My Top 25 Anarchist/Socialist Books

Labor Organizing

Zapatista Spring: Anatomy of a Rebel Water Project & the Lessons of International Solidarity by Ramor Ryan

Eight volunteers converge to help campesinos build a water system in Chiapas—a strategy to bolster the Zapatista insurgency by helping locals to assert their autonomy.

These outsiders come to question the movement they’ve traveled so far to support—and each other—when forced into a world so unlike the poetic communiqués of Subcomandante Marcos—a world of endemic rural poverty, parochialism, and shifting loyalties to the movement. The quiet dignity of the local compañeros and echoes of B. Traven, Conrad, and Camus, round out this epic yarn.

Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics by Richard Seymour

In the 2017 general election, Jeremy Corbyn pulled off an historic upset, attracting the biggest increase in the Labour vote since 1945. It was another reversal of expectations for the mainstream media and his ‘soft-left’ detractors.

Demolishing the Blairite opposition in 2015, Corbyn had already seen off an attempted coup. Now, he had shattered the government’s authority, and even Corbyn’s most vitriolic critics have been forced into stunned mea culpas.

For the first time in decades, socialism is back on the agenda—and for the first time in Labour’s history, it defines the leadership.

Richard Seymour tells the story of how Corbyn’s rise was made possible by the long decline of Labour and by a deep crisis in British democracy. He shows how Corbyn began the task of rebuilding Labour as a grassroots party, with a coalition of trade unionists, young and precarious workers, students and ‘Old Labour’ pugilists, who then became the biggest campaigning army in British politics. Utilizing social media, activists turned the media’s Project Fear on its head and broke the ideological monopoly of the tabloids. After the election, with all the artillery still ranged against Corbyn, and with all the weaknesses of the Left’s revival, Seymour asks what Corbyn can do with his newfound success.

– Verso Books

Reclaiming Work: Beyond the Wage-Based Society by Andre Gorz

Over the last twenty-five years, Western societies have been reversing into the future. They are able neither to reproduce themselves in accordance with past norms, nor to exploit the unprecedented freedom offered by the savings in working time which new technology has generated.

In this major new book, Andre Gorz argues that the societies created by Fordism have been falling apart and have given way to ‘non-societies’, in which a tiny dominant stratum has grabbed most of the surplus wealth. In the absence of any alternative political project, social disintegration and individual despair have prevailed.

Mainstream economists seek solutions to this ‘crisis’, but Gorz argues that we are in fact in the grip of a new system which is abolishing work as we know it. The worst forms of exploitation are being restored, as each is forced to fight against all (both at the individual and the national level) in a desperate struggle to obtain the diminishing supply of work.In the face of these developments, Gorz argues that we should fight not against the destruction of work itself (in the sense of stable employment), but against the new system’s efforts to perpetuate the ideology of work as a source of rights.

We should welcome the reduction in the working hours required to meet our material needs and should realize the creative potential that this reduction could release. Through measures such as a sufficient unconditional basic income for all and new, co-operative economic structures, we can reclaim work and rebuild a future beyond the wage-based society.

Immigrants against the State: Yiddish and Italian Anarchism in America by Kenyon Zimmer

From the 1880s through the 1940s, tens of thousands of first- and second-generation immigrants embraced the anarchist cause after arriving on American shores. Kenyon Zimmer explores why these migrants turned to anarchism, and how their adoption of its ideology shaped their identities, experiences, and actions.

The book presents specific chapters outlining the early origins of social movement studies, and more recent theoretical and conceptual developments. It considers key ideas from resource mobilization theory, the political process model, and new social movement approaches. It provides an expansive commentary on the role of culture in social protest, and looks at substantive areas in chapters dedicated to religious movements, geography and struggles over space, media and movements, and global activism.Understanding Social Movements will be a useful resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students across disciplines wanting to be introduced to or extend their knowledge of the field. The book will also prove invaluable for lecturers and academic researchers interested in studying social movements


Social Organizing

Understanding Social Movements by Greg Martin

This book offers a new and fresh approach to understanding social movements. It provides interdisciplinary perspectives on social and cultural protest and contentious politics. It considers major theories and concepts, which are presented in an accessible and engaging format.

Historical and contemporary case studies and examples from a variety of different countries are provided throughout, including the American civil rights movement, Greenpeace, Pussy Riot, indigenous peoples movements, liberation theology, Occupy, Tea Party, and the Arab Spring.


Feminist

Feminist Identity Development and Activism in Revolutionary Movements by T. O’Keefe

This book examines the development of feminist identities among women active in revolutionary movements and how this identity simultaneously contributes to and conflicts with the struggle for women’s emancipation. It is based on groundbreaking interviews with women who were active in the contemporary Irish republican movement and activists in the broader women’s movement.

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf

In today’s world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women’s movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife.

It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.”

Reclaiming the F Word: Feminism Today by Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune

In today’s ‘post-feminist’ society, feminism is often portrayed as unfashionable and irrelevant. But since the turn of the millennium, a revitalised feminist movement has emerged to challenge these assumptions and assert a vibrant new agenda.

Reclaiming the F Word reveals the what, why and how of the new feminist movement and what it has to say about women’s lives today. From cosmetic surgery to celebrity culture and parenting to politics, from rape to religion and sex to singleness, this groundbreaking book reveals the seven vital issues at stake for today’s feminists, and calls a new generation back to action.


Anti-Racist

Black Girl Dangerous On Race, Queerness, Class and Gender by Mia McKenzie

Mia McKenzie, creator of the enormously popular website BGD, writes about race, queerness, class and gender in a concise, compelling voice filled at different times with humor, grief, rage, and joy. In this collection of her work from BGD, McKenzie’s nuanced analysis of intersecting systems of oppression goes deep to reveal the complicated truths of a multiply-marginalized experience.

McKenzie tackles the hardest questions of our time with clarity and courage, in language that is accessible to non-academics and academics alike. She is both fearless and vulnerable, demanding and accountable. Hers is a voice like no other.

Not Born a Refugee Woman: Contesting Identities, Rethinking Practices by Maroussia Hajdukowski-Ahmed, Nazilla Khanlou and Helena Moussa

“The book as a whole offers an array of difficult topics: the way women’s identities are shaped and reshaped by the complicated experiences of refugeeism; global sex trade and sex trafficking of Eastern European women; connections between war and homelessness… a valuable text that is bound to challenge students and teachers alike, in both our methodologies and our personal desires for an easy consumption of knowledge about the world and ourselves.

Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition by Glen Sean Coulthard

While Red Skin, White Masks focuses on indigenous experiences in Canada, it is immediately applicable to understanding the false promise of recognition, liberal pluralism, and reconciliation at the heart of colonial relationships between indigenous peoples and nation-states elsewhere. Glen Sean Coulthard is able to bring a remarkably distinctive and provocative look at issues of power and opposition relevant to anyone concerned with what constitutes and perpetuates imperialist state formations and what indigenous alternatives offer in regards to freedom.”—Joanne Barker, San Francisco State University

Dracula’s Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood by Joseph Valente

Dracula’s Crypt unearths the Irish roots of Bram Stoker’s gothic masterpiece, offering a fresh interpretation of the author’s relationship to his novel and to the politics of blood that consumes its characters. An ingenious reappraisal of a classic text, Dracula’s Crypt presents Stoker’s novel as a subtly ironic commentary on England’s preoccupation with racial purity.

Probing psychobiographical, political, and cultural elements of Stoker’s background and milieu, Joseph Valente distinguishes Stoker’s viewpoint from that of his virulently racist, hypermasculine vampire hunters, showing how the author’s dual Anglo-Celtic heritage and uncertain status as an Irish parvenu among London’s theatrical elite led him to espouse a progressive racial ideology at odds with the dominant Anglo-Saxon supremacism.

In the light of Stoker’s experience, the shabby-genteel Count Dracula can be seen as a doppelganger, an ambiguous figure who is at once the blood-conscious landed aristocrat and the bloodthirsty foreign invader. Stoker also confronts gender ideals and their implications, exposing the “inner vampire” in men like Jonathan Harker who dominate and absorb the women who become their wives. Ultimately, Valente argues, the novel celebrates a feminine heroism, personified by Mina Harker, that upholds an ethos of social connectivity against the prevailing obsession with blood as a vehicle of identity. Revealing a profound and heretofore unrecognized ethical and political message, Dracula’s Crypt maintains that the real threat delineated in Dracula is not racial degeneration but the destructive force of racialized anxiety itself. Stoker’s novel emerges as a powerful critique of the very anxieties it has previously been taken to express: anxieties concerning the decline of the British empire, the deterioration of Anglo-Saxon culture, and the contamination of the Anglo-Saxon race.


Existential Virtue Ethics

Anarchism and Moral Philosophy by Benjamin Franks

This wide variety of approaches to moral theory and ethics should suggest that contemporary anarchist philosophy is full of potential. These scholars demonstrate that anarchism is flexible enough to encompass traditions ranging from deep ecology, to analytic philsosphy, to post-culturalism.

Most encouraging to me, however, is that these academics are willing to theorize about their own social position as academics. As more anarchists enter academia, honest dialogue about what means to be an anarchist in a university becomes more important… This book encourages anarchists to follow their tradition of direct action and direct engagement even as they continue to theorize – our future depends on our thoughts and our actions.’

– Tristan K. Husby, Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies

Freedom and Democracy in an Imperial Context: Dialogues with James Tully by Robert Nichols and Jakeet Singh

Freedom and Democracy in an Imperial Context: Dialogues with James Tully gathers leading thinkers from across the humanities and social sciences in a celebration of, and critical engagement with, the recent work of Canadian political philosopher James Tully.

Over the past thirty years, James Tully has made key contributions to some of the most pressing questions of our time, including: interventions in the history of moral and political thought, contemporary political philosophy, democracy, citizenship, imperialism, recognition and cultural diversity.

In 2008, he published Public Philosophy in a New Key, a two-volume work that promises to be one of the most influential and important statements of legal and political thought in recent history. This work, along with numerous other books and articles, is foundational to a distinctive school of political thought, influencing thinkers in fields as diverse as Anthropology, History, Indigenous Studies, Law, Philosophy and Political Science. Critically engaging with James Tully’s thought, the essays in this volume take up what is his central, and ever more pressing, question: how to enact democratic practices of freedom within and against historically sedimented and actually existing relationships of imperialism?

This work, along with numerous other books and articles, is foundational to a distinctive school of political thought, influencing thinkers in fields as diverse as Anthropology, History, Indigenous Studies, Law, Philosophy and Political Science. Critically engaging with James Tully’s thought, the essays in this volume take up what is his central, and ever more pressing, question: how to enact democratic practices of freedom within and against historically sedimented and actually existing relationships of imperialism?


Nihilist Ethics

The Politics of Postanarchism by Saul Newman

What is the relevance of anarchism for politics and political theory today? While many have in the past dismissed anarchism, the author contends that anarchism’s heretical critique of authority, and its insistence on full equality and liberty, places it at the forefront of the radical political imagination today.

With the unprecedented expansion of state power in the name of security, the current ‘crisis of capitalism’, and the terminal decline of Marxist and social democratic projects, it is time to reconsider anarchism as a form of politics.

This book seeks to renew anarchist thought through the concept of post-anarchism. This innovative theoretical approach, drawing upon classical anarchist theory, post-structuralism, post-Marxism, critical theory and psychoanalytic approaches, allows for a new engagement with contemporary debates about future directions in radical politics relating to political subjectivity and identity, political organisation, the State, globalisation, liberty and equality today, and the political ‘event’.

The Radicalism of Romantic Love by Renata Grossi and David West

Undoubtedly Romantic love has come to saturate our culture and is often considered to be a, or even the, major existential goal of our lives, capable of providing us with both our sense of worth and way of being in the world.

The Radicalism of Romantic Love interrogates the purported radicalism of Romantic love from philosophical, cultural and psychoanalytic perspectives, exploring whether it is a subversive force capable of breaking down entrenched social, political and cultural norms and structures, or whether, in spite of its role in the fight against certain barriers, it is in fact a highly conservative impulse.

Exploring both the grounds for the central place of Romantic love in contemporary lives and the meaning, extent and nature of its supposed radicalism, this volume considers love from a variety of theoretical perspectives, with attention to matters of gender, sexuality, class and ethnicity. With authors examining a range of questions, including the role of love in the same-sex marriage debate, polyamory and the notion of love as a political force, The Radicalism of Romantic Love illuminates a fundamental but perplexing aspect of our contemporary lives and will appeal to scholars across the social sciences and humanities with interests in the emotions and love as a social and political phenomenon.

Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

When it first appeared in France, Anti-Oedipus was hailed as a masterpiece by some and “a work of heretical madness” by others. In it, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari set forth the following theory: Western society’s innate herd instinct has allowed the government, the media, and even the principles of economics to take advantage of each person’s unwillingness to be cut off from the group.

What’s more, those who suffer from mental disorders may not be insane, but could be individuals in the purest sense, because they are by nature isolated from society. More than twenty-five years after its original publication, Anti-Oedipus still stands as a controversial contribution to a much-needed dialogue on the nature of free thinking.

Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction by Ray Brassier

Ray Brassier maintains that philosophy has avoided the traumatic idea of extinction, instead attempting to find meaning in a world conditioned by the very idea of its own annihilation. Thus Brassier critiques both the phenomenological and hermeneutic strands of Continental philosophy as well as the vitality of thinkers like Gilles Deleuze, who work to ingrain meaning in the world and stave off the “threat” of nihilism.

Instead, drawing on thinkers such as Alain Badiou, François Laruelle, Paul Churchland, and Thomas Metzinger, Brassier defends a view of the world as inherently devoid of meaning. That is, rather than avoiding nihilism, Brassier embraces it as the truth of reality.

Brassier concludes from his readings of Badiou and Laruelle that the universe is founded on the nothing, but also that philosophy is the “organon of extinction,” that it is only because life is conditioned by its own extinction that there is thought at all. Brassier then defends a radically anti-correlationist philosophy proposing that Thought is conjoined not with Being, but with Non-Being.

Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007 by Nick Land

Fanged Noumena brings together the writings of Nick Land for the first time. During the 1990s Land’s unique philosophical work, variously described as ‘rabid nihilism’, ‘mad black deleuzianism’ and ‘cybergothic’, developed perhaps the only rigorous and culturally-engaged escape route out of the malaise of ‘continental philosophy’ – a route which was implacably blocked by the academy.

However, Land’s work has continued to exert an influence, both through the British ‘speculative realist’ philosophers who studied with him, and through the many cultural producers – artists, musicians, filmmakers, bloggers – who have been invigorated by his uncompromising and abrasive philosophical vision.

Beginning with Land’s early radical rereadings of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kant and Bataille, the volume then collects together the papers, talks and articles of the mid-90s – long the subject of rumour and vague legend (including some work which has never previously appeared in print) – in which Land developed his futuristic theory-fiction of cybercapitalism gone amok; and ends with his enigmatic later writings in which Ballardian fictions, poetics, cryptography, anthropology, grammatology and the occult are smeared into unrecognisable hybrids. Fanged Noumena allows a dizzying perspective on the entire trajectory of this provocative and influential thinker’s work, and will introduce his unique voice to a new generation of readers.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

Of all the writing that emerged from the existentialist movement, Simone de Beauvoir’s groundbreaking study of women will probably have the most extensive and enduring impact. It is at once a work of anthropology and sociology, of biology and psychoanalysis, from the pen of a writer and novelist of penetrating imaginative power.

The Second Sex stands, four decades after its first appearance, as the first landmark in the modern feminist upsurge that has transformed perceptions of the social relationship of man and womankind in our time.

The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979 by Michel Foucault

The Birth of Biopolitics continues to pursue the themes of Foucault’s lectures from Security, Territory, Population. Having shown how eighteenth-century political economy marks the birth of a new governmental rationality – seeking maximum effectiveness by governing less and in accordance with the naturalness of the phenomena to be governed – Michel Foucault undertakes a detailed analysis of the forms of this liberal governmentality.

In a direct and conversational tone, this book raises questions of political philosophy and social policy that are at the heart of current debates about the role and status of neo-liberalism in twentieth century politics.

Tiqqun 1: Conscious Organ of The Imaginary Party by Tiqqun

Everyone knows the terrible communities, having spent time in them or being within them still because they are always stronger than the others. And because of that one always stays, in part – and parts at the same time. Family, school, work, and prison are the classic faces of this form of contemporary hell.

But they are less interesting as they belong to an old form of market evolution and only presently survive. On the contrary, there are the terrible communities which struggle against the existing state of things that are at one and the same time attractive and better than “this world.” And at the same time their way of being closer to the truth – and therefore to joy – moves them away from freedom more than anything else.

The question we must answer in a final manner is of a more ethical than political nature because the classic political forms and their categories fit us like our childhood clothing. The question is to know if we prefer the possibility of an unknown danger to the certainty of a present pain. That is to say if we want to continue to live and speak in agreement (dissident perhaps, but always in agreement) with what has been done so far – and thus with the terrible communities – or, if we want to question that small portion of our desire that the culture has not already infested in its mess, to try – in the name of an original happiness – a different path.

This text was conceived as a contribution to that other voyage.


Imperialism

A People’s History of the Second World War: Resistance Versus Empire by Donny Gluckstein

A People’s History of the Second World War unearths the fascinating history of the war as fought ‘from below’. Until now, the vast majority of historical accounts have focussed on the conflict between the Allied and Axis powers for imperialist mastery. Donny Gluckstein shows that in fact between 1939 and 1945 two distinct wars were fought – one ‘from above’ and one ‘from below’.

Using examples from countries under the Nazi heel, in the colonies and within the Axis and Allied camps, Gluckstein brings to life the very different struggle of the people’s and resistance movements which proliferated during the war. He shows how they fought not just fascism, but colonialism and empire, and were betrayed by the Allies at the war’s end.

This book will fundamentally challenge our understanding of the Second World War – both about the people who fought it and the reasons for which it was fought.

Drone Wars: Transforming Conflict, Law, And Policy by Peter Bergen

Drones are the iconic military technology of many of today’s most pressing conflicts. Drones have captured the public imagination, partly because they project lethal force in a manner that challenges accepted norms and moral understandings.

Drone Wars presents a series of essays by legal scholars, journalists, government officials, military analysts, social scientists, and foreign policy experts. It addresses drones’ impact on the ground, how their use adheres to and challenges the laws of war, their relationship to complex policy challenges, and the ways they help us understand the future of war.

The book is a diverse and comprehensive interdisciplinary perspective on drones that covers important debates on targeted killing and civilian casualties, presents key data on drone deployment, and offers new ideas on their historical development, significance, and impact on law and policy.


Art

Andrei Tarkovsky About His Film Art In His Own Words by Vadim Moroz

During seven days in March 1984, Andrei Tarkovsky laid out, day by day his film theory, his philosophy, opinions and principles. It was the first time that Tarkovsky had to talk about his philosophy and film theory over such long time period

The book is illustrated with the drawings created in March 1984 by Andrei Tarkovsky and photographs.

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