DIGGING DEEPER meets every Monday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Mandolin Café, 3923 S. 12th St., Tacoma, WA.[1] ...


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February 1 & 8, 2010: DIGGING DEEPER CXII: Slavoj Zizek

Slavoj Zizek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (Verso, 2009). — "[A] critique of contemporary capitalism. . . . Zizek argues that it is now impossible to ignore the blatant irrationality of global capitalism. . . . He draws a sharp line between liberalism and the radical left, showing how the socialization of the banks—and socialism itself—is actually aligned with the preservation of capitalism rather than inimical to it, and derides socially responsible ecocapitalism as another avatar of a bankrupt system. . . . Zizek's critique of capitalism and repositioning of communist thought is both insightful and well-reasoned, and guaranteed to rile readers across the political and theoretical spectrum.” — Book description.


Slavoj Zizek, In Defense of Lost Causes (Verso, 2009). — "Acclaimed, adrenalin-fuelled manifesto for universal values by 'the most dangerous philosopher in the West.'  Is global emancipation a lost cause?  Are universal values outdated relics of an earlier age?  In this combative major new work, philosophical sharpshooter Slavoj Zizek takes on the reigning ideology with a plea that we should re-appropriate several 'lost causes,' and looks for the kernel of truth in the 'totalitarian' politics of the past.  Examining Heidegger’s seduction by fascism and Foucault’s flirtation with the Iranian Revolution, he suggests that these were the 'right steps in the wrong direction.'  Highlighting the revolutionary terror of Robespierre, Mao and the Bolsheviks, Zizek argues that while these struggles ended in historic failure and monstrosity, this is not the entire story.  There was, in fact, a redemptive moment that gets lost in the outright liberal-democratic rejection of revolutionary authoritarianism and the valorization of soft, consensual, decentralized politics.  Zizek claims that, particularly in the light of the forthcoming ecological crisis, we should reinvent revolutionary terror and the dictatorship of the proletariat in the struggle for universal emancipation.  We need to courageously accept the return to this cause—even if we court the risk of a catastrophic disaster.  In the words of Samuel Beckett:  'Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.'” — Book description.

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February 15, 2010: DIGGING DEEPER CXIII: Susan Sontag on witnessing others' pain

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002; Picador paperback 2004). — “Sontag . . . reconsiders ideas that are 'now fast approaching the status of platitudes,' especially the view that our capacity to respond to images of war and atrocity is being dulled by 'the relentless diffusion of vulgar and appalling images' in our rapaciously media-driven culture. . . . Sontag reminds us that sincerity can turn a mere spectator into a witness, and that it is the heart rather than fancy rhetoric that can lead the mind to understanding.” — Reed Business Information.

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February 22, 2010: DIGGING DEEPER CXIV: Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos

Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia (Vintage, 2008; paperback 2009). (Original title: Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.) — "Long overshadowed by the Iraq War, the ongoing turmoil in Afghanistan and Central Asia finally receives a searching retrospective as Rashid (Taliban) surveys the region to reveal a thicket of ominous threats and lost opportunities . . . With his unparalleled access to sources—‘I constantly berated [Afghan President] Karzai for his failure to understand the usefulness of political parties’—Rashid is an authoritative guide to the region's politics and his is an insightful, at times explosive, indictment of the U.S. government's hand in the region's degeneration.” — Publishers Weekly.


Since July 2004, United for Peace of Pierce County’s “Digging Deeper,” a Monday-evening book discussion group, has examined more than 280 books. (Summaries of many of them have been posted online on the website Scribd.) Topics discussed have included the Iraq war, Peak Oil, climate change, torture, the corporation, Islam, Iran, U.S.-Iran relations, Barack Obama and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the writings of Robert Baer, parallels between the U.S. and ancient Rome, Israel/Palestine, sustainability, war and human nature, the nature of money, September 11, energy geopolitics, the debt crisis, American immigration policy, the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections, financial crisis, the politics of assassination, and Saul Alinsky’s life and writings, as well as abiding themes of war, peace, and social change. Occasionally the group has spent several weeks reading longer works, like Daniel Yergin’s The Prize or Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation — Participation is free and open; anyone interested is welcome. Try King’s Books (218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma) or other local bookstores for copies of books. More information: contact Mark Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or see www.ufppc.org.