My 2011 reading list
So I thought I might put up a list of books that I haven’t yet read, but which I fully intend to this year. Not necessarily in this order, you understand – I have a couple on loan already, so should probably read those first. I get bombarded with book suggestions, so these are the ones I’ve managed to come to the conclusion are actually in need of reading, rather than on the maybe pile. Why not add your suggestions in the comments?
The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein
I have a confession to make: I haven’t actually read this book. This should be seen as shocking, not because its so directly relevant to what we are currently seeing in Britain, but because 5 years ago there were those who might refer to me as a Kleinist. This is not a good thing, you understand. Kleinists are people too hip to read Marx, and therefore lacking serious political grounding.
The problem with this is that Marx didn’t write about the challenges of the 21st Century, whereas Klein has. Also, Marx was one person in a room thinking (and drinking) with his mate, whereas Klein is a journalist by trade and therefore uses far more empirical evidence to root her claims in the here and now.
I want to read this because, well, its about the abuse of crises to force through extreme neo-liberal policies that ultimately make no sense what so ever; they simply don’t generate jobs or raise living standards, but then they’re hardly designed to either.
The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone – Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson
The right wing would really rather you didn’t read this book. If anyone tells you we need the rich to sustain the poor, here’s a pretty good argument against it. Not only do I have a duty to read this because Kate Pickett is a York academic and likely speaker at a future public meeting, but because ‘Equality’ is a word we are hearing far too little about – have we simply given up on it?
As the government pushes through legislation that will dramatically reduce the most vulnerable people’s access to almost everything society has to offer, there are massive questions to be addressed about why we want Equality, other than some arbitrary sense that it presents a better model for fairness.
Basically, lots of people are talking about it. Whilst I’m not thinking I’ll learn much from it, it will be useful to see the argument lined up. Are Britain’s youth facing a nightmare inheritance? Almost certainly. Between a planet failing to sustain us and a government convinced it must destroy the fabric of our society, we’re not exactly leaving the young’uns much to fight over. Mostly, I want to know whether to recommend it to others, or if it is just a luke warm reheating of old facts.
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism – R.H. Tawney
I first learnt of this book’s existence a few years ago, but didn’t think to get a copy. Then I spotted it on someone’s desk, and borrowed it. Then I forgot to actually read it. The basic premise is that Tawney charts the role of Religion, and very specifically Protestant Christianity in the rise of capitalism out of feudalism. It would be good for all of us Christians to understand the ways in which our faith has been subverted as the religion of big business, and this seems a good place to start.
Crack Capitalism – John Holloway
I first attempted to read “Change the World Without Taking Power: the meaning of revolution today” two years before I actually succeeded in reading it cover to cover. The problem is that Holloway writes in incredibly tough Marxist language that often gets in the way of what is essentially a very important message: that we need a new way of doing revolution to match the times in which we find ourselves.
The title of the book I assumed we about elite Capitalism, like a crack team of experts – neo-Liberalism. Its actually about the need, and ways, to Crack Capitalism, Crack being a verb here. Having found “Change the World” massively enlightening – one of the few books I’ve read since I was 19 and reading No Logo that has felt truly eye-opening.