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Naomi Klein: ‘Only mass social movements can save us’ from climate catastrophe

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

By Naomi Klein
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014

Review by John Riddell

October 20, 2014 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite endless conferences, treaties and solemn promises, greenhouse gas emissions have risen 61% since 1990, and the rate of increase is accelerating. As Naomi Klein tells us in her new book, This Changes Everything, we are now experiencing an “early twenty-first century emissions explosion”.

The reason for this ominous failure, she shows, is that the present capitalist profit system itself is incompatible with climate and environmental stability. Our only hope is the rise of mass movements with the combined goals of saving the environment and achieving social justice.

This Changes Everything is a rich resource of fact and argument: it’s a book that every climate justice activist should read, use and share.

‘The Right is right’

Review: Behind China's wildcat strike wave

Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China
By Eli Friedman
Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2014.

By Jane Slaughter

October 15, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China is the world centre of wildcat strikes—given that no strike in China is officially allowed under the law. The government doesn’t issue statistics, but one source found 1171 strikes and worker protests from June 2011 through 2013.

Grenada: ‘A big revolution in a small country’

We Move Tonight: The Making of the Grenada Revolution
By Joseph Ewart Layne
St. George’s, Grenada: Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation, 2014
Paperback 203 pp.
ISBN: 9781492724582

Review by Laurence Goodchild

October 3, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “A big revolution in a small country” is allegedly how Fidel Castro described the overthrow of Grenada’s authoritarian government when being questioned on the matter back in 1979[i]. Grenada, a country which has a population of no more than 110,000 and a land mass of only 133 square miles, certainly is small. Yet the revolutionary transformation of the island between the years of 1979 and 1983 sent profound shockwaves throughout the Caribbean and beyond; well into the metropolitan centres of imperial power.

The economic and social progress made in those years is well documented and can largely be attributed to a state-led development strategy, expansion of participatory welfare programs and an independent foreign policy[ii]. These features of the revolution, which made it a beacon for all those struggling against colonial and neo-colonial practices, are what made it “big”. Furthermore, it is these features, rather than any illusionary threat, which undoubtedly led the USA to invade Grenada in 1983.

A lesson in humility for ‘New Atheists’

Christianity, Islam and Atheism: Reflections on Religion, Society and Politics
By Michael Cooke.
Sydney: Resistance Books, 2014.
Order HERE.

Review by Ben Courtice

September 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For a time I stopped referring to myself as an atheist in public. I was intensely embarrassed by seeing ads on buses promoting atheism around the time of the World Atheist Conference in Melbourne. For a while I simply became “not religious” for public purposes. I found it embarrassing because public evangelism is the one thing that particularly galls me about religion.

I didn't change my opinions, but this book does a good job of outlining why I felt as I did, in far more insightful terms than I ever thought of.

Barry Sheppard on Daniel Bensaid's and Ernie Tate's memoirs of the 'tumultuous' 1960s

Paris, May-June 1968.

An Impatient Life, a Political Memoir
By Daniel Bensaid
London: Verso, 2013

Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s: a Memoir: volume 2, Britain 1965-1970
By Ernest Tate
London: Resistance Books, 2014

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal readers can read an excerpt HERE.

Read Barry Sheppard's review of Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s: volume 1 HERE

Reviewed by Barry Sheppard

September 9, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- These books cover the impact of the worldwide youth radicalisation that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s upon two sections of the Fourth International, one in France and the other in Britain. In both countries, this was a period of tumultuous events, including the US invasion of Vietnam and the international movement that erupted against it.

Marxism and feminism: Was Marx a ‘class determinist’?

Marx on Gender and the Family: A Critical Study
By Heather A. Brown
Haymarket Books, 2013
232 pp.

Review by Barry Healy

September 1, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For the most part the Marxist movement has a had a troubled relationship with the women’s liberation movement. While some Marxists (such as those organised in Australia’s Socialist Alliance) have no problem with feminism, others have choked on the thought of a rebellious movement that does not fit neatly into their paradigm of a workers-led revolution.

Review: 'In Place of Fear II: A Socialist Programme for an Independent Scotland'

In Place of Fear II: A Socialist Programme for an Independent Scotland
By Jim Sillars
Vagabond Voices Publishing, 2014

Review by Alex Miller

August 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Jim Sillars is a well-known and well-respected figure on the Scottish political scene. He was elected (UK) Labour Party MP for South Ayrshire in 1970 but subsequently shifted away from mainstream Labour Party politics as a result of his commitment to devolution from Westminster and the setting up of a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. It's worth remembering that the infamous "40% rule" that blocked the narrow majority vote in favour of devolution in the 1979 referendum was the work of UK Labour Party MP George Cunningham (with the support of fellow Labour MPs George Robertson, Robin Cook and Tam Dalyell).

Ian Birchall reviews Ernie Tate's 'Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s'

Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s: A Memoir
By Ernest Tate
Volume 1, Canada 1955-1965
Vol. 1: ISBN 978-0-902869-69-1; EAN: 9780902869691
Vol. 2: ISBN 978-0-902869-60-8; EAN: 9780902869608
Resistance Books, London, 2014

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal readers can read an excerpt HERE. To order a copy, email terryconway@tiscali.co.uk.

By Ian Birchall

Salvador Allende: Revolutionary democrat

Salvador Allende: Revolutionary Democrat
by Victor Figueroa Clark
London: Pluto Press, 2013
paperback 164 pp.
ISBN: 9780745333076

Review by Laurence Goodchild

August 5, 2014 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In this succinct and well-researched book, Victor Figueroa Clark achieves numerous accomplishments. While detailing a vivid account of Salvador Allende’s life, Clark also provides a much needed historical context to Allende’s leadership of the Popular Unity government, and addresses his political strategy in a manner that is highly relevant to the contemporary “pink tide” in Latin America[i].

Class conflict in the shadow of Gallipoli: What government propaganda won’t tell you

Review by Chris Slee

In the Shadow of Gallipoli
By Robert Bollard
NewSouth, Sydney 2013

June 3, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 25, 1915, Australian troops landed at Gallipoli on Turkey’s coast. They were part of a British imperial force aiming to capture Constantinople (now called Istanbul) and the land alongside the narrow waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. It was hoped that this would enable British ships to enter the Black Sea and bring supplies to Russia, which was an ally of Britain in World War I.

The plan failed. After hanging onto a narrow strip of land for eight months, the Australians (along with the rest of the invading force) withdrew after suffering heavy casualties.

With the approach of the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, the Australian government is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commemorating this event.

Breaking a path for the '60s radicalisation: John Riddell reviews Ernest Tate's 'Revolutionary Activism'

Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s: A Memoir
By Ernest Tate
Volume 1, Canada 1955-1965
Vol. 1: ISBN 978-0-902869-69-1; EAN: 9780902869691
Vol. 2: ISBN 978-0-902869-60-8; EAN: 9780902869608
Resistance Books, London, 2014

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal readers can read an excerpt HERE. To order a copy, email terryconway@tiscali.co.uk.

Review by John Riddell

Paul Le Blanc reviews Daniel Bensaïd's memoir, 'An Impatient Life'

An Impatient Life: A Memoir
by Daniel Bensaïd, translated by David Fernbach, with an introduction by Tariq Ali,
Verso Books, 2014.

Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE. You can download an excerpt HERE (PDF).

Review by Paul Le Blanc

May 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010) was one of the most respected theorists to emerge from the 1960s radicals of Western Europe. Always inclined to think “outside the box”, waving aside venerable dogmas and shrugging off standard formulations, he found fresh ways, energised with the aura of unorthodoxy, to express and apply truths from the revolutionary Marxist tradition.

Two reviews: ‘Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism’

Review by John Riddell

April 21, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- A new and outstanding book by Umair Muhammad, Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism, presents a strong case for the necessity of socialism to counter the impending calamity of global warming.

Muhammad, an MA student at York University in Toronto, ends his 174-page text by quoting anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin: “The bold thought first, and the bold deed will not fail to follow.” Confronting Injustice is indeed bold in exposing all the market-based evasions and half-measures urged upon those seeking to end environmental destruction.

Muhammad is keenly aware of how hard it is for the newly radicalised to find a personal path in the face of immense social contradictions. The first half of his book responds to the issue posed by its subtitle, “Social Activism in the Age of Individualism”, presenting an extended discussion of moral philosophy for social activists.

Age of individualism/age of conformity

Martin Empson's 'Land and Labour': A Marxist view of ecology and human history

Land & Labour: Marxism, Ecology and Human History
By Martin Empson
London: Bookmarks Publications, 2014

Review by Simon Butler

April 4, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- With several serious global environmental crises bearing down on us, the question of our age must be “what can we do?” Martin Empson urges us to look into the past and into the future for answers in his new book, Land and Labour. His message is that human destruction of its environment is not inevitable, although it is very likely if we don’t draw upon the best and worst examples from humanity’s diverse experience.

He writes:

What did that ‘NASA-funded collapse study’ really say?

The four formulas in the HANDY Model
Can four equations explain the collapse of civilisations?

By Ian Angus

March 31, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- If hundreds of newspaper and online reports are to be believed, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Agency have proven that Western civilisation will collapse unless we radically reduce inequality and shift to renewable resources.

That would be important news if it were true. Is it?

Barry Sheppard reviews Ernest Tate's 'Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s'

Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s: A Memoir
By Ernest Tate
Volume 1, Canada 1955-1965
Vol. 1: ISBN 978-0-902869-69-1; EAN: 9780902869691
Vol. 2: ISBN 978-0-902869-60-8; EAN: 9780902869608
Resistance Books, London, 2014

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal readers can read an excerpt HERE. To order a copy, email terryconway@tiscali.co.uk.

Review by Barry Sheppard

March 30, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- European Trotskyists writing recently about this movement tend to give short shrift to Trotskyism in North America, in the US and Canada. An example is An Impatient Life by French leader Daniel Bensaid, who died this year.

Understanding the Arab rebellions: Adam Hanieh's 'Lineages of revolt'

Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East
By Adam Hanieh
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2013

[For more articles by or about Adam Hanieh, click HERE.]

Review by Chris Slee

March 15, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2011 saw uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They were portrayed in the Western media as rebellions against dictatorial regimes and for democracy. But that is only part of the story. Political discontent was combined with economic discontent, as reflected in the widespread slogan, “bread, freedom and social justice”.

Australia: How the Aboriginal people managed 'the biggest estate on Earth'

Review by Coral Wynter

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia
By Bill Gammage

Allen & Unwin, 434 pp., 2012

March 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is an extraordinary book, one that will increase your appreciation of the country’s first people, as we begin to understand their amazing knowledge and sheer genius in the way they cared for the land, or as Bill Gammage calls it the “biggest estate on Earth”.

Gammage describes with many examples how the Aborigines looked after the land. No corner was forgotten, including deserts, rainforests and rocky outcrops, across the entire continent for at least 60,000 years until the colonisers began to destroy all this labour after their arrival in 1788.

Has King Environmentalism no green clothes?

Green illusions: The dirty secrets of clean energy and the future of environmentalism,
by Ozzie Zehner
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012
437 pages, $29.95 ISBN-978-0-8032-3775-9 (paper)

Review by Don Fitz

March 9, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Should a post-capitalist society dedicate itself to using “green” energy or concentrate on using less energy? Environmentalists, trade unionists and many socialists often shout “Green energy!” in unison. Ozzie Zehner says that they could well be barking up the wrong tree.

Zehner’s Green Illusions emphasises that wrong solutions are not “solutions” at all. Though he focuses on shortcomings of reformist environmentalists, his critiques could also apply to many “revolutionary” socialists whose understanding of energy economics can be as empty as that of corporate executives.

A visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Zehner first appeared on national TV with the hybrid car he designed and built. Then he saw the light. The book is from the point of view of someone whose life work has been understanding a myriad of technical issues but who is able to present them in a way that the non-techie can follow.

Review of Althusser’s ‘On the Reproduction of Capitalism’

Review by Derek Wall

March 2, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Verso has just published the English translation of the French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser’s book On the Reproduction of Capitalism. Althusser, who was arguably “the Marxist philosopher” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, is perhaps best known for his essay, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.

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