July 2022 MBR Review The Political Science Shelf

Skip to first unread message

Midwest Book Review

Aug 1, 2022, 2:12:51 PMAug 1
The Political Science Shelf

The Digital Republic
Jamie Susskind
Pegasus Books
9781643139012, $28.95, HC, 304pp


Synopsis: Not long ago, the tech industry was widely admired, and the internet was regarded as a tonic for freedom and democracy. Not anymore. Every day, the headlines blaze with reports of racist algorithms, data leaks, and social media platforms festering with and promoting falsehoods and hatred.

With the publication of "The Digital Republic: On Freedom and Democracy in the 21st Century", author Jamie Susskind argues that these problems are not the fault of a few bad apples at the top of the industry. Rather they are the result of our failure to govern technology properly.

"The Digital Republic" charts a new course. It offers a plan for the digital age: new legal standards, new public bodies and institutions, new duties on platforms, new rights and regulators, new codes of conduct for people in the tech industry. Inspired by the great political essays of the past, and steeped in the traditions of republican thought, it offers a vision of a different type of society: a digital republic in which human and technological flourishing go hand in hand.

Critique: Our American style democracy has been dramatically impacted with the emergence of computer technology and social media. This impact is now so great and pervasive that the very continuation of our democracy is under serious and immanent threat of being overthrown and replaced with a form of autocracy arising from the manipulation of a significantly large percentage of our citizenry through the digital manipulation of information. All this makes "The Digital Republic: On Freedom and Democracy in the 21st Century" a timely and urgent warning if our democracy, as we have known it, is to survive. This is not hyperbole, it is a discomforting truth. While "The Digital Republic" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Political Science & Digital Technology Policy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, governmental policy makers, technology corporation executives, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Digital Republic" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

Editorial Note: Jamie Susskind is a barrister and the author of "Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech" (Oxford University Press, 2018), which received the Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize 2019, and was an Evening Standard and Prospect Book of the Year. He has fellowships at Harvard and Cambridge and currently resides in London.

Government Issued Opinion
Dennis F. Poindexter
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476687124, $29.95, PB, 231pp


Synopsis: Intelligence services, businesses, governments, and political parties use a sinister methodology called an influence campaign to sway the core values of their own citizens, countries and others around the globe. This method is used by many different types of world governments (including the U.S.) and can pervade many different sectors of public life. Even seemingly powerful politicians are impacted by influence campaigns.

While influence campaigns differ from political campaigns or corporate advertising, they share similar characteristics. Both influence behavior by manipulating beliefs to produce an outcome favorable to the campaign goal.

With the publication of "Government Issued Opinion: The Dark Science of Manipulating Perceptions and Policies", Dennis F. Poindexter explains the mechanisms of influence campaigns and how they affect policy making, often in surprising ways. Chapters detail examples of influence campaigns waged by various governments throughout the years and suggest how the public consciousness should deal with these strategies. As targets of these campaigns, citizens must understand how our leaders use them for their own benefit.

Critique: In this present age of The Big Steal vs. The Big Lie in American presidential politics, "Government Issued Opinion: The Dark Science of Manipulating Perceptions and Policies" should be considered essential reading for political science students, academia, politicians, and most particularly, the non-specialist general reader concerned about the survival of our American style democracy.

Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an Appendix (Foreign Threats to the 2020 U.S. Federal Elections, twenty-four pages of Notes, a twenty page Bibliography, and a three page Index, "Government Issued Opinion: The Dark Science of Manipulating Perceptions and Policies" is a timely and urgently recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Political Science, Political Psychology, and Political Propaganda collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

It should also be noted that "Government Issued Opinion: The Dark Science of Manipulating Perceptions and Policies" is readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Dennis F. Poindexter has been a staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives and made information warfare assessments for Ballistic Missile Defense, the National Command Authority and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He has also performed counter-terrorism operations for the FBI and worked with the White House Critical National Cybersecurity Initiative Number 7.

Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity
Mary-Alice Waters, editor
Pathfinder Press
PO Box 162767, Atlanta, GA 30321-2767
9781604881202, $7.00, PB, 184pp


Synopsis: Because without understanding how human society, since our remotest ancestors, has been created through social labor, working people remain prisoners of the capitalist epoch in which we live today.

Without knowing how our labor transforms nature, how it's the motor force along humanity's ongoing road, we can't see beyond the class exploitation that warps every aspect of our social relations, ideas, and values.

The dictatorship of capital hasn't always existed. It is only a few hundred years old. Like slavery and serfdom before it, capitalist rule had a beginning -- and will have an end.

Only the revolutionary conquest of state power by the working class, conscious of our class position and conditions of emancipation, can open the door to a future. One based not on dog-eat-dog capitalist exploitation, degradation of nature, subjugation of women, racism, and war. A world built on human solidarity. A socialist world. That's what a long view of history and a close reading of "Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity: The Long View of History" helps us understand.

Critique: Having a special appeal to students of Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, and the economic history of the United States, "Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity: The Long View of History" is an informative, thought-provoking, iconoclastic, and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Political Science and Contemporary Economics collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Mary-Alice Waters is a socialist feminist, journalist and activist in the United States. Waters became involved in Trotskyist politics at a young age, and joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the fall of 1962 while a student at Carleton College in Minnesota in the fall of 1962. She became the editor of their youth paper, Young Socialist, and the national secretary of the Young Socialist Alliance.

In December 1968, she joined the editorial staff of The Militant and was named managing editor in 1969 and editor in chief in January, 1971.

In the early 1980s, Waters, along with Jack Barnes and others in the SWP leadership, began to reject the label of "Trotskyism" and the theory of Permanent Revolution, in favour of building links with the Cuban Communist Party and Sandinista National Liberation Front.

Today, Waters is the President of the Pathfinder Press and the editor of New International magazine. She has also written a number of books on political topics. (Wikipedia)


The Midwest Book Review is an organization of volunteers committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. We accept no funds from authors or publishers. Full permission is given to post any of these reviews on thematically appropriate websites, newsgroups, listserves, internet discussion groups, organizational newsletters, or to interested individuals. Please give the Midwest Book Review a credit line when doing so.

The Midwest Book Review publishes the monthly book review magazines "California Bookwatch", "Internet Bookwatch", "Children's Bookwatch", "MBR Bookwatch", "Reviewer's Bookwatch", and "Small Press Bookwatch". All are available for free on the Midwest Book Review website at www (dot) midwestbookreview (dot) com

Anyone wanting to submit books for review consideration can send them to:

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129

To submit reviews of any fiction or non-fiction books, email them to Frugalmuse (at) aol (dot) com (Be sure to include the book title, author, publisher, publisher address, publisher website/phone number, 13-digit ISBN number, and list price).

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages