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CLR Book Club – Week 2, 2017 January 13, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Some great points made here. It seems the consensus is that we should continue with fiction for the Book Club.

That said I would be interested if others are in tackling individual chapters of non-fiction texts in politics and political thought.

So, any consensus as to a book? And would people have ideas as to how we can gauge progress?

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1. LeftAtTheCross - January 13, 2017

Having watched “Snowden” over the Christmas, and what with all the fake news mania in the media, I went and ordered Orwell’s “1984” which arrived yesterday. I’m sure we’ve probably all read it in the past many decades ago, but it sort of looks like 2017 might be a good time to go back to it. Just a suggestion.

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yourcousin - January 13, 2017

If we’re going to do Orwell, we ought to read his collections of essays, or Homage to Catalonia. Which would be breaking my own rule about non fiction right out of the gate.

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LeftAtTheCross - January 13, 2017

I suspect there would be the predictible rows along the Stalin / Trotsky / anarchist faultlines over the bit where the communists act against the counter revolutionaries in Barcelona.

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yourcousin - January 13, 2017

Yes, the CNT were the counter revolutionaries…

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LeftAtTheCross - January 13, 2017

And so it begins…

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CL - January 13, 2017

” the mere sight of a page of Orwell carries me back to memories of England and of British-ness at full disagreeable stretch: philistine, vulgar, thuggish, flag-wagging?”-Alexander Cockburn.
https://www.mhpbooks.com/the-fable-of-the-weasel-by-alexander-cockburn/

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WorldbyStorm - January 13, 2017

I think Orwell is a problematic figure – I wouldn’t go quite as far as Cockburn (who I like a lot) but I think there’s more than a grain of truth in his argument. A lot more than a grain. On the other hand that’s no reason not to examine Orwell’s work in the Book Club.

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CL - January 13, 2017

True. Alexander’s dislike of Orwell may be traced to Claud and the Spanish Civil War.
‘Cockburn was attacked by George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia (1938). Orwell accused Cockburn of being under the control of the Communist Party and was critical of the way Cockburn reported the Barcelona May Days.’
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claud_Cockburn

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2. Starkadder - January 15, 2017

I know this is a minority opinion, but I prefer “The Aerodrome” by Rex Warner to “1984” by Orwell (although the latter book is quite good).

The Warner book does a better job of explaining why people are attrached to authoritarian movements. There is a passage in which the villain, the Air Vice-Marshal, speaks to his followers that I’ve been thinking about lately:

“…there is another bondage, equally to be rejected. It is the bondage of the future. From this, too, you must be freed, if you are to be what you wish, conscious and deliberate shapers of your own destinies and the destinies of others. Irrational fear for the future can prove just as dangerous a drug, just as hampering a clog upon thought and action as is the fear of or subservience to the traditions of the past.”

Now compare this article by Massa Gessen:

Trump and Putin, on the other hand, lack a concept of the future. .. Both men traffic in appeals to the local and the familiar from the past against the frighteningly strange future. They are also both short-tempered, thin-skinned, not very bright, and disinclined to listen to advisers—all major risk factors for escalation. But it is their shared inability to look ahead that poses the greatest danger to the world……Putin’s inability to plan has been well documented…Trump’s short attention span is legendary. He also has a track record of making impulsive lavish investments that fail over and over again. It appears that his ability to plan for the future is as severely limited as Putin’s.

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/12/28/most-powerful-men-in-the-world-trump-putin/

In their desire to be “conscious and deliberate shapers of your own destinies and the destinies of others”, Trump and Putin fail to take account of the problems they are causing. Warner hit upon this attitude in 1941.

And there’s more Warner hit on that’s relevant-remote-controlled flying machines that bomb targets at a distance, the way the Airmen’s attitude to woman resembles that of the nastier “pick-up artists” movement, and more.

If you get a chance, read “The Aerodrome”.

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