Against Austerity

Against Austerity : How we Can Fix the Crisis they Made

4.13 (43 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Five years into capitalism's deepest crisis, which has led to cuts and economic pain across the world, Against Austerity addresses a puzzling aspect of the current conjuncture: why are the rich still getting away with it? Why is protest so ephemeral? Why does the left appear to be marginal to political life? In an analysis which challenges our understanding of capitalism, class and ideology, Richard Seymour shows how 'austerity' is just one part of a wider elite plan to radically re-engineer society and everyday life in the interests of profit, consumerism and speculative finance. But Against Austerity is not a gospel of despair. Seymour argues that once we turn to face the headwinds of this new reality, dispensing with reassuring dogmas, we can forge new collective resistance and alternatives to the current system. Following Brecht, Against Austerity argues that the good old things are over, it's time to confront the bad new ones.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 18mm | 200g
  • PLUTO PRESS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745333281
  • 9780745333281
  • 329,756

About Richard Seymour

Richard Seymour is the author of Unhitched: the Trial of Christopher Hitchens (2012), American Insurgents: A Brief History of American Anti-Imperialism (2012), The Meaning of David Cameron (2010) and The Liberal Defence of Murder (2008). His writes regularly for the Guardian and runs the popular blog Lenin's Tomb.show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Preface 1. Introduction: The Bad News Gospel 2. Class 3. State 4. Ideology 5. Socialist Strategy Notes Indexshow more

Review quote

'A timely book that will appeal to informed, intellectually-minded activists' -- Ian Sinclair, Peace News 'This book is a powerful beginning, a crucial reference point for any left analysis of the anti-austerity struggle' -- Alan Sears, New Socialist Webzine 'A must-read primer for old hands in the class struggle and newcomers alike' -- Louis Proyect, Counter Punch 'An excellent and accessible critique of austerity - how it relates to class, the state and ideology - and advocates new types of organisation and resistance to it' -- Dan Smith, Morning Star 'A readable and useful guide to the interrelationship between austerity, neoliberalism, and the state at the level of strategy and ideology... The book has much to offer in terms of a sober and nuanced analysis. This goes especially in the UK where the trend towards nostalgia, wishful thinking, and resisting empirical and strategic reconsideration is so strong' -- Matthijs Krul, The North Star 'As so-called 'austerity' continues its rampage, it's patently obvious that it can't fix the economy. So why have the ConDems stuck with it? Eschewing the comforting liberal critique that it's all a mistake, mere economic illiteracy, Seymour incisively uncovers just what kind of strategy austerity really is: its aims, its methods, its victims - and how to fight it' -- China Mieville 'Essential and powerful reading' -- Paul Mason, Culture and Digital Editor of Channel 4 News and author of 'Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere' (Verso, 2012)show more

Rating details

43 ratings
4.13 out of 5 stars
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Our customer reviews

When the Con-Dems ushered in the bright shiny new era of coalition politics with a tripling of student tuition fees the wave of anger this provoked seemed to suggest almost anything opposition-wise was possible. Prominent student leader Clare Solomon described the moment, with co-author Tania Palmieri, in her book Springtime as: �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??There is a new anger that melts the snow. All hail the new, young student Decembrists who challenged complacent government and simultaneously fired a few shots across the bows of an opposition and its toadies in the media, all still recovering from a paralytic hangover, a consequence of imbibing too much Nouveau Blair.�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? Students occupying the roof of the Tory Party�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s Millbank HQ was a glorious spectacle of revolt, occurring on the eve of the Arab Spring, militant resistance in Greece and Spain, the beginnings of Occupy in the USA. We really did seem to be on the edge of a movement for change. Just over three years later and the issue at the epicentre of Britain�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s embryonic and youthful protest movement would appear to be sleepwalking into a new common-sense. The eye-watering �???????�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�£9000 per year university fees are being paid, however grudgingly, universities are marketing themselves with little or no sense of the point of the courses or the recruitment targets just so long as income streams are fulfilled. The resentment �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? in most cases justified �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? at not getting �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??value for money�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? is all about service provision and the �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??student experience�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??, individualised, torn out of any context of the social or the collective. Soon-to-be-elected TUC General Secretary Frances O�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??Grady in the days building up to the 750,000 strong demonstration the TUC organised in March 2011 against the cuts described the mood as �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??Trade Unionism�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s moment�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??. She detailed the potential as: �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??To develop a great campaign, uniting a coalition of communities, service users, political and protest groups. Unions will have to reach well beyond our membership.�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? Perhaps the most visible link between both responses to the Con-Dems was UK Uncut. Imaginative and creative use of peaceful direct action, targeted at the worst of the High Street tax avoiders, Philip Green�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s Top Shop, Vodaphone and Boots. Precious few like a tax dodger. for a period UK Uncut was able to play a key role in framing public debate but UK Uncut�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s activism was sapped by an ever- increasing criminalisation of their non-violent protest . And not much in the more traditional way of marches and rallies has come in their place. The exhaustion of popular dissent is obvious. The exception being localised actions, mainly in defence of much loved hospitals, able to mobilise huge numbers and very effective campaigns but largely disconnected from any grander narrative of opposition. The People�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s Assembly was launched in 2013. It is the most ambitious attempt yet to seek to turn public discontent into a popular movement on the scale of the anti-war movement of the 2000�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s. Every effort of this sort has to be welcomed by anyone wanting to reverse the tidal wave of misery this Coalition has inflicted upon us. But even the most enthusiastic activist would have to admit that while resistance is never futile; right now it isn�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??t exactly fertile, over-flowing with energy, support and action. One attempt to explain this has been provided by the late Stuart Hall in a superb paper he wrote shortly before his death with Alan O�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??Shea, Common-Sense Neoliberalism. . The authors cite the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s concept of �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??good sense�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? which co-exists with a broader, often reactionary �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??common-sense�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? view of the world. For Gramsci this was �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??the healthy nucleus �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¦ which deserves to be made more unitary and coherent�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??. In an era of austerity Hall and O�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??Shea summarise this as: �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??Apparently obvious taken-for granted understandings that express a sense of unfairness and injustice about �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??how the world works�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??: landlords tend to exploit tenants, banks responsible for the �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??credit crunch�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? expect to be bailed out by taxpayers rather than take the crunch themselves. CEOs receive immense bonuses even when their companies perform badly; profitable businesses will avoid paying tax if they can; and companies profiting from a fall in commodity prices will not pass the gains on to consumers.�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? In his new book Against Austerity the critic and writer Richard Seymour further develops this important line of thinking. Purposefully situating the imperatives of austerity in a political context framed by class, state and ideology. Richard Seymour dissects what he calls the �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??bad news gospel�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? not only to reveal the wholesale transformation of the welfare state being ushered in under the rubric of austerity but also the inadequacies of much of the Left�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??s response. Drawing on the work of Ernesto Laclau as well as Gramsci, ranging over Occupy and the student protests against tuition fees, international examples of resistance from Greece to Quebec this most impressive of polemical books rages against a Left that has so disappointed the author, and plenty more besides him too. Both in its social-democratic and r-r-r revolutionary variants. But this is no counsel for the terminally cynical; rather it is a demand to be scrupulously rigorous in our analysis of the predicament a largely marginalised left finds itself in at the very moment, of economic crisis, that it likes to think when it is best-placed to flourish. The alternative offered is practical in its critique. One line in particular will be all-too-familiar to many readers. �??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢??The constant over-optimism about the latest flash-point of struggle, followed by demoralisation in which only the most hardened of activists remain.�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? And this is coupled with the necessity to be both tactical and strategic in the political response we offer as a Left.�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? We can win victories now, but we have a generation of slow, patient work in front of us if we are to fundamentally turn things round.�??????�?????�????�???�??�?�¢?? Without this kind of twin-track Richard Seymour so carefully describes the Left is tempted to retreat into the warm embrace of the comfort blanket of dull certainty. Secure in the knowledge that it never had much faith in capitalism in the first place but incapable of contributing very much to popularise any kind of alternative.show more
by John Smithee
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