Spectre is a series of indispensable works of, and about, radical political economy. Spectre lays bare the dark underbelly of politics and economics, publishing outstanding and contrarian perspectives on the maelstrom of capital—and emancipatory alternatives—in crisis.
The companion Spectre Classics imprint unearths essential works of radical history, political economy, theory and practice, to illuminate the present with brilliant, yet unjustly neglected, ideas from the past.
Series Editor: Sasha Lilley
1. In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives
— Greg Albo, Sam Gindin, and Leo Panitch
2. Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance
— David McNally
3. Capital and Its Discontents: Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult
— Sasha Lilley
4. William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary
— E.P. Thompson
5. Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth
— Sasha Lilley, David McNally, Eddie Yuen, and James Davis
6. Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance
— Peter Linebaugh
7. Men in Prison
— Victor Serge
Through a series of incisive conversations with some of the most eminent thinkers and political economists on the Left—including David Harvey, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Mike Davis, Leo Panitch, Tariq Ali, and Noam Chomsky—Capital and Its Discontents illuminates the dynamic contradictions undergirding capitalism and the potential for its dethroning. The book challenges conventional wisdom on the Left about the nature of globalization, neoliberalism and imperialism, as well as the agrarian question in the Global South. It probes deeply into the roots of the global economic meltdown, the role of debt and privatization in dampening social revolt, and considers capitalism’s dynamic ability to find ever new sources of accumulation—whether through imperial or ecological plunder or the commodification of previously unpaid female labor.
Capital and Its Discontents: Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult
Editor: Sasha Lilley
Publisher: PM Press
Published: March 2011
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 320
Subjects: Politics, Economics
The Left luminaries in Capital and Its Discontents look at potential avenues out of the mess—as well as wrong turns and needless detours—drawing lessons from the history of post-colonial states in the Global South, struggles against imperialism past and present, the eternal pendulum swing of radicalism, the corrosive legacy of postmodernism, and the potentialities of the radical humanist tradition. At a moment when capitalism as a system is more reviled than ever, here is an indispensable toolbox of ideas for action by some of the most brilliant thinkers of our times.
Full list of contributor:
Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Mike Davis, Ellen Meiksins Wood, David Harvey, Leo Panitch, Doug Henwood, Gillian Hart, John Bellamy Foster, Ursula Huws, David McNally, Jason W Moore, Vivek Chibber, John Sanbonmatsu, and Andrej Grubacic.
“In this fine set of interviews, an A-list of radical political economists demonstrate why their skills are indispensable to understanding today’s multiple economic and ecological crises.” —Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing
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Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance
Author: David McNally
Publisher: PM Press/Spectre
Published: December 2010
Page Count: 248 Pages
Dimensions: 8 by 5
Subjects: Politics-Marxism, Economics
The book locates the recent meltdown in the intense economic restructuring that marked the recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s. Through this lens, it highlights the emergence of new patterns of world inequality and new centers of accumulation, particularly in East Asia, and the profound economic instabilities these produced. Global Slump offers an original account of the “financialization” of the world economy during this period, and explores the intricate connections between international financial markets and new forms of debt and dispossession, particularly in the Global South.
Analyzing the massive intervention of the world’s central banks to stave off another Great Depression, Global Slump shows that, while averting a complete meltdown, this intervention also laid the basis for recurring crises for poor and working class people: job loss, increased poverty and inequality, and deep cuts to social programs. The book takes a global view of these processes, exposing the damage inflicted on countries in the Global South, as well as the intensification of racism and attacks on migrant workers. At the same time, Global Slump also traces new patterns of social and political resistance – from housing activism and education struggles, to mass strikes and protests in Martinique, Guadeloupe, France and Puerto Rico – as indicators of the potential for building anti-capitalist opposition to the damage that neoliberal capitalism is inflicting on the lives of millions.
Praise:“McNally has developed a powerful interpretation that sheds a mass of new light… This is a superb book.”
— Robert Brenner, author of The Economics of Global Turbulence on Political Economy and the Rise of Capitalism
Authors: Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, and Greg Albo
Publisher: PM Press/Spectre
Release Date: May 2010
Page Count: 144
Dimensions: 5.5 by 8.5
Subjects: Politics, Activism, Economics
With an unparalleled understanding of the inner workings of capitalism, the authors of In and Out of Crisis provocatively challenge the call by much of the Left for a return to a largely mythical Golden Age of economic regulation as a check on finance capital unbound. They deftly illuminate how the era of neoliberal free markets has been, in practice, undergirded by state intervention on a massive scale. With clarity and erudition, they argue persuasively that given the current balance of social forces – as bank bailouts around the globe make evident – regulation is not a means of fundamentally reordering power in society, but rather a way of preserving markets.
William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary
Author: E.P. Thompson
Publisher: PM Press
Published: February 2011
Page Count: 880
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Biography, Politics
Many of his ideas accorded none too well with the reforming tendencies dominant in the Labour movement, nor with those of ‘orthodox’ Marxism, which has looked elsewhere for inspiration. Both sides have been inclined to venerate Morris rather than to pay attention to what he said.
Originally written less than a decade before his groundbreaking The Making of the English Working Class, E.P. Thompson brought to this biography his now trademark historical mastery, passion, wit, and essential sympathy. It remains unsurpassed as the definitive work on this remarkable figure, by the major British historian of the 20th century.
“Two impressive figures, William Morris as subject and E. P. Thompson as author, are conjoined in this immense biographical-historical-critical study, and both of them have gained in stature since the first edition of the book was published... The book that was ignored in 1955 has meanwhile become something of an underground classic—almost impossible to locate in second-hand bookstores, pored over in libraries, required reading for anyone interested in Morris and, increasingly, for anyone interested in one of the most important of contemporary British historians... Thompson has the distinguishing characteristic of a great historian: he has transformed the nature of the past, it will never look the same again; and whoever works in the area of his concerns in the future must come to terms with what Thompson has written. So too with his study of William Morris.”
—Peter Stansky, The New York Times Book Review
Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth
Authors: Sasha Lilley, David McNally, Eddie Yuen, and James Davis
Foreword by Doug Henwood
Publisher: PM Press/Spectre
Published November 2012
Size: 8 by 5
Page count: 192 Pages
Subjects: Politics/Current Events
We live in catastrophic times. The world is reeling from the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, with the threat of further meltdowns ever-looming. Global warming and myriad dire ecological disasters worsen—with little if any action to halt them—their effects rippling across the planet in the shape of almost Biblical floods, fires, droughts, and hurricanes. Governments warn that there is no alternative to the bitter medicine they prescribe—or risk devastating financial or social collapse. The right, whether religious or secular, views the present as catastrophic and wants to turn the clock back. The left fears for the worst, but hopes some good will emerge from the rubble. Visions of the apocalypse and predictions of impending doom abound. Across the political spectrum, a culture of fear reigns.
Catastrophism explores the politics of apocalypse—on the left and right, in the environmental movement—and examines why the lens of catastrophe can distort our understanding of the dynamics at the heart of these numerous disasters—and fatally impede our ability to transform the world. Lilley, McNally, Yuen, and Davis probe the reasons why catastrophic thinking is so prevalent, and challenge the belief that it is only out of the ashes that a better society may be born. The authors argue that those who care about social justice and the environment should jettison doomsaying—even as it relates to indisputably apocalyptic climate change. Far from calling people to arms, they suggest, catastrophic fear often results in passivity and paralysis—and, at worst, reactionary politics.
“Catastrophism comes at the right moment: 2012, the year of The End proclaimed across the political spectrum from deep ecologists to the Mayan Calendarists. Instead of concentrating on the merits of the claims of the various apocalypticians, Jim Davis, Sasha Lilley, David McNally, and Eddie Yuen examine the political function of these claims and find them to be deeply reactionary. This is a controversial book that challenges many of the unexamined assumptions on the left (as well as on the right). It is a warning not to abandon everyday anti-capitalist politics for a politics of absolute fear that inevitably leads to inaction.”
—Silvia Federici, author of Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle
"Bravo! This is the book that has been sorely needed for so long to reveal the dead-end that a politics founded on catastrophic predictions must lead to in terms of either preventing them or actually changing the world. Essential reading for all those on the left who are concerned with the question of strategy today."
--Leo Panitch, coauthor of The Making of Global Capitalism
Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance
Author: Peter Linebaugh
Publisher: PM Press/Spectre
Page count: 304 Pages
In this majestic tour de force, celebrated historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, the polluters of the seas, the ravagers of the forests, the despoilers of rivers, and the removers of mountaintops. Scarcely a society has existed on the face of the earth that has not had commoning at its heart. "Neither the state nor the market," say the planetary commoners. These essays kindle the embers of memory to ignite our future commons.
From Thomas Paine to the Luddites, from Karl Marx—who concluded his great study of capitalism with the enclosure of commons—to the practical dreamer William Morris—who made communism into a verb and advocated communizing industry and agriculture—to the 20th-century communist historian E.P. Thompson, Linebaugh brings to life the vital commonist tradition. He traces the red thread from the great revolt of commoners in 1381 to the enclosures of Ireland, and the American commons, where European immigrants who had been expelled from their commons met the immense commons of the native peoples and the underground African-American urban commons. Illuminating these struggles in this indispensable collection, Linebaugh reignites the ancient cry, "STOP, THIEF!"
"There is not a more important historian living today. Period."
—Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
"E.P. Thompson, you may rest now. Linebaugh restores the dignity of the despised luddites with a poetic grace worthy of the master… [A] commonist manifesto for the 21st century."
—Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums
"Peter Linebaugh's great act of historical imagination… takes the cliché of 'globalization' and makes it live. The local and the global are once again shown to be inseparable—as they are, at present, for the machine-breakers of the new world crisis."
—T.J. Clark, author of Farewell to an Idea
Men in Prison
Author: Victor Serge
Introduction and Translation by Richard Greeman
Publisher: PM Press/Spectre
Page count: 232 Pages
Subjects: Fiction/Prison Issues
“Everything in this book is fictional and everything is true,” wrote Victor Serge in the epigraph to Men in Prison. “I have attempted, through literary creation, to bring out the general meaning and human content of a personal experience.”
The author of Men in Prison served five years in French penitentiaries (1912–1917) for the crime of “criminal association”—in fact for his courageous refusal to testify against his old comrades, the infamous “Tragic Bandits” of French anarchism. “While I was still in prison,” Serge later recalled, “fighting off tuberculosis, insanity, depression, the spiritual poverty of the men, the brutality of the regulations, I already saw one kind of justification of that infernal voyage in the possibility of describing it. Among the thousands who suffer and are crushed in prison—and how few men really know that prison!—I was perhaps the only one who could try one day to tell all... There is no novelist’s hero in this novel, unless that terrible machine, prison, is its real hero. It is not about ‘me,’ about a few men, but about men, all men crushed in that dark corner of society.”
Ironically, Serge returned to writing upon his release from a GPU prison in Soviet Russia, where he was arrested as an anti-Stalinist subversive in 1928. He completed Men in Prison (and two other novels) in "semi-captivity" before he was rearrested and deported to the Gulag in 1933. Serge’s classic prison novel has been compared to Dostoyevsky’s House of the Dead, Koestler’s Spanish Testament, Genet’s Miracle of the Rose, and Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch both for its authenticity and its artistic achievement.
This edition features a substantial new introduction by translator Richard Greeman, situating the work in Serge’s life and times.
“No purer book about the hell of prison has ever been written.”
—Martin Seymour-Smith, Scotsman
“There is nothing in any line or word of this fine novel which doesn’t ring true.”
“This is a remarkable book… Capable of Dostoyevskian intensity and power...”
—Francis King, Sunday Telegraph
“This novel, properly so called by its author, being truth worked up as art, is strongly recommended both as a document and as a powerful work of literature.”
—Robert Garioch, Listener
"Serge is a writer young rebels desperately need whether they know it or not. He does not tell us what we should feel, he makes us feel it.”
—Stanley Reynolds, New Statesman