Reading list

Political Theory: Verso Student Reading

Featuring Walter Rodney, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Theodor Adorno, Erik Olin Wright, Nancy Fraser, and Benedict Anderson.

Verso Books24 August 2023

Political Theory: Verso Student Reading

With the rise of global economic instability, the looming threat of catastrophic climate change, and capitalism close to breaking point, the time has never been more ripe to arm yourself with the political theory you need for the struggles ahead.

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See all our recommended Student Reading here.

Towards a Green Democratic Revolution
In recent years, the promises of the populist moment have faltered, as seen in the defeats of Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Jean-Luc Melenchon. In addition, the pandemic has brought about a strong...
Democracy in the Political Present
‘Presentist democracy is without a people and without nation. Rather than regimes of borders and migration, its borders are sexism and racism, homo- and transphobia, colonialism and extractivism.’I...
Imitation Democracy
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia under Yeltsin and Putin implemented a political system of “imitation democracy,” marked by “a huge disparity between formal constitutional principles ...
Classes
Questions of class, power and distribution have reemerged as central concerns in the public discourse. When we talk about class, we don't always know what is meant. Is class about income or affect ...
Communism and Strategy
If the question of communism is making a comeback today, this renewed interest is often accompanied by an abandonment of any concrete political perspective. Critical philosophies are flourishing an...
Combat Trauma
Americans have long been asked to support the troops and care for veterans' psychological wounds. Who, though, does this injunction serve?As acclaimed scholar Nadia Abu El-Haj argues here, in the A...
Microverses
Microverses comprises over a hundred short essays inviting us to think about society – and social theory – in new ways. Lockdown created the conditions for what Adorno once termed ‘enforced contemp...
Paths of Revolution

Paths of Revolution

The Argentine-born writer Adolfo Gilly has directly observed many of Latin America’s most dramatic events, from the Bolivian Revolution of the 1950s and Cuba during the Missile Crisis to the guerri...
Self-Defense

Self-Defense

Is violent self-defense ethical? In the history of colonialism, racism, sexism, capitalism, there has long been a dividing line between bodies "worthy of defending" and those who have been disar...
Owning the Future
The question of ownership is the critical fault line of our times. During the pandemic this issue has only become more divisive. Since March 2020 we have witnessed the extraordinary growth of asset...
Cannibal Capitalism
Shortlisted for the Deutscher Memorial Prize 2023Capital is currently cannibalizing every sphere of life-guzzling wealth from nature and racialized populations, sucking up our ability to care for e...
Power and Resistance
The "structuralist" theories of power show that the subject is produced and reproduced by the investment of power: but how then can we think of the subject's resistance to power? Based on this fund...
Abolition Geography
Gathering together Ruth Wilson Gilmore's work from over three decades, Abolition Geography presents her singular contribution to the politics of abolition as theorist, researcher, and organizer, of...
Against Borders
Borders harm all of us: they must be abolished.Borders divide workers and families, fuel racial division, and reinforce global disparities. They encourage the expansion of technologies of surveilla...
The Great Recoil
In these times of health emergency, economic collapse, populist anger and ecological threat, societies are forced to turn inward in search of protection. Neoliberalism, the ideology that presided o...
The Revenge of the Real
The Revenge of the Real envisions a new positive biopolitics that recognises that how populations govern themselves is literally a matter of life and death. We are grappling with multiple interconn...
Decolonial Marxism

Decolonial Marxism

Early in life, Walter Rodney became a major revolutionary figure in a dizzying range of locales that traversed the breadth of the Black diaspora: in North America and Europe, in the Caribbean and o...
Paperback
Imperium
What should we do with the ideals of internationalism, the withering away of state and horizontality? Probably start by thinking seriously about them. That is to say, about their conditions of poss...
The Tragedy of the Worker
To understand the scale of what faces us and how it ramifies through every corner of our lives is to marvel at our inaction. Why aren’t we holding emergency meetings in every city, town and village...
Workers and Capital
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-...
The Origin of Capitalism
In The Origin of Capitalism, a now-classic work of history, Ellen Meiksins Wood offers readers a clear and accessible introduction to the theories and debates concerning the birth of capitalism, im...
A Critical Theory of Police Power
The ubiquitous nature and political attraction of the concept of order has to be understood in conjunction with the idea of police. Since its first publication, this book has been one of the most p...
Neither Vertical nor Horizontal
A decade ago, a wave of mass mobilisations described as “horizontal” and “leaderless” swept the planet, holding the promise of real democracy and justice for the 99%. Many saw its subsequent ebb as...
How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century
Capitalism has transformed the world and increased our productivity, but at the cost of enormous human suffering. Our shared values equality and fairness, democracy and freedom, community and solid...
Old Gods, New Enigmas
Old Gods, New Enigmas is the highly-anticipated book by the best-selling author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums. Mike Davis spent years working factory jobs and sitting behind the wheel of an...
The Political Writings
Karl Marx was not only the great theorist of capitalism, he was also a superb journalist, politician and historian. For the first time ever, this book brings together all of his essential political...
The Old Is Dying and the New Cannot Be Born
Across the globe politics as usual are being rejected and faith in neoliberalism is fracturing beyond repair. Leading political theorist Nancy Fraser, in conversation with Jacobin publisher Bhaskar...
Imagined Communities
What are the imagined communities that compel men to kill or to die for an idea of a nation? This notion of nationhood had its origins in the founding of the Americas, but was then adopted and tran...
Hegemony and Socialist Strategy
In this hugely influential book, Laclau and Mouffe examine the workings of hegemony and contemporary social struggles, and their significance for democratic theory. With the emergence of new soci...
Democracy Against Capitalism
Historian and political thinker Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that theories of “postmodern” fragmentation, “difference”, and contingency can barely accommodate the idea of capitalism, let alone subjec...
For a Left Populism
We are seeing the rise of a populist moment around the world on both the left and the right. Movements like Bernie Sander, Jeremy Corbyn, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have emerged in the midst of the ...
On the Reproduction of Capitalism
Louis Althusser’s renowned short text "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" radically transformed the concept of the subject, the understanding of the state and even the very frameworks o...
The Revenge of the Real
The Revenge of the Real envisions a new positive biopolitics that recognises that how populations govern themselves is literally a matter of life and death. We are grappling with multiple interconn...
Decolonial Marxism

Decolonial Marxism

Early in life, Walter Rodney became a major revolutionary figure in a dizzying range of locales that traversed the breadth of the Black diaspora: in North America and Europe, in the Caribbean and o...
Paperback
Imperium
What should we do with the ideals of internationalism, the withering away of state and horizontality? Probably start by thinking seriously about them. That is to say, about their conditions of poss...
The Tragedy of the Worker
To understand the scale of what faces us and how it ramifies through every corner of our lives is to marvel at our inaction. Why aren’t we holding emergency meetings in every city, town and village...
Workers and Capital
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-...
The Origin of Capitalism
In The Origin of Capitalism, a now-classic work of history, Ellen Meiksins Wood offers readers a clear and accessible introduction to the theories and debates concerning the birth of capitalism, im...
A Critical Theory of Police Power
The ubiquitous nature and political attraction of the concept of order has to be understood in conjunction with the idea of police. Since its first publication, this book has been one of the most p...
Neither Vertical nor Horizontal
A decade ago, a wave of mass mobilisations described as “horizontal” and “leaderless” swept the planet, holding the promise of real democracy and justice for the 99%. Many saw its subsequent ebb as...
How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century
Capitalism has transformed the world and increased our productivity, but at the cost of enormous human suffering. Our shared values equality and fairness, democracy and freedom, community and solid...
Old Gods, New Enigmas
Old Gods, New Enigmas is the highly-anticipated book by the best-selling author of City of Quartz and Planet of Slums. Mike Davis spent years working factory jobs and sitting behind the wheel of an...
The Political Writings
Karl Marx was not only the great theorist of capitalism, he was also a superb journalist, politician and historian. For the first time ever, this book brings together all of his essential political...
The Old Is Dying and the New Cannot Be Born
Across the globe politics as usual are being rejected and faith in neoliberalism is fracturing beyond repair. Leading political theorist Nancy Fraser, in conversation with Jacobin publisher Bhaskar...
Imagined Communities
What are the imagined communities that compel men to kill or to die for an idea of a nation? This notion of nationhood had its origins in the founding of the Americas, but was then adopted and tran...
Hegemony and Socialist Strategy
In this hugely influential book, Laclau and Mouffe examine the workings of hegemony and contemporary social struggles, and their significance for democratic theory. With the emergence of new soci...
Democracy Against Capitalism
Historian and political thinker Ellen Meiksins Wood argues that theories of “postmodern” fragmentation, “difference”, and contingency can barely accommodate the idea of capitalism, let alone subjec...
For a Left Populism
We are seeing the rise of a populist moment around the world on both the left and the right. Movements like Bernie Sander, Jeremy Corbyn, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have emerged in the midst of the ...
On the Reproduction of Capitalism
Louis Althusser’s renowned short text "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" radically transformed the concept of the subject, the understanding of the state and even the very frameworks o...

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