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Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
by Sheldon S. Wolin
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars What does A frightened democracy do?, April 26, 2016
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Sheldon S. Wolin, a renown professor of Political Science at both Princeton and Berkeley universities, a scholar who can count among his students, the renown public philosopher, Professor Cornel West, has, for most of his academic career, studied and written extensively and well about the philosophy and mechanisms of political systems, especially democracies and totalitarian forms of governments.

Having tracked the anti-democratic tendencies that have been in the American political DNA since its inception, Wolin marks three fundamental inflection points that have led to a turn for the worse, and to the present crisis in our democracy: FDR's New Deal, the Cold War, and the attack that occurred on 9/11/01.

As a result of these, the author concludes that the conditions have been set for U.S. democracy to quietly morph into a carefully managed top-down totalitarian state. He attributes this change to the informal coalescence of the shared interests of private centers of influence, centers whose tentacles have slowly and quietly increased their control over the government through corporate power and money. This control, which amounts to a Conservative/Libertarian revolution, instead of making us freer, like a boa constrictor's grip, is now choking the life out of American democracy.

Wolin's reading of history is deep and informative. He recalls the early discussions about how our democracy was to be structured. Those opting for a "true Athenian style democracy" were always in the minority. Most, including the architect of the US Constitution itself, James Madison, wanted only a limited role for "we the people."

An unholy compromise was eventually struck resulting in a "Democratic Republic" instead. But every since that deal, the tensions between the ruling elite and "we the people" has remained undiminished, unstable and always threatening to again break out into open conflict. Wolin's views on how and why these changes have occurred, are of course not unique, or in any way a new set of observations. But his analysis is careful, detailed and important.

In his farewell address in 1959, for instance, General Eisenhower gave us fair warning that such collusion was on the horizon, telling us to be vigilant and that it would be led by the (then newly emerging) military-industrial complex. Herbert Marcuse in his 1964 book "One-Dimensional Man," also warned that free elections were no panacea, alone they would not "change the master-slave relationship," and that "liberty [itself] can be made into a powerful instrument of domination."

Thus, mistrust of handing power over to "we the people" has a long contested history, and has remained a source of angst for the "powers that be" in America throughout American history.

Here, in what can only be called an academic tour de force, a grand critique worthy of the best intellectuals in the American academy, Professor Wolin tells us that the US has finally become a state that provides only the illusion of democracy; that we have become a nation ruled by greedy, selfish, even suicidal elites claiming to uphold democracy, when in fact they only give it lip service, as they assist in "hollowing it out" of all real substance, and no less than for their own private benefit.

Arguably, what remains at the end of this "hollowing out process" is an empty shell of democracy, filled with Balkanized competing interests warring against each other over mostly non-substantive emotional table scraps, an anemic and compromised media, TV reality shows, and the graffiti from the pageantry of the four-year election cycle. Elections have become an empty "stand-in" for real democratic participation, and for what amounts to a corporate takeover of American politics: what Wolin describes as an unholy "merger between capitalism and democracy."

He gives this "hollowing out" process a number of names: "corporate totalitarianism," "managed democracy," "democracy without citizens," "consumer-based sovereignty," but settles on "inverted totalitarianism." But, no matter which label he uses, at the end of the day, corporate and oligarchic interests, not only trump the interests of "we the people," but effectively replaces them as the nation's only sovereign.

Wolin's "inverted totalitarianism" differs from the more familiar forms of totalitarianism in that instead of encouraging activism and unanimity, as say Nazism, Fascism and Communism did, it encourages division and passivity. In effect, it take the "political" out of American politics, depoliticizing the citizenry and replacing it with the trappings of a feeble, almost exhausted democracy.

While it may appear that the activity in the American political arena is still full of vitality, anyone who takes a closer look, will readily see that this is a mirage, a parlor trick, an illusion brought about by "back-filling" the political stage with the "sound track," lights, and motion pictures of what "stands-in" as political activity. This empty pageantry of mirrors and flashing bulbs, is little more than political sleight of hand. The truth of the matter is that the drama of American politics has been reduced to a puppet show, Kabuki theater, in which the rich, and the corporations pull the strings, while our morally challenged politicians, like the ventriloquists they are, all sing kumbaya in unison and on cue. In the mean time, "we the people" get the shaft, are left holding the bag with all our needs going completely unmet.

Our inverted totalitarian system pays homage to the facade of electoral politics. That is, it acknowledges solemnly the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but at the same time that it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power, it also renders the US citizen completely impotent.

Effectively, America now has a "controlled politics" that tolerates only a minimum of dissent, encourages patriotic pageantry and celebrations, but is unresponsive to protests, dissent and proposals designed to address the real concerns of "we the people."

The author marks FDR's New Deal as a turning point. However, I believe the October 1917 Revolution in Russia must also be considered an equally salient inflection point. As, from that point onwards, it is a fact that the elites across the Western world at least, were shaking in their boots, nervous enough to begin taking steps to ensure that another "proletarian revolution" would never occur in Europe or America. For two generations, Communism was the bugaboo of American politics.

Second, he claims that the Cold War was used to reconsolidate the power of capital and to turn the tide against any thoughts of continuing FDRs welfare programs, including Social Security. What the ruling elite feared most about the New Deal was that it had established a new social contract between "we the people" and our government about what government's responsibilities to the people and the common good would be into the foreseeable future.

As it turns out, Reagan's conservative revolution intervened, and time was up: The foreseeable future had arrived much earlier than we expected -- four years before George Orwell's 1984 to be exact. Since then America's conservative forces have rallied, mustered a masterful full-court press and executed a perfect turn-around, enlisting to their ignominious anti-democratic causes, poor and working class whites, religious evangelicals, the military, and all the corporations. And though It might be recalled that even the totalitarian regimes of Soviet Russia and Germany each instituted a strong network of social services; and at least nominally supported unions, "inverted totalitarianism" under Reagan sought to dismantle the welfare state altogether, and with it, all oppositional labor groups. The present diminished state of our democracy and the decline of unions is the best evidence that the Reagan forces were victorious in their revolution.

In this regard, "inverted totalitarianism" has perfected the art of garnering the support of the grass roots conservative forces without allowing them to rule. Notably, poor and working-class whites whose best interests are almost always diametrically opposed to those of the corporate class, nevertheless they still invariably identify with them. Donald Trump's Tea Party, at least in part, appears to be a belated response to being both betrayed and ignored by the Republican establishment, which has always acted as the water boy for the corporate class. Yet, due to willful misreading of Republican ideology, working class whites still believe their interests are best served by continuing to support the Republican ideology. I would argue that racism against blacks has a lot to do with this, but this is not the place for that discussion.

Integral to this process, has been Professor Wolin's third inflection point: U.S. arrival at the gates of Superpower-dom. At several points in the book the author suggests that the projection of vast power abroad is itself sufficient to undermine genuine democracy. Our status, as a global hegemon and the last standing superpower, has allowed the U.S. to continue extracting unconscionable sacrifices from "we the people," in exchange for the endless and often mindless pursuit of "progress," tax cuts for the wealthy, military service for the poor, and the fighting of pre-emptive wars of choice with no exits -- all as part of the Reagan/Bush revolutionary mandate, or, as the Republican's version of their own "New Deal."

Part and parcel to the many external threats conjured up by the pentagon, are the corresponding perceived internals threats, which wax and wan according to political and ideological dictates, often stretching constitutional interpretations to the breaking point in the process. Thus, as a result of a technologically sophisticated and unaccountable national security state apparatus, consisting of a string of 20 or more secret security and police agencies, all under the guise of better protecting the homeland, America, under the legislative abomination called the "Patriot Act," has become a much less free nation.

And although the author stays clear of the JFK assassination, it must also be said, if only in passing, that in light of newly released information from US archives, it may soon be discovered that elements of the U.S. National Security State were actually implicated in his assassination. The reader may recall that JFK's continuation of FDR's New Deal social programs, his sympathies for the plight of blacks, and his forward-looking foreign policies (that the corporate class abhorred), placed a clear bull's eye on his back.

Thus, as the last standing superpower, the pursuit of empire has provided a whole parcel of rationalizations for engaging in all manner of international and domestic mischief -- from climate change denial and continued exploitation of fossil fuels, to engaging in preemptive wars of choice, torture, imprisoning the accused without due process, tightening the reins of internal security on all Americans -- and doing so under the dubious rubric of "American exceptionalism." These thing have become an everyday reality in American political life.

But more than this, the author concludes that corporate control over the economy dominates the political process in new more insidious ways: downsizing, reorganization, sheltering corporate profits off shore, "casino capitalism" (resulting in economic crashes where no one is held accountable), unions busting, the high cost of college, closing down and moving factories overseas by the thousands, aggressive privatization of government functions, and obscene amounts of money being dumped into the political process, have not only created a national economy thriving on debt and corruption, but also has produced a private economy built on fear and uncertainty.

This means the average American worker can no longer plan on retiring; that the average family needs two or more jobs just to make ends meet; and that they can forget about sending their children to college, and worse, no time is left for working class Americans to properly raise a family, or engage in political activity. The result, Wolin writes, is that political discourse is trivialized, apathy and passivity sets in, and the public is “denied the use of state power.” Taken together the new corporate run economy, leaves the public fragmented, and angry, but leaves corporate power and empire unchallenged and un-critiqued.

The ruling cliques now operate on the assumption that they don’t need the traditional notion of a public, or even a nation state as a home base for that matter. For they now have the tools to manage their money and their corporations with a telephone and a computer. With data out on the cloud, they can literally call the shots at a stand-off distance, where thanks to Citizens United, they can also now enjoy all of the benefits of citizenship and personhood without incurring any of its liabilities.

Ensconced in their off-shore havens, they can evade taxes, outsource jobs to the lowest global bidders, hide profits in numbered bank accounts overseas, and still have lobbyists back in Washington ready to manipulate elected officials and write legislation to ensure that all their future actions are rendered legal, and that regulations and rules that might constrain their activities, are kept at a minimum.

At the same time, they can also use their money as the Koch brothers are doing: to foment dissension within the body politic by financing opposition think tanks, opposition political pacts, and conservative-based academic programs in colleges and universities. The upshot of these activities of course is not just to keep the adversary off balance, but to institutionalize corporate friendly structural reforms into the foreseeable future. This amounts to what Wolin calls a "corporate revolution" in politics, an unholy merger between capitalism and a much diminished and a very frightened democracy.

What does a frightened democracy do? It looks for a strong man who seems to have all the answers, a tyrant, a despot, a demagogue like a Donald Trump. With the Bush doctrine introducing pre-emptive wars of choice, and the prospect of perpetual war, without exits, the public is kept in a state of fear, making the transition to a totalitarian state infinitely easier. Given that America is an emotionally and morally fragile nation, owing in large part to its racist nature, a case for a surveillance state, secret courts, torture and all the things we saw happening in Iraq bringing those tactics home, now seem not only tolerable, but the next logical step down the road to full-scale Fascism. Five Stars

1,202 well sourced examples of Barack Obama's lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, hypocrisy, waste, etc.
1,202 well sourced examples of Barack Obama's lying, lawbreaking, corruption, cronyism, hypocrisy, waste, etc.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to give a "political hack" a free ride?, April 23, 2016
By lumping the "unserious" in with the "serious," the author offers even Mr. Obama's worse enemies, nothing. This is not a responsible opposition critique of the Obama presidency.

As a liberal who feels deeply betrayed by Mr. Obama, I keep waiting for a serious (or even a sensible) critique from the other side. But all I find are these empty-headed, Neo-fascist, ideologically-driven, pseudo-Libetarian, (barely shielded) racist screeds, posing as "stand-ins" for serious critiques?

When are Republicans going to "grow up" politically, and stop allowing their racist emotions to get in the way of a serious, carefully constructed, resonsible critiques of "political hacks" like Barack Obama? The serious parts here are so well covered up by the racist nonsense, that even Mr. Obama himself would laugh at this childish attempt to destroy his meager accomplishments and undermine his legacy.

If I were this author, I would go back to the drawing board and take his subject much more seriously. He has certainly done a great deal of the research. But lining 1300 facts up like a row of ducks and then mowing them down, does not a story make?

Jesus Christ, why not first separate the wheat from the chaff -- i.e., leave out all of the BS -- and then compose a serious story that could lead to writing a serious book?!

This book is political child's play, pretending that the American political system is a playpen.

It is not.

It is deadly serious business, reserved only for deadly serious people with deadly serious ideas, who want to bring the "political hacks," like Barack Obama, to account. But this book does just the opposite. It lets him off the hook. And that is shameful and irresponsible. A black mark on our democracy.

Under the guise of some kind of sacred right wing Libertarian ideology, this author sprays his shotgun all across the landscape hitting nothing, and in the process gives the "hack" in the White House a free ride, and that is unforgivable.

The right wing demagogues like Donald Trump are just waiting to reel-in "walking emotional time-bombs" like this author. The author has got to raise his game, and by a lot. This book is like spending a night in one of Trump's hotels: crass. This is a lazy effort. One star
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2016 10:53 AM PDT

The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project)
The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (American Empire Project)
by A. J. Bacevich
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.11
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Unsettling but Indispensable read for all true American Patriots, April 19, 2016
In this theoretical essay, the author, a retired Army Colonel and professor of international relations, thinks deeply and hard about what has gone wrong with the 250-year old experiment in "American democracy." He "over-understands" American history, and thus as a military officer and a university professor, has no trouble taking the long view.

His story is trenchant, simple and devastatingly accurate: America's continued outsized imperial reach and ambitions for empire has reached an end point: It has finally outstripped its ability to rationalize a need to continue doing so. And in the process, has left the nation morally bankrupt, and financially stressed to the point of dependency and insolvency.

From its inception as a small British colonial settlement and protectorate, to becoming a continental empire by fiat in the aftermath of the French-Indian War, to its ability to maneuver its way out of trouble until towards the ends of both World Wars, and then effectively inheriting the spoils of both, as it picked up the pieces and became a global atomic superpower, the U.S. has lived on moral and financial credit, leaving an unenviable trail of debris and unpaid bills at home and abroad that have finally come back to stalk and haunt it. At a stage of its development when it should be resting on its laurels, the US instead, like its primary superpower rival, now too finds itself in deep spiritual and financial trouble as a nation.

Using the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as a moral point of departure, the author points to three consequences of America's imperial overreach: (1) an economy in disarray that can no longer be fixed by imperial expansion; (2) a Kabuki democracy in form only transformed by an imperial presidency; and (3) a nation still involved in endless wars without exits.

But it is the causes of America's malady that makes up the complex content of this book. What seems curious and paradoxical at first, becomes clear only as the author explains why and how the U.S. infatuation with "our freedoms" has served to lead the nation astray.

The author identifies the nation's collective fetish with "our freedoms," as little more than "ritualistic cant," an excuse for self-gratification through empty consumer goods, that serves as a global cover and empty justification for all manner of global mischievousness. With hubris, sanctimony, and collective denial, we convince ourselves that others are the problem -- they are always threatening "our freedoms" -- and thus, (as GW Bush put it), as part of our "great liberating tradition, we must end tyranny in our world."

However, in the author's more careful analysis of history, he points out that "never did the US exert itself to liberate others absent an overriding perception that the nation had large security or economic interest at stake." "Our freedoms" are not so much an American value as they are an excuse and a global justification for roguish international behavior under the questionable rubric of "American Exceptionalism."

The author's answers to our problems are as sensible as his analysis: end the nation's collective denial and return to a state of realism in both domestic and foreign policies. The realism he proposes includes a renewed respect for the limitations of military power; sensitivity to unintended consequences of all policies; an aversion to making claims to American Excpetionalism; skepticism about any solutions that look too easy; and finally, the U.S. must begin to balance both its moral and economic books.

As a retired State Department Foreign Affairs Officer, who spent the better part of the Cold War at the United Nations as a US delegate, I can attest to the fact that the U.S. and its main ally, Israel, used the twin concepts of "freedom" and "democracy" as a bludgeon to beat the international community over the head in order to have its way. We became partners in international mischief that often bordered on the criminal and that always undermined the effectiveness of an already crippled international body. This is an unsettling but much needed read for all true American patriots. Ten stars

Freud for Beginners
Freud for Beginners
by Richard Appignanesi
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ABCs of Freudian Psychology, April 16, 2016
This review is from: Freud for Beginners (Paperback)
Freud went to medical school in Vienna to become a scientist, not a doctor. While there, Ernst Brucke invented the notion of "mechanism" as an experimental way of investigating life through chemistry and physics, rather than as "vital forces" (that supposedly exchanged energy between living and non-living matter). Brucke had concluded alternatively that all animal nervous systems were made up of the same basic stuff, and differed only in complexity.

After spending 19 weeks in Paris with renown French neurologist, Jean Martin Charcot (another "mechanist"), Freud learned that hysteria was not just a disease of women's sex organs, but instead -- since it could be induced by hypnosis -- was a disturbance of the mind, by sexual ideas. And thus was a neurosis of both sexes.

Once back in Vienna, Freud had learned from a friend, Josef Breuer, about an interesting case of hysteria by Anna O, a 21-year old woman having hallucinations as she tried to care for her dying father. After he died the hallucinations became more violent and were accompanied by mumbled words. Breuer repeated them back to her to get her to tell him about her hallucinations. This made her feel better even though it did not cure her.

Freud and Breuer published their joint results of the Anna O. case: Hysterics suffer from traumatic memories -- psychic agents that can directly influence the body physically. These memories remain an active part of the unconscious, motivating behavior even when they are repressed. The hysterical symptoms, for instance, are just the alternative channel of expression due to the "blockage" caused by the repression. Unblocking the memories relieves the symptoms of the hysteria. Thus hysteria is a defense against unpleasant ideas. And symptoms are symbols for what remains unconscious. The ideas they resist invariably turn out to be sexual.

Freud probed this theory much further than Breuer was comfortable with. And, thus after they broke up, Freud alone concluded that Anna's love should have been considered one more substitute symptom covering up the sexual basis of her illness.

This led him to his Seduction Theory: Repressed memories almost always reveal sexual molestation by a parent or adult. It has a delayed effect on the child's memory and becomes pathogenic only after puberty.

Freud coined the term "psychoanalysis" with the modest goal of hoping to turn "neurotic misery" into "normal unhappiness," by posing uncomfortable questions that pressured his patients. Since questions seemed to disturb the patient's free flow of thoughts, he backed off and allowed them to say whatever came into their minds, i.e., to free-associate.

The clue to the patient's neurotic symptoms was hidden in the patient's unconscious. The patient did not know what was repressed. Yet only he could lead a therapist to its discovery. Patients became more and more defensive as the therapist's questions got closer to the unconscious cause of the trauma.

In the interpretation of dreams, Freud concluded that dreams provide incontrovertible evidence of the unconscious, and generally represent the partially censored symbolic fulfillment of wishes, the latent content of which was almost always made up of sexual desires, no matter how well disguised by manifest content. Dreams function like a miniature model of neurosis in which the latent content is displaced by the more appropriate but symbolic manifest content. The emotional energy from the pathogenic idea is unconsciously displaced by the hysterical symptoms.

In Freud's general theory of the mind, neuroses are not necessarily abnormal, just another from of mental functioning, a form that allows glimpses into the walled-off sections of the mind. According to him, the mind is divided into preconscious (all conscious ideas), and unconscious (wishes that get their energy from the primary physical drives).

In his theory, the Id is driven by the pleasure principle, which is unorganized and impulsive, inevitably running into conflict with the ego, which seeks to avoid danger by adapting to reality and civilized behavior. All human thought is a compromise between the preconditions and the unconscious; between the id and the ego, often monitored and overruled by the alter ego.

Freud's theory of sexuality is quite reasonable.Two adults of the opposite sex engaging in genital intercourse for procreation is not the whole story. Sex begins even before foreplay, i.e., with dreams, fantasies, voyeurism, exhibitionism, fetishisms, ogling, flirting, hugging, kissing, coddling, fondling, eroto-zonal stimulation and then penetration. Any component of the sexual instinct can become highly sexualized and fixated on any one of these areas. It then can replace the normal sexual aim and act.

Everyone is born with a basic sex drive called the libido, one's internal source of sexual excitation and pressure. The aim of sex is to relieve the pressure through sensations of pleasure on an object of desire. Since the sex drive has both mental and physical components, one can also become neurotic about sex.

The sexual history begins at birth where the infant's libido is unstructured and can thus take pleasure from any part of its body. Acquiring sexual aims and objects comes from complex learning, and thus can go badly wrong. Sexual history develops though stages: the oral stage, of sucking a mother's breast; the anal stage, of learning to control one's bowels; the phalllc stage, where stimulation of the genital zone occurs naturally; and the latent stage, where the sex drive appears to go underground.

But then comes the Oedipal complex, where sons secretly desire sex with their mothers and the death of their fathers, while daughters desire the opposite. Sons develop "castration anxiety" out of fear of what the father might do if he discovers the son's secret sexual desires for his mother. Daughters have penis envy owing to not having a penis. For this, the mother is blamed, but this also clears a free path for desiring the father as the primary sex object.

The Oedipal riddle confronts both sexes on the way to adult sexuality. The woman can emerge sexually healthy only if she accepts the idea of union with a male other than the father and comes to terms with the mother. Likewise, a man can emerge sexually healthy only if he accepts the idea of union with a woman other than his mother and begins to come to terms with fear of his father.

Pure masculinity and femininity do not exist, everybody is bisexual to some degree in both brain and physiology. Sexual curiosity is distinctly human and healthy. Five Stars.

Miles Ahead (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Miles Ahead (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trying to Capture Lightening in a Bottle, April 16, 2016
Although Cheadle's movie is not the movie I would have made, it is difficult to argue with "Marty Khan's" (AKA "Mouse's") rationale. I realize that capturing the essence of Miles Davis is like trying to capture lightening in a bottle -- nearly an impossible task. Yet, by making a movie that "Miles himself would like to have starred in," Cheadle forgot about old die-heart Miles fans like myself -- a trumpeter who actually met Miles once, and have one of his painting framing my den where I see and listen to his creativity each day.

While his personality might be that of a monster (it is clear that he always wanted to be a hoodlum), his music will be around when the roaches take over: Miles is his music, everything else is just the trappings. It does not really matter what Miles Davis thinks about Miles Davis anyway, now does it?

What I wonder most about Miles, after reading and reviewing his horrible autobiography, "Decoy," having met him at intermission at the "IT Club in LA once," and having read every scrap I could find on him, is why he and other Jazz musicians like him chose the self-destructive route they chose?

There are, after all, others who did not chose that route. Sonny Rollins, who is 94 and lives in Maryland near me, is a case in point. He chose to give up the drug addict's way, and began living an acerbic life instead, producing and distributing his own records, and is still playing publicly and recording.

And maybe therein lies the answer: getting out of the fast lane and off the Jazz musician's treadmill, ending the turmoil of having to deal everyday with the racist record producing, distribution, and night club industry and environment. Tell me, that is not enough to turn you into a Miles Davis-like monster and I would not believe you?

What old hands like me needed was a resolution of the Miles Davis paradox, a way of bringing Miles the person back into congruence with his creativity, and thus in some sense back down to earth -- not turning him into a car chasing shoot' em up hoodlum gone mad over the lost of an unreleased recording tape?

This is shades of OJ Simpson going to jail for stealing back his own memorabilia -- car chases guns and all?
I cannot see how Miles would have been happy being turned into a "Saturday Morning cops and robbers cartoon character?" Do you really think Miles would have been happy using that as his shtick? As much as he seemed to want to be a hoodlum, I still don't think he would want this as his legacy.

Anyway, back to the movie I would have made. It would have been like the movie the "Soloist:" showing what it was like living as the son of a wealthy Dental Surgeon, (having a pony as a kid), going to school in the ghetto of East St. Louis, playing with and learning from the late master trumpeter, Clark Terry right across the Mississippi in St. Louis. Then going off to Julliard, dropping out to join Bird and Diz, getting hooked on drugs and having go back home to dry out. And then I would go briefly through each of his most creative re-inventions of himself and his music. By all means, Miles must be heard talking about his music with his colleagues. Miles had a voice and a persona other than just that of a caricatured thug.

Indeed my version of his life may seem like a lot, but remember it has been done before, and to good effect. The movie, "Ray," is the best case in point. That's the end of my bitching. It was a good, but not a great movie. Four Stars.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 22, 2016 5:58 AM PDT

The Covenant with Black America - Ten Years Later
The Covenant with Black America - Ten Years Later
by Tavis Smiley
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Limits of Social Progress in a Racist Society, April 14, 2016
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This is a review of Tavis Smiley's book "The Covenant with Black America: Ten years Later."

The book consists of a review of black progress on the same ten issues covered in the first publication of the covenant in 2006. The ten issues reviewed are: Securing the right to health care and well-being; Establishing a system of public education; Correcting the system of unequal justice; Fostering accountable community-centered policing; Ensuring access to affordable communities that connect to opportunity; Claiming our democracy; Strengthening our rural roots; Accessing good jobs, wealth, and economic prosperity; Assuring environment justice for all; and closing the racial digital divide. Each issue reviewed contains three parts: an introductory essay by an acknowledged professional in the area discussed; a statistical, graphic, and/or bullet summary of what has been achieved over the last decade, and examples of activities engaged in by communities across the nation, where programs have been tried to help advance progress on the issue in question.

A bullet summary of the progress by issue made over the last decade, revealed the following rather dismal results:

-- Although more access to health insurance was made available to low income Americans by the ACA, all other health related issues for blacks in America continued to deteriorate precipitously. Heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, suicides, poor access to food, pollution of communities, all continued unabated.

-- In education, school choice (once a conservative Republican idea for killing public schools), increased via Charter Schools, as did some teacher and school accountability projects. As well, investments in K-12 programs increased. Also some reforms in curricula were made that are expected to affect the way education is delivered in the future. But at the date of publication, it was too early to assess these results.

-- It was mentioned by none of the professionals reviewing, that progress in education was overshadowed by the Supreme Court's decision to gut the 1954 ruling on school integration, one of only two programs that have actually helped blacks close the achievement gap between blacks and whites. The other program that has done so, was Affirmative Action, which was also gutted by the conservatively-dominated US Supreme Court.

--In the criminal justice system, state lawmakers, making a cruel virtue out of necessity, in about ten states (but not at the federal level), motivated mostly by attempts to cut costs, finally realized that mass incarceration takes a big bite out of their respective state budgets. And as a result have become anxious to build off-ramps from the war on drugs, which has been responsible for the steep costs of over-imprisonment of blacks and Latinos for mostly minor non-violent drug violations.

-- Belatedly as usual, Mr. Obama during his lame-duckhood, has tried to get aboard this fast moving train. But this apparently did not stop the juggernaut of the prison-industrial complex. Bigger and better prisons continued to be built and more and more money is still being pumped into the "child-to- prison pipeline" that will ensure that black youths will continue filling prison beds into the foreseeable future.

-- Overall, no discernible progress was made over the past decade in community-centered policing. In fact, the U.S. slid backwards, as racial profiling increased rather than decreased -- as did hyper police reactions to inner city crime, resulting in more shootings of black and Latino youths. This has all happened with a backdrop of a precipitous decline in crime over the last 30 years.

-- In housing, again all the news over the last decade has been bad: rents are up and wages are down; the percentage of income needed to pay for housing has increased; reverse-redlining has become a reality; more blacks are being rejected for housing loans; and black homelessness has skyrocketed.

-- And although more low-end jobs are finally coming back on line, a typical family of four will need 2-3 such jobs to pay for life's essentials. Not to mention the fact that blacks lost fully two-thirds of all their wealth during the fiscal crisis and are still a long way from getting back on their feet.

--Likewise, except for electing the first black president, the country slid backwards in ensuring democracy. As a result of the Supreme Court's "gutting" of the voter registration law, the right to register to vote, the last bastion of American democracy, is now being challenged in no less than 15 states. While questions still remain about the integrity of computerized voting machines, and the systematic reduction and elimination of voting venues in minority communities, states are challenging the black right to vote with various ID laws and procedures.

--The same bad news is repeated in the area of "strengthening our rural roots;" as well as for better access to good jobs, wealth, and economic prosperity. Ironically, the gap in wealth between blacks and whites was smallest during the recession. Afterwards the gap widened considerably.

Summary of the results

By any sensible measure, and leaning in the direction of putting forth any evidence whatsoever that might look rosy -- if for no reason other than as a face-saving report to cover the dismally conscious efforts by our first black president not to give blacks a helping hand -- these ten experts, frankly could find little in the statistics on black life over the last decade to crow about.

Since the only two successful programs designed to close the gap between blacks and whites -- Affirmative Action and the 1954 School integration Decision -- have both been "rolled-back" or "gutted" due to sustained white resistance, no one should be surprised that over the last decade, even with a black president in office, black progress has never been more dismal.

This is curious, given that the white women's movement effectively took only one decade to assure almost complete success (1971-81). And now the LTBT movement has taken only a few years more, (2000-2014). In the face of such obvious progress in our times, it again raises the perplexing question of why, after 250 years, and on the watch of a two-term black president, John Lewis is still standing on the Capitol steps singing the same song: "We have made progress, but we still have such a very long way to go?"

Why indeed, a reasonable person might ask, is there still such a long way to go for any definitive signs of black progress? And why is black progress the only unattainable social goal (an asymptote really) flowing straight through the veins of American social history since it's beginning to the present day?

Why is it that full economic, social and political equality for blacks remains the only social asymptote in American society, a limit that cannot be achieved in this democratic nation? Why can't black progress happen on a timetable equivalent to one like those achieved with White Women's rights, and LGBT rights? Indeed, why has John Lewis and the distinguished professional panel writing these essays, not recognized that all attempts at black progress follow a well-defined pattern: in which progress is made in one generation, stalled in the next, and then finally reversed in a subsequent one? This cycle continues to repeat itself, ad infinitum.

Given America's stellar record of progress in solving other intransigent social problems, like white women's and LGBT rights, a reasonable Social Scientist might conclude that something much larger is going on within the white American mind and within the white American heart when it comes to ideas and feelings about progress in America towards full black equality? Such Social Scientists might well conclude that whatever this unknown cause is, it probably resides in the American DNA, and thus must also be the same cause that affects Native American and Latino progress too?

I am a reasonable man and a reasonable Social Scientist who has lived in America; been on the "receiving end" of this problem all my life, and have studied this problem since I was a teenager.

The cause, the responsible phenomenon, the agent that allows, then stalls, and then reverses all black progress again and again, has a name. And whether you study it "on the receiving end" as a teenager, or as a Senior Researcher at a major University, or as part of a panel of experts writing about it in a book like this one: it has the same name and address: It is called "systemic white racism."

The dispassionate, highly motivated but "small bore" community projects on display throughout this book, posing as black solutions to America's systemic problem of white racism, are destined to fail because they are all "piece-wise attempts to try to solve a systemic problem." It can't be done, period!

American problems cannot be segmented by race. There is only one America -- a whole nation. It's problems admit to no race-based solutions even though America itself remains a profoundly racist society.

Allow me to repeat this point: There are no race-based solutions to American problems, only American solution to American problems.

But this panel of fine people, like our well-meaning president of the last eight years, are trying to solve this systemic problem without first acknowledging it's source. All of the presenters in this volume went mute when it was time to identify and locate the correct name and address of the problem?

Implicitly, (and unconscionably) they have all assumed these problems are about black cultural deficiencies, and thus can all be solved by a firmer upward pull on our collective ethnic bootstraps:

Would that it were so easy?

Indeed, I would like to see them tell me how Detroit, which now has more stray dogs and crumbling empty houses than tax-paying citizens, can pull itself up by its bootstraps? This, and other inner city American dystopias, was created by the 800-pound gorilla in the back of the American family room: White flight, otherwise known by its full name: White systemic racism.

It does not matter how many times Congressman John Lewis hollers from the steps of Congress that "We have made progress, but we still have such a very long way to go," the asymptote his mantra refers to has existed for 250 years, and will continue on its narrow unending path, out to infinity, unless and until white people themselves have decided that enough is enough. And then say to themselves collectively: it is finally time to end this despicable racist social order And reclaim our humanity. They must recognize, and then say to themselves collectively: Jesus, we are no more human than we make our black people?

It is time to end this two-tiered racist caste system, and finally admit "America's racist democracy" to the rest of the human race. Then we will no longer need a Black Covenant, for racism can be ended in one year instead of in another two hundred and fifty years, or, on its present course, out to infinity. (And then John Lewis can finally shut his frigging mouth!)

There is a recent precedent as to how the racist DNA can be "quickly excised" from within a profoundly racist but self-conscious and aware society. Michael Moore's film "Who do we invade next" shows how post WW-II Germany did it.

Germans, the sons and daughters of Nazis, who murdered six million Jews, had a collective "come to Jesus moment with themselves" and stopped lying to themselves; gave up denial about what the holocaust had done to their own humanity. They then made an about face, and peace with their collective conscience, enacted laws against racism against Jews that they not only now enforce to the letter, but also provide Jew continuing reparations, and teach all Germans from kindergarten up, that they are all responsible for what was done to the Jews in the war. Their shared sense of collective guilt has been turned into a positive bludgeon to reclaim the loss German humanity.

American whites must also reclaim their lost humanity for the crimes of our collective past.

Had Mr. Obama been a man of courage rather than one who "pocketed his Nobel Prize," and then consistently led from behind, he had the power and political capital to have ensured his legacy for all times by starting in America a movement to end American racism just as Germany did. But instead, he too elected to do as most Americans have done throughout American history: hide from the problem and pretend that systemic white racism is not America's number one problem -- that it simply does not exist; and worse, Mr. Obama sullenly, deftly and defiantly, like the whites who elected him, pretended that race was a problem of black deficiencies, one that could only be fixed by those "professional liberals," getting off their couches and into the game," pulling themselves up by their collective bootstraps.

In short, Mr. Obama's message was that the victims themselves were responsible for creating and sustaining their own conditions of systemic racism, not whites. In short, our first black president, consciously placed the burden of changing America's systemic racism squarely on the shoulders of those who suffer most from it -- not on the shoulders of the perpetrators where it belongs, racist white America. That is the only reason many of them still love him so.

Pure and simple, American racism is designed to shield racist whites from the consequences of their own racist actions, and thus gives themselves and others who share their worldview, permission to practice racism passively and unconsciously, forever. And this will never end until whites decide that having permission to be a racist nation, having permission to practice racism passive-aggressively, can only eventually lead to much, much worse. It thus must be ended today, before a Donald Trump, or someone like him, becomes president.

It is an certainty that if America continues on its present course, of living in passive-aggressive racist denial, we will have another Nazi Germany or worse, period.

One thing our basketball playing black president can be sure of, if blacks are given half a chance and an "even playing field," more than any other ethnic group, we too will excel and will carry the ball across the goal line and score every time. Five stars

American Colonies: The Settling of North America, Vol. 1
American Colonies: The Settling of North America, Vol. 1
by Alan Taylor
Edition: Paperback
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2.0 out of 5 stars "Pre-baked" or skillfully "Revised" Colonial American History, that is the question?, April 7, 2016
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Here, renown historian, Alan Taylor gives us an "updated but, arguably, a pre-baked version" of the American Colonial drama. Now for the first time non-white and female actors appear in cameo roles on the sidelines of the stage of that drama. The same is true of the other geopolitical players -- Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and briefly, even Russia. They too make cameo appearances. However, although we do get more granular details, the center of gravity of the drama and the script of the story remains exactly the same: Colonial American history is a tale of rugged white male individual heroism. End of the story.

Here we do not learn that it was in fact the effete Dutch Settlers of New York, and not our founding fathers, who actually first brought democracy to America; or that it was the prissy French trappers who were the first to map out America's interior and controlled its internal water ways a full 200 years before Daniel Boone ventured westward as far as Kentucky; or that by winning the French-Indian War, England actually prepared the ground so that the tiny collection of 13 colonial city-states could then acquire an empire even before they became a nation. Or that Africans and Indians were major geopolitical players, utilizing their own agency to move the pieces on the geopolitical chess board to affect their own freedom -- and did so well past the revolution all the way up to the Civil War. Or that England, literally won the war and then exited "stage right," leaving the colonies to create their own drama from the debris it left behind.

No one knows better than I, a "transplanted" Virginian, that Virginia remains the "soul of the Confederacy" and thus the repository of all sacred American historical knowledge. So, I read this "updated" version of American Colonial History by one of Virginia's most celebrated historians with great interest, especially in light of having read and reviewed several other revisions of the history of this period, most notably Gerald Horne's "The Counter-revolution of 1776."

Reading this book, one discovers rather quickly the difference between an "authentic revision," and a "pre-baked update" of Colonial American History. To wit: the former adds the missing ingredients back into the cake's batter, and then re-bakes the cake from scratch. While the latter simply sprinkles the missing ingredients onto the outside of an already pre-baked cake.

Obviously, the astute historical palate knows the difference.

It becomes very clear for instance that in the sprinkled version, the canonical American story is left unaltered: none of the power relationships are disturbed; no one is found guilty of any crimes, and no one is held responsible for mistakes, or for the consequences of any of their own actions or moral transgressions? Our slaveholding founding fathers, who were also land speculators, pirates and smugglers, serial rapists, extensively engaged in tax and tariff-evasion, treasonous actions such as trading with the enemy during times of war, were abysmal soldiers in every war, and guilty of inciting rabble-rousing generally, remain pristine heroes according to this version of colonial American history.

That the script of the main American drama cannot be tampered with, has become a familiar trope -- if not the very signature of acceptable American history.

Multiculturalism in America is a good example of this phenomenon at work in contemporary American history. It too is of the "sprinkled pre-baked cake variety:" Nothing changes but demographics. All the other cultural parameters remain exactly the same, while we go about crowing loudly about the greatness of our country being multiculturally integrated? But in America the truth always is otherwise. Assimilation in America has always been and will always remain a one-way street: Virginians say, Love it, or leave it: You adopt our ways of thinking or go back where you came from, period. Trump says we'll build a wall and everyone cheers. But if Trump gets elected, Canada will have to build a wall to keep the hoard of disgruntled Americans from coming in.

In a similar way, there are no degrees of freedom for changing the script to the canonical American colonial narrative. The only acceptable option is to stick into the icing on the already baked cake, the names of those to be sprinkled onto its outside. The act of sprinkling on after the fact missing ingredients, has become a sacred act of the ritualistic false American narrative.

We like to take moral credit for things we never intend to do -- like full equality, or living fully up to the rule of law. Living on moral credit has been raised to patriotic status. There is no higher honor as a hyphenated American than to be selected for the ritual of being sprinkled onto the already pre-baked American cake. The thought of re-baking the cake of American history with the missing ingredients included in the batter from scratch, is not an option even as an afterthought for most historians. And certainly not for this author.

Likewise for the economy. When it was blown up in 2006-2008 due to gross malfeasance by our ruling class, the missing ingredients were just sprinkled back on, and the already pre-baked capitalist cake remained the same as before the crash. No one was found guilty of any crimes and no one went to jail. So, when the history of that economic crisis is written, it too will be like this case of Colonial American history: a sprinkling back in of the missing ingredients -- not one of fixing capitalism's defects like needing to continue Glass-Steagall, or sending the guilty to jail.

Thus, whether multiculturalism, the international economy, or Colonial American history, there is a price to be paid for this familiar American cultural trope of living on moral credit, and that is not just a matter of historical taste. It is an existential matter for American culture.

Without drawing too sharp a distinction, one could easily argue that the history of America, whether colonial history, multiculturalism or the economy, is that America no longer constitutes a self-correcting cultural system. It is histories like this one that tells us Americans, that our nation's best systemic move now is sprinkling more "fairy dust" on an already pre-baked cake.

We elect not to look too deeply into the meanings of the culture colonial America created, and that has evolved into the present unchanged. We simply refuse to go back to the beginning and then stir in all of the proper ingredients to see what might have then fallen out of a history that we could truly be proud of -- rather than one where we have to keep turning our history to the bright side of the sun, in order to be able to continue looking ourselves in the mirror.

And in this regard, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that America has become a static relic of its best imagined-self, not a dynamically evolving self-correcting cultural system willing to pay the moral price for its past transgressions, and then make the necessary mid-course corrections to change and thus really become a more perfect union -- as say post WW-II Germany has done.

Symbolically, America is now a dead cultural system, trading on past rhetorical glory. It is a nation that glorifies in the fact that its pre-baked formula called exceptionalism, means that it cannot change its moral stripes. Therefore the rest of the world must do so. And even though our national mantra is the pledge that we make to ourselves daily: to become a "more perfect Union," that is only idle rhetorical bombast, hypocritical cant. Like Kim Jung Un's North Korea, America no longer has a commitment to self-improvement. This version of colonial American history proves this point. Two stars

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
by Jane Mayer
Edition: Hardcover
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Money and the end of Democracy, April 6, 2016
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Believing their fossil oil businesses were being threatened by taxes and government social programs, the Koch brothers, along with a small coterie of like-minded radical Libertarian plutocrats of the John Birch Society ilk, came together in secrecy in the 1980s to put up as much as 889 million dollars per year to hijack American democracy.

Since then they have operated a "full-court press" designed to drown out all political and ideological adversaries in order to establish a vertical and horizontally integrated plan to establish an anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union, anti-welfare, pro-corporate libertarian America.

So far, their program of action is on target to succeed, and has included: (1) investing in think tank intellectuals and scholars who have produced ideas that have then been turned into a series of radical conservative policy initiatives; (2) subsidizing “grass-roots” citizen groups that have helped elect like-minded libertarian politicians to carry out their radical policy agenda; (3) hiring lobbyists trained to carry their message forward and have been used to keep the pressure on politicians and on government agencies to tilt policies in the direction of their radical ideological agenda.

The worse part of this devious "Libertarian takeover of America," is that none of it is illegal. And as the "Citizens United Decision," as well as the limp-wrist Obama administration policies more generally have demonstrated, the American political process simply has no protections against "deep pocket" political cabals intent on doing it harm. Under the very banner of patriotism, they effectively can dismantle our democracy.

The best, if arguably not the only defense, is for competing deep pocket cabals from the other side of the political divide to mimic the Koch brothers tactics by doing the same. However, since plutocrats on either side are likely to have more in common with each other than with "we the people," the agenda of a competing deep pocket liberal or progressive cabal, is unlikely to offer much of a challenge to the Koch brothers' sinister proto-fascist Libertarian agenda.

Thus this book leads me to conclude that it is the hierarchical aspect of American society that is the problem, not the Koch brothers, per se. Like them, the insanely rich no longer have any allegiance to, or things in common with, "we the people." Their only allegiance is to protecting their own bottom line, and their often ill-gotten wealth.

The US Constitution thus must be amended so that devious plutocrats like the Koch brothers cannot be allowed to use their wealth and power to distort and undermine our government or its institutions in such a way that they effectively become little more than tools of the rich. Five stars

Negro Comrades of the Crown: African Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation
Negro Comrades of the Crown: African Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation
by Gerald Horne
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5.0 out of 5 stars Black "agency" in action!, April 5, 2016
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In another eye-opening book, Professor Gerald Horne, repeats the feat accomplished in his magisterial, "The Counter Revolution of 1776," by again rewriting large parts of America's "master narrative."

As usual, Horne upsets the applecart with newly excavated facts taken mostly from the British archives to build a much broader, and arguably, a fuller, more honest geopolitical context, one used to better situate the facts usually abstracted from this context and turned into a mythical heroic origin story of America's founding. Yet, once we get beyond these selectively abstracted facts, shaped mostly to pander to a "false master narrative," only then do we begin to see American History in its fullest ignominious glory, and for what it really is: an embarrassingly urgent counter-narrative fashioned primarily to plug the gaping moral holes created by a long-running history of hypocrisy, greed, avarice, expansionism, racism, the continuous brutality of slavery against Africans and genocide against Native Americans -- in short, an unending parade of crimes against humanity.

In this book, we discover how "African slaves" used "their agency" to bend the axis of geopolitics ever so slightly in the direction of racial justice, fairness and towards an aggressive attempt to help abolish slavery and emancipate themselves. Dr. Horne's collection of well-researched vignettes, make up a much richer, much more complete story, challenging the carefully culled narrative of omissions that make up America's "master narrative."

And while it is well-known that more Africans fought against the American Revolution than fought for it. It is not well-known why they did so, or what the "real" underlying motivations for the American Revolution were in the first place.

The most obvious reason Africans sided with Britain was because in the aftermath of the Haitian-led revolts that took place all across the Atlantic World, especially in the Caribbean, Britain was on the side of ending slavery forthwith; while the 13 colonial city-states, as an existential matter, desired to retain slavery at all costs and in perpetuity if necessary.

But the Africans also sided with Britain because fighting for Britain guaranteed automatic freedom and citizenship, as well as equal pay for soldiering; while fighting for colonial independence, meant enduring the ignominious insults of no citizenship, being paid less than white soldiers (when paid at all), and most embarrassing of all, returning to slavery after fighting for the white man's freedom. Even freed black men of Virginia, who had fought for the revolution, lived no better than slaves.

But more than this, slave revolts across the Atlantic World had so frightened slave owning whites that they had circled their wagons and dug in for the long haul, expecting the other shoe to fall immediately and squarely on the shoulders of the slave holding South.

At the same time, the awareness of all slaves in the Atlantic World had awaken, and Africans had positioned themselves between the Settlers and the British in order to assist Britain whenever and wherever they could -- while at the same time undermine the "so-called" American Revolution and the slaveholding plantation owners' ambitions. What is also not well-known is that they did this not just during the 1776 revolution, but also through the war of 1812, and even clear up through the Civil War.

Thus, for Africans, choosing sides between the "so-called" patriots, and the British, was a "no brainer." And, it must be said that they have paid dearly in the form of racism against them, ever since.

Likewise, until Dr. Horne's books, we were of the opinion that the American Revolution was motivated mostly by heavy-handed attempts by Britain to reimpose its colonial will by tightening its control over its North American colonies through increased taxation and by maintaining clumsy military garrisons on colonial American soil. But, as much as these causes may have been perceived to be true in the aftermath of the French-Indian War, there also were a deeper set of much more important causes lurking in the background, causes that ran counter to the well-advertised high principles and morally pristine reasons we have come to accept as the reasons for the revolution.

The reasons that went unacknowledged and unspoken in the background, were those about what was inexorably driving the colonies towards their independence: Colonial America's insatiable expansionist desires; its almost existential need to retain slavery, and the profound but Machiavellian realization that in the aftermath of clearing the continent of all its geopolitical rivals, "Great" Britain was no longer "great," and thus was unable to enforce its edicts to make the colonies pay off their war debt through increased taxes, end westward expansion into Indian hunting grounds beyond Appalachia, and most of all, end slavery. The fact of the matter was that the geopolitical stars had finally aligned perfectly so that Britain's far-flown, little set of colonies could successfully challenge their own big brother for supremacy over the entire North American continent -- even before they came a nation! Five stars

The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory
The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory
by David Bohm
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An What is a Particle?, March 22, 2016
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Beyond computing the probabilities of experimental results statistically (and then only up to the Planck length using the hidden reductionist assumption that "measurer" and "measured" are separate), quantum physics (QP) does not have a clue. Even the widely successful algorithmic formalisms of quantum electrodynamics are like taking an ontological free-ride through cosmic reality, because no one knows for sure why they work, or if, or when, they might breakdown.

Until David Bohm came along intent on fixing the problem of finding what lies at the bottom of quantum reality, QP had been content finessing the question of what exactly is a particle. This book tells how Bohm, and his ex-student, James Hiley, proceeded to grab this 800-pound gorilla by its philosophical tail and wrestled it to the theoretical ground.

In what can only be called an intellectual tour de force twenty years in the making, Bohm and Hiley -- assuming only that the universe is whole, and using a handful of emergent concepts, show how the assumption of wholeness and the new concepts, could be welded into an ontological theory that closed the philosophical hole at the center of QP, and, at the same time, resolved existing contradictions.

Before this book, certain problems (like measuring quantum processes but still being unable to understand the reality behind the measurements; addressing why the "measurer" and "measured" must be treated separately; ignoring the contradictions of non-locality inherent in Bell's theorem (but apparently successfully challenged by the EPR experiment); and addressing the meaning of the wave-particle duality in the split-slot experiment), were mysteries of QP that had to be finessed.

Beginning with what is given: that the electron is a particle with a well-defined position and momentum, always profoundly affected by an accompanying wave, the authors seek to answer the fundamental question of QP: whether there is an adequate casual theory (as opposed to the existing implied stochastic one), of the reality of the quantum system in which the particle exists?

The theory they produce here, arguably, gives a new more intuitive and more coherent interpretation of quantum mechanics, one that matches, and then goes beyond the classical stochastic theory. Its only drawback is that it can never be tested -- except that is, at the point where QP itself breaks down. But oddly this is not where the theory has been criticized. It has been criticized on grounds that it only duplicates the classical stochastic theory. Those who criticize it on those grounds, obviously give no weight at all to the fact that, in addition to giving QP philosophical closure, it also satisfactorily resolves the primary mysteries bedeviling it?

The development of the authors' theory proceeds somewhat as follows:

The ontological and epistemological machinery are first deployed and reviewed in chapters 1-3. By the middle of chapter 4, the machinery is well-defined enough to demonstrate its efficacy on both the "One-body," and the "Many-body" problems. In the former case, de Broglie's idea of a "double solution" is introduced and the role of probability is examined as it impacts quantum physics more generally. And in the latter case, Bohm's own concept of "active information" is used as an ontological interpretation of the Many-body problem.

The notion of both "active" and "inactive" information are used in the most rigorous way possible in chapter 5, as a way of introducing the process of quantum transitions. This is not an easy chapter conceptually as it requires the reader to examine quantum transitions as observations in the absence of measurement. A fuller treatment of this and other problems of measurement make up the substance of chapter 6, which in my view is the lynchpin of the entire book because so much of what follows afterwards depends on both grasping the ideas of this chapter, and believing in its utility as an integral part of the ontological interpretation. The chapter ends by revisiting some troubling quantum mysteries in light of the new philosophical machinery.

Once the reader's appetite is thoroughly whet, chapter 7 is devoted to perhaps the most troubling concept of all: that of non-locality, one that at least in theory, violates the principles of relativity. So, non-locality is the point where the rubber of Bohm's idea of wholeness meets the road. The more problematic, more fragmented and reductionist stochastic interpretations are examined in light of non-locality too, and compared with Bohm's newer ontological interpretation. It is here where the reader can see clearly why an ontology of wholeness is needed.

Chapter 8 moves from the quantum physics laboratory to the large-scale universe. The rest of the book is devoted to further exploring further how the new ontological interpretation might be applied to both the small and large scale.


At one level this is the most daunting of all of Bohm's book, especially for those who have forgotten most of their advanced calculus. But despite this, it is also the most satisfying, because one gets to see what all the fuss is about. The mathematics used is minimal in the sense that it is mostly notational, and thus no more is used than is needed. However, this does not mean that the math is always easy. Just remembering the proper meanings of various systems of notations alone can be a challenge.

But beyond the mathematics, another word of warning is also in order: Just because Bohm and Hiley's concepts are presented with devastating clarity does not mean that this newer interpretation is easy to grasp. Yet, so long as the reader views the book as an excursion through applied philosophy as well as theoretical physics, and not just mathematics, per se, he can then be expected to get the most out of it. When the ideas do come together, as invariably they will, there is joy in being able to fully appreciate what the authors were really up to. Ten stars

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