No, I’m not referring to the legacy of Alberto Gonzales (though that’s probably not an inaccurate characterization) but rather to a short book by Thomas Geoghegan, published by the Chicago-based Prickly Paradigm Press. I read an adaptation of it in the latest Baffler (site is currently down; buy it at Dusty Groove) and was very impressed. It’s an informed rant about the result, in the US, of decades of deregulation and government neglect to enforce environmental and other laws. Here’s the book description:
an enduring axiom of political science: before there is democracy,
there is the rule of law. The pillars of the American legal system,
however, are falling apart. And so too, argues Thomas Geoghegan, is
America’s democracy. The Law in Shambles explains how the
2000 presidential election was only the first sign that justice is now
a function of party politics. Geoghegan notes how even lawyers are
losing a sense of how the system works. And wait, there’s more. The
death of contract; the rise of tort; the loss of public space;
uncharitable charities; dumbed-down juries; these are yet more signs of
the law in shambles
Link: The Law in Shambles
I’m currently reading another book in this series called Neo-Liberal Genetics: The Myths and Moral Tales of Evolutionary Psychology by Susan McKinnon.
psychology claims to be the authoritative science of “human nature.”
Its chief architects, including Stephen Pinker and David Buss, have
managed to reach well beyond the ivory tower to win large audiences and
influence public discourse. But do the answers that evolutionary
psychologists provide about language, sex, and social relations add up?
Susan McKinnon thinks not. Far from an account of evolution and social
relations that has historical and cross-cultural validity, evolutionary
psychology is a stunning example of a “science” that twists
evolutionary genetics into a myth of human origins. As McKinnon shows,
that myth is shaped by neo-liberal economic values and relies on
ethnocentric understandings of sex, gender, kinship, and social
relations. Drawing widely from the anthropological record, Neo-liberal Genetics
offers a sustained and accessible critique of the myths of human nature
that evolutionary psychologists have fabricated. It also explores the
implications for public policy of the moral tales that are told by
evolutionary psychologists in the guise of “scientific” inquiry.
Another small press that has published several interesting books on culture and politics is Between The Lines, based in Toronto. I recently read User Error by Ellen Rose and recommend it highly. It’s a study of the social construction of the computer "user" as well as a critical assessment of other aspects of computers and society, along the lines of similar work by Neil Postman, Theodore Roszak and Jacques Ellul. They also published Roszak’s World, Beware! last year, and have several titles on technology-related issues.