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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.
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun