was more of a distraction, though instructive in the ways that real efforts at reform get watered down and turn vacuous by the time Congress is done with them. Also, I really wish there was a "Wall Street Financial Trading Practices for Dummies." How does one "invest" in debt? What the hell is a credit default swap? How is it even legal in the first place to sell multiple debt intruments based on a single mortgage? These are never explained. A good book about Obama, but not so good about explaining some of the underlying issues....more
An essential education on the increasingly rightward leanings of the Democratic Party. I knew the Party was becoming more and more centrist, but I reaAn essential education on the increasingly rightward leanings of the Democratic Party. I knew the Party was becoming more and more centrist, but I really had no idea how entrenched the strategy had become. With a centrist Democratic Party and the Republicans continually lurching even further right, no one in the two-party system truly represents the left and the working lower and lower-middle class any longer. Democrats may claim to advocate for the left but, once the campaign is done and the vote is decided, those concerns are soon left to the wayside in favor of business-as-usual. This book, published several months before the 2016 election, practically explains in minute detail why the election turned out the way it did, and the systemic failings of the Democrats that this narrative points to piss me off. We need a new third party in US politics, a true Progressive Party....more
Similar in some common themes to Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" and "This Changes Everything" but with more politics, and in more of a Sunday EditoriaSimilar in some common themes to Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" and "This Changes Everything" but with more politics, and in more of a Sunday Editorial format. Much of the material applies to both the UK and the US. The one real solution offered was Monbiot's 2007 column "Leave It in the Ground" which likely started the movement of the same name against the fossil fuel industry, and with which I fully sympathize. Note that 43% of the book is comprised of endnotes and index, so it turns out to be a fairly quick read....more
I think it's quite amazingly beautiful. As always for Miéville, the city is one of the largest characters in the narrative, and it's one of the most wI think it's quite amazingly beautiful. As always for Miéville, the city is one of the largest characters in the narrative, and it's one of the most wonderful cities we know. I've already decided to learn more about Surrealism and then read it again to appreciate better some of the references. There is a section at the end that explains a number of those artistic references in the story, though it's also part of the story... The notes reference a number of things that are not likely anywhere near the web, but at least the paintings and drawing should be around.
There's also a section at the end that describes how this book came to be. It's essentially a book within a story within a (philosophy that can't possibly be contained by this) novel. No matter. The read is far larger than this short 200 pages.
It's a little ironic when one of the characters describes an artist as a "fantasist" which is kind of like Miéville writing about himself. There are elements in here that have appeared in a number of his other novels, especially the New Crobuzon/Bas Lag series. I'm rethinking that entire series now as something different, something of a Surrealist fantasy all to itself. It really seems to fit, and it's giving some new structure to my earlier interpretation of those stories... ...more
A short read, but I think oversimplified. The premise that solutions have arisen as we needed them, and therefore will continue to do so, is the philoA short read, but I think oversimplified. The premise that solutions have arisen as we needed them, and therefore will continue to do so, is the philosophy of historical determinism in which I don't really believe. The proposition that we are now in a period of food surplus seems surprising, given more than 10% of humanity doesn't even have clean water... but water isn't addressed despite its huge role in making that food possible. The complexity of each ratchet-hatchet-pivot cycle, really anything beyond the population/food interaction, seems very much understated here. ...more