Book Bits | 26 October 2019

Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in its Place
By Robert B. Talisse
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
We live in an age of political polarization. As political beliefs on the left and the right have been pulled closer to the extremes, so have our social environments: we seldom interact with those with whom we don’t see eye to eye. Making matters worse, we are being appealed to–by companies, products, and teams, for example–based on our deep-seated, polarized beliefs. Our choice of Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, Costco or Sam’s Club, soccer or football, New York Times vs. Wall Street Journal is an expression of our beliefs and a reinforcement of our choice to stay within the confines of our self-selected political community, making us even more polarized. Letting it bleed into these choices in every corner of our lives, we take democracy too far and it ends up keeping us apart. We overdo democracy.

Rereading Marx in the Age of Digital Capitalism
By Christian Fuchs
Summary via publisher (Pluto Press)
The ‘end of history’ has not taken place. Ideological and economic crisis and the status quo of neoliberal capitalism since 2008 demand a renewed engagement with Marx. But if we are to effectively resist capitalism we must truly understand Marx: Marxism today must theorise how communication technologies, media representation and digitalisation have come to define contemporary capitalism. There is an urgent need for critical, Marxian-inspired knowledge as a foundation for changing the world and the way we communicate from digital capitalism towards communicative socialism and digital communism. Rereading Marx in the Age of Digital Capitalism does exactly this. Delving into Marx’s most influential works, such as Capital, The Grundrisse, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto, Christian Fuchs draws out Marx’s concepts of machinery, technology, communication and ideology, all of which anticipate major themes of the digital age.

Stop Being Reasonable: How We Really Change Our Minds
By Eleanor Gordon-Smith
Review via The Guardian
The Australian philosopher Eleanor Gordon-Smith’s first book, Stop Being Reasonable, explores how we really go about changing our minds. Her approach is to probe six real-life stories of people who have had to radically rethink in high-stakes situations. Like Dylan, who, in a flash of insight, realises the apocalyptic cult that he was born into is bogus. Or upper-crust Alex, who appears on a reality TV show in which he has to fake it as a London bouncer and ends up with an unrecognisably new identity. Each story functions as “a miniature of a much larger complex sprawl”, and collectively they give a sense of the richness and strangeness of human reason.

Selling Snake Oil: Investment Lessons from the World’s Greatest Frauds
By Mo Lidsky
Summary via Amazon
Selling Snake Oil is sensational confrontation with the masterminds of the world’s most innovative and astonishing investment frauds. This book offers a glimpse into the ingenuity, psychology and strategies of history’s most effective swindlers, who successfully duped US presidents, savvy CEOs, seasoned investment professionals, and everyday investors like you and me.

Systemic Risk and Macroprudential Regulations: Global Financial Crisis and Thereafter
By Rabi N. Mishra
Summary via publisher (SAGE Publishing)
The Global Financial Crisis is undoubtedly the most severe financial crisis the world witnessed since the Great Depression of 1929. The crisis has been analysed by a number of experts offering distinct narratives and counter-narratives. Systemic Risk and Macroprudential Regulations examines causes and consequences of the global financial crisis and proposes a regulatory reforms policy—macroprudential regulations. The book emphasizes ‘systemic risk’ as the new-found villain of the financial space and narrates how such risk can be addressed through macroprudential tools. It, thus, offers a possible solution to avoid financial crises in future and facilitates building a safer financial system globally. The book also examines major crisis management frameworks, stress testing, relevant regulatory and supervisory development, and early warning mechanism with detailed cross-country analysis.

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