Creating Freedom, by Raoul Martinez

This looks like a very worthwhile read. Comes highly recommended, and if you’re interested in understanding and acting in these strange times, sounds like one for the Christmas list.

From the review in The Guardian

Creating Freedom is, in part, a mashup of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Karl Marx’s Das Capital, David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Nick Davies’s Flat Earth News, Owen Jones’s The Establishment and Simon Baron-Cohen’s Zero Degrees of Empathy. It has already been translated into six languages and is published with dust-jacket encomia from Russell Brand, Susan Sarandon, Brian Eno, Helena Kennedy QC and Paul Mason. The safe money says the Daily Mail won’t be putting it on its Christmas reading list.

What makes it exceptional is its sophisticated philosophical argument, one that is all the more intriguing in that it was developed by someone outside academia (Martinez came to writing after establishing himself as a successful portrait painter). Consider, he suggests, the case of a paedophile called John. He has a tumour in his brain, but when surgeons operate to remove it, his paedophile tendencies cease. Later the tumour grows back, and his paedophile tendencies return. The point of Martinez’s story is that the discovery of the brain tumour makes John seem to us more victim than moral deviant and deserving of our compassion. In a sense, we are all Johns, luck’s playthings, doomed by our genes and our upbringings to be sinners, saints, have nots or have yachts, or, most likely, bumblers in a world we didn’t create and can’t imagine mastering.Rousseau argued that man is born free but is everywhere in chains: Martinez denies the first part of that claim. His point is logical: freedom and responsibility only make sense if we chose our own genes and inheritance. But we didn’t.