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New Media We Recommend

May 17, 2012

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

Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism, Richard Wolff in conversation with David Barsamian – This book is a collection of interviews conducted between the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) campaign and the end of 2011. Alternative Radio talk show host David Barsamian interviews Richard Wolff, an economics professor and author of the book Capitalism Hits the Fan. Wolff and Barsamian discuss the phenomenon of the Occupy movement, particularly at a time when global capitalism is becoming more brutal. Wolff presents information and ideas in a very understandable fashion and links the current movements against capitalism and austerity from OWS to Spain and Greece. These interviews are lively, refreshing and are a good overview of the current global economic crisis within capitalism.

America’s Food: What You Don’t Know About What You Eat, by Harvey Blatt – With the growing interest in eating healthy and eating local, Harvey Blatt’s book is an important additional to the literature that seeks to explain what is wrong with our current food system. The book starts out with technical language and charts, but quickly moves into chapters that lay out how most of the food we consume is grown or raised and why we need to radically alter our food system. Blatt has chapters on the importance of protecting the integrity of soil, the growth of GMOs, how grains are grown, how chickens, pigs and cows are “manufactured,” as well as chapters on fish production and the agribusiness of fruits and vegetables. Blatt concludes the book by looking at how most of the food available in the market are highly processed foods that are the main contributor to poor diet and health in the US. The only shortcoming of the book is that it does not provide any suggestion on how to challenge the food system, but then there are plenty of source that do just that.

Viva La Historia: Mexican Comics, NAFTA and the Politics of Globalization, by Bruce Campbell – For anyone who has spent time in Mexico or reading Mexican popular media they know how prolific Mexican comics are. Not only are there hundreds and hundreds of different Mexican comics, many of them are highly political and are a great source of social commentary. Bruce Campbell does a great job of analyzing the role that comic books play in Mexico, particularly on themes of NAFTA and globalization. Viva La Historia is rich in its investigation of Mexican comics and how they have shredded the North American Free Trade Agreement and the beneficiaries of global capitalism in Mexico, a country that has seen the growth of dozens of billionaires over the past 15 years. The book could have included more visual examples from the comic book world, but the author’s analysis is sharp and often as witty as the comic books he is presenting to the reader. Campbell’s book demonstrates the power of communicating ideas outside of traditional methods of news or academia and why popular culture can be a mechanism for consciousness raising and subversion.

Monumental: David Brower’s Fight for Wild America (DVD) – From the moment David Brower first laid eyes on the beauty of the Yosemite Valley, he fought to preserve the American wilderness for future generations. The story of a true American legend, Monumental documents the life of this outdoorsman, filmmaker and environmental crusader, whose fiery dedication not only saved the Grand Canyon but also transformed the Sierra Club into a powerful national political force, giving birth to the modern environmental movement. (even though Brower would later be forced out of the Sierra Club because they abandoned its more radical roots). Seen through Brower’s own eyes – he was an accomplished filmmaker, and his stunning footage is included here – a 1956 raft trip down Glen Canyon, before its damming, evokes the awful sadness of losing public land we’ve failed to protect. And in period footage of Brower’s early rock-climbs and of his training in the 10th Mountain Division Brower emerges as an unlikely and inspiring national hero.


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