Suggested Reading

This section contains reading suggested by all members of the collective; each focus on different issues, and are drawn from a variety of theoretical traditions. Enjoy!

 DIY, Squatting and Social Centres

Stuart Hodkinson. Paul Chatterton. (2006). Autonomy in the city? Reflections on the social centres movement in the UK. City, 10 (3). p305-315. (Link: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.162.3035&rep=rep1&type=pdf)

This paper is about the emergence of social centres and their role in both the development of autonomous politics and the growing urban resistance movement in the UK to the corporate takeover, enclosure and alienation of everyday life. In European terms, social centres are not new and, as Montagna in this issue demonstrates, have played a particularly important role in the political and cultural world of Italy’s autonomist scene. Previously marginal in British radical movements, since the eruption of global anti-capitalism in the late 1990s, the number of occupied or legalized social centres and other autonomous spaces in the UK has been on the increase, playing crucial roles in confrontational politics from reclaiming
public space to mass mobilizations such as the G8 summit at Gleneagles. This paper, written by action researchers heavily implicated in the social centre movement, critically examines the experience of social centres so far and offers some thoughts on their future development.
 

Ben Holtzman. Craig Hughes. Kevin Van Meter. (2007). Do It Yourself… and the Movement Beyond Capitalism. In: Stevphen Shukaitis. David Graeber. Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations Collective Theorization. Edinburgh: AK Press. p44-61.

A short article on the history, practice and purpose of DIY. Essential reading!

Radical Media

Svetla Turnin. Ezra Winton. (2014). Screening Truth to Power: A Reader on Documentary Activism. Toronto: Cinema Politica.

A reflection on ten years of activities of the documentary screening non-profit Cinema Politica. Marking a transformative and inspiring decade of connecting audiences, artists and activists through provocative political film and video, Cinema Politica brings together diverse voices in this collection of essays, interviews, impressions and specially curated ‘favourite docs’ lists.
This collection also reflects the mandate of Cinema Politica to seize upon documentary’s transformational potential in order to advance progressive socio-political and ecological change. As such, the firebrand texts between these covers promises to engage, inspire, and activate.

Struggle

Antonis Vradis. Dimitris Dalakoglou. (2011). Revolt and Crisis in Greece: Between a present yet to pass and a future still to come. Edinburgh: AK Press.

How does a revolt come about and what does it leave behind? What impact does it have on those who participate in it and those who simply watch it? Is the Greek revolt of December 2008 confined to the shores of the Mediterranean, or are there lessons we can bring to bear on social action around the globe? Revolt and Crisis in Greece: Between a Present Yet to Pass and a Future Still to Come is a collective attempt to grapple with these questions. A collaboration between anarchist publishing collectives Occupied London and AK Press, this timely new volume traces Greece’s long moment of transition from the revolt of 2008 to the economic crisis that followed. In its twenty chapters, authors from around the world – including those on the ground in Greece – analyse how December became possible, exploring its legacies and the position of the social antagonist movement in face of the economic crisis and the arrival of the International Monetary Fund. In the essays collected here, over two dozen writers offer historical analysis of the factors that gave birth to December and the potentialities it has opened up in face of the capitalist crisis. Yet the book also highlights the dilemmas the antagonist movement has been faced with since: the book is an open question and a call to the global antagonist movement, and its allies around the world, to radically rethink and redefine our tactics in a rapidly changing landscape where crises and potentialities are engaged in a fierce battle with an uncertain outcome.

James C. Scott (1985). Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven: Yale University.

This sensitive picture of the constant and circumspect struggle waged by peasants materially and ideologically against their oppressors shows that techniques of evasion and resistance may represent the most significant and effective means of class struggle in the long run.

Political Economy

Bob Torres (2007). Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights. Edinburgh: AK Press.

Bob Torres draws broadly upon left theory to show how human oppression and animal oppression are intertwined through the exploitative dynamics of capitalism. With a focus on labour, property, and the life of commodities, Making a Killing contains key insights on the nature of domination, power, and hierarchy, and argues for a critical social theory that understands the human domination of nature in terms of the domination of human by human. An eye-opener for readers concerned with progressive politics, animal welfare or both. Concluding with an analysis of the political praxis of veganism, the book puts forth an abolitionist theory of animal rights that challenges thinking both within the broader left and the animal rights movement.

David Graeber (2013). Debt: The First 5,000 Years. New York: Melville House Publishing.

Economic history states that money replaced a bartering system, yet there isn’t any evidence to support this axiom. Anthropologist Graeber presents a stunning reversal of this conventional wisdom. For more than 5000 years, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods. Since the beginning of the agrarian empires, humans have been divided into debtors and creditors. Through time, virtual credit money was replaced by gold and the system as a whole went into decline. This fascinating history is told for the first time.

David Harvey (2007). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Neoliberalism – the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action – has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so.
Its spread has depended upon a reconstitution of state powers such that privatization, finance, and market processes are emphasized. State interventions in the economy are minimized, while the obligations of the state to provide for the welfare of its citizens are diminished. David Harvey, author of ‘The New Imperialism’ and ‘The Condition of Postmodernity’, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. While Thatcher and Reagan are often cited as primary authors of this neoliberal turn, Harvey shows how a complex of forces, from Chile to China and from New York City to Mexico City, have also played their part. In addition he explores the continuities and contrasts between neoliberalism of the Clinton sort and the recent turn towards neoconservative imperialism of George W. Bush. Finally, through critical engagement with this history, Harvey constructs a framework not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.

Robin Broad (2007). ‘Knowledge management’: a case study of the World Bank’s research department’. Development in Practice, 17:700-708.

A study of the internal dynamics of the World Bank’s research department, detailing the methods and structures used to privilege the production of conclusions which support the bank’s favoured economic doctrine, whilst punishing and suppressing those who oppose it.

Political Theory and Philosophy

Peter Kropotkin (1902 – reprinted 2009). Mutual Aid: A factor of evolution. London: Freedom Press.

In a work of stunning and well-reasoned scholarship, a famous anarchist posits that the most effective human and animal communities are essentially cooperative, rather than competitive. Essential to the understanding of human evolution as well as social organization, this book offers a powerful counterpoint to the tenets of Social Darwinism.International RelationsRumy Hasan (2013). Dangerous Liasons: The Clash Between Islamism and Zionism. London: New Generation Publishing.
A fresh look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as it is shaped to become the iconic clash between a colonizing, aggressive Zionism and the Islamic states and cultures which surround it – a timely, broad-based and rich analysis of the civilizational conflict affecting people the world over, from the ‘War on Terror’ to the complications of a multicultural Europe. A highly-recommended, fascinating and rewarding read on a little understood aspect of modern politics
Prof Haim Bresheeth, SOAS, University of London

Drugs and The War on Drugs

James H. Mills (2003). Cannabis Britannica: Empire,Trade, and Prohibition 1800-1928. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cannabis Britannica explores the historical origins of the UK’s legislation and regulations on cannabis preparations before 1928. It draws on published and unpublished sources from the seventeenth century onwards, from archives in the UK and India, to show how the history of cannabis and the British before the twentieth century was bound up with imperialism.

 African and Carribean Anti-Colonial Philosophy and Critical Theory

Aimé Césaire – Discourse on Colonialism

Published in 1955, “Discourse on Colonialism” is a radical polemic against European colonialism. Making use of a philosophical subversion of European, imperialist ideas of itself, Aimé Césaire inspired radical black philosophy in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

Frantz Fanon – Toward the African Revolution

A collection of essays by Frantz Fanon written between the early fifties and sixties, detailing the history of African resistance to colonialism. Fanon writes compelling anti-colonial critiques on both liberal and marxist approaches to black, political movements.

Reiland Rabaka – Africana Critical Theory

A series of essays on radical black philosophers and the anti-colonial movements they inspired, from across the diaspora. Including their history and philosophical ideas, from W. E. B. Du Bois to Frantz Fanon, black aesthetic and nationalist movements.

Robin D. G. Kelley – Freedom Dreams: The Radical Black Imagination

A unique text on the power of dreams and vision in the history of radical, black philosophy. Robin D. G. Kelley writes on the influence of black scholars and intellectuals on Marxism, Surrealism and Radical Feminism.

Albert Memmi – The Coloniser and The Colonised

Published in 1957, Albert Memmi writes on the philosophical and psychological dimensions of colonialism upon the coloniser and colonised.


Post-Colonial Cultural Theory

Edward Said – Orientalism

Palestinian-American scholar, Edward Said, was one of the defining thinkers in post-colonial theory. “Orientalism” delves into European colonialism in the Middle-East, theorising how Europe’s vision of the “barbaric” and “erotic” Middle-East created a powerful image of its Other. A study that clearly presents how Colonialism still frames contemporary debates on European foreign policy and representations of Arab people in Europe.


Caribbean Radical History

  1. L. R James – The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution

 A black-marxist history of the 1791 Haitian Slave Revolution and the rise of the French-Caribbean revolutionary figure, Toussaint L’Ouverture. A fundamental book for understanding Haiti’s influence in the philosophy, history and narratives of anti-colonial struggle.

Black Feminism

Angela Davis – Women, Race and Class

A history of black women in the United States, critically analysing the erasure of black women and the problem of racism in the women’s liberation movement. A key text for understanding the history and theories of intersectional, radical politics.

Bell Hooks – Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism

Demonstrating the intertwined, cultural relations between imperialist and patriarchal political practices. “Ain’t I A Woman?” covers vast historical ground as bell hooks analyses the position of black women from the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade to modern Feminist movements.

Audre Lorde – I am Your Sister

A powerful work, detailing Audre Lorde’s struggle to find her place as a black, lesbian woman in the Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Liberation Movement. This series of accounts and essays, outlines the problems of homophobia, sexism and racism in all forms of radical movements and how to overcome them.

Radical Feminism

Andrea Dworkin – Pornography: Men Possessing Women

 A challenging polemic and study on the sexual exploitation and commodification of women’s bodies under Capitalism. Including an analysis on the meaning of race in pornography. A controversial figure in contemporary feminist debates, Andrea Dworkin philosophically interrogates the historical roots of an industry that capitalises upon patriarchal and racist sexual politics.

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