Five new books for ecosocialists

November 2, 2018
Cover of Michael D Yates' book Can the Working Class Change the World?

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus takes a look at five new books for ecosocialists. Inclusion does not necessarily indicate agreement with a book’s contents.


  1. Can The Working Class Change The World?
    By Michael D Yates
    Monthly Review Press, 2018

Some radicals deny that a working class in the sense meant by Karl Marx even exists — or, if it does, that it is so divided by gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and location that it will never be a radical force for change.

Michael Yates has no illusions, but he is also certain that working people can overcome their divisions and fight for “a fundamentally new society, one with grassroots democracy, economic planning, a sustainable environment, meaningful work, and substantive equality”.

He provides a sophisticated and readable account of the state of the working class in modern capitalist society, and how it can mobilise its own power to change the world.

  1. Plagues & the Paradox Of Progress: Why the World Is Getting Healthier in Worrisome Ways
    By Thomas J Bollyky
    MIT Press, 2018

Recent reductions in infectious disease have not been accompanied by the same improvements in income, job opportunities and governance that occurred with these changes in wealthier countries decades ago. Thomas Bollyky explores the paradox in our fight against infectious disease: the world is getting healthier in ways that should make us worry.

  1. Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilization

By Brian Fagan
Yale University Press, 2018

Fishing was an indispensable and often overlooked element in the growth of civilisation. This history of the long interaction of humans and seafood shows how fishing fed human settlement, rising social complexity, the development of cities, and ultimately the modern world.

  1. Burning Up: A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption
    By Simon Pirani
    Pluto Press, 2018

More than half of all fossil fuel ever used was burned in the past 50 years. Dispelling explanations that blame consumerism or population growth as the main problem, Simon Pirani shows how fossil fuels are consumed through technological, social and economic systems. He makes the case that only radical system change can end the fossil fuel economy.

  1. Seeds Of Resistance: The Fight to Save our Food Supply
    By Mark Schapiro
    Skyhorse Publishing (Hot Books), 2018

Three quarters of the seed varieties on Earth in 1900 were extinct by 2015. More than half of all commercially-traded seeds are controlled by three multinational agri-chemical companies. An investigative report on the monopolisation of our food, and the struggle over the Earth’s most important resource.

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