New books from Pluto in December – Cruel Harvest / Arms and the People / Contesting Transformation

Good afternoon radicals and book-lovers! After the flood comes the frost, and who better to turn to in these chilly times than Pluto? Our books are highly flammable – the kindling, if you will, to set alight righteous flames in wearied hearts. And, because we know times are tough, our Christmas sale is still on, until the 10th December. Check out this blog post for further details.

As for today, here’s a quick run-down of December’s offerings:

Julien Mercille, Cruel Harvest: US Interventions in the Afghan Drug Trade

Mainstream commentators claim that the Taliban are the main culprits behind Afghanistan’s skyrocketing drug trade and that the US military is waging a war on drugs in Afghanistan to weaken the insurgency and keep our streets free of heroin.

Cruel Harvest lifts the lid on the reality behind the mainstream narrative, showing that the United States in fact shares a large part of the responsibility by supporting drug lords, refusing to adopt effective drug control policies and failing to crack down on drug money laundered through Western banks.

Julien Mercille argues that the United States is not concerned about waging a real war on drugs, and that alleged concerns about narco-terrorism mostly act as pretexts to justify occupation. In a powerful conclusion Mercille contends that US intervention in Afghanistan is motivated by power imperatives, not benign intentions.

Mike Gonzalez and Houman Barekat, Arms and the People: Popular Movements and the Military from the Paris Commune to the Arab Spring

Looking at a range of global historical experiences, Arms and the People examines the relationship between mass movements and military institutions. Some argue that it is impossible to achieve and protect a revolution without the support of the army, but how can the support of the army be won?

Arms and the People explores the impact of profound social polarisation on the internal cohesion of the state’s ‘armed bodies of men’ and on the contested loyalties of soldiers. The different contributors examine a series of historical moments in which a crisis in the military institution has reflected a deeper social crisis which has penetrated that institution and threatened to disable it.

With a range of international contributors who have either studied or been directly involved in such social upheavals, Arms and the People is a pioneering contribution to the study of revolutionary change and will appeal to students and academics in history, politics and sociology. C. Dawson and Luke Sinwell (Editors), Contesting Transformation: Popular Resistance in Twenty-First Century South Africa

Contesting Transformation is a sober and critical reflection of the wave of social movement struggles which have taken place in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Much of the writing on these movements was produced when they were at their peak, whereas this collection takes stock of the subsequent period of contradiction and complexity. The contributors consider how these different movements conceive of transformation and assess the extent to which these understandings challenge the narrative of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

From township revolts to labour struggles, Contesting Transformation is the definitive critical survey of the state of popular struggle in South Africa today.

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