If you think the latest tome of Giddens’ Sociology is the one textbook you need to get you through your undergraduate days, think again. Impress your tutor and learn something beyond the lecture theatre with these essential Verso titles.
Bolster any politics, philosophy, economics, literature, sociology or history essay with one of these books and not only score the grade, but begin your lifelong love affair with radical writers.
Verso will LIVE STREAM the conference on this website, from Friday, Oct 14th at 6pm. The video will be on this discussion page—you’ll need to log in to access it, so please register now if you don't yet have an account.
A new conference with leading thinkers to discuss the continued relevance of the communist idea.
“The long night of the Left is coming to a close” wrote Slavoj Žižek and Costas Douzinas in their introduction to The Idea of Communism. The continuing economic crisis, the shift away from a unipolar world defined by American hegemony, and the ecological crisis mean that growing numbers of people are keen to explore an alternative, and to rediscover the idea of communism. With the advent of the Arab Awakening, millions have sought new ways to overcome corruption and dictatorship—and they’ve now been joined by the wave of occupations in the US, challenging runaway inequality and the power of corporations and the super-rich.
Responding to Alain Badiou’s proposition of the ‘communist hypothesis,’ the leading thinkers of the Left convened in London in 2009 to discuss the persistent notion that, in a truly emancipated society, all things should be owned in common. Now Slavoj Žižek is hosting a new discussion, at Cooper Union in New York.
Terry Eagleton defends Marx's legacy in the Chronicle of Higher Education, answering many of the usual tropes and explaining why the financial crises have prompted a resurgence of interest in the questions raised by Marx's thought:
The truth is that Marx was no more responsible for the monstrous oppression of the communist world than Jesus was responsible for the Inquisition. For one thing, Marx would have scorned the idea that socialism could take root in desperately impoverished, chronically backward societies like Russia and China. If it did, then the result would simply be what he called "generalized scarcity," by which he means that everyone would now be deprived, not just the poor. It would mean a recycling of "the old filthy business"—or, in less tasteful translation, "the same old crap." Marxism is a theory of how well-heeled capitalist nations might use their immense resources to achieve justice and prosperity for their people. It is not a program by which nations bereft of material resources, a flourishing civic culture, a democratic heritage, a well-evolved technology, enlightened liberal traditions, and a skilled, educated work force might catapult themselves into the modern age ...
There is a sense in which the whole of Marx's writing boils down to several embarrassing questions: Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality? What are the mechanisms by which affluence for a minority seems to breed hardship and indignity for the many? Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it, as the good-hearted liberal reformist suggests, that we have simply not got around to mopping up these pockets of human misery, but shall do so in the fullness of time? Or is it more plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality, as surely as Charlie Sheen generates gossip? ...