Ian Angus takes a look at five new books of interest to ecosocialists, looking at urban climate change, past mass extinctions, tropical rainforests, religious anti-science, and the end of Arctic ice. Angus is the editor of Climate and Capitalism, where this list first appeared, and author of the new book A Redder Shade of Green.
At Tsarskoe Selo, the Romanov monarchy’s palatial rural retreat where the former “Tsar of all Russia”, Nicholas II, was detained after being forced to abdicate by the February 1917 revolution, the once all-powerful autocrat found much to get annoyed about.
In particular, Nicholas disliked the military bands that serenaded him with rousing renditions of the anthem of liberation, The Marseillaise, and, with black humour, Chopin’s Funeral March.
Sound System: The Political Power of Music
Pluto Press Left Book Club, 2017
210 pp, $38.99
As a teenager, British writer and musician Dave Randall unwittingly attended a music festival in his home town where he heard the Special AKA sing “Free Nelson Mandela”. He experienced an epiphany.
“I had no idea who Nelson Mandela was,” he writes, “but I knew by the end of the first chorus I wanted him to be free.”
Creating Freedom: Power, Control & the Fight for our Future
By Raoul Martinez
Cannongate Publishing, Edinburgh
2016, 496 pages
“Free markets, free trade, free elections, free media, free thought, free speech, free will. The language of freedom pervades our lives, framing the most urgent issues of our time and the deepest questions about who we are and wish to be.”
Miss Muriel Matters
ABC Books, 2017
In 1909, Muriel Matters planned to rain on the parade of King Edward VII to the ceremonial opening of parliament. She aimed to drop a shower of “Votes for Women” leaflets on his head from a chartered air balloon trailing streamers in the white, gold and green of the Women’s Freedom League (WFL).
Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons & the Transformation to Postcapitalism
By Massimo De Angelis
456 pp, $20.76
Massimo De Angelis, an Italian academic based at the University of East London, has produced a thought-provoking guide to “commons” as a means of transforming and ultimately displacing capitalism. Commons, referring to collective forms of ownership, are increasingly seen as a way of moving beyond both oppressive states and exploitative markets.
In the early 1970s, an unlikely alliance of builders labourers, environmentalists, residents and LGBTIQ activists united to support the Green (and Pink) bans which helped save huge swathes of Sydney, and other parts of New South Wales, from the wrecking ball.
Shashi Tharoor’s brilliant speech in 2015 to the Oxford Union on the motion “This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies” went viral, receiving coverage across the world.
Tharoor, an MP for the Indian National Congress, former senior United Nations official, novelist and scholar, has now expanded the argument he made at Oxford into Inglorious Empire.
Until August 27
Edited by James Bennett, Nancy Cushing & Erik Eklund
New South Publishers, 2015
Exhibitions like RAD, now showing at the Newcastle Museum, and Radical Newcastle, the book that inspired it, help each generation of activists remember and learn the lessons of previous struggles.
The Vatican Treasurer, George Pell, could turn out to be the Lance Armstrong of the Australian Catholic Church.
Like Armstrong, the world’s former top cyclist who furiously denied being a drug cheat until he was eventually rumbled by dogged investigative journalists. Pell, Australia’s top Catholic, has maintained his innocence in the face of mounting allegations that he covered up an epidemic of sexual abuse of children by Australian Catholic priests.
He has now been charged with such crimes himself.