Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Prof. Peter Stone's Review of Poch Suzara's Book on Bertrand Russell

Professor Peter Stone
Political Science / Stanford University, California

Ramon (“Poch”) Suzara. Bertrand Russell to the Rescue: 
Can the Wit and Wisdom of Bertrand Russell Save the Philippines? Quezon City, Philippines: Popular Bookstore, [Copies available from the author at )

There are many kinds of books about Bertrand Russell. There are the biog- Traphies—Wood, Clark, Moorehead, Monk, not to mention Russell’s own autobiography. There are scholarly studies that address some specific argument he made or cause he championed, such as Gregory Landini’s Russell’s Hidden Substitutional Theory or Jo Vellacott’s Bertrand Russell and the Pacifists in the First World War. And there are general introductions for the nonspecialist, from A. C. Grayling’s Russell: a Very Short Introduction to Paul Strathern’s less highbrow Bertrand Russell in Minutes. But one of the most interesting and yet neglected Russell-related genres consists of popular books aimed at bringing Russell’s ideas to a mass audience. These works present Russell’s ideas as a source of wisdom for coping with today’s problems. Among the more notable examples of this small genre are Lee Eisler’s Morals without Mystery and Peter Cranford’s How to Be Your Own Psychologist: the Art of
Irresistible Influence—Compossibility.
Now these works are joined by Poch Suzara’s Bertrand Russell to the Rescue: Can the Wit and Wisdom of Bertrand Russell Save the Philippines?
Suzara’s approach is simple. He counterpoises articles from the Filipino press with quotations from Bertrand Russell. He does this in a manner calculated to illustrate how irrational much of Filipino politics and society can be and how
much the situation could be improved if only people took a page from the book of Bertie. To take one example, Suzara reprints part of an article from the Manila Standard depicting
the now deposed president of the Philippines with some of his cronies.

Beneath it, he oers the following line from Russell: “Every man would like to be God, if it were possible; some few find it dicult to admit the impossibility” (p. 85).

Both Cranford and Eisler were longtime mainstays of the Bertrand Russell Society, whose mission centrally involves spreading
the word about the Good Lord. It should therefore be unsurprising that Suzara has worked with both the Bertrand Russell Society, and the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, although today he leads his own Philippines-based group devoted to Bertrand Russell. He also chairs other atheist/humanist/agnostic associations

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