Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review of Truth & Dare! by Martin O'Beirne

 (This review first appeared on Martin O'Beirne's blog.)

Many thanks to Quincy Saul for sending me this copy of Truth and Dare - A comic book curriculum for the end and the beginning of the world.

The comic is essentially an ecosocialist curriculum, consistent with the narrative of Joel Kovel's book 'The enemy of nature - The end of capitalism or the end of the world'. A book which pointed me in the direction of many adventures. Quincy I'm sure more than anyone can relate to this. Joel also contributed to this ecosocialist horizons production.

At a cursory glance this comic book format offers a concise and lively way of describing many inconvenient but nonetheless necessary things - including a potted history of capitalism, enclosure of the commons, the class system, the role of the state, developmental patriarchy, the intrinsic value of nature and the extent of the ecological crisis. As you can imagine from the title, it goes straight for the jugular. That is its purpose.

A brief look at some of the sections:

'The Nightmare is real' is a collection of sobering sound bites that tell us exactly where we are at ecologically/socially.

The section 'The Enemy of Nature' demonstrates the most concise explaination of the historical development of capitalism you'll find with due note of its relation to and ever increasing stranglehold on the natural world.

'Money is green' concerns that mother of contradictions 'green capitalism' and is pretty repulsive, featuring a 'fat cat' explaining to someone from the 'third world' how nature is considered an 'externality' in the quest for profit, and how by 'internalizing the externality - we give nature a price and open new markets in ecosystem services'.

'Socialism for suckers' is ironically sectarian featuring a caricature last century authoritarian state socialist.

'The ecosocialist horizon' is a beautifully illustrated-by-pencil section and serves as an intro to the Ecosocialist Horizon project and a particularly nice complement to Joel Kovels' book. There are some great quotes in this section too from the likes of Hugo Blanco, Frederick Douglas, Helen Keller, Andre Gide and Crazy Horse. An image of a spread from this section is included below.

The artwork in the section 'Now's the time' is particularly 'stand out' featuring lyrics and poems, Bob Marley included.

Comics aren't everyones's cup of tea, but then this isn't like any other comic. If this appeals, you may also like the manga Marx comic adaptation of Capital made by dangerous minds. I like imagery and I'm always interested in finding creative new ways to explain complex ideas. Each of the sections in truth and dare are by different illustrators. There is no fancy photo-shopping and what-not, this is 'real' as are the messages within. It achieves what it set out to do and as with Kovel's work generally, it does not point you toward the path of least resistance.

Great work by the ecosocialist horizons collective.


The Enemy of Nature - The end of capitalism or the end of the world.

Ecosocialist Horizons

Truth and Dare - A comic book curriculum for the end and the beginning of the world.

Can be bought from Autonomedia

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