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Reading List

Why does the left talk so much about work? Verso Student Reading on Labor and Marxism

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Why is every workplace tyrannical? Why must capitalists constantly intensify their exploitation of labour? And how can workers best fight today to gain power?

The demands of workers continue to be scoffed at, and yet in the past year the labour movement has continued to score victories — from the unionization of Amazon and Starbucks workers in the US to the transport worker strikes in the UK.

Given that the basic social relations have not changed since the dawn of capitalism, studying the history of labor's victories in the past might provide clues to how gains can be won in the future.

All books are 40% off as part of our Student Reading Sale. Ends September 30 at 11:59PM EST. See all our student reading lists here.

All of Marx’s essential political writing in one volume.

Marx and Engels’s enduring insights into the capitalist system: its devastating impact on all aspects of human existence; its susceptibility to enormous convulsions and crises; and its fundamental weakness. 

Karl Marx recognized that the best way to understand the economy is to study the most advanced practice of production. Today that practice is no longer conventional manufacturing: it is the radically innovative vanguard known as the knowledge economy.

Degrowth perspectives offer a way to step off the treadmill of an alienating, expansionist, and hierarchical system.

An exhilarating challenge to the way we think about work, technology, progress, and what we want from the future.

A radical and pragmatic manifesto for tackling the interconnected crises of contemporary capitalism: work, care and the environment. The time we spend at work is neither natural nor inevitable. Instead the amount of time we spend working is a political, cultural and economic question. 

In Revolting Prostitutes, sex workers Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring a fresh perspective to questions that have long been contentious. 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.

Capitalism is a moral, political, and ecological disaster; it is also an incredibly powerful social system that seems to only get stronger. How do we think about an alternative that is possible within this system? Why is socialism still the most practical alternative to our alienated society? 

Tracing the history of some of socialism’s highs and lows—from the creation of Germany’s Social Democratic Party through bloody communist revolutions to the predicaments of midcentury social democracy—Sunkara contends that, in our global age, socialism is still the only way forward. Drawing on history and his own experience in left-wing activism, Sunkara explains how socialists can win better wages and housing and create democratic institutions in workplaces and communities.

Workers and Capital is universally recognised as the most important work produced by operaismo, a current of political thought emerging in the 1960s that revolutionised the institutional and extra-parliamentary Left in Italy and beyond. 

This volume presents a depth of learning to a broader audience, guiding first-time readers through a fascinating and deeply rewarding text. A Companion to Marx’s Capital offers fresh, original, and sometimes critical interpretations of a book that changed the course of history and, as Harvey intimates, may do so again. 

In this elegant book, Erik Olin Wright has distilled decades of work into a concise and tightly argued manifesto analysing the varieties of anti-capitalism, assessing different strategic approaches, and laying the foundations for a society dedicated to human flourishing.

A systematic reconstruction of the core values and feasible goals for Left theorists and political actors, Envisioning Real Utopias lays the foundations for a set of concrete, emancipatory alternatives to the capitalist system. Characteristically rigorous and engaging, this will become a landmark of social thought for the twenty-first century. 

Prisoners of the American Dream is Mike Davis’s brilliant exegesis of a persistent and major analytical problem for Marxist historians and political economists: Why has the world’s most industrially advanced nation never spawned a mass party of the working class? 

A bracing riposte to the conventional wisdom concerning the irresistible power of globalization, Workers in a Lean World is a definitive account of contemporary labor relations on a global scale. 

Ellen Meiksins Wood criticizes postmodern turns away from "grand narratives" and re-establishes the tradition of Marxism as the most consistent, empirically powerful theory of capitalist society. 

The decline of the American union movement—and how it can revive, by a leading analyst of labor 

In Automation and the Future of Work, Aaron Benanav uncovers the structural economic trends that will shape our working lives far into the future.  

In this established classic, sociologists Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello get to the heart of contemporary capitalism. Delving deep into the latest management texts informing the thinking of employers, the authors trace the contours of a new spirit of capitalism. 

In Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani conjures a vision of extraordinary hope, showing how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology, and establish meaningful freedom for everyone. Rather than a final destination, such a society merely heralds the real beginning of history. 

All books are 40% off as part of our Student Reading Sale. Ends September 30 at 11:59PM EST. See all our student reading lists here.