Books

Utopia for Realists … it can be done …!

From a universal basic income to a 15-hour workweek, from a world without borders to a world without poverty – it’s time to return to utopian thinking.

Rutger Bregman takes us on a journey through history, beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he introduces ideas whose time has come. Utopia for Realists is one of those rare books that takes you by surprise and challenges what you think you know.

In the words of leading social theorist Zygmunt Bauman, it is “brilliant, truly enlightening, and eminently readable.” Link

HOW THE ARAB WORLD CAME APART

… But it hasn’t been just the region’s governments that have historically victimized the Kurds. In fact, few nations have brought the Kurds of northern Iraq more sorrow than the United States. After their role in the great betrayal of 1975, the Americans would again be complicit in the Kurds’ suffering — if this time largely through silence — just 10 years later …

… With the Iraqi dictator waging war against Khomeini’s Iran, and with the United States secretly funneling weapons to his bogged-down military, by 1988 Hussein was so integral to the Reagan administration’s realpolitik policy in the region that it simply looked the other way when Hussein launched the murderous Anfal campaign against his Kurdish subjects …

… Crucial to the Kurds’ success was a steady flow of C.I.A.-supplied weaponry, along with Iranian military advisers, as Iran waged a U.S.-sponsored proxy war against Iraq. But when the shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein abruptly concluded a peace treaty in early March, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered an immediate cutoff of aid to the Kurds. In the face of an all-out Iraqi offensive, Barzani was airlifted out to end his days in a C.I.A. safe house in Northern Virginia, but thousands of other stranded pesh merga fighters were left to their fate … Link

In 2008 …

… a group of highly respected economists and scientists led by Pavan Sukhdev, then a senior Deutsche Bank economist, conducted an authoritative economic analysis of the value of biodiversity.

Their conclusion? The cost of the business activities of the world’s 3,000 largest corporations in loss or damage to nature and the environment now stands at $2.2tn per year. And rising.

These costs will have to be paid for in the future. By your children and your grandchildren. To quote Sukhdev: The rules of business urgently need to be changed, so corporations compete on the basis of innovation, resource conservation and satisfaction of multiple stakeholder demands, rather than on the basis of who is most effective in influencing government regulation, avoiding taxes and obtaining subsidies for harmful activities to maximise the return for shareholders.

Do I think that will happen? No.

Ten Billion, by Stephen Emmott – Penguin –

Where does this leave us? Let’s look at it like this. If we discovered tomorrow that there was an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and – because physics is a fairly simple science – we were able to calculate that it was going to hit Earth on 3 June 2072, and we knew that its impact was going to wipe out 70% of all life on Earth, governments worldwide would marshal the entire planet into unprecedented action. Every scientist, engineer, university and business would be enlisted: half to find a way of stopping it, the other half to find a way for our species to survive and rebuild if the first option proved unsuccessful. We are in almost precisely that situation now, except that there isn’t a specific date and there isn’t an asteroid. The problem is us. Why are we not doing more about the situation we’re in – given the scale of the problem and the urgency needed – I simply cannot understand. We’re spending €8bn at Cern to discover evidence of a particle called the Higgs boson, which may or may not eventually explain mass and provide a partial thumbs-up for the standard model of particle physics. And Cern’s physicists are keen to tell us it is the biggest, most important experiment on Earth. It isn’t. The biggest and most important experiment on Earth is the one we’re all conducting, right now, on Earth itself. Only an idiot would deny that there is a limit to how many people our Earth can support. The question is, is it seven billion (our current population), 10 billion or 28 billion? I think we’ve already gone past it. Well past it.

I asked one of the most rational, brightest scientists I know – a scientist working in this area, a young scientist, a scientist in my lab – if there was just one thing he had to do about the situation we face, what would it be? His reply? ‘Teach my son how to use a gun.’

A must-read …

“The solar virtuous cycle is in motion. The lower cost of solar leads to increased market adoption, and this, in turn, lowers the perceived risk and attracts more capital at a lower cost for capital. And this, in turn, lowers the cost of solar, which leads to increased market adoption, not to mention increased investment, more innovation, and even lower costs for capital. Once this virtuous cycle reaches critical mass, market growth will accelerate. Solar will become unstoppable and the incumbents will be disrupted.” LINK

Tarek Fatah …

…  is a Canadian writer, broadcaster, a secular and liberal activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State. In the book Fatah challenges the notion that the establishment of an Islamic state is a necessary prerequisite to entering the state of Islam. He suggests that the idea of an Islamic state is merely a mirage that Muslims have been made to chase for over a millennium.

Fatah’s second book, titled The Jew Is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism, was published in October 2010. The book won the 2010 Annual Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Book Award in Politics and History. LINK

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman on the biggest lie employers tell employees

In his new book The Alliance, Reid Hoffman argues that the relationship between employers and employees is built on “a dishonest conversation.”

Hoffman would know. As co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, he sits atop the largest, most data-rich hiring platform the world has ever seen. As a venture capitalist who made early investments in everything from Facebook to Airbnb, he’s helped some of the era’s most successful companies grow.

And now he wants both workers and employers to begin having honest conversations with one another — conversations that admit employment isn’t for life, that loyalty only lasts so long as it coincides with self-interest, and that the relationship doesn’t have to end when the worker leaves.

Hoe Afrika wordt leeggeroofd

Vroeger waren het de koloniale legers die Afrika beroofden van zijn bodemschatten. Nu, zegt Burgis, zijn het legers van advocaten van grote multinationals, die Afrikaanse landen strenge voorwaarden opleggen maar zelf via hun duizenden dochterbedrijven op verre eilanden amper belasting afdragen. Er is dus niet één machine. Er is een netwerk van elites en bedrijven die zich verrijken ten koste van de arme bevolking. Het is niets minder dan gelegitimeerde plundering, zegt Burgis. En dat is nogal een uitspraak voor een journalist die niet voor een links krantje schrijft maar voor The Financial Times.

‘In Rusland wordt slecht zijn beloond’

INTERVIEW Net als oppositieleider Boris Nemtsov is Bill Browder een uitgesproken criticus van Poetin. In 2005 werd hij het land uitgezet, zijn advocaat werd vermoord en tot op de dag van vandaag wordt Browder met de dood bedreigd. Over zijn belevenissen in Rusland schreef hij een boek.

Ongekend spannend, zeer actueel en bij vlagen ontroerend. Zijn boek ‘Vijand van de Russische staat’ komt precies op het goede moment. Het persoonlijke relaas van de Amerikaan Bill Browder, die miljoenen investeerde in Rusland, en vervolgens het land uitgezet werd, gaat in de Verenigde Staten als warme broodjes over de toonbank.

Jeremy Rifkin

In een exclusief interview met Change Magazine deelt de Amerikaanse econoom, auteur en adviseur van de EU en vele regeringen Jeremy Rifkin zijn vrees over klimaatverandering, maar ook zijn visie die het tij moet keren. Hij ziet daarin een belangrijke rol weggelegd voor de Nederlandse regering, die veel meer dan nu het voortouw in Europa zou moeten nemen.

Tegenlicht VPRO

Twee bijzondere boeken over Afghanistan

Carlotte Gall – The Wrong Enemy

Carlotte was tien jaar in Afghanistan en werkte in die tijd voor de NYT.

en

Anand Gopal – No Good Men Among the Living.

Anand trok 4 jaar door Afghanistan – met baard – en vertelt het verhaal van 3 Afghanen.

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