Reading for reds and greens

Ecosocialist Bookshelf, July 2024

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Six new books on neoliberal ideology, oceans in crisis, Michigan’s water wars, and the corrupt food industry

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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!) it says. Climate & Capitalism has received complimentary copies of some of these books, but we do not receive any payment for reviews or for reader purchases.

George Monbiot & Peter Hutchison
The Secret History of Neoliberalism

Penguin Random House
Neoliberalism, the dominant ideology of our time, is widely presented as some kind of natural law: that unregulated capitalist competition produces the best possible results for all. But neoliberalism is neither inevitable nor immutable. Monbiot and Hutchison argue that it was conceived and fostered as a deliberate means of changing the nature of power, subordinating democracy to the power of money and preying on people’s hopelessness and desperation.

Helen Czerski
How the Ocean Works

W.W. Norton
All of Earth’s oceans are a single engine powered by sunlight, driving huge flows of energy, water, life, and raw materials. Physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski shows how temperature, salinity, gravity, and tectonic plates interact in a complex dance, to support life from tiny plankton to gigantic whales. Understanding the ocean’s vital role in the Earth system is an essential part of protecting the planet from catastrophe in the Anthropocene.

Austin Frerick
Money, Power, and the Corruption of America’s Food Industry

Island Press
The deregulation of the American food industry has consolidated wealth in the hands of a handful of tycoons, and hollowed out rural towns and local businesses. Frerick paints a stark portrait of the consequences of corporate consolidation, and argues that a fair, healthy, and prosperous food industry is possible, if we take back power from the barons who have stolen it.

Olive Heffernan
Greed, Power and the Battle for the Unclaimed Ocean

Greystone Books
Home to some of the richest and most biodiverse environments on the planet, the oceans are also home to massive exploitation. Heffernan uncovers the truth behind deeply exploitative fishing practices, and the potentially devastating impact of deep-sea mining. A powerful and deeply researched manifesto calling for the protection and preservation of this final frontier.

Yanis Varoufakis
What Killed Capitalism

Melville House Publishing
“Cloud serfs, cloud proles and cloud vassals of the world unite!” Varoufakis argues that big tech has replaced capitalism’s twin pillars — markets and profit — with platforms and rents, reshaping our lives and the world. In his view this revolutionary transformation enslaves our minds and rewrites the rules of global power, and, must be reversed. “We have nothing to lose but our mind-chains!”

Michael Mascarenhas
Environmental Racism and Michigan’s Water War

University of California Press
Drawing from three years of fieldwork in Flint and Detroit, Mascarenhas exposes how an authoritarian state fought to maintain white supremacy at any cost — including poisoning an entire city and shutting off water to thousands of people. A powerful account of the ties between urban austerity policies, environmental harm, and white supremacist agendas in predominantly Black and brown cities.

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