Tag: book review

Critical Theory for the 21st Century: Alf Hornborg’s The Power of the Machine

This is a review of Alf Hornborg’s The Power of the Machine, a book by a professional anthropologist offering a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary critique of our global society.

The review is in four parts: the first part is an introduction to critical theory, the second part will detail Hornborg’s main concern, which is that we are trapped in a “fetish” of economic “machines,” and that this is why we keep offering “technological” and “capitalist” solutions to problems like abrupt climate change.  The third part is a short critique of his central concept, “machine fetishism,” and the conclusion will summarize the book chapter by chapter.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Unruly Dharmanians will love this book on the Constitution

Ported by request

An old political friend of mine – whom I describe after the jump – has written a book on the 1780s, the decade that led from victory in the Revolutionary War to the enactment of the Constitution.  It’s called Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution; I think it’s brilliant.  Given that it’s by an old friend, you shouldn’t take my word for it; consider instead that it was up for a National Book Award last month and is now ranked #6111 at Amazon.

I have rarely seen a more perfect book for netroots bloggers, who are among today’s Unruly Americans.  It focuses on the period between victory in the Revolutionary War and ratification of the Constitution.  It argues that what we love about the Constitution – primarily the Bill of Rights – derives not so much from the political philosophy of the great and familiar Framers of the document, but from the common men of the time who refused to bend to them unless their interests were secured.  On reading it, you will recognize the arguments and passions of their day, which echo into ours.

(More below.)

Watch The Planet Die: A Review of Mark Lynas’ Six Degrees

This is a much-overdue review of Mark Lynas’ book Six Degrees, which suggests a series of warnings as to how the future climate will be changed by abrupt climate change.

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Rollo May – The Courage To Create

In college I was asked to read The Courage To Create by Rollo May, I was a bit skeptical at first that something could be gleaned from looking at the lives of past artists and creative geniuses.  I assumed that inspiration was as fleeting as a dust devil so how could one possibly present inroads into the creative process?  

Mark-making was the mindset I was in at the time, focusing on every individual stroke of the charcoal or brush.  It was myopic but necessary in order to progress.  A popular term for this is “Art Marks”, you’ll often see them around focal points to represent distant objects or atmosphere.

The book does not promise that you will become a genius if you follow the steps but it does show you that a lot of the more creative types have similar patterns amongst them.  Starting with long sessions of work, round the clock, with short catnaps, followed by a period of relaxation, like a day off and a hot bath.  Sounds funny huh?  Well follow me beyond the fold to find out why this makes sense.

Sweet Intentions and a Faustian Bargain: Capitalism 3.0

This is a review of Peter Barnes’ book Capitalism 3.0; Barnes, an eco-entrepreneur from the flowing meadows of northern California (where I got my Master’s degree), still “believes in” capitalism, but offers a number of ideas worthy of consideration to non-capitalists as well, as well as a fairly sketchy version of capitalist history and a theory of the commons that, though sloppy on the details, is worthy of consideration.  Barnes’ book can be regarded as an especially ethical example of a current vogue in thinking: eco-capitalism, and it will here be both praised and critiqued as such.

(Crossposted at Big Orange)

A Narrow History of Dollar Hegemony: Hudson’s Super Imperialism

(Crossposted at DailyKos.com)

Book review: Hudson, Michael.  Super Imperialism.

Second edition.  London: Pluto, 2003.

I thought that a discussion of Hudson’s book book would be pertinent in terms of recent discussions of indebtedness and in terms of Hudson’s role in the run-up to next year’s elections.  Michael Hudson’s site says he is “President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), A Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and author of Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972 and 2003) and of The Myth of Aid (1971).

In 2007, Dr. Hudson has been appointed Chief Economic Policy Adviser for the Kucinich for President campaign and is writing a new tax policy for the United States.

The neoliberalism-shock therapy connection: Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine

This is a review of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, a detailed, journalistic history of neoliberalism which emphasizes its connection to “shock therapy,” torture, and other means of tearing down people and society so that they can be rebuilt along the lines of “perfect,” ideological models.  My review differs from others in that it focuses upon a sequential review of important themes and close analysis of key quotes within the book.

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