Capital and Its Discontents

Sasha Lilley et al.

Conversations with Radical Thinkers in a Time of Tumult

A series of incisive conversations with some of the most eminent thinkers and political economists on the Left–including David Harvey, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Mike Davis, Leo Panitch, Noam Chomsky, and Tariq Ali.

Capitalism is stumbling, empire is faltering, and the planet is thawing. Yet many people are still grasping to understand these multiple crises and to find a way forward to a just future. Into the breach come the essential insights of Capital and Its Discontents, which cut through the gristle to get to the heart of the matter about the nature of capitalism and imperialism, capitalism’s vulnerabilities at this conjuncture—and what can we do to hasten its demise.

Through a series of incisive conversations with some of the most eminent thinkers and political economists on the Left—including David Harvey, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Mike Davis, Leo Panitch, Tariq Ali, and Noam Chomsky—Capital and Its Discontents illuminates the dynamic contradictions undergirding capitalism and the potential for its dethroning. The book challenges conventional wisdom on the Left about the nature of globalization, neoliberalism and imperialism, as well as the agrarian question in the Global South. It probes deeply into the roots of the global economic meltdown, the role of debt and privatization in dampening social revolt, and considers capitalism’s dynamic ability to find ever new sources of accumulation—whether through imperial or ecological plunder or the commodification of previously unpaid female labor.

The Left luminaries in Capital and Its Discontents look at potential avenues out of the mess—as well as wrong turns and needless detours—drawing lessons from the history of post-colonial states in the Global South, struggles against imperialism past and present, the eternal pendulum swing of radicalism, the corrosive legacy of postmodernism, and the potentialities of the radical humanist tradition. At a moment when capitalism as a system is more reviled than ever, here is an indispensable toolbox of ideas for action by some of the most brilliant thinkers of our times.

“These conversations illuminate the current world situation in ways that are very useful for those hoping to orient themselves and find a way forward to effective individual and collective action. Highly recommended.” —Kim Stanley Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of the Mars Trilogy and The Years of Rice and Salt

“In this fine set of interviews, an A-list of radical political economists demonstrate why their skills are indispensable to understanding today’s multiple economic and ecological crises.” —Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved and The Value of Nothing

“Capital and Its Discontents presents the thought of many of the most astute analysts of contemporary political economic and cultural developments in accessible interview form. Sasha Lilley’s wide-ranging and probing questions prompt her interviewees to address the intersecting crises of our time and to outline frameworks for understanding and responding to them. This collection of interviews introduces the reader to much of the best thinking about social issues on the US left today.” —Barbara Epstein, History of Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz

“Reading this wonderful book feels like having a face to face discussion with each author. These brilliant radical thinkers from many parts of the world generously and lucidly share their knowledge and insights on capitalism, empire, and resistance.” —Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, historian and author of Red Dirt and Outlaw Woman

“This is an extremely important book. It is the most detailed, comprehensive, and best study yet published on the most recent capitalist crisis and its discontents. Sasha Lilley sets each interview in its context, writing with style, scholarship and wit about ideas and philosophies.” —Andrej Grubacic, radical sociologist and social critic, co-author of Wobblies and Zapatistas

Sasha Lilley is a writer and radio broadcaster. She is the co-founder and host of the critically acclaimed program of radical ideas, Against the Grain. As program director of KPFA Radio, the flagship station of the Pacifica Network, she headed up such award-winning national broadcasts as ‘Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan’. Sasha Lilley is the series editor of PM Press’ political economy imprint, Spectre.

Noam Chomsky is one of the world’s leading intellectuals, the father of modern linguistics, and an outspoken media and foreign policy critic. He is Institute Professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT and the author of numerous books and DVDs including Crisis and Hope: Theirs and Ours published by PM Press

Tariq Ali is an historian, novelist, and filmmaker, and the author of many books. He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and a contributor to The Guardian and the London Review of Books.

Mike Davis is an urban theorist, historian, and political activist, author of many works including City of Quartz. He is an editor of the New Left Review and received a MacArthur Fellowship Award and the Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, for many years Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, is the author of a number of books, including The Origin of Capitalism and Citizens to Lords: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

David Harvey is the Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a pioneering radical geographer. He has written numerous books and is among the 20 most cited authors in the humanities

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