Guerrillas of Desire: Excerpt

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excerpt: summary of the book

The following excerpt provides a summary of Guerrillas of Desire and the “Table of Contents” an overview. 


The agents and acts I document, often by presenting existing scholarship, are remotely but substantively and genealogically connected to my own agency. As author, researcher, ethnographer, and organizer adopting a revolutionary position I am required to attempt three things: first, to write about encounters between ideas, texts, and practices; second, to discard assumptions of objectivity and ensure that theoretical abstractions describe concreteness; and third, to record the human qualities that acts of mutual aid and refusal express.  A book such as this one should reflect the complexities of human behaviors, identities, and diversity of the stories it retells.


Chapters 2 and 3, “Recognizing the New Society” and “From Concept to Metaphor,” map the ideas offered by anarchism and Autonomist Marxism—with particular attention to mutual aid, working-class self-activity, and the refusal of work. The chapters 4, 5, and 6, “Under Slavery,” “In Peasant Politics,” and “Throughout the Industrial and Social Factory,” apply the organizational and theoretical considerations of the prior chapters to complex phenomena taking place across vastly different spaces and times. In chapter 7, “On Organizing,” I examine historical and current trends in Left and radical organizing in the US beginning with the ascent of neoliberal capitalism in the mid-1970s. Chapter 8, “To Make a Revolution Possible,” summarizes the main points and indicates possibilities for future research.


There are two ways of reading this book. Understanding its structure will assist the reader in choosing a path. The first part (comprising the first three chapters) and the third part (chapters 7 and 8) form an arc that begins with theory and concludes by detailing historical and contemporary approaches to organizing. The arc moves through theoretical interrogations addressing the genealogies of anarchism and Autonomist Marxism, which influence the ideas throughout the book. Before concluding, our understanding of radical organizing is revisited, with any luck at a higher level of complexity and accuracy than at the outset. The central section of the book, part 2 (chapters 4–6) details everyday resistance under slavery, in peasant politics, and in the industrial and social factory. This section provides the historical evidence of everyday resistance under different regimes of capitalism with corresponding state forms.


Having read the introduction, one may choose to continue to chapters 2 and 3 to investigate the interpretation of everyday resistance, theory, and organizing that I provide. Another option is to jump from here to part 2 before returning to the earlier and concluding material. This second approach will allow the reader to view the evidence before considering my assessment of everyday resistance. Each approach addresses one of the aims of the book. The first approach seeks a productive encounter between anarchism and Autonomist Marxism; the second approach pursues an understanding of how everyday resistance is a factor in revolutionary struggle.


Politics is about organization; it is also about choices. So too is reading.


excerpt: What is the Working Class


“What is in Working Class?” in an excerpt from chapter two of the book has been published by the Hampton Institute: A Working-Class Think Tank.  Take a read.