This book does something I was not expecting: it directly relates, in a tight DNA-like spiral, the use of open space technology (process is really a better word) to the practice of peace. This is not a book on Quakerism–the author has made an original contribution that has moved me further down the road toward Evolutionary Activism (focus on connecting all humans to all information, not on arriving as specific answers)-but I better understand the value of such books as Practicing Peace: A Devotional Walk Through the Quaker Tradition as a result of this reading.
ALSO unexpected, I found this book to be a handbook for a “Whole Systems” approach to peace and prosperity. The author writes of “Multi-Factorial Development” attempting to do that, but i have the margin notation that putting a bunch of singular discipline experts (one from each discipline) in a room together does not create in any of them the ability to *do* systems thinking (or sustainable design). See Critical Path and The Philosophy of Sustainable Design.
The publisher has failed to use the tools that Amazon provides, so “Look Inside the Book” and especially the Table of Contents, are not available. Shame on the publisher. I would normally take away one star for this lack of due diligence.
Although the author certainly has a formula, I do not consider these formula books or light in any sense of the word. The author’s introduction is a proper overview of all that follows, and the conclusion connects the dots.
I am not going to list the 44 alphabetical topics here, from Alasakan Oil to Zip Codes–the publisher really needs to do their duty to the reader and the author and get Inside the Book details posted.
I am hugely impressed by the details in this book, and its over all coherence. If the public ever wanted a czar for both structural and financial reform of the federal government which is, as Ron Paul, the author, and I and manz others agree, totally broken, this author is the man for the job.
In Its Niche Beyond a Six–In Larger Context a Four
October 11, 2009
First off, what got me to buy this book does not appear in the book at all–the author on record as saying that Wall Street was not designed to make money for its investors, only for its mandarins–the same is true of how universities are designed, businesses, etc. but that one observation really got my attention. I bought the book before BusinessWeek featured it as one of four in the October 5th edition (Europe version), and after looking the others over, chose this one.
Although the essays date back to 1994 this book (and the one above) are both published in 2008 and I will first testify that this is a fresh book, very ably strung together, and it does indeed address the fundamentals.
I totally share the author’s conviction that the war on drugs is a fraud that is in fact both a war on blacks and a means of populating the prison-slavery complex. I appeared in the DVD American Drug War: The Last White Hope testifying against the CIA for precisely this reason–the author does not discuss, but I am aware of, the close relation between laundered drug money and Wall Street liquidity, and I absolutely one hundred percent support both the legalization of drugs beginning with marijuana, and the eradication of SWAT teams and other forms of excessive militarization across America.
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely a Core Reference, August 21, 2009
I am so very glad to see this book at least available from some sellers in second-hand form. I still have my orginal hard cover from 1976 and took it down from my military shelf to appreciate it once more. I urge the publisher to re-print this book, and I would be deeply honored to be asked to write a foreword to the next edition. Norman Dixon has made a signal contribution that will long out-live all of us.
Although I despise Amazon for pre-emptorily deleting over 350 of my shared images to get rid of 12 copies of Bush-Obama sharing a face, I think so highly of this book that I have taken the time to scan and load my own original book cover. You can find all of my uncensored work at the Public Intelligence Blog.
This is nothing less than an essential reference in the leadership arena, and particularly in the national security arena. The author is a deeply original speaker of truth to power, and his work on the characteristics of incompetence, his chart on the role of “bull,” his discussions of the reactions to criticisms, the concept of “efficiency” in the armed forces, and his examination of both the kinds of relationships and the interplay among the authoritarian personality and “group-think” are all very very important.
Most of our military officers (in the USA) have for decades forgotten that they swear an Oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and instead they translate that oath into blind obedience to the chian of command, no matter how illegal, idiotic, or illogical those orders might be.
I love the book, not least because it reiterates the Secretary of Defense view that the military cannot win this Long War alone.
What this book does NOT address is the raw fact that we are our own worst enemy, and that as long as we make policy based on delusional fantasies combined with rapid profiteering mandates from Goldman Sachs and Wall Street, as long as we lack a strategic analytic model, and as long as we are completely opposed to actually creating a prosperous world at peace, then the USA is destined for self-immolation.
HOWEVER, if you recognize as I do that those in power are completely divorced from reality, having become “like morons” as Daniel Ellsberg lectured Henry Kissinger in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, and that both Congress and the White House consist of good people trapped in a bad system that robs each and every one of them of their integrity, then no happy ending is possible.
The power and common sense of the Average American (see the book by that title, I am out of authorized links) can still be brought to bear, but first we have to stop this nonsense of thinking that if we only have the right strategy, we can evil and force not just the emerging powers, but Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards like the Congo, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Turkey into their “role” as playthings of the American Empire.
Please. We have gone from a village idiot to a major domo that gives good theater, and books like this are still being written? Get a grip!
Phi Beta Iota, the new honour society committed to public intelligence in the public interest, is now publishing the free online Journal of Public Intelligence. There are no costs or qualifications save one: have a brain and use it in the public interest.
Seminal Work of Lasting Value, Still the Best Overall, October 11, 2008
R. M. Maciver
I am reliving my first graduate degree as I develop a new book, and when the occasion warrants, coming back into Amazon to comment on especially wonderous books. This is one of them.
MacIver has still not, to my knowledge, been equaled. Here is my summary of his book written in 1975, and still valid.
A pleasure to read, MacIver is the most useful focal point for the study of the modern state. An introduction defines the state as an association characterized by a limiting concept of sovereignty and the rule of law.
The first of four books deals with the emergence of the state; its origins, early empire, the emergence of citizenship (including the impact of the cities on associations and on the stratification and organization of society), a nd the formation of the country-state through feudalism and nationality.
Book two discusses the powers and functions of the state; the limits of political control, the residence of authority, might and sovereignty, law and order, and the relations betwseen political government and economic order. An excellent descriptive chart is offered that divides the functions of the state in its internal aspect into order, protection, and conservation & development. Within each category, the role of the state vis-a-vis the physical habits and social structure of the society from which it stems is seen to imply related and elaborative activities.
Book three explores the forms and institutions of the state, the articulation of governmental powers, and the party system.
The fourth and final book, dealing with theories and interpretations of the state, outlines very quickly the evolution of these theories, moving on to focus on two major issues in political thought: the issue of individualism and collectivism, and the attack on sovereignty.
In concluding, MacIver offers a very acceptable and timely reinterpretation of the state as an association among other associations–as an organ of the community and thus an organ whose power must be limited in relation to its functions, which in turn must be constrained by the state’s inherent impulse, despite its dependency on its public, to encompass and dominate all that falls within its assigned territory.
MacIver remains utterly brilliant and so very relevant to our condition.
It infuriates me to run across mediocre publishers who refuse to use the simple tools that Amazon provides for loading a proper description of the book, providing the table of contents, or even offering “look inside the book” where an index can sell a book faster than the table of contents.
The highest praise I can give to this book is that it forced me to think and it inspired new work–my forthcoming article on Human Intelligence: All Humans, All Minds, All the Time (see comment for URL) was directly inspired by this book and the huge mess the U.S. Army is making of the Human Terrain Teams (HTT), code for abused pretend anthropologists without a clue. I have the fly-leaf note: our HUMINT is at war with itself.
The kindest thing I can do for the brilliantly selected and organized contributors to this volume is respect their work by providing the table of contents, which has reminded me better than my own notes of how diverse and valuable this collection is.
Part I: War, Peace, and Social Responsibility
01 Franz Boas, “Scientists as Spies” (1919)
02 Margaret Mead, “Warfare is Only an Invention–Not a Biological Necessity” (1940)
03 Marshall Sahlins, “Once You’ve Broken Him Down…” (1965)
04 Gerald Berreman, “Contemporary Anthropology and Moral Accountability” (1973)
05 Laura Nader, “Two Plus Two Equals Zero–War and Peace Reconsidered”
06 Beatriz Manz, “Dollars that Forge the Guatemalan Chains”
07 David Price, “Anthropologists as Spies” (2000)
08 Pierre Bourdieu, “Abuse of Power by the Advocates of Reason” (1998)
Part II: Prescient Anthropology: Diagnosing Crises Abroad
09 Robert Hayden, “West Must Correct Its Mistakes in Yugoslavia” (1992)
10 Robert Hayden, “NATO Fuels the Balkan Fire” (1999)
11 Anna Simons, “No Exit From Somalia” (1991)
12 Anna Simons, “Our Abysmal Ignorance About Somalia” (1992)
13 Anna Simons, “The Somalia Trap” (1993)
14 Winifred Tate, “Increased Military Aid to Colombia Won’t Curb Drug Trafficking” (1999)
15 Winifred Tate, “Colombia” Rules of the Game”, 2001
16 Lesley Gill, “Unveiling US Policy in Colombia” (2002)
17 Marc Edelman, “The Price of Free Trade: Famine” (2002)
18 Ali Qleibo, “How Two Truths Make One Tragedy” (2000)
19 Jeff Halper, “The Matrix of Control” (2201)
20 Jeff Halper, “After the Invasion: Now What” (2002)
21 Hugh Gusterson, “If U.S. Dumps Test Ban Treaty, China Will Rejoice” (2001)
Part III: Prelude to September 11
22 Ashraf Ghani, “Cut Off the Arms Flow and Let Afghans Unite” (1989)
23 James Merryman, “US Can Strengthen African Ties in Wake of Terrorism with Aid, Clear Policies” (1998)
24 Robert Fernea, “Egyptians Don’t Like Saddam, But….” (1991)
25 Barbara Nimri Aziz, “Gravesites–Environmental Ruin in Iraq” (1997)
26 Fadwa El Guindo, “UN Should Act to Protect Muslim Women” (1998)
27 Zieba Shorish-Shamley, Interviewed, “Women Under the Taliban” (2001)
28 William Beeman, “Follow the Oil Trail–Mess in Afghanistan Partly Our Government’s Fault” (1998)
Part IV: Anthropological Interpretations of September 11
29 Catherine Lutz, “Our Legacy of War” (2001)
30 David Harvey etal, “Local Horror, Global Response” (2001)
31 William Beeman, “A War Our Great-Grandchildren Will Be Fighting–Understanding Osama Bin Laden” (2001)
32 Janet McIntosh, “What Have 9/11 Investigators Overlooked?” (2002)
Part V: On Afghanistan, Central Aisa, and the Middle East
34 Robert Canfield, “Nation is Home to Afghans, Mujahedeen, Taliban, Afghan-Atabs, to Name a Few” (2001)
35 Ashraf Ghani, “The Follow of Quick Action in Afghanistan” (2001)
36 Nazif Sharrani, “Afghanistan Can Learn From Its Past” (2001)
37 Zieba Shorish-Shamley Interviewed, “Women in the New Afghanistan” (2001)
38 David Edwards and Shahmahmood Miakhel, “Enlisting Afghan Aid” (2001)
39 Kamran Asdar Ali, “Pakistan’s Dilemma” (2001)
40 Francesca Mereu etal, “War Destroyed Chechnya’s Clan Structure” (2002)
Part VI: Examining Militarism and the “War on Terror”
41 William Beeman, “U.S. Anti-Terrorist Message Won’t Fly in Islamic World” (2001)
42 David Price, “Terror and Indigenous Peoples–War without End”
43 John Burdick, “Afghan War Could be Recruiting Tools for Terrorists” (2001)
44 Dale Eickelman, “First Know the Enemy, Then Act” (2001)
45 John Burdick, “Sept 11 Exposes Futile Search for `Perfect’ Missile Defense” (2001)
46 Roberto Gonzalez, “Ignorance Is Not Bliss,” (2202)
47 Mahmood Mamdani, “Turn Off Your Tunnel Vision” (2002)
48 Thomas McKenna Interviewed, “The Roots of Muslim Separatism in the Philippines” (2002)
Part VII Academic Freedom and Civil Liberties
49 Roberto Gonzalez, “Lynn Cheney-Joe Lieberman Group Puts Out a Blacklist” (2001)
50 David Price, “Academia under Attack: Sketches for a New Blacklist” (2001)
51 Hugh Gusterson, Interviewed, “Lynn Cheney’s Free Speech Blacklist” (2002)
52 Laura Nader, Harmony Coerced Is Freedom Denied” (2001)
Epilogue: Unconventional Anthropology: Challenging the Myths of Continuous War
I was pleased to see several CounterPunch contributions. I respectfully encourage Amazon readers to seek out my CounterPunch short piece on “Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else.” Obama is a front for the Borg, he is not getting proper decision-support, and neither is any other element of the government. We need to get back into being the sovereign people.
The Best Book on the Topic, with a CD-ROM, Totally Rich,April 15, 2008
This is the very best book on Participatory Budgeting I could find (other than those on Puerto Alegre specifically, I will review one of those later) and once in hand, it has fully satisfied. The higher than normal cost for a book of this type is fully justified by the CD ROM.
Use the Search Inside This Book line under the book cover to see the Table of Contents and other elements of the book. I did not do that but if you have any doubts at all, reading the Table of Contents should be more than enough to overcome them.
For my purposes the two most important parts of the book were overview by the editor Anwar Shah (top expert with the World Bank); the guide to participatory budgeting by Brian Wampler; and the concluding appendix by Alan Folscher, on Citizen Participation and State Effectiveness, and also–very important–Preconditions and Enabling Factors for Citizen Engagement with Public Decisions. The rest of the book is regional case studies, and the CD ROM is country case studies.
From the Overview
+ Participatory Budgeting is direct democracy
+ It empowers citizens to deliberate, debate, and influence
+ It is a tool for educating, engaging, and empowering citizens
+ Transparency can reduce inefficiency as well as corruption
+ It strengthens governance by including the marginalized
+ It comes with significant risks (this was the new stuff for me)
– Process can be captured by interest groups
– Can cover up existing injustices
– Tyranny of group dynamics can overpower good intentions
– Tyranny of method can exclude other democratic means (much as the fine print in many legal agreements excludes access to courts and juries by including a concealed agreement to abide by arbitration)
Introduction to Participatory Budgetng
+ Four factors for success
– Strong mayoral support
– Civil society willing and able to engage in the debate (harder to find that I realized)
– Supportive policy environment that can withstand legislative pressure\
– Financial resources to actually fund programs sponsored by citizens
Guiding Tenets Include:
+ Division of municipality into regions for easier discussion and implementation
+ Government-sponsored meetings throughout the year
+ Quality of Life Index is created to weight program toward less well off
+ Deliberation and negotiatiion is public
+ Bus caravan visits all the proposed projects before voting on them
+ Elected representatives vote on all the projects (open or secret)
+ Municipal councel is elected with two representatives from each region
+ Year end report is published
+ Everything in monitored publicly year round
The above cannot possibly capture the nuances and complexities of each individual case study, so that is where ethnographic specificity must be applied.
Appendix on Citizen Participation
+ Types of participation
– Information sharing
– Joint decision making
– Initiation and control by citizen stakeholders
+ Preconditions and Enabling Factors
– Openness and democratic depth of the political and governance systems
– Existence of enabling legal frameworks
– Capacity for participation inside and outside government
– Existence of functional and free media institutions
– Willingness and capacity of government to make budget information open
What most surprise me as a lay reader (i.e. I claim no expertise at all, I simply believe to direct democracy) was the MANY OBSTACLES to participatory budgeting. I have heard that WikiCalc is coming along, which would along for budget information to be commented on and then different perspectives aggregated from the individual to the neighborhood or political preference level; and I hope that EarthGame will become a reality in which each person plays themselves and has access to full information, but in the context of populations that struggle day to day, it is going to take much more than an “invitation” to achieve participatory budgeting. In a nutshell, we know now that it can work, but getting it to work anywhere is going to be a real challenge.
Great book. A solid academic endeavor that if I were repeating my MPA this year, should certainly be in the Budgeting Course.
People are the new super power–local resilience, global community,
January 28, 2007
David C Korten
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is unquestionably a five-star work of reflection, integration, and focused moral intent. On the other hand, while it introduced a broad “earth-friendly” literature that I was *not* familiar with, it does not “see” a much broader literature that I have absorbed, and so I want to do two things with this review: feature the highlights from this book, and list a number of other works that support and expand on the author’s reflections for the greater good of us all.
Early highlights include the continued relevance of Dennis Kucinich and the emerging value of the Case Foundation and Revolution Health as funded by Steve Case, founder of AOL. The author posits early on the choice we have been a great unraveling and a great turning. He describes all our institutions as failing at the same time that we have unlimited potential. He concludes, as have many others, that centralized authority is not working, and suggests that we must confront that which does not work and devise new constructive alternatives (“for every no there must be a yes”).
In the middle of the book he describes the five levels of consciousness as magical, imperial, socialized, cultural, and spirirtual. I would have put socialized ahead of imperial, since the industrial era used schools to socialize us into both factory workers and conscripts for the armed forces. He concludes this section with a commentary on moral autism, which of course reminds us of nakedly amoral Dick Cheney.
The author moves toward a conclusion by pointing out that people are the new super-power, with the Internet and its many new features as the foundation for bringing people together and making people power effective.
A large portion of the middle section is a historical review of America, with its genocidal, slavery, and unilateral militant interventionist nature, and its extreme inequality now, which the literature on revolution clearly identifies (the latter, concentration of wealth) as a precurser to almost inevitable violent revolution).
The book ends with four strategic elements:
1) Awakening of cultural and spiritual consciousness
2) Resistance of the imperial empire’s assault on children, families, communities, and nature
3) Form and connect communities of convergence
4) Build a majoritarian political base.
In parting notes he points out that the status of our children is the key indicator of our future, and that today one out of every two children is born into and lives into poverty (one reason why the High Level Threat Panel put poverty above infectuous disease and environmental degradation).
He ends by calling for local living economies at a human scale.
If you have the time to only read one book within the broad literatures of imagination, corporateism, and constructive prospects for the planet, this is probably that book. Below I want to a list quite a few that support this author’s thesis, and for which I have provided a summative as well as an evaluative review within these Amazon pages:
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’
“The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past”
Imagine: What America Could Be in the 21st Century
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today’s Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems
There are many more should you wish to explore via my categorized lists, but the above both lend great credence to the author of this single book, and expand considerably on the reflections that he has distilled into this one book.
7 Star Life Transformative Showing True Perfidy in White House = 23 Documented High Crimes That Should Put Cheney in Irons Immediately,
January 9, 2007
EDITED 5 September 2007 to add ten links to other related books.
This book is vastly more detailed, and covers more high crimes and misdemeanors, than either State of Denial, which misunderstands Bush as being in charge, or Crossing the Rubicon, which focuses primarily on Cheney’s role in first permitting 9-11, and then working assiduously to cover up his malicious malfeasance. See also Ron Susskind’s book, “One Percent Doctrine,” which crucifies Cheney, Rumseld, and Rice.
I take this book so seriously that I urge everyone to get the “Do It Yourself Impeachment” kit. He should be required to immediately resign or be impeached. He should not be allowed to serve another month in office.
For the sake of brevity, here is a list of impeachable offenses documented by this book:
1) Secret meetings in violation of the law to include exclusion of government experts 2) Refusal to honor demand from Congress for a list of participants 3) Lies to the public about Iraq, while holding maps of oil fields and already having in mind a US-only domination of those oilfields (he first focused on Iraqi oil while serving Secretary of Defense Brown) 4) Over-ruling of the Environmental Protection Agency on very important matters including its concern over Halliburton’s reliance on hydraulic fracturing that uses chemicals that contaminate aquifers–Cheney personally ensured that the EPA’s wording was replaced with Halliburton’s wording. 5) Consistent and pervasive usurpation of Congressional authorities and consistent and maliciously deliberate avoidance of appropriate disclosure. 6) Fostered attacks on Sy Hersh, and considered authorizing a break-in on his home. 7) From the 1970’s, see also Ron Susskind’s One-Percent Doctrine, subverted the authority of the Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, and teams with Justice Scalia (then an assistant attorney general) to increase executive privileges and push back reforms. 8) As a Congressman personally blew off Russian offer in 1983 for arms cuts, and subverted the authority of the President and the Secretary of State then serving. 9) As an extremist Republican, supported Ollie North and the White House in violating the Congressional prohibitions on aid to the Contras, and obstructed justice thereafter. 10) Page 78 has a lovely discussion of how Cheney and North were “in the zone” in deceiving the public and Congress during the televised hearings. 11) Adopted as his own the lunatic report by Khalizad (who is a very lazy scholar, see my review of his rotten RAND book on revolution) and Libby, on how the US as a superpower should be able to do ANYTHING. 12) Attempted to undermine due process and keep tactical nuclear weapons in the Army inventory. 13) Subverted the authority of the Secretary of State (Colin Powell) by allowing his daughter to overrule Ambassadors and meet privately with various heads of state. 13) Lied repeatedly to the public about his continuing financial equities with Halliburton, and was so involved in giving Halliburton up to 16 billion in no bid contracts. 14) Shut both foreign competitors and more cost-effective indigenous contracting solutions, severely harming the national security of the United States by fostering an environment of unproductive looting by Halliburton, Bechtel, and others. 15) Ignored his dual mandates on terrorism and intelligence. The book suggests that Bush was not briefed on Al Qaeda for the first eight months he was in office (the Vice President’s priorities were energy and missile defense). 16) Personally impeded negotiations with North Korea after they proved amenable to diplomatic engagement. 17) Personally rejected Iranian overtures for negotiation conveyed by the Swiss in 2003 18) Personally reinforced Rumsfeld on use of torture, by-passing the President’s more measured restrictions. 19) Conspired with Speaker Hastert to subordinate the House of Representatives, using a special office of his own (first time in history) so that Representatives could be brought to him rather than his calling on them. 20) Manipulated the President into numerous “signing statements” inconsistent with the will of Congress that ignored legislation then in force. 21) “Bureaucratically emasculated” the President (page 177–if the President has a friend that reads this review, PLEASE get the book and the review to the President–he really may have no idea his balls have been cut off) 22) Contemptuous and manipulative of the CIA, refusing to accept their best professional judgments based not only all source intelligence, but on a extraordinary effort by Charlie Allen in running line crossers into Iraq to document beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were no weapons of mass destruction there. 23) Lied repeatedly, over and over, to the public, to Congress, to the President, to foreign leaders, even after the lies were exposed he continued to repeat them.
The book does not discuss the 9-11 situation and emerging findings that place the Vice President at the center of our deliberately inept response.
Two gems apart from the impeachable offenses:
1) The search for a Vice President was a complete fraud, he was picked from day one, and made a fool of every serious candidate, while also personally leaking to destroy Keating just to ensure the only real rival would not be considered at the last minute.
2) The discussion of Joe Lieberman’s refusal to confront Cheney with all that was known to be wrong with him was explained at the time as “taking the high moral road.” I am not so sure. I speculate that Lieberman is actually a neo-con and has been playing the Democrats for fools while minding the interests of his Wall Street masters.
On page 147 the authors discuss how Cheney accused Clinton and Gore of “extend[ing] our military commitments while depleting our military power.” Lovely. And now?
The authors conclude that Dick Cheney is “nakedly amoral.” I agree.
One final scary note: in the many doomsday drills that Cheney participated in across his career and inclusive of his Vice Presidency, they always failed to reconstitute Congress.
Dick Cheney has done more damage and is a greater threat to our Republic and others, than Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein combined.
For those wondering why Congress failed to do its Article 1 job (hence all Members are impeachable for dereliction of duty as well): Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy) Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders
Brilliant Work, Foundation for the Future of the Republic,
December 10, 2006
Michael J. Sandel
I picked this lovely book up on a whim while visiting the Harvard bookstore, and let it lie fallow for months. It was not until I read Paul Hawken’s “Ecology of Commerce,” that this book demanded to be read. I had no idea how well the two would go together.
Published in 2005, it is a balanced collection of essays written over the previous decade, and I found it to be better than any textbook or more labored treatise. This book really worked for me. Here are the highlights that made this book vital reading for any adult concerned about where we are going in the aftermath of the Bush-Cheney debacles.
Liberalism–root word liberty–has lost its moral voice. It has no compelling vision just when public philosophy is most needed. The author is quietly passionate about how values–enduring values–both enable localized self-governance and come from localized communities where everyone knows one another.
According to the author, individual knowledge of public affairs, and a sense of belonging to a larger commonwealth, are the underlying foundation for the Republic as our Founding Fathers bequeathed to us–“a Republic, if you can keep it,” as Benjamin Franklin told us all.
This author is most powerful in making the case that “laissez faire” on values is to NOT have national values. The author uses the early portion of the book to make the case that the larger question on anything is this: what strategy or policy will most support the nurturing of self-governance at the local and state levels? This connects DIRECTLY to the current focus in Ecotopia (British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington State) on resilience and on the equivalent focus by the global public health intelligence network on the same word: resilience!
I was moved, almost to tears, to read this author quoting and discussing Thomas Jefferson and Justice Brandeis, who were both certain that concentrated power is threatening to liberty and self-governance. Think Wall Street–Goldman Sachs, Carlyle, Wal-Mart, Exxon.
The rise of big government, led by Teddy Roosevelt, was intended to be an answer to big business, but it did not work. Of course, carried to its logical conclusion, global business demands big government (that will not work).
The author tells us that we went astray in the 1960’s. We focused on economic growth and federal justice instead of the larger issue of what “political economy” would reinforce rather than diminish citizenship. We focused on economic outputs rather than either the cost of inputs (see Herman Daly and Paul Hawken) or the goal of nurturing community.
This is really quite a brilliant thoughtful book. In the middle section it explores the conflict between the concepts of rights of individuals versus the common good being imposed. One has to ask (see George Will) should soulcraft be imposed or nurtured?
The book/author also drives a stake in the heart of globalization and corporations–it’s about the economy, stupid, BUT not as Bill Clinton used it. It’s about decentralizing economic power, the collision between capitalism and community.
The author touches on impeachment (which is on the minds of many as citizens rally all over America today to demand that Congress impeach Bush-Cheney) and can not be more explicit: impeachment is warranted when the President (or the Vice President in his name) undermines the system of government–the separation of powers. [I would note, as an estranged moderate Republican, that we should at the same time impeach every Republican serving in Congress for abdicating their role as the FIRST branch of government (see Coburn).
From this book we are reinforced in our belief that corporate money is impacting on the political system in ways absolutely not anticipated by our Founding Fathers. Money has supplanted reasoned dialogue.
The book closes with a marvelous review of Dewey as the greatest American philosopher, focusing on pragmatism as well as an openness to experimentation, a love of tolerance, and an avoidance of the absolute. For Dewey, democracy was not about giving every individual what they wanted but rather about drawing the greatest good from the greatest number of diverse individuals.
In passing the author notes that the use of nuclear weapons, genocide (and one might add, ecocide) are global wrongs, for they destroy entire multi-generational cultures in all their history and diversity.
The author chooses to end with a salute to Rabbi David Hartman’s interpretative pluralism (room for varied interpretations) and ethical pluralism (room for varied faiths). The author and Hartman conceive of religion as a means of making sense of the world and of one another.
The last bit focuses on John Rawls, and the three debates he inspired: utilitarian versus rights; what rights? and should the government be neutral?
There is a breath-taking finish, describing how a judge approved Martin Luther King’s march on public highways, despite George Wallace’s objections, because the enormity of the wrongs being protested warranted such a significant granting of privilege.
I am in awe of this author, of this book, and of the Republic for which it stands.
This book wanders a bit but renders a valuable service in speaking truth to power and considering, from a prize-winning investigative journalism perspective, “the story” of how Israel moved so far from its roots as a home for Jews, to a fanatical almost fascist and certainly zealot state concerned with its own survival. I recommend that the review by Mohamed F. El-Hewie, the New Jersey man with the Islam point of view be read in conjunction with this review.
The author opens with an examination of how the “story of Israel” has gone from core reality (a place so barren it makes the Congo look good, Palestinians kicked off their land after Israeli terrorists expelled the British occupying power) to a “land of milk and honey” with deserts made prosperous by Israeli industry–he neglects to mention that Israeli agriculture contributes 3% of the GDP while using 50% of the water, and that most of the water is being stolen by Israeli from underneath land outside Israeli territory.
From an “information operations” perspective, this is a really fascinating and well-told story of how Israel created several myths that sold not only in the USA but all over the world. I write in the margin, “Israel is the ultimate Potemkin village.” The author is also good at exploring the early signs that these myths are being exploded, the world is catching on, and US support for Israel may be on the verge (within five to seven years) of being withdrawn.
As he is both an American Jew and a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, I give this author special marks for combining a loyalty to his faith with a loyalty to the truth. The Islamic-oriented review from New Jersey adds a frame of reference I am not qualified to comment on, but I recognize it as valuable. Among the most important observations the author makes early on are these: 1) when Israel became an occupying power and got into the business of assassination as a routine method, censorship of Jews by Jews became commonplace–this was the “new aspect” of the Israeli regime. 2) At the same time, in America, self-censorship and popular protest of Jewish readers against Jewish writers critical of Israel, became more marked. The Jews of America–at least the vocal ones cited by the author–simply do not want to hear the truth–they are blindly bonded to the myths.
Sharon is slammed in this book many times over. The author credits Sharon with being the original Israeli army sponsor for assignations, and the several pages on Israeli assassination history and policy are alone worth the price of the book (pages 39-51). Sharon is recalled in the book by General Pundak as “a disgraceful officer–a liar, cheater, a swindler and suck-up, a killer and a coward.” I believe this–sounds like Chalabi and Arafat–the three were made for each other and disgrace us all.
The author explores a second crime against humanity characteristic of the Israeli bureaucracy: collective punishment. He builds a bridge from this–a policy that is explicitly forbidden by the Geneva Convention–to Israel’s collective loss of shame and loss of emotional commitment to the “all for one and one for all” attitude that marked the early years. Now it is everyone for themselves, never mind what the authorities do “in our name.”
The chapter on why Palestinians do not have a state is full of interesting observations, including the author’s view that the US audience simply does not know the Palestinian side of the story; that the occupation is costing 18% of Israel’s GDP (just 1% over the 17% of the Israeli government budget that we provide them out of the US taxpayer’s pocket–two different stacks of money, but the comparison needs to be made); and that the isolation of Gaza, and the honeycomb nature of the walls and barriers, are so grotesque as to be both Kafkaesque and Warsaw ghettoish–the victim has indeed become the perpetrator, and Israel cannot be seen, in its treatment of the Palestinians, as anything other than fascist and abusive.
Having torn apart the Israeli side, the author then moves to the Palestinian side, and two major ideas stay with me: first, the concept of honor so deeply rooted in Arab culture, an honor that the Israeli’s are attacking with every humility they can impose; and second, the utter contemptible corruption of Arafat and the Palestinian security authorities.
The book moves to a conclusion with a retrospective look at the bargain with the devil made by the Israeli security authorities very early on, when they accepted a dictatorship of the government from the zealot orthodox rabbis. He also explores the various “tribes” now within Israel, concluding that two thirds of the “new Jews” are not Jews at all, but simply Russian and other opportunists who have succumbed to the global covert and overt action operations of the Jewish state seeking to bring in more bodies as part of a demographic campaign plan.
The author can be shocking. He makes a case that is the Jews of Israel who bear the bulk of the responsibility for starting “the hate” and that it is the Israeli government that originally funded Hamas as an alternative to Arafat–an unfortunate reminder of US government funding for Islamic fighters in Afghanistan who have now turned on us.
The author’s note and acknowledgements at the end of the book are worth reading carefully, and includes a list of other books on this topic.
I expect a lot of negative votes on this review–that is the price we pay for offering honest opinions in a forum where a deliberate Jewish bloc attacks those like the author–and this reviewer–for seeking to move a balanced dialog forward. Amazon has new algorithms for detecting “hate votes” and “organized negative votes,” we shall see if those work here.