August readings

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 14, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzales

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory. 

We try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

This month, we once again feature a debate on eco-fascism—in the limelight once again after the contents of the El Paso shooter’s manifesto were released. From The Guardian to the GQ, many authors sought to explain the phenomenon of white nationalist environmentalism. On the other hand, authors like Jesse Goldstein and Max Ajl called attention to the danger of eco-fascism under the guise of high-tech eco-modernism.

With the panic around the Amazon forest fires, we of course are also featuring some responses and news around it. Many readers may be unaware that their own governments are, despite international outcry, finalizing free trade agreements with Bolsonaro’s Brazilian government as we speak. We also encourage you to look through our past newsletters for more news and analysis on Brazil—we’ve been actively trying to feature the issue since Bolsonaro’s election. 

The good news is that there are some inspiring uprisings around the world. In Mexico, the Zapatistas have announced new rebel municipalities. In Puerto Rico, citizens’ assemblies are gathering to address their economic and political crisis. In Sápmi/Sweden, land defenders are setting up blockades against mining. In Indonesia, women and forest people are fighting together to resist land grabbing. And the Black Socialists of America have put together a map of autonomous spaces and initiatives in the United States.

As usual, we also feature articles on new politics around the world and radical municipalism, though news about degrowth was largely absent this August—because the whole movement is on holiday? 

 

Uneven Earth updates

Why a hipster, vegan, green start-up service economy lifestyle cannot be sustainable  | Essay

Report card on Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal  | Analysis

Micro effect | Not afraid of the ruins

A toy keyboard for a Coca-Cola bottle of gas: Amadeus’ story  | Not afraid of the ruins

The founding of New Crockett, Texas  | Not afraid of the ruins

In the land of the rising sun, climate efforts are falling behind | Report-back



Top 5 articles to read

Progress and its discontents A reasoned argument against Steven Pinker’s progress narrative. 

Potosí: the mountain of silver that was the first global city 

Fight for the Future On Mauna Kea hundreds are holding a refuge and defending land from the proponents of false progress.

The Misogyny of Climate Deniers

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally? An essay by Brian Tokar on contemporary strategies for local-based action and the political theory behind it, with responses by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Jackie Smith, Aaron Vansintjan, David Barkin, David Bollier, Arturo Escobar, Richard Heinberg, and others. 



News you might’ve missed

Mexico: EZLN Announces Creation of New Rebel Municipalities. And their statement.

Fracking Boom in U.S. and Canada Largely to Blame for Global Methane Spike, Study Finds

The struggle in Kallak/Gállok In Jokkmokk municipality in Sápmi/Sweden, land defenders protecting Indigenous land and old-growth forest set up a blockade camp to try to stop Beowulf Mining from prospecting for iron ore.

Enemies of the State? How governments and businesses silence land and environmental defenders, a new report by Global Witness. And Environmental Defenders—Often Fighting Agribusiness—Are Being Violently Silenced Around the World.

Climate crisis reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, says IPCC

Indonesia will build its new capital city in Borneo as Jakarta sinks into the Java Sea

Farmers groan as Chinese firm grabs land in northern Nigeria

How the Women of Indonesia Rose up Against Land Grabbing



Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Thoughts from a political ecologist on the Amazon fires

Brazil’s indigenous Waiapi tribe guards the Amazon

Leaked documents show Brazil’s Bolsonaro has grave plans for Amazon rainforest

Current negotiations for Free Trade Agreements between Brazil and the West are highlighting the hypocrisy of Western nations in denouncing the wildfires in the Amazon.
EU piles pressure on Brazil over Amazon fires

Brazilian free trade deal ignites fury

Slovakia may block the EU-Mercosur deal over Amazon fires

Canada will continue trade negotiations with Mercosur, despite the current Amazon policy of Brazil



Eco-fascism(s)

In response to the eco-fascist manifesto of the El Paso, Texas shooter, there has been renewed attention to the phenomenon of eco-fascism. We compiled many of the analyses here, thanks to Peter Staudenmaier for the links.

‘Bees, not refugees’: the environmentalist roots of anti-immigrant bigotry

Eco-fascism: justifications of terrorist violence in the Christchurch mosque shooting and the El Paso shooting

What Is Eco-Fascism, the Ideology Behind Attacks in El Paso and Christchurch?

The El Paso Manifesto: Where Racism and Eco-Facism Meet

How Climate Change Is Becoming a Deadly Part of White Nationalism

White nationalism’s solution to climate change: fewer brown people

White nationalists’ extreme solution to the coming environmental apocalypse, by Alexandra Minna Stern, author of Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination (Beacon 2019). 

Don’t Let the Far-Right Co-Opt the Environmental Struggle

The Eco-Fascism of the El Paso Shooter Haunts the Techno-Optimism of the Left

Eco-Fascisms and Eco-Socialisms by Max Ajl, whose “report card” on Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal was published in Uneven Earth this month.

And this older article by Kate Aronoff is still relevant: The European Far Right’s Environmental Turn



Where we’re at: analysis

Marx’s notebooks and the origins of Marxist ecology

Why Has the (Western) Notion of Progress Been Sanitized of Slavery, Colonization, and Exploitation? Or, How Do You Grieve For a Holocaust That Never Happened?

The Anthropocene Is a Joke: On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch

Appropriating the Alien: A Critique of Xenofeminism



Just think about it…

Direct CO2 capture machines could use ‘a quarter of global energy’ in 2100

The machine always wins: what drives our addiction to social media

Nuclear power somehow always makes a loss

Unsavoury science behind lab-grown meat

The colonial origins of extractivism in Africa

After the wildfire: treating the mental health crisis triggered by climate change and this other piece on Greenlanders’ crisis of mental health: Life on thin ice: mental health at the heart of the climate crisis

Renewable energy and the power grid: the key is changing when we use energy

Why farming needs a regional planning approach



New politics

Cooperatives see revival amid growing demand for economic democracy

How the Women of Standing Rock Are Building Sovereign Economies

A Charter for the Social Solidarity Economy



Radical municipalism

Puerto Rico: The Shift from Mass Protests to People’s Assemblies. In the wake of the massive demonstrations that forced the resignation of Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rossello, dozens of people’s assemblies have sprouted across the island to discuss the critical next stage in the struggle for popular democracy.

Socialize the Grid. Energy companies are more concerned with raking in profits than delivering affordable, sustainable energy. We need to wrest control away from them — and socialize the electrical grid.

Montreal’s bottom-up social democracy

Report: high speed rail could help provide affordable housing

Inclusive cities start with safe streets

‘Capital City’ on How Planning Follows Real Estate

An Alternative History of the ‘Radical’ Suburbs

In Medias Res: Local Socialism and Civil Society

Urban flooding is a manmade disaster from top to bottom

‘Bizarre and Wonderful: Murray Bookchin, Eco-Anarchist’



Resources

African Philosophy & the Enlightenment Ethiopian philosopher Zera Yacob came up with philosophy that prefigured Enlightenment thinkers Hume, Descartes, Locke, Kant, and the US Founding Fathers

If You Hate Capitalism You Will Love This Map A feature in Vice Magazine of a map put together by Black Socialists of America of cooperative economy and autonomous democratic initiatives

Abolition in Canada Syllabus

Highway to Hell: a reading list for our time of climate crisis

Was Sweden Headed Toward Socialism in the 1970s? On the messy making of what is often seen as a Social Democratic utopia: from the post-war boom to the pressure from radical social movements in the 1960s and -70s.



This newsletter is put together by Anna Biren (@annacbrn), Rut Elliot Blomqvist (@RutElliotB), Joanna Pope (@DegrowthMemes), and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.

July readings

Processing of local rice by a women’s cooperative in Dioro, Mali. Photo: FAO/Michela Paganini, via GRAIN


Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory. 

We try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

We are back with a new list of readings! In July, we collected articles on Brazil under Bolsonaro, global land conflicts and the Plantationocene, agro-ecology and food politics, the fall of the discipline of economics, and activist academia. As usual, you’ll find plenty of material on new politics, radical municipalism, degrowth and the Green New Deal, and plastics and waste; and we’re featuring some good reads on utopia, sci-fi, and the apocalypse. We also launched an exciting new project we’ve been working on behind the scenes for a while: Resources for a better future, a glossary aimed at making the tools needed to build a just and ecological society accessible to people outside of academic and activist circles.

 

Uneven Earth updates

Resources for a better future. We launched a new series! We’re looking for people to write easy-to-read, clear, and opinionated entries defining some of the most important concepts in political ecology, alternative economics, and environmental justice.

Super glue | Link | ‘Fuck, he can do this every single day. Why the fuck does he have to do it? What are we going to do? There’s no point in rushing like this and trying to save him each time he gets into a dark mood’, Ivan said, looking out of the taxi window.

Redwashing capital | Link | Left tech bros are honing Marx into a capitalist tool



Top 5 articles to read

Indigenous maize: who owns the rights to Mexico’s ‘wonder’ plant?

The dark side of renewable energy

Five myths about Chernobyl, and, related: Radiation in parts of the Marshall Islands is far higher than Chernobyl, study says

101 notes on the LA Tenants Union

Food sovereignty is Africa’s only solution to climate chaos



News you might’ve missed

Why a fight to protect a volcano sacred to Native Hawaiians is our fight and Mauna Kea day 7 – crowd swells into the thousands

Hundreds of thousands demand Puerto Rico’s governor resign

Puerto Rico, the oldest colony in the world, gives the world a master class on mobilization

Why ocean acidification could make some geoengineering schemes irrelevant

Planting ‘billions of trees’ isn’t going to stop climate change

One climate crisis disaster happening every week, UN warns. Countries in the Global South must prepare now for profound impact. 

In Somalia, the climate emergency is already here. The world cannot ignore it. Increasingly severe and frequent droughts are threatening the lives of millions of Somalis.

Starvation deaths of 200 reindeer in Arctic caused by climate crisis, say researchers. Comparable death toll has been recorded only once before.

‘Protesters as terrorists’: growing number of US states turn anti-pipeline activism into a crime 



Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Bolsanaro stands by as 20,000 miners invade the Yanomami Amazon Reserve

Brazil: Amazon state’s new law enables land thieves, critics say

Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed

‘He wants to destroy us’: Bolsonaro poses gravest threat in decades, Amazon tribes say



Global land conflicts and the Plantationocene

Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing reflect on the Plantationocene

Heart of Ecuador’s Yasuni, home to uncontacted tribes, opens for oil drilling

Two groups of Cambodian villagers protest over land disputes

Cameroon’s palm oil of discontent

Report implicates Gov’t officials in massive land grabs

The World Bank lending strategy must aim to place people above profit

Central Africa’s rainforests and people suffering from the expansion of palm oil and rubber plantations

Land, environmental activist killings surge in Guatemala: report



Agro-ecology and food politics

Monica White on food justice in the past, present, future

Putting pigs in the shade: the radical farming system banking on trees

Landscape with beavers

How we can change our food systems: Integrated Food Policy

Venezuelan food houses: a last trench against US blockade

Dalit identity and food – memories of trauma on a plate

Agroecology as innovation and Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition

Our veggie gardens won’t feed us in a real crisis



Where we’re at: analysis

Dancing with grief

Political scenarios for climate disaster

On flooding: drowning the culture in sameness

AI applications, chips, deep tech, and geopolitics in 2019: The stakes have never been higher

The ‘giant sucking sound’ of NAFTA: Ross Perot was ridiculed as alarmist in 1992 but his warning turned out to be prescient

5 myths about global poverty



Just think about it…

The philosophy of low-tech: a conversation with Kris De Decker

The tyranny of lawns and landlords

Gardening games are blossoming in turbulent times

When ancient DNA gets politicized

‘Climate despair’ is making people give up on life

Farmers’ markets have new unwelcome guests: fascists

We should never have called it Earth

Elephants’ diets help forests to thrive… and store more carbon 



New politics

We can’t expand airports after declaring a climate emergency. Related: Seven strategies for the degrowth of aviation and To fly or not to fly? The environmental cost of air travel

Turn on, tune in, rise up

What role do cooperatives and the “solidarity economy” play in class struggle?

Ecological politics for the working class

Shifting ownership for the energy transition in the Green New Deal: a transatlantic proposal

The tactics Hong Kong protesters use to fortify the front lines

In the age of extinction, who is extreme? A response to Policy Exchange in defense of Extinction Rebellion

Remembering the Chipko movement: the women-led Indigenous stuggle



Radical municipalism

Why suburbia sucks

Cities are beginning to own up to the climate impacts of what they consume

The problem with community land trusts

Yesterday’s tomorrow today: what we can learn from past urban visions

Finding the future in radical rural America

I’m an engineer, and I’m not buying into ‘smart’ cities

Berlin buys 670 flats on Karl-Marx-Allee from private owner and The causes and consequences of Berlin’s rapid gentrification



Degrowth and the Green New Deal

Greenwashing the status quo: ‘European green deal’ falls woefully short of what’s needed

Decoupling is dead! Long live degrowth! Also see Decoupling debunked – Evidence and arguments against green growth as a sole strategy for sustainability and The decoupling delusion: rethinking growth and sustainability



Plastics and waste

The plastic industry’s fight to keep polluting the world

What you think about landfill and recycling is probably totally wrong

‘The odour of burning wakes us’: inside the Philippines’ Plastic City



Utopia, sci-fi, and the apocalypse

Optimize what? How techno-solutionism begins in the classrooms where computer science is taught

Ursula K. Le Guin’s revolutions

In Tim Maughan’s dystopian novel, the web is dead

Like mechanization, AI will make us richer. But it may not help workers.

Revolutionary dreamwork



The fall of the discipline of economics

The tragedy of the tragedy of the commons

The quiet realization of Ivan Illich’s ideas in the contemporary commons movement

The myth of the tragedy of the commons

Trickle-up economics

The fall of the economists’ empire

Eight principles of a new economics for the people of a living Earth



Activist academia

Why we need a more activist academy

What it’s like to be a woman in the academy

Why ‘open science’ is actually pretty good politics



Resources

Essential books on Marxism and ecology

Green New Deals – the degrowth perspective. A compilation of articles on the Green New Deal from a degrowth framework—many of which have been featured in this newsletter already. 

The 2019 Atlas of Utopias. A global gallery of inspiring community-led transformation in water, energy, food systems and housing.

Decolonising the economy. A new ourEconomy series focusing on the global economy and global justice.



This newsletter is put together by Anna Biren (@annacbrn), Rut Elliot Blomqvist (@RutElliotB), Joanna Pope (@DegrowthMemes), and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.