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Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis

“For anyone who cares about historical necessity, the crisis of capitalism, and our fate.” – Rachel Kushner
After the financial crash and the Great Recession, the media rediscovered Karl Marx, socialist theory, and the very idea that capitalism can be questioned.

But in spite of the publicity, the main paths of contemporary critical thought have gone unexplored outside of the academy. Benjamin Kunkel’s Utopia or Bust leads readers—whether politically committed or simply curious—through the most important critical theory today. Written with the wit and verve of Kunkel’s best-selling novel, Indecision, this introduction to contemporary Leftist thinkers engages with the revolutionary philosophy of Slavoj Žižek, the economic analyses of David Graeber and David Harvey, and the cultural diagnoses of Fredric Jameson. Discussing the ongoing crisis of capitalism in light of ideas of full employment, debt forgiveness, and “fictitious capital,” Utopia or Bust is a tour through the world of Marxist thought and an examination of the basis of Western society today.

Reviews

  • “Playful and unfailingly lucid...the book is one of the most enjoyable pieces of Marxist criticism in many years.”
  • “Rigorous and unapologetically Marxist.”
  • “The new sensation of literary New York.”
  • “Kunkel and his fellow co-founders of literary journal n+1 have recently been identified as members of a new generation of ‘public intellectuals.'”
  • “Benjamin Kunkel has pursued a lonely and taxing crash course in Marxist thought, the results of which, set forth here, are nimble, clear, and brave. He dedicates the book to anyone who can use it, which I’ll take a step further: it’s for anyone who cares about historical necessity, the crisis of capitalism, and our fate.”
  • “It’s wonderful to see Benjamin Kunkel turn his considerable talents from the business of novelwriting to these political essays—models of the genre, with plenty to offer to both newcomers to and veterans of radical thought.”
  • “Benjamin Kunkel, aside from having mastered the voice of bemused neuroticism in Indecision, has one of the most interesting minds around.”
  • “Those looking for alternatives, explanations, and a critical map of where Leftist thought stands in our current neoliberal age will find Utopia or Bust a must-read.”
  • “Six elegantly turned essays on contemporary Marxist thinkers”
  • “Kunkel follows his cult novel with this primer on the big names on radical reading lists, from Karl Marx to Slovenian thinker Slavoj Zizek”

Blog

  • Verso at the Eleventh Historical Materialism Conference

    The eleventh annual Historical Materialism conference starts on Thursday 6th November. This year’s conference is titled ‘How Capitalism Survives’. The schedule includes a wide array of different thinkers speaking on everything from social reproduction theory to neoliberalism, from Marxist feminism to Walter Benjamin to the relations between race and capital. Many of the most interesting recent research projects and trends in Marxist and radical theory will be represented and discussed.


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  • Post-crash economics: a reading list

    Neoliberal economics isn't working and students are demanding more from their course reading than the 8th edition of Macroeconomics can provide. Following the news that Economics students in Manchester have formed the Post-Crash Economics Society and Aditya Chakrabortty's excoriating and controversial commentary on the state of contemporary economics, published in the Guardian, Verso presents a reading list of economics titles which challenge the mainstream neoliberal consensus and offer powerful alternative models in contemporary economics.
     


    First up, Wolfgang Streeck's analysis of the 2008 financial crisis, Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism.
    Placing the crisis in the context of the neoliberal transformation of society that began in the 1970s, Streeck's focus is on the tensions that this has produced between states, voters and capitalist enterprises. Buying Time asks fundamental questions about the compatibility between democracy and contemporary forms of capitalism. 
    Read Streeck's excellent article on the end of capitalism at the New Left Review website.

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  • The Verso Undergraduate Reading List



    BACK TO UNIVERSITY/SCHOOL! 50% OFF EVERYTHING FOR ONE WEEK ONLY!

    Feeling underwhelmed by your orthodox assigned readings? Expand your knowledge of left theory, give your political arguments some bite, and spark a love for revolutionary writers with this updated list of essential Verso books for undergraduates.

    Whether you're a student of history, sociology, political science, or geography, look no further for key radical texts and indispensable primers on today's top thinkers. 

    The list is divided into Politics, Philosophy, Feminism, Postcolonial Studies, History and Geography - see below for our recommended reading in these areas.

    All of these books will be discounted by 50%, with free shipping and bundled ebook, when you buy through our website until midnight on Tuesday September 16th! Not all books are available in all regions (apologies!) and - of course - only whilst stocks last.

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