Books

Just a good yarn

Thomas Carolan reckons the reason that so many people like The Da Vinci Code (Solidarity 3/94) is because they believe (or want to believe) that it is true, and that this is a “mix of alienation from authority ... and bottomless ignorant incredulity”.

“We can bring about change”

Joan Trevor reviews “Iran Awakening” by Shirin Ebadi (Rider, 2006)

Shirin Ebadi is a human rights lawyer in Iran and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. She takes up cases like that of the well-known political journalist Akbar Ganji, and of completely anonymous Iranians, like the dirt-poor family of Leila Fathi.

The Da Vinci Code - chill out, eh?

This is my dissenting view on this article in the new issue of Solidarity - a damnation of The Da Vinci Code for promoting conspiracy theories.

The writer reckons the reason that so many people like The Da Vinci Code is because they believe (or want to believe) that it is true, and that this is a "mix of alienation from authority ... and bottomless ignorant incredulity". Leaving aside the point that "alienation from authority" is in many ways a good thing, this article is far too narrow in its explanation of the book's/film's popularity, and so shows a sort of pitying contempt, and a decidedly po-faced attitude to culture.

Deportation is Freedom

A review of Deportation is Freedom, the Orwellian World of Immigration Controls by Steve Cohen (Jessica Kingsley)

This is an extended, angry, rational and forceful polemic against current, past and future immigration control. It is a radical argument against all immigration control. A point worth reiterating as many who are, or say they are, on the left admit to supporting some border restrictions. (George Galloway has in the recent past endorsed a “points system” for immigration. Respect opposes the worse excesses of current policy, yet does not say it opposes all immigration control.). Those on the left who support controls or who fail to oppose controls (a position that is just as bad) have to do so by forgetting and repressing, the reality of immigration controls. That they are racist. That the purpose of controls is to divide and rule the working class. That they corrupt politic life. Cohen says the position of supporting any kind of controls — “fair controls”, a generous “point system” and the like — is illogical, untenable, morally indefensible. I strongly agree.

God, the Devil, and Darwin

God, the Devil, and Darwin: a critique of intelligent design theory by Niall Shanks (Foreward by Richard Dawkins) Oxford University Press.

Last December, a US federal judge ruled against the teaching of so-called ‘intelligent design’ in schools – at the end of the biggest public trial, in effect, of Darwinism since the infamous Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ in the 1920s. But ‘intelligent design’ (ID) has not, and will not, go away, either in the United States or in Britain. Already, in the UK, there are schools which teach religious alternatives to Darwinism; and with the government-led growth in faith schools, and religious involvement in schools, there will surely be more. This book, by a professor of philosophy, biology, physics and astronomy (which is quite a resume), is a valuable attempt to provide detailed responses to the arguments of this rehashed creationism.