A Book That Everyone Should Read: Naomi Alderman

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I can’t even begin to describe the impact that reading The Power by Naomi Alderman had on me (and I am sure I am not alone). I would even go as far as to predict that this book will become a classic that will keep on being discussed for many decades.

The main premise is the following: at some point teenage girls start experiencing the ability to strike someone with the electricity thanks to the new organ they developed. This new development than leads to complete re-definition of the gender norms on unprecedented scale.

The point that the book is making in the incredible clever and spot-on manner is that the inequality is about power and it has absolutely nothing to do with race or gender by default. I read lots of angry counter arguments to the book stating that if power dynamics were switched women would never ever be so violent or power hungry. But I believe that truth of the matter is when there is an opportunity, means and societal approval people are ready shift their morals surprisingly quickly.

In my opinion, the problem we have nowadays is not there is a better race or gender for politics, computer science or battle against climate change, it is the disproportional representation of people with the certain kind of opinion in the position of power. And what Ms Alderman illustrates wonderfully by the means of extremely readable fiction is that true equality is not that women and minorities can in principle do whatever they want, true equality is the proportional representation of all humans in all the relevant position of power.

Dear Mr President

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Petar Kujundzic/Reuters: Vaclav Havel, Dec 19, 1989

 

Fourteen days ago I thought this post will be full of optimism of getting an educated liberal enough president with the potential to lead my home country into the direction that Vaclav Havel had in mind.

Sadly enough, instead we are getting another term of racism and sexism fuelled pro-Russian populism. After the first (and landslide for that matter) victory of Milos Zeman in 2013 many people thought it was just a symptom of not sufficiently appealing counter-candidates. While I thought Mr. Schwarzenberg would make a fine president, I could understand that many people did not see him as an ideal choice. Or, in the 2016 terminology, it must have been a Hillary Clinton situation right? Except at the end of January it turned out that was not the case. Even with the number of white male attractive-enough reasonable candidates, Czech people still chose the old sick racist angry guy. The fear of a made-up muslim refugee threat resonated better than objective advantages and economic growth associated with being part of western society.

As Mr. Zeman keeps insisting after his victory on referendums on EU and NATO memberships (after five years of hard work on misinforming the public on their function), I keep thinking of Vaclav Havel. He led us out of communistic misery and under his leadership we became a western democracy. Even though that democracy is now under the threat and even though the results of both presidential and parliamentary were extremely depressing, at least in the former case, the race was close. Close enough to know that at least half of the Czech voters are still Vaclav Havel’s nation that will not buy into bigoted narratives. So let’s try to learn a lesson from this and, like voters in US, get more involved into politics of our home country.