Five new books for ecosocialists

May 23, 2019

In this month’s round up of new books, Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus looks at books providing two views of food and farming; the origin of climate science denial; the high cost of living well; and a socialist who mostly disagrees with ecosocialism.


Living Well At Others’ Expense: The Hidden Costs of Western Prosperity
By Stephan Lessenich
Polity, 2019

At the heart of developed societies lies an insatiable drive for wealth and prosperity, but the benefits enjoyed by the privileged few come at the expense of the many. Lessenich’s theory of “externalisation” demonstrates how the negative consequences of our lifestyles are directly transferred onto the world’s poorest.

Losing Earth: A Recent History
By Nathaniel Rich
Farrar, Straus & Girard, 2019

By 1979, we knew nearly everything we understand today about climate change — including how to stop it. 

Losing Earth reveals, in previously unreported detail, how scientists fought for action, and the genesis of the fossil fuel industry’s coordinated effort to thwart climate policy through misinformation, propaganda and political influence.

Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers & the Battle for the Future of Food
By Timothy A Wise
New Press, 2019

The world already has the tools to feed itself, without expanding industrial agriculture or adopting genetically modified seeds.

Most of the world is now fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, people with few resources and simple tools but a keen understanding of what to grow and how. These farmers can show the way forward as the world warms and population increases.

The Grand Food Bargain & the Mindless Drive for More
By Kevin D Walker
Island Press, 2019

With industrialisation, we entered into a new relationship with food, a grand food bargain between consumers who want more food with less effort and companies whose profits depend on volume. What have we lost in the process?

Facing The Apocalypse: Arguments for Ecosocialism
By Alan Thornett
Resistance Books, 2019

Not so much “arguments for ecosocialism”, as “arguments with ecosocialists”. Alan Thornett, a long-time socialist leader in Britain, wants the left to be “more engaged with the environmental struggle” — a worthy objective — but most of his book consists of polemics against socialists who are already deeply engaged.

Overall, his way of being “more engaged” involves accepting the views of liberal and lifestyle greens on population, carbon taxes, the role of lifestyle and diet, and other issues.

Thornett is a serious activist, but readers interested in ecosocialism should be aware that his views are, to say the least, contrarian. (See Martin Empson’s review in Resolute Reader for a more extended critique.)

[Inclusion of a book does not imply agreement with any, or all, of its contents.]

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