April Links

Various little grenades of truth to neatly lay into your brainbox should you be menaced by any intellectual shenanigans from Big Minds;

I always had doubts about Adam Curtis. My reasons were, initially, visceral (although reasonably well satirised here) — until I read Media Lens’ analysis of The Power of Nightmares (with follow-ups here and here) and The Century of the Self (with follow-ups here and here — and here’s Jonathan Cook on last year’s Hypernormalisation). Curtis is one of the most dangerous and subtle propagandists on the BBC payroll. A British Malcolm Gladwell, slick pseudo-radical narratives which actually reinforce the establishment.

What about Stephen Pinker? Ever heard his name quoted in support of the glories of the modern age? If so, please acquaint yourself with this review of his chronically warped account of our pre-civilised past by R.Brian Ferguson and this review of his equally distorted picture of our civilised present, by Ed Herman. And here is another rebuttal to the neoliberal orthodoxy of the ‘declinism’ that Pinker represents. For a less direct but (for that) more effective antidote to Pinker’s horrifying determinist views on beauty, love, intelligence and so on I recommend the superb The Master and His Emissary by Ian McGilchrist.

And Jared Diamond? Had anyone quoting him to Explain How Things Are? If so, take some time to familiarise yourself with this account of The World Until Yesterday, or this one, or this one of Guns, Germs and Steel, or this one, or even this one (which is far more polemical than the others). There are plenty more if you look. The guy is a racist intellectual charlatan.

A short history of enclosure in Britain. Useful corrective to Garett Hardin’s demented thesis that people inevitably use up common resources unless they are managed by owners, and a good general overview of the massive institutionally-sanctioned land-theft that occurred in England between 1350 and 1700 (presaging the global enclosure that’s wrapping up now).

If you’ve ever done a college/university arts course and been stupefied by a river of postmodern bullshit, allow John Zerzan to help. The site hosting this essay, Primitivism, has a lot of good stuff on it.

I cited Ethan Watters’ excellent Crazy Like Us in my Psychocrat and Schizophrenia essay. Required reading (after Szasz of course) if you’re under any doubt about the iniquity of the mental health profession (as a whole — sane, struggling, compromised individuals exist in all institutions) or the ruinous distortions of the biomedical model of mind. This essay, by Watter is a good [if tame] introduction

That’s it for self defence. But, while I’m here a-recommending, if you’re one to e-read, here’s the entire, free, text Mark Boyle’s The Moneyless Manifesto and the equally entire and free text of William Kötke’s The Final Empire. Both are flawed, but make a lot of good points.