September 22, 2010


Butler, Paul, Let's Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice (New York & London: The New Press, 2010) ("The American criminal justice system is so dysfunctional that it presents well-intentioned people with a dilemma. Should good people cooperate with it? This book looks at the roles of two actors without whom the justice system would grind to a halt: snitches and prosecutors. A debate rages in both pop culture and criminology about the value of snitches. I come down firmly on the side against them. Government informants are the seedy underbelly of the criminal justice system. I'll talk about the addiction of law enforcement to snitches and the devastating impact they have on neighborhoods and civil liberties." "My experiences as a prosecutor persuade me that prosecutors are more part of the problem than the solution. . . ." Id. at 20.).


Schauer, Frederick, Thinking Like a Lawyer: A New Introduction to Legal Reasoning (Cambridge, Massachusetts, & London, England: Harvard U. Press, 2009) ("This is a book about thinking and reasoning. More particularly, it is about the thinking, reasoning, and argumentative methods of lawyers and judges, which may or may not be different from the thinking, reasoning, and argumentative methods of ordinary people. Whether lawyers think, reason, and argue differently from ordinary folk is a question and not an axiom, but it is nonetheless the case that certain techniques of reasoning are thought to be characteristic of legal decision-making. The focus of this book is on those techniques. Its aim is partly to make a serious academic contribution to thinking about various topics in legal reasoning, but mostly it is to introduce beginning and prospective law students to the nature of legal thinking. In the typical law school, especially in the United states, the faculty believes that it teaches legal thinking and reasoning by osmosis, or interstitially, in the process of providing instruction in substantive subjects such as torts, contracts, criminal law, property, civil procedure, and constitutional law. But less teaching of legal reasoning actually occurs than faculties typically believe, and even if it does take place, there may be a need to provide in one volume, abstracted from particular subjects, a description and analysis of much of what law students are supposed to glean from the typically indirect teaching of legal reasoning. Similarly, although most law teachers think that it is important that students know something about the major figures, themes, and examples in the canon of legal reasoning, much of this material also falls through the cracks in the modern law school, and again there appears good reason for presenting it in one place. This book seeks to address these needs, at the same time giving lawyers and legal scholars something to chew on--and disagree with--about most of the topics it takes on. Id. at xi. "[I]t may be that law schools seek to teach their students more about the language of legal justification than about the determinants of judicial decisions. Even if judges do base their decisions substantially on broad notions of equity and justice, or on policy considerations, or even on the personal characteristics of the judge and the litigants, what lawyers need to know, and what law schools are uniquely positioned to teach, it might be argued, is the language of the law, the words and the categories and the concepts in which law talk takes place, even if beneath the talk something else entirely is going on. Lawyers can afford to be Realists, perhaps, but they will succeed only if they understand the non-Realist language and categories with which the legal system actually functions." Id. at 145-146. Over the last few years, a trend has developed where more, and more law schools increasingly succumb to pressure from practicing bar (i.e., lawyers and judges) to revamp legal education so that graduates are up and running as lawyers from day one. One consequence of this trend is that fewer and fewer resources will be devoted the figures, themes, and examples in the canon of legal reasoning. What students may have been able to glean indirectly from their professors and courses will not have sufficient presence to be gleaned and, therefore, will be largely ungleanable from their the law school experience. Law students will have to find it for themselves. To that end: LAW STUDENTS IN U.S. LAW SCHOOLS SHOULD READ PROFESSOR SCHAUER'S BOOK! If they have the inclination, they should also read Edward Levi, An Introduction to Legal Reasoning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949).

September 17, 2010


Bevir, Mark, Democratic Governance (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2010).

"Like so many ideas informing the second wave of reforms, the concept of a 'wicked problem' arose as part of an amorphous midrange social science that linked institutionalism, organizational theory, and functionalism, Reformist governments then picked up and adopted these amorphous theories to counter the ideas and policies of rational choice and neoliberalism. Wicked problems are generally defined in terms such as these: a problem of more or less unique nature; the lack of any definitive formulation of such a problem; the existence of multiple explanations for it; the absence of a test to decide the value of any response to it; all responses to it being better or worse rather than true or false; and each response to it has important consequences such that there is no real chance to learn by trial and error. Typically these features strongly imply that wicked problems are interrelated. For example, a particular wicked problem might be explained in terms of its relationship to others, or any response to it might impact others. Classic example of wicked problems include pressing issues of governance such as security, environment, and urban blight. Yet other contemporary policy issues--housing, economic development, and welfare--also appear too complex to be divided into neat parts that might then be handed over to distinct bureaucratic units."
Id. at 77.

Wicked problems. The Australian Public Service makes explicit use of the term 'wicked problem.' . . . In its official paper Tackling Wicked Problems, the Australian Public Service specifies that wicked problems are not only peculiarly resistant to resolution but also a challenge to bureaucratic ways of working and solving problems. Wicked problems, including climate change, obesity, and indigenous disadvantage, require 'thinking that is capable of grasping the big picture' and 'more collaborative and innovative approaches'; they allegedly require actors to operate 'across organisational boundaries' in a whole of government approach." Id. at 219-210.

It should be obviously clear that those incapable of out-of-the-box thinking, or who take comfort in top-down decision making, are probably incapable of participating in the tackling of wicked problems. 'Group Think' will not resolve wicked problems! Have you trained your mind such that you will be prepared to engage in wicked problem solving? Or, at the very least, recognize the value of wicked problem solving? Will you even know a wicked problem when it comes across your desk?

September 15, 2010


Alter, Robert, Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2010) ("What I should like to emphasize in regard to the American novelists from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first whom I shall be considering is that the language of the Old Testament in its 1611 English version continued to suffuse the culture even when the fervid faith in Scripture as revelation had begun to fade. . . . [T]he language of the Bible remains an ineluctable framework for verbal culture in this country. . . ." Id. at 3. "The decline of the role of the King James Version in American culture has taken place more or less simultaneously with a general erosion of a sense of literary language, although I am not suggesting a causal link. The reasons for this latter development have often been noted, and hence the briefest summary will suffice for the purpose of the present argument: Americans read less, and read with less comprehension; hours once devoted to books from childhood on are more likely to be spent in front of a television set or a computer screen; epistolary English, once a proving ground for style, has been widely displaced by the high-speed short-cut language of e-mail and text-messaging. . . . Obviously, there are still people in the culture, including young people who have a rich and subtle sense of language, but they are an embattled minority in a society where tone-deafness to style is increasingly prevalent. That tone-deafness has also affected the academic study of literature, but there are other issues involved in the university setting, and to those I shall turn in due course." Id. at 10.). Carr, Nicholas, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (New York: Norton, 2010) ("For some people, the very idea of reading a book has come to seem old-fashioned, maybe even a little silly--like sewing your own shirts or butchering your own meat. 'I don't read books,' says Joe O'Shea, a former president of the student body at Florida State University and a 2008 recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship. 'I go to Google, and I can absorb relevant information quickly.' O'Shea, a philosophy major, doesn't see any reason to plow through chapters of text when it takes but a minute or two to cherry-pick the pertinent passages using Google Book Search. 'Sitting down and going through a book from cover to cover doesn't make sense,' he says. 'It's not a good use of my time, as I can get all the information I need faster through the Web.' As soon as you learn to be 'a skilled hunter' online, he argues, books become superfluous." Id. at 8-9. "Readers didn't just become more efficient. They also became more attentive. To read a long book silently required an ability to concentrate intently over a long period of time, to 'lose oneself'' in the pages of a book, as we now say. Developing such mental discipline was not easy. The natural state of the human brain, like that of the brains of most of our relatives in the animal kingdom, is one of distractedness. Our predisposition is to shift our gaze, and hence our attention, from one object to another, to be aware of as much of what's going on around us as possible. . . . What draws our attention most of all is any hint of a change in our surroundings. . . . Our fast-paced, reflective shifts in focus were once crucial to our survival. They reduced the odds that a predator would take us by surprise or that we'd overlook a nearby source of food. For most of history, the normal path of human thought was anything but linear." Id. at 63-64. "Yet surely online bingeing is no different from eating too many sweets: its remedy is a mater of old-fashioned self-restraint." From "Fast Forward: The Effects of the Internet," The Economist, Books and Arts, June 26th 2010, at 88. Yet, see Op-Ed piece by David Brooks, "The Medium Is the Medium," NYT, 7/8/2010.).
Gordimer, Nadine, Telling Times: Writing and Living, 1954-2008 (New York: Norton, 2010) ("Within the small group of intellectuals in South Africa, writers represent an even smaller group; and for that reason perhaps the people of the country might be content to ignore what is happening to them." "But what of the readers? What of the millions, from university professors to children spelling out their first primers, for whom the free choice of books means the right to participate in the heritage of human thought, knowledge and imagination?" "Yes, they still have a great many uncensored books to read . . . though even the classics have been shown not to be immune from South African censorship . . . . But surely the people realise that no one can be well-read or well-informed or fitted to contribute fully to the culture and development of his own society in the democratic sense while he does not have absolutely free access to the ideas of his time as well as to the accumulated thought of the past, nor while, in particular, there are areas of experience in the life of his own society and country, which through censorship, ere left out of his reading? . . ." Id. at 130-131. "To be literate is to be someone whose crucially formative experience may come just as well from certain books as from events." Id. at 38. "When one says one writes for 'anyone who reads me' one must be aware that 'anyone' excludes a vast number of readers who cannot 'read' you or me because of concerns they do not share with us in grossly unequal societies. . . . This is the case even for those of us, like me, who believe that books are not made out of other books, but out of life." "Whether we like it or not, we can be 'read' only by readers who share terms of reference formed in us by our education--not merely academic but in the broadest sense of life experience: our political, economic, social and emotional concepts, and our values derived from these: our cultural background. It remains true even of those who have put great distances between themselves and the inducted values of childhood: who have changed countries, convictions, ways of life, languages. Citizenship of the world is really another acculturation, with its set of givens which may derive from many cultures yet in combination becomes something that is not any of them." Id. at 440-441. "See also Adam Kirsch, Letters form Johannesburg, NYT Book Review, Sunday, 8/1/2010.).

Hitchens, Christopher, Hitch-22: A Memoir (New York & Boston: Twelve, 2010) ("It is quite a task to combat the absolutists and the relativists at the same time: to maintain that there is no totalitarian solution while also insisting that, yes, we on our side also have unalterable convictions and are willing to fight for them. After various allegiances, I have come to believe that Karl Marx was rightest of all when he recommended continual doubt and self-criticism. Membership in the skeptical faction is the great imperative of our time. . . . To be an unbeliever is not to be merely 'open-minded.' It is rather, a decisive admission of uncertainty that is dialectically connected to the repudiation of the totalitarian principle, in the mind as well as in politics. . . . [A]nd I find that for the remainder of my days I shall be happy enough to see if I can emulate the understatement of Commander Hitchens and say that at least I know what I am supposed to be doing." Id. at 433. "Near the end of his new book, Hitch-22, which is neither strictly a memoir nor quite a political essay but something in between, Christopher Hitchens informs the reader that he has, at long last, learned how to 'think for oneself,' implying that he had failed to do so before reaching the riper side of middle age. This may not be the most dramatic way to conclude a life story. Still, thinking for oneself is always a good thing. And, he writes, ' the ways in which the conclusion is arrived at may be interesting . . . just as it is always how people think that counts for much more than what they think'." Ian Buruma, "The Believer," NYRB, July 15, 2010, 6-10, at 6. Also take in David Runciman, "It's Been a Lot of Fun," London Review of Books, 24 June 2010, 11-14; and David Brooks, "Such, Such Are His Joys," NYT, Opinions, 7/2/2010. "The new memoir from Christopher Hitchens reveals the literary life of a political provocateur.").

Lanier, Jaron, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto (New York: Knopf, 2010) ("It's early in the twenty-first century, and that means that these words will mostly be read by nonpersons--automatons or numb mobs composed of people who are no longer acting as individuals. . . ." "The vast fanning out of the fates of these words will take place almost entirely in the lifeless world of pure information. Real human eyes will read these words in only a tiny minority of cases." "The words in this book are written for people, not computers. "I want to say: You have to be somebody before you can share yourself." Id. at ix. "The Blankness of Generation X Never Went Away, but Became the New Normal." Id. at 128. "It is worth repeating obvious truths when huge swarms of people are somehow able to remain oblivious. That is why I feel the need to point out the most obvious overall aspect of digital culture: it is comprised of wave after wave of juvenilia." "Some of the greatest speculative investments in human history continue to converge on silly Silicon Valley schemes that seem to have been named by Dr. Seuss. On any given day, one might hear of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to a start-up company named Ublibudly or MeTickly. These are names I just made up, but they would make great venture capital bait if they existed. At these companies one finds rooms full of MIT PhD engineers not seeking cancer cures or sources of safe drinking water for the undeveloped work by schemes to send little digital pictures of teddy bears and dragons between adult members of social networks. At the end of the road of the pursuit of technological sophistication appears to lie a playhouse in which humankind regresses to nursery school." Id. at 182.).

Leist, Anton & Peter Singer, eds., J. M. Coetzee and Ethics: Philosophical Perspectives on Literature (New York: Columbia U. Press, 2010) ("Why should philosophers and writers, readers of philosophical literature and readers of the belles lettres, be interested in each other? In actual fact, they rarely are, but once in a while a philosopher strikes a chord with the readers of fine literature, and, vice versa, a writer of poetry or novels provokes philosophers to read him. John M. Coetzee is surely a candidate for this second category, and therefore motivates the questions asked in the present selection of essays. . . . " Id. at 1. "Whatever position in philosophy one takes, an awareness of how literature responds to the external pressures put on the mental format of our modern Western tradition has an extremely liberating effect on philosophy's internal self-control and, in part, self-restriction. Philosophy tends to involve its students in foundational projects instead of opening their views to more practical problems of the real world--although applied ethics and political philosophy are often exceptions. Literature is frequently a more natural and more human way of expressing oneself. In the hands of great artists, it portrays our most elementary experiences. Other art forms may also do this, but literature is the most verbally explicit of the arts and therefore always the ultimate medium in which to be critical toward something, including philosophy, and to orient ourselves in the world. Ethics, and applied ethics especially, is helped by the literary imagination, of it confronts the conflicting forces visible in different philosophical positions as well as in our everyday culture. Coetzee's literary works is exemplary in this sense, as he himself is driven by the different tendencies and alternative that are liberated when modernism is put on trial. Not least among these is the attempt to find pieces of transcendental philosophy in literature, which again shows both the problem faced by philosophy and the advantage of literature, To shift the puzzle of philosophical reflection into literature could be at least a first step toward tackling them in a more realistic and practical manner. It could yield insights hard to come by in the usual academic style of philosophical work." Id. at 13-14.).

George Orwell, "Literature and the Left," Tribune, 4 June 1943, reprinted in George Orwell, The Complete Works of George Orwell, Volume 15: Two Wasted Years, 1943 edited by Peter Davison (London: Seeker & Warburg, 1998), at 125-127 ("The illiteracy of politicians is a special feature of our age--as G. M. Trevelyan put it, 'In the seventeenth century Members of Parliament quoted the Bible, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the classics, and in the twentieth century nothing'--and it s corollary is the literary impotence of writers." Id. at 126. And who do our politicians, our writers, and we ourselves, quote now in the twenty-first century? Can you quote less than nothing?).


September 12, 2010


Baldwin, James, The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings, edited and with an introduction by Randall Kenan (New York: Pantheon, 2010) (From 'What's the Reason Why?: A Symposium by Best-Selling Authors: Baldwin on Another Country': "I am not an intellectual, not in the dreary sense that word is used today, and do not want to be: I am aiming at what Henry James called 'perception at the pitch of passion'." Id. at 39, 40. Also see James Campbell, "Sorrow Wears and Uses Us," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 9/12/2010.).

September 11, 2010


Baldwin, James, "Views of a Near-Sighted Cannoneer," The Village Voice, July 13, 1961 ("There is observable, I think, in the work of most of this generation a desire to tell what actually happened--or what it actually feels like to be an American, now; but this desire is perpetually defeated by the spiritual obligation of being an American, which obligation is, simply, never to accept that evil is in the world. I am struck by the variety of ways in which the actual spiritual state of Americans is denied by people who have every reason to know what the state is: our educators, artists, and politicians. It is hard for me to believe, for example, that educators do not know the sorry truth behind the lack of real education here. It seems very clear to me that until the educators themselves believe in what they teach, there is no hope for their students. But the educators cannot accept this, because in order to do so they would have to overhaul every aspect of their private lives, which effort would hurl them forever beyond the bounds of the academic life." I agree with Baldwin regarding the 'spiritual obligation of being an American' as 'never to accept that evil is in the world.' Certainly since September 11, 2001, this spiritual obligation has been tested. Most Americans have been (willingly/unwillingly) trained to accept at least one evil or source of evil in the world: terror or terrorism. Yet, Americans knew there was evil in the world before September 11, 2001. Americans are strong believers in evil. Americans need evil and thrive on evil in the world: communism, secularism, foreigners, nonwhites. Think of all the evils Americans have gone to war against: war on drugs, war on crime, war on poverty, war on terror, war on guns, war to end all wars . . . . Americans believe there is evil in the world. It is just that they believe in other peoples' evil. Americans just don't believe that they are evil or a source of evil in the world. And, perhaps, that is the failure of educators in America. We failed to teach students to see the evil that is us. Our students are defeated by an obligation, drilled into them by parents, politicians, and educators, to never except that we Americans may be a source of some of the evil existing in the world.).

September 10, 2010


I received an email expressing the sender's being intrigue by my assertion that universities (and the professoriate) had lost its soul, and with my quoting Saul Bellow's reference to losing one soul in his Forward to Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind. (See my 9/9/2010 posting on Cosmopolitan Lawyer.)

Here is a little bit of George Orwell on the losing one's soul. For various reasons, with some change in the references, the sentiment Orwell expressed nearly three-quarter of a century ago apply to our times. We still have endless war, food shortages across the globe, reports of slave labor and forced servitude even with the borders of the beacon of liberty known as the United States of America, and the executioner's blow from behind has been replaced with government sanctioned torture.

" . . . I thought of a rather cruel trick I once played on a wasp. He was sucking jam on my plate, and I cut him in half. He paid no attention, merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed oesophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to hem. It is the same with modern man. The thing that has been cut away is his soul, and there was a period--twenty years, perhaps--during which he did not notice it.

"It was absolutely necessary that the soul should be cut away. Religious belief, in the form in which we had known it, had to be abandoned. By the nineteenth century it was already in essence a lie, a semi-conscious device for keeping the rich rich and the poor poor. The poor were to be contented with their poverty, because it would all be made up to them in the world beyond the grave, usually pictured as something mid-way between Kew Gardens and a jeweller's shop. Ten thousand a year for me, two pounds a week of you, but we are all the children of Good. And through the whole fabric of capitalist society there ran a similar lie, which it was absolutely necessary to rip out.

"Consequently there was a long period during which nearly every thinking man was in some sense a rebel, and usually a quite irresponsible rebel. Literature was largely the literature of revolt or of disintegration. . . . For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen, our efforts were rewarded, and down we came. But unfortunately there had been a little mistake. The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all, it was a cesspool full of barbed wire.

"It is as though in the space of ten years we had slid back into the Stone Age. Human types supposedly extinct for centuries, the dancing dervish, the robber chieftain, the Grand Inquisitor, have suddenly reappeared, not as inmates of lunatic asylums, but as the masters of the world. Mechanization and a collective economy seemingly aren't enough. By themselves they lead merely to the nightmare we are now enduring; endless war and endless underfeeding for the sake of war, slave populations toiling behind barbed wire, women dragged shrieking to the block, cork-lined cellars where the executioner blows your brains out from behind. So it appears that amputation of the soul isn't just a simple surgical job, like having your appendix out. The would has a tendency to go septic."

George Orwell, "Note on the Way," Time and Tide, 30 March and 6 April 1940, reprinted in Peter Davison,ed., The Complete Works of George Orwell, Volume Twelve: A Patriot After All, 1940-1941 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1998), at 121, 124-125.

September 9, 2010


A few days ago an email was sent to me, the content of which was Schumpeter's essay, "Decling by Degrees, appearing in The Economist (Sep 2nd 2010). By reply email I simply thanked the sender for forwarding the Schumpeter essay. Later in the day I send another email, the content of which I reproduce here.

I wanted to write a longer 'response' or, to be more accurate, reaction to the Schumpeter essay in the Economist. My reaction takes the form of a question: Where will the next generation of students go for an education (as opposed to a mere degree) now that universities and colleges (and law schools), as well as the polity, are no longer interested in education? My answer, I guess, is there will be an increase in home schooling at the college level, and the re-emergence of the autodidact. Perhaps, the Irish Monks will once again save Western Civilization as the New Dark Age begins. Universities (including elite universities such as Yale and Chicago) and those who populate such institutions have lost their way, have lost their souls. This is not a new thought. I refer you to the Forward to Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students (1987). Note the publication date, 1987. If a person graduated from college the year the book was published, that person would be at least 45-years-of-age today. So, Bloom is writing from the perspective of having already seen the generation of college students who occupy today's professoriate [] ; thus cutting off at the knees any arguments of the form it-was-better-when-I-was-a-student. The rotting had already begun more than two decades before Bloom's book saw publication. If today's professoriate received an impoverished, soulless education back then, what are they providing their students today?

Anyway, the Forward to the Bloom's book is written by the late, and clearly great, Saul Bellow. Here is an excerpt from the next to last paragraph:

"The heart of Professor Bloom's argument is that the university, in a society ruled by public opinion, was to have been an island of intellectual freedom where all views were investigated without restriction. Liberal democracy in its generosity made this possible, but by consenting to play an active pr 'positive, a participatory role in society, the university has become inundated and saturated with the backflow of society's 'problems.' Preoccupied with questions of Health, Sex, Race, War, academics make their reputations and their fortunes and the university has become society's conceptual warehouse of often harmful influences. Any proposed reforms of liberal education which might bring the university into conflict with the whole of the U.S.A. are unthinkable. Increasingly, the people 'inside' are identical in their appetites and motives with the people 'outside' the university. This is what I take Bloom to be saying . . . ."

In short, academia has breached its bargain with society. Academia is suffering the consequences of that breach. I would argue that Bloom, and Bellow as well, would argue that universities once were places where ideas and intellectual pursuits really mattered, but now universities are run by finance, marketing, and efficiency people with little or no interest in education, ideas, and the development of the intellectual. University students are increasingly taught not by teacher-researchers in search of some lower-case truth, but by teacher-researchers who are asking whether this or that project will make them more or less marketable, promotable, or tenurable. That is the say, those inside the university have sunk to the lowest common denominator of the masse. University professors are increasingly George Babbitts now. Professor George Babbitt sowing intellectual mediocrity into generations students. The core of a great university is its faculty. Unfortunately, in university after university across America, the faculties have abdicated their governance responsibility for comfort and financial security. Now that that American economy is is permanent decline and turmoil, now that those outside the gate are bombarding the university with criticism, now that people no longer see a meaningful difference in the business of education and the business of car manufacturing or banking, university faculties find themselves helpless, without intellectual leadership, without a soul. If the American automobile industry is to recover and thrive, then it must come up with a better business model and, among other things, results in the development and manufacturing of better cars. If university education is going to survive and thrive, it needs to replaced its current failed education model with one that once again values, among other things, education (as opposed to degrees), ideas (as opposed to mere opinions), and intellectual freedom (as opposed to anti-intellectual group think).

Leonard Long

September 8, 2010


Amar, Akhil Reed, The Constitution and Criminal Procedure: First Principles (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 1997) ("Here is where law professors come in. For one socially useful role of the not-for-hire academic should be to articulate long-run systematic values that the partisans and the temporary, self-interested agents will predictably slight. We have, for example, a rich academic law and economic literature decrying special-interest rent seeking--the honey subsidies, the grazing fee giveaways, and so on--but we lack an equally vigorous literature championing the common good over the special interest in jury law. Law professors have, in general, been better capitalists than democrats." Id. at 165.).

September 6, 2010


Baker. Dean, Taking Economics Seriously (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2010) ("In general, political debates over regulation have been wrongly cast as disputes over the extent of regulation, with conservatives assumed to prefer less regulation, while liberals prefer more. In fact conservatives do not necessarily desire less regulation, nor do liberal necessarily desire more. Conservatives support regulatory structures that cause income to flow upward, while liberals support regulatory structures that promote equality. 'Less' regulation does not imply greater inequality, nor is the reverse true. Id. at 1-2. "False ideological claims have, thus, circumscribed the public debate over regulation and blinded us to the wide range of choices we have. Without these claims, what would guide regulatory policy? What kinds of choices would we make? In this book, I explore what shifting the terms of debate might gain us." Id. at 3. "The government is always present, steering the benefits in different directions depending on who is in charge. Accepting this view provides a political vantage point much better suited to the case for progressive regulation. After all, conservatives want the big hand of government in the market as well. They just want the handouts all to go to those at the top." Id. at 16.`).

Banererjee, Abhijit Vinayak, Making Aid Work (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press 2007) ("[O]ne of the core problems with delivering aid: institutional laziness. Here many of the standard problems were not an issue . . . . All they had to do was to wait an extra few minutes it would take to fill out a simple form and learn about where aid had reached and where it had not. But no one could be bothered to put in the time it wold have taken to think harder about what they were doing. Aid thinking is lazy thinking." Id. at 7.).

Blix, Hans, Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2008) ("The international community must revive disarmament and take advantage of the resources the U.N. offers. . . . As Dag Hammarskjold said, the U.N. will not take us to heaven but it might help us avoid hell." Id. at 72-73.).

Daly, Lew, God and the Welfare State (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2006) ("This book ultimately asks whether policies claiming religious inspiration are faithful to the teachings they invoke. It is also a book about the influence of ideas in policymaking--the intellectual genealogy of a major political change. Indeed, for anyone seeking to understand why philosophy matters in contemporary politics, there is no better case study than the faith-based initiative. For the first time, core theological principles of the Christian tradition have been systematically applied to federal administration and spending. 'We don't just talk about abortion or other specific issues,' one prominent advocate . . . explains. 'We want to ask about the nature of government'." "If there is hope in the faith-based initiative, it lies not in the program itself but in the ideas that guide it. Through a theological lens we can appreciate the deeper political significance of the faith-based initiative and understand how it betrays its founding ideas and ignores disturbing dimensions of their past. And this opens the door to a valuable debate on government, religion, and poverty that neither opponents nor proponents of religious involvement in public life are prepared to have." Id. at 9-10.).

Dayan, Colin, The Story of Cruel and Unusual (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England, MIT Press, 2007) (From the back cover: "Those who condemn the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have blamed U.S. military procedures and abuses of executive powers. But in The Story of Cruel and Unusual, Colin Dayan argues that anyone who has followed the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions regarding the Eight Amendment would recognize the [George W. Bush] White House's policies on torture as natural extensions of the language of our courts and practices in U.S. prisons." "Dayan traces the ideas of 'acceptable' prisoner abuse to the slave codes of the 19th century, which embedded the dehumanization of the incarcerated deeply in our legal system. Although the Eighth Amendment was interpreted generously during the late 1960s and 1970s, over the last 30 years, Supreme Court decisions have once again diminished crucial protections. Prisoners' actual suffering has been deemed less important than the intentions of those inflicting it.").

Ganji, Akbar, The Road to Democracy in Iran (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2008) ("[I]f the struggle for human rights is intertwined with the democratic struggle, then genuine social progress is possible." "Some in Iran in recent years have claimed that in the age of modernity there is a division of labor, and that intellectuals should not pay the price for what should be the people's own responsibility, or the responsibility of civic institutions that defend human rights. Yet we cannot, as some intellectual do, rely on concepts and institutions to absolve ourselves of moral responsibilities. Intellectuals must strive to lessen other people's pain, even though they suffer on this path. And they must live in a way that prepares them to tolerate and survive the pain of insult, exile, imprisonment, and even torture." Id. at 20-21.).

Gecan, Michael, After America's Midlife Crisis (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2009) (From the back cover: "For several decades Michael Gecan has worked with groups that serve their communities when conservative get-tough rhetoric and endless liberal programs do not cut it." "A native of Chicago . . ., Gecan brings his deep knowledge of that city's blighted neighborhoods, bloated bureaucracy, and venal political machine to bear on a thoroughgoing and nationwide critique. He paints a vivid picture of civic, political, and religious institutions in decline, from suburban budget crisis to failing public schools: a national midlife crises." "Gecan reveals an urban landscape in which careerism, nepotism, and greed are the principal movers in policy, while the institutions that preserve and advance communities--schools, churches, affordable housing, recreational opportunities--have fallen prey to the indifference of pols and developers and the shortsightedness of technocrats.").

Gornick, Vivian, The Men in My Life (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2008) ("Suddenly, literature, politics, and analysis came together, and I began to think more inclusively about the emotional imprisonment of mind and spirit to which all human beings are heir. In the course of analytic time, it became apparent that--with or without the burden of social justice--the effort to attain any semblance of inner freedom was extraordinary. Great literature, I then realized, is a record not of the achievement, but of the effort." "With this insight as my guiding light, I began to interpret the lives and work of women and men alike who had spent their years making literature. But it was in the lives of the men, especially, that one could see what it meant to wrestle with the demons. Here they were--talented, often brilliant, with infinitely more permission to do and be than women had ever known--and they were endlessly dragged about by conflicts they could neither give up nor bring under control. I could not but be moved--by the great and the humble alike--to pity and admiration for those who demonstrated repeatedly that to 'be and do' is not a given." Id. at x-xi.).

Hogeland, William, Inventing American History (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2009) ("Every spring vacation in the early 1960s, my mother took me and my brothers from New York City to Washington, D.C., and environs. . . . [W]e looked forward urgently to the National History Wax Museum." "The wax museum's thrills came from nothing more sophisticated than old-school verisimilitude. . . ." "Imagining: that's what history seemed too be for. Subtlety was out. Every event was in progress at its crucial moment. . . ." Id. at ix-x. "This book is about failings in what is sometimes called 'public history'--the history we encounter in museums and tourist attractions, in newspapers columns and election campaigns, in public broadcasting and popular biographies. The wax museums traded in crude drama, lurid and sometimes apocrypha;, greatest hits in conquest, expansion, war, and murder. Partly for that reason, it conveyed to a child the sense more of real realpolitik than of manifest destiny. That Indian trying to kill John Smith seemed righteously angry, Smith only lucky. What grim times those were, when children could be brought to gaze on a perfect rendering of a presidential assassination only a year or two old. There was no happy summing up, no celebratory lesson. We didn't emerge into the sunlight with a feeling that the world had been made safe for democracy. From John Smith to John Kennedy, the story, unabashedly, was one of violence." "Public history must simplify. What I criticize here is not simplification itself but the kind of simplification that erases our deepest conflicts." Id. at xii-xiii. ". . . I've had anew desire to imagine our past, and a new desire to look closely at it. Public history should try to help all of us imagine and look closely. Too often it tries to do just the opposite." Id. at xiv.).

Loury, Glenn C., Race, Incarceration, and American Values (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2008) (From the back cover: "The United States, home to 5 percent of the world's population, now houses 25 percent of the world's prison inmates. Our incarceration rate is almost 40 percent greater than our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). It is 6.2 times the Canadian rate and 12.3 times the rate in Japan." "Economist Glenn C. Loury argues that this extraordinary mass incarceration is not a response to rising crime rates or a proud success of social policy, but the product of a generation-old collective decision to become a more punitive society. He connects this policy to our history of racial oppression, showing that the punitive turn in American politics and culture emerged in the post-civil rights years and has today become the main vehicle for the reproduction of racial hierarchies." "Whatever the explanation, the uncontroversial fact is that we have create a nether class of Americans with severely restricted rights and life changes. Our system, Loury contends, should be unacceptable to Americans; his call to action make all of us responsible for ensuring that it changes.").

Meyer, Stephen M., The End of the Wild (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2006) ("Today the guiding hand of natural selection is unmistakably human, with potentially Earth-shaking consequences." "Over the next 100 years or so as many as half the Earth's species, representing a quarter of the planet's genetic stock, will functionally if not completely disappear. The land and the oceans will continue to teem with life, but it will be a peculiar homogenized assemblage of organisms unnaturally selected for their compatibility with one fundamental force: us. Nothing--not national or international laws, global bio-reserves, local sustainability schemes, or even 'wildlands' fantasies--can change the current course. The broad path for biological evolution is now set for the next several million years. And in this sense the extinction crisis--the race to save the composition, structure, and organization of biodiversity as it exists today--is over, and we have lost." Id. at 4-5.).

Miguel, Edward, Africa's Turn? (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2009) (analysis of aid to, or investment is, Africa).

Stone, Alan A., Movies and the Moral Adventure (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London: MIT Press, England, 2007) (exploring, through film, what it means to be human).

Tomasello, Michael, Why We Cooperate (Boston Review Book) (Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: MIT Press, 2009) ("I will argue and present evidence that from around their first birthdays--when they first begin to walk and talk and become truly cultural beings--human children are already cooperative and helpful in many, though obviously not all, situations. And they do not learn this from adults; it comes naturally. . . . But later in ontogeny, children's relatively indiscriminate cooperativeness becomes mediated by such influences as their judgments of likely reciprocity and their concern for how others in the group judge them, which were instrumental in the evolution of humans' natural cooperativeness in the first place. And they begin to internalize many culturally specific social norms for how we do things, how one ought to do things if one is to be a member of this group. . . ." Id. at 4.).

September 5, 2010


Wilson, James Q., Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It (New York: Basic Books, 1989) ("Americans always entertain the suspicion that the government is doing something mischievous behind their backs and greet with outrage any indication that important decisions were made in a way that excluded any affected interest, no matter how marginal." Id. at 304.)

September 1, 2010


Grudin, Robert, Design and Truth (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2010) ("There is, finally, the relationship between design and truth. Because our designs convey solid meaning, and because they interface between us and the world, they must tell us the truth about the world and tell the world the truth about us. A well-designed hoe speaks the truth to the ground that it breaks and, conversely, tells us the truth about the ground. The same can be said about any product of invention, be it mechanical, like a car, or intellectual, like a speech. Good design enables honest and effective engagement with the world. Poor design is symptomatic either of inadequate insight or of a fraudulent and exploitative strategy of production. If good design tells the truth, poor design tells a lie, a lie usually related, in one way or another, to the getting or abusing of power." Id. at 8. "In a knowledge-based economy, respect must be awarded to the knowledgeable, no matter what their level of seniority. This presupposes a management structure flexible enough to let a junior colleague set the agenda if he or she carries moral authority on the day's topic." Id. at 159.).