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Mania - satire on 'wokeness', and Masters

Couple of lame home-made book reviews.

Not a masterpiece by any means but well worth a read, Mania, by Lionel Shriver, is set in an alternate timeline where Mental Parity (MP) becomes the ruling obsession. No one is ‘stupid’ or ‘slow’, they merely process differently. You can’t be dumbfounded, and no one is 'smart, or ‘advanced’ either. Therefore no admission tests for educational institutes, the narrator narrowly escapes complete cancellation for setting Dostoevsky’s The Idiots as required reading and, of course, Joe Biden becomes PotUS by a (plausible) landslide. (Succeeded by two Trump terms).

I won’t say much more about the plot, which seems to borrow somewhat from Kurt Vonnegut’s classic short story Harrison Bergeron. (Ballet dancers use weights to stop them being so damn graceful, and so on.) As with KV’s fiction, it’s light reading but with a genuine punch. Also very plausible, and a timely piss-take of the lunacy afoot in the parallel universe we currently occupy. (As was her earlier novel The Mandibles in which the USD collapses utterly, employment practically disappears, and anyone who stashes gold disappears forever. You can flee the country but don’t try taking anything with you. And much besides)

Masters by Marco D’Eramo is tough going at times, and the author’s attempts at sarcasm ought to have been edited out, or don’t translate from the Italian very well. The book is a very well-constructed account of how the “The Invisible War of the Powerful Against Their Subjects” unfolded. Special emphasis on the think tanks and foundations that set the agenda (and singling out how the Chicago School served as a vanguard).

I don’t think that I can improve upon the author’s own words: it’s a “… meandering journey to the depths of the neolib counter-revolution, through the twists and turns of the revolt of the dominant against the dominated, of the war those on top have unleashed on those below…” (p.232). If you skip the boring bits there’s a great deal of material in here that we can learn from, and D’Eramo strikes a hopeful note even when demonstrating how complete a victory this Invisible War engendered. I think that’s naive of him but so very human.

As a case study in how to build hegemony in the Gramscian sense it’s a shame the author seldom extrapolates to fields other than Economics, and is silent about geopolitical factors… but base and superstructure etc etc I suppose.

It’s entirely ‘natural’ how the maniacs got to control us all when you look at it in retrospect. (See also Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher.)

How can these people unabashedly lie at every opportunity? They despise us. Did Johnson really think we needed to be taught how to wash our hands? Yes: he genuinely thought it would be helpful. Or he was laughing at us. (Why did he not deign to teach us how to wipe our arses while he was at it?)

The elite are so utterly confident they have us by the goolies. Here’s how they did it.

Unfortunately, the book seems rather dated as it stops short of the coronavirus years when everything accelerated madly. In a slightly half-baked conclusion, D’Eramo adds how religion in the orthodox sense (not the religion of the market, which he deconstructs much earlier) helped to seal the deal in the US and suggests that we get our own think tanks, take over the media, etc. Yeah: that’s gonna happen.