Book Review: On New Terrain

On New Terrain:  How Capital Is Reshaping The Battleground Of Class War, by Kim Moody

I must admit that even before I started reading this book I knew I would loath it.  It must be admitted, though, that as a hatereader of books that I do not hold my habits against the author [1].  Far from it, in fact.  It must be readily admitted, though, at the outset, that this book was written from a worldview that simply will not command my assent, and though I found it interesting I just simply cannot get on board with the democratic socialism expressed in this book.  I must admit that I found as much interesting ignored in the book as I found stated, and though I knew I would dislike the material and especially the approach of the volume, it would have been nice for the author to show a bit more intellectual honesty about that coercion and authoritarianism that comes through socialism and the fact that “bottom up” ambitions of the author are just as statist in their implications as the neoliberals that the author continually tries to denigrate here.  If the author had been honest, I probably would not have liked the book but at least I would have been able to respect it more.

The just over 200 pages of this mercifully brief book are divided into three parts, ten chapters, and numerous supplementary material at the end.  The author spends three chapters discussing about the remaking of the American working class (I) in cultural and technological change (1), focusing on precarious work (2), and discussing the growing diversity of the workforce (3).  After this comes three chapters that look at the changing terrain of class struggle (II) including the competition and concentration of capital (4), a decidedly negative view of logistics (5), and some thoughts about a coming upsurge of labor strife (6).  The last four chapters of the book looks at the author’s view of changing political terrain (III) with a look at the return of the states as major actors in the political system (7), people as supposed prisoners of the American system (8), the inability of Democrats to be successfully moved to the left (9), and a risible look at electoral politics from a socialist perspective (10).  The conclusion tries to pull the author’s analysis together, looks at who put Trump in the White House, and features seven appendices that attempt to demonstrate the author’s ideas about manufacturing work and strikes and a paper that represents itself as a militant base of the worker.

There is a lot about this book that is somewhat dishonestly stated.  Although the author decries the wealthy neoliberals whose money helps bankroll the Democratic party, the author is decidedly less honest about the importance of Soros and other figures like him.  The author’s desired legal framework requires a statist background that makes it impossible for the author to have any just room to criticize rivals on the center-left and right.  Intriguingly enough, the author’s discussion demonstrates some very serious problems that socialists have in working along with Democrats, especially as socialists seem to view the Democratic party as where leftist ideas go to die, which does not sound like such a bad place to me personally.  The author’s rigid dichotomy between labor and capital and her use of quotations by Engels and Marx as if they were gospel is also more than a little bit off-putting, and a reminder of the religious nature of socialism and the lack of ability that people have of subjecting their own worldview to withering skepticism.  Instead of offering freedom, this author and others of her ilk only demonstrate themselves enslaved to another ideology, one that starves and kills people and drags nations from wealth to poverty and despair.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/10/20/book-review-the-color-of-law/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/09/14/book-review-building-suburbia/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/11/24/book-review-white-rage/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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