Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis (Jacobin) and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
£7.19
  • RRP: £8.99
  • You Save: £1.80 (20%)
FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10.
Only 6 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Trade in your item
Get a £1.15
Gift Card.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis (Jacobin) Paperback – 3 Mar 2014


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
£7.19
£4.18 £4.66

Frequently Bought Together

Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis (Jacobin) + Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism
Price For Both: £19.18

Buy the selected items together


Trade In this Item for up to £1.15
Trade in Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis (Jacobin) for an Amazon Gift Card of up to £1.15, which you can then spend on millions of items across the site. Trade-in values may vary (terms apply). Learn more

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books (3 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781683271
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781683279
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

The new sensation of literary New York. --Guardian

Benjamin Kunkel has pursued a lonely and taxing crash course in Marxist thought, the results of which, set forth here, are nimble, clear, and brave. He dedicates the book to anyone who can use it, which I'll take a step further: it's for anyone who cares about historical necessity, the crisis of capitalism, and our fate. --Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers

It's wonderful to see Benjamin Kunkel turn his considerable talents from the business of novelwriting to these political essays - models of the genre, with plenty to offer to both newcomers to and veterans of radical thought. --Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer

About the Author

BENJAMIN KUNKEL is the bestselling author of Indecision and a co-founder of n+1. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
0
4 star
3
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By s k on 30 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Much to the annoyance of his friends and literary agent, Benjamin Kunkel has become that most awkward of things: 'a Marxist public intellectual' (p.1). For those who have followed Kunkel's output over the last few years, his absorbing metamorphosis (from bestselling novelist to radical pedagogue) has been a startling one to watch. His long, discursive, and immaculately honed essays have given a bit of oomph to an increasingly sterile Marxism, which has suffered greatly in the rarefied atmosphere of academia. The essays that comprise Utopia or Bust show how deftly Kunkel straddles the divide between theory and common sense, and it's a line reflected in his prose, which shifts between the registers with great and admirable ease. He dedicates the book to those 'who can use it', and considering the stir it's caused among the literati (both right and left), there may be more users than he imagines.

The aims of Kunkel's book are set out in his Introduction, which doubles as a memoir. For Kunkel, his 'essays attempt no original contribution to Marxist...thought' (ibid). No, he simply wants to 'contribute something...to the project of replacing a capitalism bent on social polarization' (p.2), because Kunkel longs to 'live in a more fulfilling society or civilisation than a self-destructive capitalist one' (p.4). And it's this wish to interpret and influence the world that gazumps his fictional endeavours. They no longer have the allure they once had, their frivolousness a distraction in a world seemingly tiptoeing on a precipice. If no one can doubt Kunkel's sincerity, some may doubt his credentials in tackling world politics. Since 2008, however, Kunkel (like so many others) has watched his 'deference to orthodox opinion' (p.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Fletcher on 14 Jun 2014
Format: Paperback
At the very end of Benjamin Kunkel's book, he quotes from study of Adorno by Frederic Jameson, one of the authors discussed at length earlier, who argues that what will motivate a new generation of young leftists is not Marxist literature, but rather the "objective experience of social reality". Which is to say that when I was young people read Marx, but objective social reality did not seem to need Marxist prescriptions. Now the reverse is true.
Thus the importance of this little book - really a collection of essays - which describes how recent and contemporary thinkers have relaunched Marxism. One can quarrel with individual judgements (I think he's unfair to Zizek, for example), but on the whole it's an excellent survey, not only providing food for thought itself, but encouraging you to go and read books you have never, perhaps, even heard of before. And it's written by an author who actually knows how to write, and so the deadening prose of academic Marxism is thankfully absent.
One quibble, perhaps, is the emphasis on "Utopia." The Left in general has always been vulnerable to the charge that five minutes after the installation of a Leftist government, Utopia has not arrived. But as George Orwell put it, Socialism never pretended to make the world perfect, just to make it better. And given the ghastly mess the world is now in, so eloquently described by Kunkel, almost any change that can be imagined would probably make things a lot better than they are now . Utopia or bust, in other words, may not really be the issue. We're bust already.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ratt on 23 May 2014
Format: Paperback
As the author admits in the introduction, this work is not an attempt to "make an original contribution to Marxist, or what you might call Marxish, thought". It is merely an introduction to those preeminent thinkers of our day. That being said, it is quite possibly the most accessible, uplifting, and most of all eloquent (the prose really sings out at you) introduction that anyone could have written.

As introductions to other people's work often do, it does suffer here and there from inaccuracies, slightly odd interpretations, and minor, idiosyncratic misjudgments. Most glaringly, Kunkel does not have a good grasp of the total sum of Slavoj Zizek's work as a contribution to contemporary leftism, and his critique is too focused on Zizek's most recently published, short political pamphlets. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it does not do justice to Zizek's invaluable influence as a hyperactive and charismatic public intellectual.

But this is only a quibble. This book is such a joy to read, for novices and the more well-read alike, that I fail to see how any leftist could read it and not be glad that it exists.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
I really wanted to like this book 30 Mar 2014
By Zach Levenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, let me say that I really wanted to like this book. It's a deceptive volume: it's just repackaged review essays from the London Review of Books and n+1. There's literally no new material save for a brief intro! I have to say, even if I disagreed quite strongly with his reading of Brenner, the summary of the argument is quite useful, as is his overview of Harvey's project. But some of the subsequent material is just corny. I really can't get past Kunkel's use of bad drug metaphors to explain Jameson. Above all, his refrain that Marxism can no longer chart a political path forward, but simply provides a useful analysis of the present, is a bit odd. Every single author covered here is an academic. Marxist or non, why in the world should we look to academics for a political program?

Finally, Kunkel's evasion of women in this book is just gross. When he finally mentions one in the bibliographic essay that concludes the book -- Federici -- he gives her two sentences before he goes on to compare her to Lewis Mumford (!), about whom he proceeds to gush, providing a block quote, etc. The two sentences she does get also misrepresent her argument. Actually, there's also two sentences on Ellen Meiksins Wood, but you get my point.

I have to say, too, that for someone who is apparently considered the next big Marxist thing, I was really bummed to see his sneaking of Keynesianism into underconsumptionist readings of Brenner and (to a lesser extent) Harvey. This tendency reappears in the final essay as well. Minsky, Kalecki, &co. as our saviors?
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A quick introduction to some important thinkers 30 April 2014
By Nicholas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is not "absolute nonsense" as one reviewer said. Yes, it is not new in the sense that each essay is published elsewhere. Yes, it is engaging with Marxist thought at some remove. But as an introduction to some important writers in the field, this book is concise and offers a roadmap for future study in these areas.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book is akin to listening to a circle of academics 15 May 2014
By Nicholas Long - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kunkel deals more with the historical setting and background of each author rather than concisely summarizing their viewpoint. This is not to say it is completely devoid of economical theory, rather, the meat of it is an exposition for which books you should go read and why.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An excellent place to start 23 May 2014
By Ratt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As the author admits in the introduction, this work is not an attempt to "make an original contribution to Marxist, or what you might call Marxish, thought". It is merely an introduction to those preeminent thinkers of our day. That being said, it is quite possibly the most accessible, uplifting, and most of all eloquent (the prose really sings out at you) introduction that anyone could have written.

As introductions to other people's work often do, it does suffer here and there from inaccuracies, slightly odd interpretations, and minor, idiosyncratic misjudgments. Most glaringly, Kunkel does not have a good grasp of the total sum of Slavoj Zizek's work as a contribution to contemporary leftism, and his critique is too focused on Zizek's most recently published, short political pamphlets. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it does not do justice to Zizek's invaluable influence as a hyperactive and charismatic public intellectual.

But this is only a quibble. This book is such a joy to read, for novices and the more well-read alike, that I fail to see how any leftist could read it and not be glad that it exists.
9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A radical thinker? Really? 20 April 2014
By Anonymous - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm all for engaging with Marxism as a political agenda and as a platform for interpreting the world, but this book is absolute nonsense.

Readers, please do not confuse the idea of the thing (B.K. fashioning himself as a Marxist intellectual) from the thing itself (intellectuals who have emerged from a milieu of working class politics). This is Marxism twice removed, i.e. no engagement with Marx himself, but engaging with scholars who have engaged with Marx. This is profoundly weak.

If you are unable to read Marx himself (or David Harvey, Graeber, Jameson, or Zizek, for whom B.K. attempts omniscient readings, though who are often taught to 20 year old college undergraduates, by the way, no special knowledge required), please consider instead books by Marshall Berman, or Vivek Chibber, or Cedric Robinson, or Vijay Prashad (indeed, B.K. is at times unbearably white in his political views). Even better, try CLR James, George Padmore, Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, Benjamin, Rosa Luxemburg, Gramsci, etc.

And then be quiet as to whether you consider yourself an intellectual or not. Work instead toward a better future.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback