Review: Beautiful Trouble – A Toolbox for Revolution

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Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell et al

5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense Of, By, For the Community, July 23, 2014

I bought this book at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) in NYC, just concluded, along with another not listed at Amazon that I want to mention, Micah L. Sifry’s “The Big Disconnect: Why the Internet Hasn’t Transformed Politics (Yet).

This book, at 138 pages in pocket size (3/5ths of a normal pocketbook), is an utter gem. At a minimum it forces reflection. Produced by a team of people and organizations, this is a community resources in every sense of the word.

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Jul 24

Review: Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)

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Elinor Ostrom

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Collective Common Sense Relevant to CYBER-Commons Not Just Earth Commons, May 27, 2014

I read this book shortly after I had read Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre) and my first impression is that the book should be re-issued in 2015, a quarter-century after it was first published, with additional material on how everything here is applicable to governing the cyber-commons. I have to recommend the two books together — STOP THIEF lays down with deep historical and multi-cultural foundation that gives GOVERNING THE COMMONS even more credibility — and for those that do not realize, this book earned the author a Nobel Prize in Economics.

On that note, I would point out that this book crushes the traditional explanations for why the state or the firm are superior decision-making alternatives to bottom-up citizen common sense. This book is also consistent with the LOSING proposal to the Club of Rome that recommended we focus on educating the global public (a universal bottom-up approach). As well now know, the Club of Rome chose the wrong solution, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, because is assumed that top-down mandated measures were the only measures that could be effective.

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May 28

Review: STOP, THIEF! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance

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Peter Linebaugh

5.0 out of 5 stars David Bollier’s Review is Better, This Is My Attempt, April 21, 2014

I was very impressed by David Bollier’s review of this book at his web site (look for < “Stop, Thief!” – Peter Linebaugh’s New Collection of Essays > and am encouraging him to port that excellent review here to Amazon. Indeed, after working my way through the book myself, I consider myself unable to do proper justice to this deep work that integrates history, poetry, political economy, anthropology, and sociology among other disciplines. Hence I hope others will write substantive summary reviews and I again recommend Bollier’s review above.

Three thoughts keep recurring as I went through this book of original current essays and presentations:

01 Holy Cow. This guy is DEEP and BROAD in terms of arcane as well as popular sources, delving down into little known poems, essays, public statements, etcetera. This book is the one book version of the Durant’s Story of Civilization applied to one topic, the commons.

02 Holy Cow. This is what my top political science professor was trying to explain when I was in college in 1970-1974 – yes, a half century ago — and I was just not smart enough, patient enough, to appreciate it.

03 Holy Cow. This book is not just subversive, it does a magnificent job of head slapping every politician, economists, talking head, and other pretender who presumes to talk about public welfare without for one instant understanding that wages are a form of slavery and disconnection of humanity from everything else. Lionel Tiger makes related points in The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System but this book — if you focus and do not get lost in the poetry and minutia of exemplar citation — beats the commons versus capitalism drum along every possible note on the musical scale.

Among my high-level notes:

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Apr 29

Review (Guest): Governing the Commons – The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action

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Elinor Ostrom

4.0 out of 5 stars Addressing the Collective Action Problem August 2, 2007

By Matthew P. Arsenault

Ostrom attempts to refute the belief that only through state and or market-centered controls can commonly pooled resources (CPRs) be effectively governed. Ostrom writes, “Communities of individuals have relied on institutions resembling neither the state nor the market to govern some resource systems with reasonable degrees of success over long periods of time” (p. 1). Governing the Commons sets out to discover why some groups are able to effectively govern and manage CPRs and other groups fail. She tries to identify both the internal and external factors “that can impede or enhance the capabilities of individuals to use and govern CPRs.”

The first section of the book examines both state-controlled and privatization property rights regimes, and illustrates failures in both regimes; namely, that central authorities often fail to have complete accuracy of information, have only limited monitoring capabilities, and possess a weak sanctioning reliability. As such, a centralized governing body may actually govern the commons inaccurately and make a bad situation worse. In the case of privatized property rights regimes, Ostrom illustrates two main points: 1) it assumes that property is homogenous and any division of property will be equitable; and 2) privatization will not work with non-stationary property (fisheries, for example).

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Apr 28

Review (Guest): Working Together – Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice

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Elinor Ostrom, Army R. Poteete, and Maroc A. Janssen

5.0 of 5.0 Stars An inspiration for Transdisciplinary Researchers By Herbert Gintis on June 7, 2010

This book, which is based on the several decades of research by Nobel award winning political scientist Elinor Ostrom and her talented colleages, vigorously asserts two messages with equal fervor. The first is that “it is possible for individuals to act collectively to manage shared natural resources on a sustainable basis.” (215) The second message is that the existing structure of academic disciplines in the system of higher learning deeply handicaps researchers from attaining true insights of this type. The possibility of people managing their own common pool resources through democratic and egalitarian participation was determined through research “based on field studies, laboratory and field experiments, game theory, and agent-based models,” and no discipline recognizes the legitimacy of models that span such a broad range of statistical, qualitative thick description, formal analytical and computer simulation methods.

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Apr 28

Review: The Politics of Haunting and Memory in International Relations

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Jessica Auchter

5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Extraordinary — a Pioneering Book — Builds on Others But Original and Compelling It Its Own Right, April 27, 2014

I took an interest in books on trauma and dealing with refugees a month or so ago, and this is one of the books that I included in my list easily found online Worth a Look: Books on War and Torture Victims, Asylum and Refugee Trauma. The other book I have reviewed from that list is Peter Levine’s In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness.

The author has rendered an extraordinary work. While building on the works of others this is a pioneering book that helps open the door toward holding states [and I would add corporations] accountable for the dead [and I would add amputees]. I found this book compelling, engaging, and original.

The bulk of the book and the bulk of the value is in the literature review and the author’s conclusions. Three case studies are provided — on Rwanda where the state “erased” the victims; on illigal immigrants who die on US soil or are “exiled” into non-person status; and on 9/11 where the state and its corporate controlled media “excised” all photographs of the vicitms, particularly those who jumped to their deaths from the towers.

I’ve read a lot of academic books and dissertations, and found that the manner in which this author reviewed the works of others, and personalized that review by artful use of the names of the authors being cited in text, was for me a most professional and yet also humanizing and engaging exercise.

This is a very subversive book is you have the courage to actually contemplate holding a state accountable for both those it has killed or allowed to be killed by legalized crime and elective war and deliberate non-intervention; while also contemplating how the state relegates so many to the status of “virtual dead.” At root, this book opens a super-highway into the heart of the deep state (I would add deep corporation including those that practice eugenics), one that could inspire the living to challenge the faux legitimacy of states that are in the view of one author, Greogry Sams, long overdue for deconstruction, see his just released book that I have ordered and will review, The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better.

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Apr 27

Review (Guest): The Tyranny of Experts – Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

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5.0 of 5.0 Stars Why development takes place (or doesn’t) By Mal Warwick on April 3, 2014

This book is full of surprises.

In The Tyranny of Experts, the author of the seminal book The White Man’s Burden drills down into the history of economic development around the world in search of its causes. What he finds has little to do with any of the factors bandied about among contemporary development professionals.

“The conventional approach to economic development, to making poor countries rich,” William Easterly writes, “is based on a technocratic illusion: the belief that poverty is a purely technical problem amenable to such technical solutions as fertilizers, antibiotics, or nutritional supplements . . . The technocratic approach ignores what this book will establish as the real cause of poverty — the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights.”

Instead, Easterly maintains, the fundamental pre-condition for successful development is democracy paired with deep understanding of local history. He calls the establishment of the World Bank “the moment of original sin . . . in which the Bank disavowed the ideals of freedom . . .”

Academia has been good to William Easterly. Presumably, when he was forced out of the World Bank because of his outspoken criticism of the Bank’s support for corrupt regimes and pro-Western favoritism, he was looking for a platform on which he could continue his campaign to shift the consensus among development professionals from top-down “solutions” to support for bottom-up, grassroots initiatives. He’s gotten that platform, but his position on the faculty of New York University has also moved him to dig more deeply into the intellectual roots of his thinking. The Tyranny of Experts is one result.

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Apr 26

Review: In An Unspoken Voice – How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

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Peter A. Levine

5.0 out of 5 stars Demands Careful Reading, A Capstone Book that Emphasizes BALANCE, April 21, 2014

I read this book at the same time as Cyntia Sue Larson’s Quantum Jumps: An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity and E. Graham Howe as edited by William Stranger, The Druid of Harley Street: The Spiritual Psychology of E. Graham Howe. In line to be read as part of this series is also Guy Muchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy.

This is by no means an easy read but its bottom-line (bearing in mind that the author has been writing many books on this theme, this is the latest) is clear: Sound Mind in a Sound Body. Others would add Sound Soul and Sound Heart at well. In other words, the mind is carried in the host, the body, and the totality of the nervous system, the skeletal system, the muscle system, the bio-chemical soup system, are all critical to how well the mind functions and how well the mind — including the unconscious — heals in the aftermath of trauma.

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Apr 21

Review (Guest): Intelligence for Earth – Clarity, Diversity, Integrity & Sustainability

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5.0 out of 5.0 Stars One visionary’s way out of the Corporate Feudalism/International Conflict trap

By Herbert L Calhoun on April 1, 2014

In this book, the author, drawing extensively on his intelligence and military background, has cleanly written an easy to follow book, that outlines a careful course of action for developing a new kind of global information sharing infrastructure. To be headquartered at the UN, this new infrastructure would make it possible for every organization (and through them, everyone) on the globe to share open-source intelligence equally as a free public resource. If it is successful, this new global brain could transform our world from its current insecurity-driven and corrupt corporate dominated lose-lose, economic and conflict trap, into a much revived win-win strategy for bottom-up collective survival in a peaceful and sustainable world economy.

At least that is the theoretical hope and vision. On paper, and in principle, it is a stunningly sexy and attractive vision, one that, should it prove operationally testable and feasible, could indeed have the important side benefit and advantage of creating new bottom-up wealth, energizing the world economy and easing world tensions by reducing mistrust and fear back down to the noise level.

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Apr 21

Review: Who Rules America (2013)

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G. William Domhoff

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars for Early Warning on 1%, Holistic Analytics, and Clear Attention to Weakness of the 99%, April 19, 2014

This book was central to my education in Political Science (more political than science, more passive aggressive than normative). In light of all that we know now, the book MUST be considered both a 6 Star classic (in my top 10%, I read non-fiction in 98 categories), and highly relevant today.

It distresses me that there are no good reviews visible right now, this is partly because Amazon has destroyed really great reviews from past editions in order to make way for new generations of young reviewers, most of whom do not get pointed toward this book by their college professors, if they are lucky enough to even go to college.

Here is the 6th edition of the book where useful reviews are to be found:

Who Rules America? Challenges to Corporate and Class Dominance

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

I am posting an image from the author that shows how the social, corporate, and “hired hand” elite (for the latter, think tanks and politicians) intersect, with the 1% shown in the center (I added that bit).

Democracy is hard. Responsibility in democracy cannot be delegated or integrity is lost. When I and the author speak of integrity we are talking about accountability, the assurance of diversity in all councils, feedback loops, and the recognition of true costs of any decision. When the public delegates its responsibility for self-government, democracy is quickly lost. For other books that support this one, which can be considered “the original” in modern history (Toqueville’s Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) is THE original), see my easily found list of my Amazon reviews on this topic and its anti-thesis corruption, by searching for:

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Democracy Lost & Found

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption 2.0

For anyone wanting more than is available from Inside the Book, or seeking a summary of the book, there is no better summary available than that provided by the author himself on a very powerful web site of his own, search online for:

The Class-Domination Theory of Power by G. William Domhoff

For myself, this book is both a celebration of what Politica Science can offer (see also the books listed below within my ten link limit), and also an indictment of the discipline of Political Science. I am in the process of thinking about how to change the discipline to answer these three WHAT IF questions:

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Apr 19