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New Media We Recommend

July 25, 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.

Why Don’t American Cities Burn?, by Michael Katz – An interesting look at how Americans have dealt with urban poverty over the past 50 years. The author uses his own experience in Philadelphia as a springboard for assessing the rest of the country around how policy makers have dealt with poverty, particularly in poor Black neighborhoods. Katz looks at the institutional racism and class warfare waged against Black Americans since WWII and how urban planners have responded to the race rebellions of the 1960s and 70s. The author argues that since the mid 1970s there have only been 2 “race riots” in the US, once in Miami and the 1992 LA riots. Katz observes that in many countries around the world, even in European countries, people who are faced with harsh economic conditions have no problem rising up against the system. The US political and business community have been able to redirect or co-opt urban rage in recent decades, so much so that the very idea of a riot has been eliminated as a legitimate tactical response to the debilitating effects of urban poverty. Katz argues that urban Blacks have either been forced into the Criminal Justice system or cycled into the market-driven and social service programs that put the focus on individual uplift. A valuable resource for those who want a radically different perspective on urban planning outside officially sanctioned models.

Cool Capitalism, by Jim McGuigan – Marx always said that Capitalism will find ways to be resilient and avoid greater public scrutiny. One way that the dominant economic system has done this has been to use culture as a mechanism for marketing. The author argues that Capitalism has been selling “cool” since the 1950s, but that it really took off with the counter-cultural movements in the 1960s. While there were plenty of people challenging the system, capitalism figured out a way to use the anti-establishment sentiment and make money off of it, a trend that continues til today. Cool Capitalism is an interesting mix of economic and social theory that presents solid historical analysis about the ways in which capitalism has morphed in recent decades. The section that takes a look at the role of art in cool capitalism was valuable, as was the critique of Richard Florida’s creative class slight of hand. Cool Capitalism is an important contribution to understanding how the dominant economic system continues to assimilate and undermine counter-cultural trends in order to survive.

Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill, by Antonia Juhasz – Black Tide is a strong indictment of BP, the oil industry and the US government complicity in one of the worst single environmental disasters in US history. Antonia Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil and contributor to the blog Oil Change International, has provided us with a scathing account of what the media dubbed Deepwater Horizon. Juhasz looks at how and why the pipeline broke, the human and wildlife body count, the impact the oil spill has had on the fishing community, the spineless response by BP, the oil industry and the Obama administration. Juhasz meticulously documents these environmental crimes and the inherent criminal nature of how oil companies influence policy that will not only maintain massive oil extraction in the US, but the likely future oil disasters that the oil industry factors into its ongoing disregard for ecosystems. Unpleasant, but necessary reading for anyone who truly cares about the future of life on this planet.

The Pipe (DVD) – The Pipe is a powerful film about a community’s fight along the coast of Ireland against the multinational company Shell. Nearly a decade ago Shell discovered natural gas off the coast of Ireland, which led to plans to build a pipeline from the sea to the land, where a refining station would be placed. The people of one small community in Ireland said no to this proposal and are still fighting those plans. The film covers years of legal struggle, civil disobedience and direct action against Shell. The film deals with the internal struggles of the villagers and how it can divide or galvanize people to stand up for what is right. The film shows ordinary people putting their lives on the line to protect their homes, their land and their families.

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