Archive for the Books Category

Please Support And Be Supported By Your Local Anarchist Book Fair.

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Books, Environment, Food For Thought, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2012 by animal_static

There is no real book fair “season” in the anarchist world as individual events all over the globe will span every month of the year but my town will be hosting its own fair next weekend and it seems like a fortuitous time to spread a little love for some alternative press.

What is your mind’s eye conjuring right now?  Black on black on black attired political dissidents accented with pedal bikes, dreadlocks, leather and back patches, spouting anti-government propaganda and discussing how best to destroy the system?  You aren’t entirely wrong but anarchism is a huge umbrella term with no aesthetic reservations under which many many different groups and ideologies dwell.  Or at the very least it could be considered a kind of idealistic commons where many alternative worldviews comfortably overlap and intersect.

If you should choose to visit your local book fair you will be greeted by a sea of tables which offer a wealth of information on a variety of topics including but not limited to political activism (duh), local and global human rights issues, PSA’s around local hate activities, gardening, upcoming direct actions, bicycle repair, LGBT topics, and a sampling of your local activist organizations.  On top of this there are a variety of workshops offered that will serve to broaden perspectives and provide some tools for direct actions, allyship, anti-colonial/imperial frameworks, and environmental issues.  The book fair also presents a kind of political level ground so to speak.  You will encounter left and right libertarians, veganism as religion (being facetious here….kind of), individualists, voluntaryists, syndicalists,  and any number of other self applied political descriptors none of which reign supreme, resulting in a politically neutral (oxymoron’s anyone?) venue which one can explore without feeling pressured.

I would be amiss if I didn’t also mention that musical events are often a crucial component to a great book fair.  In my town we usually have some anarcho folk offerings and a night or two of Crust punk and Grind shows.  Your tastes might not be met but it is always interesting.

The necessary result of events like this are increased local solidarity, stronger extended networks and the generation of unique ideas and approaches to  goals that best emerge through the interaction of individuals and groups with different academic and experiential backgrounds and philosophies.  Please don’t be put off by media portrayals of anarchism and if you are new to community activism or fringe politics be assured that every group out there NEEDS you and will welcome any queries and interests that you may have.  The community is gaining strength and momentum but there is a lot of work to be done so come on out, explore and enjoy.

Image from Montreal book fair page, http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/contact-us

Some links to various book fair resources:

http://anarchistbookfairs.blogspot.ca/

http://www.victoriaanarchistbookfair.ca/

http://seattleanarchistbookfair.org/

http://bayareaanarchistbookfair.wordpress.com/

Comments and ideas are always welcome.

Animal_Static

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Why We Should Listen to What George Monbiot Has to Say, A Book Review.

Posted in Activism, Books, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by animal_static

I know that I posted a book review a few weeks ago but I am trying to cram in as much extra curricular reading as possible before I get locked into another eight months of academia.  Not to say that I don’t love what I choose to study but there is something to be said for freedom of choice.  I just finished a somewhat current (2009) volume by George Monbiot entitled, “Bring on the Apocalypse, Six Arguments For Global Justice”, which is definitely worth a read.  Monbiot is of the idea that the Right Wing approach to government which is prevalent in the most powerful (Western/Northern/G8) nations has enabled and cultivated social and environmental scenarios that are contributing to the ultimate demise of the planet and creating an expanding social divide between the rich and the poor.  I agree.

Image from bookrabbit.com

The world is not what it seems, you are being lied to but the truth is out there and George would like to help you find it.  Government and media (sometimes synonymous) are experts at altering our perceived social and environmental realities.  We are stripped of collective identity and told that individualist consumer oriented goals (buy that house, car, second car, second house, lest you be left behind and find yourself worthless) are what we should be striving for.  Environmental disasters are downplayed or swept under the rug, an unsustainable auto industry is lionized as a true expression of freedom, social movements are under reported, and your governmental policies ARE being dictated by industrial lobbyist groups.  It’s all quite negatively overwhelming.  Luckily there are activists like Monbiot who are able to present us with some well thought out ideas that help to strip some of the veneer from the right-wing neoliberal agenda.  There are going to be some right-libertarians out there who will state that unbridled free markets are the ultimate expression of personal freedom but guess what;  that path has yielded enough blood and horror to prove it an inhuman pursuit.  Lets ask Chile, Argentina, and virtually every indigenous population on earth how they feel about it.

Image from redmolotov.com

The “arguments” in this book are collections of essays which fall under the categories of God, Nature, War, Power, Money, and Culture.  While not hitting the nail on the head with every single essay, Monbiot does a fantastic job of exposing some of the cracks in the informational facade that we are presented with by the government and media via popular news venues and “democratic” process .  Like all books dealing with current issues this one too shall eventually fall by the wayside but will not find itself in the tar pits of literary history.  The sentiments expressed within are valid critiques of problems that have thwarted humanity in one form or another since the arrival of surplus commodities which have freed parts of the population from the labour pool thus enabling religious/cultural pursuits and unbalanced power dynamics.  These easily accessible essays provide a decent foundation from which one can step stone to more in-depth critiques of sociopolitical factors that do affect most aspects of our lives and for that reason alone this book is quite valuable.

Not trying to be punny here but anyone willing to take on issues like the Vatican’s bigoted obsession with homosexuality, Americas love affair with oil and torture, the British governments submissive relationship with big business, shoddy climate change science, and media manipulation is OK in my book.  This is a guy who knows a lot about a lot of things that matter and has not been bought, hence a guy worth listening to, but as with all things, you decide.

I would love to hear what you think.

Cheers.

AnimalStatic

You Are What You Read About What You Eat

Posted in America, Books, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Industry, Politics, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2012 by animal_static

I recently finished a great book by Michael Pollan entitled, “In Defense of Food, An Eaters Manifesto” and I thought it was worth a share.  The authors credo: “Eat Food.  Not Too Much. Mostly Plants”, is unfolded against current eating habits and correlative social/health/industrial phenomena tied to the “Western Diet”.  What is the western diet?  According to the Author, the “real food” that we should be eating can be found on the peripheries of the grocery store and the more “western” items fill the middle majority of the store.  Sound flaky?  Like a flaked pastry wrapped in plastic? Not so much.  If you think about it, pretty much every store that you have been in is ringed by the bakery, the deli, the dairy, the fish counter, and……the produce.  So what is left?  Oreos, Stove Top, Hungry Man, Pizza Pops, and literally thousands of other items that contain hundreds of ingredients that most of us can’t identify (I am being presumptuous here but feeling secure in my assumptions).  We are presented with some good advice which states that if your grandparents or great grandparents couldn’t identify it as “food” then perhaps it is best to steer clear. The other thing that makes our diet “western” is the penchant to unbalance our plates with above average portions of meat, red, politically correct but environmentally unsustainable meat.

Pollan also gives us a breakdown of dietary trends such as vitamins and supplements, cholesterol, omega-3, trans fats, grains, and some of the effects that these trends have had on public health.  Like vitamins?  They apparently don’t do much.  The fact that you like vitamins is because you take a greater interest in your overall physical health and likely treat your body a little better than those who would sneer in derision when passing the supplements aisle on the way to the potato chips.  The truth seems to be that vitamins separated from their food sources aren’t very effective.  How about omega-3?  Comes from fish right?  Wrong.  Omega-3 is abundant in fish…that eat plants.  When you consider the health benefits of fish (protein, fats, oils, and acids) and plants as regular dietary staples it seems kind of silly to pump omega-3 into milk, eggs, and pills.  Especially when you consider that these animals would be richer in omega-3 if let to feed naturally rather than  on grain and synthetically formulated diets aimed at increasing food production.

Image sourced from Wikipedia

Pollan does a pretty decent job of laying out the rudiments of the politicalization  of our food.  Like Ethnic cuisine?  Keep it out of the White House or else.  If you aren’t a McDonald’s fan your favour in the polls might not last forever and if you want to run for office don’t dare oppose industrial farming lobbyists.  The government doesn’t want you to stray from its national nutritional policies which is backed by Big Agra and as a result we are made to feel weird and unpatriotic if we choose to support farmers who have diverse cropping methods, less than 100 000 chickens, and who might just want to sell us some real food for a real price (Probably a little more than you pay in the store but worth it).  Shop local and your chances of scoring some unique heirloom varieties that you won’t find in the box type grocery stores increases exponentially.  Purple tomatoes, red carrots, and multicoloured corn are all great.

POTATOES! Image from: http://www.specialtyproduce.com

One of my favourite aspects of this book is Pollans’ illumination of the problematic relationship between science and food.  Because food is SO complex, science, which in my humble opinion has strayed from its holistic philosophical roots, pursues a physicalist approach to food studies,isolating individual components of food.  In turn we are presented with beneficial or harmful properties of very small elements of what are in fact very complex organisms.  What you eat is equally important to what you do not eat and food can only be truly considered as a whole rather than its components.  In this regard we seem to treat food  like we treat our oceans.  We know next to nothing about how they work  but feel entitled to fill them full of garbage while appropriating individual components of a complex system in the name of self-interest but with paradoxical health effects .

Want to know who enjoys a good yoghurt enema?  Well you will just have to read the book to find out.

Check out “In Defense of Food” at Pollans website here:  http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/

Comments and sharing are welcome.

-Animal Static