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Suggested Titles for Further Reading
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by
Publication Date: 2019-01-15
The challenges to humanity posed by the digital future, the first detailed examination of the unprecedented form of power called "surveillance capitalism," and the quest by powerful corporations to predict and control our behavior. In this masterwork of original thinking and research, Shoshana Zuboff provides startling insights into the phenomenon that she has named surveillance capitalism. The stakes could not be higher: a global architecture of behavior modification threatens human nature in the twenty-first century just as industrial capitalism disfigured the natural world in the twentieth. Zuboff vividly brings to life the consequences as surveillance capitalism advances from Silicon Valley into every economic sector. Vast wealth and power are accumulated in ominous new "behavioral futures markets," where predictions about our behavior are bought and sold, and the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new "means of behavioral modification." The threat has shifted from a totalitarian Big Brother state to a ubiquitous digital architecture: a "Big Other" operating in the interests of surveillance capital. Here is the crucible of an unprecedented form of power marked by extreme concentrations of knowledge and free from democratic oversight. Zuboff's comprehensive and moving analysis lays bare the threats to twenty-first century society: a controlled "hive" of total connection that seduces with promises of total certainty for maximum profit -- at the expense of democracy, freedom, and our human future. With little resistance from law or society, surveillance capitalism is on the verge of dominating the social order and shaping the digital future -- if we let it.
An Analysis of Karl Marx's Capital by
Publication Date: 2017-07-05
A critical analysis of Karl Marx's Capital, which is without question one of the most influential books to be published in the course of the past two centuries. Controversial in its politics, and arriving at conclusions that are passionately debated to this day, it is nonetheless a fine example of the creative combination of a philosophical method (the dialectic) with historical and economic information to produce a new interpretation of history. Capitalism, thought Marx, works by exploiting the working class. Their wages do not reflect the value of their labor. Marx concluded that capitalism would fail because of this contradiction at the heart of the capitalist system. He wrote Capital to give activists the theories and language they needed to criticize the system. But the work also outlines the new communist society that Marx hoped would rise in its place, and it helped to inspire the rise of states that largely shaped the modern history of our planet. Today, after a century of conflict, Marx's analysis still offers valuable tools that help us analyze the modern world. Marx's belief that he had arrived at a scientific way of describing the present and predicting the future may not be shared by many of his modern interpreters. But his ability to connect things together in new ways is not in doubt - and nor is the influence of the new hypotheses that he generated as a result of so much careful analysis.
Bullshit Jobs by
Publication Date: 2018-05-15
From bestselling writer David Graeber, a powerful argument against the rise of meaningless, unfulfilling jobs, and their consequences. Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world? In the spring of 2013, David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative essay titled "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs." It went viral. After a million online views in seventeen different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer. There are millions of people--HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers--whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs. Graeber explores one of society's most vexing and deeply felt concerns, indicting among other villains a particular strain of finance capitalism that betrays ideals shared by thinkers ranging from Keynes to Lincoln. Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation.
Capitalist Realism by
Publication Date: 2009-12-16
It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. After 1989, capitalism has successfully presented itself as the only realistic political-economic system - a situation that the bank crisis of 2008, far from ending, actually compounded. The book analyses the development and principal features of this capitalist realism as a lived ideological framework. Using examples from politics, film (Children Of Men, Jason Bourne, Supernanny), fiction (Le Guin and Kafka), work and education, it argues that capitalist realism colours all areas of contemporary experience, is anything but realistic and asks how capitalism and its inconsistencies can be challenged It is a sharp analysis of the post-ideological malaise that suggests that the economics and politics of free market neo-liberalism are givens rather than constructions. A quick and entertaining read. Socialist Standard A provocative and necessary read, ...for anyone wanting to talk seriously about the politics of education today. Times Higher Educational Supplement
The Capital Order by
Publication Date: 2022-11-17
A Financial Times Best Book of the Year "A must-read, with key lessons for the future."--Thomas Piketty A groundbreaking examination of austerity's dark intellectual origins. For more than a century, governments facing financial crisis have resorted to the economic policies of austerity--cuts to wages, fiscal spending, and public benefits--as a path to solvency. While these policies have been successful in appeasing creditors, they've had devastating effects on social and economic welfare in countries all over the world. Today, as austerity remains a favored policy among troubled states, an important question remains: What if solvency was never really the goal? In The Capital Order, political economist Clara E. Mattei explores the intellectual origins of austerity to uncover its originating motives: the protection of capital--and indeed capitalism--in times of social upheaval from below. Mattei traces modern austerity to its origins in interwar Britain and Italy, revealing how the threat of working-class power in the years after World War I animated a set of top-down economic policies that elevated owners, smothered workers, and imposed a rigid economic hierarchy across their societies. Where these policies "succeeded," relatively speaking, was in their enrichment of certain parties, including employers and foreign-trade interests, who accumulated power and capital at the expense of labor. Here, Mattei argues, is where the true value of austerity can be observed: its insulation of entrenched privilege and its elimination of all alternatives to capitalism. Drawing on newly uncovered archival material from Britain and Italy, much of it translated for the first time, The Capital Order offers a damning and essential new account of the rise of austerity--and of modern economics--at the levers of contemporary political power.
The Enchantments of Mammon by
Publication Date: 2019-11-12
Far from displacing religions, as has been supposed, capitalism became one, with money as its deity. Eugene McCarraher reveals how mammon ensnared us and how we can find a more humane, sacramental way of being in the world. If socialists and Wall Street bankers can agree on anything, it is the extreme rationalism of capital. At least since Max Weber, capitalism has been understood as part of the "disenchantment" of the world, stripping material objects and social relations of their mystery and sacredness. Ignoring the motive force of the spirit, capitalism rejects the awe-inspiring divine for the economics of supply and demand. Eugene McCarraher challenges this conventional view. Capitalism, he argues, is full of sacrament, whether or not it is acknowledged. Capitalist enchantment first flowered in the fields and factories of England and was brought to America by Puritans and evangelicals whose doctrine made ample room for industry and profit. Later, the corporation was mystically animated with human personhood, to preside over the Fordist endeavor to build a heavenly city of mechanized production and communion. By the twenty-first century, capitalism has become thoroughly enchanted by the neoliberal deification of "the market." Informed by cultural history and theology as well as economics, management theory, and marketing, The Enchantments of Mammon looks not to Marx and progressivism but to nineteenth-century Romantics for salvation. The Romantic imagination favors craft, the commons, and sensitivity to natural wonder. It promotes labor that, for the sake of the person, combines reason, creativity, and mutual aid. In this impassioned challenge, McCarraher makes the case that capitalism has hijacked and redirected our intrinsic longing for divinity-and urges us to break its hold on our souls.
Farm to Factory by
Publication Date: 2003-10-19
To say that history's greatest economic experiment--Soviet communism--was also its greatest economic failure is to say what many consider obvious. Here, in a startling reinterpretation, Robert Allen argues that the USSR was one of the most successful developing economies of the twentieth century. He reaches this provocative conclusion by recalculating national consumption and using economic, demographic, and computer simulation models to address the "what if" questions central to Soviet history. Moreover, by comparing Soviet performance not only with advanced but with less developed countries, he provides a meaningful context for its evaluation. Although the Russian economy began to develop in the late nineteenth century based on wheat exports, modern economic growth proved elusive. But growth was rapid from 1928 to the 1970s--due to successful Five Year Plans. Notwithstanding the horrors of Stalinism, the building of heavy industry accelerated growth during the 1930s and raised living standards, especially for the many peasants who moved to cities. A sudden drop in fertility due to the education of women and their employment outside the home also facilitated growth. While highlighting the previously underemphasized achievements of Soviet planning, Farm to Factory also shows, through methodical analysis set in fluid prose, that Stalin's worst excesses--such as the bloody collectivization of agriculture--did little to spur growth. Economic development stagnated after 1970, as vital resources were diverted to the military and as a Soviet leadership lacking in original thought pursued wasteful investments.
A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things by
Publication Date: 2017-10-17
Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: these are the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. In making these things cheap, modern commerce has transformed, governed, and devastated Earth. In A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore present a new approach to analyzing today's planetary emergencies. Bringing the latest ecological research together with histories of colonialism, indigenous struggles, slave revolts, and other rebellions and uprisings, Patel and Moore demonstrate that throughout history, crises have always prompted fresh strategies to make the world cheap and safe for capitalism. At a time of crisis in all seven cheap things, innovative and systemic thinking is urgently required. This book proposes a radical new way of understanding--and reclaiming--the planet in the turbulent twenty-first century.
Marx in the Anthropocene by
Publication Date: 2023-05-11
Facing global climate crisis, Karl Marx's ecological critique of capitalism more clearly demonstrates its importance than ever. This book explains why Marx's ecology had to be marginalized and even suppressed by Marxists after his death throughout the twentieth century. Marx's ecological critique of capitalism, however, revives in the Anthropocene against dominant productivism and monism. Investigating new materials published in the complete works of Marx and Engels (Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe), Saito offers a wholly novel idea of Marx's alternative to capitalism that should be adequately characterized as degrowth communism. This provocative interpretation of the late Marx sheds new lights on the recent debates on the relationship between society and nature and invites readers to envision a post-capitalist society without repeating the failure of the actually existing socialism of the twentieth century.
Mute Compulsion by
Publication Date: 2023-01-31
A new Marxist theory of the abstract and impersonal forms of power in capitalism Despite insoluble contradictions, intense volatility and fierce resistance, the crisis-ridden capitalism of the 21st century lingers on. To understand capital's paradoxical expansion and entrenchment amidst crisis and unrest, Mute Compulsion offers a novel theory of the historically unique forms of abstract and impersonal power set in motion by the subjection of social life to the profit imperative. Building on a critical reconstruction of Karl Marx's unfinished critique of political economy and a wide range of contemporary Marxist theory, philosopher Søren Mau sets out to explain how the logic of capital tightens its stranglehold on the life of society by constantly remoulding the material conditions of social reproduction. In the course of doing so, Mau intervenes in classical and contemporary debates about the value form, crisis theory, biopolitics, social reproduction, humanism, logistics, agriculture, metabolism, the body, competition, technology and relative surplus populations.
Our Lives in Their Portfolios by
Publication Date: 2023-04-25
All hail the new masters of Capitalism: How asset managers acquired the world Banks have taken a backseat since the global financial crisis over a decade ago. Today, our new financial masters are asset managers, like Blackstone and BlackRock. And they don't just own financial assets. The roads we drive on; the pipes that supply our drinking water; the farmland that provides our food; energy systems for electricity and heat; hospitals, schools, and even the homes in which many of us live--all now swell asset managers' bulging investment portfolios. As the owners of more and more of the basic building blocks of everyday life, asset managers shape the lives of each and every one of us in profound and disturbing ways. In this eye-opening follow-up to Rentier Capitalism, Brett Christophers peels back the veil on "asset manager society." Asset managers, he shows, are unlike traditional owners of housing and other essential infrastructure. Buying and selling these life-supporting assets at a dizzying pace, the crux of their business model is not long-term investment and careful custodianship but making quick profits for themselves and the investors that back them. In asset manager society, the natural and built environments that sustain us become one more vehicle for siphoning money from the many to the few.
The People's Republic of Walmart by
Publication Date: 2019-03-05
Are multi-national corporations like Walmart and Amazon laying the groundwork for international socialism? For the left and the right, major multinational companies are held up as the ultimate expressions of free-market capitalism. Their remarkable success appears to vindicate the old idea that modern society is too complex to be subjected to a plan. And yet, as Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski argue, much of the economy of the West is centrally planned at present. Not only is planning on vast scales possible, we already have it and it works. The real question is whether planning can be democratic. Can it be transformed to work for us? 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. With the advances in information technology in recent decades and the emergence of globe-straddling collective enterprises, democratic planning in the interest of all humanity is more important and closer to attainment than ever before.
Red Plenty by
Publication Date: 2012-02-14
"Spufford cunningly maps out a literary genre of his own . . . Freewheeling and fabulous." --The Times (London) Strange as it may seem, the gray, oppressive USSR was founded on a fairy tale. It was built on the twentieth-century magic called "the planned economy," which was going to gush forth an abundance of good things that the lands of capitalism could never match. And just for a little while, in the heady years of the late 1950s, the magic seemed to be working. Red Plenty is about that moment in history, and how it came, and how it went away; about the brief era when, under the rash leadership of Khrushchev, the Soviet Union looked forward to a future of rich communists and envious capitalists, when Moscow would out-glitter Manhattan and every Lada would be better engineered than a Porsche. It's about the scientists who did their genuinely brilliant best to make the dream come true, to give the tyranny its happy ending. Red Plenty is history, it's fiction, it's as ambitious as Sputnik, as uncompromising as an Aeroflot flight attendant, and as different from what you were expecting as a glass of Soviet champagne.
The Spectre of War by
Publication Date: 2021-05-21
A bold new history showing that the fear of Communism was a major factor in the outbreak of World War II The Spectre of War looks at a subject we thought we knew--the roots of the Second World War--and upends our assumptions with a masterful new interpretation. Looking beyond traditional explanations based on diplomatic failures or military might, Jonathan Haslam explores the neglected thread connecting them all: the fear of Communism prevalent across continents during the interwar period. Marshalling an array of archival sources, including records from the Communist International, Haslam transforms our understanding of the deep-seated origins of World War II, its conflicts, and its legacy. Illuminating ideological differences and the continuous role of pre- and postwar Communism, The Spectre of War provides unprecedented context for one of the most momentous calamities of the twentieth century.
Turbulent Empires by
Publication Date: 2018-04-09
As Europe rebuilt after the devastation of the Second World War, the former colonies of the major imperial powers sought their independence at the same time that the United States extended its economic and political power globally. In Turbulent Empires Mike Mason analyzes the struggles for post-colonial sovereignty and economic domination and how these competing forces led to conflicts and shifting alliances around the postwar world. Turbulent Empires surveys the major polities and economies of Africa, Asia, Latin America, Russia, and the West and traces the trajectory of nationalist ruling classes bent on exercising sovereign control over economic resources. It emphasizes the convulsions that brought about unanticipated realignments and shocking reversals, such as the rise and fall of regimes, continuous interventions in the Muslim world, the sudden collapse of the commodities supercycle, and the continuing challenge of inequality. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, the global economic crisis of 2008 raised the question of a new global order while the question of American decline, captured in the slogan "Make America Great Again," became commonplace. Both erudite and accessibly written, Turbulent Empires provides an insightful and sweeping analysis of world political and economic history that is an ideal introduction to postwar political science, history, and development studies.
Understanding Class by
Publication Date: 2015-09-15
Leading sociologist examines how different readings of class enrich our understanding of capitalism Few ideas are more contested today than "class." Some have declared its death, while others insist on its centrality to contemporary capitalism. It is said its relevance is limited to explaining individuals' economic conditions and opportunities, while at the same time argued that it is a structural feature of macro-power relations. In Understanding Class, leading left sociologist Erik Olin Wright interrogates the divergent meanings of this fundamental concept in order to develop a more integrated framework of class analysis. Beginning with the treatment of class in Marx and Weber, proceeding through the writings of Charles Tilly, Thomas Piketty, Guy Standing, and others, and finally examining how class struggle and class compromise play out in contemporary society, Understanding Class provides a compelling view of how to think about the complexity of class in the world today.
Why Capitalism? by
Publication Date: 2012-02-20
A review of the headlines of the past decade seems to show that disasters are often part of capitalist systems: the high-tech bubble, the Enron fraud, the Madoff Ponzi scheme, the great housing bubble, massive lay-offs, and a widening income gap. Disenchantment with the market economy has reached the point that many even question capitalism itself. Allan H. Meltzer disagrees, passionately and persuasively. Drawing on deep expertise as a financial historian and authority on economic theory, he provides a resounding answer to the question, "why capitalism?" Only capitalism, he writes, maximizes both growth and individual freedom. Unlike socialism, capitalism is adaptive, not rigid--private ownership of the means of production flourishes wherever it takes root, regardless of culture. Laws intended to tamper with its fundamental dynamics, such as those that redistribute wealth, fail. European countries boasting extensive welfare programs have not surpassed the more market-oriented United States. Capitalism does require a strong legal framework, Meltzer writes, and it does not solve all problems efficiently. But he finds that its problems stem from universal human weaknesses--such as dishonesty, venality, and expediency--which are not specific to capitalism. Along the way, he systematically analyzes the role of government, positing that regulations are static, but markets are dynamic, usually seeking ways to skirt the rules. Regulation is socially useful if it brings private costs into line with social costs (for example, the cost of taxes to hire policemen compared to that of the impact of rampant crime); if it doesn't, regulation simply invites circumvention. Vigorously argued, sweeping in scope, Why Capitalism? reminds us of the fundamental vitality of the one economic system that has survived every challenge, and risen to dominate the globe.
Why Marx Was Right by
Publication Date: 2018-04-10
One of the foremost Marxist critics of his generation forcefully argues against Marx's irrelevancy "[Eagleton is] a witty, insightful thinker with a penchant for glib asides and wry dashes of humor. It's probably the only book that makes references to Tiger Woods and Mel Gibson along with Charles Fourier and Michel Foucault."--Michael Patrick Brady, PopMatters "Reading a book by Terry Eagleton is like watching fireworks."--Dennis O'Brien, Christian Century In this combative, controversial book, Terry Eagleton takes issue with the prejudice that Marxism is dead and done with. Taking ten of the most common objections to Marxism--that it leads to political tyranny, that it reduces everything to the economic, that it is a form of historical determinism, and so on--he demonstrates in each case what a woeful travesty of Marx's own thought these assumptions are. In a world in which capitalism has been shaken to its roots by some major crises, Why Marx Was Right is as urgent and timely as it is brave and candid. Written with Eagleton's familiar wit, humor, and clarity, it will attract an audience far beyond the confines of academia.
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