Sunday, March 21, 2010

Michael Parenti

Dirty Truths

By Michael Parenti

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I would call this book a Michael Parenti sampler. It provides one or two chapters on some aspect of Professor Parenti teachings and criticisms. From looking at the long list of books Michael Parenti has to offer one can find the particular topic that is of most concern to them in this volume and then order a more detailed, focused endeavor. Being especially interested in economics and history, my first choices will be along those lines. It is clear that the Professor knows his history, so I am looking forward to my next selection.
This is my second Michael Parenti book and I intend to read a good sampling if not all of his works. I have read reviews comparing Mr. Parenti to other radical writers and proffering the notion that he is simply more of the same. That is hardly accurate. I have read no one, living today, who I would put in Mr. Parenti’s category.
His writing style is very clear, understandable and direct. I have not yet asked, “I wonder what he meant by that?” Michael says what he has to say – rather fearlessly. I would say that his fearlessness is to a degree that I find not only refreshing but a little frightening. I am not frightened for myself by what Mr. Parenti has to say, I am frightened for Mr. Parenti. Knowing what I already know, I realize that speaking out as candidly as Mr. Paranti is inclined to do can be dangerous.
In the first chapter the Professor writes of a hidden Holocaust in the U.S.A.
“Conservatives are fond of telling us what a wonderful, happy, prosperous nation this is … To their ears the anguished cries of the dispossessed sound like the peevish whines of malcontents … but the Dirty Truth is that there exists a startling amount of hardship, abuse, affliction, illness, violence and pathology in this country.”
The Professor then goes on for the next seven pages with a list of statistical information to support his point. It is rather shocking and eye opening.
Lucky for the reader though, the author does have a sense of humor. I don’t like the term “dark humor.” I would describe him as more Jonathan Swift-like.
In this volume we also get a peek at the person and not just his ideas. In Struggles in Academe the reader gets a real insight into where Mr. Parenti is coming from. We learn about his involvement at the University of Illinois in the anti-Vietnam War struggles, and the consequent loss of his right to “practice education.” A very interesting tale.
I very much enjoyed his La Famiglia and The Blessings of Private Enterprise.
In La Famiglia he talks of his ethnic heritage. He gets very personal.
Being raised in an ethnic neighborhood and having many Italian friends, I had the inclination to copy the chapter and send it to some of my buddies. But once again, the Professor’s frankness might be too much Dirty Truth for my old buddies who are all of the Frank Sinatra “Maggio” inclination. For example: “The ordinary recruits in the Italian army had no desire to fight Il Duce’s battles. Rather they manifested a decided inclination to flee or surrender the moment they realized the other side was using live ammunition.” Oh my god, I can hear my buddies screaming now.
The Blessings of Private Enterprise is about his dad’s homemade Italian bread delivery business. Being a small businessman and small business manager, for most of my career, I could see and feel it all very clearly.
I’ve also watched some of the Professor’s videos available free on the Internet. I don’t see why the Professor doesn’t have his own national radio or TV show. He explains his disappointing experiences with the press and the media. But, nevertheless, he would certainly provide the counterpoint to folks like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. His command for factually supported liberal opinions would be challenging to any conservative opponents.
I remember when Bill Buckley had his TV show. Buckley, in those days, was also considered an extremist. He often challenged the most radical leftwing opponents. Some of the exchanges were classic. I think Mr. Parenti could provide the same honest dialogue but, of course, he would be coming from the other direction.
This was a great book Mr. Parenti. Keep up the fight and the best of luck to you.

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