2017 General Election Reading List – All books 50% off!

It is 2017 and for radicals we are finally seeing a candidate that we could vote for. Within our reach is the end of austerity, the restoration of the NHS, the improvement of the lives of underprivileged people and Britain that is not governed by Old Etonians, City boys and tax-dodgers. Vote, and Vote Corbyn! And, in case you needed convincing, here’s our selection of some of the best Pluto books on British politics.

Ahead of the 2017 General Election, all of our books are 50% off! Follow bit.ly/ELECTIONREADING to apply your discount code.

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The Violence of Austerity edited by Vickie Cooper and David Whyte

Was: £16.99 Now: £8.49

Austerity, a response to the aftermath of the financial crisis, continues to devastate contemporary Britain. Unless we vote for a change in government, it’ll continue; austerity is over in name only. COOPER T03205

In The Violence of Austerity, Vickie Cooper and David Whyte bring together the voices of campaigners and academics, including Danny Dorling, Mary O’Hara and Rizwaan Sabir, to show that rather than stimulating economic growth, austerity policies have led to a dismantling of the social systems that operated as a buffer against economic hardship, exposing austerity to be a form of systematic violence. Austerity is a class project, disproportionately targeting underprivileged and vulnerable people.

Covering a range of famous cases of institutional violence in Britain, the book argues that police attacks on the homeless, violent evictions in the rented sector, the risks faced by people on workfare schemes, community violence in Northern Ireland and cuts to the regulation of social protection, are all being driven by reductions in public sector funding. The result is a shocking exposé of the myriad ways in which austerity policies harm people in Britain.

 

Do I Belong? Reflections from Europe edited by Antony Lerman

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Was: £14.99  Now: £7.49

With a general election defined by party policies on immigration and Brexit, the notion of ‘belonging’, as both a political project and a human emotion, has never been more important. Since its foundation in 1957, the European Union has encouraged people across its member states to feel a sense of belonging to one united community, with mixed results. Today, faced with British departure from the EU, the fracturing impacts of the migration crisis, the threat of terrorism and rising tensions within countries, governments within and outside the EU seek to impose a different kind of belonging on their populations through policies of exclusion and bordering.

In this collection of original essays, a diverse group of novelists, journalists and academics reflect on their own individual senses of European belonging. In creative and disarming ways, they confront the challenges of nationalism, populism, racism and fundamentalism.

Do I Belong? offers fascinating insights into such questions as: Why fear growing diversity? Is there a European identity? Who determines who belongs? Is a single sense of ‘good’ belonging in Europe dangerous? This collection provides a unique commentary on an insufficiently understood but defining phenomenon of our age.

Authors include: Zia Haider Rahman, Goran Rosenberg, Isolde Charim, Hanno Loewy, Diana Pinto, Nira Yuval-Davis and Doron Rabinovici among others.

 

Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp by the Calais Writers

Was: £14.99  Now: £7.49

Often called the ‘Jungle’, the refugee camp near Calais in Northern France epitomises for many the suffering, uncertainty and violence which characterises the situation of CalaiswritersT03221refugees in Europe today. Discussion of refugees is consumed by numbers and the media and Westminster all too often ignore the voices of the people who lived there – people who have travelled to Europe from conflict-torn countries such as Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan and Eritrea: people with astounding stories, who are looking for peace and a better future.

Voices from the ‘Jungle’ is a collection of these stories. Through its pages, the refugees speak to us in powerful, vivid language. They reveal their childhood dreams and struggles for education; the wars and persecution that drove them from their homes; their terror and strength during their extraordinary journeys. They expose the reality of living in the camp; tell of their lives after the ‘Jungle’ and their hopes for the future. Through their stories, the refugees paint a picture of a different kind of ‘Jungle’: one with a powerful sense of community despite evictions and attacks, and of a solidarity which crosses national and religious boundaries.

Illustrated with photographs and drawings by the writers, and interspersed with poems. In the midst of an election obsessed by immigration, this book must be read by everyone seeking to understand the human consequences of this world crisis.

 

Against Austerity: How we Can Fix the Crisis they Made by Richard Seymour

Was: £14.99  Now: £7.49Seymour T02680

Why are the rich still getting away with it? Why is protest so ephemeral? Why does the left appear to be marginal to political life? In Against Austerity, author of Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics, Richard Seymour challenges our understanding of capitalism, class and ideology, showing how ‘austerity’ is just one part of a wider elite plan to radically re-engineer society and everyday life in the interests of profit, consumerism and speculative finance.

But Against Austerity is not a gospel of despair. Seymour argues that once we turn to face the headwinds of this new reality, dispensing with reassuring dogmas, we can forge new collective resistance and alternatives to the current system.

 

Cut Out: Living Without Welfare by Jeremy SeabrookSeabrook T03123

Was: £12.99 Now: £6.49

Britain’s welfare state, one of the greatest achievements of our post-war reconstruction, was regarded as the cornerstone of modern society. Today, that cornerstone is wilfully being dismantled by a succession of governments, with horrifying consequences. The establishment paints pictures of so-called ‘benefit scroungers’; the disabled, the sickly and the old.

In Cut Out: Living Without Welfare, Jeremy Seabrook speaks to people whose support from the state – for whatever reason – is now being withdrawn, rendering their lives unsustainable. In turns disturbing, eye-opening, and ultimately humanistic, these accounts reveal the reality behind the headlines, and the true nature of British politics today.

Published in partnership with the Left Book Club.

 

How Corrupt is Britain? edited by David Whyte

Was: £16.99 Now: £8.49

A game-changing book. It should be read by everyone – George Monbiot Whyte T02913.jpg

Banks accused of rate-fixing. Members of Parliament cooking the books. Major defence contractors investigated over suspect arms deals. Police accused of being paid off by tabloids. The headlines are unrelenting these days. Perhaps it’s high time we ask: just exactly how corrupt is Britain?

David Whyte brings together a wide range of leading commentators and campaigners, offering a series of troubling answers. Unflinchingly facing the corruption in British public life, they show that it is no longer tenable to assume that corruption is something that happens elsewhere; corrupt practices are revealed across a wide range of venerated institutions, from local government to big business. These powerful exposés shine a light on the corruption fundamentally embedded in the current UK politics, police and finance.

 

 

The Rent Trap: How we Fell into It and How We Get Out of It by Rosie Walker and Samir Jeraj

Was: £12.99 Now: £6.49

Deregulation, revenge evictions, parliamentary corruption and day-to-day instability: Walker T03066these are the realities for the eleven million people currently renting privately in the UK. At the same time, house prices are skyrocketing and the generational promise of home ownership is now an impossible dream for many. This is the rent-trap: an inescapable consequence of Tory-led market-induced inequality.

Rosie Walker and Samir Jeraj offer the first critical account of what is really going on in the private rented sector and expose the powers conspiring to oppose regulation. A quarter of British MPs are landlords, rent strike is almost impossible and snap evictions are growing, but in the light of these hurdles The Rent Trap shows how to fight back.

Drawing on inspiration from movements in the UK, Europe and further afield, The Rent Trap coheres current experiences of those fighting the financial burdens, health risks and vicious behaviour of landlords in an attempt to put an end to the dominant narratives that normalise rent extraction and undermine our fundamental rights.

Published in partnership with the Left Book Club.

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All books are available from Pluto Press and are currently 50% off RRP!

‘Even the President of the United States has to stand naked’: Trump Strips America’s Corrupt Democracy

‘How Corrupt is Britain?’ edited by David Whyte is a collection of powerful and punchy essays that shine a light on the corruption embedded in UK politics, policing and finance. In this article,  David Whyte extends his study of corruption to the U.S., turning his eye to President – Elect Trump’s recent appointments and the continued love affair between the U.S. government and private interests.

Donald Trump’s pitch to the people on the eve of the election in November was that only he could overturn the “years of sordid corruption” in the Washington establishment.   But his earliest appointments are beginning to line up like a familiar identification parade of establishment crooks.

His nominee as Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, a company currently embroiled in a major Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation for publishing false reports about its assets.  The ‘white nationalist’ Steve Bannon, appointed as White House chief strategist has been exposed for channeling millionaire donor funds through a ‘charity’ to fund his work for the extreme right-wing Breitbart News. nude-trump-1  And Trump’s newly crowned head of manufacturing, is Andrew Leveris, the CEO of Dow Chemicals who was also investigated by the SEC for fraud, although the case has apparently now been concluded.  Perhaps the icing on the cake is the appointment of the climate change-denying corporate lawyer Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

But the alleged frauds that tie those appointments together is really not the headline story.  The headline story is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, they all have a long track record of rabidly opposing any regulation that gets in the way of business.

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Video: David Whyte presents How Corrupt is Britain?

In this book trailer David Whyte, editor of How Corrupt is Britain?, explores the nature of corruption in Britain, and how it affects a number of our most venerated institutions. David discusses the public sector, big business and the police, as well as giving an overview of the endless litany of political scandals and incidences of high profile corruption that the book covers.

Read the Guardian article by George Monbiot here.

More videos are avilable to watch on the Pluto Press YouTube channel.

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David Whyte is Reader in Sociology at the University of Liverpool.  He is an internationally established author on the subjects of state power and corporate power, having written books such as Crimes of the Powerful: A Reader (Open University Press, 2009) and has co-authored three books and co-edited four collections on this subject.

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How Corrupt is Britain? is available to buy from Pluto Press here.

Haiti’s New Dictatorship, A Summary

This article was originally published on the Socialist Project‘s ‘The Bullet‘, on December 19th. Justin Podur explores the central themes of his new book, Haiti’s New Dictatorship (Pluto, 2012) in just a few short paragraphs. For those of you may have been considering picking up a copy of his brilliant work, perhaps this will persuade you. Purchasing details are at the end of this post.

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Justin Podur

What constitutes a dictatorship? Haiti had an election in 2006, which the popular candidate won. It had an election in 2011, which had one of the lowest turnouts in recent history and which was subject to all kinds of external manipulation. Given these elections, is it unfair to call Haiti, a country that suffered 30 years of classic dictatorship under the Duvaliers from the 1950s to the 1980s, a dictatorship today?

When the institutions that govern Haiti today are examined, it is clear that the label ‘dictatorship’ applies. Haitians have no effective say over their own economic and political affairs. Their right to assemble and organize politically is sharply limited. Human rights violations are routine and go unpunished. Popular political parties are effectively banned from running.

How is Haiti Governed?

Since 2004, the armed force in Haiti has been controlled by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH. Haiti’s police are trained, and effectively supervised, by a subset of MINUSTAH, a mission called CIVPOL (usually commanded by Canadians). The current president of Haiti, Michel Martelly, wants to bring back the Haitian Army, but when that army existed, it was also an instrument of another country (the U.S.) and its foreign policy – bringing back the Haitian Army would be no boost to sovereignty or democracy in Haiti.

Force is controlled from outside. What about finance? MINUSTAH has a budget of about $676-million. Since the 2010 earthquake, the big charities have spent about the same (around $600-million) in 2010 and 2011. Haiti’s own government budget this year is based on $1.1-billion in aid and $1.25-billion in taxes. Perhaps most importantly, Haiti’s economy is also supported by about $1.5-billion in remittances from the Haitian diaspora, year after year, one of the largest contributions to Haiti’s $7.3-billion GDP.

These figures contain a few surprises. In terms of taxes and GDP, most of the contribution to Haiti’s economy is by Haitians. Presented as an international basket-case, Haiti is actually more self-sufficient than its donors believe. And the aid – whether in the form of budget support, relief and reconstruction aid, or NGO expenditure – buys control. By contributing a fraction of what Haitians contribute, foreign donors purchase control over the direction of Haiti’s economy, including the determination of an export- and foreign-investment driven model that keeps wages low and denies any protection to the country’s agriculture, let alone any local infant industries. Haiti’s private sector is a subcontracting sector, featuring low-wage assembly plants and import-export monopolies, but little prospect of increasing productivity or long-term development.

Haiti’s social services sector is controlled by non-governmental organizations. These NGOs are better described, using Peter Hallward’s phrase, as “other-governmental,” since they are financed by, and beholden to, foreign donor countries. With daily welfare in the hands of a totally decentralized NGO economy, there is no prospect of any sort of national or regional coordination. This has real, and deadly consequences. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 provides an example. Cuba’s early warning system and national government enabled that country to evacuate a huge hurricane-affected area before the storm hit, with hundreds of thousands of people being efficiently moved out of danger and back to their homes after the storm passed. With every NGO in the world, and half of the world’s countries participating in MINUSTAH, the international community could not manage such an orderly evacuation in Haiti. This is one of the reasons Haiti, under international tutelage, loses more lives than sovereign countries do every hurricane season and why it lost more lives during the 2010 earthquake than countries like Chile or China (that were hit with severe earthquakes around the same time).

A final feature of dictatorships is impunity, a situation in which crimes committed by the regime go unpunished. There is now irrefutable scientific evidence that the United Nations brought cholera to Haiti, and that cholera has killed over 7,500 people since it was introduced. MINUSTAH’s initial position was to claim that there was no proof. Now that there is proof, MINUSTAH insists that it is not to blame because it was not done on purpose, even though no one ever claimed it was. But if the effective government of a country causes thousands of deaths and insists that no one is to blame, shouldn’t it raise questions about how the country is governed?

The Coup and Canadian Intervention

The story of how Haiti’s new dictatorship was imposed is also appalling. The MINUSTAH-international donor regime was imposed after the elected government was overthrown in 2004. That government, of Lavalas, saw its president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, kidnapped and flown to the Central African Republic, where he was held until he was basically rescued by an American delegation. The coup against the Lavalas government was accompanied by many claims that Aristide was a great human rights violator and participant in corruption. The factual basis for almost all of these claims has since collapsed, but the government that replaced Aristide engaged in real political cleansing, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people since 2004, and the aid economy wastes more money than most classic-mould dictators could dream of stealing.

The 2004 coup in Haiti followed a script, parts of which were used in 2002 in Venezuela (unsuccessfully), in 2009 in Honduras (successfully), and in 2012 in Paraguay (successfully). Studying the record of how the ‘international community’ has governed Haiti in the eight years since the coup should be important for those who are wondering where the next coups will be.

In 2005, a Canadian official told me that Haiti is a practice ground for how the ‘international community’ might handle the ‘Cuban transition.’ After securing key sites in Port au Prince to help the coupsters in 2004, Canadian missions have trained and supervised Haiti’s police throughout the worst periods of human rights violations since the coup. So when Canada’s minister of international cooperation Julian Fantino, a former police chief himself, went to Haiti at the end of November, it is perhaps unsurprising that he spoke about what Canada expects from Haiti: “The Government of Canada and Canadians expect transparency and accountability from the Government of Haiti given Canadians significant level of generosity. I will be expressing this expectation in my meetings with senior officials.” If only Haiti could expect the same level of transparency and accountability for what Canada has done in their country. Imagine how different the world would have to be for a Haitian to be able to say such words publicly.

When Fantino was in Haiti, I was on a book tour sponsored by the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN), a network that has tried to raise the issue of what Canada has been doing in Haiti since 2004 – tries to demand, in other words, some “transparency and accountability” from the government of Canada for its support of the coup and its role in post-coup governance. Mostly, crowds were small, but there were interesting people who found their way to events: the physio-therapist in Halifax who went on a two week medical mission only to discover that such missions aren’t all that big a help and that the mission organizers made the medical volunteers afraid to leave their walled compound in Port au Prince; the young Haitians in Montreal who said it was refreshing to hear their own history told in a respectful way, as opposed to a contemptuous one; the black Canadian Forces soldier who answered an audience question about racism among international forces by telling a story of how French soldiers joked that Haiti needed to be recolonized by France.

In the 2004 coup, these kinds of people, people interested in helping Haiti, were the targets of propaganda. They were told that Haiti was faced with the stark choice between local corruption and international control. But the record shows that the government that was overthrown wasn’t all that corrupt and that international control was a catastrophe. This is something people who want to help Haiti badly need to know.

There are other ways, real ways, to help. The Cuban medical missions managed to train Haitian doctors and keep providing health care through every disruption; Venezuela provided oil at lower than the global market rate. NGOs like MSF and Partners in Health do great work in the health sector, and CHAN tries hard to stay in touch with grassroots Haitian organizations in the democratic movement. International solidarity, as opposed to aid, will require working around the structures of the dictatorship, something that can only be done if we see them for what they are.

Haiti’s New Dictatorship

The Coup, the Earthquake and the UN Occupation

Justin Podur. Foreword by William I Robinson

Charts Haiti’s recent history up to the present, including the 2004 coup, the UN occupation and devastating 2010 earthquake.

“The UN occupation of Haiti promised to bring stability and democracy. Instead it has delivered cholera, rape and repression. With a sharp eye and a keener pen, Justin Podur expertly exposes the abuses the gang of nations that calls itself ‘the international community’ has inflicted on one of the world’s poorest countries – from the brutal imposition of structural adjustment and the driving out of a democratically elected president to the politicisation of earthquake relief. Enough is enough.” – Greg Grandin, Professor of History at New York University

“The centuries-long torture of Haiti, and the courageous resistance of its people, is one of the most dramatic and compelling stories of modern history. It is vividly brought to life in this well-informed and highly illuminating study, which also provides valuable lessons about Haiti, about western power and ideology, and about prospects for justice and freedom in today’s world.” – Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at MIT

£18.99 only £17.00 on the Pluto site

The Islamic Utopia – Enthusiastic endorsement from the Angry Arab News Service

We’re very gratified to have seen another written thumbs up for Andrew Hammond’s new book, The Islamic Utopia: The Illusion of Reform in Saudi Arabia (Pluto, 2012). The most recent praise came from a brief post on the Angry Arab News Service blog. No need to embellish it here, so we’ll keep it brief and just copy the lovely words below. As usual, click on the picture for purchasing info…

I am a huge fan of Andrew Hammond, the Middle East correspondent for Reuters.  He is unique in his knowledge of the region: he is fluent in Arabic and  has an independent mind.  I have endorsed his new book, The Islamic Utopia: the Illusion of Reform in Saudi Arabia, and am thrilled that is out.  I strongly and enthusiastically recommend the book.  Andrew reported in the kingdom for years (as unhappy as Saudi princes have been with his work) and knows this subject intimately.  This book should be widely read: rare are the books on Saudi Arabia that are neither apologetic nor Islamophoebic [sic]. – As’ad AbuKhalil

The Islamic Utopia

The Illusion of Reform in Saudi Arabia

Andrew Hammond

Highly informed inside account of the prospects for democracy in Saudi Arabia which challenges the West’s alliance with the Saudi royal family.

“If there is anyone who can write knowledgeably and intelligently about Saudi Arabia, it is Andrew Hammond. His deep knowledge of politics and culture in the Middle East uniquely qualifies him to undertake this project. Hammond’s track record is independent and critical, and this book adds to our knowledge of a kingdom that is often shrouded with mystery and propaganda.” – As’ad AbuKhalil, Department of Politics, California State University Stanislaus, author of The Battle for Saudi Arabia

“Fascinating. Reconciles the demands of scholarly depth with keen personal insights into everyday life in Saudi Arabia.” – Larbi Sadiki, Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics, University of Exeter

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

A Dictator’s Best Friend: Corruption, War and the West – Vijay Mehta in Ceasefire

Vijay Mehta, author of The Economics of Killing: How the West Fuels War and Poverty in the Developing World (Pluto, 2012), has written a piece in Ceasefire this week where he argues that recent evidence from the Middle East corroborates the analysis he lays out in his book – that Western governments continue to be the best friends of dictators with money to hide.

Mehta writes:

Back in February, we were supposed to let out a collective cheer when European governments said they had “frozen” the assets of Hosni Mubarak, the toppled dictator of Egypt. Switzerland, Britain and other European states said that they had heeded calls from Egypt’s new leadership to seize the wealth Mubarak had hidden in their cities, and to return this money to Egyptian taxpayers.

The British “discovered” assets worth £85 million that Mubarak had hidden in London. These were then “frozen”. But what happened next was depressingly predictable … By September, a BBC investigation had discovered that many of Mubarak’s assets had not been frozen by the British, and that Britain was refusing to hand over the assets they had seized. Assem al-Gohary, head of Egypt’s Illicit Gains Authority, told the BBC that the UK “doesn’t want to make any effort at all to recover the money”. Having accepted Mubarak’s millions on a no-questions-asked basis, the British authorities were suddenly very sensitive to the legal status of the sums involved. Continue reading