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Rights of Man
Tom Paine (J S Jordan, 1791)
A pioneering treatise against tyranny, and for democracy, liberty and equality. Paine called for the overthrow of the inherited wealth and power of the aristocracy and monarchy. His assertion of the right of oppressed people to resist unjust authority remains one of the great political and ethical arguments for popular struggles everywhere. Paine was way ahead of his time in arguing for a written constitution to restrict the power of the state over the citizen. He also advocated progressive taxation and the eventual abolition of war and military spending. Paine’s revolutionary sentiments retain a sparkling modernity.
Small is Beautiful
E F Schumacher (Hartley and Marks Publishers, 1973)
Offering a people-focused, decentralised, environmentally sustainable economics, this book challenges the inhuman productivist, growth-maximising orthodoxies of traditional capitalism and socialism. It articulates a radical critique of corporate gigantism, materialism, consumerism and traditional methods of calculating standard of living. Schumacher was one of the first to dispute the imposition of western models of industrialisation on developing countries. A green pioneer, he trailblazed the self- reliant concept of low-cost, small-scale, eco-friendly, locally-made intermediate technology as the fastest, surest way to uplift impoverished peoples.
The Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (First published in London, 1848)
Few books have had a greater impact on the course of modern world history. Much of its analysis still rings true today. The vision of a classless, egalitarian, cooperative society remains a noble ideal, despite its frequent perversion to justify mass tyranny. Strong on equality but weak on liberty, the manifesto fails to demonstrate how communism can go hand-in-hand with democracy and human rights. Other weaknesses are underestimating the ability of capitalism to evolve and survive and the ecological devastation of industrialisation.
The Second Sex
Simone de Beauvoir (First published in France, 1949)
This feminist tour de force draws on insights from history, biology, psychology and anthropology to show that there is no innate female nature: ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.’ Traditional femininity and female roles are cultural impositions by men to maintain their gender supremacy. The inferior social status of women is not the result of the limited abilities of the female sex; women’s under-achievement results from their second-class status. Still relevant today, when the female half of humanity remains degraded, exploited and excluded from wealth and power.
Our Common Future
Gro Harlem Brundtland (Oxford University Press, 1987)
The long-term survival of humanity is threatened by the ravages of global
poverty, resource depletion, species extinction and biospheric pollution. This UN report sets out a radical agenda for
environmental protection, sustainable development and economic justice. Urging global action and solidarity for the common good, it says we must put universal welfare before the interests of privileged elites and internationalism before national self-interest.
Crimes Against Humanity
Geoffrey Robertson (New Press, 2000)
International humanitarian law is the new frontier in the universalisation of human rights. Since Nuremberg, the United Nations has enacted a series of groundbreaking conventions against war crimes, genocide and torture. Robertson demonstrates how realpolitik and diplomatic protocols have often allowed dictators, war criminals and torturers to escape justice. But with the creation of the International Criminal Court, we have moved a step closer to the era of human rights enforcement.
The Soul of Man Under Socialism
Oscar Wilde (1891)
This is the antidote to the statism, collectivism and authoritarianism of Leninism and other ‘ends justify the means’ variants of socialism/communism. Wilde argues that the great virtue of socialism is that far from enslaving the individual to the will of the collective, its ultimate goal and achievement will be to liberate the human spirit and allow the flourishing of the individual. Though he was a bit of a cultural snob, Wilde was right. Most people are salary and mortgage slaves, with their talents stifled by the materialism, greed and inequalities of capitalism. Under socialism, individuality and culture won’t be attributes that only the rich can cultivate; they will be extended to everyone and enrich us all.
Peter Singer (1975)
This book expands our moral horizons beyond our own species and is thus a significant evolution in the development of ethics. The right to be spared physical and psychological suffering should, says Singer, be extended to non-human animals. Their abuse in farming, sport, entertainment and Singer calls this abuse ‘speciesism’ – the doctrine of human superiority that is used to justify the exploitation of non-human animals. He argues that speciesism is a form of oppression comparable to racism, imperialism, misogyny and homophobia.
His selections can be purchased here.
A portion of the sales from purchases made through Red Pepper/Eclector’s book store contribute money to Red Pepper. Not all titles are available.
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Priti Patel's shady deals are business as usual. Enough is enough, writes Eleanor Penny
Boris Johnson is a local disaster and a national embarrassment. He must go, writes James Clouting
The global elite have been stealing from society on an unprecedented scale, writes Tom Walker
Richard Murphy says that the appropriate political will and understanding of tax can put an end to offshore avoidance and evasion
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes