It’s Not Conspiracy, It’s Politics

Robin’s Book Report #60
A reading list by Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein

-best of?
-new article
-reading list

Best of the year

I’m compiling my year-end best of list, do you have one book/article you loved this year? Let me know and I will include it in my December issue.

Reading list

The Obamanauts

What is the defining achievement of Barack Obama?

Corey Robin (Dissent)

Corey Robin reads the memoirs of Obama administration. What he finds is a bizarre set of similarities.

The Family (Netflix)

This documentary is about a semi-secretive Christian group sometimes called the Family who has successfully worked to influence politics, namely by hosting the National Prayer Breakfast. However, the documentaryxs portrayal of the group as a conspiracy misunderstands how politics works. While the Family is likely doing some illegal work overseas, the Family is engaged in a deliberate, collective effort to change politics, something the left could benefit from itself. What I worry about is that we’ve gotten to the point were any collaborative effort to affect politics seems like a conspiracy.

“Population of One: Living Alone in an Abandoned Ghost Town” (Vice)

I met Eileen when I lived in Milwaukee through her younger sister, who I was roommates with. She was one of those people who immediately treated me like we were close friends. When I left Milwaukee, and then the Midwest entirely, I figured I would meet plenty of other resourceful and kind people like Eileen. I was kind-of wrong! Of course, now she lives in a ghost town in Utah.

“Then WeCame to the EndWeWork’s contradictions by Matthew Zeitlin (n+1)

As we speak, WeWork implodes. For skeptics like me, this always felt like an inevitability. They were a glorified real estate brokerage service, so why/how did they expand so quickly? Short answer: because Saudi Arabia needed a place to launder their oil money. This is a really great article about why WeWork (and other companies like Uber) exist:

“Looking backwards through the telescope, the mega-funding for app-based taxi-cab dispatchers and beer-distributing office subleasers makes more sense as a case of savvy operators creating landing zones for massive flows of cash.”

“If Saudi Arabia wanted to more fully enmesh itself into the global economy, then it had to sign up for the pseudo new-age bullshit on offer from some of its largest companies.”

“And if WeWork is what happens when capital is in the hands of resource-rich autocracies, futurist telecom executives, and cash-rich mature companies, perhaps it can serve as a launching point for thinking about how capital would behave differently under the aegis of democratic control.”

Bee Bread” by Josh Evans (Nordic Food Lab)

I’m curious to try bee bread, the fermented concoction of pollen and honey and/nectar. Anyone got the hook up?

When the Dream of Owning a Home Became a Nightmare”

A federal program to encourage black homeownership in the 1970s ended in a flood of foreclosures.

By Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor (The New York Times)

The programs designed to boost home ownership for black Americans became a tool to further the oppression of blacks. Expanding lending is not always an answer, and often becomes a problem. Reminds me of microloans, something that is similarly problematic, sucking people into the debt cycle who weren’t previously part of it.

Here’s an interview with the author.

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