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Textbook on International Human Rights
Textbook on International Human Rights
by Rhona K.M. Smith
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction, 6 Feb 2004
The book starts with a brief discussion of the historical and philosophical background of human rights. This is followed by a detailed analysis of the UN, dealing with its organisational structure as well as the International Bill of Human Rights. After this, regional protection for human rights is examined, concentrating on the European, American and African models, though some other efforts are also mentioned, such as the Asian and the pan-Arabic/Islamic. Finally, there is a discussion of substantive rights clearly established in International Law, such as equality, right to life, freedom from torture etc, as well as more controversial ones, like minority rights.
This textbook is clearly set out; the index at the back is useful. At the end of each chapter there is a list of literature and related websites. It is a good and well-organised introduction to the subject, but it is no more than that. It gives a solid structure of the institutions and sets out a number of issues, but it does not go any further, does not take sides and relies on a small (though well-selected) number of authors in the subject. It will give solid background information and would serve as a good starting point, especially for undergraduates. All in all, a useful first book to pick up on International Human Rights.
Dan Tivadar


Greening of America
Greening of America
by Charles A. Reich
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ants are my friends, 22 Jan 2004
This review is from: Greening of America (Paperback)
The Greening of America was published in 1970, when the hippie movement was the present, not a thing of the past, and this has to be borne in mind when reading the book. However, most of Reich's analysis of the functioning of society (or the Corporate State/ the Establishment/ the Machine) and its effects on individuals are just as valid today – as indeed endorsed by the author in his more recent book "Opposing the System" (1995) – and just as applicable in other (at least Western) countries.
Reich starts off by analysing the two "Consciousnesses" (defined as something like a world-view, a system of beliefs and values that ultimately shape us and, thereby, our society) prevalent in the US.
"Consciousness I" takes a Hobbesian view centred on the truth of individual effort and has a "harsh side of self-interest, competitiveness, suspicion of others". This is in constant struggle with Consciousness II, a view emphasising interests of the public and the State, where individuals need to rely on institutions to define themselves – which leads to the schizophrenia of the modern man who is living a contradictory private and public life. All quite pessimistic, really.
Reich then goes on to analyse the "anatomy of the corporate state", this powerful machine possessing "values" only of efficiency and growth. He examines the "lost self", the process and consequences of total alienation, the erosion of community, culminating ultimately in a "hollow man".
However, the machine is breaking down and has itself made the appearance of the new Consciousness III inevitable. It is in Consciousness III that Reich sees salvation. This is broadly (but quite literally) sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, the hippies, flower-power, a world-wide community, solidarity, nature and marijuana. This is the consciousness that will eventually be able to destroy (peacefully) the corporate machine from within, and lead to the greening of America.
The author is very much influenced by "his times", he relies heavily on his contemporaries, such as Galrbraith, Mishan and Marcuse, though Marx is also often featured. His belief in the "new generation", however, instead of making the book less relevant to today's readers, lends an enviable conviction and force to his clear and logical arguments (though at times his enthusiasm seems a bit far-fetched, when making statements such as "a mere revolution, such as the French or the Russian, seem inconsequential" or criticising pre-mixed peanut butter and jelly).
Reich also raises interesting issues about private companies carrying out public functions ("deputizing") yet not being subject to the same constitutional limits as the government. He forcefully demonstrates how our belief in the democratic process, in the rule of law, in the idea that someone is actually in control of the corporate machine are all mistaken.
Most importantly, the message of the book is that to change the way society works (and there are a lot of things wrong with it) one has to start changing his/her views, priorities and way of life. The only way to disempower the corporate machine is by adhering to different values, by not consuming recklessly, in other words, by not buying into it.
All in all, I very much recommend it.
Dan Tivadar


Greening of America
Greening of America
by Charles A. Reich
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ants are my friends, 21 Jan 2004
This review is from: Greening of America (Paperback)
The Greening of America was published in 1970, when the hippie movement was the present, not a thing of the past, and this has to be borne in mind when reading the book. However, most of Reich's analysis of the functioning of society (or the Corporate State/ the Establishment/ the Machine) and its effects on individuals are just as valid today – as indeed endorsed by the author in his more recent book "Opposing the System" (1995) – and just as applicable in other (at least Western) countries.
Reich starts off by analysing the two "Consciousnesses" (defined as something like a world-view, a system of beliefs and values that ultimately shape us and, thereby, our society) prevalent in the US.
"Consciousness I" takes a Hobbesian view centred on the truth of individual effort and has a "harsh side of self-interest, competitiveness, suspicion of others". This is in constant struggle with Consciousness II, a view emphasising interests of the public and the State, where individuals need to rely on institutions to define themselves – which leads to the schizophrenia of the modern man who is living a contradictory private and public life. All quite pessimistic, really.
Reich then goes on to analyse the "anatomy of the corporate state", this powerful machine possessing "values" only of efficiency and growth. He examines the "lost self", the process and consequences of total alienation, the erosion of community, culminating ultimately in a "hollow man".
However, the machine is breaking down and has itself made the appearance of the new Consciousness III inevitable. It is in Consciousness III that Reich sees salvation. This is broadly (but quite literally) sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, the hippies, flower-power, a world-wide community, solidarity, nature and marijuana. This is the consciousness that will eventually be able to destroy (peacefully) the corporate machine from within, and lead to the greening of America.
The author is very much influenced by "his times", he relies heavily on his contemporaries, such as Galrbraith, Mishan and Marcuse, though Marx is also often featured. His belief in the "new generation", however, instead of making the book less relevant to today's readers, lends an enviable conviction and force to his clear and logical arguments (though at times his enthusiasm seems a bit far-fetched, when making statements such as "a mere revolution, such as the French or the Russian, seem inconsequential" or criticising pre-mixed peanut butter and jelly).
Reich also raises interesting issues about private companies carrying out public functions ("deputizing") yet not being subject to the same constitutional limits as the government. He forcefully demonstrates how our belief in the democratic process, in the rule of law, in the idea that someone is actually in control of the corporate machine are all mistaken.
Most importantly, the message of the book is that to change the way society works (and there are a lot of things wrong with it) one has to start changing his/her views, priorities and way of life. The only way to disempower the corporate machine is by adhering to different values, by not consuming recklessly, in other words, by not buying into it.
All in all, I very much recommend it.
Dan Tivadar


The Justice Game
The Justice Game
by Geoffrey Robertson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.11

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Justice Game, 9 Jan 2004
This review is from: The Justice Game (Paperback)
In this excellent book, Geoffrey Robertson QC gives a very informative and enjoyable account of some of the cases he has dealt with during his carrier at the Bar, spanning, at the time of the publication of his book, over three decades. These included a number of various topics: defamation cases, blasphemy and/or indecency trials, public enquiries as well as human rights missions and death row work.
The book is thrilling, at times it reads like the best detective stories, the accounts given of court proceedings and the anecdotes are often hilarious. Certainly, no prior knowledge of the law is required to enjoy his stories; however, those trained in law will find it especially interesting to see how some of the fundamental tenets of English law (such as the presumption of innocence or the impartiality of the judge) can go pear-shaped in practice.
Most importantly, however, Robertson QC is prepared to take a clear moral stance on human rights and civil liberties and to criticise or defend the law from this viewpoint. He emphasises that, as a member of the legal profession, he does have to abide by certain rules and has certain duties and does not accept anything less from others when engaging in the "justice game".
The book should be recommended to those interested in current affairs, legal issues as well as to those simply enjoying fascinating books telling the story of a person's professional life.
Dan Tivadar


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