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Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-porn Addicts: A defence of growth, progress, industry and stuff

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Economic growth, progress, industry and, erm, stuff have all come in for a sharp kicking from the green left and beyond in recent years. Everyone from black-hoodied Starbucks window-smashers to farmers' market heirloom-tomato-mongers to Prince Charles himself seem to be embracing 'degrowth' and anti-consumerism, which is nothing less than a form of ecological austerity. ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 30th 2015 by Zero Books
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Bob Duke
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is good to see the deep Greens get taken to task by someone of the left for a change. It is about time environmental issues were taken out of the hands of the smug middle and upper classes for a change.
Sarah Clement
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: anthropocene
I agree with the premise of this book. Austerity ecology isn't helping anyone. some people can have an entirely white, liberal, Western bias when they talk about solutions to the earth's problems. But this book? It is a massive straw man... a parody or a caricature of what environmentalists believe. With no sense that he is essentially taking the equivalent of a message board troll, his examples he seeks to disprove are Derrick Jensen and Naomi Klein. This is not difficult. Environmentalists, as ...more
Simon Copland
Nov 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Was tossing up whether to give this book 2 or 3 stars, but I landed on three.

Lots of really good and challenging ideas in this book. I just wish Leigh wrote them in a better way. At times it comes across as very lecturing and arrogant, but then followed up with an apology (I don't want to criticise the people who I've just spent ten pages tearing to shreds). It just could have been a little less righteous and a little more conciliatory.

More importantly though I think Leigh's own philosophy
...more
Mark
Mar 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
While I agree with the premise and dearly wanted a crisp presentation of his position, the author could not deliver. His writing is so insufferable it detracts the efforts of those making the same proposal.

The word selection, the abuse of adjectives, and the sentence structure make the author sound like the twin brother of that comic store character in the Simpsons.

98% of this book is not relevant and can be skipped. I skipped to the end when the author wrote, "...any bounded lump of anything
...more
Quentin
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A funny, well-written and rich polemic that argues for an optimistic view of human progress and against a fatalistic and unstoppable modernity. Instead of saying that we have to reduce industry, give up consumer abundance, and make ourselves smaller, Leigh Phillips says that the only way out of our current political-ecological conundrums (including global warming) is to draw on the socialist tradition of consciously re-purposing capitalist industry towards progressive ends of improving the lives ...more
Logan Streondj
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Curious pro status quo book, that takes various 'extremist' ideologies and then gives a status quo answer to them mostly on the grounds of bandwagon effect. In summary it seems to say yes climate change is real, but the only solution is nuclear power, that GMO's are good for the environment and that pollution is natural because we are all part of nature, so should just continue plundering Earths resources at a growing rate, and when we're done that should plunder the cosmos also.

Gotta say it is
...more
Kate
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book is an incredible defense of democratizing technology, progress, production and industry, and gives leftists the vocabulary to talk about how a truly planned economy would relate to the environment. He's dead right about how mainstream left-wing positions on the environment are little more than austerity, and his critiques of neo-Malthusian thought are excellent. It's a rousing defense of eco-modernism, and gives leftists a way to talk about environmental politics that is actually ...more
C. Townsend
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall Phillips book is light, snappy and easy to read. He is one of those rare authors on the left that you can actually enjoy (so very rare today). He takes to task the gangrenous Luddites and neo-Malthusians the way they need to be dissected and then thoroughly refuted from the left quadrant. Using reality, logic and history he does a fairly good job of it. I compare this book with Zubrin’s The Merchants of Despair (Though I did prefer Zubrin's book to this one). His style is influenced by ...more
Mike Peleah
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
"The Planet is Fine. The People are F--ked" George Carlin
"Between techno-utopianism and neo-luddism there is Promethean optimism that recognises that while at each stage of our history, as a result of our solving past problems, new problems are created, we then must work--and often work very hard indeed--to overcome them" Leigh Phillips

The book is a defense of industrial civilization, scientific and technological progress, and economic growth--although more inspiring than substantial in many
...more
M. Mangan
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A huge relief from the ongoing eco-doom narratives that are paralyzing so many people. This book is a funny, yet well-sourced and well-supported, antidote to the messages of bleakness and doom that permeate the environmental movement. It show us how growth and technology (wisely used) can help us to manage our resources. And how certain misconceptions and misdirections of the enviro thought leaders are resulting in unhelpful trajectories.
Joshua Smith
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked the premise that scientific advancement, technology, energy use, manufacturing, population growth, etc. are all good things and should be embraced by progressives. I like the idea of pushing back on the Henry David Thoreau left. However, I found this book to be rambly; it seems more like Phillips had a bone to pick with particular individuals.
Gabriel Cayer
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written in a really shitty and snarky tone, it is nonetheless an extremely useful guide to thinking about which ideas are useful to the left in the 21st century. I just wish it had gone a little farther in counterproposing a new ecosocialist narrative.
B
Ted
Mar 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great smackdown on liberals, libertarians, and conservatives. Ultimately it's repetitive and spends time on subtle ad hominem attacks.
PhebeAnn
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This was mostly an enjoyable read despite being a pretty heavy one and a bit repetitive at times. It was certainly thought provoking and I have a lot of admiration for Phillips's audacity and rigour in tearing apart a long-standing shibboleth of the left: de-growthism, which is basically the idea that in order to achieve ecological sustainability and avert impending ecological disaster (such as overpopulation or, most topically, climate change) we have to scale down - to live more simply, to buy ...more
Diana
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Leigh Phillips gives the environmental movement a well-deserved kick up the arse. Coming under attack are Naomi Klein, James Howard Kunstler, Ronald Wright, Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Paul Watson, Paul Kingsnorth, Bill McKibben, John Zerzan, John Bellamy Foster, Chris Hedges, Richard Heinberg, James Lovelock, Lester Brown, Jared Diamond, Slavoj Zizek, Martin Heidegger, Tim Flannery, Rob Hopkins, and they’re all guilty of being anti-modern, anti-growth, anti-enlightenment and not understanding ...more
Jason P
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Maybe one of the most important leftist books I've read in recent times. Leigh Phillips provides a critique of the Eco-primitivist or degrowth movement which has infected much of the left environmentalist movement. This is coupled with a distrust of science and the enlightenment which is strangely conservative and goes against what the left is really supposed to be fighting for.

Phillips instead proposes the Marxist position of continued human progress and economic growth through our developed
...more
Martin Henson
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oooo err! This certainly put the cat among my pigeons. Well written, carefully structured, and well referenced, this book's claims dismantle a version of green left-ery - particularly that which claims to be "anti-capitalist", but which (he argues) does not really understand capitalism. I was struck by his first use of the word "anthropocene", which - in view of the arguments he makes - might well have been "capitalocene" (c.f. A History of Capitalism in Seven Cheap Things, by Raj Patel and ...more
Charlie Kruse
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot. Phillips succinctly breaks down many of the myths that continue to harp the left in the distinction between progress and capitalism. In fighting capitalism, the moralizing tendencies of some on the left to push back against consumption and blame consumers or working class folk for their habits and lifestyles sometimes seems to stifle genuine solidarity, but Phillips points to a new agenda for the left to navigate the future.

That is to say though, that Phillips has quite the
...more
Frank Burns
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finally polished this off. An excellent piece on the need for the the left to embrace progress again rather than navel gazing. Fair warning that this book takes a little bit to take off as you have to get through a little lefty infighting to get to the actual meat of the argument. Still recommended though.
Jared Knowles
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit polemic in tone, but thought provoking. Prompted some new thinking on my part and that's one of the highest compliments you can pay a book. The last chapter was not my favorite, but up to that point there's much insight to be gained. I enjoyed the polemic tone and found it charming, but others may not. It was nice to have a distinctive voice while reading about such important topics.
Mitch
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
This is rough. Like many of the other reviewers, I am craving what his title promises. After a few chapters, though, all I really picked up was that he thinks Naomi Klein/etc are hypocrites. Like, OK, you made your case, now move on. As a reader it became impossible to hear out his arguments against those people when he gave no hints of any alternative worldview. DNF
Antonio Vena
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bella la prima parte, meno l'ultimo capitolo.
Frank D'hanis junior
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Excellent book, some much needed fact based level-headedness in a debate that is often tinged with new age like mysticism, hidden neoliberal assumptions and outright hysteria
Kallia Papadopoulou
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
great
Nothing Heretosee
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
i dunno what the market for these kind of books are really. its a good entry point for left-wing thinking, but you'd probably have to be on the left to pick this up.
was fine tho
Peter Aronson
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exciting, and I think, possibly important book. I do not agree with the author in all matters -- for one thing he is an unapologetic Marxist, and I am not. On the other hand, maybe a touch of Marxism is just the antidote a book on this subject needs to counter the current fad for irrational Free Market idolatry.

The great thing is not only is Phillips optimistic without making light of the challenges we face in the environment and elsewhere, but that he no patience whatsoever for those
...more
шш
I really need to cool it with the global warming stuff. It's ruining my life.
sillypunk
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Great read, I hope it's taken to heart by lots of people: https://blogendorff.ghost.io/book-rev...
Jack Coates
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Headline (required)

Review (twenty or more words required) fourteen more words eleven tennis star who is proved wrong with the same question as well
Bartek
rated it it was amazing
Jun 28, 2018
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Leigh Phillips is a science writer and European Union affairs journalist. Writing for Nature, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the New Statesman, Jacobin, Scientific American, amongst other outlets, he has visited appallingly ill-equipped Siberian tuberculosis hospices, interviewed Mexican nanotechnology researchers bombed by eco-terrorists, tricked into eating whale meat by Norwegian diplomats ...more
“Both the Pollyannas and the Cassandras are wrong, and both stand in the way of social justice, the former by condemning us all to catastrophic climate change and the loss of other vital ecosystem services for the sake of profit; the latter by condemning us all to a hair-shirted existence and refusal of further human development due to a romantic, unscientific belief in a static, unchanging balance of nature.” 1 likes
“Even the Jonestown Peoples’ Temple Agricultural Project built community.” 0 likes
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