CHURCH AND STATE

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

White Too Long (The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity)

By: Robert Jones

Narrated by: Holter Graham

Robert P. Jones (Author, Founder of Public Religion Institute, Baptist Theological Seminary Graduate, Ph.D. in religion from Emory Univ.)

Though history shows Americans have wavered, freedom (within the limits of rule-of-law) has progressed.

Fundamentally, “White too Long” is about equal rights for all Americans in the face of white privilege and white supremacy. Jones argument is a powerful explanation of how inequality is institutionalized by American Catholic and Protestant religions.

Jones focus is on discrimination against people of color in the south, but his evidence applies to many states-of-affair and every State in America. Raised in the south, born in 1968 and educated as a seminarian, Jones has intimate knowledge of religion and its practice.

Robert Jones reflects on institutionalization of racism by Christian religions in the United States.

Images of Christ as “God’s offspring” are of a white man in most (if not all) Christian religions. Christ is rarely identified as a person of color, or obviously as a woman. God as the Father is presumed by white America to be male and to be white.

It seems fair to say Americans have made progress in reducing racism and improving equal rights, but it has been two steps forward and one back. A basic tenant in the formation of the United States is separation of church and State.

The concern that America had in its beginning is government sanctioning of a particular religion for any state or jurisdiction. To keep that from happening, the Constitution stipulated separation of state and religion.

What Jones focuses on is the south’s history of slavery in “White Too Long”. Jones offers a detailed history of how religion reinforces white supremacy in the South. He argues that southern leaders of various religious denominations assumed beliefs in white supremacy and spread that belief through their religious preaching. They preached to white audiences constituting the bulk of Americans in the first 200 years of American history.

He notes the 2015 murder of 9 Black church members in Charleston S.C. as a turning point for the south. Dylann Roof walks into a Black church and murders the minister and 9 members of the church. Of course, the south is not the only source of white supremacists’ violence against people of color. There is the horrendous “Tops Market” murder of ten non-white citizens in Buffalo N.Y. in 2022 by Payton Gendron.

Jones notes how southern white America justified slavery as their right as a superior race. He recounts numerous stories of his experience in the south and his awakening to the subtle ways white superiority became an assumed right of his white friends. Preachers preached the gospel of white superiority. Jones notes how belief in white superiority became real to white Americans. Any opposition to that belief would be met with violence, before and after the civil war.

Though it is not part of Jones’ book, America’s religions also institutionalize discrimination against women. Like people of color, women of all races are treated unequally. Recent action by the Supreme Court in a woman’s right to choose whether to give birth is a case in point.

The Supreme Court’s decision in “Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization” is a step backward from equal opportunity for women in the United States.

Some would say abortion is different because it involves taking a life and not being punished. Is that different than the lives of people of color who have been hung, mutilated, and discarded by white supremacy and not punished? Some would say yes because a baby is innocent. Being innocent and born to a mother who does not care destroys both a mother’s and baby’s innocence. America does not have a good record for taking care of the homeless, let alone poorly cared for children.

In view of Jones education, one presumes Jones would not condone abortion but his argument of religions’ role in institutional racism seems equally applicable to women’s rights. The conservative tone of today’s Supreme Court bodes ill for American equal rights. Separation of church and State is a fundamental tenant of the U.S. Constitution.

Jones has written a damning and enlightening report on white supremacy, and its tacit perpetuation by Christian religions.

The most difficult chapters of Jones book are at its end. When one accepts that America has been “White Too Long”, what can we do about it? The author’s answer is to come to grips with truth, repent, and offer restitution to descendants of slavery. Jones recalls the story of Cain and Abel and identifies white Americans as the embodiment of Cain.

In Jones belief forgiveness only comes from truth, repentance, and restitution. Most rational white Americans accept the idea of truth and repentance, but restitution is derided by powerful Americans like Mitch McConnell who resist the idea of restitution because it is too difficult to trace descendants of slavery.

One might ask oneself-how difficult is it to offer native Americans restitution for the theft of their land? Reservations, and the right to create income producing properties have been a haphazard solution but they have been steps toward restitution.

Jones suggests some first steps have been taken by organizations that have set up endowments for restitution for slavery’s descendants. He argues, only with restitution can the stain of slavery be removed from the conscience of White America.

While one may ignore the issue of restitution, today’s American Supreme Court encroaches on separation of church and State by choosing to change support for Christian schools and “Roe v. Wade”. Erosion of church and State separation sets a table for more American violence. Unequal treatment cannot be sustained in a world of demographic change.

INTERVENTIONIST FOLLY

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

No Good Men Among the Living (America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes)

By: Anand Gopal

Narrated by: Assaf Cohen

Anand Gopal (Author, Journalist, formally embedded with the Taliban in Afghanistan.)

“No Good Men Among the Living” should be read or listened to by Presidents, Senators, Representatives, and Ambassadors of the United States. Anand Gopal gives a journalist eye view of errors and consequences of America’s intervention in Afghanistan where neither language nor culture are understood.

In the beginning of Gopal’s book, one is skeptical of its objectivity. However, as Gopal’s interviews of Afghan Taliban and non-aligned Afghanis accumulate, a listener begins to believe what is being said and reported.

The trials of Afghan women are appalling to Americans. What is missed is the struggle younger Afghan women have with the older generation.

Grandparents are appalled by what they perceive is abandonment of a life of duty to Allah and men in their families, whether fathers, husbands, or sons. This duty is based on generations of a culture that protect the tradition of male and female relationship. That protection is anathema to freedom, which is an inviolable tradition in America, but not Afghanistan.

The experience of Russian intervention and American training of the mujahideen led to a culture of non-Islamic terrorism.

Gopal notes Afghani women were raped and killed by American trained Mujahadeen after Russia was expelled. The Taliban restored order. Later, when America chose to dismantle the Taliban because of the Afghanistan leader’s refusal to release bin Laden, Afghanis began to see America as a new occupier rather than liberator.

Afghanis began to see America as a new occupier rather than liberator. The Taliban secretly regained power and influence as the perception of America’s intervention changed.

The cause of the change in perception of America as an occupier grew because of its dependence on self-interested tribal Afghanis who used American forces to eliminate rivals. All a respected Afghani translator had to do was identify a rival as a Taliban ally. America would arrest, jail, or kill the translator’s rival.

America presumes it is helping rid Afghanistan of Taliban control when in fact it is only serving a translator who has a tribal self-interest.

Internecine tribal conflict in Afghanistan creates an all-against-all culture with survival of the fittest as an objective, i.e., fertile ground for Taliban resurgence. The Taliban could maintain a level of peace between tribal interests; America could not. America’s lack of understanding Afghan culture and American dependence on self-interested translators assures its failure.

America’s ignominious Afghan abandonment is a tragedy for both countries.

The fault lies with America’s failure to define a limited objective, execute a plan, and leave when a defined objective is achieved. It is unrealistic to believe an interventionist country can understand another country’s culture well enough to offer benefit to both invader and invaded.

The sad consequence from America’s view is that women will continue to be suppressed in Afghanistan.

There is a slender hope drawn from Gopal’s interviews of a young Afghan woman. She becomes a regional representative in Afghanistan despite the murder of her husband by the Taliban. She is supported by a tribal leader who respects her independence. The road traveled by women in Afghanistan is certainly more difficult now that America has left, but Gopal shows there is a road. However, Gopal infers help can only come from those who understand the culture in which they live.

Without a precise and achievable interventionist objective and an immediate withdrawal plan, military intervention historically leads to national tragedy, both for perpetrator and victim.

With the qualified exception of Korea, America’s interventions in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are national tragedies for both interventionist and subject nations. Today’s contest is in Ukraine with Russia, once again, testing intervention.

FREEDOM’S LIMITS

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality

By: Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson

Narrated by: Peter Berkrot

One doubts this book will be read or listened to by most Americans based on its clear allusion to the 18th century phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” (“let them eat bread”–allegedly said by Marie Antoinette during the French revolution).

Marie Antoinette (1755-1793, Louis XVI’s Queen Consort of France.)

Just as Marie Antoinette is unlikely to have said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, it is an allusion unworthy of Hacker’s and Pierson’s ivory-tower educations.

The co-authors detail a current crisis in America that is well detailed by others in this century.

There is an appalling and growing gap between rich and poor in America. However, though the gap is real, most rational Americans have no interest in beggaring their neighbor.

In the 17th century, Hobbes clearly recognized the pitfall of democracy when not constrained by rule of law. Freedom is a harsh master and has been recognized as such from American Democracy’s beginnings.

Human beings are driven by the desire for money, power, and prestige. Hacker and Pierson note many actions taken by American politicians, appointees, government bureaucrats, and corporate moguls have had the unintended consequence of beggaring their neighbors.

Rule of law has simply not kept up with the fundamental tenant of American freedom.

Four relevant issues raised by Hacker and Pierson are

  1. Taxation,

Congressional leaders focus on re-election as a part of their right to freely choose a profession. To be re-elected requires a campaign funding. That funding largely comes from wealthy Americans and corporations interested in reducing their taxes. Corporate taxes have been legislatively reduced with the rationalization that reinvestment by private industry and the wealthy will create more income for wage-dependent Americans. This is “trickle down” economics that is a fiction. History shows the effect has been to reduce American wages and increase income for the wealthy.

2. Rule-of-Law,

Corporations in the Supreme Court’s decision in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” expanded rights of Corporations as individuals to finance candidates of their choice that compounds elected official bias for reduced corporate taxes.

3. Extremism,

Frustration by the rising gap between rich and poor in America increases extremism because wage-earners see cost-of-living exceeding their ability to accumulate wealth.

4. Institutionalization of Tyranny

Elective office is not serving the public because congressional self-interest is based on a cycle of re-election dependent on wealthy donors who are equally self-interested.

Unless or until a more equitable relationship between the rich and poor is achieved, extremism will continue to roil American Democracy. Freedom is an essential ingredient in America’s economic history, but freedom has always been limited. Only with rebalance between the rich and poor will extremism and institutional tyranny be ameliorated.

A STEP TOO FAR

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

   We the Corporations (How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights)

By Adam Winkler

         Narrated by: William Hughes

Adam Winkler (Author, Connell Professor of Law at UCLA.)

If only minorities could have kept pace with corporations’ pursuit of and success for civil rights, American society may have become more equal.

However, American corporations had wealth, minorities did not.

It may be a surprise to many that corporate pursuit of civil rights dates to the early beginnings of American history. The first battle for corporate civil rights began with Alexander Hamilton’s drive to create the first American bank. His major political opponent is Thomas Jefferson. 

Jefferson opposes a national bank because he believes it diminishes State’s rights by ceding too much control to the national government. Winkler notes the irony of Jefferson’s objection in that Jefferson relies on national bank loans to subsidize his profligate lifestyle.

Winkler notes some level of civil rights for corporations is needed to protect the public from exploitation. If a corporation is not recognized as a singular public body, individual Americans could not sue for redress. Harm from unfair or harmful practices of corporations could not be tried in a court of law. However, Winkler explains an underlying concern is the gain of personhood for corporations. By being recognized as a person, corporations gain political influence beyond any individual person’s rights.

To many Americans, a 21st century Supreme Court decision on corporate civil rights is a step too far.

With the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court allows unlimited corporate donations to Americans running for political office.

Money is power, particularly in a capitalist economy. Elected officials become beholding to corporations rather than private citizens when running for office.

A prime example is the pharmaceutical and gun lobbies that have dominated both Democratic and Republican parties.

The rights of these corporate enterprises distort the benefits and dangers of both drugs and guns in American society. Over prescribed drugs and opiates advertised to the public by the pharmaceutical industry are more widely spread than ever before. If elected officials were not so beholding to gun lobbies, national background checks and red flag laws would not be so difficult for Congress to pass.

The opiate epidemic and the 5.25.22 Uvalde murder of 19 children and 2 adults is evidence of the harm done by granting too many civil rights to corporations.

Winkler’s book about corporate pursuit of personhood is burdened by legal explanations for non-lawyer listeners. However, his history gives one a deep appreciation of how civil rights can bring both good and harm to American society.

SOCIAL DYSFUNTION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

   Separate (The Story of Plessy V. Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation)

By Steve Luxenberg

         Narrated by: Donald Corren

Steve Luxenberg (Author, associate editor The Washington Post.)

“Separate” is a disheartening history of American social dysfunction. It is largely a biographic picture of two Americans, John Harlan and Albion Tourgée. Both play a pivotal role in the transition of American slavery to American segregation. Both are against the iniquity of segregation but fail as civil war veterans and public servants to eradicate America’s belief in a “separate but equal” doctrine.

Their social positions are quite different in that Harlan is from a relatively wealthy slave holding Kentucky family while Tourgée is from a small Ohio farming family.  Both become Republicans that serve in the union army during the civil war. Harlan’s family is politically connected in Kentucky while Tourgée has no interest in politics until he goes to college. Both men become lawyers, but Tourgée is a much less successful lawyer while becoming a noted writer. In contrast John Harlan gains reputation as an astute lawyer who evolves into a well-known dissenter on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Harlan serves as an officer in the Union army and recruits a Kentucky militia that fights for the union.  Interestingly, though Harlan becomes a Republican, he is opposed to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Tourgée initially enters the Union army as a volunteer in New York.

Tourgée is seriously wounded in the First Battle of Bull Run in an accident. After recovery, he reenlists as an officer in the 105th Ohio Volunteer infantry and is wounded again, captured, and imprisoned in Richmond, Virginia. He is freed in a prisoner exchange and rejoins the Union army, fights in two more battles, and resigns his commission in 1863.

Tourgée gains a reputation as a staunch defender of equal rights for what then were classified as colored Americans.

To this listener, the contrast between Harlan and Tourgée are the most interesting part of Luxenberg’s history. Harlan changes his view of slavery and segregation during his life. Tourgée never changes.

Harlan grows to recognize the inherent inequality of segregation. In Harlan’s changed beliefs, he becomes well regarded by famous black orators like Frederick Douglas.

Tourgée becomes a noted and self-proclaimed “carpet bagger” from the north. He is vilified throughout the south for his beliefs and writing about equality of all races. Tourgée settles in North Carolina with his wife, and they take in a young black girl who is raised and educated at the expense of the Tourgée’s.

An interesting note by the author that gives a listener an inkling of Tourgée’s failure as a lawyer is the defense used for a soldier who is accused of stealing money from the government. Tourgée loses the case. However, the soldier is later exonerated by testimony and affirmations from fellow soldiers. This is early in Tourgée’s career as a lawyer, but it presages his loss of the important Plessy vs. Ferguson decision that reaffirms “separate but equal” precedent. Tourgée’s legal augments get lost in a forest of trees with too many ideas that do not hold the attention of his judges.

The decision by the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson is 7 to 1 which affirms the principle of separate as equal. The lone dissenter is John Marshall Harlan.

Harlan’s dissent presages today’s consequence of the mistaken belief that separate can be equal. The nature of humankind makes separate but equal impossible.

The only enforced legal truth of separate is not equal is the decision of Brown v. Board of Education, but there are many who continue to disagree.

It has been social pressure, not legal standing, that has changed the lie of “separate but equal” in America. Plessy v. Ferguson has never been overturned except for education. Of course, the problem now is that education is not being adequately provided for reasons too numerous to detail. That problem is not the subject of Luxenberg’s history.

PINOCCHIO’S NOSE

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

   The Constitution of Knowledge (A Defense of Truth)

By Jonathan Rauch

Narrated by: Traber Burns

Jonathan Rauch (American author, journalist, freelance writer for The Economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.)

The structure of knowledge is the subject of Jonathan Rauch’s “…Constitution of Knowledge”.  What may come as a surprise to some is Rauch’s argument that knowledge is a social construct, not an inviolable fact or truth. Knowledge grows from tests of society.

As Karl Popper, a highly respected philosopher of science noted, knowledge can only be found through pursuit of its falsification.

The fear that accompanies Rauch’s argument about knowledge, and Popper’s belief about science’s truth means a lie can be as influential as truth. The two greatest twenty first century examples are Trump and Vladimir Putin.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

All human beings lie. The problem is those with preeminent power use the lie to lead others to believe what society’s tests show to be false. The problem is distinguishing a lie from societal truth. A lie is never as evident as it is with Pinocchio’s nose.

Truths should not be based on a singular view of reality.  Lies of leadership in recent history have led to tragic interventions by America, France and most recently, Russia in sovereign countries like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and today’s Ukraine.

The great fear accompanying this view of knowledge is that truth only reveals itself as past events. It is exhibited in the death of innocent bystanders that follow leader’s lies. World wars prove how the truth is never known in real time, only in history. Society’s tests of Trump and Putin show how destructive a leader’s lies can be in both democratic and autocratic nations.

Rauch both personalizes damage that lies have on individuals and society with his experience as a gay person and combatant against cancel culture, violence, sexism, and racism. Though Rauch’s explanation notes many examples of what is wrong with society, he ends with a degree of optimism about how one can deal with leadership’ lies.

Words matter but if they don’t lead to violence, they can be logically addressed by society and rejected for their distortion of perceived truth. Rauch is careful to explain truth is a perception, not a fact or necessarily a truth. As is shown by science, the human brain does not record facts but recreates events that fit a human’s perception of reality.

What is true is tested in Popper’s theory of facts that are tested by search for falsifiability.

If a tree falls in the forest and a tape recorder records the sound, one is tempted to believe a fact has been found. If that experiment is repeated many times by different people, the falling tree makes noise, whether a human is there or not, is likely to be true. However, it is a sound that remains a perception. The difference is it has been tested many times by society with the same result.

Cancel culture is when there is a public boycott of people or organizations because of an interest group’s belief. If a group’s belief is challenged by perceptions and experience of a broader society, cancel culture can be, at least, ameliorated.

Rauch shows himself to be a free speech believer. One presumes he endorses all free speech if it does not induce or insight violence. This is not to suggest words spoken or written are not harmful, but they are not physically injuring another.

Attacking a person physically for words spoken is reprehensible but attacking an idea is societies’ way of revealing the truth and acquiring knowledge.

After listening to Rauch’s explanation of what knowledge is and how it is acquired, one wishes a signal could be sent when one is knowingly lying, e.g., something like Pinocchio’s nose.

AMERICAN CAPITALISM

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?

By Robert Kuttner

     Narrated by: Mike Chamberlain

Robert Kuttner (Author, journalist, professor of social policy at Brandeis University)

Robert Kuttner personalizes the history of capitalism as an historian and journalist, not an economist. This book is a tedious fact-filled tour of capitalist experimentation. Kuttner illustrates how government economic policy is like a roulette game. Government leaders spin the wheel. The ball drops on a numbered slot that is either black or red. A player chooses Kuttner’s fundamental point and the answer to the question “Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?” seems a matter of luck.

Choice for survival of global capitalism seems dependent on reducing the gap between billionaire/millionaire capitalists and the wage-earning public. However, what Kuttner’s rambling history shows is that there is no definitive answer. There are some clues but the balance between democratic freedom and equality of opportunity teeter on the metallic edge of a black and red slot of a roulette wheel. He asks the question whether America is going to become more like China or China more like America?

Kuttner offers some examples of economic policy in Scandinavian countries, Africa, the Baltics, Great Britain, France, Germany, Greece, China, and the European Union. Kuttner implies, if there is a common denominator for survival of global capitalism, it is government policy that benefits wage earners.

A rising tide (economic prosperity) must benefit more than a simple minority or small majority of citizens within a country.

Kuttner’s history shows achievements in democratic capitalism have been hit and miss with luck as much a factor of success as policy. Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes theories offer hints about what can be done to grow and sustain capitalist economic stability. What gets in the way of their theories is interpretation, policy, action, and results.

Kuttner offers many good and bad examples democratic capitalism’ interpretation. Denmark denies Ryan Air’s employment model in their country because it is unfair to employees of the Airline. Public benefit services like mail in the United States assure delivery of the mail in a timely manner, regardless of profitability.

Unions are formed in various countries to give wage earners a seat at the table in determining fair compensation and benefits in privately held companies.

On the other hand, privatizing prison management only reduces cost to the public by reducing pay and training of prison guards. The prisons are not better managed, but costs are less because quality of service and overhead is reduced while prisoners are poorly managed. Immigrant labor is farmed out by private companies to reduce corporate costs but at the expense of laborers that work for less than a livable wage. Private companies higher “independent contractors” like Uber drivers for which the company does not pay medical premiums or employment taxes. Corporate raiders buy faltering high cash-flow companies with borrowed money. These corporate raiders reduce wages of employees, drives formally marginally profitable companies into bankruptcy, and walk away with millions paid by loans used to buy the company in the first place.

Kuttner caps these negative global capital maneuvers by revealing how American corporate owners and leaders move manufacturing to foreign competitors because of cheaper labor. That movement benefits corporations at the expense of American manufacturing.

Kuttner explains corporate outsourcing unfairly diminishes American workers and decimates American manufacturing. He notes Germany chose to improve the quality of their manufactured products to remain viable manufacturing global competitors even though their workers are paid more than comparable American workers.

This is a frustrating book to use as evidence for the survival of global capitalism because there are many examples of government policies meant to do good that fail.

This history reinforces the analogy of the roulette wheel. Either red or black may be the best result one can expect but the consequence seems as much luck as foresight.

Hope lies in reducing the gap between haves and have-nots by insuring equality of opportunity through public education and job opportunities. This is not to suggest homelessness and poverty will disappear in democratic capitalist societies, but it becomes a manageable societal responsibility.

Having lived in different areas of the United States shows homelessness and poverty are presently out of control.

Today, in the United States, homelessness and poverty are not being well managed because public education and job opportunities are not being adequately addressed. As one of the richest countries in the world, American democratic capitalism can do better than just survive.

Education and employment are key to turning these crises into something that can be managed.

One cannot dismiss Kuttner’s observations as liberal ranting. Wage earner respect and treatment, whether in manufacturing, technology, or service industries, are the key to survival of world capitalist democracies. America can choose to become more like China and support authoritarian miscreants like Donald Trump or elect leaders that experiment with political ideas that have made America great.

TERROISM

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Anatomy of Terror (From the death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State.)

By Ali Soufan

           Narrated by: Aaron Abano

Ali Soufan (Author, former American FBI agent, Lebanese heritage from a Sunni Muslim family.)

This is Soufan’s characterization of the western world’s effort to quell the beast of middle eastern terrorism.

Ali Soufan paints a dark picture of America’s middle east relationship in “Anatomy of Terror. He envisions a hydra, the mythical monster that grows two heads when one is cut off.

The terrorist event that sets the tone for Abano’s history is, of course, America’s 9/11/01 disaster.

Osama bin Laden’s plan for the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York is hatched by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (aka KSM).

Abano offers a brief history of KSM’s addition to al Qaida. In KSM’s early introduction to bin Laden, the dramatic idea of using an airplane hijacking to create a terrorist event is skeptically dismissed. As KSM’s reputation in al Qaida grows, the idea gains support of bin Laden. The impact of a singular terrorist event changes the world.

Abano tirelessly assembles so many facts about this Hydra’s growth that one becomes numbed by terrorist events and names. Only a CIA or FBI agent is likely to be interested in Abano’s research. However, a listener who perseveres realizes Abano is not just a problem bringer but one who has an idea of how terrorism can be defeated.

The complexity of the middle east’s terrorist origins, persistence, and ubiquity seem as incurable as world poverty and hunger.

Abano’s solution, as is true for any complex problem, begins with understanding. As difficult as it is, one must try to understand another’s reasons for carrying out a terrorist act. With understanding, one can constructively rather than destructively respond to a terrorist act. Murder for murder simply leads to further senseless murder.

Only with understanding can the causes for terrorism be either exposed as hypocrisy or dealt with as a reason, though not justification, for a murderous act.

The causes of terrorism must be exposed. Stories need to be told and re-told in ways that explain causes. These stories must come from nation-state leaders who have influence in their countries and reputations in other countries. Abano suggests these nation-state messengers can cultivate community leaders to spread the word, whether of God or mammon, to address the true and false reasons for terrorist acts.

Exposure of true and false causes offer hope for a solution that eliminates or, at least, ameliorates conflicting terrorist ideas, beliefs, and acts.

Abano argues money should be invested in schools and teachers who educate children in their own countries.

Through education in reading, writing, and arithmetic, children will grow to understand reason, truth, and falsity.

The expense of incarceration should be supplemented by rehabilitation with the objective of re-introducing the captured to society.  

To Abano, captured terrorists should not be demeaned, tortured, or executed.

A listener may feel Abano is being altruistic. In truth, he is altruistic but the path presently being followed is not working.

As the saying goes—an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

By putting oneself in the terrorist’s shoes, Abano implies one is taking a first step in attacking the fundamental causes of terrorism. Without understanding there is no solution.

ECONOMIC EVOLUTION

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Karl Marx (Philosophy and Revolution)

By Shlomo Avineri

           Narrated by: Roger Clark

Shlomo Avineri (Author, Professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.)

Is economic evolution about mind or matter?

Shlomo Avineri offers a more studied view of one of the three most influential economist in history, Karl Marx. Marx’s influence extends to philosophy, history, sociology, and politics.  

Avieneri illustrates how categorization of Marx as an influential economist minimizes his historical significance. Marx is born in Trier, Germany.

His father, Hirschel HaLevi (aka Heinrich Marx), is a practicing lawyer, the son of Marx HaLevi Mordechai and Eva Lwow.

In Trier, after Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo, Germany returns to a highly discriminatory Prussian attitude toward Judaism. Karl Marx’s father, and eventually his mother, are compelled to convert to a Christian religion to advance Marx’s father’s career as a lawyer. Karl Marx’s grandfather is the rabbi of Trier who passes on that title to Karl Marx’s brother.

Avineri gives this brief family history to explain Marx’s Jewish heritage. It offers some insight to why Marx outwardly discounts his religious heritage while putting him on an intellectual journey toward political and economic reform.

Marx’s father might be considered a classical liberal because he promoted constitutional reform of the Prussian government’s denial of equal rights. Avineri implies the experience of his father leads Karl to pursue the study of history and philosophy because of discriminatory treatment of his family. The act of discrimination naturally makes one class conscious. Karl Marx’s political and economic ideas grow from that familial background.

Avineri suggests Hermann Hesse and Hegel are significant influences in Karl Marx’s life. Hesse is a contemporary of Marx. Hesse is influenced by Rousseau who believed in natural equality. Hesse’s literature addresses the inequality of workers and the capitalist class. He sensed the growing political danger of that inequality and, in writing about it, became an influence on Karl Marx’s view of capitalism.

Avineri’s explanation of Hegel’s influence on Karl Marx is a little more complicated. Fundamentally Hegel believes social development is an evolution of one’s mind to recognize that all humans are created equal. In contrast Marx believes social development is an evolutionary process of society’s actions in regard to material things. Marx believes the haves of the society recognize the inequity of the have-nots and will evolve to establish common good in the distribution of material things. Both Hegel and Marx agree that there is a dialectic process, but Hegel thinks it is a state of mind that changes while Marx suggests it’s a state of equal distribution of concrete goods.

It is impossible to deny Marx’s notes about inequality. One can argue that this was truer in Marx’s lifetime than it is today. The advent of social security and national health care, and welfare programs have reduced human inequality.  However, human inequality remains a serious social problem in every society and all government systems of the present day.

Whether Marx or Hegel’s evolutionary dialectic is true remains unknown. Neither capitalism, socialism, or communism have evolved to solve the problem of inequality, whether it is the dialectic of mind or matter.

Avineri’s biography of Marx is better than the previous biography reviewed in this blog. He offers a more intimate understanding of Karl Marx’s life and how he came to believe what he believed. The answer to the question of whether economic evolution is one of mind or matter is, of course—both. Human brains must evolve, and matter must be equally available.

AGEISM

Audio-book Review
           By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
 Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Hearing Trumpet

By: Leonora Carrington

Narrated by: Siân Phillips

Leonora Carrington (Author, artist born in England, lived in Mexico, 1917-2011, died at the age of 94.)

“The Hearing Trumpet” is said to have been written in the 1950s or early 60s. The author, Leonora Carrington, is believed to be in her late 50s when the book is written. Her age is relevant because the book is about old age and how those who make it to old age are treated in the modern world.

Though this is a highly regarded novel, to this reviewer the beginning is remarkable, the end is meh (uninspiring). The heroine of the story is Marian Leatherby. She is 94, a ripe old age, when one’s family members waiver between love and burden when thinking about their aged parents.

The character of Marian Leatherby is developed as a remarkable woman that is smart, and humorous but is troubled by loss of hearing. A neighbor who one presumes is similarly elderly buys a gift for Marian. The gift is “The Hearing Trumpet”.

Antique Ear Trumpet

Now that Marian has “The Hearing Trumpet” she can hear much better and understands her perilous living arrangement. She prepares for her children’s plan to move her into an assisted living facility for the aged.

Her son seems reluctant, but the daughter-in-law is insistent because of Marian’s bizarre behavior when they have guests. Marian rarely communicates with her children and often interrupts her family’s social lives because of her hearing loss.

Because of Marian’s hearing, she communicates and understands little about the son and daughter-in-law with whom she lives

The move happens within days of Marian’s realization of her son and daughter-in-law’s plan. Many who have reached a certain age, know of similar family decisions.

An aged parent responds in different ways. Some choose to die by making the move and refusing to adapt to a new way of living. Others choose to adapt. Marian is carted off to a monastery like facility.

The story is fascinating up to this point. It loses its appeal for this listener in a surrealistic story of Marian’s new living arrangement.

The head of the facility is an overweight manager with a semi-religious, zealot-like view of his role. Marian becomes an observer in her first weeks at the facility.

After some time, Marian accepts the behavior of her fellow wards and begins a surrealistic journey into a myth about the Knights of Malta (a religious military order under its own Papal, Roman Catholic charter).

This is semi-interesting to some because the Knights of Malta are an order of religious soldiers who are alleged by some to have murdered the famous artist, Caravaggio. That is not the surreal story of the author, but interestingly Lenora Carrington is an artist in real life.

Some suggest “The Hearing Trumpet” has a happy ending because Marian has escaped the reality of old age into a personal fantasy of the world while dealing with the reality of her failing physical condition.

One presumes Carrington’s remaining story is full of symbolism, but it hides the fundamental importance of aging and how fearful one is to become old, ignored, and essentially discarded by society. Maybe fantasy is all that is left to the aged. Carrington lives into her 90s. One wonders how she adjusted to her infirmities.