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SRB: Speaking Truth to the Beneficiaries of Empire

SRB Picks of the Week
By Jeremy Rose for the Scoop Review of Books

images.jpgThe phrase, "Speaking Truth to Power", popular among progressives, irritates me. It's as if those using it think the powerful are simply ignorant of the facts and if only a few brave souls were prepared to tell them the error of their ways the massive inequalities in power and wealth that plague the world would fade away. But I have no such doubts about the blunt and truthful open letter from Bolivian President Evo Morales to the European Union.

(Those reading this by email can find links at:

Morales reminds Europeans of the huge number of emigrants from their lands absorbed by the Americas. He contrasts the treatment of those (mostly visaless) immigrants to the Americas with the way the European Union is currently treating immigrants from Africa, Asia and South America. It's powerful and important stuff. The newly empowered speaking truth to the beneficiaries of empire. A translation by Machetera - a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity - is available here.

Charlie Chaplin was someone unafraid to speak the truth about power. Films like his parody of Hitler - The Great Dictator (which he later said he couldn't have made if he had known the full horror of the Holocaust), and his anti-industrialisation masterpiece Modern Times saw him labelled a communist in the USA.

The New York Times has a fascinating account of his equally subversive but less well known Monsieur Verdoux. It's a truly disturbing film in which Chaplin portrays a serial killer.

Talking of killers - there's a great profile of Richard Wright the African American author of Native Son in the Times Literary Supplement.

It's seems a fair bet that if Wright was alive today he would be backing Obama in the coming US election but this piece by Naomi Klein suggests the communist Wright may have been sceptical of his economics.

Finally, Otago Student newspaper critic has a thoughtful feature on the Listener.


b>Spectacular Transition in the Pacific
Asia in the Pacific Islands: Replacing the West, by Ron Crocombe.
Institute of Pacific Studies Publications, University of the South Pacific, 2007. Reviewed by David Robie
WHILE New Zealand’s 2008 free trade agreement with China may have ushered in a new era of regional diplomacy, the influence of New Zealand, Australia and European countries in the Pacific is gradually declining. The Cold War rivalry between the US and Soviet camps that impacted heavily on the Pacific in the post-World War period has given way to an intense sovereignty struggle between China and Taiwan.

Four Square Meals or Meals for Squares?
4 Ingredients by Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham
Publiser 4 Ingredientes, $25 Reviewed by Kathryn Hutchinson.
As one who has idled many hours since childhood happily browsing recipe books, sometimes as a substitute for actually cooking, this book did not readily meet my now finely honed sensory expectations. It is entirely without illustrations and wastes no verbiage on elegant descriptors.
And this is as it should be, as the market for 4 Ingredients is definitely those who have no time for browsing, and those for whom food is a pleasure squeezed between competing and possibly consuming priorities. To meet the needs of this large sector of the community, the authors have simplified all recipes down to you guessed it, just four ingredients.

Technology and Barbarism
Poem of the Week 17 June 2008: Technology and Barbarism
From: In Continents by Richard Reeve, Auckland University Press, $25.

Premature Burning…
Misconduct by Bridget van der Zijpp
Victoria University Press, $30 REVIEWED BY SUSAN EDMUNDS
Who hasn’t thought about torching their ex-boyfriend’s car? Bridget van der Zijpp’s heroine gets the chance within the first few pages of her book, Misconduct — the story of a 40-year-old woman struggling to come to terms with the infidelity of her partner, the man she had thought she would have children with. And that is where the main problem with this novel first arises. Like a lot of the decisions Simone makes throughout the book, she’s setting the car alight before the reader understands why, or begins to get to know her.

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