May 1st marks International Workers' Day, a festival of working-class self-organization stretching back over 130 years. It was originally inaugurated to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 in Chicago, where a bomb thrown during a worker's strike kicked off a period of anti-labor hysteria.
To mark this significant date, we present a selection of books looking at policing, riots, Rosa Luxemburg, neoliberalism, revolution and rebellion.
Plus, see all our May Day Reading from the Verso Archive covering care work, sex work, black liberation & more; from Angela Davis, Gail Lewis, Melissa Gira Grant, Isabell Lorey, and Kristin Ross. Read all the essays here.
Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism
by L.A. Kauffman
“A movement tour de force. A must-read for those who have committed themselves to the life of the mind and of struggle.” – Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, theologian and organizer
A longtime movement insider's powerful account of the origins of today's protest movements and what they can achieve now
Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter
Edited by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton
“This book is the best analytical and political response we have to the historic rebellions in Ferguson! Don’t miss it.” – Cornel West, author of Black Prophetic Fire
Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings
by Joshua Clover
"In its sweep, rigor, and elegance, Riot. Strike. Riot is pleasurable and provocative, worthy of the urgent debates it should inspire.” – Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop
Award-winning poet Joshua Clover theorizes the riot as the form of the coming insurrection
Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy
by Robin Hahnel and Erik Olin Wright
Introduction by Ed Lewis
"Robin Hahnel and Erik Olin Wright are two of the most thoughtful and perceptive analysts to have pursued this critically important course. Their reasoned and informed interaction is a major contribution towards clarifying the paths forward.” – Noam Chomsky
The Dilemmas of Lenin: Terrorism, War, Empire, Love, Revolution
by Tariq Ali
On the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Tariq Ali paints an illuminating portrait of Lenin
Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work by Melissa Gira Grant
In Playing the Whore, sex workers' demands, too long relegated to the margins, take center stage: sex work is work, and sex workers' rights are human rights.
State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious by Isabell Lorey
In State of Insecurity, Isabell Lorey explores the possibilities for organization and resistance under the contemporary status quo, and anticipates the emergence of a new and disobedient self-government of the precarious. In this extract she looks at care crisis and care strike.
Inside Babylon: The Caribbean Diaspora in Britain edited by Clive Harris and Winston James
A lively and informed reflection on the experience of black people in Britain.
How Did We Get into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature by George Monbiot
“A dazzling command of science and relentless faith in people … I never miss reading him.” – Naomi Klein
George Monbiot is one of the most vocal, and eloquent, critics of the current consensus and here he assesses the state we are now in: the devastation of the natural world, the crisis of inequality, the corporate takeover of nature, our obsessions with growth and profit and the decline of the political debate over what to do.
The Age of Inequality: Corporate America’s War on Working People
Edited by Jeremy Gantz
"These are some of the planet’s sharpest minds, and what they say must be heard.”– Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
The stories behind the inequality crisis—a forty-year investigation by In These Times
In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy, and Revolution
by Geoff Mann
“A detailed, fast-flowing account of how repeatedly guileful Keynesianism crisis management has saved the elite by reengineering tragedy … rewarding reading.” – Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%
A groundbreaking debunking of moderate attempts to resolve financial crises
The Philosophy of Marx
by Etienne Balibar
Translated by Gregory Elliott and Chris Turner
“This short book manages to be both a unexcelled introduction to Marx and, for those familiar with the texts, a sophisticated and suggestive commentary.” – Benjamin Kunkel
How Will Capitalism End?: Essays on a Failing System
by Wolfgang Streeck
“Streeck demonstrates that the maladies afflicting the world—from secular stagnation to rising violent instability—herald not just the decline of neoliberalism, but what may prove to be the terminal phase of global capitalism.” – Paul Mason, author of Postcapitalism
The Communist Manifesto / The April Theses
by Frederick Engels, V. I. Lenin, and Karl Marx
Introduction by Tariq Ali
A new beautiful edition of the Communist Manifesto, combined with Lenin’s key revolutionary tract
If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance
Edited by Angela Y. Davis
“Davis’s arguments for justice are formidable … The power of her historical insights and the sweetness of her dream cannot be denied.” – New York Times
Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism
by Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg
Translated by David Fernbach
“This rich and poignant and often enthralling record traces the Yiddishland revolutionaries from their East European roots through the years of hope and struggle and hideous crimes to the heroic anti-Nazi resistance and beyond…there are many lessons for today…”– Noam Chomsky
by Thomas More
Supplement by Ursula K. Le Guin
Introduction by China Miéville
Five-hundred-year anniversary edition of More’s Utopia, with writing from major science fiction writers
Book of Dissent: Revolutionary Words from Three Millennia of Rebellion and Resistance
Edited by Andrew Hsiao and Audrea Lim
“The Verso Book of Dissent shows the many ways in which the constant struggle to create a better world has broken through the walls of apathy and acquiescence.” – Noam Chomsky
Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene
by McKenzie Wark
“A wonderful book … informative and moving … a great recovery of an instructive life and literary effort. The book makes the case for a kind of political vision and action we need to recognize and enact. A true pleasure to read.” – Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars Trilogy
Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers, and Radicals in Britain and the United States
by Sheila Rowbotham
“Like the radicals of the sixties who shaped Rowbotham, the subjects of her new book connected their political action to their pursuit of personal transformation and spiritualism…Rebel Crossings […] is animated by this idea, as essential now as ever, that socialism and feminism are inseparable.” – Laura Tanenbaum, The New Republic
Four Futures: Life After Capitalism
by Peter Frase
“This incisive little book offers the vital reminder that nothing is set in stone—or silicon—and that in order to fight for a better world we first need to be able to imagine it.” – Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
An exhilarating exploration into the utopias and dystopias that could develop from present society
Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move
by Reece Jones
“A much-needed counter to a thousand newspaper columns calling on us to secure our borders, Reece Jones’ Violent Borders goes beyond the headlines to look at the deeper causes of the migration crisis. Borders, Jones convincingly argues, are a means of inflicting violence on poor people. This is an engaging and lucid analysis of a much misunderstood issue.” – Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims Are Coming
Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School
by Stuart Jeffries
“Marvellously entertaining, exciting and informative” – John Banville, Guardian [Books of the Year]
This brilliant group biography asks who were the Frankfurt School and why they matter today
Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World
by Kumari Jayawardena
Foreword by Rafia Zakaria
"Its sheer scope not only allows for fascinating comparisons but also shows Third World women defining themselves and being influenced by other Third World women rather than in relation to the West … The book proves that feminist ideas and movements are not an import from the West [and] shows clearly that the tradition of women’s struggles is firmly embedded in these countries’ histories.” – Rahila Gupta, OutWrite
The ABCs of Socialism
Edited by Bhaskar Sunkara
Illustrated by Phil Wrigglesworth
Slim, accessible, inexpensive, irreverent introduction to socialism by the writers of Jacobin magazine
The Last Communard: Adrien Lejeune, the Unexpected Life of a Revolutionary
by Gavin Bowd
"Gavin Bowd not only details Lejeune’s life, but also the constitution of his legend, and the inevitable gap between them. In this way, Bowd reminds us of the importance stories have in the fight for emancipation, stories that, despite the decline of the ‘communist hypothesis,’ still haunt us.” – Eric Hazan, author of The Invention of Paris
We Want Everything: A Novel
by Nanni Balestrini
Introduction by Rachel Kushner
“We would do well to study how it was that Balestrini made politics and fiction and art, all in once place...one of the most compelling pieces of literature of the entire second half of the twentieth century.” – Rachel Kushner, New Yorker
Crowds and Party
by Jodi Dean
“Dean has a powerful point to make: political movements have to move beyond immediate expression— the crowd— and embrace long-term organization— the party.” – Open Letters Monthly
Crowds and Party channels the energies of the riotous crowds who took to the streets in the past five years into an argument for the political party. Rejecting the emphasis on individuals and multitudes, Jodi Dean argues that we need to rethink the collective subject of politics.
Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg
by Kate Evans, Edited by Paul Buhle
“Utterly brilliant” – Guardian
“This book is hard to put down and contains a challenge that is impossible to turn away from: We could create a better world—peaceful, egalitarian, even joyful—if we are willing to learn from Red Rosa.” – Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Living with a Wild God
Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams
“A fascinating book about an alternative to austerity.” – Owen Jones
Inventing the Future is a bold new manifesto for life after capitalism. Against the confused understanding of our high-tech world by both the right and the left, this book claims that the emancipatory and future-oriented possibilities of our society can be reclaimed.
A History of the Barricade
by Eric Hazan
In the history of European revolutions, the barricade stands as a glorious emblem. Its symbolic importance arises principally from the barricades of Eric Hazan’s native Paris, where they were instrumental in the revolts of the nineteenth century, helping to shape the political life of a continent.
Hazan traces the many stages in the barricade’s evolution, from the Wars of Religion through to the Paris Commune, drawing on the work of thinkers throughout the periods examined to illustrate and bring to life the violent practicalities of revolutionary uprising.
Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe
by Antony Loewenstein
“A keenly observed and timely investigation into rampant resource plunder, privatized detention centers, and an array of other forms of corporate rapacity on four continents.” – Naomi Klein
What emerges through Loewenstein’s reporting is a dark history of multinational corporations that, with the aid of media and political elites, have grown more powerful than national governments. In the twenty-first century, the vulnerable have become the world’s most valuable commodity.
Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune
by Kristin Ross
“This is an indispensable text for all current left theory!” – Fredric Jameson
This original analysis of an event and its centrifugal effects brings to life the workers in Paris who became revolutionaries, the significance they attributed to their struggle, and the elaboration and continuation of their thought in the encounters that transpired between the insurrection’s survivors and supporters like Marx, Kropotkin, and William Morris.
Willing Slaves of Capital: Marx and Spinoza on Desire
by Frédéric Lordon
Many conversations about work and labor movements focus on the objective conditions of exploitation, from the length of the working day to stagnant wages. But by bringing together Marx and Spinoza, Lordon sets out to explore the subjective dimensions of labor: Why, exactly, do people work for other people? This analysis is especially on point, as Mark Fisher says, "at a time when all workers are required to show 'passion' for their jobs."
Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity
by Micah Uetricht
In another labor-oriented text for the Jacobin Series, Uetricht traces one of the most important contemporary worker-led struggles: the Chicago Teacher's Strike. Based on front-line organizing, Uetricht shows how the successful actions were years in the making, bringing together school workers, community members, and students to resist the far-reaching consequences of contemporary educational restructuring.
The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement
by Stanley Aronowitz
“Stanley Aronowitz is the most important scholar on the past and present US working class.” – Cornel West
The decline of the American union movement – and how it can revive, by a leading analyst of labor
The Prophet: The Life of Leon Trotsky
by Isaac Deutscher
Few political figures of the twentieth century have aroused such intensities of fierce admiration and reactionary fear as Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. His extraordinary life and extensive writings have left an indelible mark on the revolutionary consciousness.