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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.

Exclusive excerpts from Ernest Tate's 'Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s'

March 5, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Resistance Books (Britain) has kindly given permission for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish excerpts from long-time Canadian revolutionary socialist Ernie Tate's just-published two-volume memoirs, Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s & 60s. Links readers are urged to order a copy; to do so email terryconway@tiscali.co.uk.

* * *

Preface by Phil Hearse

It’s a great pleasure to write the preface for Volume II of Ernie Tate’s memoirs of the 1950s and ’60s. I first met Ernie and his partner Jess MacKenzie in 1967, when I was part of a small group of young socialists from the London Borough of Ealing recruited to the International Marxist Group (IMG). So it’s the British part of the story that I know well.

Review: Noam Chomsky's weak spot on political power

Power Systems
By Noam Chomsky
Hamish Hamilton (also Penguin), 2013

Review by Alex Miller

February 26, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This volume consists of eight interviews given by Noam Chomsky to David Barsamian in 2010-12 (in fact six of them were given in 2012). As always, Chomsky’s insights into politics and power are penetrating and insightful, and cover a wide range of topics, including the Arab Spring, Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, the role of social media like Facebook and Twitter in the atomisation of society, the Obama administration, and a host of others. As is usual in Chomsky’s books, every factual claim he makes is meticulously referenced in notes at the end.

Exclusive excerpt from John Tully's 'Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike that ... Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement'

February 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following is an excerpt from John Tully's new book, Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike that Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement, published by Monthly Review Press. It is posted with the kind permission of Monthly Review Press. Readers of Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.

* * *

“This is a revolt against oppression: a protest against the brute force which keeps a huge population down in the depths of the most dire degradation, for the benefit of a knot of profit-hunters … this is a strike of the poor against the rich.”—William Morris, 1889

Paul Buhle on a new book about radical Jesus: 'Why didn’t I hear about this in Sunday School?

By Paul Buhle

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
by Reza Aslan
2013: Random House
336 pp.

February 6, 2014 -- Truthout/Rag Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- A better title for this best seller would be: Jesus Against Empire. If the devil can quote scripture, according to tradition, and if the recovery and analysis of assorted versions of what became Bible text (or did not) have become a scholarly big business, then we can hardly expect any version to be accepted by all.

Still, Reza Aslan himself is by now the kind of major media personality who appears on The Colbert Report (and what could be more major?) with views on subjects ranging from Iran (where he was born) to the silliness of Fox News on Christmas.

Lionsgate has purchased the film rights to his new book, Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and he is reportedly scripting a television series for FX. Conservatives gripe at his Jesus, while senior Biblical scholars seem to be complaining that they never got the earthly attention and rewards now ladled upon him.

Adam Hanieh on his new book: 'Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East'

Adam Hanieh interviewed by Jadaliyya

January 8, 2014

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.]

Jadaliyya: What made you write this book and what are its key themes?

Adam Hanieh: The book was written over the course of 2011 and 2012 and was intended as a contribution to some of the debates that emerged in these first years of the Arab uprisings.

I did not want to write another narrative account of the uprisings themselves. This was partly because these were events still unfolding and shifting rapidly from day to day; it was also because there had already been several very useful books published along these lines, including, of course, Jadaliyya’s The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings.

Britain: Looking back in anger -- the miners’ strike 30 years on

January 5, 2014 -- Anticapitalist Initiative -- With new papers released by the National Archives about the British miners’ strike the Anticapitalist Initiative’s Chris Strafford caught up with Harry Paterson, author of the upcoming book Look Back in Anger: The Miners’ Strike in Nottinghamshire 30 years on, to discuss what we have learnt.

* * *

Chris Strafford: With the release of documents from the Cabinet Office and Prime Minister’s Office from 1984 detailing discussions and actions of the Thatcher government in the 1984-85 miners’ strike we have got some insight into how the attack on the miners was carried out. What were your initial thoughts once you had finished reading the documents?

On the causes of totalitarianism

By Chris Slee

December 12, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Conservatives often claim that totalitarianism is the inevitable result of attempts to radically transform society. For example, Waleed Aly (a Monash University academic and prolific media commentator) equates communism, Nazism and radical Islam, claiming that they are all “utopian” movements that, if successful in gaining power, lead to totalitarianism:

The struggle for ecology under socialism

Models of Nature
By Douglas R. Weiner
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000, 1988.

Review by Ben Courtice

November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The USSR was not known, in the West, as a pioneer of ecology. Unfortunately, it was known more for the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident, for acid rain and air pollution, and oil spills and the pollution of unique environments such as the Aral sea.

What if the USSR had been different? What if it had tried to preserve its natural ecosystems, after the tsar was overthrown?

It is little known today, but there was a small yet promising movement of scientific ecology and nature preservation in Russia, with roots in the tsarist order of the 19th century, which flourished in the revolutionary USSR of the 1920s.

In defence of Murray Bookchin

Recovering Bookchin: Social ecology and the crises of our time
By Andy Price
New Compass Press: 2012

 

Reviewed by Ian Angus

October 30, 2013 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- In June 1987, long-time anarchist and environmental activist Murray Bookchin was keynote speaker at the first national meeting of US Greens in Amherst, Massachusetts. Before his talk, Bookchin placed a copy of a long article he had just written on every seat. In the article and in his talk – both titled “Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology: A Challenge for the Ecology Movement” – Bookchin described “two conflicting tendencies” in the environmental movement.

On one side, “deeply concerned naturalists, communitarians, social radicals and feminists” were challenging the “hierarchical, sexist, class-ruled” society responsible for environmental destruction, and developing a “coherent, and socially oriented body of ideas that can best be called social ecology”.

The talented and reviled Mr Pepper (Comintern agent)

A Communist Odyssey: The Life of József Pogány/John Pepper
By Thomas Sakmyster
Budapest-New York: Central European University Press, 2012
Photos, bibliography, index; 249 pp.

Reviewed by Dan La Botz

October 2013 -- New Politics, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- During normal times in a capitalist society, skill and drive are harnessed by the corporations, the labour union bureaucracy and the political parties, but when the crisis comes a revolutionary party must harness the most talented and most ambitious for its purposes. The idealistic and the opportunistic, the selfless and the self-aggrandising, the ruthless and the kind, the brave and the cowardly among those most determined and striving souls must somehow be made use of for the higher purposes of the revolution and ultimately for of all of humanity. The revolutionary movement must bring out the best in them, for we are the only material we have.

Jonathan Sperber's new bio seeks to bury Karl Marx, not praise him

Karl Marx, A Nineteenth Century Life
By Jonathan Sperber,
Liveright Publishing, 2013

Click for more on Karl Marx and Marxist theory.

By Barry Healy

September 26, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In life Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life and in death he has likewise been less than tranquil. Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of communist revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by his admirers and slandered by his bourgeois enemies. Both misrepresented him.

His enormous collection of notes and half-formulated writings were bequeathed first to his long-time political collaborator Frederick Engels and later to the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Engels laboured long and hard and managed to produce the second and third volumes of Capital.

Barry Sheppard's SWP histories an 'eye-opener' for young socialist activist

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more reviews of Barry Sheppard's books, visit HERE and SWPhistory.com.]

By Daniel Lopez

Robert Austin on 'Latin America's Turbulent Transitions' (video)

June 16, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Latin America expert Robert Austin gives an information-packed review of the new book, Latin America's Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism, by Roger Burbach, Michael Fox and Federico Fuentes. The book is a detailed exposition and analysis of the powerful social movements challenging Imperialism across the South American continent.

Robert Austin is an honorary fellow at the school of history, philosophy, religion and classics, University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Latin America's Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism
By Roger Burbach, Michael Fox & Federico Fuentes
Zed Books, 2013.

Order at Resistance Books.

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