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The North Tower
Aug 20, 2007

You should throw it in the ocean.

Let's talk about leftist books! These are books, aren't they? Broadly speaking (from wiki since, per Paul Lafargue, I have a right to be lazy) left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy.

Some works that IMO are great places to start if you're interested in learning more are listed below. Remember that there are no stupid questions, and if anyone has any recommendations to add to the OP, please post below or PM me.

Capitalism (general):
Karl Marx is the big dog here. Capital and The Communist Manifesto are his most well-known works, with the former being a dense magnum opus explaining the capitalist mode of production, and the latter being a much shorter work which calls for the workers of the world to unite, but I like to recommend Wage Labor and Capital as an easy to digest introduction to his work. He wrote it for factory workers to read in their off-time, and it can be considered a practical shorthand for capital, including an explanation of why you work harder and harder while you receive no additional compensation for your efforts.

Feminism:
bell hooks: Feminism Is For Everybody is a great starting point, as it breaks down what the feminist movement is and why a guy should also be working toward the destruction of sexism in our society.

General History:
Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is a easy-to-read history of the US, starting with pre-Columbian America and ending in the late 80s/early 90s. It is often assigned for AP US History classes and will hopefully open the reader's eyes to the injustice in America. Plus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKqR2Tss8Es

Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of ____ is a 4-part series going from the French Revolution through the fall of the Soviet Union. He tackles arts, culture, wars and economic issues in this series.

Media:
Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent explores how media groups "are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion". Remember how every news source supported the Iraq War in 2002 and no one gave any space for anti-war opinions? When's the last time you heard a news story seriously discussing models other than capitalism as possible economic structures? Exactly. Edward S. Herman was also an author but we don't remember this part (joke).

While it's a podcast, I'd recommend Citations Needed as a great source for understanding the modern media.

Global affairs:
Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine runs the reader through what the global financial elite do to weaker countries and how they leverage disasters (natural or man made) to destroying working conditions and social safety nets in countries.

Some extra authors to look into in the meantime before I update this post:
Frantz Fanon
Angela Davis
Mike Davis
Louis Althusser
Theodor W. Adorno
Slavoj Žižek (he likes movies and has a voice comparable to angels singing)

I'd be interested in hearing which authors people enjoyed, which they hated, who they think is out of touch, who sucks, etc. This is not the place to discuss current elections or who you're voting/not voting/protest voting for (probably need to keep it focused on books in TBB).

Please also consider The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale, which happens to be our book of the month!

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The North Tower
Aug 20, 2007

You should throw it in the ocean.

Reserved.

The Voice of Labor
Apr 8, 2020



Zinn is pretty good. Extremely transparent about his bias, which is the closest you will ever get to unbiased human history.

Generally easy read. A revealing and relevant lesson on the fragility of capital's concessions to humanity. Broken treaties, the rapid repeal of civil war civil liberties, labor's declining power, environmental protections being stripped away, the fruit of the people's victories tends to have a short shelf life.

PTSDeedly Do
Nov 24, 2014

VOID-DOME LOSER 2020




God’s Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembčne is an interesting novel about colonialism and worker action in Senegal.

The North Tower
Aug 20, 2007

You should throw it in the ocean.

PTSDeedly Do posted:

God’s Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembčne is an interesting novel about colonialism and worker action in Senegal.

Frequently bought together: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. That's good company to be in--I'll check it out.

Clipperton
Dec 20, 2011


Grimey Drawer

George Orwell: forget the novels, read the essays

Idaholy Roller
May 19, 2009


I always preferred Orwell’s biographical books.

Baka-nin
Jan 25, 2015



Some personal favourites,

Conquered City by Victor Serge, a fictionalised account of life in Petrograd in the early days of the Russian Civil War, Serge was in the city at the time and at least one passage is taken directly from his experiences.

Letters of Insurgents, by Fredy Perlman, this is another fictional story based on experiences and events. Its a series of letters between two revolutionaries, one in the West, the other in the Eastern bloc, in a world where the radicalism of 68 continued and escalated, virtually every type of political ideology and tactic has its advocates in the story, and they are all tested, poked and argued with to see how they'd react in an actual revolutionary situation, but its written in a way that's exciting and engaging.

The Kaiser Goes, the Generals Remain, German novel about the revolution of 1918, its limits, the factions, the workers, the mutinying sailors, the SPD leadership. Vivid descriptions of street fighting and almost comic scenes of anarchic camaraderie and the surreallness of the situation.

The End of Anarchism? By Luigi Galleani, a powerful rebuttal to criticisms of anarchism with well thought out and reasoned examples of the practicality of the anarchist philosophy and movement.

Captain Jack White, Imperialism, Anarchism and the Citizen Army, biography of Captain Jack White, a Christian Anarchist, and one of the most overlooked of the Irish socialist movement, despite being one of its most tireless and interesting in charting the development of his ideas and views.

fez_machine
Nov 27, 2004
You have1 unread message



Nobody's mentioned the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists but it's great.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Anyone have recommendations for books (in English) about May 1968 in France?

Baka-nin
Jan 25, 2015



TrixRabbi posted:

Anyone have recommendations for books (in English) about May 1968 in France?

May 68 and all that by Stuart Christie

Paris: May 1968 - by Maurice Brinton

Obsolete Communism: by the Cohn-Bendit brothers.

The Situationists also wrote a lot about it

almost there
Sep 13, 2016



Lacan and Zizek 4 lyfe.

I'm wondering... Should Freud be considered leftist lit? For some reason it never seems to be brought up in most discussions like this despite zizek always making the list.

It's weird, I guess I'm basically saying you don't have to be a leftist to a prolific leftist writer.

Anyways, I'm halfway through my second reading of Althusser & company's book Reading Capital in the new verso edition. Its p much my favourite work on Marxism Post Marx and as someone who has drudged through all 3 volumes of Kapital as well as the grundrisse, I highly recommend it.

Alhazred
Feb 16, 2011






almost there posted:

Lacan and Zizek 4 lyfe.

I'm wondering... Should Freud be considered leftist lit? For some reason it never seems to be brought up in most discussions like this despite zizek always making the list.

Freud isn't really that leftist or progressive. Totem and Taboos for example is all about the uneducated savage versus the noble and moderne westerner. I think that Edward Said should be om the list though.

ulvir
Jan 2, 2005



Bourdieu is a good read too, maybe not entirely leftist, but Distinction is pretty good (and well known for linking taste to class and cultural capital and such), it has its limits outside the very specific french societal context, but can still be a useful read even today

almost there
Sep 13, 2016



Alhazred posted:

Freud isn't really that leftist or progressive. Totem and Taboos for example is all about the uneducated savage versus the noble and moderne westerner. I think that Edward Said should be om the list though.

I mean, Freud never intentionally panders to leftism but a lot of his discoveries do end up aligning with leftist discourse (part of the reason anyone actually smart ends up a leftist) . Like, Freud was one of the first people to say gay people arent "devient", because he actually bothered to attempt a scientific understanding of sexuality.

And I dunno, it seems like u conducted a pretty crude reading of totem and taboo. Edward said is extremely lame for that reason, sorry you've been taken in by liberal ideology. Consider checking out

https://www.versobooks.com/books/698-the-sultan-s-court

Alhazred
Feb 16, 2011






I've read Said's book about Freud's Totem and Taboo and I don't really agree with it. Just because Totem and Taboo was tame for it's time doesn't mean it adds anything of value.

almost there
Sep 13, 2016



What? I didn't say it was tame for its time, where are you getting that? Totem and taboo is making a broader point about desire and I think that's what you're missing here. Actually attempting to understand the basis for desire *is* the leftism part, since, ya know, culture of critique.

Alhazred
Feb 16, 2011






almost there posted:

What? I didn't say it was tame for its time, where are you getting that?
My bad, read it on the phone and misread it it.

quote:

Totem and taboo is making a broader point about desire and I think that's what you're missing here. Actually attempting to understand the basis for desire *is* the leftism part, since, ya know, culture of critique.
It is largely discredited though? Freud was just pulling theories out of his rear end and it isn't more based on actual fact than Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality. I'm not saying that Freud is worthless though, I really liked Civilization and Its Discontents.

almost there
Sep 13, 2016



Alhazred posted:

My bad, read it on the phone and misread it it.

It is largely discredited though? Freud was just pulling theories out of his rear end and it isn't more based on actual fact than Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality. I'm not saying that Freud is worthless though, I really liked Civilization and Its Discontents.

It's exactly as "discredited" as Marx's analysis of political economy imo, though you're right in a certain sense and psychoanalysis is more than aware of that. Freud's ideas themselves, while always pointing in the right direction (the Unconscious), often missed the intended mark. Lacanianism was an attempt to clarify and elaborate on Freudianism with some crucial investigations into how the desire of Freud himself ends up playing a larger role in his "scientific" discourse than Freud thought, but that doesn't really undermine psychoanalysis because psychoanalysis doesn't really make a distinction between the productive work of Freud's desire, and the desire of scientific discourse. There's sort of a great flattening with psychoanalysis. Hope that makes some sort of sense. I encourage anybody here to read Lacan (his Seminar on the Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis is the best starting point) to get a sense for what I mean. He has a sort of talent for reading Freud. I think of him as a sort of Lenin of psychoanalysis lol.

And ya, Civ and Discontents is a great example of what I mean. To me that is the greatest work of class analysis since the 18th Brumaire.

EDIT: also I know of some analysts that actually make progress with schizophrenic patients, which is a lot more than other types of therapists can say.

almost there fucked around with this message at 16:25 on Aug 27, 2020

cda
Jan 2, 2010


ulvir posted:

Bourdieu is a good read too, maybe not entirely leftist, but Distinction is pretty good (and well known for linking taste to class and cultural capital and such), it has its limits outside the very specific french societal context, but can still be a useful read even today

Hell yeah Bordieu owns. Along with Distinction, Outline of a Theory of Practice.

cda
Jan 2, 2010


But for my money the Raymond Williams and the Birmingham School are the best because they're not unaware of Lacan but they're not infected by him either.

PeterWeller
Apr 20, 2003

I told you that story so I could tell you this one.



Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza explores how racism and national boundaries affect the identities of their victims.

Mike Davis's City of Quartz is a thorough Marxist examination of LA's history and growth in the 20th century.

As for fiction, Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and In Dubious Battle are American classics and relentless indictments of capitalism. His non-fiction Travels with Charley: In Search of America contains a long section highly critical of Jim Crow and segregation when he gets to the South.

cda
Jan 2, 2010


PeterWeller posted:

Gloria Anzaldua's Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza explores how racism and national boundaries affect the identities of their victims.

That book kicks astounding amounts of rear end. Life-changing for me.

It's funny, I wouldn't necessarily have considered it "leftist lit" just because the viewpoint is in some ways too original to fit in any box, though Anzaldua is obviously a leftist.

cda fucked around with this message at 23:00 on Aug 27, 2020

PeterWeller
Apr 20, 2003

I told you that story so I could tell you this one.



cda posted:

That book kicks astounding amounts of rear end. Life-changing for me.

It's funny, I wouldn't necessarily have considered it "leftist lit" just because the viewpoint is in some ways too original to fit in any box, though Anzaldua is obviously a leftist.

Hmm yeah. It's maybe not "leftist lit," but I think it's definitely lit leftists (and everyone else, for that matter) should read.

MeatwadIsGod
Sep 30, 2004

Behold! It is I! I bestow upon you...my dirty dipey!


For anyone who finds Marx daunting or hard to absorb I would highly recommend David Harvey. He has written companion pieces for Capital Vol. 1 and 2. I haven't read Vol. 2 yet but his Vol. 1 companion helped me out a ton. His Brief History of Neoliberalism is also excellent at delineating exactly what neoliberalism is, how it developed, and how it was adopted globally in one form or another. He also has video lectures on Marx and a bi-weekly lecture series about various Marxist concepts or current events through a Marxist lens.

Baka-nin
Jan 25, 2015



On the other hand, this is the result of Harvey's readings of Marx

https://twitter.com/Louis_Allday/st...0351948802?s=20

He seems to have completely bought into the bizarre premise that capital flow = production and that we cannot afford to halt the very processes that are already killing us and causing mass starvation.

Phi230
Feb 2, 2016



The Crab Cannery Ship

Inventing Reality

Anything by Chris hedges

Joe Chill
Mar 21, 2013

"What's this dance called?"

"'Radioactive Flesh.' It's the latest - and the last!"


Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky is a great introduction to Chomsky's work.

A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

Liquid Communism
Mar 9, 2004


Out here, everything hurts.




I'm currently working through the unabridged version of Robert Tressell's The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, which is very much a proletarian novel in the same vein as Sinclair and London's works.

Baka-nin
Jan 25, 2015



David Graeber died,

He's best known work is Debt the first 5,000 years, but his essay Bullshit Jobs is very informative too.
I also enjoyed his work on bullying and how society supports and promotes it at every turn

MeatwadIsGod
Sep 30, 2004

Behold! It is I! I bestow upon you...my dirty dipey!


Baka-nin posted:

On the other hand, this is the result of Harvey's readings of Marx

https://twitter.com/Louis_Allday/st...0351948802?s=20

He seems to have completely bought into the bizarre premise that capital flow = production and that we cannot afford to halt the very processes that are already killing us and causing mass starvation.

Since I haven't watched this lecture I'll give Harvey the benefit of the doubt and say there's probably more context than is apparent in this 90-second clip. But it seems to me he's just saying that this isn't the final crisis of capitalism right now and we shouldn't delude ourselves into thinking we can overthrow/replace it without building the kinds of distribution systems that would be needed to replace it. It doesn't seem like a very controversial statement to me. It's sort of a banal academic argument anyway because it's not like we're in a position to stop global capital flow and accumulation anytime soon.

MeatwadIsGod fucked around with this message at 15:36 on Sep 4, 2020

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



The North Tower posted:

Media:
Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent explores how media groups "are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion". Remember how every news source supported the Iraq War in 2002 and no one gave any space for anti-war opinions? When's the last time you heard a news story seriously discussing models other than capitalism as possible economic structures? Exactly. Edward S. Herman was also an author but we don't remember this part (joke).

I just read this for my IRL book group. The main thesis is pretty interesting and good for media literacy, but most of it is evidence supporting their arguments. Which is necessary, but a bit dull. And the chapter on the Cambodia genocides really seems to minimise the Khmer Rouge's casualty figures, which argues against Chomsky and Herman, I think. It's almost a shame that the bulk of the book is so detailed because short bits on, say, Watergate do a great job of getting their ideas across. Overall, though, a really interesting read.

cda
Jan 2, 2010


Joe Chill posted:

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

Great exposition of the Gilded Age but imo as a novel it falls apart about 3/4 of the way through which is too bad because up until then it is also gripping. Even though there second half is indispensable for showing the operations of machine politics etc. when I recommend it I tell people the first half is a must-read and then after that, read as much as you can get through before you get bored. Sinclair loses the human element as he casts his social criticism more broadly.

Factum est
Aug 7, 2007



Timely thread, as I was just looking for Leftist lit these past few days. I'm halfway through Zinn's History and put it on pause to read Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism after seeing a mention of hauntology in another thread (I think in the Disco Elysium thread?). Fisher's work was a good dive back into critical theory, even in spite of me only having a cursory knowledge of the people/concepts he names throughout the book.

I can't decide if I want to tackle the historical roots (i.e., Hobsbawm's four-parter) or more contemporary works after I get through History.

I used to have a book covering the evolution of theory/debates/key ideas in geography from a graduate course years ago that proved to be a good reference when reading works that mention unfamiliar concepts/debates/people. The book has since been lost to the postal service, but does anyone know of a similar-but-more-generalized resource?

Baka-nin
Jan 25, 2015



I was part of a book club that last year went through Hobsbawm's series, we were pretty disappointed with them, I don't remember anyone in the group having much positive to say about any of the books. Personally speaking I don't think they've aged particularly well, they're supposed to be general overviews of periods, but if you're already familiar with the periods being covered they don't offer much, and thanks to the internet and later work it is quite easy for a novice to be well read on say the 1848 revolutions, or industrial revolution, and you can really see Hobsbawm's tendency to refer to events, movements, people's that don't fit his overall thesis as curious anomalies and just ignore them. His shorter essays on say Gramsci are better. I think he's one of those marxist historians who used history as a way to prove his politics.

I prefer the liberal AJP Taylor out of the two British historians, since he was more of a "let's see where the evidence takes me" historian. He managed to make a book on the history of the Habsburg Empire both pretty clear to understand and interesting to read.

The North Tower
Aug 20, 2007

You should throw it in the ocean.

Safety Biscuits posted:

I just read this for my IRL book group. The main thesis is pretty interesting and good for media literacy, but most of it is evidence supporting their arguments. Which is necessary, but a bit dull. And the chapter on the Cambodia genocides really seems to minimise the Khmer Rouge's casualty figures, which argues against Chomsky and Herman, I think. It's almost a shame that the bulk of the book is so detailed because short bits on, say, Watergate do a great job of getting their ideas across. Overall, though, a really interesting read.

Chomsky was a little late to the ‘Cambodian genocide really happened and it was worse than we thought’ party, but when there was enough evidence he did change his mind.

gfarrell80
Aug 31, 2006


Under my belt, which I would 2nd the recommendation for:

Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Zinn, A People's History of the United States
Orwell, Road to Wigan Pier, Down and Out in Paris and London, Homage to Catalonia, On Nationalism
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle
Vincent Bevins, The Jarkarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade & the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World
W.E.B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk
Smedly Butler, War is a Racket
Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness
Sheldon Whitehouse: Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy

On deck:
Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent
Chris Hedges: any recommendations for one of his books above the others?
Jack London, The People of the Abyss, War of the Classes
David Dayen, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power


Also, in the 'literary lefty' category, I second the recommendation for Steinbeck. And you have to read Melville's Moby Dick and Bartleby the Scrivener. Theodore Dreiser too is good.

poisonpill
Nov 8, 2009

The only way to get huge fast is to insult a passing witch and hope she curses you with Beast-strength.



I’d prefer not to

gfarrell80
Aug 31, 2006


poisonpill posted:

I’d prefer not to

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Xander77
Apr 6, 2009

Fuck it then. For another pit sandwich and some 'tater salad, I'll post a few more.




Anything good on Troskyist thought? I'm currently reading "My Life" and it's kinda terrible as an autobiography of a political figure and in terms of explaining what he was all about.

It doesn't spare a single paragraph to what political affiliations actually meant in practice, Trotsky recounts how he changed his ideology (mostly in terms of "I never had more than superficial disagreements with Saint Lenin") but not what said change was and why, and there are practically zero details about key personalities beyond "the people who agreed with me were smart and brave, the people who disagreed with me were politically illiterate backstabbers".

It doesn't even do a great job as a strictly personal biography. I suddenly found out "L.D" was now living with a second wife and an entirely different set of kids as he was recounting 1917.

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