Baltimore. Ferguson. Tottenham. Clichy-sous-Bois. Oakland. Ours has become an “age of riots” as the struggle of people versus state and capital has taken to the streets. Award-winning poet and scholar Joshua Clover offers a new understanding of this present moment and its history. Rioting was the central form of protest in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was supplanted by the strike in the early nineteenth century. It returned to prominence in the 1970s, profoundly changed along with the coordinates of race and class.
From early wage demands to recent social justice campaigns pursued through occupations and blockades, 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.
“Riot, in this absolutely necessary book, is considered as differential procedure and rigorous improvisational method, as essential repertoire on the way from general malaise to general strike. But then this conception folds tightly yet disorderly into a new and open set of questions. It’s not that the raging, ragged entrance to the new golden age is the new golden age. It’s not that theory can’t bear a riot. It’s just that riot makes new ways of seeing what theory can and can’t do and imposes upon us a kind of knowledge of our own embarrassing and already given resources of enjoyment. Joshua Clover says riot deserves a proper theory but here—sly, stone cold—he gives us more than that. Now we have some guidelines for the new and ongoing impropriety that fleshes forth and fleshes out our optimal condition.”
“Joshua Clover’s project is to reveal the continuities between Occupy and Ferguson, and to historicize a new era of uprisings within the long centuries of capital restructuring, racialized containment, and collective action. In its sweep, rigor, and elegance, Riot. Strike. Riot is pleasurable and provocative, worthy of the urgent debates it should inspire.”
“[F]risky, audacious … Riot. Strike. Riot screams across the sky of our electoral theater.”
“[Clover is] one of the liveliest, sharpest, and erudite cultural theorists in the US.”
“[Riot. Strike. Riot.] thrills. It elucidates and, in a way, valorizes a taboo fixture of the political arena in an era of seemingly perpetual economic crisis and withering patience for mere reform.”
“Phenomenal … The genius of Riot. Strike. Riot lies in its concise and historically confident analysis of riots.”
“Joshua Clover provides a history of the present that is at once erudite and militant. In unfailingly elegant prose he not only traces where today’s struggles came from but also proposes how they can chart the path to a new future.”
“If communism is, as Marx wrote, ‘the real movement which abolishes the present state of things,’ then Joshua Clover is its most lucid and uncompromising contemporary theorist. Among its many virtues, Riot.Strike.Riot explains how our time of stagnant economic growth, exclusionary state violence, and uprisings of those left without reserves, might be capitalism’s end times. In doing so, he challenges all of us who are committed to bending the status quo toward justice to an ambition adequate to its breaking point.”
“Why do we find police in places where there was once an economy? This unique book is a brilliant, clearheaded analysis of the historical relation between two forms of struggle, focusing on the riot, a pre-capitalist form returning in the transformed mode of ‘riot prime’ as one of the most telling forms of our late capitalist present. Along the way, Joshua Clover gives us much needed concepts to deal with the strange new negations we have come to encounter in this moment of waning accumulation—Long Crisis, the production of nonproduction, aerosolized production—as capital shifts its center of gravity to circulation, and nonlabor struggles emerge as the logical form of social conflict based on shared distance from labor markets rather than shared labor conditions. R-S-R’ is a theory of riot but as such, crucially, a theory of periodization; it is essential reading for all students of the present.”