Read These Books
by Tony Weller
For the past several days, I’ve plunged into our stacks to seek illuminating books that show knowledge and paths toward sensible futures. After examining more than 30 titles from sections like politics, environment, philosophy, economics, current affairs, science, sociology, psychology, et cetera, my fervor is reignited.
Eric Hoffer. The True Believer. One of Sam Weller’s favorite books. Hoffer understands how convictions are formed. The present edition is part of The Harper Perennial Resistance Library which is a cool series of seminal works on not being stupid citizens. I cannot resist a few great excerpts. “The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude.” “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents.”
David Korten. When Corporations Rule the World. With the help of several progressive allies, we brought Korten to Salt Lake City about 20 years ago to kick local sensibilities forward. Early in his life, he worked for American corporations in foreign countries and called himself a Republican. He experienced the exploits of capitalism from within and turned his keen mind toward Green politics. His books convinced me that one cannot earn money without labor unless one is exploiting something or someone. This brilliant book, first issued in 1995, shines critical light on the inevitable extractive extremes of capitalism. “We face an epic choice: people power or corporate power; living communities or corporate colonies; democracy or corporatocracy; more life for all or more money for the few?” The 20th anniversary edition of this prescient book was issued in 2015. It’s more urgent now than ever.
Emma Goldman. Living My Life. A fiery and inspiring memoir of a life dedicated to liberation, justice and equity. Red Emma fought stridently for immigrant and labor rights, women’s and reproductive rights, and liberation of the individual spirit. She was slanderously deemed the most dangerous woman in America for her fearless attacks on mechanisms of power. She also promoted the arts and felt art and beauty should enrich all lives. “If I can’t dance, I want no part of your revolution!”
Nicholas A. Christakis. Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society. Physician and Sociologist Christakis refuted the dark bias of heredity by illuminating laudable evolutionary traits as the basis of civilized society. Blueprint shows the biological paths of human goodness. “Humans can no more make a society that is inconsistent with these positive urges than ants can suddenly make beehives.”
Thomas Piketty. Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Possibly the most important economic work of our time. Piketty’s work encompasses data from three centuries and 20 nations. Within this deeply detailed work, we learn causes and outcomes of income inequality. Apparently such disparity is the natural outcome of the Capitalism. The economic magic is an irrational machine ever increasing value for a privileged few. “Once constituted, capital reproduces itself faster than output increases. The past devours the future.”
Michael Pollan. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence. Pollan’s encouraging study provides evidence for insights suggested by earlier psychonauts like Huxley, Leary and McKenna. With magnetic resonance imaging, researchers can see cognitive differences between old and young brains. Old persons, say over 25, think, perceive and emote in mostly habitual ways. It is the basis of human stagnation. Good news! Psychedelics loosen neuropaths and are non-addictive and non-toxic.
Bernie Sanders. Where We Go from Here. Throw aside assump-tions and listen to this smart practical man. Bernie’s ideas and goals are bold and sensible. He would insure all citizens with Medicare for all, increase minimum wages, limit sizes of banks, address climate change with The Green New Deal, ban for-profit prisons, provide free public college, and legalize cannabis. “We must build a nation that leads the world in the struggle for peace, for economic, social, racial and environmental justice.” He is right for our time.
Rachel Carson. Silent Spring. This inauspicious book, first published in 1962, had dramatic impact. It lead to banning DDT and showed how seemingly innocuous new inventions can do harm in unpredictable ways. This eloquent book is a foundational work in environmental thought. Carson was attacked by chemical companies for exposing their deception and greed. “The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized.”
90th Anniversary Celebration
Thank you for being part of our anniversary party last month. We saw so many friends and colleagues I couldn’t quite catch up with all. I want to thank speakers Senator Derek Kitchen, Terry Tempest Williams, and Brooke Williams. Thank you also to Pat Bagley for the Weller Book Works 90th Anniversary art we’re using on bags and Salon invitations. And for musical accompaniment, we thank our friend, the voracious reading saxophonist, Philip Miller.