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#Occupy: Suggested Reading from AK Press!

Posted on October 31st, 2011 in Current Events, Recommended Reading

In the spirit of the movement against corporate capitalism that’s sweeping the world  (including our bases in Oakland and Baltimore), the AK Press collective has been working extra hard doing what we do best: spreading the written word about the evils of capitalism, histories of grassroots working class resistance, and the potential for truly transformative struggle.

First, the AK Press Tactical Media Squad has released a free pamphlet “Occupy the System!” which we encourage you all to read, download, reproduce, and circulate widely both online and in print. We hope the pieces in this pamphlet will be a valuable contribution to the conversations that are already happening on the ground. And this is just the first of our “Anarchy & Occupy” series—watch for more free pamphlets coming soon!

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the many excellent books already in our catalog that will be useful to anyone trying to make sense of what’s going on in the world right now. We’ve collected twenty of our suggestions here.

Since we’re all struggling these days (that’s part of why we’re doing this, right?), we’ve deeply discounted these titles for a limited time to make it possible for more folks to get ahold of them. But whether you buy them from us (get an extra copy to pass around your local occupation!), find them at the library, or borrow them from a friend… just have a look, and let us know if there are other titles you recommend.

Anarchism and its Aspirations (Cindy Milstein)
Cindy gives a great “Anarchism 101” talk, and we hear she’s been doing so at Occupy Philly! For those of you in other cities, this book is an easy introduction for anyone in your circles who may be curious about, but wary of, the A-word. Includes a great take on direct democracy, which is an essential component of the #Occupy movement.

Direct Action: An Ethnography (David Graeber)
David Graeber has been right in the middle of the action at Wall Street, and doing some excellent writing about movement and strategy. This book, which Graeber wrote as a “participant-observer” in the Quebec City protests of 2011, serves as a window into the social movement cultures, models, and processes that are now very much in the public eye.

Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States (Edited by Team Colors Collective)
This collection is a great reminder that we’re all in this together—with a wide range of pieces on current activity, organizing, and ideas from all over the U.S. Includes lots of useful thought on the strategy and theory behind our actions, as well as some enlightening reflections from movement elders.

Revolt and Crisis in Greece: Between a Present Yet to Pass and a Future Still to Come (Edited by Antonis Vradis & Dimitris Dalakoglou)
Let’s learn from Greece’s experiences, history, and theory, and make this a true worldwide movement. This book allows us to compare and contrast our specific political and economic situations with the ones in Greece, and draw conclusions applicable to our own “antagonist” movement.

Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (Ben Dangl)
Lessons learned in the Latin American social movements discussed in this book can be a great tool for considering the goals and strategies of our movements in the U.S. today, including their relationship with State power. Author Ben Dangl has also written on the connections between #Occupy and Argentina. The book also considers movements in Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and more.

Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures, 1960s to Now (Edited by Josh MacPhee & Dara Greenwald)
#Occupy movements have already been producing some amazing artwork (such as the image by Favianna Rodriguez shown above, and these other downloadable graphics available on the Justseeds blog). Today’s political posters and graphics draw inspiration from the rich history of movement artwork cataloged in this book. If you’re a movement artist, you need to see this stuff—it will blow your mind (in a good way).

The Conquest of Bread (Peter Kropotkin)
What Kropotkin lays out here is his idea of the most rational, equitable way of  meeting human needs—call him utopian, we call him a visionary. In any case, at a time when a small minority of individuals controls the vast majority of wealth and resources, we can all probably learn something from this anarchist classic.

Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader (Edited by Chris Wilbert & Damian F. White)
As we think about how we would ideally like to organize society (now that we know it’s really up to us!), thinkers like Colin Ward can be quite a help. His work goes into everything from urban planning to education to housing, all from an anarchist point of view, at the same time practical and inspiring.

Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism, CounterPower Vol. 1 (Michael Schmidt & Lucien van der Walt)
This book looks at class struggle anarchism and its impact on popular struggles worldwide over the last 150 years. Might be a valuable resource for anyone looking to dig a little deeper into the class politics inherent in the #Occupy movement, and anyone thinking about how anarchist theory and praxis fits in.

Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence in America (Louis Adamic)
The fight between the “99%” and the “1%” is nothing new, even though the numbers may have changed over time. This is a classic account of workers’ struggles, “by any means necessary,” of workers, from immigrant laborers to the CIO, who had exhausted peaceful means in their fight for recognition and justice.

Come Hell or High Water: A Handbook on Collective Process Gone Awry (Delfina Vannucci & Richard Singer)
Whether you’re new to collective process or so old-school that you twinkle in your sleep, you know that those General Assemblies can bring out the best and worst aspects of directly democratic group decision-making. This book is a helpful resource, not to mention that the cartoons will make you laugh out loud.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years (David Graeber)
Another one from David Graeber—his latest lays out the history of debt, how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy. Want to make sense of how we got to where we are, or think through the implications of debt forgiveness as a solution to financial crisis? This will help.

Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom (Doug Henwood)
Okay, so this book was written back when it was still possible for anyone to claim capitalism was “working.” But Doug Henwood has been critical all along, and this book remains a clear and biting overview of how the stock market, big banks, and high finance function. And it anticipates a great stock market crash… oops, guess Wall Street should have listened.

Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification and the Umoja Village Shantytown (Max Rameau)
The #Occupy movement is partly about taking space, so it makes sense to learn from land and housing struggles such as the Take Back the Land movement. At Occupy Baltimore, we were lucky enough to have Max Rameau come out and make this connections explicitly. For the rest of you, here’s his book!

Revolt on Goose Island: The Chicago Factory Takeover, and What It Says About the Economic Crisis (Kari Lydersen)
In 2008, days after getting a government bailout, the Bank of America shut down a line of credit that was keeping the Republic Windows & Doors factory operating. The workers, laid off with no notice, took over their factory and refused to leave. We can all learn something from these workers’ victory.

The ABCs of the Economic Crisis: What Working People Need to Know (Michael D. Yates & Fred Magdoff)
This book calls the economic crisis what it is: the expected outcome of a destructive system. Capitalism, when it functions correctly, is based on the exploitation of the majority by a tiny minority in control of business interests. This is why it’s impossible to fight “the 1%” without fighting capitalism itself.

The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Fred Magdoff & John Bellamy Foster)
Another analysis of the current economic crisis, this book looks at the vicious economic cycle we find ourselves in: financial “bubbles” are our means of overcoming stagnation, but they inevitably burst, bringing economic problems back to the surface, which are in turn countered with bigger bubbles…

Field Guide to the U.S Economy: A Compact And Irreverent Guide To Economic Life In America (Jonathan Teller-Elsberg, Nancy Folbre, & James Heintz)
Easy-to-read (and with cartoons on every page), this is sort of an “economics for dummies” from a progressive angle. It covers everything from workers to welfare, education, health, the prison-industrial complex, and many more hot-button issues. Get a bit of background on how economics plays out in many aspects of life.

Field Guide to the Global Economy (John Cavanagh & Sarah Anderson)
A great companion for the U.S. Field Guide, and in a similar easy-to-follow format, this one is international in scope—covering multinational corporations, outsourcing, labor, treaties and trade, and international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. Capitalism is a global problem.

Parecon: Life After Capitalism (Michael Albert)
Here’s just one stab at answering that ever-present question: “What do we want?” You can use this as a jumping-off point to thinking about the the many ways of doing economics outside of capitalism. For more on participatory economics, check out Real Utopia: Participatory Society for the 21st Century.