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Ecosocialist Bookshelf, July 2022

Summer reading for greens and reds. New books on work, extractive industry, empire, pandemics, organizing, and socialism

Ecosocialist Bookshelf is a monthly column, hosted by Ian Angus. Books described here may be reviewed at length in future. Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement, or that C&C agrees with everything (or even anything!) these books say.

Michael D. Yates
WORK WORK WORK
Labor, Alienation, and Class Struggle

Monthly Review Press, 2022
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Mainstream economists tell us that workers and bosses negotiate as equals in the labor market. Michael Yates shows that labor market is really just cover for capitalist extraction of wealth from wage laborers. He explains how it really works, and demonstrates the nature and necessity of class struggle, which alone can end that exploitation and the system that makes it possible.

Victor Seow
CARBON TECHNOCRACY
Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia

University of Chicago Press, 2021
In the massive Fushun colliery in northeast China, the fossil fuel economy emerged in tandem with the modern technocratic state. Under the carbon energy regime, countless workers here and elsewhere were subjected to invasive techniques of labor control, ever-escalating output targets, and the dangers of an increasingly exploited earth. A groundbreaking exploration of the mutual production of energy and power.

Caroline Elkins
LEGACY OF VIOLENCE
A History of the British Empire

Alfred A. Knopf, 2022
Elkins won the Pulitzer Prize for her brilliant expose of Britain’s brutal suppression of the anti-colonial revolt in Kenya. Now she takes a broader view, in a powerful study of the country’s pervasive use of violence, torture and terror to maintain control of the British Empire. Using a wealth of previously unavailable documents, she exposes the myth of the empire as a benevolent force, showing how supposed liberals supported and promoted two centuries of crimes against humanity.

Sandro Galea
THE CONTAGION NEXT TIME
Oxford University Press, 2022
Galea argues that Covid’s horrendous death toll was the inevitable result of policies that invest huge amounts of money in healthcare, and very little on health. “Health is the state of not being sick to begin with, and it is shaped by social, economic, environmental, and political forces. … Unless we address the foundational forces that underlie health, nothing we do will sufficiently prepare us for the next pandemic.”

Peter Gelderloos
THE SOLUTIONS ARE ALREADY HERE
Tactics for Ecological Revolution from Below

Pluto Press, 2022
Anarchist Peterloo Gelderloos argues that governmental responses to the climate emergency are structurally incapable of solving the crisis. He profiles local community projects in Venezuela, Brazil and Indonesia that offer alternative revolutionary responses to planetary destruction.

Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro
SOCIALIST STATES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Lessons for Ecosocialist Futures

Pluto Press, 2021
Many activists have written off the experiences of the USSR as irrelevant to the fight against ecological and social devastation. Challenging the accepted wisdom, Engel-Di Mauro argues that the policies of the soviet-style states often had environmentally beneficial effects. Rather than dismissing their record, we should reclaim it for contemporary ecosocialist ends.

 

 

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