Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Art of Deception: Learning to Speak One-Percent

Title screen for the HBO series, Succession.

Review of Succession (contains spoilers)

by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin 

"In ancient Rome, at one point, they wanted to make all the slaves wear something so they could identify them. Like a cloak or whatever. But then they decided not to do it. And do you know why? Hmm? Because they realized if all the slaves dressed the same, they would see how many of them there were, and they'd rise up and kill their masters. But the point is, if-if we wanna survive, you and I, then... we need a hell of a lot of little folks running around shitting us data, you know, for the eyeballs, for the revenue, for the scale."
(Succession S03 E09)


The popular series Succession is nearing its final episodes as the battle for control of a conglomerate heats up. The story centres around an ageing father and his children who are in a battle for succession. The series is well made with sharp dialogue that demonstrates the ruthless attitudes of the Roy family. The use of deception in their struggle for power is straight out of the Sun Tzu and Machiavelli playbooks of old. However, differences arise over who should have access to these playbooks when we examine the political ideas and philosophy of Leo Strauss who has a very different perspective on what the public should know and not know.

"Tom: Greg, this is not fucking Charles Dickens world, okay? You don't go around talking about principles. We're all trying to do the right thing, of course we are. But come on, man! Man the fuck up!"
(Succession S02 E02)

Succession is into its fourth and final season now and has proved to be a very successful series showing the life of a billionaire family in the USA. The family is headed up by Logan Roy ("king") who is aging but cannot decide which of his offspring he wants to take over his position in the company.

Brian Denis Cox in 2016 who plays Logan Roy

Three of Logan's children, Kendall, Roman, and Siobhan (Shiv), are employed by the company, Waystar RoyCo, a global media and entertainment conglomerate.

There is also Connor, Logan's oldest son; Marcia Roy, Logan's third and current wife; Tom Wambsgans, Shiv's husband and Waystar executive; and Greg Hirsch, Logan's grandnephew who is also employed by the company.

The family has an extraordinarily rich lifestyle with 'PJs' (Private Jets), helicopters and fast boats taking them to their meetings, offices and houses around the world. They have their every whim catered to and take it all for granted as they maneuver and jockey for position to be the next leader of the company.

Their emotional and physical distance from ordinary people and their own workers is shown by their callous attitudes and obnoxious language that is demonstrated repeatedly throughout the series. The other characters of this series Connor, Tom, and Greg, are shown to regularly vacillate from greed to obsequiousness as they also try to retain their powerful positions in the constantly changing battle scenarios of the corporate wars.

Thus, none of the main characters of Succession are sympathetic. The audience may briefly empathise with some of the personal aspects of their lives but then their egoistic behaviour and ruthless attitudes soon destroy what little pity and care they may have aroused in the viewers.  

The Roy kids have learned every trick in the book on how to manipulate, deceive, and use divide and rule tactics from their merciless father.

The rich dialogue of Succession is full of the language of the one-percent. For example, Roman tries to impress his father in a meeting with a combination of the latest jargon and his familiarity with the methods of elite maneuvering for profit:

"Rom: I actually do have a pitch on this, Dad. Financialization. Float hot. I mean, keep news for political power, for market manipulation capability. But the rest, we play the markets with you and me up in a little pod above the city, fucking start ups and shitting on pension funds. Highly maneuverable, highly mobile.
Logan: And in terms of getting rid of Sandy and Stewy?
Rom: Oh, fuck 'em. Scare 'em off.
Logan: As in?
Rom: As in, you know...Scooby Doo it, Dad. You just dress up as ghosts in the theme park. Um, you know, we just use the lawyers, the PIs, the honey-trap hookers, all the unpleasant people at our disposal. Call in all the favors. Fucking President Raisin, all the Senate cock sucks who owe us. Fucking kill, kill, kill." (Succession S02 E01)

The professionals and unprofessionals that they have 'at their disposal' are due to the use of unlimited wealth to determine a positive outcome for their ambitions.

Apart from the obvious bully boy tactics, deception is a major element in their strategies to maintain and grow their influence and power.

For example in the case of Vaulter, a media website that is acquired by Waystar RoyCo, Kendall and Roman are tasked by their father to review Vaulter's performance. They use different types of deception to learn about the company. Roman 'slums' it and goes drinking with some of the staff:

"ROM: Speaking of hiding shit, I took a couple of their staffers out, I got them shitfaced, and apparently, they're looking to unionize, and fucking soon.
-Oh, yeah?
ROM: Pay transparency, bargaining rights. Just nasty, tangly shit. And it's not a body pit, whatever the fuck a body pit is. It's a fucking muesli pit, and doesn't fit with our core, you know... values. So now I'm thinking we just shutter the fucker."
(Succession S02 E02)

Ken pretends all is fine to Lawrence Yee, the founder of Vaulter, but then suddenly announces to the floor his real intentions:

"KEN: Yeah. You're... You're all fired. So, if you can leave your laptops where they are, and hand in your passes, security will be coming around now. I've been through everything you've shown me. Food and weed, those are the only two verticals driving revenue, so we're folding them in and, uh, yeah, you're all free to leave.
-This is a joke.
KEN: You have 15 minutes to gather your belongings and exit the building. Separation agreements will be handed around shortly. One week of severance per year served, with full non-disclosure. Post your little videos. You get three days.
-What the f...
KEN: Unused vacation days will not be reimbursed. Health benefits will be terminated at the end of the month. That's it. I'd like to thank you all for your hard work.
YEE: What the fuck is going on?
KEN: Yeah, sorry about the, uh, cloak and dagger. I just needed some time to untangle all your shit, find the profit centers, keep the union off our back. We're already fully operational on seven.
YEE: Why?
KEN: Because my dad told me to." (Succession S02 E02)

Suddenly the real side of Kendall is exposed as his familiarity with the language of corporate tricks and laws  rolls off his tongue. The patriarchal, hierarchical aspect is interesting to note as he tells Yee he did it because his dad told him too.

Reporting his deed back to Logan, he discusses his deception of the Vaulter staff and dealing with press coverage:

"KEN: Okay, it's done. Vaulter's dead. Four-hundred and seventy-six off the payroll, full-timers, freelance... I, uh, negotiated an early break from the lease and hired an editor and five interns for the two remaining verticals, the rest will be user-generated, reviews, upload pics, all that stuff.
Also, I harvested a ton of ideas from the Vaulter staff before they left. IP and start-up ideas. Most of it's, you know, bullshit but... you never know.
Logan: We'll say you tried to keep it alive. Valiant efforts, et cetera.
KEN: I'm good. I'll wear it." (Succession S02 E02)

All in a day's work, with very little consideration of the disastrous effects that sudden unemployment could have on the Vaulter staff. The consolidation of profit and power is primary, and the ruthlessness of the process does not enter into the minds of Logan and Kendall.

Thus, we are shown how the one percent operate and any empathy with the characters is pointless. Some reviewers criticised the series because there were no sympathetic characters, missing the point that Succession is a kind of exposé of contemporary elite behaviour, similar in some ways to Machievelli's sixteenth century book, The Prince (1513).

"In his loafers made from the skin of... I don't know, what is that? Human rights activists?"
(Succession S02 E06)

Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469–1527), was an Italian diplomat, author, philosopher and historian who lived during the Renaissance. He wrote The Prince (Il Principe) around 1513 as a political treatise on how to gain and retain power.

Portrait of Machiavelli (1469-1527) by Santi di Tito

Machiavelli's advocacy of fraud and deceit in the process of gaining power ensured his fame as a ruthless advisor to the elite classes. However, while many would see Machiavelli as a self-serving immoral opportunist, this may not have been the case. Erica Benner writes:

“Just a year before he finished the first draft of his “little book”, the Medici swept into Florence in a foreign-backed coup after spending years in exile. They were deeply suspicious of his loyalties, dismissed him from his posts, then had him imprisoned and tortured under suspicion of plotting against them.”

She notes that “Machiavelli’s writings speak in different voices at different times” and that “Francis Bacon [1561–1626)], Spinoza [1632–1677] and Rousseau [1712–1778] – had no doubt the book was a cunning exposé of princely snares, a self-defence manual for citizens. “The book of republicans,” Rousseau dubbed it.”

Machiaveli emphasized the importance of deception in the tactical toolbox of the power-hungry elites. He urges never to "attempt to win by force what can be won by deception” and that the "vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”

But deception is only part of the strategy, it is also important that "people should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge; but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance.”

In Succession, the careful planning of the Roy boys is climaxed with a sudden coup de grace ensuring that the Vaulter staff are reeling and have no avenue left open for action.

"Logan: Will you sit out front today, Kerry? I need to know what the temperature is amongst the shit-munchers."
(Succession S03 E05)

Sun Tzu

Machiavelli updated elite strategies that had been around a long time. For example, writing in The Art of War, Sun Tzu declared that "All warfare is based on deception."

Qing-era representation of Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was a Chinese military general, strategist, philosopher, and writer who lived during the Eastern Zhou period of 771 to 256 BCE.

He is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War, "an influential work of military strategy that has affected both Western and East Asian philosophy and military thinking. Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and East Asian culture as a legendary historical and military figure."

While there has been much debate over the historicity of Sun Tzu, there is no doubt over the influence of The Art of War over the centuries on generals and theorists like, for example, the influence it had on Mao's writings about guerrilla warfare.

Sun Tzu's advice on deception is comprehensive: "Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him."

Whoever Sun Tzu was, he was writing at a time when knowledge was pretty much the monopoly of the elites. Machiavelli, on the other hand, lived during a revolutionary time for knowledge dissemination. For example, "before the invention of printing, the number of manuscript books in Europe could be counted in thousands. By 1500, after only 50 years of printing, there were more than 9,000,000 books."

This was why the philosophers of the The Scientific Revolution (c16-c17) and the Age of Enlightenment/Reason (c17-c19)  saw The Prince as 'a cunning exposé of princely snares, a self-defence manual for citizens'.

However, this exposé did not go down well with Leo Strauss, the most popular twentieth century philosopher of the new conservative elites.

"CONNOR: Oh, no, no, no, no. I can pull out the old megaphone anytime I want and I can say, "Hey! Guess what? I recall my father was a nasty, racist, neglectful individual. What was it that they used to say around here? No Blacks, no Jews, no women above the fourth floor."
(Succession S03 E04)

Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was a German professor who emigrated from Germany to the United States where he wrote many books on philosophy, and taught classical political philosophy, mainly at the University of Chicago. His conservative ideas struck a chord with many public intellectuals, politicians and think tank professionals, some of whom were ex-students of his. His work has been the subject of much debate on his ideas and intentions.

For example, Shadia Drury, analyses his work and style of writing as intentionally obscure to ensure that his ideas on political power would only be understood by the few. In The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss, Drury writes that Strauss was "an atheist and moral nihilist who advocated the use of religion, morality, and family values as useful political tools by which to placate and manipulate the masses [and] believed that the best form of government is the absolute but covert rule of a 'wise' elite independent of the law". [1]

Photo of Leo Strauss (1899–1973)

To do this Strauss called for "a reconsideration of the "distinction between exoteric (or public) and esoteric (or secret) teaching". He argued "that serious writers write esoterically, that is, with multiple or layered meanings, often disguised within irony or paradox, obscure references, even deliberate self-contradiction." He believed that this protected the philosopher from "the retribution of the regime", but it could be argued that it was more likely to protect the philosopher from the retribution of the masses - as Drury sets out to show.

Drury notes that Strauss is critical of Machiavelli because "by abandoning the esoteric nature of philosophy, Machiavelli undermines philosophy itself" and turns "it into an object of mass consumption". [2]

This opened the way to the Enlightenment which Strauss is critical of because enlightenment leads people to think for themselves and this is not good for the powers-that-be. Drury writes:

"Machiavelli's dissemination of philosophy to the masses opens the way to the Enlightenment, nay, it is identical with the Enlightenment. Enlightenment is 'the project' of modernity par excellence: its goal is to fight against the Kingdom of Darkness. It believes falsely, that mass enlightenment is the solution to man's political dilemmas. Moreover,this modern project is conceived as a conscious and heroic effort on man's part to take control of his destiny and to master Fortuna. According to Strauss, Machiavelli replaces the biblical God with Fortuna, and the Christian idea of providence with the modern idea of not trusting to chance, and taking one's fate in one's own hands." [3]

Even though Strauss rejected revelation he did not want to undermine religion because "religion is necessary to maintain order by ensuring that citizens obey the laws". [4]

For Strauss religion and philosophy are two opposites with very different aims:

"[I]n Strauss's view religion and philosophy are opposites that cannot and should not be reconciled. The life of faith is the life of blind unquestioning surrender, whereas the life of philosophy is that of free enquiry. The faithful are steeped in delusions whereas the philosophers rejoice in the truth. Religion prohibits contemplation because it knows as soon as one reflects, one will recognize that religion is a fraud. However, if one reflects further, one will realise the necessity of such swindles and the wisdom of the prophets who create them for love of mankind. Realizing this, the philosophers must keep their atheistic truth hidden; they must live a dual life endorsing publicly what they know is a noble fiction. [...] [T]his dual life causes them no grief; on the contrary it fills their life with laughter, inside jokes, subtle winks and pregnant pauses." [5]

Thus, it seems that while Machiavelli wrote to reveal power, Strauss wrote to conceal power. Strauss criticises Machiavelli for making public the strategies of the elites, risking the enlightenment and possible revolt of the people.

Strauss liked to keep it simple. Adam Curtis shows in his documentary, The Power of Nightmares, that Strauss liked the TV series Gunsmoke because: "The hero has a white hat; he's faster on the draw than the bad man; the good guy wins. And it's not just that the good guy wins, but that values are clear. [...] Good and evil." [Professor Stanley Rosen, Pupil of Leo Strauss 1949]

Strauss also liked Perry Mason, the TV series about a lawyer: "The extremely cunning man who, as far as we can see, is very virtuous and uses his great intelligence and quickness of mind to rescue his clients from dangers, but who could be fooling us—because he's cleverer than we are. Is he really telling the truth? Maybe his client is guilty!" [Rosen]

Therefore the masses could be taught to unite "against a common evil, and set about creating a mythical enemy", which in the USA, for example, under Reagan was the Soviet Union, while at the same time never really knowing if what they are being told is the full story.

Drury argues that Strauss teaches that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them".

The creation of myths that divert the anger of the masses away from their own elite perpetrators is balanced by positive myths that puff up the nation's pride in the very same elites. This is the rule of the wise, and revealing its inner workings was frowned upon by Strauss.

"ROM: Hail, my fellow toilerman. I have returned from real America, bearing the gift of sight.
SHIV: How was summer camp?
ROM: Hmm? What's that? Didn't catch that. I've been down in the salt mines so long with my fellow Johnny Lunchpails, I no longer speak One-Percent."
(Succession S02 E05)


Succession is one story about the real America. It shows the workings of a society at its highest levels. It is self conscious in that it has no illusions about the American Dream. Instead it shows a society that is brutalised by its own successes that are leading to a greater disparity between wealth and poverty. It shows the growing distance between the masses and the elites that has developed over the last few decades, the contradiction between the idea of the nation and its reality. The ideal nation promoted by the elites is being split apart by global agendas that are consuming more and more of the nations resources to the detriment of its citizens:

"SHIV LAUGHS: Okay, big picture... we're at the end of a long American century. Our company is a declining empire
- inside a declining empire.
- Amen, brother." (Succession S03 E02)

Nobody knows where this is all leading but one can be sure that the wise men are working on it in a race to stop the masses from becoming completely fed up and taking matters into their own hands.

The verdict on Succession? Machiavelli would probably have loved it; Strauss would most likely have hated it.

[1] The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss by Shadia B. Drury (Palgrave Mcmillan, 2005) p. ix
[2] The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss by Shadia B. Drury (Palgrave Mcmillan, 2005) p. 130
[3] The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss by Shadia B. Drury (Palgrave Mcmillan, 2005) p. 131
[4] The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss by Shadia B. Drury (Palgrave Mcmillan, 2005) p. 52
[5] The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss by Shadia B. Drury (Palgrave Mcmillan, 2005) p. 60

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Changing Society: Nature, Life, and Resistance in Culture Today

Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) and White Tiger (2021)   (Spoiler alert)

Book cover of The White Tiger (2008)

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free

― Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe,  (Elective Affinities, Die Wahlverwandtschaften, 1809)

What kind of culture do we want? What kind of culture do we need? Our culture reflects our fundamental ideologies and these ideologies are rooted in patriarchal religion and neoliberal politics in the main.

It's a culture that depicts the class system, war, and in general, people dealing with the system in its many different facets, through drama, adventure, comedy, terror, horror, etc.

The origins of our culture are thought to go back thousands of years when, for example, (in the ideas of James DeMeo) "climatic changes caused drought, desertification and famine in North Africa, the Near East, and Central Asia (collectively Saharasia) and this trauma caused the development of patriarchal, authoritarian and violent characteristics" about six thousand years ago.  

The coming of the Kurgan peoples across Europe from c. 4000 to 1000 BC is believed to have been a tumultuous and disastrous time for the peoples of Old Europe. The Old European culture is believed to have centred around nature-based pagan ideologies.

Some believe the rise of patriarchy was due to the sexual division of labour about 2 million years ago, while others believe it was due to the later development of agriculture and private property.

Christ as Martyr and Master
Jan van Eyck (before c. 1390 – 9 July 1441)
Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych, c. 1430–1440.

However, these changes led to the growth of patriarchal religions that underpinned the ambitions of warring rulers, for example:

"In Christianity the rulers had a religion that assured their objectives. The warring adventurism of the new rulers needed soldiers for their campaigns and slaves to produce their food and mine their metals for their armaments and wealth. Thus, Christ was portrayed as Martyr and Master. In his own crucifixion as Martyr he provided a brave example to the soldiers, and as Master he would reward or punish the slaves according to how well they had behaved."

The privatisation of property, extractivism, the necessity for food-producing slaves and a warrior class sustained and further extended the aims of elites throughout feudalism and capitalism up to the wars of today, and who are now competing for power and resources on a global scale. The terminology has changed but the fundamentals have not.

The exploitation of nature continues unabated with the ongoing destruction of the Amazon and wildlife, the global and mass use and abuse of animals, transnational polluting industries, chemical-driven industrial crop land, and factory ship over-fishing emptying our seas. The wars have also gotten greater with two world wars in the twentieth century and a third one hanging over our heads constantly threatening our very existence. The elites are a smaller group of people now but control ever-growing global monopolies.

Thus, looking at culture in general from this perspective, there are two important aspects of modern culture: the destruction of nature combined with death (war) and a culture of slavery (escapism, diversion, etc.).

The antithesis of these two aspects are respect for nature and life, and resistance to slavery in all of its forms. While we are surrounded by the culture of war and escapism, it is not easy to find an oppositional culture.

Yet it does exist, and two good recent examples are the Korean TV series Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) (pro-nature), and White Tiger (2021) (anti-slavery), a film based on an adaptation of Aravind Adiga's 2008 novel of the same name. These two fine dramas show us that alternatives to the current system and ideology can be produced.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”
― William Drummond  (Academical Questions, 1805)

Nature and life - Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)

Extraordinary Attorney Woo is the story of Woo Young-woo, an autistic lawyer who is raised by her single father. She finds it difficult to get a job despite graduating with the highest distinction. However, she eventually gets a job in a top Seoul law firm, Hanbada, using her father's connections. Over time she learns to become an excellent lawyer and her colleagues grow to respect her. The series becomes a platform for progressive social, political, environmental and ethical issues fought out through the courts. Furthermore, the environmental theme is highlighted by her love of whales and dolphins especially when she "analogizes situations she faces in her professional and private life with the lives and characteristics of whales and dolphins [that] often surprises and confounds the people who surround her."

Promotional poster for Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)
By Naver, Fair use.
These situations are often combined with beautiful, if surreal, photography of whales swimming past windows or combined with court scenes. Woo is also seen demonstrating with a colleague against the treatment of dolphins in a local aquarium.

However, Attorney Woo's fellow rookie colleague, Kwon Min-woo, approaches their supervising lawyer Jung Myung-seok, angry at her sometimes unorthodox behaviour which he feels she is getting away with because of her disability. Jung Myung-seok reacts in a slightly annoyed tone:

"Attorney Kwon, you must really like penalties. [...] When you experience a difference of opinion or a conflict at work, you need to talk with your colleagues and solve it.  Giving rewards or punishment over who is right or wrong for every single thing, that's not like how I like to work."

Here Myung-seok advises that conflict in life must be resolved through discussion, not by 'giving rewards or penalties', moving away from the authoritarian methods of the master.  

Attorney Woo naturally reacts to selfishness, corruption and discrimination but she gradually learns that the pursuit of truth is a difficult path to carve out. Apart from Woo being a symbol of logic and reasoning in the service of truth, her connection with nature is direct and not mediated by a negative, consumer-orientated culture.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
― Henry David Thoreau (from his journals, 1847)

Resistance to slavery - White Tiger (2021)

White Tiger tells the story of Balram Halwai who relates the ups and downs of his life in a letter to Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. Balram was an intelligent young boy in an isolated village who aspires to work as a chauffeur for the son of the rich village landowner, Ashok, who has just returned from America with his American-Indian wife, Pinky. Ashok and Pinky go to Delhi to bribe politicians to reduce his family's taxes and Balram joins them as their driver. Although they have liberal ideas about their servants, as soon as things turn bad they treat him like any other wealthy, entitled masters. Balram is asked to drive Ashok with a huge sum of money for a bribe and then decides to escape his servitude by murdering Ashok and stealing the money to make a better life for himself. He then sets up a taxi company in a different city where he treats his drivers well and helps them when they get into the kind of troubles he experienced himself as a servant.

Promotional poster for White Tiger (2021)

Balram believes "that the Indian underclass is trapped in a perpetual state of servitude, like chickens in a chicken coop."

He states that "The greatest thing to come out of this country in its ten thousand year history: The Rooster Coop. They can see and smell the blood. They know they’re next. Yet they don’t rebel, they don’t try and get out of the coop." He asks why the workers are so honest in their relations with their masters. "Why? Because Indians are the world’s most honest and spiritual people? No. It’s because 99.9 percent of us are caught in the Rooster Coop. The trustworthiness of servants is so strong that you can put the key of emancipation in a man’s hand and he will throw it back at you with a curse." He describes the main problem of Indian society: "In the old days, when India was the richest nation on earth, there were one thousand castes and destinies. These days, there are just two castes: Men with Big Bellies and Men with Small Bellies."

The writer of the original novel (The White Tiger, p254, 2008) Aravind Adiga, noted in the novel that:

"I won't be saying anything new if I say that the history of the world is the history of a ten-thousand-year war of brains between the rich and the poor. Each side is eternally trying to hoodwink the other side: and it has been this way since the start of time. The poor win a few battles (the peeing in the potted plants, the kicking of the pet dogs, etc.) but of course the rich have won the war for ten thousand years."

Balram's escape from slavery, his resistance to the master, comes with tragedy as his extended family is murdered by the village landlord. He believes that he is a White Tiger, a symbol of freedom, because he escaped slavery and ultimately encourages his own employees to do the same:
(monologue and description from the screenplay)

"Balram speaks directly to his Drivers as he gathers them and brings them outside to the front of his business.
BALRAM - Now, what happens in your typical Hindi film about murder? A poor man kills a rich man and then gets nightmares of the dead man pursuing him screaming: “Murderer! Shame!” It doesn’t happen like that. The real nightmare is the other kind - where you didn’t do it, that you didn’t kill your master, that you
lost your nerve, and that you’re still a servant to another man. But then you wake up, the sweating
stops, your heartbeat slows. The nightmare is over. You did do it. You killed your master.
Balram steps away from them and speaks directly into the camera:
BALRAM (TO CAMERA) - I have switched sides. I’ve made it. I’ve broken out of the coop.
He exits frame, leaving a wall of drivers, servants, perhaps new White Tigers, ready to strike, confronting the camera, confronting the audience..."

Balram takes chances and resists slavery. He may be wealthy now but he does not feel part of the wealthy class. He has broken out of the coop and 'switched sides', and he has no problem enlightening and even encouraging his drivers to do the same. In a way he plays the rich at their own game: using their tactics of murder and disloyalty to escape from their binds.

“Happy slaves are the bitterest enemies of freedom.”
― Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (Aphorisms, 1880/1893)
 Of diets and glaciers

Given the current state of the political and financial crises of late capitalism. i.e., the possibility of an all-out global war and the worsening destruction of the environment (upon which our sustenance is based), the constant re-examination of our culture is of utmost importance. For many people the movement for change seems glacial and leads them to live out their lives on the cultural diet created mainly by producers whose primary motive is profit, not social and political change.

However, the illusion of peace and freedom created by this timeless culture is situated in real historical conditions that are constantly changing. Over time and with different forces underneath, even the slowest of glaciers can suddenly break apart and form cracks. The greatest aspiration of cultural producers today would be to show that happiness does not consist in diversion from worry but in confronting the sources of our current ills instead, and to remember what Leonard Cohen wrote, "Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in."

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Every St Patrick's Day, Everywhere, All at Once: A Disaster for Ireland

March 17 is traditionally St Patrick's Day, a day when 'Irishness' is celebrated all over the world. This date is traditionally held to be the date of the death of St Patrick  (c. 385 – c. 461), the patron saint of Ireland. It is marked by parades through the main cities and towns of Ireland, and in recent years it has become popular as a festival around the world with famous buildings being lit up green and major rivers being dyed green.

However, in recent decades the symbolism of St Patrick's Day has changed dramatically and promotes negative stereotypes (e.g. leprechauns) of the Irish people to a world audience. This is not good for Ireland or the Irish people.

It must also be noted that St Patrick is seen as the patron saint of Ireland because he defeated pagan ideology in favour of Christianity. However, pagan ideology had a strong connection with nature and the cycles of nature that resulted in seasonal festivals such as Beltaine (1 May), Lughnasadh (1 August), Samhain (1 November) and Imbolc (1 February).

Patrick banishing the snakes

St Patrick

Not a lot is known about Saint Patrick except he is believed to have been a Romano-British Christian missionary who was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland as a slave. After six years as a shepherd he went home and became a priest. He then returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. He is famously believed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland despite the fact there is no record that Ireland ever had snakes.

It is more likely that the snakes refer to the pagans themselves:

"Scholars suggest the tale is allegorical. Serpents are symbols of evil in the Judeo-Christian tradition—the Bible, for example, portrays a snake as the hissing agent of Adam and Eve's fall from grace. The animals were also linked to heathen practices—so St. Patrick's dramatic act of snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence."

It is believed that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. It is also believed that the date is suspiciously close to Ostara, a pagan holiday:

"It wasn’t arbitrary that the day honoring Saint Patrick was placed on the 17th of March. The festival was designed to coincide, and, it was hoped, to replace the Pagan holiday known as Ostara; the second spring festival which occurs each year, which celebrates the rebirth of nature, the balance of the universe when the day and night are equal in length, and which takes place at the Spring Equinox (March 22nd this year). In other words, Saint Patrick’s Day is yet another Christian replacement for a much older, ancient Pagan holiday; although generally speaking Ostara was most prominently replaced by the Christian celebration of Easter (the eggs and the bunny come from Ostara traditions, and the name “Easter” comes from the Pagan goddess Eostre)."

St Patrick's Day Parade

As a child I remember being brought to the parade and seeing a very dignified parade of marching pipe bands and symbols of the Irish state and nation such as the Irish army. By the 1980s it had been reduced to low levels of commercialisation (such as multiple floats advertising a major security firm). Later, the influence of Macnas took over and a kind of Celtic primitivism became very influential.

St Patrick's Day, Downpatrick, March 2011

The commercialism of the St Patrick's Day Parade also resulted in Irish people dressing up as red-bearded and green-hatted leprechauns:

"Films, television cartoons and advertising have popularised a specific image of leprechauns which bears little resemblance to anything found in the cycles of Irish folklore. It has been argued that the popularised image of a leprechaun is little more than a series of stereotypes based on derogatory 19th-century caricatures."

Along with this negative stereotype came a change in terminology as St Patrick's day became known as Paddy's Day, a derogatory term for Irish people (Paddy). The festival has become an excuse for all-day drinking and riotous behaviour, feeding into the negative stereotypes of 'drunken paddys'.

St. Patrick Parade, Fifth Ave., New York 1909

In a way the St Patrick's Day parade of recent years does symbolise the Ireland of today just as the content of past parades represented the prevalent ideologies of their day too. The colorful, brash, internationalism of the parade now is similar to other major festivals around the world (such as Brazilian Carnival) and, similarly, has more of a feeling of public catharsis than a celebration of national identity.

The kind of drinking and self-mocking celebrated now on St Patrick's Day has more in common with the work of the Roman satirical poet, Juvenal (c. 100 CE), who wrote that "the People have abdicated our duties [and] now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses."  Public palliatives for societal woes only temporarily cover up the real problems facing Irish people today as the housing, energy and financial crises deepen.

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. This is what is really needed now, the rebirth of the politics of social justice, and the renewal of our deep connection with nature and life - a movement away from the theology of death.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.

He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Dubai Superlatives: The Power of Excessive Wealt

Questions From a Worker Who Reads (Bertolt Brecht 1935)

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ?
And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ?
In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?

Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

Maybe the closest we can get to Elon Musk's vision of Mars is a visit to Dubai. Imagine an alien planet where you can only live in the base settlement with a breathable atmosphere: a comfortable place and a comfortable temperature.

In the hottest months of the year in Dubai, temperatures rise to 50 degrees so people move from air-conditioned apartments to air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned offices to air-conditioned shopping malls.

Of course, they are very nice cars, apartments, offices and shopping malls. Dubai deals in expensive property and large scales: the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa (829.8m, 2,722ft), the tallest hotel in the world under construction (Ciel), and the foundations laid for the tallest construction in the world - the Dubai Creek observation tower which will be 1.3km (1,300m, 4,300ft) high.

Workers gardening near Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

This should keep Dubai on the superlative lists into the next decade. Here the hierarchies of height determine your wealth. For example, the entrance to the Burj Khalifa is a luxurious shopping mall which also contains a massive food hall for the workers, servers and shop workers. The more money you have to spend, the higher up the Burj Khalifa you can go. The extremes of wealth mean that it is likely that most of the people who work in the mall have never been up the lifts into the stratospheric heights of the tallest building in the world. While many eat in the cheap food mall at the base, only a few have tea and coffee in the lounge and outdoor observation deck on the 148th floor (named At the Top) which is so high that it is more like looking down on Dubai from a plane than from a building. This contrast is certainly symbolic of the incredible extremes of wealth that exist in Dubai.

Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?
Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ?
Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?

I read a comment somewhere that if Dubai were described as a book then the front cover would be Cosmopolitan Magazine and the inside would be The Big Issue (homeless magazine). Starting life as a poor village in the desert beside the sea, Dubai has come on in leaps and bounds ever since. For example,"in 1822, a British naval surveyor noted that Dubai was at that time populated with a thousand people living in an oval-shaped town surrounded by a mud wall, scattered with goats and camels." By the 1930s Dubai was known for its pearl exports but "the pearl trade was damaged irreparably by the 1929 Great Depression and the innovation of cultured pearls. With the collapse of the pearling industry, Dubai fell into a deep depression and many residents lived in poverty or migrated to other parts of the Persian Gulf." However, oil was struck in 1966 and this all changed. While Dubai had already started a period of infrastructural development and expansion in the 1950s based on revenue from trading activities (such as the trade in gold), the discovery of oil offshore set the tone for a new rapid growth in building projects during the 1970s.

This growth was fueled by revenues from oil and gold but depended mainly on cheap labour from developing countries. The treatment of the many thousands of workers in Dubai has been the subject of many reports and documentaries, such as Human Rights Watch (living conditions  described as being "less than humane") and the documentary, Slaves of Dubai (2009).

In an article titled  "What is Modern Slavery in Dubai and How Does it Affect You?" it is stated:

"More than 88.5% of UAE residents are foreign workers, with South Asian migrants constituting 42.5% of the UAE’s workforce. [...] These migrants, usually illiterate and from impoverished, rural communities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh [...] Eager to move to Dubai and begin earning money that they can send home to their families, they take out loans of up to $3000 from unscrupulous recruitment agencies to pay the exorbitant ‘visa fees’ (which is actually illegal – the recruitment agencies are supposed to cover these fees) and board flights to Dubai, excited for a new life in the glitzy Emirate. When they touch down in Dubai, however, it’s a different story. Driven to squalid shanty towns on the outskirts of Dubai, where 45 men share one outdoor bathroom and 10 or more people sleep in a room, their passports are confiscated and they are told that they will actually be working 14 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week, in the desert sun."

The cramped living conditions and low wages has led to high suicide rates too.

City Centre Deira, mall worker, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

The International Institute for Global Strategic Analysis has reported that the kafala sponsorship system has played an important part in the exploitation of workers:

"Kafala is a system popular in Gulf countries that gives private citizens and companies responsibility and oversight over workers. The kafala sponsorship system is used to monitor migrant labourers, working primarily in the construction and domestic sectors in Gulf Cooperation Council member states. The kafala system involves withholding labourers’ passports to regulate their residency and employment, which gives employers near-total control over migrant workers’ salary, living conditions, nutrition, ability to work elsewhere, and even their ability to return home."

The treatment of citizens is very different to the situation for expatriate workers:

"It is estimated that in 2018, there were seven million workers in the UAE alone. Over 90 per cent of the private-sector labour force is comprised of expatriates while UAE nationals continue to be employed in stable and relatively well-paying jobs in the country’s vast public sector. Although citizens face restrictions on their human rights, the state offers them a wide range of social benefits, including generous housing benefits, access to free education and medical services, preferential treatment in the workforce and higher salaries."

It was also reported that "domestic workers are exposed to multiple forms of exploitation and violence, including sexual, physical and psychological abuse".

Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ?
Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.
The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ?
Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ?

The conditions for workers and the rapid building growth and expansion of Dubai is tied in with tourism as many projects are dependent on sales to foreign tourists and investors. However, many apartments are also sold off the plans, and then resold upon completion without the investor even visiting Dubai. Every shopping mall has selling points with sophisticated screens using 3D maps of Dubai and the properties for sale. The sales assistants are usually from Eastern Europe. There is no shortage of potential customers as Dubai has become one of the "world's leading tourism destinations" and tourism is now one of Dubai's main sources of revenue. The city "hosted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016" and "in 2018, Dubai was the fourth most-visited city in the world based on the number of international visitors."

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?  
Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ?
Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?
Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ?

Workers districts
By far the most interesting areas of Dubai are the areas where the workers themselves live, work, and shop. Deira, for example, is a historic district where the population consists mainly of Pakistan and India natives. Deira has many markets: Murshid Souk, Spice Souk, Deira Covered Souk, and Gold Souk. There are leather shops, shoe shops, supermarkets, barbers, butchers, cafes and family restaurants with dining areas on the city pavements. Compared to the soulless atmosphere of the wealthier districts, Deira is full of life with friendly shop assistants and large groups of African, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers and their families enjoying the convivial atmosphere of the restaurants indoors and outdoors.

Deira, Creek, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

So many reports.  
So many questions.

The Future of Dubai
There is no doubt that Dubai is the creation of a particular set of circumstances economically, geographically and geopolitically. It has made good use of its central position in relation to Europe, Africa and Asia as a cosmopolitan meeting point for international trade and travel. Dubai has benefitted from the UAE's diplomatic moves to play down differences regionally:

"The UAE is revisiting its foreign policy goals with the aim of boosting its global trade partnerships and ensuring its security and political stability, by replacing robust military intervention and proxy politics with dialogue and diplomacy.[...] Differences between the UAE on the one hand and Iran, Turkey, and Qatar on the other remain strong. However, the UAE is beginning to realize that the lack of a healthy bilateral dialogue with regional powers will make progress towards de-escalation much harder. The country acknowledges, after a decade of regional conflict and proxy politics, that the divergent policies of regional players should not prevent diplomatic cooperation."

However in an era of rising temperatures and rising seas, it must be asked how much hotter can Dubai get, and how will this coastal city deal with erosion and flooding? The continued existence of Dubai is dependent on heavy power consumption to maintain air conditioning, trains and services for very large buildings, many more of which are being planned at the moment for future development.

Deira, Creek, Dubai, UAE
(Photo: Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

Even the locals have always had an uncomfortable feeling about the future of Dubai. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (ruler from 1958 till 1990) is believed to have said: "My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel".

One cannot help but feel that a major collapse of oil prices and/or the economies of the West will have a profound effect on the future of Dubai. As the quote (with as obscure an origin as Dubai itself) that 'the Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stones' has noted, new technologies will substantially decrease our reliance on fossil fuels in the future. All these potential changes do not augur well for the future of Dubai's dependence on trade in tourism, oil and gold. If Dubai is ultimately an unsustainable vanity project instigated by a tiny minority of the super rich, as some believe, then the city could be deserted (in more ways than one), and Dubai itself could become the largest open-air museum in the world.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Samira’s Dream (Ndoto Ya Samira) (2022): Living and Learning Against the Odds

A Documentary Film Review
By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin

Samira is a young Zanzibari woman who had a big dream. To leave home, have a family and study for a career. In many countries this is done as a matter of course. However, in some places there are many struggles and difficulties, both social and financial, that must be faced.

In Samira’s Dream, we follow Samira over a period of seven years as she grows and develops without losing sight of her objectives. The length of time taken to make this documentary reminded me of the fictional film Boyhood which is made and takes place over a period of 12 years, an accomplishment whereby “we watch the actors getting older for real, which gives their characters a sense of authenticity.” 



The same can be said for Samira’s Dream as we see the difficulties and real problems she faces over the years, where even being filmed exerted so much pressure at one point that she asks for it to be stopped. She was never sure that she could overcome all the problems she encountered along the way, and the sometimes tense atmosphere during the filming added to the authenticity. As the film’s director Nino Tropiano noted: “Werner Herzog said that filmmaking is not about aesthetics, it is about athletics. In other words, you have to work hard.”

Samira’s Dream (Ndoto Ya Samira) (2022) – Trailer

This is easy to forget in an age where everyone seems to be constantly taking selfies and filming themselves doing the most insignificant things. Having a documentary made about you would be many teenagers’ greatest fantasy and desire. Yet, in societies where liberal freedoms cannot be taken for granted, and your dreams are not easily accomplished (especially for women), there is no sure ending.

Samira gets knocked down, and she gets up again, and again. She works hard, gets help wherever she can, and has the support of a husband who (although anxious about the effect her high level of education might have on their marriage) still gives her wishes his blessing.

For Tropiano this long project was not like Michelangelo’s sculpture where a start had already been made on the block of marble he fashioned into David. The film took shape very gradually, as Tropiano explains:

“Here I am thinking where will I start? I called a friend of mine who had spent a few months in Zanzibar. Where is that!? A traditional Muslim society. That’s intriguing. One of her photos in particular, struck me. A group of young female students walking out of a madrassa in a very orderly manner. It was then I knew the subject matter for my film – female education. So, I needed to write down a synopsis of some sort. I imagined a young woman coming from a remote village, who dreams of moving to town to get a college education. By following her life, I would have a film.”

Even when Tropiano arrived there, he still did not have a subject for his documentary. A chance meeting with a friendly group of schoolgirls led to some general interviews and his choice of Samira for “her natural charisma, open-minded attitude, and cheerful approach”. Diplomacy then ensued as he had to gain the trust of the local people, the Shia Leader of the community, and the teachers in town. Over the next 7 years, a friendship built up which allowed for a constant revisiting and filming that made for a much deeper story than a single visit would have told. By keeping a low-key profile he was able to fly below state officialdom and keep costs down. Over the years Tropiano was able to gain the confidence of the people, demonstrated by the relaxed humour and friendly disposition of the protagonists while, at the same time, capturing the natural beauty of the landscape and the colourful clothes of the people in some beautiful photography.

Nino Tropiano came to Ireland in the mid-90s where he graduated from the National Film School in Dublin with a 50-minute film entitled My Daughter Does Madonna. He went on to direct and produce Mary’s Last Show, Class Reunion and a short film called The Fall. Later his documentary Chippers (2008) was awarded Best Documentary Memorie Migranti at Gualdo Tadino in 2010.


Chippers: The story of the Italian community in Ireland (link to full film)

Even though fish and chips is an English fast food tradition, by a strange quirk of fate it was mainly Italians who set up the fish and chip shops all over Ireland. Tropiano delves into the history of the Italian peasant farmers who sought work abroad and ended up selling English traditional food to the Irish. Irish efforts to mimic the business soon discovered that selling fish and chips was hard work with very long and unsociable hours.

Tropiano’s ability to be a fly-on-the-wall and let ordinary people tell their own story is very evident in Chippers and this style of filmmaking pays off handsomely in Samira’s Dream. With a minimal voiceover, much of the narrative is conveyed in Samira’s own words.

His own struggles to get funding, the difficulties of getting to Zanzibar and the problems of production and editing, could have led him to give up the project altogether. He notes:

“Each time I got turned down when I applied for funds, I faced an existential crisis, followed by an upsurge that fed in me the ability to see things in perspective. In hindsight, things went the way they were meant to.”

However, Tropiano is also aware of Western tropes, a trap whereby authors/filmmakers/artists make themselves the centre of their own work and lose sight of their original intention: “I faced many obstacles along the way and I suspect that in the hands of other filmmakers, Samira’s story would have come second with the focus shifted towards the struggling life of a filmmaker trying to tell a story in Africa. I resisted the temptation to put myself into the film, to narrate some thrilling backstories in fear they might divert from Samira’s quest into the unedifying and morally bankrupt African tale Western audiences generally look for and festivals tend to love and give awards to.”

This predicament faced by the artist is discussed by the writer James Joyce who discusses creativity (in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) in terms of the developing maturity of the the artist:

“The image, it is clear, must be set between the mind or senses of the artist himself and the mind or senses of others. If you bear this in memory you will see that art necessarily divides itself into three forms progressing from one to the next. These forms are: the lyrical form, the form wherein the artist presents his image in immediate relation to himself; the epical form, the form wherein he presents his image in mediate relation to himself and to others; the dramatic form, the form wherein he presents his image in immediate relation to others.”

Tropiano moves away from making his art about himself, or about his encounters with others. He takes himself out of the equation while guiding his project in such a way that it becomes a story that the real hero, Samira, can take centre place in, all the while providing inspiration for many women who aspire to achieve similar educational goals.

It is so easy in Western society to fulfill the role of the individualist, Romantic hero telling of his adventures far away from home in distant lands. Western cinema is full of heroes and superheroes, but to create something which turns an ordinary local into an extraordinary example and symbol is a real achievement in art.

Back in Zanzibar at a music and film festival, Samira’s Dream (Ndoto Ya Samira in Swahili) was to be screened. After two hours of dancing to live music Tropiano was called to the stage to speak:

“I prepared a little speech in Swahili and the crowd jeered at my blunders. Then magic happened. There were about six hundred people, and they sat, remaining glued to the screen till the end. That was my reward: I realised the film deserves to be promoted and be seen as it creates a true sense of awareness in Tanzania.”

Samira’s Dream is a story that takes us through the hardships and joys of life, over a timescale that is a rare experience in cinema and which demonstrates dedication to a craft and an idea which takes time to be perfected and achieved so well.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country here. Caoimhghin has just published his new book – Against Romanticism: From Enlightenment to Enfrightenment and the Culture of Slavery, which looks at philosophy, politics and the history of 10 different art forms arguing that Romanticism is dominating modern culture to the detriment of Enlightenment ideals. It is available on Amazon ( and the info page is here.