My Media Week 13/04/2008

Here are some interesting things I have listened to or read this week.

“With Accelerate, R.E.M. Hits Top Speed Again.” An interview with the group REM talking about their latest album on NPR’s Fresh Air. It lasts about 40 minutes.

A thought-provoking critique, from a liberal perspective, on America’s attempt to export democracy, contrasting the successes in Japan and Germany with failures such as Cuba and Iraq.

BBC Radio 4 has some excellent podcasts. The only problem is that they only keep them for seven days.

Here is an article about the current national obsession with Shannon Mathews.

 Finally I couldn’t resist including this Guardian article from last year about one of those academic spats involving two professors.,,2230971,00.html





6 Responses to My Media Week 13/04/2008

  1. Douglas says:

    Don’t believe a word of the reviews that say REM’s latest album is a return to form for the group. It’s crap. The only other person I know who has listened to it agrees completely with me. REM had three great albums in the late 80s early 90s – “Green”, “Out of Time” and their best by far “Automatic for the People”.

    How can the US export something it doesn’t have?

    Who is Shannon Mathews? Actually, I don’t want to know.

    Finally, what is a “libertarian sceptic” (at least you don’t spell it with a “k”)?

  2. Paul says:

    yes, i’m also wondering what a libertarian skeptic is. sceptic about libertarianism or sceptical AND libertarian?

  3. molivam42 says:

    A libertarian sceptic is a libertarian AND a sceptic. Like you have something called the libertarian left or Left-libertarianism. Although to me this would be the classic example of an oxymoron.

    As for the U.S and democracy I wouldn’t say the U.S. is a perfect democracy by any means but it is a democracy. Douglas, which countries did you have in mind’? Cuba, the former Soviet Union or North Korea?

  4. Douglas says:

    A libertarian sceptic suggests that you are a sceptic with a libertarian point of view. This is difficult to understand because a sceptic is not a school of thought. If you described yourself as a sceptical libertarian then I could begin to understand where you’re coming from. Noam Chomsky has described himself as a libertarian socialist, not too different from the traditional notion of anarchism. I’m sure he doesn’t see his thinking as being the least bit oxymoronic, being well-founded in a long philosophical tradition.

    Democracy is a much abused word which has lost almost all meaning. It is traditionally used in the sense of representative or electoral democracy, typically seen in parliamentary democratic systems of government. This form of democracy is almost always seen in the context of a capitalist economic system within a nation state. For Marxists, capitalism is inherently undemocratic because of the unaccountable nature of capital (in “developed” countries this typically refers to the role of multinational corporations who are answerable to no-one). In this context democracy must be seen in both its political and economic spheres and therefore can only be fully understood in a socialist form of society in which full and true participation by people is allowed and encouraged. In this context I believe Cuba (though not the former USSR or North Korea) to be far more democratic (though far from perfect) than any capitalist state.

  5. molivam42 says:

    I agree that democracy is an overused word. However, for me, the capitalist system, in different guises, has proved itself the best at promoting freedom and prosperity. If you look at East Germany v West Germany, North Korea v South Korea or even China under Mao compared to China now, for me capitalism is undoubtedly superior. None of these places under capitalism could be described as a utopia but when you look at the alternative. The reason I feel that left and libertarian don’t go together well is that to maintain this kind of system you require a lot of control. For example take agriculture. In a western country where the farmer owns his crops, you don’t need to monitor him. He will look after his own crops because his future is on the line. But in the communist countries you need a welter of regulations and an army of bureaucrats to see that the targets are being met. This creates a society that is distinctly lacking in freedom.

  6. Heen says:

    To label today’s Cuba as “democratic” would make sense to Humpty Dumpty or anybody else who chooses words to mean what s/he wants, but which belies what is commonly understood by the term these days, just about anywhere in the world. There have been different varieties of democracy in the history of the world and its connotations have changed accordingly, but surely when we refer to a state as “democratic” in 2008, we are thinking of genuine freedom of expression, accountability of those in power, and respect for minorities, not just winner-takes-all parliamentary elections. Does the USA fit the bill? Not 100%, obviously. Does Cuba? Probably even less.

    I think Humpty would also have a field day with “libertarian sceptic”.

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