Thoughts on: “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

This book was really really hard for me to get into. I had a hard time to relating to the his story, and the politics and courtroom drama was a snooze for me. The only thing keeping me going with this book was that I felt is was important for me to familiarize with Nelson Mandela’s achievements in the lifelong struggle against apartheid. He was an extraordinarily man to say the least.

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📝 “Habit makes everything look bland; it is sleep-inducing. Jumping to a different perspective is a way of waking oneself up again.” This quote reminds me of Montaigne, who loved this perspective switching trick all the time in his writing.

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📝 “A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor that defines the nature of the struggle.” After using all the tools of non-violent resistance – only to be beaten down hard – the AMC had to turn to violence and fight fire with fire.

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📝 After a successful term as president, he declined not to run again, this was to set an example of power being turned over to the next generation.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Resilience, Forgiveness and Perseverance. These are the traits I associate with Mandela. “We should forget the past and concentrating on building a better future for all”. His focus on the future and forgiveness – rather than revenge – hastened the abolition of apartheid, I think.

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I’m not regretting pushing myself through this tome of a book, quite the opposite, I feel like another missing puzzle piece in my history education is found and put in place.

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What booked bored you, but you felt reading it was important enough to keep going? 🤔

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3/5

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Photo credit: @ildarabbit (Instagram)

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Thoughts on: “Deng Xiaoping” by Alexander V. Pantsov

Deng Xiaoping led China through far reaching reforms in the post Mao era and is often credited as the force behind China’s spectacular economic growth. The expansion of the Chinese market and opening up the country to international trade is a part of his legacy, but also less glamorous deeds, such as the massacre on Tiananmen Square.

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This book is thick, meticulously detailed and unfortunately rather boring. I don’t think it’s the authors fault, rather its just the fact that Dengs life is not that exciting.

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The best parts of the books was the descriptions of how the communist party wanted to open up China and introduce elements from market economy within a socialist framework.

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I love the rationalizations used when the Communist party discussed if they where to allow small private businesses in China;

Someone mentioned that Marxs “Das Capital” tells the story of a capitalist who exploited 8 workers.

They argued: “If Marx spoke only of precisely 8, then the hiring of seven won’t make one a capitalist. And then if the boss also is working, what kind of possible capitalism could this be?” Going with this interpretation of Marx, the Communist party open the door for small businesses of maximum 7 employees.

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📝 “It doesn’t matter if the cat is back or yellow as long as it catches mice” 🐭 🐱 this famous quote is said to be coined by Deng.

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📝 “Self criticism” sessions: a interesting concept where politicians who have fallen out of favor have to make a detailed statements of ideological errors and affirming their renewed belief in the Party line.

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📝 Family contract system: farmers were given by the government a quota of goods to produce. What food they grew beyond the quota was sold in the free market at unregulated prices. This system became a great success and increased the standard of living In the 1980s.

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📝 Deng Xiaoping was involved in the decision behind the Tiananmen Square Massacre where hundreds of protesters where killed.

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Read it if you love Chinese politics & history. Otherwise a Wikipedia article on Deng will suffice.

 

 

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Thoughts on: ”The Origin of Political Order” by Francis Fukuyama

I feel defeated. This book is way beyond my level of understanding of Political Theory and it was too much for me to take in.

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The book is trying to discover the origins of political institutions, that we take for granted today, and that is not a small task. Starting in prehistoric times and ends with the French Revolution. To make task even more monumental, and the subject even broader, it’s not just focused on one area of the world but tries to cover all state building projects across the globe. India, China, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and the list goes on.

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A reviewer on Goodreads called it; “the best fan-fiction for “Civilization V” ever written” , which cracked me up.

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For me it was too broad. Too dense. It’s truly epic, and probably really good if you have the stamina and intense passion for political institutions.

If I can retain at least a fraction of the information in this book I will at least stand a chance the next time I decide to dwell into this genre.

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My takeaway from reading this book is that the state of the world, and how we got here, is nuanced and complex as fuck. We better come to terms with that sooner rather than later. We live in an era where we are bombarded with oversimplified messaging everywhere, whether it is used to win our votes in some election or to get clicks on websites. To quote Einstein; “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

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“The Origins of Political Order” by Francis Fukuyama

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3/5

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Public Shaming – It’s back!


There has been a great renaissance of the good ol’ punishment of public shaming. Our new favorite pastime, really! 😎

Jon Ronson has been traveling the world meeting with the subjects of high profile public shamings. What did they do? Did they deserve it? Are our actions justified?

I’ve got his book on the topic today and I’m looking forward to dive into it! 🏊🏻😀

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What book are you looking forward to? 🤔📖