Interesting new books about Politics

We have to wonder if we are able to learn from history. Wells’ The Rights of Man seems to apply as much today as when it was written 75 years ago.

Syndetics book coverThe rights of man ; or, What are we fighting for? / H.G. Wells.
“H. G. Wells wrote The Rights of Man in 1940, partly in response to the ongoing war with Germany. The fearlessly progressive ideas he set out were instrumental in the creation of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the EU’s European Convention on Human Rights and the UK’s Human Rights Act. When first published, this manifesto was an urgently topical reaction to a global miscarriage of justice. It was intended to stimulate debate and make a clear statement of mankind’s immutable responsibilities to itself. Seventy-five years have passed and once again we face a humanitarian crisis. In the UK our human rights are under threat in ways that they never have been before and overseas peoples are being displaced from their homelands in their millions…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSocial media and everyday politics / Tim Highfield.
“In Social media and everyday politics, Tim Highfield examines political thought as everyday occurrences on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Tumblr, Instagram and more.
He considers the personal and the political, the serious and the silly, and the everyday within the extraordinary as politics arises form seemingly banal and irreverent topics. The analysis features international examples and evolving practices…” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverIslamic exceptionalism : how the struggle over Islam is reshaping the world / Shadi Hamid.
“In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, “exceptional” in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. …Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying–and alarmingly successful–example of ISIS… Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam’s past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpooked : how the CIA manipulates the media and hoodwinks Hollywood / Nicholas Schou ; foreword by David Talbot.
“The American people depend on a free press to keep a close and impartial watch on the national security operations that are carried out in our name. While the press remains silent about its corrupting relationship with the intelligence community relationship that dates back to the Cold War, Schou will name names and shine a spotlight on flagrant examples of collusion, when respected reporters have crossed the line and sold out to powerful agencies. The book will also document how the CIA has embedded itself in liberal Hollywood to ensure that its fictional spies get the hero treatment on screen…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAgainst elections : the case for democracy / David van Reybrouck ; translated by Liz Waters.
“Democracy is in bad health. Against Elections offers a new diagnosis and an ancient remedy. Fear-mongering populists, distrust in the establishment, personality contests instead of reasoned debate: these are the results of the latest elections. In fact, as this ingenious book shows, the original purpose of elections was to exclude the people from power by appointing an elite to govern over them. Yet for most of its 3000-year history, democracy did not involve elections at all: members of the public were appointed to positions in government through a combination of volunteering and lottery…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMāori and Parliament : diverse strategies and compromises / edited by Maria Bargh.
Maori and Parliament provides a comprehensive and enlightening context for understanding both the historical and contemporary relationship between Maori and Parliament and highlights many of the issues which would arise in any discussion of New Zealand constitutional reform. There are three events looming which suggest that the status of Maori in Parliament is in for some significant challenges. The first is the impending review of constitutional issues and the Maori seats. Secondly, the proposed referendum on the future of the mixed member proportional system (MMP). Finally, the longer term question of whether New Zealand should become a republic, which would also necessitate lengthy debates about the place of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements in relation to Maori rights and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverListen, liberal, or, What ever happened to the party of the people? / Thomas Frank.
“It is a widespread belief among liberals that if only Democrats can continue to dominate national elections, if only those awful Republicans are beaten into submission, the country will be on the right course. But this is to fundamentally misunderstand the modern Democratic Party. Drawing on years of research and first-hand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. In this critical election year, Frank recalls the Democrats to their historic goals-the only way to reverse the ever-deepening rift between the rich and the poor in America.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow did we get into this mess? : politics, equality, nature / George Monbiot.
How Did We Get into this Mess? assesses the state we are now in: the devastation of the natural world, the crisis of inequality, the corporate takeover of nature, our obsessions with growth and profit and the decline of the political debate over what to do. While Monbiot’s diagnosis of the problems in front of us is clear-sighted and reasonable, he also develops solutions to challenge the politics of fear. How do we stand up to the powerful when they seem to have all the weapons? What can we do to prepare our children for an uncertain future? Controversial, clear but always rigorously argued, How Did We Get into this Mess? makes a persuasive case for change in our everyday lives, our politics and economics, the ways we treat each other and the natural world.” (adapted from Book cover)