These are our suggestions for relevant reading and information sourcing in some key subject areas with a bearing on the plight of our planet. Originally partly a lending library for supporters.
PLANET CENTRED FORUM
DEVOLVE! RESOURCE LIBRARY – 2020 Edition
Selected Books available for lending – and also as buying guides
This selection is mainly of books relevant to the aims and perspectives of Planet Centred Forum, with some of broader reference. Many have been instrumental in the development of the thought of our networks.
In some cases, the books listed are older or harder to find titles rather than recently published titles and editions.
A good few titles reflect concern for the damage being done to our planet plus attempts to understand the evolution of the ideas and attitudes that have led humans to this place, including the ‘rational’ enlightenment and subsequently the ‘triple lock’ of modernity. More again present arguments for how we may go forward from here or at least respond as best we may to our, and the Earth’s, predicament.
Colleagues may be inspired to seek out their own reference copies of some of these seminal texts, perhaps for lending between friends or for discussion groups. However, be reminded that as part of our efforts to protect local culture and community, internet buying from global corporations should be avoided whenever possible and local or traditional bookshops supported.
Note on Classification: The three dozen titles in this list have been crudely classified under seven headings. Since many of the works listed are wide ranging in their scope not too much weight should be given to these placings.
ISBNs have been omitted from these lists for simplicity. These can be supplied on request although they will tend to vary with other editions.
CURRENT LIST NOW AVAILABLE
Social, Cultural and Mental Evolution
The Social Contract Robert Ardrey, Collins, 1970 edition.
Comment: stunning survey of animal behaviours (including ours) that outrages modern liberal and theistic beliefs alike.
Before Philosophy Henri Frankfort and colleagues, Pelican, 1949 edition.
Comment: traces the transition from ‘concrete myths’ to abstract thought and also from spirit in nature to a god outside nature.
The Origin of Consciousness in The Breakdown of The Bicameral Mind
Julian Jaynes, Mariner Books, 2000 reprint of 1976 edition.
Comment: how we lost our ability to ‘talk with the gods’.
The Paradise Papers Merlin Stone, Barnes & Noble, 1973 edition. [U.S. edition 1976 under the title When God was a Woman]
Comment: traces a 7,000 year story of the conquest of matrilineal societies in the near east by patriarchal values.
Challenging the Enlightenment and Modernity
Enlightenment’s Wake John Gray, Routledge, 1995 edition.
Comment: powerful critique of enlightenment notions of reason and choice by a noted philosopher.
The Collapse of Complex Societies Joseph A Tainter, Cambridge U.P., 1990 edition.
Comment: identifies the factors in the collapse of entire civilisations (with relevance for the Neoliberal hegemony that now holds sway).
Deep Roots in a Time of Frost Patrick Curry, Walking Tree Books, 2014 edition.
Comment: explores in Tolkien enchantment as our best challenge to modernity (global capitalism + techno-science + the managerial state), symbolised by Mordor.
Values for Our Time Woody Wood, Devolve!, 2015 edition.
Comment: attempt to survey the natural and social worlds before arguing for a values shift to respond to the plight of our planet.
Which Values? Woody Wood, Devolve!, 2016 edition.
Comment: a supplement to Values for Our Time.
A Journey into A Future Woody Wood, Devolve!, 2017 edition.
Comment: part three of the values trilogy takes the challenge further.
The Medium, The Mystic and The Physicist Lawrence LeShan, Turnstone, 1974 ed.
Comment: a deep challenge to ‘objective’ science from beyond its limitations.
The World-Ending Fire Wendell Berry, selection of writings by Paul Kingsnorth, Allen Lane/Penguin, 2017 edition
Comment: the tragedy of modernity is laid bare in these essays.
The Limitations of Enlightenment Science Woody Wood, Devolve!, 2019 edition.
Comment: critical assessment of Enlightenment science in a historical context – viewing it as one of the pillars of Neoliberal modernity; glimpsing a world beyond it.
Coming Home to The Pleistocene Paul Shepard, Island Press/Shearwater, 1998 ed.
Comment: a wise exploration of the world in which our human natures evolved – and an argument for a return to pre-alienation values.
Planet and Population
The Revenge of Gaia James Lovelock, Penguin, 2007 edition.
Comment: disaster prediction by the iconic developer of Gaia theory.
Three Generations Left? – Human Activity and the Destruction of The Planet Christine Parkinson, New Generation Publishing, 2016 edition.
Comment: comprehensive account of the many ecology-damaging trends and practices now conspiring to threaten our biosphere.
An Essay on The Principle of Population T.R.Malthus, Oxford University Press, 1993 reprint of 1798 edition.
Comment: controversial classic – first wake-up call on population density.
The Population Bomb Paul R. Ehrlich, Sierra Club/Ballantyne Books, 1968 edition.
Comment: bestseller criticised for sensational approach. Prediction of “hundreds of millions dead” was sadly correct for non-human life.
Limits to Growth D.H. Meadows et al, Pan Books, 1974 edition.
Comment: computed growth trend predictions; challenged but not disproved.
Population vs Liberty Jack Parsons, Pemberton Books, 1971 edition.
Comment: brings out the threat to many freedoms from the freedom to breed.
The Growth Illusion Richard Douthwaite, Green Books, 1992 edition.
Comment: comprehensively demolishes the myth that economic growth has benefited most people; demonstrates that it is damaging our planet.
The Sixth Extinction Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1996 edition.
Comment: reveals environmental changes as the drivers of evolution, both in producing diversity and in the mass extinctions; this sixth one due to human activity.
Ethics and Philosophy
Ecological Ethics – An Introduction Patrick Curry, Polity books, 2011 edition
Comment: Comprehensive overview of, first, the main schools of ethics and then the whole range of ‘green’ ethics from environmentalism to deep ecology.
On the Genealogy of Morality Friedrich Nietzsche, Camb. Univ. Press, 1994 edition.
Comment: How morality arose – now seen as Nietzsche’s most significant work.
Nietzsche for Beginners Laurence Gane & Kitty Chan, Icon Books, 1997 edition.
Comment: pictorial access to the most challenging of all philosophers.
Philosophy for Beginners Richard Osborne & Ralph Edney, Writers and Readers, 1992 edition.
Comment: like other ‘documentary comic books’, a great way to enjoy a difficult subject and grasp what famous philosophers were arguing.
Social and Psychological Criticism
Mind The Gap – The New Class Divide in Britain Ferdinand Mount, Short Books, 2004 edition.
Comment: how the Victorian working class built a self-help culture; how the intellectual middle class destroyed it, leaving today a demoralised underclass.
Social Limits to Growth Fred Hirsch, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978 edition.
Comment: argues that the 20th century ‘mixed economy’ was transitional, relying on (now declining) social morality and limited social expectations.
Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History Norman O. Brown, Wesleyan University Press, 1986 edition.
Comment: critique of modern civilisation from a radical Freudian standpoint.
Social Psychology and Culture
Social Psychology and Individual Values D.W. Harding, Hutchinson Univ. Library, 1953 edition.
Comment: amongst other insights identifies in the sub-group the missing link between individual and social psychology.
Energy and Economic Myths Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Pergamon, 1976 edition.
Comment: implications for individualist-collectivist social structure and theory.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are divided by Politics and Religion Jonathan Haidt, Penguin, 2013 edition.
Comment: contrasts underpinning values of conservatives and radicals.
The Alienation of Modern Man – an interpretation based on Marx and Tönnies Fritz Pappenheim, Monthly Review Press, 1968 edition.
Comment: explores how Tönnies identifies Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft as two social modes that throw light on the rise of modernity.
Our Englishness 7 Contributions, Edited Tony Linsell, Anglo-Saxon Books, 2000 edition.
Comment: a rounded picture of English roots, culture, identity and predicament. A tool for our challenge to cosmopolitan globalisation.
Connexity Geoff Mulgan, Harvard Business School Press, 1998 edition.
Comment: an insightful treatise on human social relations. Much information and nuggets of wisdom. Yet viewed from within the ‘golden age’ (for some) of liberal social democracy. Promotes connexity as a virtue for our global world (compare John Gray: “A less integrated, more fragmented world is actually more stable. People never want to hear that.”)
Towards Economic and Social Alternatives
The Ecology of Money Richard Douthwaite, Green Books, 1999 edition.
Comment: explains how currencies are and can be created. A primer for the economics books considered below.
Doughnut Economics – Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist Kate Raworth, Random House/Penguin, 2017 edition.
Comment: clearly and powerfully written challenge to the ‘rational man’ assumptions of neo-classical economics – yet still within the tradition of economics as an academic discipline. The power of the presentation masks critical omissions and questionable assumptions.
Green Economics Molly Scott Cato, Earthscan, 2009 edition.
Comment: another radical critique of neo-classical economics but this time based in the broader foundations of more grounded social and planetary concerns. In place of the doughnut, the formal economy is located within the world of human needs and resources which in turn has to exist within the natural world of which we are a part. Green economics traces the roots of what has become green thought.
The Conserver Society – Alternatives for Sustainability Ted Trainer, Zed Books, 1995 ed.
Comment: one of several books by Ted Trainer which argues that extremely low consumption societies are possible without human deprivation or ecological damage.
Self Sufficiency – The Science and Art of Producing and Preserving Your Own Food John and Sally Seymour, Book Club Associates, 1974 edition.
Comment: a classic text in its field – they really did it.
Anarchists in The Boardroom Liam Barrington-Bush, More Like People, 2013 ed.
Related: Work, Place & Community: the ‘Solidarity Ecosystems’ of Occupied Factories
This article may be read on the www.morelikepeople.org web site.
Comment: mind shifting book that brings together the energy of the occupy movements plus the new power of social networking with the principles of truly democratic workplace organisation that can be fully embedded in local communities.
Localisation: A Global Manifesto Colin Hines, Earthscan, 2000 edition.
Comment: a cogently argued case that localisation can deliver economic and social benefits that the global economy and rigged trade deals fail to deliver to most people. Taken in conjunction with the other publications in this section, the case for developing local resources and local trading within local and regional communities is already strong and will become overwhelming as the global economy fails us.
Cities and Regions in Crisis: The Political Economy of Sub-National Economic Development Martin Jones, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019 edition.
Comment: a critical analysis of historical and recent policies and strategies directed in turn to localism and regionalism, their contradictions and their consequent failures. Two themes brought out are the complex relationships between ‘economic, social and political processes’ and the reluctance of the centre to surrender meaningful power. The depth of the analysis makes this a dense first read yet vital for devolutionists seeking to grasp the scale of the task ahead.
After The Crash: The Emergence of The Rainbow Economy Guy Dauncey, Green Print, 1998 edition.
Comment: despite being written before the internet, social media, the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of China, this book anticipates the future now looming into view. Grasps well the inner dimension of all life. The blend of spiritual optimism and very practical social and economic projects and possibilities gives this very readable book a lasting relevance.
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Appreciation here to those who have donated books to the Devolve! library. Future donations of relevant books will be appreciated. Also suggestions from our contact lists for titles that would help to inform and mutually encourage us in our aim to be wiser partners with our beautiful planet.
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