I just finished a book I heartily reccomend. It’s entitled: Gag Rule, On The Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy, by Lewis Lapham.
Lapham, who I am interviewing this week, is the long-time editor of Harper’s Magazine and has written many books. (One of the most fascinating and prescient–considering our present administration–is called: The Wish For Kings, which explains how it is inherent in most people/countries, to want an all powerful father or mother figure for a ruler–and that Democracy is hard work–something for people with at least some maturity–individually and as a society).
Anyway, this newest book–I’m not sure if its out yet, having, typically, thrown away the press release that came with it–is a relatively short book but beautifully written. An essay and history combined, about the stifling of dissent in America and the absolute neccessity for dissent if the real essence of America is to be preserved.
Lapham is a cultured, educated gent of the old school and a scion of the same aristocracy he often criticizes. He is refined and educated, a brilliant writer… Having met him in person, and read some others of his books, I would actually call him “noble”– to use a certain word in its best meaning.
This book is solid, moving denunciation of the current state of blissful ingnorance of America, and the conspiracy–witting and unwitting–of the politicians and corporations that rule the country. He is especially contemptous–rightfully so–of the prostitution of major corporate media–conspirators in our present march toward fascism–The large companies that own and operate most of the TV and radio stations, and the huge newspaper chains.
(Also, as I mentioned earlier, the book is a wonderful–and detailed– history of the principle of free speech and dissent in America).
What is most telling about this new book of Lapham’s is that he seems to have more or less lost his civility–something that has always been a hallmark of his writing. Not that he hasn’t always been passionate and righteously angry at hypocrites or tyrants. Its just that he seems, finally, with the Bush people, to have reached the end of his ability to take the high road.
At the very end of the book–summing up where the country stands and where its headed–he quotes Thomas Jefferson about the need for the tree of liberty to be watered occasionally by the blood of patriots.
When a guy like this seems to almost be calling for a revolution, it is yet another current sign that we are right on the verge of having a dictatorship in our country.
Anyway, enough of my preaching. Its a great book and is either out right now or will be out soon.
I will try to edit the interview and see if I can get it on WBAI…
– Mike Feder (New York City – August 30, 2004)