Sunday, December 23, 2012


The recent austerity programmes in Europe are funded by the Central Bank , but run by templates of the IMF.

The track-record of the IMF in other places has caused a lot of concern and even more damage as its prescriptions have devastated the abilities of countries under its sway from recovering without foregoing their financial sovereignty and falling into a deeper vicious cycle of dependency and vulnerability to external interference without their best long term interests at heart.

The leader of Malaysia regarded withstanding the IMF dictates for South East Asia as one of the most imperative decisions he ever made , whilst the former President of Brazil considered the paying of  all debts and escaping the policies of the IMF as the first essential steps for one of the greatest Poverty Alleviation programmes in the History of Mankind , only bettered by China , and matched by Iran ( countries that also escaped the influence of the IMF).

In this vital contribution Stiglitz speaks from personal experience of being head advisor of the World Bank and Economic policy adviser to many Governments about the destructive negative role past and current IMF programmes and policies have for any nation unfortunate enough to have to suffer them.

Neo-Liberalism should be recognised as a phenomenon that thrived more under Democrat (The Clinton Years) and New Labour ( the reign of Brown) than necessarily being only viable under Republican or Conservative Governments.To this end the blame of the establishment of an unfair order of Globalisation has to go to the decade in which so-called social security administrations  were in place than the sterner right-wing orientated ones.

It takes a former Nobel Prize Winner to give weight to the mountains of critiques by many opposing the corporate led Globalisation Project. "Now he speaks out against it: how the IMF and WTO preach fair trade yet impose crippling economic policies on developing nations; how free market 'shock therapy' made millions in East Asia and Russia worse off than they were before.."

Coming from where he does , Stiglitz is going to come up for strong criticism for being less a gamekeeper turned  poacher.But rather as a gamekeeper who thinks the reservation and poacher-management could be better organised as this review clearly shows in pointing out the shortcomings of the Stiglitz narrative of macro-economic management of world trade.

Meanwhile, Stiglitz presents his argument as one of common sense versus the doctrinaire “market fundamentalists”. He attacks the ideological motivation of the Washington Consensus, yet his own prescriptions are often no more commonsensical, and certainly just as ideological. The only difference is that where the IMF takes its cue from Hayek, Stiglitz takes his from Keynes.

Here explains why using the GDP figures are not the best or even a reliable measure of a Nations overall wealth.

This comment on the video sums it up pretty well:

 "Simon Kuznetsk, the individual who created the formula in 1934 warned when presenting it to Congress, that “The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income.” He know that the government could use the formula to paint whatever picture they wanted based on spending. For example, the "New Deal" was championed as a miracle yet it was governmental spending that put it in a positive light not the true health/strength of the American economy."

And here The Nobel winning Economist explains how the disastrous Iraq War led to the recession.


Saturday, December 22, 2012


This book was written at the closing of the 19th Century , a work HG Wells considered his favourite.The author was passionate in making this a success for both publisher and himself , suggesting a sophisticated advertising campaign of enigmatic themed posters in several locations to build up an curiousity , intrigue and fever pitch anticipation in the weeks prior to launch date.A Century later this type of synthesised ad campaign prior to launch of products is still considered the best publicity strategy for modern age products.

The story is of faux pas issues of someone entering a new status or community.The strength of the story is that it not only deals with material slap-stick situations , but is a sympathetic portrayal of the emotional , moral and intellectual issues about who is setting the rules for society , and how we judge whom is in the right or wrong in these assimilation conflicts , it also makes one ponder if the larger society is there to enhance the individual members to achieve full benefit or to restrict behaviour and curb development.This question is highly essential in that if it is the former Society will genuinely progress and adapt to situations , whilst the later can lead to corrosion within , corruption and ultimately implosion when faced with new challenges.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Old Goriot is the most accessible , and Balzac favourite , of the vast set of novels that became known as the Human Comedy.A major inspiration for the realism , in location and character development, was Walter Scott.This Book is the entry point to Balzac i would recommend as it contains within a fairly short read all the relevant and notable landmarks and devices one needs to develop an understanding of the vital contribution to the Historical and Individual psychological portrayal Novels we take for granted from the Great Works of Tolstoy to the works involving the Anti-Hero.

Balzac regarded the Novel as an instrument of scientific enquiry into societal relations and Human Nature.

Balzac also characterises Society and its ills , both in structural corrosion and individual petty competitiveness for spurious short lived goals which to little to quell the restless spirit even when achieved , usually at great personal materially and inwardly wellbeing costs to both the individual and those around them.

The review below is a fairly decent one of the Book and its place in the Balzac Canon.


Friday, August 31, 2012


John Steinbeck considered this to be the pinnacle for which all his other works were foundational steps.

The story was written for his two young Sons to be a valuable precious life lesson when they grow up to maturity.

On page 393 you can find the essence of the moral of this universal tale that speaks to all generations , past, present and future.

"vice is constantly re-spawned...virtue is immortal"

Below is a segment from the address Steinbeck gave in his acceptance speech when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Having read a lot about China lately i was intrigued by the observation on page 338 which is so applicable to the real clash of fundamentals between the US and the Chinese fall outs on Western Debt and the Chinese requirement to fund the out of control avarice and bankruptcy , both financial and cultural ..." every Chinese must clear his debts before New Year , start clean, or loses face".There are no excuses.

The Novel ends with a note of Great Redemption , no matter what has gone before , for how long , there is always hope for forgiveness and ultimately rectifying wrongs as long as the attempt to alter things is sincere.

Again , it takes Chinese wisdom to clearly define a Semitic concept to bring Harmony and Regeneration to Western Values as captured in the concept of Timshel.

The Ending of the Book and the Concept of Timshel is so profound that that very work and its meaning have many websites solely devoted to explaining and understanding it.One example is below:

A good way  to end this is to give the last word to one of the very Sons this Book was written for:

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Some of the very best Books about political policies are written by Journalists with a wide all rounded grounded experience of the pragmatism of real life experience , as opposed to some academics closed within the restricted ghettos of their own specialisations and dogmatic cliques.

Ungers thesis in this Book is that there is a clash not of civilisations , rather a clash of fundamentalisms from Christian;Islam;Jewish and the secular fundamentalism of Nationalism in the form of the Neo-Cons.

The Book charts the assembling of "Team Bush" being a project going back to well before the presidency of George Bush Snr , led mainly by Dick Cheney.Protagonists of this project served as long ago as the time of Nixon , as in the case of Rumsfeld.

You can get a very detailed companion piece to the drama and players in the Book from its dedicated website.

The rich cast of characters included a whole clutch, especially ideological advisers , come from those , according to the Milliband Snr doctrine , not to dissimilar to the career of our very own Dr. John Reid in the UK, made a transition from ultra-left Trotskyite to uber-right neo-con dogmatic fundamentalists , proving the rule that the ultra-left and ultra-right really share the same goals of world domination , and arent too fussy to jump ship to join whichever format will get them nearer their nefarious goals.The Ultra-Left want the working class to lay down their lives and hand them power , whereas the Ultra-Right turn to the Corporate model to the road to power.

This extremely illuminating and perceptive interview brings out in stark detail the main points of the Book.

In this interview , Unger pinpoints the manner and pole played by the neo-cons in bringing about the War which ultimately proved disastrous for all concerned. 

One major crippling flaw in the Book is the implication that US policy was hijacked , then shifted by the neo-con / Christian-Right alliance.While it is true that Clinton had rejected efforts by the neo-cons to wage war on Iraq.It was a question of nuance of policy rather than ultimate goals.One has to remember that the Iraq sanctions and the deliberate prolonging of the myth Iraq has WMDs was all throughout Clintons time in Office.What the neo-cons did was to fast-track the continuous policy to "conclusion" rather than alter it in any substantial manner.Hence why the Bush drive to war was not opposed by the Democrat opposition who in effect where the authors of the policy that the neo-cons wished to fast-track from drip-feed to a shock and awe finale.Whereas sanctions are the preferred weapon of Democrats , overwhelming Military Might was the tool of the neo-con project.

In this respect Ungers thesis is not only wrong , but dangerously wrong as far as differential between Republican pursuance of Foreign Policy as opposed to Democrat is concerned.The Iraq war a disaster made in both Houses of the US political spectrum.If anything it is the Republicans , and not Obamas Democrats who have learned the lesson of not putting Harm in the way of US Military Forces more.

If it happens , it may well be under the watch of a Republican President that any ill-advised Military strike against Iran occurs , but the architects and script-writers of the show will be in Democratic Ink.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Some People are put off this Book because of the many Latin references or what appear to the superficial eye obscure historical figures only known in specialist academic circles which is a shame as this is a very easy to read investigation mystery with profound overtures to how we got where we are now as a Society , and how we may begin to work our way out of current problems.

Initially , the publisher want Eco to change the first one hundred or so pages of the Book as it would save the reader trawling through so many historical and religious references , Eco insisted in keeping them as they are because he wanted to test the fortitude of the reader , arguing a serious reader , which he was targeting  , would get past this stage and be able to continue reading with due appreciation and respect for the substance of the work. 

Not only does it contain many historical and philosophical references , it also has , like classic Greek literature , debate segments.
The "debates" issues are very stimulating and are well deserving of a full and frank exchange of views.

Im looking forward to discussing one of the later debates in the book as i think Umberto makes it out as a clash between science and the "truth" which , in my view , is not where the establishment went awry , as in the matter of truth there is no mutually exclusive clash between religion and science.
The clash was rather between Dogma and Science , which meant that there was either going to be the prevalence of the Establishment or of Science , which forced the issue that Science in Western Europe was forced into the Atheist orbit in order to pursue its Truth whilst the Establishment was moved deeper to Dogma.
This is where a Tragic breach was made in that has to be resolved so that both Science and religion are co-participants on the course of Truth and not two poles of the fruitless polemic of bloody semantics.

This is where i believe the West can learn from Judaism and Islam in that those religions fully embraced science as a co-participant in the journey of truth to such an extent that the great Jewish and Islamic scientists mentioned in the Book where also esteemed religious Scholars without there being any incompatibility whatsoever.

 The various debates , especially comedy , to me , Bill Hicks; Richard Pryor and Billy Connelly are most certainly philosophers that challenge and force debates for betterment of positions with polemics being dissipated and a stand up to long term scrutiny ethos to win out.

Another debate , hence the date of setting in the Book , is a moving away from the Church being a series of orders of believers giving of themselves and material possessions for the greater good to the centralising of the Church is the field of land ownership and aligning to Power interests. That debate seems to emanate from the clash of Papal authority in Avignon and Rome and the emergence of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire.The debate is how much , if at all , the Church should align to Power Politics and BlocK cohesion or to sit it out of that Theatre and be a non-aligned force of social movements.Religion is being used and abused by the Power Blocks (Avignon/Italy Based/Germanic Holy Roman empire) with the adherents paying the blood price.That is why it is important to draw a distinction from the Church and the higher elites which were very much quasi-secular power block commission appointments.

The Borghias were made infamous because they were outsiders and tried to upset the Apple cart by trying to establish a Catalan order.This meant that they did not give out the necessary grace and favours of land and positions to the local Papal forces in Italy and they were pretty much wiped out in just about a year after the first Pope died and normal service was restored.
One Power blocks orthodoxy is another blocks heresy. If the Church is to get involved it has the choice of aligning itself with the elite |Power Blocks , which as you state can be messy and inconsistent (especially the Choices made in the 30s and 40s) or to have a consistent moral line to lobby for a minimum standard of rights for the lower elites and to give the Power Blocks no legitimacy that does not tally with those minimum standards , this later choice at least gives a long term consistent line that ultimately means the Church is truly independent rather than tainted and have the worst of both worlds of not being respected by the Power Blocks and not trusted by the weak.

In a way it relates well to the role of the Catholic Church in Eurocentric powers ( alliances in the 30s and 40s) and after Pope John Paul II support for the Victims of persecution in the former Soviet Block ( and making the right noises about Inter-Faith dialogue) to change under the current Pontiff to favour Rightist forces and the Role of the Church in South America which is in the forefront of the social justice movements that are looking to have more self-determination from the overt Corporate interests from outwith the Continent.

It is perfectly easy to read the Book without dealing too intensely with the debates and history , and on that level is a quality entertaining Murder Suspense Mystery in its own right.

Below the Author discusses current Europeanzone  issues with Jeremy Paxton.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


In the age of post-modernism and the de-colonisation as well as the pick-up in the wave of immigration from the former colonies to the UK , Jean Rhys published a reaction to what she thought was the appalling treatment of Mr.Rochesters first wife as the mad woman living in the attic.The novel serves as a prequel to Jane Eyre.

His wife was said to be a creole from The Caribbean , most Creoles were of  Slave and , in the main , Scottish descent , mainly dew to most of the plantations that produced Tobacco being run by Scottish owners or administrators because of the superior Scottish Banking System ( the advent of the concept of the overdraft which was not prevalent in England or elsewhere) which allowed Tobacco grown in the Caribbean and processed in Scotland to be the premium available quality , hence Scottish tobacco was seen as the highest top grade available , being re-exported to the Rich parts of continental Europe , creating the Glasgow Tobacco Lords that made most of Glasgows prosperous Landmarks we know today.

In this three part Novel Rhys gives the neglected woman in the attic Humanity , a life , dreams  and aspirations.The unimportant "other" get a status with a voice to tell her stories and her history. 


The recently deceased Gore Vidal read this Book once a year for many years , declaiming its humour as a technical proficiency , though always in the form of demeaning those lesser in the class system than himself.

Waugh was part of the lower rung of the upper classes  , hence he could only draw clear blue water between the upper classes and the lower ones he feared he may be associated with  acerbic , crude, cruel barbs and blatant hostility towards them.

Some regard this Book to be an all time classic , others see it as over-rated crass and puerile.I agree with the latter view.Certainly Waugh never mentioned it with any great remembrance when discussing his works.

This interview from the classic series Face to Face gives insight into the curt and abrasive manner of Waugh.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


If you are looking for an easily read primer to the early Roman Empire and any lessons that may be derived for our times then this Book is a magnificent place to start.

On page 25 is a universal observation that usually trumps the most passionate Marxist policy advocate , " the aim of even the most poverty stricken citizens was not to change society , but to do better out of it."

On page 34 we get down to brass tacks with comparisons of dominant superpowers and their justifications for aggression...." conquering the world in self-defence" and the hidden ethos of these very superpowers "Freedom- the opportunity of other countries to follow its rules" which just about sums up the War On Terror and all of its attendant political , cultural and societal manifestations.

This review from the Observer captures the the wide ranging appeal of the Book:

"Ancient history often descends to us either through impregnable academic works or the sword-and-sandal epics of the cinema. What Holland achieves is to draw from both genres to write a modern, well-paced and finely observed history which entertains as it informs."
Richard Miles review in The Guardian gives a peer academics approval.

"It should serve as a model of exactly how a popular history of the classical world should be written."

You can see a fascinating symposium featuring Tom Holland ( he appears at the 19 min mark) about topics covered in the Book , especially Pax Romana.

Monday, August 6, 2012


One of the most profound and fluidly written Books one will ever read.You simply wont be bored from one paragraph to the next.

The very real essence of the Book is that is a passionate partisan poetic tribute to the best aspect of the Human Spirit.

The author has his own dedicated website which will help get acquainted with the themes and inner story of this modern day classic that will appeal to all that value the best aspects of the love and bonds Humanity can show in the face of the most inhumane artificial de-humanising systems invented by Man.

You can hear the author talk about his experiences which deepened his understanding of real love and affection among People and Communities in the video ( 5 parts) below:

Sunday, July 15, 2012


It is remarkable to think the events described in this memoir are almost a century old.And to think British soldiers are serving in a futile political motivated war as we speak.

The Book describes the futility of the ordinary people who were put in the line of fire by an upper class impervious to the consequences of the horrors that took place.Graves himself came from the lower echelons from that upper class , though his Family , like the Royal Family , came from German Stock.Posing an irony to Graves service in a potentially tricky environment.

The upper class background of Graves is pointed out when he was based on the Southern Coast of England during leave partaking of Champagne lunches in exclusive clubs.A disconcerting phrase employed before major engagements is "the big show".

The video below gives an excellent review of the Book:

The Book also covers Graves relationships with other poets during the war.Giving an account of the daring courageous bravery of Siegfried Sassoon in capturing , then holding a German position single-handedly.And also telling anecdotes of Wilfred Owen.Sassoon was to fall out and sever relations with Graves over telling matters he regarded as private without permission for what was regarded as commercial considerations over the trust of Friendship.

Another aspect of the Book is Graves visit to Thomas Hardy just prior to Hardys passing in which he confesses he would rather be remembered as a Poet than a Novelist.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Gillian Slovo has had a very interesting , or rather tense and harrowing, childhood which served her well in Adulthood by making her the kind of role model we can all be proud of.Her parents were activists against the apartheid regime , her Mother being assassinated by the South African secret service.Her Father came up with a solution that showed the South African Communist Party can mature from the European ones by adopting a regional priority over and above centralised dogma in the pathetic guise of internationalism.The solution was to fight the apartheid regime first and foremost , and only then agitate to get a socialist economic agenda in place in a United post apartheid modern South Africa.Hence the Communist Party of South Africa enjoys an Universal respect from all sectors of the South African Society that has never been achieved in Europe as the Communist there have had a policy of fomenting revolution rather than being a bit player in a universal mass-movement to get rid of the power elites.From Spain to France to Italy this has resulted in the Socialist agenda being at best dissembled from within the Leftist ranks or at worst being militarily annihilated for a generation or more leaving the way clear for rightists and neo-liberals.

Anyway , Gillian has written this Book about 1950s emigrants from the Colonies to the UK.A lot of it is inspired from her own exile because of the dangers of living in South Africa when her parents were targets of State repression.

The video below shows her discussing the background of the Book with David Frost.

This Guardian review gives a fairly accurate  though not entirely generous description of the Book which does lack the substance one would expect from such a politically aware Author.


A Song is ultimately what it means to you.Like Poetry they have be enigmatic , mysterious and transcendent.Though, like Joseph Franks masterpiece of Dostoyevsky , a little detail of the age,cultural forms and prevailing philosophical currents goes a long way to rightfully appreciating the work of a craftsman and deep thinker like Neil Young has always employed in his work.A lot of Youngs Music is to be seen as Genuine Artistry like currents in painting.This book is a treasure trove for fans wondering about the circumstances and thought processes going into the background of songs.

The Good thing about the Book is the author does not like all the songs and is not shy to tell us so in uncertain and harsh terms.This makes his lauding of songs ever more sincere rather than overtly fawning.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Not to be confused with the war historian  Michael Jones who has written about the war in the eastern front this author has given a brilliant account of this epic world changing battle from the point of view of the Soviet 62nd Army.The author has a massive advantage over the likes of Anthony Beevor in that he has had unprecedented access to survivors ( primary sources) and previously unavailable documents including the 62nd Army war diary.He has also talked with the surviving children and relatives of the protagonists , eliciting private reminiscences they heard from their parents which give a truer account of the situation that official soviet censors allowed.

The true story of the spirit of the defenders of Stalingrad makes for an even more heroic account than previously credited.One of the reasons is that even the protagonists could not account for the fortitude and spirit on purely technical grounds , the word Devine is the only explanation that makes sense to those that were there.A code of Friendship;Loyalty;Honour and Selflish Devotion to Others is what shines through the whole account. 


It should come as no surprise that expert opinion of economists ; bankers;investment analyst is somewhat questionable , highly questionable.

In this concise , dare i say it , ecomonical book the author explains how the world has got into this mess , and how it may get out.More of the same dogma from neo-liberal schools of thought is certainly not a solution he has much truck with.

In the video below the author explains the reasons how we could hear in the same easy yo understand manner of the Book.

This excellent review from the Guardian captures the sentiments posed in this vital source for understanding the current economic circumstances we have been led to by so called experts.Though from the comments section you can gauge that there are many who are programmed to the current system to an extent they cannot think of any way out of it.A very worrying trend that has to be challenged.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Brilliant historian Michael Jones supreme quality is to bring an intimate profound Human quality to harrowing events from some of the most startlingly unsettling periods during the last century.Not only is he a master of the strategic macro-events and the dry statistical academic research that goes with it , he weaves individual experiences of some of those there allowing them to tell their story and speak to future generations.
The Book details the arrogance of one side believing they are superior to the other , therefore creating a culture in which treating the other as sub-humans was an accepted given.

The same attitude led to defeat as the opponents of the German advance were not considered as being able to last out to winter.Subsequently it was the Winter that killed most of the Germans who became a begraddled pathetic feeble tottering mass resembling Napoleons Army many years before.

Alas , Stalin was also to suffer from Hitlers disease as he pulled away vital units of the counter-offensive Army thinking the Germans were a spent force.This catastrophic decision maybe added at least two more destructive years onto the war in the east as the Soviets were unable to press the advantage handed to them by German High Command mistakes.


I first saw John Suchet in Conversation Pieces , lunchtime lectures at the Royal Concert Hall.A very successful , sold out series.John had just written a Book about Beethoven , his entertaining illuminating talk was just like his Book , an excellent appraisal of the life of the Composer written for non-specialist admirers wanting to know the life and times of the great man and the settings of his inpirational musical pieces.

At the time i did not realise  , but he mentioned Bonnie with great affection , his companion and devoted researcher for the Book.

Many years later his wife fell victim to Dementia , this warm , touching , heart-rending Book is a tribute to his wife.

The emotional and evocative video below shows John Talking about this cruel disease and how it effects not only the victim but also the carers.

As the population gets older and more and more People find relationships  and companionship in later years this issue is going to become more common , it will be a real test of the resolve and character that a good devoted couple must share in the autumn and winter years.