Minireviews: Triads, Heinlein, and the new elites

Martin Booth - The Dragon Syndicates

Martin Booth – The Dragon Syndicates – The global phenomenon of the Triads (2001)

The Triads are secret societies that once served useful functions in Chinese society, but they were always closely connected with crime, and eventually this became their only purpose. It takes either a totalitarian state or unusually well-planned police actions to inhibit them, and they’re still to be found in most Chinese communities over the world.

Recommended: Weakly. Like all organized crime exposés it leans towards sensationalism. On the other hand, the myths of organized crime are often as important as the facts.

Robert Heinlein - Tunnel in the Sky (1955)

Robert Heinlein – Tunnel in the Sky (1955)

A group of youths are sent out into the wilderness to fend for themselves, and, after a brief Lord of the Flies phase, discover that democratic government is the art of living peacefully with people you don’t like.

Recommended: Yes. There’s a line in the sand, and Heinlein’s juveniles and I are on one side of it.

George Walden - The New Elites

George Walden – The New Elites (2000)

Elites come and go. Walden argues that the elites of today are populist anti-elitists, mediocrities who condescend to the masses – the average man – from a position only slightly raised above them. We would be better off with genuine elites who are not afraid of aiming and reaching high, as long as they’re also alive and open to newcomers.

Recommended: Yes. Walden veers off into some unfocused “my country is the worst in the world” rants, but for the most part, this is an insightful analysis that applies equallywell to Norway.

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