Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desirable Society
Author: Michael Albert • Preface: Noam Chomsky
Publisher: PM Press/Kairos
Page count: 288 pages
Subjects: Political Activism/Social Movements
Michael Albert’s latest work, Practical Utopia is a succinct and thoughtful discussion of ambitious goals and practical principles for creating a desirable society. It presents concepts and their connections to current society; visions of what can be in a preferred, participatory future; and an examination of the ends and means required for developing a just society. Neither shying away from the complexity of human issues, nor reeking of dogmatism, Practical Utopia presupposes only concern for humanity.
Part one offers conceptual tools for understanding society and history, for discerning the nature of the oppressions people suffer and the potentials they harbor. Part two promotes a vision for a better way of organizing economy, polity, kinship, culture, ecology, and international relations. It is not a blueprint, of course, but does address the key institutions needed if people are to be free to determine their own circumstances. Part three investigates the means of seeking change using a variety of tactics and programs.
“Practical Utopia immediately struck me because it is written by a leftist who is interested in the people winning and defeating oppression. The book is an excellent jumping off point for debates on the framework to look at actually existing capitalism, strategy for change, and what we need to do about moving forward. It speaks to many of the questions faced by grassroots activists who want to get beyond demanding change but who, instead, want to create a dynamic movement that can bring a just world into existence. As someone who comes out of a different part of the Left than does Michael Albert, I was nevertheless excited by the challenges he threw in front of the readers of this book. Many a discussion will be sparked by the arguments of this work.”
—Bill Fletcher Jr., author of “They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths about Unions
“Albert mulls over the better society that we may create after capitalism, provoking much thought and offering a generous, hopeful vision of the future. Albert’s prescriptions for action in the present are modest and wise, his suggestions for building the future are ambitious and humane.”
“Michael Albert is an important thinker who takes us beyond radical denunciations and pretentious ‘analysis’ to a thoughtful, profound meditation on what a good society can be like.”
“With his combination of hard-edged logic and visionary hope, Michael Albert is one of the treasures of the Left.”
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In, Against, and Beyond Capitalism: The San Francisco Lectures
Author: John Holloway • Preface by Andrej Grubačić
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 112
In, Against, and Beyond Capitalism is based on three recent lectures delivered by John Holloway at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. The lectures focus on what anticapitalist revolution can mean today—after the historic failure of the idea that the conquest of state power was the key to radical change—and offer a brilliant and engaging introduction to the central themes of Holloway’s work.
The lectures take as their central challenge the idea that “We Are the Crisis of Capital and Proud of It.” This runs counter to many leftist assumptions that the capitalists are to blame for the crisis, or that crisis is simply the expression of the bankruptcy of the system. The only way to see crisis as the possible threshold to a better world is to understand the failure of capitalism as the face of the push of our creative force. This poses a theoretical challenge. The first lecture focuses on the meaning of “We,” the second on the understanding of capital as a system of social cohesion that systematically frustrates our creative force, and the third on the proposal that we are the crisis of this system of cohesion.
“His Marxism is premised on another form of logic, one that affirms movement, instability, and struggle. This is a movement of thought that affirms the richness of life, particularity (non-identity) and ‘walking in the opposite direction’; walking, that is, away from exploitation, domination, and classification. Without contradictory thinking in, against, and beyond the capitalist society, capital once again becomes a reified object, a thing, and not a social relation that signifies transformation of a useful and creative activity (doing) into (abstract) labor. Only open dialectics, a right kind of thinking for the wrong kind of world, non-unitary thinking without guarantees, is able to assist us in our contradictory struggle for a world free of contradiction.” —Andrej Grubačić, from his Preface
“Holloway’s work is infectiously optimistic.”
—Steven Poole, Guardian (UK)
“Holloway’s thesis is indeed important and worthy of notice”
—Richard J.F. Day, Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies
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Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism
Editor: Jason W. Moore
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 304
Subjects: Political Theory/Nature-Environment
The Earth has reached a tipping point. Runaway climate change, the sixth great extinction of planetary life, the acidification of the oceans—all point toward an era of unprecedented turbulence in humanity’s relationship within the web of life. But just what is that relationship, and how do we make sense of this extraordinary transition? Anthropocene or Capitalocene?
offers answers to these questions from a dynamic group of leading critical scholars. They challenge the theory and history offered by the most significant environmental concept of our times: the Anthropocene. But are we living in the Anthropocene, literally the “Age of Man”? Is a different response more compelling, and better suited to the strange—and often terrifying—times in which we live? The contributors to this book diagnose the problems of Anthropocene thinking and propose an alternative: the global crises of the twenty-first century are rooted in the Capitalocene, the Age of Capital.
Anthropocene or Capitalocene? offers a series of provocative essays on nature and power, humanity, and capitalism. Including both well-established voices and younger scholars, the book challenges the conventional practice of dividing historical change and contemporary reality into “Nature” and “Society,” demonstrating the possibilities offered by a more nuanced and connective view of human environment-making, joined at every step with and within the biosphere. In distinct registers, the authors frame their discussions within a politics of hope that signal the possibilities for transcending capitalism, broadly understood as a “world-ecology” that joins nature, capital, and power as a historically evolving whole.
Contributors include Jason W. Moore, Eileen Crist, Donna J. Haraway, Justin McBrien, Elmar Altvater, Daniel Hartley, and Christian Parenti.
“We had best start thinking in revolutionary terms about the forces turning the world upside down if we are to put brakes on the madness. A good place to begin is this book, whose remarkable authors bring together history and theory, politics and ecology, economy and culture, to force a deep look at the origins of global transformation.”
—Richard Walker, professor emeritus of geography, UC Berkeley, and author of The Capitalist Imperative, The New Social Economy, The Conquest of Bread, and The Country in the City
“We live in the Capitalocene, the contributors to this volume argue, and the urgent, frightening and hopeful consequences of this reality-check become apparent in chapters that force the reader to think. In a time when there is generally no time or space to think . . . we need a book like this more than ever.”
—Bram Büscher, professor of sociology, Wageningen University, and author of Transforming the Frontier: Peace Parks and the Politics of Neoliberal Conservation in Southern Africa
“In this pioneering volume, leading critics call for a different conceptual framework, which places global change in a new, ecologically-oriented, history of capitalism—the Capitalocene. No scholar or activist interested in the debate about the Anthropocene will want to miss this volume.”
—Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, associate professor of history, University of Chicago, and author of Enlightenment’s Frontier: The Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism
“Jason W. Moore’s scope is vast, and few could pull off so ambitious an analytical achievement. . . . There’s enough scholarship, wit and insight . . . for a lifetime.”
—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing
“Jason W. Moore’s radical and rigorous work is, and richly deserves to be, agenda-setting.”
—China Miéville, author of The City & the City
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Birth Work as Care Work: Stories from Activist Birth Communities
Author: Alana Apfel • Foreword: Loretta J. Ross • Preface: Victoria Law • Introduction: Silvia Federici
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 128
Birth Work as Care Work presents a vibrant collection of stories and insights from the front lines of birth activist communities. The personal has once more become political, and birth workers, supporters, and doulas now find themselves at the fore of collective struggles for freedom and dignity.
The author, herself a scholar and birth justice organiser, provides a unique platform to explore the political dynamics of birth work; drawing connections between birth, reproductive labor, and the struggles of caregiving communities today. Articulating a politics of care work in and through the reproductive process, the book brings diverse voices into conversation to explore multiple possibilities and avenues for change.
At a moment when agency over our childbirth experiences is increasingly centralized in the hands of professional elites, Birth Work as Care Work presents creative new ways to reimagine the trajectory of our reproductive processes. Most importantly, the contributors present new ways of thinking about the entire life cycle, providing a unique and creative entry point into the essence of all human struggle—the struggle over the reproduction of life itself.
“I love this book, all of it. The polished essays and the interviews with birth workers dare to take on the deepest questions of human existence.”
—Carol Downer, cofounder of the Feminist Women’s Heath Centers of California and author of A Woman’s Book of Choices
“This volume provides theoretically rich, practical tools for birth and other care workers to collectively and effectively fight capitalism and the many intersecting processes of oppression that accompany it. Birth Work as Care Work forcefully and joyfully reminds us that the personal is political, a lesson we need now more than ever.”
—Adrienne Pine, author of Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras
“All we are doing in this world is living and dying, creating and destroying. We generate new life in our children and in our ideas. Becoming a birth supporter, getting to be an attendant to the miracle of childbirth, has transformed my social justice work. Our visions for justice are what we are birthing in this world. Learning to listen, learning to trust the body and the people, and learning to breath will transform our movement work. Birth Work as Care Work demonstrates these lessons through showing us ways we can learn together to support the birth of new worlds.”
—Adrienne Brown, coeditor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
“This book places the doula—as a caring birth activist—at the heart of reproductive care work in our modern society. Doula, a new name for an ancient traditional role, reappears today as women daring to reclaim their power through birthing and caring for their children.”
—Valérie Dupin cofounder and cochair of the Association Doulas de France
“Alana Apfel is an artist and a robust one. Weaving the logic behind birth, care, and reproduction together, Birth Work as Care Work documents how caregivers and communities are marginalised in society on a daily basis whilst working to sustain themselves and ironically, to sustain life itself. Her thesis seeks to put the human back into being.”
—Chitra Subramaniam, Editor-in Chief of The News Minute
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We Are the Crisis of Capital: A John Holloway Reader
Author: John Holloway
Publisher: PM Press/Kairos
Page count: 320
Subjects: Political Theory
We Are the Crisis of Capital collects articles and excerpts written by radical academic, theorist, and activist John Holloway over a period of forty years.
Different times, different places, and the same anguish persists throughout our societies. This collection asks, “Is there a way out?” How do we break capital, a form of social organisation that dehumanises us and threatens to annihilate us completely? How do we create a world based on the mutual recognition of human dignity?
Holloway’s work answers loudly, “By screaming NO!” By thinking from our own anger and from our own creativity. By trying to recover the “We” who are buried under the categories of capitalist thought. By opening the categories and discovering the antagonism they conceal, by discovering that behind the concepts of money, state, capital, crisis, and so on, there moves our resistance and rebellion.
An approach sometimes referred to as Open Marxism, it is an attempt to rethink Marxism as daily struggle. The articles move forward, influenced by the German state derivation debates of the seventies, by the CSE debates in Britain, and the group around the Edinburgh journal Common Sense, and then moving on to Mexico and the wonderful stimulus of the Zapatista uprising, and now the continuing whirl of discussion with colleagues and students in the Posgrado de Sociología of the Benemérita Universidad Autùnoma de Puebla.
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Archive That, Comrade! Left Legacies and the Counter Culture of Remembrance
Author: Phil Cohen
Publisher: PM Press/Kairos
Page count: 192
Subjects: Archive Studies/Politics
The book explores issues of archival theory and practice that arise for any project aspiring to provide an open access platform for political dialogue and democratic debate. It is informed by the author’s experience of writing a memoir about his involvement in the London “underground” scene of the 1960s, the London street commune movement, and the occupation of 144 Piccadilly, an event that hit the world’s headlines for ten days in July 1969.
After a brief introduction that sets the contemporary scene of “archive fever,” the book considers the political legacy of 1960s counterculture for what it reveals about the process of commemoration. The argument then opens out to discuss the notion of historical legacy and its role in “the dialectic of generations.” How far can the archive serve as a platform for dialogue and debate between different generations of activists in a culture that fetishizes the evanescent present, practices a profound amnesia about its counterfactual past, and forecloses the sociological imagination of an alternative future? The following section looks at the emergence of a complex apparatus of public fame and celebrity around the spectacle of dissidence and considers how far the Left has subverted or merely mirrored the dominant forms of reputation making and public recognition. Can the Left establish its own autonomous model of commemoration?
The final section takes up the challenge of outlining a model for the democratic archive as a revisionary project, creating a resource for building collective capacity to sustain struggles of long duration amongst groups on the front lines of resistance to globalization. A postscript examines how archival strategies of the alt-right have intervened at this juncture to elaborate a politics of false memory.
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Beyond Crisis: After the Collapse of Institutional Hope in Greece, What?
Editors: John Holloway, Katerina Nasioka, and Panagiotis Doulos
Publisher: PM Press/ Kairos
Page count: 256
Subjects: Political Science/Economics
The government led by Syriza in Greece, elected in January of 2015, seemed, at least in its initial months, to be the most radical European government in recent history. It proclaimed itself as the “government of hope” and became a symbol of hope throughout the world. It represented for many the proof that radical change could be achieved through institutional politics. Then came the referendum of July 2015, the vote to reject the austerity imposed by the banks and the European Union, followed by the complete reversal of the government’s position and its acceptance of that austerity.
The dramatic collapse of the Syriza government’s radical discourse showed the limits of institutional politics, a lesson that is apparently completely overlooked by the enthusiastic followers of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. But it also poses profound questions for those who reject state-centered politics. The anarchist or autonomist movement in Greece has been one of the strongest in the world yet it has failed to have a significant impact in opening up alternative perspectives in this situation.
Is there then no way out? Is there nothing beyond the world of capitalist destruction or can we still see some possibility for radical hope? The essays in this collection reflect on the experience of the crisis in Greece and its political implications for the whole world. They do not point a way forward but seek to open windows in the darkening sky of apparent impossibility.
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Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons
Author: Silvia Federici • Foreword: Peter Linebaugh
Publisher: PM Press / Kairos
Page count: 256
Subjects: Women’s Studies-Feminism / Politics-Marxism / History
Silvia Federici is one of the most important contemporary theorists of capitalism and feminist movements. In this collection of her work spanning over twenty years, she provides a detailed history and critique of the politics of the commons from a feminist perspective. In her clear and combative voice, Federici provides readers with an analysis of some of the key issues and debates in contemporary thinking on this subject.
Drawing on rich historical research, she maps the connections between the previous forms of enclosure that occurred with the birth of capitalism and the destruction of the commons and the “new enclosures” at the heart of the present phase of global capitalist accumulation. Considering the commons from a feminist perspective, this collection centers on women and reproductive work as crucial to both our economic survival and the construction of a world free from the hierarchies and divisions capital has planted in the body of the world proletariat. Federici is clear that the commons should not be understood as happy islands in a sea of exploitative relations but rather autonomous spaces from which to challenge the existing capitalist organization of life and labor.Buy book now
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Occult Features of Anarchism: With Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples
Author: Erica Lagalisse • Foreword: Barbara Ehrenreich
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 128
Subjects: Politics-Anarchism / Anthropology
In the nineteenth century anarchists were accused of conspiracy by governments afraid of revolution, but in the current century various “conspiracy theories” suggest that anarchists are controlled by government itself. The Illuminati were a network of intellectuals who argued for self-government and against private property, yet the public is now often told that they were (and are) the very group that controls governments and defends private property around the world. Intervening in such misinformation, Lagalisse works with primary and secondary sources in multiple languages to set straight the history of the Left and illustrate the actual relationship between revolutionism, pantheistic occult philosophy, and the clandestine fraternity.
Exploring hidden correspondences between anarchism, Renaissance magic, and New Age movements, Lagalisse also advances critical scholarship regarding leftist attachments to secular politics. Inspired by anthropological fieldwork within today’s anarchist movements, her essay challenges anarchist atheism insofar as it poses practical challenges for coalition politics in today’s world.
Studying anarchism as a historical object, Occult Features of Anarchism also shows how the development of leftist theory and practice within clandestine masculine public spheres continues to inform contemporary anarchist understandings of the “political,” in which men’s oppression by the state becomes the prototype for power in general. Readers behold how gender and religion become privatized in radical counterculture, a historical process intimately linked to the privatization of gender and religion by the modern nation-state.Buy book now
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Autonomy Is in Our Hearts: Zapatista Autonomous Government through the Lens of the Tsotsil Language
Author: Dylan Eldredge Fitzwater • Foreword: John P. Clark
Publisher: PM Press / Kairos
Page count: 224
Subjects: Politics-Activism / Latin America / Linguistics
Following the Zapatista uprising on New Year’s Day 1994, the EZLN communities of Chiapas began the slow process of creating a system of autonomous government that would bring their call for freedom, justice, and democracy from word to reality. Autonomy Is in Our Hearts analyzes this long and arduous process on its own terms, using the conceptual language of Tsotsil, a Mayan language indigenous to the highland Zapatista communities of Chiapas.
The words “Freedom,” “Justice,” and “Democracy” emblazoned on the Zapatista flags are only approximations of the aspirations articulated in the six indigenous languages spoken by the Zapatista communities. They are rough translations of concepts such as ichbail ta muk’ or “mutual recognition and respect among equal persons or peoples,” a’mtel or “collective work done for the good of a community” and lekil kuxlejal or “the life that is good for everyone.” Autonomy Is in Our Hearts provides a fresh perspective on the Zapatistas and a deep engagement with the daily realities of Zapatista autonomous government. Simultaneously an exposition of Tsotsil philosophy and a detailed account of Zapatista governance structures, this book is an indispensable commentary on the Zapatista movement of today.Buy book now
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