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

Review: Occupy the Economy – Challenging Capitalism

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Richard Wolff with David Barsamian

5.0 out of 5 stars SIX STAR Primer on the Necessary Socio-Economic Revolution, February 28, 2015

SIX STAR (my top 10% across 2000+ non-fiction book). This is an extraordinary book full of straight talk and common sense that sets the stage for a socio-economic revolution, first in the USA and then elsewhere. It does not address the many isolated incidents of collaborative capitalism and the commons that are in motion around the world — for that look up Michel Bauwens and the work of others on the economic commons — and it neglects the coincident need for a political revolution which is what my latest book on Open Power is about — but on balance this is easily a six-star offering.

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Feb 28