Leftist considerations of a number of contemporary sociopolitical issues, edited by Nation senior editor Leonard and Jacobin founding editor Sunkara.
“From capital’s point of view,” writes Jacobin contributing editor Chris Maisano, “the social and political relations of production that come with [full employment] are untenable. Accepting such an economy would be tantamount to unilateral disarmament in the class struggle.” They may sound hoary, but these words have a stirring quality, a reminder that it is more fun to read the subversive broadsides of Vonnegut than the Grundrisse, but the latter’s analytical tools continue to find a trenchant foothold. “The ideas in this volume draw on a rich tradition of socialist proposals, long a force in American politics,” writes Leonard, and what the collection lacks in humor and self-skepticism, it makes up for not just in radical traditions, but also in original thinking on life beyond today’s ruinous oligarchy. Throughout the book, there is plenty to argue with—e.g., “for socialists, freedom is exclusively identified with the time we spend outside the sphere of material production,” a contention that denies the genuinely meaningful possibilities of work. But engagement—with the essays, with the world—is the point. The contributors explore the horizontal structure of local autonomy, exemplified by Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and Fight for $15; the organizations at work in the LGBT movement confronting the economic marginalization and violence that still plague this community (the time has come to move from “legal equality to lived equality”); and the plentiful instances when small is not necessarily better. The contributors address both sweeping concerns—echoing Thomas Piketty, particularly regarding the African-American population: “As bad as income inequality is in the United States, wealth inequality is even worse”—and specific issues, including the idea of the “work-life balance”: as Leonard rightly notes, “working-class women have always ‘done it all.’ ”
Piquant, irksome, challenging, head-turning, maddening—a collection that successfully endeavors to get your blood pumping.