Review: Transforming the Dream – Ecologism and the Shaping of an Alternative American Vision

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Charles Bednar

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Synthesis, Starting Point for Anyone Who Wishes to Think Holistically, July 4, 2015

The author taught me most of what I retain in the way of political science fundamentals during our time together at Muhlenberg College, where he was former Chair of the Department of Political Science and an Associate Dean. We had not kept in touch since I left Muhlenberg in 1974, but in 2014 I reached out to him and bought this book immediately upon learning of its existence.

Published in 2003 by the State University of New York Press, this book was evidently not marketed at all, and little noted. That is a sad commentary on our times, because I find that the author has distilled multiple literatures into one coherent presentation, augmented by an original model that tells a vital story beyond Ecological Economics into Ecological Political Economy (in essence, politics), into Ecological Ethics and Ecological Pedagogy, two topics rarely covered by others.

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Jul 5

Review: Wages of Rebellion – The Moral Imperative of Revolt

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Chris Hedges

5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant with One Possible Flaw and Some Minor Oversights, May 10, 2015

I am a huge fan of Chris Hedges and consider Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle one of his most interesting works, a real complement to David Korten’s The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.

This book can be seen as a logical follow on to The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, among other works.

This is a five star book with one major point: revolutions don’t succeed from mass power, they succeed when mass power is no longer confronted by the armed power of the state because the individual soldiers and police stop defending the status quo. Since I myself have studied revolution extensively, and < Graphic: Preconditions of Revolution in the USA Today > is easily found online, I am both impressed by the author’s blend of journo-scholarship, and a tad disappointed that he missed some key bits.

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May 10

Review (Guest): The Utopia of Rules – on Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy

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David Gaeber

A Fresh Take on Bureaucracy

By Peter Richardson on March 19, 2015

What intense pleasure this book gave me, despite the dull topic: bureaucracy. Anthropologist David Graeber is perhaps best known for Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011), which became required reading for the Occupy Wall Street movement. In that book, Graeber showed that the standard explanation for the origins of money, rehearsed in dozens of economics textbooks, was a fairy tale.

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Mar 23

Review: Unstoppable – The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State

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Ralph Nader

4.0 out of 5 stars Valentine for the Real Conservatives — Bland and Not Transformative, March 9, 2015

Positive up front: reading a book by another person is like getting a few hours of their time to yourself, so any book by Ralph Nader is a substantive value to anyone interested in ethics and governance. However, this is not the transformative book I was hoping for, and I even have to wonder if all the great minds providing blurbs even read the book. For the long critique of this book, which I totally embrace, see Herbert Calhoun’s 3-star review, This is Both an Accurate and a Useful Treatise, But …?, October 25, 2014. I’d like to see it voted up, Mr. Calhoun, whom I have had the privilege of meeting at Amphoras in Vienna, is one of the most intelligent and broadly read individuals I have ever encountered.

Second positive up front: in terms of inspiring generations of independent thinkers some of whom have become thought leaders in their own right, Ralph Nader is special. Jim Turner — co-author with Lawrence Chickering of Voice of the People: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life and Theresa Amato, whose own book Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny contributed to my radicalization, stand out.

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Mar 12

Review: On Marx

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EDIT: I have placed in bold the paragraph everyone is missing.

Alan Ryan

5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a Book, Author’s Synthesis is Priceless, March 6, 2015

I picked this up at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland (10 times bigger than Tattered Cover in Denver, both worth going out of your way to visit) and it is a GEM of a book in two ways: the author provides a summary overview of Marxism that is hugely beneficial to anyone looking for a sound critique of capitalism as we know it today; and the author has selected a few pieces by Marx to be read in the original.

Peter Linebaugh’s Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre) is what forced me to reconsider Marx’s critique of capitalism and I recommend that 2014 publication to anyone who wishes to think critically about capitalism today, with this book as a very fine follow-on.

QUOTE (64): “The modern republic attempts to impose political equality upon an economic inequality it has no way of alleviating.

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Mar 9