How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century
What is wrong with capitalism, and how can we change it?Capitalism has transformed the world and increased our productivity, but at the cost of enormous human suffering. Our shared values - equality and fairness, democracy and freedom, community and solidarity - can both provide the basis for a critique of capitalism, and help to guide us towards a socialist and democratic society.In this elegant book, Erik Olin Wright has distilled decades of work into a concise and tightly argued manifesto - analyzing the varieties of anti-capitalism, assessing different strategic approaches, and laying the foundations for a society dedicated to human flourishing. How to Be an Anticapitalist in the 21st Century is an urgent and powerful argument for socialism, and a unparalleled guide to help us get there. Another world is possible.

How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century Details

TitleHow to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 3rd, 2019
PublisherVerso
ISBN-139781788736053
Rating
GenrePolitics, Nonfiction, Economics

How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century Review

  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    I'm pleased that this was the last book I finished in 2019. It was another Christmas present and I found it an excellent train read. There is a definite sadness to 'How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century', though, as Olin Wright died of leukaemia very shortly after finishing it. He'd intended to support this short, accessible primer with a longer, more academic work exploring the issues in much more detail, with references. Sadly, he never had the chance to write this latter I'm pleased that this was the last book I finished in 2019. It was another Christmas present and I found it an excellent train read. There is a definite sadness to 'How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century', though, as Olin Wright died of leukaemia very shortly after finishing it. He'd intended to support this short, accessible primer with a longer, more academic work exploring the issues in much more detail, with references. Sadly, he never had the chance to write this latter work, which I would very much have liked to read. The book he did write provides a very clear and well-structured summary of what's wrong with capitalism, forms of anticapitalism, forms postcapitalism could take, and how change might come about. The calm and reasonable tone belies the wonderfully radical content. I found Olin Wright's concepts of a mixed economy in which capitalist elements might eventually form the minority uplifting and encouraging. His arguments that capitalism could be eroded into something else are thought-provoking, although his mentions of technology underplay the effects of surveillance capitalism in my opinion. That is perhaps more detail than is appropriate for such a book, though. Olin Wright talks about the importance of deeper democratic involvement to the erosion of capitalism, while acknowledging that the opposite is taking place. Nonetheless, I found his calm, hopeful, and convincing writing made me feel a little happier about the prospects of something beyond capitalism. Most importantly, he rejects unhelpful dichotomies, such as absolutely capitalist vs absolutely socialist, instead embracing complexity and nuance. An impressive feat in such a short book.My favourite paragraph concerned libraries. I'd never quite realised what anticapitalist institutions they are before! No wonder I love them so.Some things, of course, could be effectively provided by both state and markets, and so the issue becomes the mix between the two. Consider access to books. Bookstores and libraries readily provide both. Commercial bookstores distribute books to people on the basis of their ability to pay; libraries distribute books to people on the principle 'to each according to need'. In a library, if a book is already checked out, the person wanting the book is placed on a waiting list. Books are rationed on deeply egalitarian principle that a day in every person's life is of equal value. A well-resourced library will then use the length of waiting list as an indicator of the need to order more copies of a book. Libraries often also distribute other important resources: music, videos, access to computers, tools, toys, meetings rooms, and, in some libraries, performance spaces. Libraries thus constitute a mechanism of distribution that embodies the egalitarian ideal of giving everyone equal access to the resources needed for a flourishing life. In a democratic socialist economy, there would be an expansion of nonmarket, library-like ways of giving people access to many resources.'How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century' whetted my appetite the book Olin Wright did not get the chance to write. I found the structure enlightening, although the content was not new to me. It seems like an excellent thing to lend to friends who listen to me complain about capitalism and dare to appear interested. Such quick and accessible introductions that avoid reductive oversimplification are unusual and valuable, given the academic jargon that can dominate this topic.
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  • Andrew Clarke
    January 1, 1970
    I gave it five stars because of the sheer number of new ideas introduced to me in this book. For people with strong backgrounds in socialism, socialist theory, or whatever, they may not be as excited by the eye opening ideas and find it to be less than five stars.For example, the book really clarified to me the many plausible forms of non-capitalist systems. Solutions like the USSR - where the state owns everything, bureaucrats make business decisions, and there are not markets - these are I gave it five stars because of the sheer number of new ideas introduced to me in this book. For people with strong backgrounds in socialism, socialist theory, or whatever, they may not be as excited by the eye opening ideas and find it to be less than five stars.For example, the book really clarified to me the many plausible forms of non-capitalist systems. Solutions like the USSR - where the state owns everything, bureaucrats make business decisions, and there are not markets - these are clearly bad ideas and undemocratic. But mixed economies, where the state owns some companies, raw capitalism constrained by regulation runs other companies, and socialist mechanisms govern yet more companies - this is a pragmatic mixed economy we can look forward to. In fact, it is our current system. We call it capitalist because private ownership dominates the economic system, but as a democratic society we get to pick and choose which parts of the economy will be run most effectively by the state, by private ownership, or by socialist mechanisms.I also really enjoyed the value based argument for a more socialist system. The value most emphasized was an appeal to democracy. Privately held companies are not run democratically, nor do I think workers should vote on all decisions. But, in countries like Germany, workers have representatives on the board of directors. It’s a clever mechanism to insure employees have representation and don’t rely solely on the good will of their management.Overall very interesting. Some dense writing. Some arguments were weak.
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  • Guts
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing book. The arguments against capitalism are laid out in a way that is very easy to follow and understand. It gives me many new ideas and a new set of tools to help analyze a system such as capitalism. It's sad that this is the author's last book. I wish I had known him and his work earlier.
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  • Eric Bottorff
    January 1, 1970
    Sad that this is Wright's final book. But it's a fitting end to an amazing career.
  • Kudakwashe Manjonjo
    January 1, 1970
    Reading Wright's book had this erry feeling about it. One of those moments when you think you might like but you don't realise how much you will like it. I'd like to think that is how a man feels when they find their wife.Ad Wright's book provided two distinct but related things, hope and plausible solutions.1. Hope- it is no secret that left wing politics hasn't provided solutions to current world problems, a part of that probably has to do with fixation over Marx and embarrassment from the Reading Wright's book had this erry feeling about it. One of those moments when you think you might like but you don't realise how much you will like it. I'd like to think that is how a man feels when they find their wife.Ad Wright's book provided two distinct but related things, hope and plausible solutions.1. Hope- it is no secret that left wing politics hasn't provided solutions to current world problems, a part of that probably has to do with fixation over Marx and embarrassment from the fall of USSR and China. This book highlights that not all hope is lost, there are ideas that can be implemented to genuinely challenge neo liberal politics.2. Solutions- and the main solutions revolve around the Universal basic income, localizing banks and the economy and decentralization. All these old but new simultaneously. Moreover, Wright details how to and who might need to be involved in this movement creating an broad array of constituencies that have similar goals but different ways to get there.This book has intellectually revived and sparked action in my mind and body which I do feel is apt in it being the last writing we will ever get from Wright who passed away in January.
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  • Vassiki Chauhan
    January 1, 1970
    Lucid, crystal clear, informative and inspiring.
  • Emannuel K.
    January 1, 1970
    Não lia nada de política há um bom tempo. E esse é um livro bom para dar uma desenferrujada. Na verdade, ele é apenas a metade mais acessível de uma obra que deveria incluir também um lado mais acadêmico, mas que não pode ser concluído pela morte do autor. De forma geral, o livro traz um léxico interessante para se tratar da luta por um sistema socio-político melhor, com algumas ideias que já são bem familiares a quem tem certa proximidade com o tema, mas apresentado de forma simples e que busca Não lia nada de política há um bom tempo. E esse é um livro bom para dar uma desenferrujada. Na verdade, ele é apenas a metade mais acessível de uma obra que deveria incluir também um lado mais acadêmico, mas que não pode ser concluído pela morte do autor. De forma geral, o livro traz um léxico interessante para se tratar da luta por um sistema socio-político melhor, com algumas ideias que já são bem familiares a quem tem certa proximidade com o tema, mas apresentado de forma simples e que busca abranger a complexidade sistemática do mundo contemporâneo. É difícil não achar Wright ao menos um tanto otimista, e sua visão não se esquiva de ser considerada utópica ou de deixar pontas soltas, mas pode dar ideias de como agir politicamente ou ao menos como adaptar certos aspectos de militância.
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  • Ciaran Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    One of the most cogently argued books I’ve read. Despite being written in a short and accessible manor, the book covered a breadth of topics and ideas.
  • Ietrio
    January 1, 1970
    Another entitled white man talking about the happy days of centuries ago, before industrialization, when women were getting pregnant every time they were having sex and getting food meant having the luck to know where to dig for roots. Now the people are so miserable with cheap food and without the pleasures of betting who is going to die of cold this Winter.
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  • Emma Foster
    January 1, 1970
    Wright writes in a way that is powerful, persuasive, and convincing. His arguments are accessible and he offers a vision for a future while being clear that the imagining is still not done. A must read for those wanting to take steps towards anticapitalist work
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  • Brian Paul
    January 1, 1970
    The book should really be titled: the argument for democratic socialism in the 21st century. The most coherent and cogent critique I have seen of the way modern American society is organized, while providing a hopeful glimpse of a better path forward.
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  • Sonali
    January 1, 1970
    A compendium of ideas on spurring collective action for democratic socialism.
  • William Araujo
    January 1, 1970
    Uma obra extremamente atual e relevante. Todos deveriam ler.
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