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.
Over the past month we saw an uptick in conversations on degrowth in both mainstream and leftist media in the aftermath of two degrowth conferences in Sweden and Mexico and in connection to a “post-growth” conference in the EU Parliament in Belgium. We’ve also been reading about resistance, community building, and struggle for autonomy and control of land in cities and rural areas around the world—and about criminalization of this resistance. And as usual there are articles about environmental and climate injustice, socialism and the limits of “green” technologies, and new political organizing practices.
Uneven Earth updates
We’re excited to announce our new call for submissions for futuristic imaginaries! We are looking for science fiction, science fiction-inspired thoughts, and critical analyses of sci-fi, this time with a focus on pieces that engage with place-based histories and geographies.
The shock doctrine of the left | Link | New book by Graham Jones is part map, part story, part escape manual
How the world breaks | Link | Stan and Paul Cox describe the destructive force of nature in the context of climate change
How radical municipalism can go beyond the local | Link | Fighting for more affordable, accessible places to live means fighting for a less carbon-intensive future
Top 5 articles to read
Save us the smugness over 2018’s heatwaves, environmentalists. In this historically precarious moment, we need something more fundamental than climate strategies built on shame and castigation. But, note that there is no evidence that environmentalists are at all smug.
News you might’ve missed
Harvard’s foreign farmland investment mess. An article in Bloomberg highlights a new report by GRAIN on Harvard’s investment in land grabbing.
There’s been a worrying trend of criminalizing earth defenders around the world:
After five years of living in trees, a protest community is being evicted. The German police is evicting activists who are occupying the 12,000 year old Hambach Forest to block the expansion of lignite coal mining. (The yearly Ende Gelände mass action of civil disobedience against the open-pit mine is coming up this month, on 25th-29th October.)
Learning to fight in a warming world. Andreas Malm spoke at the Code Rode action camp against a gas pipeline in the Netherlands, addressing crucial questions for anti-fossil fuel organizing: Who are the political subjects in this struggle? How can people be mobilized? Should we think of the climate justice movement as a vanguard? Which methods and strategies should we use? What are the roles of non-violent and violent resistance?
No justice without love: why activism must be more generous. I want to be a member of a thriving and diverse social movement, not a cult or a religion.
Seizing the means of reproduction. Unrecognized, often unpaid, and yet utterly necessary, reproductive labor is everywhere in our lives. Can it form the basis for a renewed radical politics?
The emerging idea of “radical well-being”. An interview with Ashish Kothari by Paul Robbins.
The city as a battleground. If cities are becoming amusement parks for tourists, a vehicle to earn money, what space is left for its citizens?
The persistence of settler colonialism within “the urban”. As long as the urban agenda is so tangled in the mess of capitalism, how can urban practitioners work to free the ever expanding and increasingly complicated field of urban studies from its colonial shackles? Is it even possible to think about the urban without colonialism?
Where we’re at: analysis
Five principles of a socialist climate politics. Overall it is quite surprising how well the challenge of climate change overlaps with some classical principles of socialism.
The Rise of the Robot: Dispelling the myth. The ‘march of the robots’ idea relies tacitly on the assumption that the limits to growth are negotiable, or indeed non-existent. It buys into the idea that there can be a complete – or at least near complete – decoupling of production from carbon emissions.
Dirty rare metals: Digging deeper into the energy transition. “Western industries have deliberately offshored the production of rare metals and its associated pollution, only to bring these metals back onshore once cleansed of all impurities to incorporate them into intangible ‘green’ technologies.”
The real problem with free trade. As trade has become freer, inequality has worsened. One major reason for this is that current global trade rules have enabled a few large firms to capture an ever-larger share of value-added, at a massive cost to economies, workers, and the environment.
The environmentalism of the poor in the USA. A review of the book Environmental Justice in Postwar America: A Documentary Reader.
Half-Earth: A biodiversity ‘solution’ that solves nothing. A response to E. O. Wilson’s half-baked half-Earth.
Gender egalitarianism made us human: A response to David Graeber & David Wengrow’s ‘How to change the course of human history’
The growth debate
Following from the success of the two International Degrowth Conferences in Mexico and Sweden in August, scientists and politicians gathered at the EU Parliament in Brussels this month to discuss the need to move to a “post-growth” economy. Degrowth has always been a term meant in great part to provoke conversation. And that it did: what followed was a month careful commentary, knee-jerk responses, and thoughtful criticism.
The EU needs a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth. 238 academics call on the European Union and its member states to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological wellbeing is prioritized over GDP. Sign the petition based on this letter: Europe, it’s time to end the growth dependency.
Why growth can’t be green. New data proves you can support capitalism or the environment—but it’s hard to do both. An article by Jason Hickel in Foreign Policy.
Saving the planet doesn’t mean killing economic growth. A response to the criticism of growth by Noah Smith, a columnist at Bloomberg.
Soothing Noah Smith’s fears about a post-growth world. A response to Noah Smith’s piece by Jason Hickel. “The whole thing is based on either awkward confusion or intentional sleight of hand.” For a similar analysis, see our 2015 article, Let’s define Degrowth before we dismiss it.
Beyond growth. Imagining an economy based in environmental reality: an article featured in Long Reads.
Degrowth vs. a Green New Deal. An article in The New Left Review by Robert Pollin criticizing the degrowth position, and proposing an alternative. Is the ecological salvation of the human species at hand? A response to Pollin’s piece from an ecological economist. And New deals, old bottles: Chris Smaje responds to Pollin’s piece.
While economic growth continues we’ll never kick our fossil fuels habit. George Monbiot calls for degrowth.
The Singularity in the 1790s. A retrospective and enlightening analysis of the science fiction-tinged debate between William Godwin and Thomas Malthus.
Addressing climate change’s unequal impacts
Plastics, waste, and technology
Forget about banning plastic straws! The problem is much bigger. A feature on the artist and scientist Max Liboiron.
Just think about it…
Humans are destroying animals’ ancestral knowledge. Bighorn sheep and moose learn to migrate from one another. When they die, that generational know-how is not easily replaced.
The agrarian origins of capitalism. This 1998 essay by Ellen Meiksins Wood is still worth a read (or re-read).
Searching for words in Indian Country. A non-Native journalist encounters a tribal-managed forest and an indigenous garden. “I had no idea how to use the English language to describe what I was seeing.”
Dead metaphors, dying symbols and the linguistic tipping point. An interview with Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence.
An economy for the people, by the people. A report by the New Economics Foundation.
The anatomy of an AI system. The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data and planetary resources.
A YouTube channel with accessible, informational videos on political ecology and economy
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