Literature on the practicalities of dismantling the 1%
January 10, 2022 4:35 PM   Subscribe

They hoard all the wealth and are directly responsible for destroying the planet and they need to go. How do we get rid of them, and what happens next?

Any recommended reading on this? Bonus points for material from a Marxist perspective (which, let's face it, is probably the only way it can be done.)
posted by turbid dahlia to Science & Nature (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Marxist/anarchist, I probably should have said.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:36 PM on January 10, 2022

Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest book, The Ministry For The Future, has one quite effective if morally dubious suggestion.
posted by dorothy hawk at 8:14 PM on January 10, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks dorothy hawk. I did actually read that one a while back and enjoyed it enough, KSR is always a good and shall we say comprehensive read. I should have clarified that I am seeking non-fiction takes on the subject.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:38 PM on January 10, 2022

You definitely want to peruse Verso, a publishing company which specializes in picking up exactly the types of books you're looking for...both classics of Marxist critique and new publication.
posted by Grim Fridge at 8:39 PM on January 10, 2022

Response by poster: (I'll do my best not to threadsit!)

Thanks Grim Fridge. Familiar with Verso as a good house and have read a number of their titles, but I mostly pick them up secondhand so they are not always as contemporary as I would like. Any recent recommendations?
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:42 PM on January 10, 2022

Best answer: Andreas Malm’s ‘How to blow up a pipeline’, maybe?
posted by ogorki at 9:50 PM on January 10, 2022

> what happens next?

perhaps consider reading some historical accounts of revolutions -- both the revolutions that are regarded as successful, and the ones that are not, and what happened afterwards. who filled the power vacuum. for a rather literal and bleak interpretation of the practicalities of dismantling parts of human populations, maybe a history of the khmer rouge.

if by "the 1%" we're referring to the top one percentile of the _global_ wealth distribution, that's anyone with wealth of about USD $1m or more (according to Credit Suisse). That's about 8% of the adult population in the US. The "billionaires" tag is misleading, a more accurate tag would be "millionaires". If you live in a country that's experienced a real estate bubble over the last decade or two, maybe you know one or more of these one-percenters as a older friend or retirement-age extended family member.
posted by are-coral-made at 9:53 PM on January 10, 2022 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Not sure if I'm meant to stretch my collar and make an exaggerated gulping noise at the quibbling point-missiness of your second paragraph but the Khmer Rouge tip is a good one, any particular material you can suggest?
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:59 AM on January 11, 2022

Mod note: Warning: OP, and answerers, Ask Metafilter is a Q and A site for getting and giving help with concrete questions, not for arguing, debating or campaigning. Please stick to the question of "recommended reading for dismantling the 1%" and refrain from poking and squabbling. The editorial framing here really pushes the boundaries and seems to invite a fight, so it's already a thin-ice situation: if this cannot proceed in a way that sticks to guidelines, we'll remove it.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:06 AM on January 11, 2022 [7 favorites]

You should look into the concept of Anarcho Syndicalism:

"Syndicalism is the other major form of social anarchism. Anarcho-syndicalists, like other syndicalists, want to create an industrial union movement based on anarchist ideas. Therefore they advocate decentralised, federated unions that use direct action to get reforms under capitalism until they are strong enough to overthrow it. In many ways anarcho-syndicalism can be considered as a new version of collectivist-anarchism, which also stressed the importance of anarchists working within the labour movement and creating unions which prefigure the future free society."
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 2:25 AM on January 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Also, George Orwell was a fervent Anarchist, you should read his account of the Spanish Civil War and what he found there.
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 2:29 AM on January 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These two books are not directly answering OP's question about actually _dismantling_ the 1% per se, but they're the two books that have recently made me feel most optimistic about ever living in a world that isn't totally fucked over by that 1%. So, I offer them in that spirit.

The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber & David Wengrow - which is about how (over the whole sweep of human history) we got to this point, with special focus on countering the defeatism of the belief that massive inequality is somehow structurally forced onto us by inexorable evolutionary forces - so if entirely different & often much more egalitarian social structures existed for many 1000s of years across much of the world, as the archaeological record shows - then the current shitshow may be neither inevitable nor permanent

The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton - which is essentially about justifying & building an economic model where we really _can_ afford to do all that stuff - feed & house the population, provide healthcare, fix the environment - that's currently in the bucket labelled "nice idea but who's paying?" - which is not about making the 1% any poorer, because it turns out not be be a zero-sum game after all
posted by rd45 at 3:32 AM on January 11, 2022 [5 favorites]

I came here to suggest The Dawn of Everything, but rd45 beat me to it, so I’ll second the recommendation. I’m 50 pages in, and it’s so compelling I’m looking forward to all 600-700 pages.
posted by umbú at 5:31 AM on January 11, 2022

Best answer: perhaps consider reading some historical accounts of revolutions

In case you like this suggestion, here’s a previous Ask that includes such books.
posted by fabius at 5:43 AM on January 11, 2022

Best answer: I would suggest The Great Leveler, by Walter Scheidel.

Scheidel is a historian. I don't know his politics and this is not a political tract, but his work directly addresses your question. His conclusion is that over the course of human history, catastrophic upheaval is the only thing that has meaningfully reduced economic inequality. These are things like the bubonic plague wiping out large parts of Europe, and World War II killing millions and forcing all major economic powers to completely shift the focus of their economies.

I have not read the book, but it was well received and I heard interviews with Scheidel at the time.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:24 AM on January 11, 2022

Best answer: Scheidel was a great read: I came to him from a reference in Wickham's 'Framing the Early Middle Ages', which, btw, made me aware of the Deutscher Memorial Prize, which is "awarded for a book which exemplifies the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition. I'm not an orthodox Marxist by any means, but solidarity and all that, and the books are usually very good. I look forward to it every year.
posted by eclectist at 9:44 AM on January 11, 2022

Best answer: Try Erik Olin Wright. Envisioning Real Utopias or How to be an Anticapitalist in the 21st Century.
posted by cushie at 6:04 PM on January 11, 2022

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