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  • Moving Beyond Capitalist Agriculture: Could Agroecology Prevent Further Pandemics?

    Pathogens repeatedly are emerging from a global agrifood system rooted in inequality, labor exploitation, and unfettered extractivism by which communities are robbed of their natural and social resources. A crisis-prone economic system that prioritizes production for profit over meeting human needs and ecological preservation is organized around intense monocultural production that, along the way, allows the deadliest of diseases to emerge. The Pandemic Research for the People (PReP) focuses on how agriculture might be reimagined as the kind of community-wide intervention that could stop coronaviruses and other pathogens from emerging in the first place. We address how mainstream science supports the same political and economic systems that helped produce the pandemic. Then we introduce agroecology, an environmentalism of the peasantry, the poor, and indigenous, long in practice, that treats agriculture as a part of the ecology out of which humanity grows its food. Agroecology—a science, movement, and practice—combines ecological science, indigenous and peasant knowledges, and social movements for food and territorial sovereignty to achieve environmentally just food systems.

    Peasant- and indigenous-led agroecology is uniquely positioned to limit the spread of zoonotic viruses: Post-capitalist agroecology champions the indigenous and smallholders who protect agricultural biodiversity. A diverse agroecological matrix of farm plots, agroforestry, and grazing lands all embedded within a forest can conserve animal biodiversity in the landscape. Agricultural biodiversity can make it more difficult for zoonotic diseases to prevail. Such a mode of conservation also takes into account the economic and social conditions of people currently tending the land, rather than a conservation that uproots people to foster the private accumulation of capital.


    Contents: Introductory note / Globalized food systems, structural inequality, and COVID-19 / What is mutual aid? A COVID-19 Primer / Can agroecology stop COVID-21, -22, and -23? / Moving Beyond Capitalist Agriculture


    Moving Beyond Capitalist Agriculture is born out of the coordination between scholars and community organizers and it should be shared widely. The group behind it, the Pandemic Research for the People, is an expression of collective wisdom and necessary unease. In fact, organization and solidarity are two values to be cherished in this moment of multiple crises. COVID-19 is a neoliberal disease and agroecology that frees the land and people of greed and towards food sovereignty is the pathway out of this mess. — Saulo Araujo, US Friends of the Landless Workers Movement

    If you want to know more about the connections between racial capitalism, industrial agriculture, environmental destruction, and epidemics and pandemics, then this is a great place to start. But this pamphlet is more than just an analysis of the immense problems generated by capitalism. More importantly, this pamphlet represents an attempt to overcome this system and to develop revolutionary alternatives to it. Rather than falling into the tempting illusion of reform, the authors of these texts give invaluable insights into how we might support and develop revolutionary forms of agro-ecology that can sustain and reproduce life outside of the racial capitalist machine that is destroying it.” — Arturo Castillon, co-author, The Revolutionary Meaning of the George Floyd Uprising

    Increasingly threatening climate disaster coinciding with a pandemic has tragically illustrated that the world doesn’t have the luxury of dealing with one crisis at a time – and capitalist agriculture is at the root of both. The authors show convincingly that there is a better way: one that’s based on self-determination and building on human cooperation, not competition. This publication makes a strong case for agroecology as a crucial part of a future that puts people above profit; a future that assures people`s health by allowing planetary health to flourish. It will bring clarity to everyone trying to understand how the next pandemic could be averted whilst building a more just world — Vijoleta Gordeljević, Health economist and environmental health policy expert, People’s Health Movement.

  • Role of African People in World Development

    As African people most of us are brought up to believe many myths about ourselves. One of these is that we are poor because we never grew out of the dark ages. Another such myth is that we will always need European guidance because of our backwardness. Not only has there been a lot of research done within the last few decades disproving these myths but the constant forward and backward motions of various societies in the world proves that a new beginning is always “in the cards” when a forward-looking vision and a determined set of energies are released.

    However, to be properly understood, all this must be put into historical perspective. This is what the author has done: starting from the early days of Egypt down to present day Southern Africa, he has analysed the long journey from development to underdevelopment and back towards development. The fact that European/North American domination has played such a large part in influencing the direction of this path, this manuscript is about both the history of African and European people as well as an economic analysis of foreign domination.

    Given the extensive nature of this task the author has deliberately downplayed statistics as most of the empirical details stated are taken from the research work of reputable scholars, reference to which is constantly engendered, so that the reader could independently pursue the documentation of all aspects of the work.

    Frederick Engels, the classical socialist philosopher, reflecting on the nature of scientific thinking stated:

    The analysis of nature into its individual parts, the grouping of the different natural processes and objects into definite classes, the study of the internal anatomy of organic bodies in their manifold forms, these are the fundamental conditions of the gigantic stride of our knowledge of Nature… But this method of work has also left us as legacy, the habit of observing natural objects and processes in isolation, apart from the connection with the vast whole; of observing them in repose, not in motion; as constants, not as essential variables; in their death, not in their life.”[i]

    Most of the facts and events  have been documented in numerous scholarly writings. But one item of his concern is that most of these works have in one way or other fallen prey to Engels’s criticism, either on grounds of limited geography or of limited history (tackling only a short period). However, what is more usual for the more bourgeois–influenced scholars is to limit their scope to one or two of the arbitrarily imposed “disciplines” of Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, etc.

    Of course, it is understandable that the two types of limitations (geography and history) are not made without reason, as no one person could hope to cover a broad enough scope in a detailed and rigorous manner especially within easily readable limits. However, the need of scientists especially when covering as important a topic as the development process, to produce a work covering the broadest possible perspective.

    Given limited resources, the author has attempted to do just that – albeit in an introductory manner. It is his hope, however,  that more people start viewing development as a broad, holistic process and not just a phenomenon limited in space and time to economics or even political-economy. In this regard, the annual compilation of The Human Development Index by the UNDP whereby countries worldwide are ranked, not merely by GDP per capita – as is usually cited in classical bourgeois economics – but by Life expectancy, Fertility and Under-five Mortality Rates, Combined School Enrolment, Adult Literacy Rate, Urbanisation, and (generally) by a Human Poverty Index. This approach can only be viewed as a step in the right direction.

    An extra bonus for readers is that I have included quotes from a cross-section of classical scholars on the development process. Hence, readers can follow up on these references to further edify themselves.

    [i] Frederick Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1892), 406.

  • Abolitionist Agroecology, Food Sovereignty and Pandemic Prevention

    COVID-19 has exposed the racialized nature of food systems, but also potentially grants opportunities to build anew. Maywa Montenegro explores a series of breakdowns, from fractured supply chains to uncontrolled infection among essential food workers, among Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities scythed through by the virus along old grooves of race and class oppression.

    She traces the likely origins of COVID-19 to spillover sites forged by agroindustrial expansion into forested regions where pathogens spring free and infect humans. Industrial animal agriculture drives these ecological changes that incubate future outbreaks. Pandemics have their roots in the violent separation of communities from their territories, seeds, knowledge and wealth. Racism enables such theft as fundamental to capitalist expansion.

    To tackle pandemics and food injustices, Montenegro calls for an abolitionist agroecology. No anti-capitalist alternative can ignore the racism that is central to transnational food system. Scholars including Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Mariame Kaba have argued that although abolition is frequently seen as an oppositional strategy — to eradicate, for example, prisons and police — abolition is equally propositional. An abolitionist agroecology cracks open multiple possibilities that respond to the exigencies of a pandemic planet — there is no ‘normal’ to which we can safely return.

  • We Rise for Our Land: Land Struggles and State Repression in Southern Africa

    By chronicling rural people’s struggles across diverse contexts, this collection gives us some signposts of emancipatory politics in the African countryside. Accessible and theoretically grounded, this exciting collection by leading African scholar-activists chronicles rural people’s struggles, from resistance to alternatives. Activists and scholars engaged with rural struggles need to read this book.
—Ruth Hall, professor, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

    A remarkable, well-argued and theoretically diverse collection of essays on the land question in Southern Africa, a topic as old as colonialism and as new as the newest impositions of global capitalism. Land struggles and resistance in a new and powerful light.
    Boaventura de Sousa Santos, author of The End of the Cognitive Empire, 2018

    This book makes a powerful contribution to the existing and growing literature on land and agrarian questions in southern Africa. Empirically rich… the book is essential reading for scholars, intellectuals, students and activists involved in the everyday struggles and responses of those communities who are directly affected by neoliberal policies. Highly recommended.
—Lungisile Ntsebeza, Emeritus Professor in African Studies and Sociology in the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.

    Co-publisher: Sam Moyo African Institute for Agrarian Studies

    In recent years southern Africa has aroused the interest of domestic and foreign investors targeting several sectors. The agrarian and extractive capital has been the most penetrating in the countryside, causing land conflicts, displacement of local peasant communities and in worse cases, deaths. Being mostly neoliberally oriented, SADC states have positioned themselves in favour of capital. This collusion results in State measures that are hostile to the peasantry of their countries. The measures taken by the States, both in policies and in repressive actions, are endorsed by of high-level government officials, Ministers, Presidents, Kings and traditional Chiefs. As far as traditional chiefs are concerned, even in situations where the presence of capital is dangerous, ‘feudal’-type power relations prevail, oppressing mainly young people and women.

    The peasantry and rural people in general have not, however, been passive in this process. Alone or in alliance with non-governmental organizations and activists, they have positioned themselves strongly against such dynamics and have raised their voices questioning developmentalist logics that are imposed on them, but that take away their means of production and violate their rights. In fact, resistance movements to capital are taking place throughout the region, even if the response to this has been repression by the states.

    This book, which takes a scholar-activist stance, is written by authors, men and women, who critically study the dynamics of agrarian and extractive capital in southern Africa. In their academic and activist work, they seek to bring useful theoretical, conceptual and practical contributions to the struggles of agrarian and rural movements that represent the ‘subalternised’ rural and urban people. The book brings contributions in forms of chapters from DRC, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, eSwatini (Swaziland), Mozambique, and Madagascar.

  • Revolución Rinky-Dink: Yendo Más Allá del Capitalismo Negando Consentimiento, y Promoviendo Construcciones Creativas y Destrucciones Creativas

    Este panfleto aborda la pregunta: ¿cómo podemos pasar de A a B, del capitalismo al poscapitalismo? La revolución de Rinky-dink involucra acciones e inacciones que son fáciles, seguras, mundanas, sin glamour y factibles dentro de la vida de cada persona.

    Howard Waitzkin presenta una intervención clara y directa para el cambio revolucionario en el sistema económico capitalista global. Cubre mucho terreno, con sofisticación, mientras mantiene la discusión en tierra. Su enfoque en las formas de facilitar un desafío al capital y construir una mayor transformación revolucionaria es crucial en esta coyuntura histórica. Esta discusión sobre construcciones creativas y destrucciones creativas es particularmente útil.

    — Brett Clark, profesor de sociología de la Universidad de Utah y autor De El Robo De La Naturaleza: Capitalismo Y Grieta Ecológica, The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and Ecological Rift en inglés.

    El fin del capitalismo es posible. Waitzkin nos lleva un paso más allá en el proceso creativo para esta transformación. A través de ejemplos específicos de grupos organizados dentro de los Estados Unidos y en el extranjero, este trabajo constituye una guía práctica para todos. Waitzkin alienta nuestra creatividad para actos organizados y seguros además de omisiones para trascender el capitalismo.

    — Nylca J. Munoz Sosa, abogada, líder de salud pública y activista centrada en la justicia sanitaria y la descolonización en Puerto Rico.

    Suggested Price: CAD $ 4.99
  • The great climate robbery: How the food system drives climate change and what we can do about it

    In 2012 GRAIN published ‘The great food robbery’. We thought it was high time to do a sequel.

    Over the past twenty-five years, GRAIN has worked with social movements and organisations around the world to defend local food systems and cultures from the advance of industrial agriculture. Part of our work has involved documenting the ill effects of this industrial food system – the growing hunger, the destruction of rural people’s livelihoods, the loss of biodiversity and cultures, the exploitation of labour and a range of health calamities – and analysing the ways through which this system expands, from seed laws to free trade agreements to secretive land deals.

    But another important part of our work has involved connecting this analysis of the food system to larger issues affecting the planet and linking peoples’ struggles situated within the food system to those happening in other areas. Climate change is one important example of this.

    CAD $ 25.99