Federici, Sylvia. Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body, and Primitive Accumulation. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2004.
Federici claims that the class revolts that characterized the Middle Ages were settled by significant gains made by working people after the Black Death. Working-class power was thereafter "shut down" by an elite strategy that promoted sexism, racism, and genocide between, more or less, 1450 and 1650, through the battles against heresy, the reintroduction of slavery, and the burning of "witches." In this reactionary period, Federici claims, concepts such as the mind-body distinction and self-ownership acquired canonical status, and were incorporated into the development of capitalism. The hidden history of "primitive accumulation," the violent appropriation of wealth and power in the imposition of capitalism, is portrayed here as interlocked with the histories of sexist and racist cultural imposition and bodily repression.
Eliasoph, Nina. Avoiding Politics: How Americans Produce Apathy In Everyday Life. Cambridge, England: U of Cambridge P, 1998.
In this book, Nina Eliasoph relates an ethnographic study back in the '90s of popular American political attitudes. Her main concern is understanding how American apathy is produced. One predominant group, the "country" people, believe in an idyllic romanticism of community as characterized by caring, "Down Home" people. Their concerns about a wider political world of distant issues were consciously suppressed. They use a wide variety of strategies to effect this suppression: not worrying about problems they can't fix themselves, claiming not to know enough about politics, claiming that their political work is merely "self-interested," among others. Eliasoph also notices, in portions of her ethnography, communities of "cynical chic solidarity" that make fun of the "country" people while telling dark jokes about the present-day political nightmare, and genuine activists, whose activities are regularly disrupted by the news media. A must for political thinkers.
Goff, Stan. Full Spectrum Disorder: The Military in the New American Century. Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull, 2004.
Goff is a Vietnam vet with a revolutionary view of the US invasion of Iraq. He recognizes the contradictions in the current geopolitical and political-economic situations, and thinks he can provoke some kind of resistance against empire, military or otherwise, out of the current situation. Test yourself: do you believe in Goff's brand of optimism? This book should at least be a real eye-opener for people who think the future will be a continuation of the present and past.
Fischer, Sibylle. Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution. Durham NC: Duke UP, 2004.
Fischer argues that the Haitian revolution, and the culture of revolutionary antislavery in general, has been forgotten by patrons of Western culture precisely because the "modernity that took shape in the Western Hemisphere" did not place racial liberation on a par with nationalist idealism. If you read this book you'll learn a lot about Caribbean history, chic, updated theories of modernity, and the history of racism.