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Catastrophism [Format Kindle]

Sasha & McNally, David Lilley

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

'This is a controversial book that challenges many of the unexamined assumptions on the left (as well as on the right). It is a warning not to abandon everyday anti-capitalist politics for a politics of absolute fear that inevitably leads to inaction.' --Silvia Federici, author, 'Revolution at Point Zero'

Présentation de l'éditeur

Catastrophism explores the politics of apocalypse-on the left and right, in the environmental movement-and examines why the lens of catastrophe can distort the understanding of the dynamics at the heart of disasters-and fatally impedes the ability to transform the world. Lilley, McNally, Yuen and Davis probe the reasons why catastrophic thinking is so prevalent, and challenge the belief that it is only out of the ashes that a better society may be born.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2502 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 176 pages
  • Editeur : PM Press (4 décembre 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00A3QG8CU
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°595.502 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.6 étoiles sur 5  7 commentaires
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Seduced by catastrophism or mugged by reality? 1 mars 2014
Par Ashtar Command - Publié sur Amazon.com
"Catastrophism" is a somewhat frustrating book, written from a kind of anarcho-Marxist perspective. It contains both hits and misses, although I would consider the misses to be more prominent in the final analysis.

First, some of the hits. The authors, despite their revolutionary inclinations, are critical of leftist "catastrophism", by which they mean a kind of secular apocalypticism. The idea that capitalism will collapse all by itself, in near-deterministic fashion, is one species of catastrophism. Another is the seemingly opposite notion that a small and dedicated group of revolutionary fighters can take down the system by sheer will power (and, presumably, a lot of bombs) at any given time. The authors point out, correctly, that this kind of voluntarism is really the flip side of determinism, since both perspectives are based on the idea that radicals don't have to bother convincing the broad majority of the people. Both perspectives are therefore grounded in anti-political despair. (At least one author reviewed by me elsewhere fits this description almost to a tee: Derrick Jensen. And yes, he's mentioned in the book, although mostly in passing.)

The authors further criticize the idea that crises, poverty or oppression automatically make people more radical and leftist. In reality, the number of strikes in the United States have historically increased during economic booms, and plummeted during economic downturns. The only exception to the rule are the 1930's, and even then, the resistance didn't come until almost five years into the depression, and was fuelled by hope for reform rather than desperation (in other words, FDR's New Deal, although the authors doesn't mention it explicitly). Something similar can be seen in Europe. While the revolutions and attempted revolutions after World War I were obviously caused by the war and the subsequent hardships of peace, the major struggles of 1968 took place during the post-war boom. Today, in the aftermath of the finance crisis, we can see the same phenomenon again: surprisingly little resistance (outside Greece), with some right-wing governments actually being re-elected in the midst of the crisis (Sweden would be one example). Thus, while crises *can* trigger radical resistance, there is no guarantee that they will do so. Indeed, the authors believe that crises are more likely to breed fascism or heavy-handed government repression! Nor is there any guarantee that increased state repression will cause widespread resistance. Yet, many terrorist groups base their strategy on this illusion: by attacking the system and *forcing* the state to clamp down on civil liberties, its "fascist" character will be "exposed" and revolution follow. In reality, the population usually remains passive, or actually supports the state.

While there is obviously a large amount of truth in the above, "Catastrophism" nevertheless also contains some pretty serious misses. First, it's somewhat difficult to take the authors seriously. They are super-radical, but their criticism of catastrophism points in a "liberal" or "reformist" direction. If crises usually lead to fascism, if capitalism can create relative prosperity, and if the system can go on forever without collapsing (see further below), it's difficult to see why we should support an anarchist-Marxist revolution. Why not simply call for another New Deal? It might be a more radical New Deal than the last time (a kind of Wallace-Browder kind of thing), but it would still fall far short of the wet dreams of the Midnight Notes collective (or whoever is behind this book). The contributors to "Catastrophism" accuse their leftist colleagues of despair, but surely their own perspective - one of capitalism potentially existing forever - is just as despairing, at least for an anti-capitalist leftist?

Second, the authors are quite simply *wrong* when they suggest that the present system can potentially last forever. They constantly heckle the peak oil activists, putting "peak oil" within quotation marks, and ironically wonder whether people who don't grow organic food are somewhat less "authentic" than the next guy. Yeah, comrades, very funny. If "catastrophism" means apocalypse on Monday morning, I don't believe in it either. However, what about a long decline? Why is that ruled out? Is there any *other* civilization in world history that hasn't declined and disappeared? Why should "capitalism" be any different? One of the writers believes that there is enough gas, uranium and oil to go around for centuries. Another writer actually believes that the environmental and energy crises have truly apocalyptic dimensions, but mentions this only in the footnotes! The authors' unfortunate denialism is most cogently expressed in these lines: "The worst aspect of Malthusian scenarios however, is not that they are usually wrong but that they `tilt right'. In fact, the predictable outcome of the Y2K and peak oil scenarios (were they accurate) is a Hobbesian `war of each against all' and the legitimation of a militarized lifeboat ethics." In other words, the authors main argument against peak oil is that it simply *can't* be true, since it's politically reactionary! They are confusing reality with their ideological road map. I wonder how far they are willing to take this line of reasoning? Perhaps the Roman siege of Carthage didn't really happen either, since it was such a "reactionary" idea (at least for the Carthaginians)...

Had the contributors to "Catastophism" been more constructive, they would have either proposed scenarios on how to peacefully transition from an oil-dependent economy to a post-oil economy, or proposed how local communities can save themselves without resorting to militarized lifeboat ethics. Denying the coming, long twilight of modern civilization in the name of an ideological fight against reactionary catastrophism is just another sure road to being mugged by reality...
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Read Catastrophism to avoid Catastrophy 7 janvier 2013
Par Kay - Publié sur Amazon.com
Clearly written and argued, this short book packs an intellectual and political punch. It provides a new lense on how to think about social change. The book critiques catastrophism - the thinking that society is headed for an economic, ecological, social or spiritual collapse and that such a catastrophe will automatically lead to mass political activism, to revolutionary change or to a better society arising out of the ashes of the old. The four authors further debunk the idea that presenting knowledge about real catastrophes, e.g., global warming or the holocaust, will automatically lead people to political action. Rather, the authors argue for the resurrection of utopian thinking and for the prosaic acts of organizing and resistance.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Challenging the powers that seek to control us 23 février 2014
Par Malvin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
"Catastrophism" is a collection of thoughtful essays on the politics of crisis. The contributors are Left-leaning activists, intellectuals and educators. This timely book explains why catastrophism tends to work against progress and suggests how the Left can improve its message.

Doug Henwood reminds us in the Foreword that historically, the working class has made most of its gains during times of economic growth, not contraction; and should therefore talk about utopia, not dystopia. In the Introduction, Sasha Lilley reiterates that catastrophe does not open opportunities for progressive social reengineering but is in fact often used by reactionary forces to roll back social gains and consolidate elite power.

There are four essays featured in the book. "The Politics of Failure Have Failed" by Eddie Yuen criticizes the doom-ridden rhetorical strategies of the environmental movement. Mr. Yuen asserts that the environmental crisis is properly understood as a crisis of capitalism but the unfocused message of impending environmental catastrophe has only bred apathy and inaction. Mr. Yuen believes that environmentalists who focus their struggles on the material abundance for the many will result in a movement that can resist the eco-Fascist politics of the few.

"Catastrophism and the Left" by Sasha Lilley laments how the Left has often misread Marx and missed the crucial point of class struggle and collective action. The idea that revolution could be instigated through mayhem backfired against the rise of Fascism in the 1930s and neoliberalism in the 1970s. Ms. Lilley's analysis suggests that Leftists do best when they inspire the masses through a message of hope, not despair.

"Catastrophism and the Right" by James Davis discusses how gains made by minorities, women and the working class has been perceived by the Right as a plot to undo elite privilege. Historically, the Right has partnered with Christian fundamentalists to fight Communism, multiculturalism and Islamism. Mr. Davis shows how paranoia and fear is used to empower the police state and the military-industrial complex, reinforce the social hierarchy, and blunt attempts to redistribute income more equitably.

"Capitalism and Catastrophes of Everyday Life" by David McNally finds the prevalence of zombies and vampires in popular culture to be symbolic of the life-stealing character of late capitalism. Mr. McNally's brief but illuminating survey of the genre helps us understand how the working class has been variously personified through literature and film. From Mary Shelley's `Frankenstein' to `Night of the Living Dead' and other works, Mr. McNally proposes how art can help us challenge the powers that seek to control us.

I highly recommend this excellent book to everyone.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A powerful book 12 mars 2013
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
As an activist, I've always been uncomfortable with the apocalyptic rhetoric used by my brothers and sisters in the anti global warming movement. This book crystalized my concerns, explained why that type of "scared straight" argument is actually counterproductive, and also explained WHY some in the movement argue this way. A very thought provoking book - definitely worth a read for anybody interested in social change
4 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Thinking out of the Box 24 janvier 2013
Par The Peripatetic Reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Catastrophism, while a first-cousin, is the political counterpart to religious apocalyptic mentality. It is the belief, the political strategy, that the changing social and political conditions, getting progressively worse either by own accumulated weight or by encouragement from outside sources, will get better, harkening to a new world. The left does it, the right does it, the State does it.

If there is one theme that pervades this insightful and fascinating book, it is that this type of thinking breads apathy and inaction. The authors caution against this apathy, in fact, cautions against engaging in catastrophic thinking in that this mentality is self-defeating and plays into the hands of the power structure.

This book consists of four essays which covers the gambit of catastrophism. The highlights of these essays are the following:

The first essay deals with catastrophism with regard to environmental issues. It is in this area that catastrophism plays a major, if not prominent role. For good reason. Catastrophic weather conditions are among us now and part of the daily news. The author points out that it is important that the public becomes aware of climate change; the author implies, however, that there is some element of economic self-interest in promulgating that awareness. In addition, the more the public becomes aware of environmental climate change, the more the public becomes apathetic.

The second essay deals with catastrophism in the left. This mentality takes the form in the passive belief the system will collapse on its own, or that it needs help in doing so, either through political violence and/or terrorism. The outcomes of this mentality are themselves catastrophic. The author recounts the instance of the German Communistic Party in the early thirties, convinced that Adolf Hitler would make things so bad if elected, that they encouraged their own members to vote for him! Once elected, one of the first things Hitler did was to purge the German Communist Party, imprison or execute their leaders, and permanently ban the party.

The second essay deals with catastrophism in the right. The right are masters in this type of thinking, taking their cues from the religious right and State apparatus.

The third essay is probably the most interesting. Here, the author McNally gives an interesting interpretation of various monsters, Frankenstein's monster, zombies and flesh-eating ghouls. The reader should just go ahead and buy the book to read this essay. It is worth the price of this fascinating and thought-provoking book.
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