21 votes

What are some best anti-capitalist books?

I'd like to learn more about the history of the anticapitalist thought. I have read Eduardo Galeano's two works, Open Veins of Latin America, and Upside Down. Thanks in advance.

26 comments

  1. [3]
    spctrvl
    Link
    Can't go wrong with the Conquest of Bread. It's very readable, it's a primary document, and it's one of the keystones of modern anarchist thought. Arguably more important to the modern far left...

    Can't go wrong with the Conquest of Bread. It's very readable, it's a primary document, and it's one of the keystones of modern anarchist thought. Arguably more important to the modern far left than Marx and Engels.

    15 votes
    1. RNG
      Link Parent
      Kropotkin has certainly seen a recent uptick with leftist youth in the West, but Marx and Engels still dominate discourse globally, especially in the global south. The Conquest of Bread is an...

      Kropotkin has certainly seen a recent uptick with leftist youth in the West, but Marx and Engels still dominate discourse globally, especially in the global south. The Conquest of Bread is an interesting read, I recommend following up with Socialism: Utopian and Scientific afterwards.

      4 votes
  2. [4]
    Grendel
    Link
    So while The Fountainhead was very much intended to be pro-cpitalism it had the opposite effect on me. In a way it shows that when one aligns their personal morals with capitalistic ideals they...

    So while The Fountainhead was very much intended to be pro-cpitalism it had the opposite effect on me. In a way it shows that when one aligns their personal morals with capitalistic ideals they turn into a horrible person. Somehow the "hero" of the story commits both rape and and act of terror and the author tries to lead us to think he is morally superior. It really helped to show me what the end game looks like for unrestrained self interest.

    15 votes
    1. [3]
      vegai
      Link Parent
      I wonder if calling out the "rape scenes" in Ayn Rand's books constitutes as shaming her for her kinks. If so, that would be rather bad thing to do, right?

      I wonder if calling out the "rape scenes" in Ayn Rand's books constitutes as shaming her for her kinks. If so, that would be rather bad thing to do, right?

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Grendel
        Link Parent
        I'm not one to kink shame. This scene wasn't a role play that two people consented to ahead of time. He just "knew" she wanted it and forced himself on her even though she did not consent and even...

        I'm not one to kink shame. This scene wasn't a role play that two people consented to ahead of time. He just "knew" she wanted it and forced himself on her even though she did not consent and even fought back. This kind of behavior is unacceptable in real life. Howard had no way of knowing that she was actually enjoying it, and making that kind of assumption is wrong

        8 votes
        1. elcuello
          Link Parent
          It's like that Louie CK joke where he meets a girl at a bar and she reject his advances several times in bed later so nothing happens...he meets her again a while after and she asks him why...

          It's like that Louie CK joke where he meets a girl at a bar and she reject his advances several times in bed later so nothing happens...he meets her again a while after and she asks him why nothing happened. He says because she rejected him but then she says she likes that and he should just have went for it. And then he goes something like: "So I should just rape you on the off chance that you might be into that kind of stuff?"

          2 votes
  3. [2]
    cloud_loud
    Link
    A lot of people are gonna recommend you read so many other books, but they probably won’t recommend Marx and Engels themselves. Start off with The Principles of Communism by Engels and then I’d...

    A lot of people are gonna recommend you read so many other books, but they probably won’t recommend Marx and Engels themselves.

    Start off with The Principles of Communism by Engels and then I’d recommend reading: Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.

    And of course The Communist Manifesto and Capital.

    12 votes
  4. [2]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Debt: The First 5000 Years by the late great David Graeber is one of the best historical critiques of capitalism I've read. I also highly recommend his book Bullshit Jobs even though it doesn't...

    Debt: The First 5000 Years by the late great David Graeber is one of the best historical critiques of capitalism I've read.

    I also highly recommend his book Bullshit Jobs even though it doesn't exactly line up with the historical aspect you're looking for. The essay that spawned the book is publicly readable.

    10 votes
  5. [6]
    knocklessmonster
    Link
    I have a dumb idea: Learn capitalism with Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," or try to find sources of liberal/capitalist philosophy that aren't American neoliberal drivel. It's effective in the...

    I have a dumb idea: Learn capitalism with Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," or try to find sources of liberal/capitalist philosophy that aren't American neoliberal drivel. It's effective in the way that reading the bible may make one less Christian, and it's helpful to see Smith not as "The father of modern capitalism," but "The descriptor of modern capitalism." He's not the guy American neocons want him to be.

    FWIW, I've never read his work, but in a comparative economics course I took there was a lot of what he said used as criticisms of capitalism, and we hadn't even moved to the socialist economics portion of the class at that point. TBH, even just understanding how capitalist economics works would make a more critical mind (like mine) more critical of it.

    Also, not as radical, but good for an understanding of economics, both in understanding the nature of your enemy and systems in general would be Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy by Marina and J. Barkley Rosser. It was the textbook I used in my comparative economics class, and my professor felt it was particularly uncharitable towards socialist economies (being written by a former Soviet and an older American economist), but the information is solid.

    10 votes
    1. [4]
      spctrvl
      Link Parent
      Surprisingly, given how often right wingers like to name-drop Smith and Ricardo, I'd say the path from classical economics to Marxian is a lot more direct than the path from classical to...

      Surprisingly, given how often right wingers like to name-drop Smith and Ricardo, I'd say the path from classical economics to Marxian is a lot more direct than the path from classical to neoclassical. Smith is a lot less rosy about many aspects of capitalism (particularly landlords, rent seeking, and overspecialization) than a lot of people seem to realize, and it was Ricardo that developed the labor theory of value, Marx just picked it up and extrapolated it to its logical conclusions.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        The major issue I have with a lot of the discussion about economics is that you can not separate economics from philosophy and politics. As you mentioned, people make pithy quotes out of...

        The major issue I have with a lot of the discussion about economics is that you can not separate economics from philosophy and politics. As you mentioned, people make pithy quotes out of decontextualized phrases written by people like Smith or Ricardo, which eliminate the entire system in which they operate. OTOH, it's fun to sit back and laugh about people complaining about an economic slump caused by well-informed people refusing to work under-paying jobs under capitalism. I think that aligns with both Smith's "perfect information" requirement and Ricardo's labor value, while the crowd that is generally pandered to with these quotes foams at the mouth.

        7 votes
        1. spctrvl
          Link Parent
          I think that's precisely why classical economics remains intriguing, and worth reading. I'm not as familiar with Ricardo, but I know Smith very much viewed his work in terms of political economy...

          The major issue I have with a lot of the discussion about economics is that you can not separate economics from philosophy and politics. As you mentioned, people make pithy quotes out of decontextualized phrases written by people like Smith or Ricardo, which eliminate the entire system in which they operate.

          I think that's precisely why classical economics remains intriguing, and worth reading. I'm not as familiar with Ricardo, but I know Smith very much viewed his work in terms of political economy and what we would today call sociology, taking a much more holistic approach than is now common, and that's where much of the best work in economics is done in my opinion. The hyper-abstract cargo cult mathematicism and model building that's common in mainstream economics today is approaching things from the wrong direction I think, and holds the discipline back from insights better gleaned by approaching the field as a branch of sociology.

          4 votes
      2. mjb
        Link Parent
        Indeed, I suspect Smith would be appalled by what capitalism has become. The Wealth of Nations was a socioeconomic critique of mercantilism as it was evolving towards free-market caplitalism....

        Indeed, I suspect Smith would be appalled by what capitalism has become. The Wealth of Nations was a socioeconomic critique of mercantilism as it was evolving towards free-market caplitalism. Smith's own views (esp. on rent seeking, etc.) are perhaps best understood within the context of his Theory of Moral Sentiments, which I recommend reading beforehand.

        2 votes
  6. [2]
    Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    I know you specifically asked for books but I'm going to take a slightly different route: libcom.org is a really good site for reading about leftist thoughts. It can be pretty difficult to...

    I know you specifically asked for books but I'm going to take a slightly different route:

    libcom.org is a really good site for reading about leftist thoughts. It can be pretty difficult to navigate the site which is unfortunate, but if you find what you're looking for its an invaluable resource. Their Anarchism reading guide was my starting point with "real" leftist reading (that is to say reading theory and/or reading something further left than Bernie Sander's platform). One thing I really appreciate about the site is that they do suggest readings from thinkers/activists around the world, not just Western writers like some other sites I visit.

    The Radical Reviewer is a youtuber who makes 20-60 minute long videos breaking down different leftist texts (and often suggests further readings within his videos to help you learn more). Good for if you're trying to get a mid-to-high level idea of the text, but you'll still need to read the book on your own if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty details.

    8 votes
  7. RNG
    (edited )
    Link
    Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism by V.I. Lenin This piece takes the unique approach of viewing imperialism through a sociological, scientific lens. This lens provides incredibly...

    Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism by V.I. Lenin

    This piece takes the unique approach of viewing imperialism through a sociological, scientific lens. This lens provides incredibly compelling predictive power, especially in hindsight.

    The 20th Century is remarkable as one in which capitalist societies like the US invaded dozens of socialist countries in Latin America, installing fascist dictatorships that were favorable to neoliberal economic policy. Natural resources in these countries were universally turned over to US businesses, which own them to this day. Let's not forget Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and countless others in the following years.

    This book demystifies the market mechanisms that lead to these unfolding events. What makes this piece so remarkable isn't its ideological commitments or its polemics, but rather its focus on analysis and political/social science. Of course, the piece also includes hypotheses on changing global capitalism that needed to be tested in the laboratory of revolution in order to further the science.

    Prior to reading, I recommend familiarity with the basic critiques of capitalism. I also recommend reading The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Friedrich Engles as primers if this area of discourse is new to you. Both books are phenomenal explorations of the mechanics of capitalist societies, and both written as capitalism was developing across the globe.

    5 votes
  8. DanBC
    Link
    The Adventures of Tintin: Breaking Free is a fun read about anarchism. Obviously it's not hugely detailed or in-depth.

    The Adventures of Tintin: Breaking Free is a fun read about anarchism. Obviously it's not hugely detailed or in-depth.

    4 votes
  9. Arshan
    Link
    As the book I would normally recommend 'The Conquest of Bread' has already been suggested, I would offer a broader suggestion. Learn about some society you know nothing about; learn how they...

    As the book I would normally recommend 'The Conquest of Bread' has already been suggested, I would offer a broader suggestion. Learn about some society you know nothing about; learn how they organized their political and economic system. I recently did this with the Inca, and it found it helped me remember that our current system is not special or sacred in anyway. Other systems have come and gone, and in all likelihood, so will capitalism. It moves the question from 'pro capitalism vs anti-capitalism' to 'what type of economic system are were transitioning to?'

    4 votes
  10. cmccabe
    Link
    Tools for Conviviality is pretty good.

    Tools for Conviviality is pretty good.

    2 votes
  11. mieum
    Link
    I think Grapes of Wrath is worth mentioning. Has probably my all-time favorite ending to a novel. Plus, there’s the bonus songs Woody Guthrie wrote about it, The Ballad of Tom Joad, parts 1 and 2

    I think Grapes of Wrath is worth mentioning. Has probably my all-time favorite ending to a novel. Plus, there’s the bonus songs Woody Guthrie wrote about it, The Ballad of Tom Joad, parts 1 and 2

    1 vote