Publisher: AK Press
Released: June 13, 2017
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.
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 Journal
“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
"Guerrillas of Desire is aspirational in its scope and contains ideas and proposals worthy of consideration by radicals reflecting on how to engage in the current moment. In a time when mobilizing and organizing around class has fallen off the radar of many, it is a welcome reminder of the importance of paying attention to the working class and the integral role working class struggle plays in resistance to capitalism, alongside the currently more prevalent resistances to capitalist white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, colonization, environmental destruction and more."
—Scott Campbell, Institute for Anarchist Studies
"Van Meter and Guerrillas of Desire shows us that revolutionary struggle is already happening all around us, and for many of us, is already a part of our daily practice. Were this enough, however, we’d have achieved “fully automated gay space luxury communism,” to paraphrase a favorite meme, long ago. We haven’t. And so, the question that confronts us from the book is where to go for struggle of this type; in the author’s phrasing, exactly how “to make a revolution possible.” That Guerrillas of Desire can so thoughtfully provoke this question means it deserves a wide audience indeed. Our task is to take up the call."
—Michael Reagan, Truthout
Kevin Van Meter is an activist-scholar based in the Pacific Northwest. He is co-editor 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.