Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible

$18.95

by Kevin Van Meter

Behind the smiling faces of cashiers, wait staff, and workers of all sorts, a war is going on, usually without the knowledge of official political and labor organizations. Guerrillas of Desire begins with a provocation: The Left is wrong. It’s historical and current strategies are too-often based on the assumption that working and poor people are unorganized, acquiescent to systems of domination, or simply uninterested in building a new world. The fact is, as C.L.R. James has noted, they “are rebelling every day in ways of their own invention”: pilfering, sabotaging, faking illnesses, squatting, fleeing, and counter-strategizing. Kevin Van Meter maps these undercurrents, documenting the history of everyday resistance under slavery, in peasant life, and throughout modern capitalism, while showing that it remains an important factor in revolution and something radicals of all stripes must understand.

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Description

by Kevin Van Meter

Behind the smiling faces of cashiers, wait staff, and workers of all sorts, a war is going on, usually without the knowledge of official political and labor organizations. Guerrillas of Desire begins with a provocation: The Left is wrong. It’s historical and current strategies are too-often based on the assumption that working and poor people are unorganized, acquiescent to systems of domination, or simply uninterested in building a new world. The fact is, as C.L.R. James has noted, they “are rebelling every day in ways of their own invention”: pilfering, sabotaging, faking illnesses, squatting, fleeing, and counter-strategizing. Kevin Van Meter maps these undercurrents, documenting the history of everyday resistance under slavery, in peasant life, and throughout modern capitalism, while showing that it remains an important factor in revolution and something radicals of all stripes must understand.

About the Author

Kevin Van Meter is an activist-scholar based in the Pacific Northwest. He is coeditor of Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States and a contributor to Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency, We are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation, and Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations, Collective Theorization.

Praise for Guerrillas of Desire

Guerrillas of Desire is an important exploration of the revolutionary possibilities of our time.” — George Caffentzis, author of In Letters of Blood and Fire

“Beautifully written, Guerrillas of Desire shows the power of the refusal of work of those capitalism has subjugated.” — Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch

“This eye-opening book … makes us see the problem of ‘organizing’ in a new and much more useful way.… We are already organized, Van Meter argues, we are already in revolt, and we always have been. The job of the organizer is to ask questions, to listen, and to cross-pollinate the wisdom of both open revolt and everyday resistance in communities everywhere. That’s what makes revolutionary-becoming possible. Read this book, and put it into practice.” — Eric Laursen, author of The People’s Pension

Guerrillas of Desire offers a powerful and bold thesis regarding the continuous and enormously potent social force embodied in the everyday resistance of working people.… Kevin Van Meter has written a truly remarkable book that I urge you to study, to sit with, to argue with, and to struggle with in the days to come. I know I will.” — David Naguib Pellow, author of Total Liberation

“Anyone interested in mutual translation between progressive political theory and social activism today must read this book.” — Mark Blasius, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, The City University of New York Graduate Center and Center for LGBTQ Studies

“An ambitious work of theory and history that places autonomist Marxist ideas in direct conversation with contemporary anarchist practice, suggesting ways in which concepts such as class composition and everyday resistance, originally developed to analyze slave, peasant, and factory revolts, might aid modern day radicals operating within a bewildering political terrain marked by service work, toothless unions, insular affinity groups, and professional ‘change agents.’” — Andrew Cornell, author of Unruly Equality

“Few have approached radical theory with the rigor and skill of Kevin Van Meter. Empowering, lucid, and inspiring, Guerrillas of Desire provides an exhaustive (and much needed) retooling of anarchism that will align the dreams of ‘becoming revolutionaries’ with the reality of everyday resistance.” — Alexander Reid Ross, author of Against the Fascist Creep

“Looking for the political in the everyday and bringing anarchism into a productive dialogue with Autonomist Marxism, Kevin Van Meter challenges many of the left’s usual assumptions and forces a reconsideration of what we mean by ‘struggle.'” — Kristian Williams, author of Our Enemies in Blue

Guerrillas of Desire begins with a self-confessed provocation: the left misunderstands resistance. The implications of this claim, which forms the central thesis of the work, have huge significance for those with an interest in both Marxist or anarchist approaches to resistance, and the book goes a long way towards building bridges between these two approaches, highlighting the contribution made to the understanding of class conflict by autonomist Marxists. The book could be best understood as an awakening—both to the nature and capabilities of those who the left seeks to mobilise and organise, and to the historical record and future possibilities of the revolt against work.” — Robin Jervis, Anarchist Studies (Autumn-Winter 2019)

“With an activist heart and deep critical understanding of a life lived in radical politics, Kevin Van Meter’s Guerrillas of Desire skillfully dissects stifling myths within US political movements and anarchism while chronicling the creative energy of self-activity. His liberatory beginnings and questions create open spaces for forging new paths or revisiting old ones in a quest for wider collective liberation.” — scott crow, author of Black Flags and Windmills

Additional information

Weight 10.6 oz
Dimensions 5.9 × 0.6 × 8.9 in
Author 1

Kevin Van Meter

Release

June 13, 2017