Politics & Government

Political Philosophy & Science

    Etienne Balibar
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    As one of Louis Althusser's most brilliant students in the 1960s, Etienne Balibar contributed to the theoretical collective masterpiece of Reading Capital. Since then he has established himself among the most subtle philosophical and political thinkers in France. In Politics and the Other Scene Balibar deepens and extends the work he first developed with Immanuel Wallerstein in Race, Nation, Class. Exploring the theme of universalism and difference, he addresses such topical questions as European racism, the notion of the border, whether a European citizenship is possible or desirable, violence and politics, and identity and emancipation.
    Andrew Gibson
    • £65.00
    This book is the first major study of the theme of misanthropy, its history, arguments both for and against it, and its significance for us today. Misanthropy is not strictly a philosophy. It is an inconsistent thought, and so has often been mocked. But from Timon of Athens to Motorhead it has had a very long life, vast historical purchase and is seemingly indomitable and unignorable. Human beings have always nursed a profound distrust of who and what they are. This book does not seek to rationalize that distrust, but asks how far misanthropy might have a reason on its side, if a confused reason. There are obvious arguments against misanthropy. It is often born of a hatred of physical being. It can be historically explained. It particularly appears in undemocratic cultures. But what of the misanthropy of terminally defeated and disempowered peoples? Or born of progressivisms? Or the misanthropy that quarrels with specious or easy positivities (from Pelagius to Leibniz to the corporate cheer of contemporary 'total capital')? From the Greek Cynics to Roman satire, St Augustine to Jacobean drama, the misanthropy of the French Ancien Regime to Swift, Smollett and Johnson, Hobbes, Schopenhauer and Rousseau, from the Irish and American misanthropic traditions to modern women's misanthropy, the book explores such questions. It ends with a debate about contemporary culture that ranges from the 'dark radicalisms', queer misanthropy, posthumanism and eco-misanthropy to Houellebecq, punk rock and gangsta rap.
    Andrew Gibson
    • £19.99
    This book is the first major study of the theme of misanthropy, its history, arguments both for and against it, and its significance for us today. Misanthropy is not strictly a philosophy. It is an inconsistent thought, and so has often been mocked. But from Timon of Athens to Motorhead it has had a very long life, vast historical purchase and is seemingly indomitable and unignorable. Human beings have always nursed a profound distrust of who and what they are. This book does not seek to rationalize that distrust, but asks how far misanthropy might have a reason on its side, if a confused reason. There are obvious arguments against misanthropy. It is often born of a hatred of physical being. It can be historically explained. It particularly appears in undemocratic cultures. But what of the misanthropy of terminally defeated and disempowered peoples? Or born of progressivisms? Or the misanthropy that quarrels with specious or easy positivities (from Pelagius to Leibniz to the corporate cheer of contemporary 'total capital')? From the Greek Cynics to Roman satire, St Augustine to Jacobean drama, the misanthropy of the French Ancien Regime to Swift, Smollett and Johnson, Hobbes, Schopenhauer and Rousseau, from the Irish and American misanthropic traditions to modern women's misanthropy, the book explores such questions. It ends with a debate about contemporary culture that ranges from the 'dark radicalisms', queer misanthropy, posthumanism and eco-misanthropy to Houellebecq, punk rock and gangsta rap.
    John Tomasi
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    Can libertarians care about social justice? In Free Market Fairness, John Tomasi argues that they can and should. Drawing simultaneously on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F. A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls, Tomasi presents a new theory of liberal justice. This theory, free market fairness, is committed to both limited government and the material betterment of the poor. Unlike traditional libertarians, Tomasi argues that property rights are best defended not in terms of self-ownership or economic efficiency but as requirements of democratic legitimacy. At the same time, he encourages egalitarians concerned about social justice to listen more sympathetically to the claims ordinary citizens make about the importance of private economic liberty in their daily lives. In place of the familiar social democratic interpretations of social justice, Tomasi offers a "market democratic" conception of social justice: free market fairness. Tomasi argues that free market fairness, with its twin commitment to economic liberty and a fair distribution of goods and opportunities, is a morally superior account of liberal justice. Free market fairness is also a distinctively American ideal. It extends the notion, prominent in America's founding period, that protection of property and promotion of real opportunity are indivisible goals. Indeed, according to Tomasi, free market fairness is social justice, American style. Provocative and vigorously argued, Free Market Fairness offers a bold new way of thinking about politics, economics, and justice--one that will challenge readers on both the left and right.
    Pascal Bruckner
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    Fascism, communism, genocide, slavery, racism, imperialism--the West has no shortage of reasons for guilt. And, indeed, since the Holocaust and the end of World War II, Europeans in particular have been consumed by remorse. But Pascal Bruckner argues that guilt has now gone too far. It has become a pathology, and even an obstacle to fighting today's atrocities. Bruckner, one of France's leading writers and public intellectuals, argues that obsessive guilt has obscured important realities. The West has no monopoly on evil, and has destroyed monsters as well as created them--leading in the abolition of slavery, renouncing colonialism, building peaceful and prosperous communities, and establishing rules and institutions that are models for the world. The West should be proud--and ready to defend itself and its values. In this, Europeans should learn from Americans, who still have sufficient self-esteem to act decisively in a world of chaos and violence. Lamenting the vice of anti-Americanism that grips so many European intellectuals, Bruckner urges a renewed transatlantic alliance, and advises Americans not to let recent foreign-policy misadventures sap their own confidence. This is a searing, provocative, and psychologically penetrating account of the crude thought and bad politics that arise from excessive bad conscience.
    Jan Philipp Reemtsma
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    The limiting of violence through state powers is one of the central projects of the modern age. Why then have recent centuries been so bloody? In Trust and Violence, acclaimed German intellectual and public figure Jan Philipp Reemtsma demonstrates that the aim of decreasing and deterring violence has gone hand in hand with the misleading idea that violence is abnormal and beyond comprehension. We would be far better off, Reemtsma argues, if we acknowledged the disturbing fact that violence is normal. At the same time, Reemtsma contends that violence cannot be fully understood without delving into the concept of trust. Not in violence, but in trust, rests the foundation of true power. Reemtsma makes his case with a wide-ranging history of ideas about violence, from ancient philosophy through Shakespeare and Schiller to Michel Foucault, and by considering specific cases of extreme violence from medieval torture to the Holocaust and beyond. In the midst of this gloomy account of human tendencies, Reemtsma shrewdly observes that even dictators have to sleep at night and cannot rely on violence alone to ensure their safety. These authoritarian leaders must trust others while, by means other than violence, they must convince others to trust them. The history of violence is therefore a history of the peculiar relationship between violence and trust, and a recognition of trust's crucial place in humanity. A broad and insightful book that touches on philosophy, sociology, and political theory, Trust and Violence sheds new, and at times disquieting, light on two integral aspects of our society.
    Jason Brennan
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    Nothing is more integral to democracy than voting. Most people believe that every citizen has the civic duty or moral obligation to vote, that any sincere vote is morally acceptable, and that buying, selling, or trading votes is inherently wrong. In this provocative book, Jason Brennan challenges our fundamental assumptions about voting, revealing why it is not a duty for most citizens--in fact, he argues, many people owe it to the rest of us not to vote. Bad choices at the polls can result in unjust laws, needless wars, and calamitous economic policies. Brennan shows why voters have duties to make informed decisions in the voting booth, to base their decisions on sound evidence for what will create the best possible policies, and to promote the common good rather than their own self-interest. They must vote well--or not vote at all. Brennan explains why voting is not necessarily the best way for citizens to exercise their civic duty, and why some citizens need to stay away from the polls to protect the democratic process from their uninformed, irrational, or immoral votes. In a democracy, every citizen has the right to vote. This book reveals why sometimes it's best if they don't. In a new afterword, "How to Vote Well," Brennan provides a practical guidebook for making well-informed, well-reasoned choices at the polls.
    Nathan Widder
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    This is a clear and concise overview of and introduction to Deleuze in the field of politics. "Political Theory After Deleuze" provides an accessible introduction to Deleuze in the field of politics by putting his thought directly into dialogue with contemporary debates in political theory. The book focuses particularly on Deleuze's contribution to emerging debates in political theory. As these developments are a response to the inadequacies many theorists find with traditional dominant approaches, the book speaks to those traditional approaches as well. The book is not an exegesis of Deleuze's ideas on politics or political theory, but rather a re-reading of the field from a Deleuzian perspective. Nathan Widder shows how Deleuze offers a distinctive contribution to debates in political theory that are trying to rethink the nature of pluralism, individual and collective subjectivity, power relations and the state, the emergence of political events, and the role of desire in politics. Deleuze already figures in many of these debates and this book makes his contribution more accessible to a student audience and facilitates communication between the emerging field of Deleuze Studies and political theory as it is currently taught. "The Deleuze Encounters" series provides students in philosophy and related subjects with concise and accessible introductions to the application of Deleuze's work in key areas of study. Each book demonstrates how Deleuze's ideas and concepts can enhance present work in a particular field.
    Sam Harris
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    The physiologist Benjamin Libet famously demonstrated that activity in the brain's motor regions can be detected some 300 milliseconds before a person feels that he has decided to move. Another lab recently used fMRI data to show that some "conscious" decisions can be predicted up to 10 seconds before they enter awareness (long before the preparatory motor activity detected by Libet). Clearly, findings of this kind are difficult to reconcile with the sense that one is the conscious source of one's actions. The question of free will is no mere curio of philosophy seminars. A belief in free will underwrites both the religious notion of "sin" and our enduring commitment to retributive justice. The Supreme Court has called free will a "universal and persistent" foundation for our system of law. Any scientific developments that threatened our notion of free will would seem to put the ethics of punishing people for their bad behaviour in question.In Free Will Harris debates these ideas and asks whether or not, given what brain science is telling us, we actually have free will?
    Paul W. Kahn
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    In this strikingly original work, Paul W. Kahn rethinks the meaning of political theology. In a text innovative in both form and substance, he describes an American political theology as a secular inquiry into ultimate meanings sustaining our faith in the popular sovereign. Kahn works out his view through an engagement with Carl Schmitt's 1922 classic, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. He forces an engagement with Schmitt's four chapters, offering a new version of each that is responsive to the American political imaginary. The result is a contemporary political theology. As in Schmitt's work, sovereignty remains central, yet Kahn shows how popular sovereignty creates an ethos of sacrifice in the modern state. Turning to law, Kahn demonstrates how the line between exception and judicial decision is not as sharp as Schmitt led us to believe. He reminds readers that American political life begins with the revolutionary willingness to sacrifice and that both sacrifice and law continue to ground the American political imagination. Kahn offers a political theology that has at its center the practice of freedom realized in political decisions, legal judgments, and finally in philosophical inquiry itself.
    Giorgio Agamben
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    "Is it meaningful to call oneself a democrat? And if so, how do you interpret the word?" In responding to this question, eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities. Giorgio Agamben traces the tense history of constitutions and their coexistence with various governments. Alain Badiou contrasts current democratic practice with democratic communism. Daniel Bensaid ponders the institutionalization of democracy, while Wendy Brown discusses the democratization of society under neoliberalism. Jean-Luc Nancy measures the difference between democracy as a form of rule and as a human end, and Jacques Ranciere highlights its egalitarian nature. Kristin Ross identifies hierarchical relationships within democratic practice, and Slavoj Zizek complicates the distinction between those who desire to own the state and those who wish to do without it. Concentrating on the classical roots of democracy and its changing meaning over time and within different contexts, these essays uniquely defend what is left of the left-wing tradition after the fall of Soviet communism. They confront disincentives to active democratic participation that have caused voter turnout to decline in western countries, and they address electoral indifference by invoking and reviving the tradition of citizen involvement. Passionately written and theoretically rich, this collection speaks to all facets of modern political and democratic debate.
    Maurizio Lazzarato
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    "The debtor-creditor relation, which is at the heart of this book, sharpens mechanisms of exploitation and domination indiscriminately, since, in it, there is no distinction between workers and the unemployed, consumers and producers, working and non-working populations, between retirees and welfare recipients. They are all 'debtors,' guilty and responsible in the eyes of capital, which has become the Great, the Universal, Creditor." -- from The Making of the Indebted Man Debt -- both public debt and private debt -- has become a major concern of economic and political leaders. In The Making of the Indebted Man, Maurizio Lazzarato shows that, far from being a threat to the capitalist economy, debt lies at the very core of the neoliberal project. Through a reading of Karl Marx's lesser-known youthful writings on John Mill, and a rereading of writings by Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault, Lazzarato demonstrates that debt is above all a political construction, and that the creditor/debtor relation is the fundamental social relation of Western societies. Debt cannot be reduced to a simple economic mechanism, for it is also a technique of "public safety" through which individual and collective subjectivities are governed and controlled. Its aim is to minimize the uncertainty of the time and behavior of the governed. We are forever sinking further into debt to the State, to private insurance, and, on a more general level, to corporations. To insure that we honor our debts, we are at once encouraged and compelled to become the "entrepreneurs" of our lives, of our "human capital." In this way, our entire material, psychological, and affective horizon is upended and reconfigured. How do we extricate ourselves from this impossible situation? How do we escape the neoliberal condition of the indebted man? Lazzarato argues that we will have to recognize that there is no simple technical, economic, or financial solution. We must instead radically challenge the fundamental social relation structuring capitalism: the system of debt.
    Dr. Thom Brooks
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    A new edition of the first systematic reading of Hegel's political philosophy Elements of the Philosophy of Right is widely acknowledged to be one of the most important works in the history of political philosophy. This is the first book on the subject to take Hegel's system of speculative philosophy seriously as an important component of any robust understanding of this text. Key Features Sets out the difference between 'systematic' and 'non-systematic' readings of Philosophy of Right Outlines the unique structure of Hegel's philosophical arguments Explores key areas of Hegel's political philosophy: his theories of property, punishment, morality, law, monarchy, war, democracy and history This significantly expanded second edition includes: a more detailed explanation of Hegel's philosophical system; two new chapters on his theories of democracy and history; and an appendix detailing the implications this work has for future interpretations of Hegel's philosophy.
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    Gilbert Simondon (1924--1989), one of the most influential contemporary French philosophers, published only three works: L'individu et sa genese physico-biologique (The individual and its physico-biological genesis, 1964) and L'individuation psychique et collective (Psychic and collective individuation, 1989), both drawn from his doctoral thesis, and Du mode d'existence des objets techniques (On the mode of existence of technical objects, 1958). It is this last work that brought Simondon into the public eye; as a consequence, he has been considered a "thinker of technics" and cited often in pedagogical reports on teaching technology. Yet Simondon was a philosopher whose ambitions lay in an in-depth renewal of ontology as a process of individuation -- that is, how individuals come into being, persist, and transform. In this accessible yet rigorous introduction to Simondon's work, Muriel Combes helps to bridge the gap between Simondon's account of technics and his philosophy of individuation. Some thinkers have found inspiration in Simondon's philosophy of individuation, notably Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Combes's account, first published in French in 1999, is one of the only studies of Simondon to appear in English. Combes breaks new ground, exploring an ethics and politics adequate to Simondon's hypothesis of preindividual being, considering through the lens of transindividual philosophy what form a nonservile relation to technology might take today. Her book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Simondon's work.
    Slavoj Zizek
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    Call it the year of dreaming dangerously: in 2011 we all witnessed (and participated in) a series of shattering events. Emancipatory dreams mobilized protesters in New York, Tahrir Square, London and Athens - and there were the obscure destructive dreams propelling the mass murderer Breivik and racist populists all around the world, from the Netherlands and Hungary to Arizona. The subterranean work of dissatisfaction is continuing: rage is accumulating and a new wave of revolts will follow. Why? Because the events of 2011 were signs from the future: we should analyze them as limited, distorted (sometimes even perverted) fragments of a utopian future which lies dormant in the present as its hidden potential.
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    G. A. Cohen was one of the most gifted, influential, and progressive voices in contemporary political philosophy. At the time of his death in 2009, he had plans to bring together a number of his most significant papers. This is the first of three volumes to realize those plans. Drawing on three decades of work, it contains previously uncollected articles that have shaped many of the central debates in political philosophy, as well as papers published here for the first time. In these pieces, Cohen asks what egalitarians have most reason to equalize, he considers the relationship between freedom and property, and he reflects upon ideal theory and political practice. Included here are classic essays such as "Equality of What?" and "Capitalism, Freedom, and the Proletariat," along with more recent contributions such as "Fairness and Legitimacy in Justice," "Freedom and Money," and the previously unpublished "How to Do Political Philosophy." On ample display throughout are the clarity, rigor, conviction, and wit for which Cohen was renowned. Together, these essays demonstrate how his work provides a powerful account of liberty and equality to the left of Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, and Isaiah Berlin.
    Jean Baudrillard
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    History that repeats itself turns to farce. But a farce that repeats itself ends up making a history.--from The Agony of PowerIn these previously unpublished manuscripts written just before his death in 2007, Jean Baudrillard takes a last crack at the bewildering situation currently facing us as we exit the system of "domination" (based on alienation, revolt, revolution) and enter a world of generalized "hegemony" in which everyone becomes both hostage and accomplice of the global market. But in the free-form market of political and sexual liberation, as the possibility of revolution (and our understanding of it) dissipates, Baudrillard sees the hegemonic process as only beginning. Once expelled, negativity returns from within ourselves as an antagonistic force--most vividly in the phenomenon of terrorism, but also as irony, mockery, and the symbolic liquidation of all human values. This is the dimension of hegemony marked by an unbridled circulation--of capital, goods, information, or manufactured history--that is bringing the very concept of exchange to an end and pushing capital beyond its limits: to the point at which it destroys the conditions of its own existence. In the system of hegemony, the alienated, the oppressed, and the colonized find themselves on the side of the system that holds them hostage. In this paradoxical moment in which history has turned to farce, domination itself may appear to have been a lesser evil.This book gathers together two essays--"The Agony of Power" and "From Domination to Hegemony"--and a related interview with Baudrillard from 2005, "The Roots of Evil." Semiotext(e) launched Baudrillard into English back in the early 1980s; now, as our media and information infested "ultra-reality" finally catches up with his theory, Semiotext(e) offers The Agony of Power, Baudrillard's unsettling coda.
    Slavoj Zizek
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    The underlying premise of the book is a simple one: the global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero-point. Its four riders of the apocalypse are the ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, the imbalances within the system itself (problems with intellectual property, the forthcoming struggle for raw materials, food and water), and the explosions of social divisions and exclusions. Society's first reaction is ideological denial, then explosions of anger at the injustices of the new world order, attempts at bargaining, and when this fails, depression and withdrawal set in. Finally, after passing through this zero-point we no longer perceive it as a threat, but as the chance for a new beginning. Or, as Mao Zedong might have put it, There is great disorder under heaven, the situation is excellent.A" A iA ek traces out in detail these five stances, makes a plea for a return to the Marxian critique of political economy, and sniffs out the first signs of a budding communist culture in all its diverse forms-in utopias that range from Kafka's community of mice to the collective of freak outcasts in the TV series Heroes.
    Dieter Grimm
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    Dieter Grimm's accessible introduction to the concept of sovereignty ties the evolution of the idea to historical events, from the religious conflicts of sixteenth-century Europe to today's trends in globalization and transnational institutions. Grimm wonders whether recent political changes have undermined notions of national sovereignty, comparing manifestations of the concept in different parts of the world. Geared for classroom use, the study maps various notions of sovereignty in relation to the people, the nation, the state, and the federation, distinguishing between internal and external types of sovereignty. Grimm's book will appeal to political theorists and cultural-studies scholars and to readers interested in the role of charisma, power, originality, and individuality in political rule.
    Felix Guattari
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    Originally published in French in 1972, Psychoanalysis and Transversality gathers all the articles that Felix Guattari wrote between 1955 and 1971. It provides a fascinating account of his intellectual and political itinerary before Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972), the ground-breaking book he wrote with Gilles Deleuze, propelled him to the forefront of contemporary French philosophy. Guattari's background was unlike that of any of his peers. In 1953, with psychoanalyst Jean Oury, he founded the La Borde psychiatric clinic, which was based on the principle that one cannot treat psychotics without modifying the entire institutional context. For Guattari, the purpose of "institutional psychotherapy" was not just to cure psychotic patients, but also to learn with them a different relation to the world. A dissident in the French Communist Party and active in far-left politics (he participated in the May 1968 student rebellion), Guattari realized early on that it was possible to introduce analysis into political groups. Considered as open machines (subject-groups) rather than self-contained structures (subjugated groups), these subject-groups shunned hierarchy and vertical structures, developing transversally, rhizomatizing through other groups. Psychoanalysis and Transversality collects twenty-four essays by Guattari, including his foundational 1964 article on transversality, and a superb introduction by Gilles Deleuze, "Three Group-Related Problems."
    Giorgio Agamben
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    Offers Agamben's genealogy of power in terms of political, philosophical and legal thought. This book investigates the genealogy of the strife between the Polis and its population with particular regard to the Greek concept of stasis and the strife with the commonwealth of Hobbes' Leviathan. It re opens the questioning of the answers offered from the pre history of the power of the State all the way to the time after the end of its power and towards the renewed questioning of the state of power today. This is an interdisciplinary exploration of the relations that form historically and theoretically between law and philosophy. It is a unique simultaneous investigation into the laws of philosophy and the philosophies of law. It focusses on the creativity of the legal and philosophical imagination in the face of the present social situation. It explores legal and philosophical concepts and modalities in relation to the formation and intersection of institutional traditions, histories and ideas.
    Andrew Sabl
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    Hume's Politics provides a comprehensive examination of David Hume's political theory, and is the first book to focus on Hume's monumental History of England as the key to his distinctly political ideas. Andrew Sabl argues that conventions of authority are the main building blocks of Humean politics, and explores how the History addresses political change and disequilibrium through a dynamic treatment of coordination problems. Dynamic coordination, as employed in Hume's work, explains how conventions of political authority arise, change, adapt to new social and economic conditions, improve or decay, and die. Sabl shows how Humean constitutional conservatism need not hinder--and may in fact facilitate--change and improvement in economic, social, and cultural life. He also identifies how Humean liberalism can offer a systematic alternative to neo-Kantian approaches to politics and liberal theory. At once scholarly and accessibly written, Hume's Politics builds bridges between political theory and political science. It treats issues of concern to both fields, including the prehistory of political coordination, the obstacles that must be overcome in order for citizens to see themselves as sharing common political interests, the close and counterintuitive relationship between governmental authority and civic allegiance, the strategic ethics of political crisis and constitutional change, and the ways in which the biases and injustices endemic to executive power can be corrected by legislative contestation and debate.
    Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen
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    Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen tackles all the major questions concerning luck egalitarianism, providing deep, penetrating and original discussion of recent academic discourses on distributive justice as well as responses to some of the main objections in the literature. It offers a new answer to the "Why equality?" and "Equality of what?" questions, and provides a robust luck egalitarian response to the recent criticisms of luck egalitarianism by social relations egalitarians. This systematic, theoretical introduction illustrates the broader picture of distributive justice and enables the reader to understand the core intuitions underlying, or conflicting with, luck egalitarianism.
    Cesar Rendueles
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    The great ideological cliche of our time, Cesar Rendueles argues in Sociophobia, is the idea that communication technologies can support positive social dynamics and improve economic and political conditions. We would like to believe that the Internet has given us the tools to overcome modernity's practical dilemmas and bring us into closer relation, but recent events show how technology has in fact driven us farther apart. Named one of the ten best books of the year by Babelia El Pais, Sociophobia looks at the root causes of neoliberal utopia's modern collapse. It begins by questioning the cyber-fetishist dogma that lulls us into thinking our passive relationship with technology plays a positive role in resolving longstanding differences. Rendueles claims that the World Wide Web has produced a diminished rather than augmented social reality. In other words, it has lowered our expectations with respect to political interventions and personal relations. In an effort to correct this trend, Rendueles embarks on an ambitious reassessment of our antagonistic political traditions to prove that post-capitalism is not only a feasible, intimate, and friendly system to strive for but also essential for moving past consumerism and political malaise.