The Anti-Capitalism Reader: Imagining a Geography of Opposition
Ed. by Joel Schalit
(Akashic Books) $16.95

Anti-Capitalism 101 it's not.
Not to say The Anti-Capitalist Reader, edited by Punk Planet associate editor Joel Schalit, is a particularly difficult read. It isn't. In fact, it's a fairly accessible smorgasbord of discussions and essays critical of market mechanisms. It's not even scary. Many thinkers involved aren't especially militant, and reformist solutions are repeatedly touted. With the neatly packaged essays and its appealingly hip design, this book is bound to find its way onto course lists worldwide. Sure. Great.

Too bad that (with the possible exception of the J. C. Meyers and Scott Shaffer articles) it largely lacks the rigor and nuts 'n' bolts deconstruction that would make it valuable as a basic reader--the way it seems to be marketed. Despite the trumpeting of the book's press release, free-market thinking is in no way less hegemonic since the collapse of Enron and WorldCom. The discourse is so total that systematic and rigorous breakdowns, major crash courses in economics and history, are what we need now and indeed have always needed. Like what? Oh, maybe economic histories that trace the rise of current global formations, texts that explain just where the initial "capital" in capitalism came from (colonialism, slavery), critiques of primitive accumulation and the commodification of labor, not to mention Critical Thinking Skills 101.

For these purposes, may I recommend The Case Against the Global Economy, edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, as well as Marxism: For and Against by Robert Heilbroner? The Anti-Capitalism Reader is useful as a conversation-starter, for those who've been under a rock, or for those without the time to actually read Empire and No Logo. But beginners--go elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Schalit is a great guy. He reads at Elliott Bay Book Company on Saturday Nov 23, 624-6600, 2 pm, free. Also, he is a member of the dub/punk band Elders of Zion, who will perform on Wednesday Nov 27 for Clear Cut Press' Research Tour.

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