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Ecosocialist Bookshelf, March 2023

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Eight new books on science, society and socialism. Important reading for reds and greens

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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.

Kohei Saito
Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism

Cambridge University Press, 2022
The author of Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism digs further into Marx’s unpublished notebooks and offers a controversial interpretation of his views on nature, ecology and economic growth. Saito’s conclusions are already being widely debated by left-wing scholars. Not an easy read, but an important contribution to ecosocialist thought.

Deborah Barsky
Exploring the Past to Understand the Future

Cambridge University Press, 2023
A concise overview of human prehistory and what it can tell us about the possibility of a sustainable future for all life. Barsky offers a long-term evolutionary perspective on the relationship between human culture and technology, showing how our history has brought us to today’s crises.

Eliane Brum
The Amazon as the Centre of the World

Greywolf Press, 2023
Eliane Brum moved from São Paulo to Altamira, a city along the Xingu River that has been devastated by the construction of one of the largest dams in the world, to build relationships with forest peoples who carry both the scars and the resistance of the forest in their bodies. She reveals the direct links between structural inequities rooted in gender, race, class, and even species, and the suffering that capitalism and climate breakdown wreak on those who are least responsible for them. Translated from Portuguese by Diane Whitty.

Andrew Feenberg
Nature and Revolution in Marcuse’s Philosophy of Praxis

Verso Books, 2023
In the 1960s and 1970s, Marcuse was a leading philosopher of the “new left.” Feenberg, his student and friend, provides a clear account of the strengths and weaknesses of his ideas, and argues that they are relevant to today’s fight to stop ecological decay and destruction.

Scott L. Gardner, Judy Diamond, & Gabor Racz
The Inside Story

Princeton University Press,  2922
Parasites — animals that live inside other animals — are the most abundant form of life on Earth. Some are harmful, many are vital to the hosts’ existence. Parasites offer clues to the evolutionary history of particular regions, and they can provide insights into the history of species interactions. In this readable and well-illustrated account, The authors show how parasites survive and evolve, and how they influence and provide stability to ecosystems.

Mark Z. Jacobsen
How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air

Cambridge University Press, 2023
Jacobsen has argued before that existing energy technology is sufficient to entirely replace fossil fuels and stop the headlong plunge into climate chaos. This book expands his analysis, offering a blueprint for a world than runs on renewable energy, using technology that is available and affordable today. Valuable reading on technology, but weak on how we can overcome the social and political forces that are resisting change.

Éric Pineault
Pluto Press
Why does capitalism need constant growth, and how does that intensify the socio-ecological contradictions of modern society? In this ambitious attempt at synthesis between ecological Marxism and feminist ecological economics, Éric Pineault critiques contemporary capitalist growth as both a biophysical and accumulation process.

Akessandro Cocuzza & Giuseppe Sottile, editors
Saggi sulla distruzione capitalistica della natura

Edizioni Smasher, 2023
(Metabolic Rift and the Anthropocene: Essays on Capitalism’s Destruction of Nature.) Italian translations of thirteen ecosocialist essays by John Bellamy Foster,  Ian Angus, Paul Burkett, and others, on Marxism, metabolic rift and capitalism’s assault on humanity and nature.

Ian Angus
Dispossession and Resistance in the Making of Capitalism

Monthly Review Press, 2023

Paul Le Blanc, author of October Song, writes: “A clear, sweeping, well-informed narrative of the triumph of capitalism in Europe, and the destruction of humanity’s commonwealth for the enrichment of the few. It is also the story of dogged resistance by dispossessed majorities for dignity and freedom, a story that challenges dogmatic understandings of ‘progress.’ There is much to learn here, for activists and scholars alike, about the possibility of a future in which the free development of each will be the condition for the free development of all.”

The War Against the Commons can be pre-ordered now, from most booksellers, and directly from Monthly Review Press.