Verso End–of–Year Highlights

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Our end of year highlights feature the best of our 2019 publishing. From books on the Green New Deal to feminist manifestos, to Chinese poetry and the history of the abortion rights movement, we are proud to present this list of radical and visionary publishing.

ALL our books are 50% off until January 1 as part of our end-of-year sale! See full details here, as well as our Gift Guide, Top 10 Books of the Year, and our best short reads.

Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance that led to the #NoDAPL movement. Our History Is the Future is at once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance.

Being Numerous shatters the mainstream consensus on politics and personhood, offering in its place a bracing analysis of a perilous world and how we should live in it. Beginning with an interrogation of what it means to fight fascism, Natasha Lennard explores the limits of individual rights, the criminalization of political dissent, the myths of radical sex, and the ghosts in our lives. 

The Case for the Green New Deal argues that economic change is wholly possible, based on the understanding that finance, the economy and the ecosystem are all tightly bound together. The GND demands total decarbonization and a commitment to an economy based on fairness and social justice. It proposes a radical new understanding of the international monetary system. Pettifor offers a roadmap for financial reform both nationally and globally, taking the economy back from the 1%. This is a radical, urgent manifesto that we must act on now.

In Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani conjures a vision of extraordinary hope, showing how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology, and establish meaningful freedom for everyone. Rather than a final destination, such a society merely heralds the real beginning of history.

“Everyone is female, and everyone hates it.”

Females is Andrea Long Chu’s genre-defying investigation into sex and lies, desperate artists and reckless politics, the smothering embrace of gender and the punishing force of desire.

Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Insurgent Empire sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.

Workers and Capital is universally recognised as the most important work produced by operaismo, a current of political thought emerging in the 1960s that revolutionised the institutional and extra-parliamentary Left in Italy and beyond. In the decade after its first publication in 1966, the debates over Workers and Capital produced new methods of analysis and a new vocabulary for thousands of militants, helping to inform the new forms of workplace, youth, and community struggle.

Erik Olin Wright has distilled decades of work into this concise and tightly argued manifesto: analyzing the varieties of anticapitalism, assessing different strategic approaches, and laying the foundations for a society dedicated to human flourishing. How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century is an urgent and powerful argument for socialism, and an unparalleled guide to help us get there.

Unaffordable housing, poverty wages, inadequate healthcare, border policing, climate change—these are not what you ordinarily hear feminists talking about. But aren’t they the biggest issues for the vast majority of women around the globe?

Samuel Stein shows that this explosive transformation of urban life and politics has been driven not only by the tastes of wealthy newcomers, but by the state-led process of urban planning. Planning agencies provide a unique window into the ways the state uses and is used by capital, and the means by which urban renovations are translated into rising real estate values and rising rents. Capital City explains the role of planners in the real estate state, as well as the remarkable power of planning to reclaim urban life.

In this classic work published in the heady days of anti-colonial revolution, Groundings with My Brothers follows the global circulation of emancipatory ideas, from the black students of North America to the Rasta counterculture of Jamaica and beyond. Having inspired a generation of revolutionaries, this new edition will re-introduce the book to a new political landscape that it helped shape, with reflections from leading scholar-activists.

Four siblings. Two summer houses. One terrible secret. When a dispute over her parents’ will grows bitter, Bergljot is drawn back into the orbit of the family she fled twenty years before. Her mother and father have decided to leave two island summer houses to her sisters, disinheriting the two eldest siblings from the most meaningful part of the estate. To outsiders, it is a quarrel about property and favouritism. But Bergljot, who has borne a horrible secret since childhood, understands the gesture as something very different—a final attempt to suppress the truth and a cruel insult to the grievously injured.

A Planet to Win explores the political potential and concrete first steps of a Green New Deal. It calls for dismantling the fossil fuel industry, building beautiful landscapes of renewable energy, and guaranteeing climate-friendly work, no-carbon housing, and free public transit. And it shows how a Green New Deal in the United States can strengthen climate justice movements worldwide.

What makes a fascist? Are there character traits that make someone more likely to vote for the far right? The Authoritarian Personality is not only one of the most significant works of social psychology ever written, it also marks a milestone in the development of Adorno’s thought, showing him grappling with the problem of fascism and the reasons for Europe’s turn to reaction.

In the twentieth century, millions of people across the globe addressed each other as “comrade.” Now, among the left, it’s more common to hear talk of “allies.” In Comrade, Jodi Dean insists that this shift exemplifies the key problem with the contemporary left: the substitution of political identity for a relationship of political belonging that must be built, sustained, and defended.

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Tracing the history of some of socialism’s highs and lows—from the creation of Germany’s Social Democratic Party through bloody communist revolutions to the predicaments of midcentury social democracy—Sunkara contends that, in our global age, socialism is still the only way forward. Drawing on history and his own experience in left-wing activism, Sunkara explains how socialists can win better wages and housing and create democratic institutions in workplaces and communities. In showing how and why socialism can work today, The Socialist Manifesto is for anyone seeking a real solution to the vast inequalities of our age

An engaging, polemical romp through economic theory, computational complexity, and the history of planning, The People’s Republic of Walmart revives the conversation about how society can extend democratic decision-making to all economic matters. With the advances in information technology in recent decades and the emergence of globe-straddling collective enterprises, democratic planning in the interest of all humanity is more important and closer to attainment than ever before.

In Dreams of Leaving and Remaining, Meek meets farmers and fishermen intent on exiting the EU despite the loss of protections they will incur. He reports on a Cadbury’s factory shut down and moved to Poland in the name of free market economics, exploring the impact on the local community left behind. He charts how the NHS is coping with the twin burdens of austerity and an aging population.

The new ruling class uses the powers of information to route around any obstacle labor and social movements put up. So how do we find a way out? Capital Is Dead offers not only the theoretical tools to analyze this new world, but ways to change it. Drawing on the writings of a surprising range of classic and contemporary theorists, Wark offers an illuminating overview of the contemporary condition and the emerging class forces that control—and contest—it.

In Crippled, journalist and campaigner Frances Ryan exposes the disturbing reality, telling the stories of those most affected by this devastating regime. It is at once both a damning indictment of a safety net so compromised it strangles many of those it catches and a passionate demand for an end to austerity, which hits hardest those most in need.

Jenny Brown uncovers a century of legal abortion in the United States until 1873, recalls women’s experiences in the illegal days, and shows how the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s really won abortion rights. She draws inspiration and lessons from the radicals of Redstockings, the Army of Three, and the Jane Collective, putting together a road map for today’s organizers from the black feminist argument for reproductive justice, the successful fight to make the morning-after pill available over the counter, and the recent mass movement to repeal Ireland’s abortion ban.

The surrogacy industry is estimated to be worth over $1 billion a year, and many of its surrogates around the world work in terrible conditions—deception, wage-stealing and money skimming are rife; adequate medical care is horrifyingly absent; and informed consent is depressingly rare. In Full Surrogacy Now, Sophie Lewis brings a fresh and unique perspective to the topic. Often, we think of surrogacy as the problem, but, Full Surrogacy Now argues, we need more surrogacy, not less!
 

Red State Revolt is a compelling analysis of the emergence and development of the historic teachers' strike wave, with an eye to extracting its main strategic lessons for educators, labor organizer, and radicals across the country. A former high school teacher and longtime activist, Eric Blanc embedded himself into the rank-and-file leaderships of the walkouts. The result is one of the richest portraits of the labor movement to date, a story populated with the voices of school workers who are winning the fight for the soul of public education—and redrawing the political map of the country at large.

Karl Marx was not only the great theorist of capitalism. He was also a superb journalist, politician, and historian. This book brings together all of his essential political and historical writings in one volume for the first time.

The global political, ecological, economic, and social breakdown—symbolized by Trump’s election—has destroyed faith that neoliberal capitalism is beneficial to the majority. Nancy Fraser explores how this faith was built through the late twentieth century by balancing two central tenets: recognition (who deserves rights) and distribution (who deserves income). When these begin to fray, new forms of outsider populist politics emerge on the left and the right.

In this classic biography J.P. Nettl provides an extraordinary portrait of one of the leading twentieth century revolutionaries and political thinkers.

In this landmark reappraisal of council housing, historian John Boughton presents an alternative history of Britain. Traversing the nation, he offers an architectural tour of some of the best and most remarkable of our housing estates, and in doing so offers an engrossing social history of housing in Britain.

From rogue financial systems to shopping algorithms, from artificial intelligence to state secrecy, we no longer understand how our world is governed or presented to us. The media is filled with unverifiable speculation, much of it generated by anonymous software, while companies dominate their employees through surveillance and the threat of automation. In his brilliant new work, leading artist and writer James Bridle surveys the history of art, technology, and information systems, and reveals the dark clouds that gather over our dreams of the digital sublime.

Since 1843, the Economist has been the single most devoted and  influential champion of liberalism anywhere in the world. But what  exactly is liberalism, and how has the liberal message evolved? Liberalism at Large  presents a history of liberalism on the move, confronting the  challenges that classical doctrine left unresolved: the rise of  democracy, the expansion of empire, the ascendancy of finance.

In this groundbreaking book, Holly Jean Buck charts a possible course to a liveable future. Climate restoration will require not just innovative technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere, but social and economic transformation. The steps we must take are enormous, and they must be taken soon. Looking at industrial-scale seaweed farms, the grinding of rocks to sequester carbon at the bottom of the sea, the restoration of wetlands, and reforestation, Buck examines possible methods for such transformations and meets the people developing them.

In this personal portrait of Edward Said written by a close friend, Dominique Eddé offers a fascinating and fresh presentation of his oeuvre from his earliest writings on Joseph Conrad to his most famous texts, Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism. Eddé weaves together accounts of the genesis and content of Said’s work, his intellectual development, and her own reflections and personal recollections of their friendship, which began in 1979 and lasted until Said’s death in 2003. 

We are currently witnessing in Western Europe a “populist moment” that signals the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. The central axis of the political conflict will be between right- and left-wing populism. By establishing a frontier between “the people” and “the oligarchy,” a left–populist strategy could bring together the manifold struggles against subordination, oppression and discrimination.

Eka Kurniawan’s freewheeling imagination explores the turbulent dreams of an ex-prostitute, the hapless life of a perpetual student, victims of an anticommunist genocide, the travails of an elephant, even the vengeful fantasies of a stone. Dark, sexual, scatological, violent, and mordantly funny, these fractured fables span city and country, animal and human, myth and politics.

Dynamic and beloved American radical, labor leader, and socialist Eugene Victor Debs led the Socialist Party to federal and state office across the United States by the 1920s. Imprisoned for speaking out against World War I, Debs ran for president from prison on the Socialist Party ticket, receiving over 1 million votes. Debs’s life is a story of labor battles in industrializing America, of a fighting socialist politics grown directly out of the Midwest heartland, and of a distinctly American vision of socialism.

Moving between Jamaican plantations, the hills of Devon, the port cities of Bristol, Cardiff, and Kingston, and the working-class estates of South London, Carby’s family story is at once an intimate personal history and a sweeping summation of the violent entanglement of two islands. In charting British empire’s interweaving of capital and bodies, public language and private feeling, Carby will find herself reckoning with what she can tell, what she can remember, and what she can bear to know.

We Have Never Been Middle Class proposes that the middle class is an ideology. Tracing this ideology up to the age of financialisation, it exposes the fallacy in the belief that we can all ascend or descend as a result of our aspirational and precautionary investments in property and education.

During and after the Second World War, military psychiatrists used sleep therapies to treat an epidemic of “combat fatigue.” Inducing deep and twilight sleep in clinical settings, they studied the effects of war violence on the mind and developed the techniques of brainwashing that would weaponize both memory and sleep. In the Vietnam era, radical veterans reclaimed the authority to interpret their own traumatic symptoms—nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia —and pioneered new methods of protest. In Fighting Sleep, Franny Nudelman recounts the struggle over sleep in the postwar world, revealing that the subject was instrumental to the development of military science, professional psychiatry, and antiwar activism.

As journalist Todd Miller reveals in Empire of Borders, the nature of US borders has changed. These boundaries have effectively expanded thousands of miles outside of US territory to encircle not simply American land but Washington’s interests. Resources, training, and agents from the United States infiltrate the Caribbean and Central America; they reach across the Canadian border; and they go even farther afield, enforcing the division between Global South and North.

The Salvadoran journalist Óscar Martinez and his anthropologist brother Juan José Martínez got to know the Hollywood Kid when he informed on MS-13. In his hideaway shack, he recounted a life of killing—a death toll of more than fifty rival gang members—until his own murder ended the story. Vivid and violent, The Hollywood Kid brings a brutal world to life, illustrating the geopolitical forces propelling a country toward ever more vicious extremes.

In The Social Photo, social theorist Nathan Jurgenson develops bold new ways of understanding the transformations wrought by these image-making and sharing technologies and the cultural objects they have ushered in: the selfie, the faux-vintage photo, the self-destructing image, the food photo. Jurgenson shows how these devices and platforms have remade the world and our understanding of ourselves within it.

When we talk about technology we always talk about the future—which makes it hard to figure out how to get there. In Future Histories, Lizzie O’Shea argues that we need to stop looking forward and start looking backwards. Weaving together histories of computing and social movements with modern theories of the mind, society, and self, O’Shea constructs a “usable past” that help us determine our digital future.

Donald Trump’s residency in the White House is not an accident of American history, and it can’t be blamed on a single cause. In American Breakdown, David Bromwich provides an essential analysis of the forces in play beneath the surface of our political system. His portraits of political leaders and overarching narrative bring to life the events and machinations that have led America to a collective breakdown.

The conflict in Northern Ireland was one of the most devastating in post-war Europe, claiming the lives of 3,500 people and injuring many more. This book is a riveting new history of the radical politics that drove a unique insurgency that emerged from the crucible of 1968. Based on extensive archival research, One Man’s Terrorist explores the relationship between the IRA, a clandestine army described as ‘one of the most ruthless and capable insurgent forces in modern history’, and the political movement that developed alongside it to challenge British rule.

What does Brazil’s lurch to the hard right under Jair Bolsonaro portend for Latin America’s largest country, and how has it come about?

Syriza, Trump, Podemos, and Brexit—these and other electoral earthquakes of recent years have been grouped under the term “populism.” But what actually defines populism? Marco Revelli answers the question by getting to grips with the historical dynamics of so-called populist movements. 

In this collection of essays, Steve Fraser, the preeminent historian of American capitalism, sets the record straight, rewriting the arc of the American saga with class conflict center stage and mounting a serious challenge to the consoling fantasy of American exceptionalism. From the colonial era to Trump, Fraser recovers the repressed history of debtors’ prisons and disaster capitalism, of confidence men and the reserve armies of the unemployed.

The biography of Carlos Slim, one of the richest people of all time, is a case study in the ethical and psychological effects of extraordinary wealth. Not just the tale of the first man from a developing country ever to reach the top of the Forbes list of billionaires, it presents a living embodiment of the financial mentality of our time, a man who mistrusts politicians and believes the market to be the answer to everything—even corruption. In short, Slim’s story is that of Latin America’s last half century and indeed the wider world.

In The Security Principle, French philosopher Frédéric Gros takes a historical approach to the concept of security, looking at its evolution from the Stoics to the social network. With lucidity and rigour, Gros’s approach is fourfold, looking at security as a mental state, as developed by the Greeks; as an objective situation and absence of all danger, as prevailed in the Middle Ages; as guaranteed by the nation-state and its trio of judiciary, police, and military; and finally biosecurity, control, regulation, and protection in the flux of contemporary society.

Afterlives of Chinese Communism comprises essays from over fifty world-renowned scholars in the China field, from various disciplines and continents. It provides an indispensable guide for understanding how the Mao era continues to shape Chinese politics today. Each chapter discusses a concept or practice from the Mao period, what it attempted to do, and what has become of it since. The authors respond to the legacy of Maoism from numerous perspectives to consider what lessons Chinese communism can offer today, and whether there is a future for the egalitarian politics that it once promised.

This major new work by Fredric Jameson is not a book about “method,” but it does propose a dialectic capable of holding together in one breath the heterogeneities that reflect our biological individualities, our submersion in collective history and class struggle, and our alienation to a disembodied new world of information and abstraction.

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The democratic promise of the 2011 Arab Spring has unraveled in Yemen, triggering a disastrous crisis of civil war, famine, militarization, and governmental collapse with serious implications for the future of the region. Yet as expert political researcher Helen Lackner argues, the catastrophe does not have to continue, and we can hope for and help build a different future in Yemen.

Mithu Sanyal shows that our comprehension of rape is closely connected to our understanding of sex, sexuality, and gender. Why is it that we expect victims to be irreparably damaged? When we think of rapists, why do we think of strangers rather than uncles, husbands, priests, or boyfriends? And in the era of #MeToo, what should “justice” look like?

From early wage demands to recent social justice campaigns pursued through occupations and blockades, Joshua Clover connects these protests to the upheavals of a sclerotic economy in a state of moral collapse. Historical events such as the global economic crisis of 1973 and the decline of organized labor, viewed from the perspective of vast social transformations, are the proper context for understanding these eruptions of discontent. As social unrest against an unsustainable order continues to grow, this valuable history will help guide future antagonists in their struggles toward a revolutionary horizon.

Adam Smith and Karl Marx recognized that the best way to understand the economy is to study the most advanced practice of production. Today that practice is no longer conventional manufacturing: it is the radically innovative vanguard known as the knowledge economy. In every part of the production system it remains a fringe excluding the vast majority of workers and businesses. This book explores the hidden nature of the knowledge economy and its possible futures.

The financialisation of housing has become a global catastrophe, leaving millions desperate and homeless. Since the 2008 financial collapse, models of home ownership, originating in the US and UK, are being exported around the world. Using examples from across the globe, Rolnik shows how our cities have been sold to construction companies and banks, while supported by government-facilitated schemes, such as “the right to buy” subsidies and micro-financing.

For Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, neoliberalism is no mere dogma. Supported by powerful oligarchies, it is a veritable politico-institutional system, one capable of perpetuating itself aggressively. Far from representing a break, crisis has become a formidably effective mode of government.

This is how a Palestinian stonemason, in line at a checkpoint outside a Jerusalem suburb, described his life to Andrew Ross. Palestinian “stone men,” using some of the best-quality limestone deposits in the world and drawing on generations of artisanal knowledge, have built almost every state in the Middle East except one of their own. Today the business of quarrying, cutting, fabricating, and dressing is the Occupied Territories’ largest private employer and generator of revenue, and supplies the construction industry in Israel, along with other countries in the region and overseas.

Rebel Cities places the city at the heart of both capital and class struggles, looking at locations ranging from Johannesburg to Mumbai, from New York City to São Paulo. Drawing on the Paris Commune as well as Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots, Harvey asks how cities might be reorganized in more socially just and ecologically sane ways—and how they become the focus for anti-capitalist resistance.

In his most systematic book to date, renowned Italian theorist Franco “Bifo” Berardi tackles this question through a solid yet visionary analysis of the three fundamental concepts of possibility, potency, and power. Overcoming any temptation of giving in to despair or nostalgia, Berardi proposes the notion of futurability as a way to remind us that even within the darkness of our current crisis, still lies dormant the horizon of possibility.

In addition to providing a living picture of Marx the man, his life, and his family and friends—as well as his lifelong collaboration with Friedrich Engels—Sweden’s leading intellectual historian Sven-Eric Liedman, in this major new biography, shows what Karl Marx the thinker and researcher really wrote, demonstrating that this giant of the nineteenth century still exert a powerful attraction for the inhabitants of the twenty-first.

How can one think of art institutions in an age defined by planetary civil war, growing inequality, and proprietary digital technology? The boundaries of such institutions have grown fuzzy. They extend from a region where the audience is pumped for tweets to a future of “neurocurating,” in which paintings surveil their audience via facial recognition and eye tracking to assess their popularity and to scan for suspicious activity. In Duty Free Art, filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl wonders how we can appreciate, or even make art, in the present age.

Régis Debray explores America’s global cultural ascendancy in this provocative and witty analysis of our contemporary condition. Whereas Europe once foregrounded the importance of time and writing, America is a civilization of spectacle and kinetics, blind to the tragic complexities of human life. A measure of America’s success is how its jargon has been adopted by European languages, but there is much more than that to the States’ infiltration into all aspects of modern life.

The four poets, whose work is collected in English translation here alongside the Chinese originals, all wrote in the classical style, but their poetry was no less diverse than their politics. Chen Duxiu led China’s early cultural awakening before founding the Communist Party in 1921. Mao Zedong led the party to power in 1949. Zheng Chaolin, Chen Duxiu’s disciple and, like him, a convert to Trotskyism, spent thirty-four years in jail, first under the Nationalist regime and then under their Maoist nemeses. The guerrilla leader Chen Yi wrote flamboyant and descriptive poems in mountain bivouacs and in the heat of battle. Together, the four poets illustrate the complicated relationship between the Communist Revolution and Chinese cultural traditions.

Enzo Traverso suggests the concept of post-fascism—a hybrid phenomenon, neither the reproduction of old fascism nor something completely different—to define a set of heterogeneous and transitional movements, suspended between an accomplished past still haunting our memories and an unknown future.

The cold-blooded murder of revolutionary icons Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in the pitched political battles of post-WWI Germany marks one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century. No other political assassination inflamed popular passions and transformed Germany’s political climate as that killing on the night of January 15–16, 1919, in front of the luxurious Hotel Eden.

In the Mind But Not From There: Real Abstraction and Contemporary Art considers how the Marxian concept of “real abstraction”—originally developed by Alfred Sohn-Rethel, and recently updated by Alberto Toscano—might help to define the economic, social, political, and cultural complexities of our contemporary moment.

Drawing on a Gramscian theoretical perspective and developing a systematic comparative approach, The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe: Italy, Spain and Romania 1870–1945 challenges the received Tocquevillian consensus on authoritarianism by arguing that fascist regimes, just like mass democracies, depended on well-organised, rather than weak and atomised, civil societies. 

The resurgence of the far right across Europe and the emergence of the “alt-right” in the US have put the question of fascism urgently back on the agenda. For those trying to understand these forms of politics, there is no better place to start than Fascism and Dictatorship, the unrivalled Marxist study of German and Italian fascism. It carefully distinguishes between fascism as a mass movement before the seizure of power and what it becomes as an entrenched machinery of dictatorship.

ALL our books are 50% off until January 1 as part of our end-of-year sale! See full details here, as well as our End of Year Highlights, Top 10 Books of the Year, and our best short reads.