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.
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
We need a society built on openness, community and equality to truly defeat everything that trump stands for, writes Nick Dearden.
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry
Airport expansion is a racist policy
Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram