Just wanted to say a few things before the list. Firstly while I’m listing these books as ones that have influenced me, and in turn Faintest Idea lyrics, it doesn’t mean I agree wholly with all these peoples positions, that would be really weird. I just think they have interesting things to say and are worth reading. Secondly if you’ve read our lyrics it’s fairly obvious that there’s some strong themes of Anarchism in them (Mutual Aid is obviously named after the Kropotkin classic). I wanted to write a list of books people may actually be interested in reading and not just list a load of century’s old Anarchist texts. Although you should definitely read Mutual Aid.
In no particular order -
Inventing the future (Post Capitalism and a World without Work) - Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams
This book’s kind of split into 2 sections. The first is a critique of what the authors call ‘Folk Politics’ with the basic tenet being that while the Left has become quite good at organising at the local level it’s lacking any big grand vision that could seriously challenge global capital. The second section is a lot more to do with emerging technologies and the upset they could potentially cause in the labour market. A fair bit of talk on Universal Basic Income and other ideas of a post work world.
Good Cop, Bad War – Neil Woods
Neil Woods was one of the most experienced undercover coppers in the UK’s drug war. Realising that after years and years of work the number of users wasn’t going down, the amount of drugs on the streets wasn’t going down and all that was happening were that the suppliers were getting both richer and more and more violent. He resigned and joined an international group called LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), made up of figures currently or previously in Law Enforcement who want the decriminalisation and regulation of all drugs using science based methods to ultimately end dependency and cripple organise criminal gangs.
17 Contradictions And The End Of Capitalism – David Harvey
David Harvey’s one of my favourite academics. He writes from a Marxist perspective but using accessible language so the ideas are actually useful to people outside of the academy. I highly recommend all his books but this one I think is a good introduction to his work. He also posts free lectures up to youtube if you ever wanted to read your way through Marx’s Capital chapter by chapter. Coz fuck trying to get through that shit yourself.
The Beauty Myth – Naomi Woolf
I spent the first part of my life being raised by just my mum and growing up through school my close friendship group was fairly mixed gendered but this was the first book that really hit home to me that women have to face certain things that men don’t. It would appear Woolf has gone a bit off the deep end in recent years with a lot of conspiracy theories about plots to overthrow the government but her earlier work is well worth a read.
Revolutionary Suicide – Huey P Newton
Huey P’s autobiography. Talks through his life, his views, how he came to be who he was and the story of the Panthers. Both inspiring and harrowing, which is kind of what you expect when the US government is at war with you and is assassinating your friends and colleagues.
Blowback Triology – Chalmers Johnson
Chalmers Johnson was a CIA intelligence operative during the cold war. With the fall of the Soviet Union he thought the US would wind down more of its military and intelligence services as its main adversary had been defeated. When he saw that wasn’t happening he started to view the US as more of an empire. The first book ‘Blowback’ talks about the problems that can arise when your empire inserts itself into foreign affairs and how this can sow the seeds of resistance and cause ‘Blowback’. That was released in January 2001.
How Non-Violence Protects the State – Peter Gelderloos
Been a few years since I read this but it’s a really well laid out argument against pacifism. This will probably be controversial to some people but regardless of your views on it, this is a well written and reasoned argument against sticking rigidly to non-violence as a protest tactic.
Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead – Frank Meeink
Frank Meeink is who Ed Nortons character is loosely based on in American History X. Talks about how he was first recruited into the Neo-Nazi movement, his role in it and his subsequent departure. Obviously pretty brutal and violent at times but his conversion to anti-racism I think has some interesting ideas about how to change people’s minds through argument, even people as far gone as Nazi’s.
Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice – Adam Benforado
This book is written by an American about the American justice system but a lot of the conclusions ring true across different countries systems. Talks a lot about neuro-science, psychology and different unconscious biases the human mind has that means even if the justice system didn’t have racial, gendered biases already it still wouldn’t work as a fair system for all. Also if you’re ever tried for a crime in the States just make sure you have lots of money and you’re basically untouchable.
Nothing is True, Everything is Possible – Peter Pomerantsev
This book is both interesting and terrifying. I read this in late 2015 before the complete shit show that is Donald Trump had won the presidency. The parallels between this book and what’s been going on in the States are pretty striking. Peter Pomerantsev’s parents escaped Russia and set up life in the UK. Peter went to work in Russia decades later working in television where he soon came to realise absolutely every piece of media in Russia has some kind of ties to the Kremlin. They will fund all sides and spread outright lies with impunity with the result being that no one ever has any idea what’s true, what’s not, what’s real or what’s just a distraction. This idea is lightly touched upon by Adam Curtis in ‘Hyper Normalisation’. Interesting to look at if you’re trying to understand current propaganda.
Anarchism and other essays – Emma Goldman
This is a bonus book you should read just because Emma Goldman’s The Don. I’ve bastardise quite a few of her quotes and managed to fit them into lyrics.
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