Well OK the allegations of fraudulent writing are my allegations -but even so my title is literally true. Let me explain. Steve Coll tells us that Hugo Chavez won a referendum "amidst allegations of fraud". Literally true - there were allegations of fraud from his opponents. But would it not have been more truthful to include the fact that the Carter Centre found that the oppositions' allegations were baseless - or to mention that the Carter Center has found Venezuelan elections to be among the most free and accurate they have monitored? Hmmm - you judge my allegations.
Also interesting is that the theme of considerable chapters deals with the dictators of Chad and Equatorial Guinea - the authors perspective seems to be that it is really wrong for them to promise to use oil royalties to help their poor but do not do so. Yet when Hugo Chavez promises to and then actually does just that - he is criticized. The author discusses the pitiful Human Development index for Chad, but, Hmmm, no mention that Chavez's HDI has one of the largest increases in the World and - that under Chavez, poverty has decreased 50% and extreme poverty 67% - with free health care and education. Hmmm perhaps the author doesn't want us to get any ideas... you judge.
But hey - I highly recommend this book - there are many interesting events with interesting details told well - it is a great work of journalism - but keep in mind though that it would seem that Mr Coll, like all western governments and corporations would not really like to eradicate the "resource curse" from the south and that like all history "Private Empire" should be read as a fallible narrative.
I would raise my 2 Star rating of the story if it turns out this is really a large sample psychology experiment to see if by complimenting liberals on their smartness the book can convince them to conflate the Democratic Party with liberalism, David Frum with credibility, nuclear "waste disposal" with nuclear waste disposal (when there is only "temporary storage") and supporting Obama with Occupy Wall Streets objectives. God I hope the experiment gets negative results!
Surely there must be some minimum standard for a book to be called philosophy - If The Logical Leap is a book on the Philosophy of Science then Chicken Soup for the Soul is book on Moral Philosophy. David Harriman thanks the Ayn Rand society for funding his writing and thinking (again a rather strong choice of words). Perhaps the Society will get a good return on their investment but in an intellectual sense - as with Chicken Soup - this is a failure of the market. - So we are told that everything can be proven with certainty when based on Sense Perceptions - which are "self evident" - well yes they are evident to the self who perceives them - but that does not mean they are a true representation of reality - nor that the inductive relationships we perceive between them are true or better than all other possible constructs. This book would make an interesting psychological study on Confirmation Bias - it could only be believed if you really really wanted to believe it - or were paid to. I must admit I couldn't finish it - but in the spirit of Ayn Rand I will if someone will pay me (really really well). . .
I have just started the book - I enjoy it - but here are some comments on how issues are more complex than discussed - I totally agree with the author (paraphrasing) that before we can know what ought to be we have to know what is - this makes it very striking that the author is so naive as to think it possible the CEO's of Investment Banks were telling the truth when they told Congress that they honestly think they didn't do anything wrong. Or when he believes the story of the Special Forces sent to kill or capture an Al Quaeda leader - that they did not have any rope to tie up 3 goatherds who stumbled upon them (no plastic ties or first aid bandages- and their mission included "capturing" ?)- go online and most SF do not believe the story. And I am surprised he didn't bring up broader issues: is it moral to Invade foreign countries? should goatherds kill any special forces they encounter since they are apt to kill them? how would this moral dilemma appear to an Afghan? or finally should this book be translated into Pashto - for the sake of SF I think not - for the sake of Afghan goatherds I think so.
So - you see the book does bring up interesting ideas - I reccommend it. The author is far
wiser on the issues than I am - but - like all books - consider it written by a fallible or at least non omniscient narrator.
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