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New Media We Recommend

June 11, 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.

American Insurgents: A Brief History of Anti-Imperialism, by Richard Seymour – As a sequel to his book The Liberal Defense of Murder, Seymour provides us with another important analysis of the history of anti-imperialism in the US. There are two important aspects of Seymour’s book. First, he makes clear that anti-imperialism resistance did not begin with the late 19th Century creation of the Anti-Imperialist League, it began in some ways during the revolutionary war and continued during the War of 1812, the US War Against Mexico in 1848 and the US wars against Native Nations that ended in 1890 with the massacre at Wounded Knee. The other important aspect of this analysis of anti-imperialism is how anti-imperialists and more often anti-war groups have been co-opted and undermined by partisan politics, particularly the Democratic Party. American Insurgents is not only inspiring, in that it acknowledges a rich history of anti-imperialism in the US, it provides important analysis around the significance of anti-imperialism since the onset of the so-called “humanitarian interventionism” of the Clinton years, which have carried over to the Obama administration.

Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare 2001 – 2050, by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt – Remember the unmanned aircraft that hunted down humans in Terminator? Turse and Engelhardt remind of us of these Hollywood images as a way of framing the insidiousness of the current and future use of robotics in US warfare. Primarily focused on the use of drones, Terminator Planet provides us with not only a history of the use of drones, or what the Pentagon euphemistically refers to as “remotely piloted aircraft,” this collection of essays also frames for us the evolving nature of US warfare. Unmanned drones don’t vote, they don’t protest, they don’t have psychological issues, they don’t have compassion, they don’t get tired, they don’t frag their superior officers and they don’t have any emotion as they kill civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan or any other number of countries the US is deploying these weapons. Turse and Engelhardt bring their sharp analysis of US militarism and foreign policy to a book, which is essential reading for those committed to resisting US imperialism and the military industrial complex.

How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything, by Mike Berners-Lee – I have a major problem with how this book presents information. The author does not address the economic system in which consumption occurs, nor does he provide any meaningful historic context. The book is written in a very methodical fashion that simply lays out the calculated amount of carbon use for items that humans consume, beginning from small items to larger items. For example, since the author uses bananas in the title, he could have provided some history of the production of bananas in Latin America by US and European companies, and what impact this had had on humans and ecosystems in Latin America. To ignore or minimize this part of what our collective consumption of bananas on human and non-human life doesn’t provide an honest assessment of what our “carbon footprint” actually is. Think of it as a form of reparations that we must pay back to people and the planet, something that is not calculated into the carbon footprint model. Having said that the book does provide good data and information on the carbon footprint of everything from foods, travel, use of electronics, even a university. If the information is understood in its proper context, it can be a valuable resource.

The Big Fix: The Truth is Deep Beneath the Surface (DVD) – After two years of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, what do we know about the real consequences of that environmental crime? This is the question that the producers of The Big Fix seek to answer……and answer it they do. The feature length documentary takes us on a journey from the corporate origins of BP to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, from the corruption of state politics in Louisiana to the influence of oil companies at the federal level. This film not only looks at the human and ecological consequences of the 2010 BP crime, it looks at the larger economic system and how it corrupts the political process that not only allows these kinds of crimes, but encourages them. In addition, the film puts a human face on those who continue to suffer from the 2010 BP crime by giving them a voice on camera, following them to public meetings and taking a painful look at how their lives have been devastated by the power politics that collaborates with big capitalists who have no regard for the future. This film will both anger and inspire…….indeed it could be a catalyst for resistance.

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