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What tames inequality? Violence and mayhem, says new book

From Chronicle.com: In his new book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Stanford University professor Walter Scheidel puts forth the following thesis: that historically, it took four kinds of violent ruptures  –mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state failure, and lethal pandemics– to reduce widespread inequality.

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals

Martin Lukacs writes in The Guardian: Capitalism thrives on people believing that being afflicted by the structural problems of an exploitative system –poverty, joblessness, poor health, lack of fulfillment –is a personal deficiency. Neoliberalism has taken this internalised self-blame and turbocharged it. So, you are now also responsible for bearing the burden of potential ecological collapse!

Can we live without progress?

Kurt Cobb writes: The idea of progress is embedded in the socio-economic system, and we cannot attack carbon emissions without attacking the idea of progress itself. If the progress we’ve made since the beginning of industrial civilization only leads to a complete reversal of all our supposed gains, can we really call what’s happening progress?

Capitalism and the destruction of life on earth: Six theses on saving the humans

As global capitalist economic growth accelerates planetary ecological collapse, Richard Smith argues that – impossible as it may seem at present – only the most radical solution -the overthrow of global capitalism, the construction of a mostly publicly-owned and mostly planned eco-socialist economy is the only alternative to the collapse of civilization and ecological suicide.

Felix Padel: Adivasi economics may be the only hope for India’s future

India’s Tribal communities are under extreme pressure, right from big dams and mines to violent insur gencies and militarisation engulfing their lands. In 25 years, will these communities cease to exist? Or, will they represent thriving, revitalised models of egalitarian sustainability that the rest of the world has come to recognise and is learning from?

Spotlight: China’s communist-capitalist ecological apocalypse

From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism most everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.

Now five men own almost as much wealth as half the world’s population

From AlterNet: Last year it was eight men, then down to six, and now almost five. The world’s richest five men now own over $400 billion in wealth. On average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people. The super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow.

What is Eco-Socialism? Who is an Eco-Socialist?

The determinant element in the concept of eco-socialism is the prefix eco. And that means the rejection of industrialism. A good socialist only needs to rejects capitalism. But to be an eco-socialist one must also reject industrialism as a future perspective for mankind, and agree to a program of de-industrialization (now often clumsily called de-growth).

The world’s most toxic town: the terrible legacy of Zambia’s lead mines

From The Guardian: Zambia’s Kabwe is the world’s most toxic town, according to pollution experts, where mass lead poisoning has almost certainly damaged the brains and other organs of generations of children –who continue to be poisoned every day. The lead levels in Kabwe are as much as 100 times that of recommended safety levels.

Why the fight for environmental justice is also a fight for social justice

Nityanand Jayaraman writes: June 5 was World Environment Day. Over the last few days, this author, an environmental activist, has been asked by many people to lay out things that people can do without really straining their daily schedules. These simple things may not exist anymore. Instead, here are six things for everyone to consider.

How do you ‘degrow’ an economy, without causing chaos?

Jonathan Rutherford writes: Reducing societal consumption –degrowing the economy– need not necessarily result in chaotic economic breakdown. This is indeed an inevitable outcome within our present economic system, but possibly not others. What then would be required to contract the economy, in an orderly and fair way? A possible answer, from the ‘Simpler Way’ perspective.

Study: What 10 years of smartphone use means for the planet

We’re all on track to use at least 29 phones in our lifetimes. This rapid turnover of devices leads to record profits for smartphone manufacturers year after year. It also leads to many damaging impacts on people and our planet. Greenpeace USA’s new report, ‘From Smart to Senseless’, explores the high cost of smartphone use.

Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. Turns out, they were right

From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.

The great climate silence: we are on the edge of the abyss but we ignore it

Clive Hamilton writes: Our best scientists tell us insistently that a calamity is unfolding, that the life-support systems of the Earth are being damaged in ways that threaten our survival. Yet, faced with these facts, we carry on as usual. Most citizens ignore or downplay the warnings; many of our intellectuals indulge in wishful thinking.

Avijit Pathak: I’m not a Marxist, but I’m grateful for Marx

Karl Marx was possibly the founder of the most appealing secular religion in modern times. On his birth anniversary I hear a call from within; I feel like paying homage to the prophet of modern times. Though I’m not a Marxist, the oceanic currents in his thinking continue to fascinate students and wanderers like me.

Sunita Narain: The future is in our hands

We must rethink the question of states, market and society. We have dismembered the state; grown the market and believed that we’ve empowered society. Slowly, the circle closed— state, market and aspiring, consuming society merged. They became one. Anyone outside this circle stopped getting counted. This cannot work. This is our future’s most important agenda.

Earth Day and the phantoms of a pathological culture

Kenn Orphan writes: Earth Day has morphed into an opportunity for corporations and politicians to tout empty gestures at “saving the planet” while they mercilessly plunder it.  It neutralises public outrage at the world’s dire state and spreads an all-pervasive “feel goodism” to a situation that’s truly existential, for countless other species, and our own.

Nicholas Stern: Why are we waiting?

In his new book, Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it’s been so difficult to tackle climate change. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.

How to form a global counter-economy

From Open Democracy: Open cooperativism is an effort to infuse cooperatives with the basic principles of commons based peer production. Here are six interrelated strategies for post-corporate entrepreneurial coalitions. The aim is to go beyond the classical corporate paradigm, and its extractive profit-maximizing practices, toward the establishment of open cooperatives that cultivate a commons-oriented economy.

Why climate change is a ‘white swan’

Rupert Read writes: In financial parlance, a ‘black swan’ is a radically unexpected event. Ever-worsening man-made climate change (that is, barring a system change) is not a potential ‘black swan’ event. It’s a white swan, an expected event. It is, quite simply, completely what anyone with a basic understanding of the situation should now expect.

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