Més recomanacions

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    Philosophy of Peace

    Francisco Fernández Buey, Jordi Mir i Enric Prat (eds.). Filosofía de la Paz. Barcelona: Icaria, 2010.

    The book Philosophy of Peace presents the thought of sixteen authors who have reflected on war and peace in a timeframe between the XVIII century and the modern day. The book includes texts by by the following authors specialising in thought and practice: Immanuel Kant, Henry D. Thoreau, Lev Tolstoy, Bertha von Suttner, Rosa Luxemburg, Mohandas Gandhi, Virginia Woolf, Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Martin Luther King, E. P. Thompson, Petra Kelly, Sean Mac Bride and Noam Chomsky.

    The articles are preceded by an introduction by Paco Fernández Buey on the philosophy of peace in history and the afterword, written by Tica Font, considers the challenges for today's peace movement.
    The book's origins lie in the eponymous course that was held at Pompeu Fabra University between September and December 2008. The wide range of those attending highlighted the gap in this knowledge area and the willingness of many people to study it in more depth. The book is therefore a contribution to knowledge of the philosophy of peace, based on the ideas and proposals of the authors mentioned above, which is aimed at both academic readers and individuals committed to the construction of peace and justice in the modern world.


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    Against the kingdom of the beast: E.P. Thompson, the critical conscience of the cold war

    José Ángel Ruiz Jiménez. Contra el reino de la bestia: E.P. Thomson, la conciencia critica de la guerra fría. Universidad de Granada, 2009.

    The world's most frequently quoted historian in the twentieth century is still little-known in Spain, and his work as an activist for peace is even less so. That is why reading this book on Edward Palmer Thompson is worthwhile. At a time when models and extraordinary individuals are lacking, we can find inspiration in the man who was probably one of the most lucid and influential critical consciences of the Cold War.

    Despite analysis of Thompson's pacifist and political thought being a complex task due to his prolific historiographical output, José Ángel Ruiz Jiménez succeeds in the undertaking. Over 400 pages of quotes, figures and analysis, we learn about the thoughts of the author of The Making of the English Working Class and his ideas for a political transition to socialism, how to respond to the threats to civil rights and liberties, the need for a nuclear-free Europe, etc. These subjects tie in with many modern debates on security and peace, such as the role of the military-industrial complex, the (non-)existence of the clash of civilisations, the resistance to pensée unique and star wars and the anti-missile shield as an (in)effective means of collective security.

    In 2010, when negotiations for nuclear disarmament are once again in the news, it is worth remembering the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, European Nuclear Disarmament and their demand for a Europe free of nuclear weapons from Poland to Portugal. This British lecturer and activist participated in the Spanish campaign for the NATO referendum, leaving his mark on many of the people and institutions that today make up the fabric of the Catalan peace movement.

    Intellectual life and the desire to participate in the creation of a better world are not mutually exclusive. E.P. Thompson was well aware of that, and put it into practice. José Ángel Ruiz Jiménez explains this clearly and in detail, with great care and thoroughness, and with affection. In my opinion, we are indebted to both men. The good news is that we are able to repay them by reading this book.

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    Wars, Ltd.: The Rise and Fall of America's Permanent War Economy

    Seymour Melman. Guerra S.p.A. L'economia militare e il declino degli Stati Uniti. Roma: Citta Aperta, 2006.

    The final posthumous book by Seymour Melman reconstructs the origins of the military economy of the USA from the Second World War to the present day, showing to what extent the increase in its expenditure is linked to the expansion of military production and research. For Melman, the fact that the USA is responsible for half the world's military spending points to an economic model that has had very significant costs.

    First, North American citizens have had to suffer the deindustrialisation of their economy and the decline in its productive capacity, with an unprecedented centralisation of decision-making power. Second, the economic results point to a record deficit in foreign trade accounts and the Federal budget, an increasingly weak dollar and increasingly wide social inequality. The alternative proposed by the author is a drastic policy of disarmament and conversion, a "re-industrialisation" of the economy and the renewal of infrastructures and public services, providing new areas of work for businesses and workers that now work in the military sector. It is also an important lesson for movements in civil society working towards global justice, which in recent years have opposed "infinite war" and neoliberal globalisation.

    Seymour Melman, an expert on military economics and industrial conversion to civil production, has examined the paths towards a disarmament policy and an economy of peace for over 50 years. On 20 December 2004, Ralph Nader wrote an article about his friends, in which he said: "before he passed away this month, Seymour Melman had completed a concise book manuscript titled, "Wars, Ltd.: The Rise and Fall of America's Permanent War Economy in an attempt to condense all the wisdom acquired over decades of analysis and research committed to peace and disarmament.".

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    Moisés Naím. Illicit. London: Arrow Books, 2007

    Among the positive aspects of this thought-provoking book are the abundance of figures and connections between unknown and terrible worlds (such as the organ trafficking market) in which the central figures are more powerful than governments. These industries include the trafficking of weapons, people, drugs, fake goods, species on the verge of extinction, stolen works of art, as well as money-laundering and many other businesses. These trades have benefited from the technological revolution of the 1990s, which was accompanied by political, social, cultural and especially economic measures aimed at facilitating the free market. An important conclusion is that the frontiers between legal and illegal trade are increasingly blurred. The reader will find many examples of this idea linked to geopolitical black holes located in the most varied corners of the planet, and the method is shared by all the illegal trades analysed; who benefits from them and who pays the costs, the rules of the game, the incentives for the status quo to continue, and what we can do to change it.

    Analysis of society's responses shows the limits of police and governmental action (especially in the absence of international cooperation) and the potentialities and diversity of citizen's initiatives. Based on the need to focus on the problem from the economic perspective - 'they are all businesses seeking profits - Moisés Naim's proposal deliberately refrains from moral considerations. From this perspective, it is necessary to fight the problem from the perspective of demand as well as supply, i.e. among clients, buyers and users. Focusing on this part of the transaction means reducing the earnings that traffickers can obtain and therefore reducing their incentives to continue with their activities, as well as their negative impact on society. The most interesting part of the book begins probably in page 251, when the author acknowledges that some of these illicit trades need to be legal. The reasoning - 'because there are not enough resources to fight them all' is more dubious. In any event, it considers the real possibility of using decriminalisation, deregulation and legalisation strategies to make the focus more sophisticated. Perhaps if it had started at this point, the book would have been able to consider these questions in more depth.