Five new books for ecosocialists

Friday, June 23, 2017

Below are five new books for the “ecosocialist bookshelf” on climate change and human health, ecology and imperialism, environmental economics, capitalism and universities, and the meaning of hegemony.

They have been compiled by Ian Angus, the editor of Climate and Capitalism, where this first appeared. Angus is the author of A Redder Shade of Green, which has just been published by Monthly Review Press.

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Climate Change and The Health of Nations: Famines, Fevers, and the Fate of Populations
By Anthony McMichael
Oxford University Press, 2017

From the start of our species about five million years ago, human biology has evolved in response to cooling temperatures, new food sources and changing geography. The prosperity and comfort that an agrarian society provides relies on the assumption that the environment will largely remain stable.

Global warming is disrupting this balance, just as other climate-related upheavals have tested human societies throughout history.

This sweeping book is not only a rigorous, innovative, and fascinating exploration of how the climate affects the human condition, but also an urgent call to recognise our species’ reliance on the Earth as it is.

Ecology and Power in the Age of Empire: Europe and the Transformation of the Tropical World
By Corey Ross
Oxford University Press, 2017

This is the first wide-ranging environmental history of the heyday of European imperialism, from the late 19th century to the end of the colonial era.

Covering the overseas empires of all major European powers, Corey Ross argues that tropical environments were not merely a stage on which conquest and subjugation took place, but an essential part of the colonial project. They profoundly shaped the imperial enterprise even as they were shaped by it.

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist
By Kate Raworth
Chelsea Green, 2017

Renegade economist Kate Raworth sets out seven key ways to fundamentally reframe our understanding of what economics is and does.

Named after the now-iconic “doughnut” image that Raworth first drew to depict a sweet spot of human prosperity (an image that appealed to the Occupy movement, the United Nations, eco-activists and business leaders alike), Doughnut Economics offers a radically new compass for guiding global development, government policy, and corporate strategy. It sets new standards for what economic success looks like.

The Capitalist University: The Transformations of Higher Education in the United States, 1945-2016
By Henry Heller
Pluto Press, 2016

The university is in crisis. Skyrocketing student debt, less public financing, weaker tenure, the rise of adjunct labour, battles over the value of the humanities, calls for skills focused instruction — all the problems besetting contemporary higher education in the United States are related.

They can all be traced to one fact: campuses and classrooms are now battlegrounds in the struggle between knowledge for its own sake and commodified learning.

The H-Word: The Peripeteia of Hegemony
By Perry Anderson
Verso, 2017

Few terms are so widely used in the literature of international relations and political science, with so little agreement about their exact meaning, as hegemony.

In the first full historical study of its fortunes as a concept, Perry Anderson traces its emergence in Ancient Greece and its rediscovery during the upheavals of 1848–49 in Germany.

He then follows its chequered career in revolutionary Russia, fascist Italy, Cold War America, Gaullist France, Thatcher’s Britain, post-colonial India, feudal Japan, Maoist China, eventually arriving at the world of the 21st century.

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