Publisher: AK Press
Released: June 28, 2022
A new, inclusive union movement with a contemporary vision and an eye toward building social and economic power can remake society.
Overcoming Capitalism is a book about strategy, particularly how the powerless can get the upper hand. And it’s written for everyone—not a specialized, self-selected audience. Tom Wetzel carefully explains how capitalism works and how the structure is stacked against us with an eye toward where power lies and how we can tip the scales.
The book is a twenty-first century reworking of the approach to unionism. The United States has a dramatic history of workers organizing on the job. In the last seventy odd years labor organizations have made peace with owners, and wages, various protections, and safety has diminished. All during an era that, despite its ups and downs, has been extremely profitable for the ownership class. Wetzel provides a solution to that failure by showing how a democratic outcome can be built into the method of struggle for social change, giving working people the means to ensure they will end up in control of the labor process and will build a from-the-bottom-up ecosocialism. But this isn’t the old white-guy-in-a-hard-hat unionism of the previous century. The working class has changed. Life under capitalism has changed. How we think about unionism must also change. While the political and capitalist class wring their hands over the environmental crisis and economic inequality we can see the immediate appeal of a union movement with an expanded mission to wrest control from the wealthy and powerful before they cost-shift us into extinction.
Praise for Overcoming Capitalism
"This book is an invitation to imagine a world where everyday people determine their own lives both in the workplace and the community. It updates the radical syndicalist tradition for the 21st Century. After reading you may feel the sudden urge to fire your boss, show the landlord the door, and conspire with your neighbors to change just about everything."
—James Tracy, author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power
"Tom Wetzel's probing inquisitiveness, together with his astute thoughts and vivid observations, breathe life into each and every chapter in this exhilarating book, bringing the reader closer to everyday life after capitalism."
—Andrej Grubačić, co-author of Wobblies and Zapatistas
"Tom Wetzel is one of the most important libertarian socialist thinkers and activists in the United States today. His book, Overcoming Capitalism, is a must read for anyone interested in alternatives to capitalism. Wetzel draws lessons from the history of libertarian socialist movements and struggles over the past century that would do an academic historian proud! But unlike academics, Wetzel puts that deep knowledge of history to use in formulating a concrete and informed vision of what kind of socialism we should be fighting for in the twenty-first century. Written in plain English, free of leftist jargon, full of common sense as well as nuance, Wetzel has produced a “gem.” This is just the kind of book leftists need to read to avoid repeating mistakes and reinventing square wheels."
—Robin Hahnel, author of Democratic Economic Planning
Tom Wetzel has written on labor history, worker struggles, libertarian socialist ideas, and housing struggles since the 1970s. He has been published by ZNet and ROAR Magazine and is a former editor of the anarcho-syndicalist magazine ideas & action, where many of his essays were published. He resides in Hayward, CA.