Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Who Will Tell the People

Who Will Tell the People?

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I have been educating myself for over forty years now. I have had many great professors, but I won’t get into that at this moment, other than to tell you about my most recent selection as professor of Civics.
In high school I had a course called Civics. I never figured out exactly what the word “Civics” meant, but I interpret the word as encompassing an explanation of the society and world currently happening around me - politically, socially, economically. In my high school Civics class we read the daily newspapers, random magazines, and kept up on the local government issues, among other things.
In trying to understanding the modern day world - governments, societies, and general direction of the civilization - I found myself very confused. I wanted to find a professor who could get me up to speed on what is really going on in the world around me. As you know one must choose selectively because there are “so many books and so little time”. Consequently I have chosen William Greider as my “Civics” professor.
I have finished my third book by William Greider this morning, “Who Will Tell the People.” I thought that to be a wonderful title for a book. I have been asking myself that same questions on many different subjects for many years. If you have also been wondering “Who Will Tell the People”, I think I can tell you quite sincerely that one of the people who will tell the people is certainly William Greider.
It is so rewarding when you find an honest, straightforward voice in this world of obfuscation and - for lack of a better word - pure bullshit.
On Mr. Greider’s web site he calls himself an old journalistic type - but Mr. Greider is much more than a Journalist. He is an educator; he is a teacher, an instructor; he is a professor. He has his Doctorate in personal experience in the affairs of the world - that becomes obvious as you follow along behind him.
In Who Will Tell the People we learn - among many other things - how our Democracy works ... or doesn’t work. Mr. Greider tells us how the Democracy we think we have, lines up to the Democracy we really have.
He tells us about how the laws are made - and then un-made. He tells us about the lobbyists, and the lawyers and the Democrats and the Republicans and the Repubocrats - and who owns each of them. He tells us about the money, the big business, the banks, the international conglomerates. He tells us about the environment; about the military and the pentagon; about who’s in, and who’s out - and why.
At various points in reading Mr. Greider I say to myself - This guy is giving me more than I really want to know. I mean the more I know, the worse it gets. But then he throws in a suggestion, an idea, a possible solution and once again I’m thinking positively.
I am basically a skeptic and I think of the “Power of Positive Thinking” as a prescription for dilution - but you have got to have some kind of hope - even if it is farfetched, distant and on the borders of impossibility - something! Mr. Greider brings us to the brink, then pushes us off - but then half-way down, falling into the abyss of eternal despair we find there is a bungee cord wrapped around our waist. It isn’t much, and the discovery is a little late and maybe not totally reassuring - but it helps.
This book was published in 1992, when we were beginning to talk of “peace dividends” and cutting back on the Military Industrial Complex. Listen to what Mr. Greider was saying way back then:
“The Defense Department was planning a modest five year reduction in the Cold War mobilization ... If the U.S. defense budget were cut in half, it would still be four or five times larger than that of the next strongest nation ... The next round of demobilization would be for real: bringing home troops that had been stationed abroad since the 1950s, closing scores of domestic military bases, shutting more factories ... A few liberals introduced “conversion” bills that did little more than encourage communities and industries to plan for their post-Cold War future. Conservative thinkers concentrated meanwhile, on trying to devise substitute “threats” - Third World terrorism or nuclear proliferation - that might justify continuing the nation’s permanent war footing.”
Chapter 15 of this book is entitled “Citizen GE”. This chapter alone is worth the entire price of the book. My tendency is to tell you myself what Mr. Greider has to say - but I couldn’t tell the tale as well or with any greater poignancy. I can only say get the book and read it for yourself. It is not that GE is any worse or better than any of the others; it is more shocking to understand that they are just one of a bunch of like-acting and similar thinking Mega-mights.
If I wanted to continue quoting from this book, this review would be one hundred pages long.
My advice is to buy Mr. Greider’s books and study them. That’s what I’m doing. I’ve only read three thus far, but I know that I am already a world ahead of where I was less than a year ago. Mr. Greider is more than “a read” - he is an education. I feel so lucky to have found such a treasure.

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