Maquina Lectora

Notes of a curious mind

Tag: politics (Page 1 of 2)

No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein

I have stopped following Donald Trump. And I don’t mean his twitter account, I never became a follower and I never cared to read the hateful, nonsensical 140 characters of a little angry man. What I mean is that I have stopped watching his news conferences, speeches or interviews, or listening to him on the radio. It is not that I don’t care about his presidency, I really care, in fact I think it impacts everyone on Earth.

It is because I discovered that as I watched Trump, I was becoming more and more sick to my stomach. This man literally makes me physically ill. He personifies everything I despise, misogynism, racism, sexism, extreme nationalism, anti-globalization, xenophobia, viciousness, war on climate change and disrespect for the truth and the rule of law. He makes me want to shout, NO! No to Trump and everything he and his clique represent.

In her book, No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, Naomi Klein says that No is not enough.

Naomi Klein wrote this book very quickly, in just five months, because she wanted to come out before any major crisis hits the United States, although Trump himself and his administration can really be considered as a major crisis. In No its not enough, Klein summarises her previous works, No Logo, and The Shock Doctrine, to explain how Trump exploited the conventions of reality TV, along with his personal brand, to become the president of the United States. Trump is not a leader, he is a promoter and protector of a brand at America’s expense.

As disastrous as the Trump policies are so far, the worst is yet to come, says Naomi Klein. He and the people around him are very open of what they want to do, in terms of human rights, immigration, crime, health, and climate change. We have already seen Trump’s respond to the London and Manchester attacks. We need to get ready for shock politics, argues Klein.

No It Is Not Enough, was marketed as a blueprint for resistance. I think it is much more. It is a call for a progressive alliance, a call for collaboration and cooperation against, not a person (Trump), but a system (Trumpism). I was particularly intrigued by Canada’s Leap Movement, the values, positiveness, inclusiveness, diversity, and the hope it brings.

Despite the writing rush and the repetition of some of the themes, it is an excellent and useful book.

The brilliance of Hannah Arendt

Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics, Civil Disobedience on Violence, Thoughts on Politics, and Revolution,  Hannah Arendt, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1972

A student of Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt was one of the leading political philosophers of the 20th century. “On Violence”, first published in 1969, as a separate book, is one of the most  influential essays on the inverse relation between power and violence.

…. – the greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence.  In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one can argue, to whom one can present grievances, on whom the pressure of power can be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule of Nobody is not no-rule, and where all the equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant.

The New Russia by Mikhail Gorbachev

On 9 August 1999, Yeltsin announced the appointment of Vladimir Putin as acting prime minister and named him as his successor. It was then that the ‘Putin Era’ of post-Soviet history began. Putin, had assumed the presidency in very difficult circumstances and during his first years in the presidency, Gorbachev gave him, his “not unconditional but unwavering” support.  He was truly convinced that Putin was committed to democratic governance and had no intention in establishing some kind of authoritative regime. His conviction didn’t last long.  In 2004, in Putin’s second term, it was already clear that Russia was becoming an authoritarian country.

cover80474-mediumIn this last book, The New Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev argues that with the abandonment of Perestroika, the policy of shock therapy brought about an abrupt polarization of society in Russia. There was a sudden privatization of 225,000 or so state-owned businesses, a sudden release of price and currency controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, and trade liberalization, which provoked the rise of Russia’s oligarchic class.  The rise of Putin in power, Gorbachev claims, has further corrupted the achievements of perestroika and created an authoritative and corrupted political system which offers no future for Russia.

Since the late 1980s, Gorbachev has been trying to develop and apply to the conditions of a rapidly changing world. A New Thinking that “incorporates the important principles of international cooperation” is what is needed, he argues. New Thinking made possible to put an end to the Gold War, and it is exactly that that kind of thinking that the world still very much needs today.

“We need a new model of development”, says Gorbachev. “Our world is in a major transition to a new symbiosis of peoples” and this gives rise to pressing and perplexing global problems, such as poverty and inequality, terrorism and the elimination of nuclear weapons, and climate change.  He also provides an insight in regional problems, including the Ukraine conflict, Egypt and Syria, and Russia’s relations with Japan.

“History is not always fated”, says the optimist Gorbachev. There are “always alternatives, alternative solutions”, that can be found to the atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation.

Gorbachev has provided us an insightful analysis of the profound changes in the Russian society over the past 25 years. The New Russia includes letters, interviews, articles and publications, published in the past 20 years, material useful not only to the historians, but also to any concerned citizen.

The New Russia by Mikhail Gorbachev, Polity Press, 400 pages.

net galleyDisclaimer: Maquina Lectora received  a free uncorrected digitised proof from the publisher via NetGalley. No other compensation was received for this review. All images appear here by courtesy of the publisher or NetGalley.

Bernie Sanders: Outsider in the White House

I become interested on Bernie Sanders after the first presidential democratic debate and since I didn’t know much about him, I bought this book to learn a few things about his political background and views.

Verso, first published this book in 1997. Outsider in the White House is, in a way, Sanders’ political autobiography. It gives an overview to who Bernie Sanders is, discusses the state of the American progressive politics and tells the story of the then – congressman’s successful 1996 re-election campaign. The updated (2015) edition also includes an afterword by John Nichols.

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ΖΗΤΟΥΝΤΑΙ αλχημιστές

Ξαναδιάβασα πρόσφατα το βιβλίο του Μίμη Ανδρουλάκη ‘Ζητούνται αλχημιστές’. Το είχα διαβάσει για πρώτη φορά όταν εκδόθηκε το 2005, στην ακόμη αθώα κι ανέμελη, προ κρίσης, εποχή. Ένα χρόνο πριν η Ελλάδα είχε οργανώσει τους Ολυμπιακούς Αγώνες. Η οικονομική κρίση ήταν ακόμη μακριά; η κοινή γνώμη συνταρασσόταν από το σκάνδαλο των τηλεφωνικών υποκλοπών, των συνομιλιών του τότε πρωθυπουργού Κώστα Καραμανλή και κορυφαίων στελεχών της ελληνικής κυβέρνησης. Υπουργός Οικονομικών ήταν ο Γιώργος Αλογοσκούφης. Βρισκόμασταν στην αυγή του του 21ου αιώνα, κι ένα ερώτημα πλανιόταν σε ποίκιλες παραλλαγές, σε διάφορα έντυπα. “Where have all the leaders gone?”

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"Beware" of the Miliband brothers

David is the U.K. foreign secretary, his younger brother Ed is the climate and energy secretary. Two perceptions about the two brothers hold sway in the Westminster rookery, the last few years. One says that David is a prime minister in waiting while Ed, lives in his shadow. The other maintains that David lacks the necessary skills for No 10, but Ed possesses them in abundance and one day will be Labour’s leader and Britain’s prime minister.

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