As we mentioned in our previous post about revolutionary books, the artistic written word is a powerful and important tool in fueling change. From the political and the social to the economic and the scientific, art as revolution continues to shape the way we view the world.
This poster, promoting a Darwin exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in London, says it all: If you had an idea that was going to outrage society, would you keep it to yourself? After a smidge of contemplation, Charles Darwin decided to publish On the Origin of Species, a monumental study that would forever change the face of biology. It would also become possibly the most divisive publication in the course of all of history. (Ironically enough, so is The Bible.) His legacy today, depending on what part of the world we’re talking about, is either celebrated or pissed upon. Perhaps it is indeed fitting that Darwin’s opponents have forced human-centric ideals on Darwin’s book, and because of this, Darwin’s hugely important contributions to biology aren’t universally acknowledged because of the focus on one tiny bit: that humans evolved from apes.
Animal Liberation by Peter Singer
Animal Liberation is the book that set the wheels of the Animal Liberation Movement in motion, which has then expanded into nearly every animal rights and animal welfare organisation in the world. Singer’s book pushes forth the idea of ‘speciesism,’ a concept that is still not recognised by everyone, including the Mozilla Firefox spell-check. (It’s a word, you machine!) Singer goes into startling detail about animal testing, animal experimentation, and even advice on how to adopt a vegetarian diet.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
The name of Upton Sinclair will forever be synonymous with the term ‘muckraker,’ and with good reason. While initially invented and used pejoratively by John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress as someone who seeks worldly gain by raking filth, the term is now defined as a journalist who investigates scandal or corruption. The Jungle is a novel based on Sinclair’s investigations the American meatpacking industry in the early 20th century. He exposes the horrific working environments, the bad treatment of workers, and the abject poverty of the American working-class in the name of a corrupt corporation. The publication of his book led to a public outcry toward the government, eventually leading to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which would eventually become the Food and Drug Administration.
A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
Okay, so, let’s not eat animal meat because of the way both factory animals and factory workers are being treated. What do we eat, then? Jonathan Swift, what say you? Ah, yes… let’s eat babies! Unfortunately, the Urchin Homeland hasn’t always been up there on the list of humanitarian world leaders, particularly in its dealings with the Irish. In his satirical essay A Modest Proposal, Swift proposes a new economic strategy to help lift Ireland from poverty: eat the starving street kids. This diet of street Urchins was a simple solution – not only would it clean up the streets, but it would provide food for the hungry. Swift’s intent was, of course, not to promote cannibalism but rather to demonstrate the conditions that the English were subjecting upon the Irish. It would take several more centuries for the Irish to become independent of the British. Most, that is.