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.

February & March readings

Illustration by Paige Wickers.

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’ve all been swamped with work and life, so we decided to skip last month’s newsletter and combine February and March into one bigger reading list. It’s ok, because February is so short, right? That said, a lot has happened these past two months. From the Christchurch shooting to the flooding in Mozambique, to Amazon’s defeat in Queens, New York and the growing children’s climate strikes. In this newsletter, we’ve collected some of the best analyses of these events: talking about the need to understand how eco-fascist ideology drove the Christchurch shooter and the significance of local organizing against Internet giants. We highlight some critiques of development discourse, and a bibliography on “post-extractivism” in Latin America. We also include our usual collection of articles about alternative politics, radical municipalism, plastics and waste, and degrowth vs. the green new deal. And, yes, there’s a whole article about why lawns are bad.

 

Uneven Earth updates

Is Heidegger’s philosophy anti-semitic? | Link | Considering the new book, Heidegger and the Jews.

After mass mobilizations, what direction for the Belgian climate movement? | Link | A report from a participant.

 

Top 5 articles to read

Eco-fascism is undergoing a revival in the fetid culture of the extreme right. Some see looming ecological collapse as an opportunity to re-order society along their preferred, frankly genocidal, lines.

In mourning. We must pay attention to who we are not supposed to mourn, to what mourning is under-reported or discouraged.

Why science needs philosophy

Lessons from the history of environmentalism

The case against lawns

 

News you might’ve missed

WWF funds guards who have tortured and killed people

Most Europeans think the environment should be a priority even at the expense of growth

Study finds racial gap between who causes air pollution and who breathes it

SF considers ‘sweeping smart city’ installation of devices with cameras, microphones

China experiences a fracking boom, and all the problems that go with it

West Papua: The genocide that is being ignored by the world

The shells of wild sea butterflies are already dissolving

‘First-of-its-kind’ law will protect Lake Erie from pollution by granting it civil rights

Shipibo women healers on the challenges and opportunities of the Ayahuasca boom

 

Perspectives on well-being and development

The happiness-energy paradox: Energy use is unrelated to subjective well-being

The only metric of success that really matters is the one we ignore. “Regardless of one’s sex, country or culture of origin, or age or economic background, social connection is crucial to human development, health, and survival.”

Workism is making Americans miserable. For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising transcendence and community, but failing to deliver.

Well-being: a Latin American response to the socio-ecological crisis

Arturo Escobar: Farewell to development. Over the years, ‘development’ has undergone multiple modifications. All these approaches stay within the conventional understanding of development: they don’t constitute a radical departure from the prevailing paradigm. What we need to do is get rid of ‘development’ itself.

A letter to Steven Pinker (and Bill Gates, for that matter) about global poverty, from Jason Hickel.

 

Where we’re at: analysis

Congo’s miners dying to feed world’s hunger for electric cars   

Cyclone Idai lays bare the fundamental injustice of climate change

Guns, fire and violence in the name of conservation in Loliondo, Tanzania. Exploring the relationship between wildlife conservation and communities.

Why it’s so hard to trace the patterns of unsustainable fossil fuel use

The hidden environmental toll of mining the world’s sand  

What comes after extractivism? Reliance on resource rents keeps Latin American countries stuck in relations of dependency and undermines the core leftist goal of equality. The left must find another way.

Bolsonaro and the death of social housing

Bolsonarism and “frontier capitalism”

The Philippine left in a changing land

How the US has hidden its empire. The United States likes to think of itself as a republic, but it holds territories all over the world – the map you always see doesn’t tell the whole story.

Climate politics after the yellow vests. Far from being anti-environment, the gilets jaunes have exposed the greenwashing of Macron’s deeply regressive economic and social agenda.

How Google, Microsoft, and Big Tech are automating the climate crisis

Good enough to eat? The toxic truth about modern food

 

Degrowth and the Green New Deal

Climate breakdown is coming. The UK needs a Greener New Deal

A Green New Deal must not be tied to economic growth

Growthism: its ecological, economic and ethical limits

A bold new plan to tackle climate change ignores economic orthodoxy

Organizing to win a Green New Deal

“It’s eco-socialism or death”. Cooperation Jackson leader Kali Akuno on the Green New Deal, the need for mass civil disobedience, and the necessity of building an internationalist movement for eco-socialism.

How a Green New Deal could exploit developing countries

An ecosocialist Green New Deal: Guiding principles, from the DSA Ecosocialists.

 

White power and eco-fascism

The Christchurch massacre and the white power movement

Nature writing’s fascist roots. When the Christchurch shooter described himself as an “eco-fascist”, he invoked the age-old and complicated relationship between nature writing and the far right.

 

Plastics and waste

The Chernobyl syndrome. “Chernobyl should not be seen as an isolated accident or as a unique disaster, Brown argues, but as an “exclamation point” that draws our attention to the new world we are creating.”

Mapping USA electronics manufacturing pollution

As pollution gets worse, air-filtering face masks get fashionable

The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust

Manufacturers beware: The ‘right to repair’ movement is gaining ground

‘Moment of reckoning’: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports

 

Just think about it…

Go home to your ‘dying’ hometown

Caretaking. Helena Norberg-Hodge and Wendell Berry, two giants of the local economy movement, sat down together for a far-reaching discussion.

The Reddit war. How the site became a front in the Syrian civil war.

BirthStrikers: meet the women who refuse to have children until climate change ends

The global South is changing how knowledge is made, shared and used

Indigenous knowledge has been warning us about climate change for centuries

Speak to the shoemaker. Philosophy need not be arcane, argued Aristotle, as he led by example, writing treatises for peers and public alike.

Don’t blame robots for low wages

Anthropocene doesn’t exist and species of the future will not recognise it

Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

Native American Libertarian Socialism

Capitalism is destroying the Earth. We need a new human right for future generations

Human rights mean nothing unless we defend real, threatened people. “If we allow states to detain, abuse and bar migrants on the grounds that they are not citizens, if we permit authorities to vilify and discriminate against minorities on the grounds that they don’t truly belong, if we accept that governments can arbitrarily revoke citizenship on the grounds that some are politically unacceptable, we not only deny others their rights; we expose the fragility of our rights, too.”

 

Radical municipalism

Bottom-up socialism at a crossroads. Grungy, post-industrial, artsy, and cheap, Montreal has a bit of a “Berlin of the North” feel to it. But what many people don’t know is that it is one of the most politically vibrant cities in North America.

To save urban planners, cities need community organizers

The Green New Deal is already at work in one Portland neighborhood

How poor Americans get exploited by their landlords

To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars

The real estate sector is using algorithms to work out the best places to gentrify

The Amazon drama

Amazon’s defeat is local and global

Ownership as social relation: Nonprofit strategies to build community wealth through land

In defense of tenants: An interview with Omaha tenants united

Berlin’s grassroots plan to renationalise up to 200,000 ex-council homes from corporate landlords

 

New politics, hope, and visions for the future

New group looks to unite North America in a cooperative economy. The Symbiosis network is linking cooperative movements offering alternatives to hyper-capitalism.

Where do good organizers come from?

How to seize the means

Voices of Bakur

There’s just one way to confront neoliberalism: democratic ownership

We need to live differently. To end our fossil fuel addiction we need a fundamental technological change — but this cannot happen without changing our social and economic systems.

As the climate collapses, we ask: “How then shall we live?” The first part of a Truthout series that is intended to help us “come to terms, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, with where we are as a species, and how to plunge forward to face our future.”

By reconnecting with the soil, we heal the planet and ourselves

Why the world needs Barry Lopez. His new book, Horizon, is the crowning achievement of a writer whose eyes never stray from the long view.

Thank you, climate strikers. Your action matters and your power will be felt  

Can the imagination save us? Social movements are driven by imagination. I am not prepared to declare the death of dreams.

 

Resources

Enough is Enough: Full film on YouTube. Based on the book by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, this film lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth — an economy where the goal is enough, not more.

A video introduction to Elinor Ostrom’s work

Decanonizing anthropology. Reworking the history of social theory for 21st century anthropology, a syllabus project.

Exploring post-extractivism. A library.

Bibliography of critical approaches to toxics and toxicity

 

 

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

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