Scoop Review of Books

Archive for February, 2010

In Defence of Brainwashing

By Scott Hamilton

It is unusual for the details of an academic course to become a hot topic of conversation in the blogopshere, but over the last week or so a paper offered by Mohsen al Attar at the University of Auckland’s Law School has engaged the attention, if not the intellects, of scores of commenters at New Zealand’s most popular blog.

After Kiwiblog proprietor David Farrar posted a link to the outline of Mohsen’s paper, which is called ‘Colonialism to Golobalisation’, comments boxes quickly filled with denunciations of the propagandists for communism, political correctness, civil unions, and similar abominations who supposedly dominate Kiwi campuses.

For the keyboard warriors who fight for liberty at Kiwiblog and other red meat sites, Mohsen al Attar makes a perfect target: he is foreign-born, he has a Muslim name, he is preoccupied with the history of of Western imperialism, and he is unafraid to flourish fashionable if slightly obscure left-wing phrases like ‘counter-hegemony’ and ‘anti-globalisation’ in his lectures and texts.

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Death of an Accidental Anarchist

Colin Ward one of the English language’s most eloquent advocates of anarchism has died. The author of Anarchy in Action – a brilliant exploration of anarchist ideas – was 85.

The Independent has a good obit here.

And for a taste of Ward’s work here’s an extract from Anarchy in Action.

Anarchy and a Plausible Future

Anarchy in Action Originally published in Anarchy in Action (London: Freedom Press, 1973). Excerpted in Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader (Oakland: AK Press, forthcoming December 2010).

For the earlier part of my life I was quieted by being told that ours was the richest country in the world, until I woke up to know that what I meant by riches was learning and beauty, and music and art, coffee and omelettes; perhaps in the coming days of poverty we may get more of these …
–W.R. LETHABY, Form in Civilisation

This book has illustrated the arguments for anarchism, not from theories, but from actual examples of tendencies which already exist, alongside much more powerful and dominant authoritarian methods of social organisation. The important question is, therefore, not whether anarchy is possible or not, but whether we can so enlarge the scope and influence of libertarian methods that they become the normal way in which human beings organise their society. Is an anarchist society possible?

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Greenspan wins Dynamite Prize

Press Release

Alan Greenspan has been judged the economist most responsible for causing the Global Financial Crisis. He and 2nd and 3rd place finishers Milton Friedman and Larry Summers have won the first–and hopefully last—Dynamite Prize in Economics.

In awarding the Prize, Edward Fullbrook, editor of the Real World Economics Review, noted that “They have been judged to be the three economists most responsible for the Global Financial Crisis. More figuratively, they are the three economists most responsible for blowing up the global economy.”

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Key to Key’s Success Scrutinised

A new book is set to uncover the secrets of John Key and National’s success in the 2008 general election.

Key to Victory: The New Zealand General Election of 2008 is a series of insiders’ views on our most recent general election, showing how John Key became New Zealand’s 38th Prime Minister.

Edited by Victoria University Professors Stephen Levine and Nigel S. Roberts and published by Victoria University Press, the book offers accounts from politicians, campaign advisors and media commentators who reveal insights into how John Key successfully rode a popular mood for change to overthrow Helen Clark’s Labour Government after three terms.
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Tribute to a People’s Suffering

A People War: Images of the Nepal conflict 1996-2006, edited by Kunda Dixit
Kathmandu: Publication Nepa-laya, 2007. Reviewed by DAVID ROBIE

KUNDA DIXIT is a remarkable journalist and an inspiring communications innovator. He has been one of the visionary writers who have been able to make sense of development journalism and development communication theory and translate this into practice. A decade before this book, his Dateline Earth: Journalism as if the planet mattered (1996) became a sought after classic and should be in every South Pacific newsroom (but is actually in very few).

It should also be widely cited in Australian and New Zealand journalism schools as well. Reading it would contribute to more perceptive reportage of the region by young journalists. Dixit’s prophetic view that issues such as jungle families sickened by mine tailings, peasants impoverished by global free trade, countries harmed by toxic waste and general environmental neglect were often ignored is now widely accepted in the region with a wider range of environmental and human rights reporting now a normative.

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