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What We Are Reading

September 9, 2010

Below is a list of books that we have read in recent weeks. The comments are not a review of the books, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these books are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Politics, by Paul Street – Street has been one of the most consistent writers in terms of analyzing the Obama administration since the day he took office. In this sequel to the book that Street wrote just before the last presidential election, Street provides clear analysis of the “progressive agenda” that the President was elected on and whether or not it has translated into real policy reform. The author looks at the Obama administration’s economic policy, health care legislation, foreign policy and the claim of whether or not we are in a post-racial America. Street’s main conclusion is that the current administration is just as imperialist as the last administration and just as beholden to private capital.

Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change, by Brian Tokar – In this short book author/activist Brian Tokar presents an important perspective on both the status of the global climate justice movement and where it needs to go. Tokar believes that those of us living in rich societies must always begin our discussion/analysis of climate justice by coming to terms with the fact that it is poor people in Third World countries around the world who are most impacted by climate change. Rooting our actions in this fact would drastically alter our actions and strategies and lead to a more honest a radical movement.

Signal:01 – This new book by PM Press is a treasure for anyone interested in the intersection between art and politics. Signal 01 is a collection of interviews and examples of the art from numerous insurgent artists and art collectives around the world. The book talks to print makers, graffiti artists, cartoonists, photographers and graphic designers. What makes this book so important, besides the beautiful pictures of art, is that it frames the question of the work of cultural production outside of the typical privileged narrative. “The question we need to ask is whether our cultural production is used to uphold the massive levels of inequality that exists across the globe, or to challenge capitalism, statecraft, patriarchy, and all the systems used to produce and reproduce that disparity.”

Thriving Beyond Sustainability: Pathways to a Resilient Society, by Andres Edwards – In this new book from New Society Publishers, Andres Edwards attempts to push the envelope on how we should not only view the issue of sustainability, but think about our relationship with the natural world. The author begins his analysis by looking at examples of how indigenous cultures around the world have developed a vision/ethic about how to live with nature instead of trying to control it. However, when it came to concrete strategies I felt that the author was too limited and tended to mimic much of the current liberal writing on sustainability.

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