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Land and Labour: Marxism, Ecology and Human History [Kindle Edition]

Martin Empson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Martin Empson draws on a Marxist understanding of history to grapple with the contradictory potential of our relationship with our environment. In so doing he shows that human action is key, both to the destruction of nature and to the possibility of a sustainable solution to the ecological crises of the 21st century.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 702 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bookmarks (4 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JDN927W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #671,544 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Martin Empson's first book, "Land and Labour: Marxism, Ecology and Human History" was published by Bookmarks in early 2014. Martin draws on a Marxist understanding of history to grapple with the contradictory potential of our relationship with our environment. In so doing he shows that human action is key, both to the destruction of nature and to the possibility of a sustainable solution to the ecological crises of the 21st century. Land and Labour has been long-listed for the 2015 Bread and Roses award for radical publishing.

Ian Angus, editor of the Climate and Capitalism website, said about the book that it:

"puts today's global environmental crisis into historical context, showing how humanity has used and abused the rest of nature for thousands of years, and how in a few hundred years capitalism has brought us to the brink of disaster. It is essential reading for everyone who wants to know how we got into this mess--and how we can get out of it."

Simon Butler, co-author of the book, "Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis" wrote:

"This superb book examines humanity's dynamic relationships with nature - from the dawn of civilisation to modern times - with a view to better understanding the social roots of today's environmental crises. Engaging, comprehensive and very well-written, it's an important contribution to the field of Marxist ecology." - Simon Butler, co-author Too Many People?

Writing in Socialist Review, January 2014, Camila Royle said that

"Marxist geographer Neil Smith once argued that, in starting to develop a historical materialist approach to nature, Marx had given us the corners and most of the straight edges of a jigsaw puzzle. The job of later generations has been to lay out these pieces and fill in the rest of the picture. This book is an important contribution to that tradition."

Martin is also the author two popular pamphlets, "Marxism and Ecology: Capitalism, Socialism and the Future of the Planet" and "Climate Change: Why Nuclear Power is not the Answer". He is based in Manchester, in the UK and is a long standing socialist and environmentalist activist.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars by our almighty hands 30 Mar. 2014
Format:Paperback
Our world stands periously close to environmental catastrophe. This book is invaluable in providing a survey of human development that describes how we got here. It is only by understanding the social, political and economic forces and their interaction with nature that brought us to this point that we can have any hope of understanding how we can turn this situation around, of saving our planet while providing for our fundamental human needs.
Martin takes us on a historical journey from the beginnings of human society to the present, describing the intrinsic connection between ourselves and the natural world – how we have used nature and how that use has helped shape human societies. He ends with a passionate discussion of the possibilities for the future, showing that satisfying the needs of the whole of humanity – not just a few people – need not be done at the expense of environmental destruction. What makes this book stand out from many others on this subject is that Martin places the answer directly with a revolutionary transformation of society from capitalism to socialism.
Anyone interested in the ecological questions of our time, in the potential of humans to live in accord with our environment, and in the potential of ordinary people to reclaim control over our own lives including how we interact with nature needs to read this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating, Accessible and Positive 14 May 2014
Format:Paperback
This is a is first-rate book. Well-researched but accessible to the lay-person, it explores human being's relationship with nature over the centuries leading up to the current problem of climate change. It ends on a positive note by saying that climate change, while deadly serious, is not an insoluble problem. There are viable and exciting solutions already available. It is written from a Marxist perspective but you do not need to be a Marxist to learn a lot from this stimulating book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 30 Mar. 2014
Format:Paperback
This book is an excellent critique of global capitalism’s inability to either feed the world’s population adequately or safeguard our environment for future generations. Martin Empson shows how the development of agriculture was one of the most important inventions in our history, producing more food than we actually needed. The existence of this surplus had enormous effects on early human history, leading to the rise of organised religion and of the first embryo of the state. Using telling examples from throughout human history, the author shows how agriculture has underpinned all human progress, as its success or failure in responding to growing population size has been determinant for the success or failure of so many societies. It's not all one-way, though – the arrival of modern agriculture has had devastating effects on indigenous communities and cultures, and, more recently on the ecosystem. The second half of the book concentrates on the rise of modern agriculture and its complex effects – malnutrition in parts of the developing world alongside the exportation of food to the west, appalling inequalities in wealth and health, and now the growing threat of ecological collapse. Empson's book is refreshingly rooted in a Marxist analysis of the way the world is, and how to change it. It also contains loads of fascinating facts about tractors and ploughs, without which society would not be the way it is. Highly recommended.
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