Books on Technology, Politics and Human Ideology

Posted on November 28 2017

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
― Ayn Rand
Observations from China, Cuba and Russia show how the Internet affects the psychology of its users. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are also covers major civil rights battles between the Internet and state control. In this book, we witness how bloggers (who are, at the same time, advocates of civic change) work under harsh government watch.

In China, university students use the Internet to save the life of an attempted murder victim. In Cuba, authorities unsuccessfully try to silence an online critic by sowing seeds of distrust in her marriage. And in Russia, a lone blogger rises to become one of the most prominent opposition figures since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Authoritarian governments try to isolate individuals from one another, but in the age of social media freedom of speech is impossible to contain. Online, people discover that they are not alone. As one blogger put it, now I know who my comrades are.

Significant moment in the book

"But among his comrades, he preferred to communicate in a kind of code. 'I speak in complicated sentences that my comrades can understand, but my enemies cannot,' he once told me. This language was based on a shared set of references, both literary and historical, much of it shaped by the ideas of Western thinkers whom Ani would invoke to support his arguments.'... He also wrote, 'I still want to remind the faithful of Hayek's original intention: he spent his whole life resisting the power of authorities who want to control everything.'"

Francis Fukuyama is an American political scientist and economist. His central thesis in The End of History and the Last Man is that human history is moving towards a state of idealised harmony through the mechanisms of liberal democracy. In this book, we learn that liberal democracy does not necessarily echo the political messages from the United States — and how it is the final form of government for the world, and the end of the human ideological struggle.
Significant moment in the book:
"Generalisations about national character also run counter to the relativistic and egalitarian temper of our times, because they almost always contain implicit value judgements concerning the relative worth of the cultures in question. No one likes to be told that his culture promotes laziness and dishonesty; and indeed, such judgments are liable to considerable abuse."

Cultural critic Peter Conrad takes up the challenge of tracing myths into the 21st century. From the Queen to Caitlyn Jenner, from Tyrannosaurus Rex to Donald Trump — Mythomania surveys the age-old wisdom behind the absurdities of popular culture in his formidably astute but always entertaining style.

Conrad combines religion and philosophy to make sense of our history and how we can move forward as a collective nation. He also brings up topics and pop culture icons that political books usually leave out — such as vaping (yes, you didn't read that wrong), Michael Jackson's confession ('just tell people I'm an alien from Mars') and Banksy.

Significant moment in the book

"Humanists, wanting to believe that art represented our better nature, used to say it enshrined values that were universal. Now what we ask is that it should be global, instantly convertible like any other currency."


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