The best books on anti-capitalist struggles for a viable postcapitalism

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t think of myself as a dreamer but, rather, a hard-headed activist scholar. Globally, most of us live under the domination of production for trade. We have ceded co-governance of production—collectively deciding what we produce, how we produce it, and for whom—to the abstract logic of markets operated via money. We face two great challenges reproduced by capitalism—growing socio-political inequities and ecological unsustainability. So, I argue that we must replace monetary values and operating systems with ‘real’, social and ecological, values and production for demand, for the basic needs of humans and the planet. Postcapitalism means moving beyond money to realize our self-value and emancipation. 

I wrote...

Beyond Money: A Postcapitalist Strategy

By Anitra Nelson,

Book cover of Beyond Money: A Postcapitalist Strategy

What is my book about?

What might a world without money look and feel like? To create a world of human equity and ecological sustainability Beyond Money argues that we need to replace monetary values with ‘real values’, social and environmental values. I offer a lively thought experiment of a world without money to achieve a genuinely postcapitalist future.

Grounded in historical debates about money, I show how money currently drives political power, environmental destruction, and social inequality and argue for money to be abolished. Beyond Money draws on a spectrum of political and economic thought and activism, including feminism, ecoanarchism, degrowth, autonomism, Marxism, and ecosocialism. Looking to indigenous rights activism and the advance of commoning, an international network of activists engaged in a fight for a money-free society emerges.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Hope in Hopeless Times

Anitra Nelson Why did I love this book?

Holloway deserves his cult following—who else would name a chapter "Start from anguish, from Janus. Start from Not Enough! Start from the hydra that we must slay."

His rolling prose makes reading his non-fiction feel like sitting cross-kneed in front of a wonderous storyteller. Moreover, Hope in Hopeless Times harks on my own arguments, as Holloway writes, "Hope lies in our richness, the joy of our collective creativity... Richness against money: this battle will decide the future of humanity."

By John Holloway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hope in Hopeless Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hope lies in our richness, in the joy of our collective creativity. But that richness exists in the peculiar form of money. The fact that we relate to on another through money causes tremendous social pain and destruction and is dragging us through pandemics and war towards extinction.

Richness against money: this battle will decide the future of humanity. If we cannot emancipate richness from money-capital-profit, there is probably no hope. Money seems invincible but the constant expansion of debt shows that its rule is fragile. The fictitious expansion of money through debt is driven by fear, fear of us,…

Book cover of Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune

Anitra Nelson Why did I love this book?

The best historians and anthropologists either draw you into a subject as if you were living it or they directly connect their topic to life in the here and now.

Kristin Ross does both in Communal Luxury which crystalizes a radical imaginary drawn from a vividly reproduced past and posits it as a contemporary manifesto. An irresistible re-reading of the Paris Commune and all it stands for in the present and, more particularly, for our joint futures. 

By Kristin Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Communal Luxury as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kristin Ross's new work on the thought and culture of the Communard uprising of 1871 resonates with the motivations and actions of contemporary protest, which has found its most powerful expression in the reclamation of public space. Today's concerns-internationalism, education, the future of labor, the status of art, and ecological theory and practice-frame and inform her carefully researched restaging of the words and actions of individual Communards. This original analysis of an event and its centrifugal effects brings to life the workers in Paris who became revolutionaries, the significance they attributed to their struggle, and the elaboration and continuation of…

Book cover of Rupturing The Dialectic: The Struggle Against Work, Money, and Financialization

Anitra Nelson Why did I love this book?

Cleaver by name, cleaver by nature? Certainly, as an analyst following in Marx’s footsteps, Harry Cleaver resembles a nimble knife aspiring to a heavy-duty hatchet.

His ideas are impressive but make easy reading. So much so, he has attracted a great following since the publication of his now classic work Reading Capital Politically (1979). Rupturing the Dialectic (2017) is one of Cleaver’s most recent books. In three parts, he sings the praises of Marx’s work-oriented concept of ‘value’, delves into ‘decoding’ the financial sphere that currently mires us, and argues that "getting rid of money and markets entirely is not only a necessary condition for getting rid of capitalism but also desirable in its own right."

Observe the cleaver in action!

By Harry Cleaver,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rupturing The Dialectic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Rupturing the Dialectic rejects the quietism inherent in all economistic approaches to the current crises within capitalism, and furnishes working people with a clear, concrete, sensible program for how to move forward. This is a fine book, and it is one from which activists will greatly benefit." —David Sherman, author of Sartre and Adorno

"Cleaver's theory of the value of labor to capital, explanation of money as a critical mediator of class conflicts, and discussion of strategies for resistance and transformation are remarkable. Rupturing the Dialectic offers emancipating ways to understand everyday life and financial crises in capitalism today." —Anitra…

Book cover of The Politics of Permaculture

Anitra Nelson Why did I love this book?

Terry Leahy has been a permaculture practitioner, advocate, and critic since the 1970s when permaculture was founded in his (and my) home country Australia, by co-originators David Holmgren and Bill Mollison.

In this pithy tome, Leahy draws as much on lively quotes from interviewees as delivering on all the basic principles, periods, strategies, visions, and permutations of permaculture across the world. The Politics of Permaculture delves into the deep rifts and rips within this socio-environmental movement to show how and why the short history of its eco-material approach to sustainable futures has so much to teach any anti-capitalist seeking postcapitalist paths and paradises.

By Terry Leahy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Politics of Permaculture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Inspiring. [...] Crammed with lively interviews and grounded examples' Ashish Kothari, founder of Kalpavriksh

Permaculture is an environmental movement that makes us reevaluate what it means to be sustainable. Through innovative agriculture and settlement design, the movement creates new communities that are harmonious with nature. It has grown from humble origins on a farm in 1970s Australia and flourished into a worldwide movement that confronts industrial capitalism.

The Politics of Permaculture is one of the first books to unpack the theory and practice of this social movement that looks to challenge the status quo. Drawing upon the rich seam of…

Book cover of How To Make Trouble And Influence People: Pranks, Graffiti, & Political Mischief-Making from Across Australia

Anitra Nelson Why did I love this book?

This amazing, super scrapbook of text, photos, and other images richly chronicles more than two centuries of resistance and protests in the land we now call Australia.

Since the 1788 invasion, radicals, refugees, resisters, and revolutionaries have included First Nations peoples, the oldest continuing living culture in the world, who had covered the entire continent before capitalist settlement. Creatively and constructively engaged in campaigns and interventions in the outdated politicking of unrepresentative political parties, over 500 such instances are detailed in this book.

One of several exciting cultural works produced by McIntyre, he both records and analyzes struggles and strategies for diverse forms of emancipation pointing beyond capitalism. 

By Iain McIntyre,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How To Make Trouble And Influence People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book reveals Australia’s radical past through more than 500 tales of Indigenous resistance, convict revolts and escapes, picket line hijinks, student occupations, creative direct action, street art, media pranks, urban interventions, squatting, blockades, banner drops, guerilla theatre, and billboard liberation. Twelve key Australian activists and pranksters are interviewed regarding their opposition to racism, nuclear power, war, economic exploitation, and religious conservatism via humor and creativity. Featuring more than 300 spectacular images How to Make Trouble and Influence People is an inspiring, and at times hilarious, record of resistance that will appeal to readers everywhere.

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Book cover of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

Michael Bungay Stanier Author Of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Coaching is a wonderful technology that can help people be a force for change… and is often wrapped up in mystic and woo-woo and privilege that makes it inaccessible and/or unattractive to too many. I want being more coach-like—by which I mean staying curious a little longer, and rushing to action and advice-giving—to be an everyday way of being with one another. Driven by this, I’ve written the best-selling book on coaching this century (The Coaching Habit) and have created training that’s been used around the world by more than a quarter of a million people. I’m on a mission to unweird coaching.

Michael's book list on unexpectedly useful books about coaching

What is my book about?

The coaching book that's for all of us, not just coaches.

It's the best-selling book on coaching this century, with 15k+ online reviews. Brené Brown calls it "a classic". Dan Pink said it was "essential".

It is practical, funny, and short, and "unweirds" coaching. Whether you're a parent, a teacher, a leader, or even a coach, you can stay curious longer.

By Michael Bungay Stanier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Coaching Habit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Look for Michael's new book, The Advice Trap, which focuses on taming your Advice Monster so you can stay curious a little longer and change the way you lead forever.

In Michael Bungay Stanier's The Coaching Habit, coaching becomes a regular, informal part of your day so managers and their teams can work less hard and have more impact.

Drawing on years of experience training more than 10,000 busy managers from around the globe in practical, everyday coaching skills, Bungay Stanier reveals how to unlock your peoples' potential. He unpacks seven essential coaching questions to demonstrate how-by saying less and…

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Interested in anti capitalism, France, and permaculture?

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