"The collective understanding and developing identity is important. Senegal was starting down the road to independence as the events described are hap"The collective understanding and developing identity is important. Senegal was starting down the road to independence as the events described are happening. This development of an identify forged in struggle is important for Ousmane, writing as he was on the eve of independence. Few books come close to showing what a strike is like for those taking part. Even fewer come close to allowing us to sense the real power of working men and women."
For socialists today, there is much to learn from Badayev's book. It isn't intended as a blueprint for organisation today. Nor is it really a guide foFor socialists today, there is much to learn from Badayev's book. It isn't intended as a blueprint for organisation today. Nor is it really a guide for elected representatives. But it does show how socialists who do get elected can use their positions to strengthen the movement. It also shows the need for flexibility and organisation fluidity to adapt to changing circumstances. Over a hundred years later, we've much to learn from Badayev and his comrades.
Important and interesting, but ultimately this is a very difficult academic read. Which is a shame as the subject matter, and particularly the early cImportant and interesting, but ultimately this is a very difficult academic read. Which is a shame as the subject matter, and particularly the early chapters are fascinating.
Most importantly though, Quammen locates the Ebola question in the wider social context. He points out for instance, that there are other, far more dangerous diseases (malaria, or TB), others that could well evolve and cause extensive destruction (bird flu). There are others that cause localised epidemics, that are ignored in the west. All of these would benefit from proper funding, and are made worse by Africa's general poverty and the legacy of western colonialism. As Quammen points out,
"What we should remember, is that the events in West Africa (so far) tell us not just about the ugly facts of Ebola's transmisibility and lethality; they tell us also about the ugly facts of poverty, inadequate health care, political dysfunction, and desperation in three West African countries, and of neglectful disregard of those circumstances over time by the international community."
Quammen's book is not perfect, its main limitations come from its origin in a book with a slightly different emphasis. But it is an excellent introduction to Ebola. It should also encourage us to demand that our governments spend more of researching diseases like Ebola and caring for their victims.
Review was originally published in Socialist Worker (UK) here.
Environmental action cannot be left to individuals such as the “lifestyle decisions of eReview was originally published in Socialist Worker (UK) here.
Environmental action cannot be left to individuals such as the “lifestyle decisions of earnest urbanites who like going to farmers’ markets on Saturday afternoons”. Instead, we need state action such as sustainable transport and energy-efficient housing.
Market mechanisms are supposed to reduce emissions. But Klein points out that the private sector has played only a tiny role in investing in renewable energies. Governments have been responsible for nearly everything.
Klein says we need an “alternative worldview” and mass movements such as those that fought against slavery or for civil rights. We need to “Grow the Caring Economy, Shrinking the Careless One”. Klein sometimes looks to local change, such as communities divesting from fossil fuel industries and supporting sustainable alternatives. But she also acknowledges the need for economic planning, tough regulation of businesses and higher taxation for the rich.
This is important stuff and has incurred the wrath of many right wingers. But while Klein’s book looks to challenging capitalism, it is less clear about who has the power to do this. The fossil fuel companies have already demonstrated how they will fight to protect their interests. Klein quotes Karl Marx, noting capitalism’s irreparable rift with “the natural laws of life itself”. This is why we need to overthrow the system.
The force to do this is the working class. Through its unique role in capitalist production, it has the power to stop the system and build a new world. As Klein says, in the face of climate change, “only mass social movements can save us now”.
Over the last decade the Zapatista movement in Mexico and, to a lesser extent, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) in Brazil have bOver the last decade the Zapatista movement in Mexico and, to a lesser extent, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) in Brazil have been inspirational examples of rural and peasant movements. The MST's occupations of land, or the Zapatisa's defence of indigenous peoples land and both groups' attempts to develop new economic and social paradigms have inspired and provoked debate for many on the anti-capitalist left.
Thus Leandro Vergara-Camus' new book, which comparatively analyses the two movements, is very important. From my point of view I found it particularly interesting at a time when the question of peasant struggles and rural movements has receded somewhat from discussion among Marxist activists. Both the MST and the Zapatistas are important because they are both contemporary movements and their struggles and strategies may offer insights into wider peasant movements in more revolutionary times.
Much of the authors' work is based on years of research which included extended periods living with, and interviewing both MST and Zapatista activists. The MST is a movement of landless workers that attempts through a process of occupations to win land for those who don't have it. It begins with a preparatory period prior to land occupation, followed by a hopefully successful occupation, then by entrenchment of a new community. The Zapatistas, while aiming to control rural space as well, have tended to protect established communities, expelling Mexican state forces and, where necessary, being prepared to mobilise peasants and their own military forces to protect this control.