Reading List

Anti-fascism reading list

Antifascism_-

Now that fascist domestic terrorists have stormed the Capitol building, incited by President Trump and Republican members of Congress, it's no longer possible to ignore the threats posed by right-wing and white supremacist forces.

Looking back at historical moments when fascism gained ground, we can learn lessons on how to protect progressive ideas when they come under attack and fight for a world free from oppression. Here we present a reading list of books that engage with issues concerning the rise of fascism, as well as the means of defending against it through anti-fascist and anti-racist organizing.

All our student reading is 40% off as part of our Back to University/School sale. Ends September 30, 23:59 EST. See all our student reading lists here.

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Many on the left are unaware that the United States has a rich antifascist tradition, because it has rarely been discussed as such, nor has it been accessible in one place. This reader reconstructs the history of US antifascism the twenty-first century, showing how generations of writers, organisers, and fighters spoke to each other over time.

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By situating the police power in relation to both capital and the state and at the heart of the politics of security, the book opens up into an understanding of the ways in which the state administers civil society and fabricates order through law and the ideology of crime. 

In The Notion of Authority, written in the 1940s in Nazi-occupied France, Alexandre Kojève uncovers the conceptual premises of four primary models of authority, examining the practical application of their derivative variations from the Enlightenment to Vichy France. This foundational text, translated here into English for the first time, is the missing piece in any discussion of sovereignty and political authority, worthy of a place alongside the work of Weber, Arendt, Schmitt, Agamben or Dumézil.

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A classic book that analyzes and defines media appeals specific to American pro-fascist and anti-Semite agitators of the 1940s, such as the application of psychosocial manipulation for political ends. The book details psychological deceits that idealogues or authoritarians commonly used.

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.

An urgent challenge to the prevailing moral order from one of the freshest, most compelling voices in radical politics today.

The world is out of joint, so much so that disobeying should be an urgent act for everyone. In this provocative essay, Frédéric Gros explores the roots of political obedience, social conformity, economic subjection, respect for authorities, constitutional consensus. Examining the various styles of obedience provides tools to study, invent and induce new forms of civic disobedience and lyrical protest. 

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.

Through interviews with people trying to navigate the system, legal experts, politicians and campaigners, Goodfellow shows the devastating human costs of anti-immigration politics and argues for an alternative. The new edition includes an additional chapter, which explores the impacts of the 2019 election and the ongoing immigration enforcement during the coronavirus pandemic.

This Is Not Normal takes stock of a historical moment that no longer recognises itself. Davies tells the story of the apparently chaotic and irrational events, and extracts their underlying logic and long-term causes. What we are seeing are the effects of the 2008 financial crash, the failure of the British neoliberal project, the dying of Empire, and the impact of the changes that technology and communications have had on the idea of the public sphere as well as the power of information. This is an essential book for anyone who wants to make sense of this current moment.

Democracy must be anti-racist. Any less is cowardly. Any less is reactionary.

The profound forces of all-American nativism have, in fact, been pushing politics so far to the right over the last forty years that, for many people, Trump began to look reasonable. As Daniel Denvir argues, issues as diverse as austerity economics, free trade, mass incarceration, the drug war, the contours of the post 9/11 security state, and, yes, Donald Trump and the Alt-Right movement are united by the ideology of nativism, which binds together assorted anxieties and concerns into a ruthless political project.

How Trump got to the Oval Office—and how both parties and the mainstream media are keeping him there.

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Sassoon paints an unforgettable picture of our galloping descent into political barbarism, mixing blunt exposé and classical references with an astonishing array of data. Why does the United States proportionately have more civilians owning guns than Yemen, where there is a war on? Why did the UK enter the pandemic with fewer doctors than any EU country except Poland and Romania?

A crisp, trenchant dissection of populism today.

Drawing on a Gramscian theoretical perspective and developing a systematic comparative approach, The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe: Italy, Spain and Romania 1870–1945challenges 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. In making this argument the book focuses on three crucial cases of interwar authoritarianism: Italy, Spain and Romania, selected because they are all counterintuitive from the perspective of established explanations, while usefully demonstrating the range of fascist outcomes in interwar Europe.

What is the “populist moment” and what does it mean for the left?

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. Here Chantal Mouffe argues that 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.

Irregular Army connects some of the War on Terror’s worst crimes to this opening-up of the US military. With millions of veterans now back in the US and domestic extremism on the rise, Kennard’s book is a stark warning about potential dangers facing Americans—from their own soldiers.

What does fascism mean at the beginning of the twenty-first century? When we say the word, our memory goes back to the years right between the two world wars and envisions a dark landscape of violence, dictatorships, and genocide. These images spontaneously surface in the face of the rise of the radical right, racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and terrorism, the last of which is often depicted as a form of “Islamic fascism’. 

Investigative reporter David Neiwert has been tracking extremists for more than two decades, and here he provides a deeply reported and authoritative report on the background, mindset, and growth on the ground of far-right movements across the country. The product of years of reportage, and including the most in-depth investigation of Trump’s ties to far-right figures, this is a crucial book about one of the most disturbing sides of the US.  

With Trump promising to build a wall, and the UK becoming increasingly isolationist, it’s important to remember the devastating effect of borders around the world; forty thousand people died trying to cross international borders in the past decade.

It is clear that the right is on the rise, but after Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the spike in popularity of extreme-right parties across Europe, the question on everyone’s minds is: how did this happen?

An expansive investigation of the ways in which a newly configured right interconnects with anti-democratic and illiberal forces at the level of the state, Europe’s Fault Lines provides much-needed answers, revealing some uncomfortable truths.

Now more than ever, we need to look to revolutionary history for inspiration in our current fight against the racist ideals of the far right.

Throughout the ages and across every continent, people have struggled against those in power and raised their voices in protest-rallying others around them or inspiring uprisings many years later. This anthology, global in scope, presents voices of dissent from every era of human history: speeches and pamphlets, poems and songs, plays and manifestos. Every age has its iconoclasts, and yet the greatest among them build on the words and actions of their forerunners.

This book attempts to spark public discussion by revealing the tainted origins of modern policing as a tool of social control. It shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice— even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.

A terrifying series of short poems by one of the world’s leading playwrights, set to images of World War II.

With racial justice struggles on the rise, a probing collection considers the past and future of Black radicalism. In a time when activists in Ferguson, Palestine, Baltimore, and Hong Kong immediately connect across vast distances, this book makes clear that new Black radical politics is thoroughly internationalist and redraws the links between Black resistance and anti-capitalism. 

Radical glossary of the vocabulary of policing that redefines the very way we understand law enforcement.

Police: A Field Guide is an illustrated handbook to the methods, mythologies, and history that animate today’s police. It is a survival manual for encounters with cops and police logic, whether it arrives in the shape of officer friendly, Tasers, curfews, non-compliance, or reformist discourses about so-called bad apples. 

In this combative major new work, philosophical sharpshooter Slavoj Zizek looks for the kernel of truth in the totalitarian politics of the past. Examining Heidegger's seduction by fascism and Foucault's flirtation with the Iranian Revolution, he suggests that these were the 'right steps in the wrong direction.' On the revolutionary terror of Robespierre, Mao and the bolsheviks, Zizek argues that while these struggles ended in historic failure and horror, there was a valuable core of idealism lost beneath the bloodshed.

"A volume of Adorno is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature."—Susan Sontag

A reflection on everyday existence in the 'sphere of consumption of late Capitalism', this work is Adorno's literary and philosophical masterpiece.

America’s leading essayist on the frantic retreat of democracy, in the fire and smoke of the war on terror.

One of America’s most historic political trials is undoubtedly that of Angela Davis. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Davis, and including contributions from numerous radicals such as Black Panthers George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, this book is not only an account of Davis’s incarceration and the struggles surrounding it, but also perhaps the most comprehensive and thorough analysis of the prison system of the United State.

This deeply researched account, twenty-five years in the making, traces the evolution of disruptive protest since the Sixties to tell a larger story about the reshaping of the American left. Kauffman, a longtime grassroots organizer, examines how movements from ACT UP to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter have used disruptive tactics to catalyze change despite long odds.

A longtime movement insider's powerful account of the origins of today's protest movements and what they can achieve now. 

All our student reading is 40% off as part of our Back to University/School sale. Ends September 30, 23:59 EST. See all our student reading lists here.