Thursday, July 03, 2014

UIS professor releases new book exploring The Communist Manifesto

Richard Gilman-Opalsky, associate professor of political philosophy in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois Springfield, has published a new book titled Precarious Communism: Manifest Mutations, Manifesto Detourned.

Precarious Communism is a book-length study of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' The Communist Manifesto of 1848. In Precarious Communism, Gilman-Opalsky critically considers the enduring relevance of the most famous political manifesto ever written. He argues that, only in the absence of ideological reaction to the original manifesto, can we assess where Marx was right and wrong in his analysis of capitalism, history, and revolution.

To accomplish this work, Gilman-Opalsky applies a methodology known as "détournement." Détournement has typically been used by artists and activists to repurpose existing materials in text and image to make them say something else. In Precarious Communism, Gilman-Opalsky performs a book-length détournement of The Communist Manifesto, which means that he reads and rethinks the original text line by line, in light of 165 years of political history and philosophy. This process allows Gilman-Opalsky to explore the ongoing applicability of The Communist Manifesto, as well as its failures, from within the form and content of the original.

Precarious Communism is a book that rethinks Marx and Marxism in relation to capitalism and evolving social, political, and economic crises today. Partially as a result of its methodology, Gilman-Opalsky’s new book reads like a mutant manifesto of its own, which argues that communism in the 21st century must be understood and theorized as precarious communism.

The book was published by Autonomedia/Minor Compositions and can be purchased online at or directly from the publisher’s website.

Gilman-Opalsky has authored two other books, Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy (2011) and Unbounded Publics: Transgressive Public Spheres, Zapatismo, and Political Theory (2008).

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