Reading List

May Day Sale!

Mayday-reading_list-

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 celebrate the rights of all workers we've got a flash sale of books looking at workers' strikes, reclaiming feminism for the 99%, biographies of Rosa Luxemburg and Eleanor Marx, organizing around climate justice and much more!

50% off all the books on our May Day reading list until Friday, May 3 at 11:59PM EST.
 

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

Red State Revolt is a compelling analysis of the emergence and development of this historic 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, where he was given access to internal organizing meetings and secret Facebook groups inaccessible to most journalists. 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.

NOT AVAILABLE FROM VERSO IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA

In The Socialist Manifesto, Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin magazine, argues that socialism offers the means to achieve economic equality, and also to fight other forms of oppression, including racism and sexism. The ultimate goal is not Soviet-style planning, but to win rights to healthcare, education, and housing and to create new democratic institutions in workplaces and communities. The book both explores socialism’s history and presents a realistic vision for its future. A primer on socialism for the twenty-first century, this is a book for anyone seeking an end to the vast inequities of our age.

Neoliberalism is fracturing, but what will emerge in its wake? Across the globe politics as usual is being rejected and faith in neoliberalism is fracturing beyond repair. Leading political theorist Nancy Fraser, in conversation with Jacobin publisher Bhaskar Sunkara, dissects neoliberalism’s current crisis and argues that we might wrest new futures from its ruins.

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.

“Samuel Stein’s lucid explanation for how we got to where we’re at shines urgent light on the origins and development of what he incisively calls ‘the Real Estate State.’ Capital Cityplaces gentrification in a structurally extensive and intensive urban geography of dispossession. All who struggle for the right to the city should read this book, and realize afresh how capitalism saving capitalism from capitalism must provoke our political imagination.” – Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag

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? Taking as its inspiration the new wave of feminist militancy that has erupted globally, this manifesto makes a simple but powerful case: feminism shouldn’t start—or stop—with the drive to have women represented at the top of their professions. It must focus on those at the bottom, and fight for the world they deserve. And that means targeting capitalism. Feminism must be anticapitalist, eco-socialist and antiracist.

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.

In Extreme Cities, Dawson offers an alarming portrait of the future of our cities, describing the efforts of Staten Island, New York, and Shishmareff, Alaska residents to relocate; Holland’s models for defending against the seas; and the development of New York City before and after Hurricane Sandy. Our best hope lies not with fortified sea walls, he argues. Rather, it lies with urban movements already fighting to remake our cities in a more just and equitable way.

Rosa Luxemburg is one of the most controversial and important figures in the development of Marxism. In many respects her role is unique; she was at the same time one of the founders of modern communism and one of its severest critics. With the exception of Lenin, she is perhaps the only Marxist of this century who bridges the profound divide of the Bolshevik Revolution; both communists and anti-communists still look to her work and life as a source of inspiration. In this classic biography J.P. Nettl provides an extraordinary portrait of one of the leading twentieth century revolutionaries and political thinkers.

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.

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.

Big challenges lie ahead for our society: the rise of automation and the threat of catastrophic climate change. But so, too, do the huge possibilities presented by new technology and better ways of organising our economy in the wake of neoliberalism’s failure. With the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, and the extraordinary turnaround in Labour’s fortunes in the 2017 election, we have a real opportunity to build an economy in Britain that is radically fairer, radically more democratic, and radically more sustainable. But we need the right ideas and strategies if we’re going to get there.

In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. Speaking from a growing global sex worker rights movement, and situating their argument firmly within wider questions of migration, work, feminism, and resistance to white supremacy, they make clear that anyone committed to working towards justice and freedom should be in support of the sex worker rights movement.

Injustice should not simply be accepted as “the way things are.” This is the starting point for The Xenofeminist Manifesto, a radical attempt to articulate a feminism fit for the twenty-first century.

Unafraid of exploring the potentials of technology, both its tyrannical and emancipatory possibilities, the manifesto seeks to uproot forces of repression that have come to seem inevitable—from the family, to the body, to the idea of gender itself.

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for thirty-seven days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists, and online warriors prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s educated, urban women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses the greatest challenge to China’s authoritarian regime today.

A remarkable book on the international operations of racism and the global meaning of Black Power.

An exemplary work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis.

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. When crowds appear in spaces unauthorised by capital and the state. In Crowds and Party, Dean argues that previous discussions of the party have missed its affective dimensions, the way it operates as a knot of unconscious processes and binds people together. Dean shows how we can see the party as an organisation that can reinvigorate political practice.

Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself.

Mokhtefi crossed paths with some of the era’s brightest stars: Frantz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, Timothy Leary, Ahmed Ben Bella, Jomo Kenyatta, and Eldridge Cleaver. She was instrumental in the establishment of the International Section of the Black Panther Party in Algiers and close at hand as the group became involved in intrigue, murder, and international hijackings. She traveled with the Panthers and organized Cleaver’s clandestine departure for France. Algiers, Third World Capital is an unforgettable story of an era of passion and promise.

Eleanor Marx is one of the most tragically overlooked radical figures in history, usually overshadowed by her father, Karl. But not only did she edit, translate, transcribe and collaborate with her father, she also led an extraordinary life as a labour organiser, trade unionist, translator, actor, writer and feminist.

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.

Rousing manifesto on the city and the commons from the acclaimed theorist.

In his riveting account, written in 1970 in the white heat of events, Tariq Ali offers an eyewitness perspective, showing that this powerful popular movement was the sole real victory of the 1960s revolutionary wave. The election cracked open all the contradictions of the old state, as Ali had predicted. The military and the West Pakistani ruling elite refused to accept the results and embarked on a civil war. The result was the birth of a new state, as East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh.

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.

Whether class or race is the more important factor in modern politics is a question right at the heart of recent history’s most contentious debates. Among groups who should readily find common ground, there is little agreement. To escape this deadlock, Asad Haider turns to the rich legacies of the black freedom struggle. Drawing on the words and deeds of black revolutionary theorists, he argues that identity politics is not synonymous with anti-racism, but instead amounts to the neutralization of its movements. It marks a retreat from the crucial passage of identity to solidarity, and from individual recognition to the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure.

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.

Anniversary edition of the classic political manifesto.

SCUM Manifesto was considered one of the most outrageous, violent and certifiably crazy tracts when it first appeared in 1968. Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Andy Warhol, self-published this work just before her rampage against the king of Pop Art made her a household name and resulted in her confinement to a mental institution. But for all its vitriol, it is impossible to dismiss as unhinged. In fact, the work has indisputable prescience, not only as a radical feminist analysis light-years ahead of its timepredicting artificial insemination, ATMs, a feminist uprising against under-representation in the artsbut also as a stunning testament to the rage of an abused and destitute woman.

An engrossing century-spanning narrative, Tear Gas is the first history of this weapon, and takes us from military labs and chemical weapons expos to union assemblies and protest camps, drawing on declassified reports and witness testimonies to show how policing with poison came to be.

Looking at labour history around the globe from the thirteenth to the twenty-first centuries, Komlosy sheds light on both discursive concepts as well as the concrete coexistence of multiple forms of labour—paid and unpaid, free and unfree. From the economic structures and ideological mystifications surrounding work in the Middle Ages, all the way to European colonialism and the industrial revolution, Komlosy’s narrative adopts a distinctly global and feminist approach, revealing the hidden forms of unpaid and hyper-exploited labour which often go ignored, yet are key to the functioning of the capitalist world-system. 

Vivid account and reflection on two struggles that are at the heart of the contestation of neoliberal technocracy and the state. 

Drawing on more than 120 interviews and illustrated with striking images from guerrilla movement publications, the book evokes the feeling of growing up alien in a society rendered in black and white, and recalls the intricate memories and meanings of the Asian American movement. Serve the People paints a panoramic landscape of a radical time, and is destined to become the definitive history of the making of Asian America.

“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.

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

"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.

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.

A new beautiful edition of the Communist Manifesto, combined with Lenin’s key revolutionary tract.

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 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. The Verso Book of Dissent should be in the arsenal of every rebel who understands that words and ideas are the ultimate weapons.

“Reece Jones 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

For twenty-five years, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World has been an essential primer on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of women’s movements in Asia and the Middle East. In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.

“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

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.

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.

Union membership in the United States has fallen below 11 percent, the lowest rate since before the New Deal. Labor activist and scholar of the American labor movement Stanley Aronowitz argues that the movement as we have known it for the last 100 years is effectively dead. And he explains how this death has been a long time coming—the organizing and political principles adopted by US unions at mid-century have taken a terrible toll. In the 1950s, Aronowitz was a factory metalworker.

Exploring the fury of the young in a world of crisis that seems to offer no alternatives.

A sweeping account of the way lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have challenged and changed society.

Come Together tells the incredible story of the emerging radicalism of the Gay Liberation Front, providing a vivid history of the movement, as well as the new ideas and practices it gave rise to across the United Kingdom. Before marriage equality or military service, Come Togetherreminds us of paths forged but not taken by queer politics in its earliest stages.

After the leading organisations of radical sexual politics—the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Marxist Group—imploded or dissolved, the Gay Left Collective formed a research group to make sense of the changing terrain of sexuality and politics. This anthology combines the very best of their work, exploring masculinity and workplace organising, counterculture and disco, the survivals of victorian morality and the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

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