Francis Fukuyama (2014)
Respec, y’all. Respec.
And a Big One goes out to mah main man Fukuyama. You the man for pullin’ this togetha man, dat some mad Eas-Coas politico-economic skillz mah man.
Yanis Varoufakis (2016)
At times haughty and generally poorly structured, with confusing achronological interludes. That’s the bad stuff out of the way. On balance, still a highly worthwhile read, in particular the last two chapters, ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Europe’s Crisis, America’s Future’. Also a must-read for anyone that seriously wants to take an informed position in the Brexit debate, rather than just follow the dogma – ‘progressive Brexin’ and ‘populist Brexit’ alike!
David Porter (2014)
Timothy Mitchell (2011)
Buried amongst sometimes somewhat haughty paragraphs of Mitchell’s book are two fairly radical propositions. The first is that ‘[d]emocratisation has generally depended on engineering […] forms of vulnerability’, and this vulnerability arises because particular manufacturing processes ‘can render the technical processes of producing concentrations of wealth dependent on the well-being of large numbers of people’. What Mitchell means to say is that certain vital processes – to do with energy, as it happens – become vulnerable due to structural bottlenecks, and that leveraging these vulnerabilities has enabled the process of ‘democratisation’. The two examples he covers are those of coal and oil. Coal mines tended to be distal from urban centres and susceptible to strikes by coal miners, which would spread downstream along the supply chain to railways, etc. This allowed coal workers to press for democratic concessions.
The story to do with the structural vulnerabilities around oil is more complicated, and I am not convinced Mitchell’s story is entirely self-consistent. Here we find the – to me – second radical proposition: that oil companies throughout history have been far more concerned with constricting the supply of oil, rather than expanding it.
The net result is that most of Mitchell’s book reads like a whirlwind tour of the 20th Century oil-bearing regions, with Western oil companies and their government cronies in a constant tussle with governments desperately looking for ways to get their national fossil fuel endowment to market.