Brian Tokar

New book: “Our Food, Our Right”

This outstanding introduction to today's community-based food movements is designed by Annie Brulé of SEEDS, the social ecology project on Washington state's Vashon Island. This review was written for the publisher's website at Local food is all the rage these days, and rightfully so. People across the US are increasingly frustrated by the chemical-laden, processed calories that pass for food in most major supermarkets and are increasingly looking to alternative sources, from farmers markets and farm share programs to co-ops and natural food stores. But with food prices rising everywhere, healthy food is in danger of becoming even more of an elite niche market, accessible only to those with surplus income to spend. While some of us will pay more for food that is local, organic and fair-trade, many of our neighbors are often limited by shrinking household budgets to food that is nutrient-deficient, genetically engineered, and potentially hazardous to health.

What’s Next for the Occupy Movement?

This commentary by Brian Tokar will appear in the winter issue of Broadcast, the newsletter of SEEDS, the Social Ecology Education and Demonstration School, based in Seattle and Vashon, Washington:

Since mid-September, actions inspired by the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York have awakened the imaginations of people worldwide. Just as the movement approached its two-month anniversary in mid-November, several of the founding Occupations across the US fell victim to apparently highly-coordinated police raids. While the coming of winter was long-predicted to shift the focus of the Occupy movement, the expulsion of iconic tent encampments in New York, Oakland, […]

Population in the news – again

The specter of “overpopulation” has returned to the public airwaves following the UN’s recent announcement that the earth is now home to 7 billion people. The coverage is highly reminiscent of the debates that raged throughout the 1970s and eighties and, once again, there’s a dearth of critical evaluation of this issue. Do rising human populations drive environmental destruction, or are rising populations themselves a symptom of wider social and political dislocations? Are there too many poor people, or too many in the affluent global North whose levels of consumption exceed all historical precedents? What about rising inequality in […]

OWS’ historical antecedents: 2 articles

Here are links to 2 interesting commentaries addressing historical antecedents to the Occupy Wall Street movement. In a recent column, Chris Hedges interviewed an OWS participant in New York and used this to introduce some perceptive comments about the historic role of the underclass in political movements, drawing on the 19th century debates between Bakunin and Marx. Thai Jones, writing for the MRZine blog published by Monthly Review, looks at the involvement of prominent individuals such as Emma Goldman and Upton Sinclair in what was probably the very first occupation of Wall Street in 1914 – a response to […]

Updates and more views of Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street campaign, now in its third week, has inspired a wide range of commentaries, as well as like-minded events all across the US. Here are two somewhat contrasting views from commentators I trust. Arun Gupta of New York City’s Indypendent newspaper offers a positive outlook on this emerging movement’s potential to confront key issues of increasing corporate dominance and elite control, viewing the Wall Street occupation as an inspiring, directly democratic response to a broken system.

Blogger and movement strategist Jonathan Matthew Smucker ( offers a more skeptical view. He’s more critical than many social ecologists would […]

Toward a “Green New Deal”?

My friend and colleague Richard Greeman, now living in France, has recently added some provocative and forward-looking comments to the ongoing discussion of whether a “Green New Deal” — centered in publicly funded expansion of renewable energy and other “green” technologies — can provide a necessary opening toward a more ecological future. Appropriately for a left libertarian approach to invigorating the public sector of the economy, Richard’s vision is rooted in the hope for a renewed left-populist social movement, building upon last winter’s uprisings in Wisconsin and elsewhere that opposed draconian social service cuts and the curtailment of workers’ […]

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    Tokar book tour for “Toward Climate Justice” & “Agriculture and Food in Crisis”

Tokar book tour for “Toward Climate Justice” & “Agriculture and Food in Crisis”

ISE Director Brian Tokar is doing a book tour in support of his recent titles Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Change (Communalism Press), and  Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Crisis, and Renewal (co-edited with Fred Magdoff), from Monthly Review Press:

March 6. Amherst, Massachusetts @ Food for Thought Books
March 14. Boulder, Colorado @ Naropa University and Left Hand Books
March 20-22. New York City @ Left Forum and The Commons in Brooklyn
March 26-27. Cape Cod (Barnstable, Mass.) @ Cape Cod Community College & others TBA
March 28-29. Boston @ Lucy Parsons Center

Toward Climate Justice: Can we turn back from the abyss?

For Z Magazine, September 2009

The summer and fall of 2009 will surely be noted in the annals of environmental history. This period could be remembered as the time when the world’s elites slowly began to crawl toward a meaningful solution to the threat of accelerating global climate disruptions. But if events continue along the path of recent months, it could mark the beginning of an inexorable slide toward an increasingly unstable planetary climate regime, an unstable and chaotic world that our ancestors would barely recognize.

Relying on the mainstream media for news, you’d think the outlook was fairly rosy. For […]

Toward Food Sovereignty in Vermont and Northern New England

– From C. Armiger, P. Palmiotto, J. Estes, eds., Banking on Biodiversity: The ecological and socio-economic dimensions of sustainable agriculture, Keene, NH: Antioch University Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (in press)

The previous panelists have offered thoughtful perspectives on how US agricultural policies profoundly alter the lives of people around the world and how people in tropical Central America are beginning to reclaim sovereignty over their food supply. I’d like to bring the discussion home by addressing the problem of increasing corporate control over our own food, and exploring some ways we can begin to bring our food economy […]

ECOCLUB interviews Brian Tokar

(This interview was originally posted at What is Social Ecology and in what key ways does it differ from the mainstream environmentalism of the big US & International NGOS?
Brian Tokar: Social ecology offers a coherent radical critique of current social, political, and environmental problems, as well as a reconstructive, ecological, communitarian, and ethical approach to society. We view environmental problems as fundamentally social and political, and seek systemic, long-term solutions, in contrast to the incremental policy adjustments generally advocated by the large NGOs. We advocate fundamental changes in […]