Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber, is a fascinating and astounding look at the ubiquity of debt in human affairs. It replaces many “accepted” theories on the origins of money and debt and disproves the Myth of Barter by studying the anthropological record. From my own experience, economic theories and models are almost never based on actual historical observations, only upon assumptions about human behavior and interaction that I personally find naive. Just look at the Efficient Market Hypothesis or the idea that humans are rational decision makers — these ideas or their assumptions quickly fall apart with a simple analysis. For instance, as Chomsky points out, the advertising industry exists to create irrational decisions. People can lie and manipulate; they can be greedy or ascetic. It is nice to finally have a down-to-Earth study of actual historical accounts of human interactions without forcing the current paradigm on the past. Graeber’s book provides a wake-up call for people to see a more realistic view of the interactions of humans, debt, markets, government and money.
Category: education (Page 1 of 9)
Life’s Rocky Start gives a decent educational account of the importance of minerals to both the formation (assuming life originated on Earth) and the progressive development of life. It is one of the few documentaries I have seen that properly shines light on the importance of meteorites to the understanding of planetary formation. The documentary starts by visiting Marrakesh, Morocco to show how meteorites are obtained in the infamous Northwest Africa region. I only wished it developed more on this meteorite theme.
After watching Chris Hedges’ interview with Sheldon Wolin, I desired to read Wolin’s books. Democracy Incorporated provided a creative perspective with which to interpret recent American political and social events. Upon completion, I had an urge to continue extracting the political ideas of Wolin and I concluded that the best way to do this would be to jump into the deep end and open his book, Politics and Vision. Not only do I now have incredible respect for his ideas but I also feel that he has broadened my personal awareness of my place in society and history. There are criticisms I have toward the content (exclusively focused on “European/American”), but they are rather minimal in scope compared to the benefits any reader would gain by reading it thoroughly. I would say that Politics and Vision, as time progresses, will turn out to be one of the most important books I have ever read.
In the documentary Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death the BBC takes a detailed look at one of the worst humanitarian disasters and ruthless killing of natives done during the imperial colonization era.
Watch it: The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002)
Part contemporary investigation and part historical inquiry, documentary follows the quest of one journalist in search of justice. The film focuses on Christopher Hitchens’ charges against Henry Kissinger as a war criminal – allegations documented in Hitchens’ book of the same title – based on his role in countries such as Cambodia, Chile, and Indonesia. Kissinger’s story raises profound questions about American foreign policy and highlights a new era of human rights. Increasing evidence about one man’s role in a long history of human rights abuses leads to a critical examination of American diplomacy through the lens of international standards of justice. Written by Sujit R. Varma