Picks & Pans

Constructing Public Opinion: How Political Elites Do What They Like and Why We Seem to Go Along with It by Justin Lewis (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001). (TS-3). Lewis is Professor of Communication at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media, and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University. This book explains how opinion polls are constructed, and how political elites use them to create ideological support on controversial issues. Throughout, Lewis considers the ideological role of information and how an informed citizenry can arise. This book provides some answers for the role of opinion polls in the US Presidential election in 2016, and in particular, the specific tactics used by the Clinton and Trump campaigns.

 

Psychological Operations and Political Warfare in Long-Term Strategic Planning edited by Janos Radvanyi (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1990). (TS-4). An academic collection of late Cold War comparative thinking about psychological operations and political warfare in the United States, the Soviet Union, Poland, West Germany, France, and in insurgent, militant and terrorist groups. This book illustrates one attempted way to implement Hari Seldon’s psychohistorical thinking (the Foundation trilogy) in the realm of special warfare between different political blocs and systems. Secondhand copies are expensive so look for library copies.

 

Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism edited by Matt Ffytche and Daniel Pick (New York: Routledge, 2016). (TS-4). Fascism’s rise in Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Hirohito’s Japan posed a challenge to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic circle. This essay collection by cultural historians and psychoanalysts documents how Freud and colleagues analysed fascism and totalitarianism. It explores the spillover effects for Western democracies, post-colonial events in Communist Yugoslavia and Apartheid South Africa, and US intelligence agency interest in exploring mind control. The final essays reconsider psychoanalysis and the ‘talking cure’ in a post-psychoanalysis and post-totalitarian world.

 

Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent by Brooke Harrington (Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). (TS-4). Harrington is Associate Professor of Sociology at Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School. Economist Thomas Piketty and anthropologist David Graeber have popularised the study of the top 1% of income earners in the on-going debate about income inequality. But how do the 1% perceive themselves as high net worth individuals? Harrington studied wealth management for two years with the London-based Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. She then undertook an ethnographic study between 2008 and 2015 to interview 65 wealth managers in 18 countries. The results document how wealth management actually works as a professional elite.

 

Dog Days: Australia After The Boom by Ross Garnaut (Collingwood, Australia: Black Inc, 2003). (TS-3) Australia survived the 2007-09 global financial crisis due in part to a mining and resources sector boom. It was truly the ‘lucky country’ (David Horne). Then the mining and resources boom burst: Australia faced a socio-economic crisis, rising income inequality, and uncertainty. This book for a broad audience by a noted Australian economist was one of the first responses to this ‘dog days’ scenario of limited economic growth and unstable governments. For an update see the Quarterly Essay by George Megalogenis called ‘Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal’ (2016).

 

“Enhancing” the Australian-U.S. Defense Relationship: A Guide to U.S. Policy by Dr Thomas-Durrell Young (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 1997). (TS-3). In 2016, several current and former Australian politicians questioned the survival of the United States-Australia security alliance under incoming President-Elect Donald Trump. This Strategic Studies Institute paper lays out the historical context and the importance of this bilateral security relationship from a United States perspective. It is also helpful in understanding the Five Eyes signals intelligence alliance in the Anglo-American sphere.

 

Takeover: Foreign Investment and the Australian Psyche by David Uren (Sydney: Penguin Australia, 2016). (TS-3). Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board can be a flashpoint for protectionist fears about the role and influence of foreign nation-states in domestic economies. Uren, who is The Australian’s economics editor, provides historical, political and cultural analysis of how debates about foreign investment have shaped Australian mind-sets, attitudes, and values. Takeover explains how rent-seeking in Australia’s ill-fated car industry occurred and why Chinese investors are targeted in fears about a housing investment bubble.