Carlyle, Gabriel

Carlyle, Gabriel

Gabriel Carlyle

1 August 2022Review

Verso, 2017; 224pp; £17.99

Sometimes you discover a book which you just can’t believe slipped past you when it was published.

Marcus Rediker’s 2002 book The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (co-authored with Peter Linebaugh) has become a modern classic. So how could anyone with an interest in radical history fail to spot the publication of a new book by him – let alone one with this book’s subtitle?

Fortunately, it’s not too late to correct this oversight.…

1 June 2022Review

Verso, 2021; 256pp; £16.99

‘The sky is a cornucopia – heaven, not so far from earth. We have to guard that cornucopia against industries and interests that would make it scarce.’

Thus writes anthropologist David McDermott Hughes, on the final page of this enthralling book. It’s simultaneously a call for a new ‘socialism of the wind’ and an in-depth exploration of the social, political and cultural challenges facing the renewable energy revolution.

Two ideas underlie this book.

Firstly, we urgently…

1 April 2022Feature

There are big question marks over Roger Hallam’s latest strategy – and over his climate science claims

Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Insulate Britain co-founder Roger Hallam has been touring the UK recently, recruiting for his latest nonviolent direct action project: Just Stop Oil. Among other things, he’s been telling audiences that we’re looking at experiencing a 7 ºC temperature rise by 2042 (possibly sooner) – and that solving the climate crisis ‘is not complicated’. 

These claims deserve examination. Hallam expressed them, for example, in a talk in Hastings on 10 January. (I’m…

1 April 2022Review

Verso, 2021; 256pp; £9.99

In 1895, Mohammed Abduh – later the grand mufti of Egypt – claimed: ‘We Egyptians believed once in English liberalism and English sympathy; but we believe no longer, for facts are stronger than words. Your liberalness we see plainly is only for yourselves, and your sympathy with us is that of the wolf for the lamb which it deigns to eat.’

The ‘bland fanatics’ of Pankaj Mishra’s title are those advocates of ‘western civilisation’ who, in the words of the US theologian Reinhold…

1 April 2022Review

Declassified UK, 2021; 26m; available on YouTube: www.tinyurl.com/WartonsWar

In their classic 1988 book Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky write that: ‘A propaganda system will consistently portray people abused by enemy states as worthy victims, whereas those treated with equal or greater severity by its own government or clients will be unworthy. The evidence of worth may be read from the extent and character of attention and indignation.... While this differential treatment occurs on a large scale, the media,…

1 February 2022Feature

Can community organising force the government to insulate the UK’s leaky homes?

All of the UK’s housing stock ‘zero carbon’ by 2050. Everyone living in well-insulated homes heated by clean, green energy – whether they rent a flat or own a castle. A ‘Great Homes Upgrade’.

That’s the goal of an ambitious community-organising initiative recently launched by the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

In the near term, this means getting seven million homes – including all social housing – brought up to a good standard by 2025, and a further 12 million homes brought…

1 February 2022Review

Verso, 2021; 208pp; £9.99

If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last three years, you’ll probably have heard of ‘net zero’. This is the idea that, in order to address the climate crisis, we must rapidly bring about a balance between human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and human-caused removals of the same.

The best versions of net zero could be part of the solution and a instrument for climate justice.

However, as Holly Jean Buck argues in this timely work, the…

1 February 2022Review

Granta, 2021; 272pp; £16.99

Before it went to the printers, Rebecca Solnit’s publishers tried to get her to add a subtitle to this book. She refused, on the reasonable grounds that, as a book about some roses that were grown by the author of 1984 and Animal Farm, it didn’t need one.

However, what might sound like a ridiculously narrow focus for a book, turns out to be anything but.

In a 1946 essay (‘A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray’) Orwell wrote about some inexpensive roses and fruit…

1 December 2021Review

Haymarket Books, 2021; 200pp; £16.99

Hard on the heels of her 2019 book about democracy (see PN 2644 – 2645), Astra Taylor’s latest work brings together 15 essays, mostly written during 2019 – 2020.

The topics covered range from US universities (where ‘racism, commerce and education have been bedfellows from the beginning’) and sexism in the tech industry, to debt abolition and the problem of gerontocracy (government by old people) in US politics.

Compulsively readable, Taylor draws on a wealth of…

1 December 2021Comment

Gentle activist with a passion for Dr Who

Maker, dancer and lifelong activist Jon Lockwood has died aged 54.

Unfailingly kind in his personal life, Jon took part in a wide range of struggles to change the world for the better: from anti-nuclear activism and Reclaim the Streets, to squatting and the Occupy movement (of which he was an early, and vigorous, promoter on social media).

‘Evil Jon’ (though he was anything but evil) was a familiar figure to anyone who attended the various PN Summer Camps of the early 2010s.…

1 August 2021Review

Head of Zeus, 2021; 224pp; £14.99 American Meteorological Society, 2019; 570pp; £23  Scribe, 2021; 368pp; £16.99

Earlier this year, I received an email from a local Extinction Rebellion (XR) group with the subject line ‘Update your truth’. It stated that ‘[e]ven if we turn off the CO2 [carbon dioxide] tap today, we have already committed future generations to at least 2ºC of additional heating’.

I knew this claim had no basis in current science. Its source was probably XR’s co-founder Roger Hallam. Similar claims from Hallam have been posted to the group’s Facebook page.

It made me think…

1 August 2021Feature

A more just, zero-carbon world is now within reach

Renewable energy is ‘already more than capable of scaling up at the speed necessary to protect the climate, meet energy demands, ensure energy access for the poor, and support sustainable development’, according to Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy, a June 2021 report from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

The problem is that, even if we stop fossil fuel expansion immediately, ‘with just the fossil fuels…

20 July 2021Review

Chelsea Green Publishing, 2019; 352pp; £15.99

The 2004 Republican National Convention was a tumultuous affair. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of New York, and the city’s police department created what some termed a ‘little Guantanamo on the Hudson’.

They converted a block-long pier into a temporary prison to house the hundreds of people – including random members of the public – that they had swept up in mass arrests.

ABC News’ late-night television news programme, Nightline, aired…

6 July 2021Feature

Pages from Sharon Rudahl’s Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson (Rutgers University Press, 2020; 124pp; £15.95)

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Gabriel Carlyle writes:

Feminist underground comix veteran Sharon Rudahl’s latest work takes on the life of Paul Robeson: actor, world-class athlete and electrifying singer.

The most famous African-American of his time, Robeson fell victim to the Red Scare after the Second World War. This saw him shunned by stage and studio and denied his passport.…

4 July 2021Review

Orbit 2020; 576pp; £20

When it published it’s landmark 2018 report on Global Warming of 1.5°C the UN’s climate change body, the IPCC, noted that limiting global warming to 1.5°C – the stretch goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement - ‘would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’.

In his latest utopian novel – part of his longtime project to try and populate the …