Keywords for Capitalism is a guide to the evasions, neologisms, and half-truths of mainstream political media, but it also gives readers tools to understand the enduring vocabulary of radical movement-building. “Liberal” and “centrist,” for example, obscure as much as they reveal about the positions they ostensibly describe. “Socialism,” though, is an idea and a tradition that has found new life in recent years. “Neoliberalism” and “intersectional” are routinely used and abused on the activist left, and by some of its mainstream critics.
Keywords for Capitalism: Power, Society, Politics catalogs the evasions that make up an ideology of mainstream politics in the United States. It equips readers to use the words that really do mean something, and provides the tools to dismiss those that don’t.
In addition to challenging the jargon of the corporate media and politicians, Leary also leads readers through the very real debates about words with power: socialism, intersectionality, liberal, conservative, green, materialist.
Praise for Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism:
“A sharp recent book.” —The New York Times
“Leary’s Keywords is definitely stimulating and well worth a read....” —Naked Capitalism
“The extent to which the language of the market has appropriated so many aspects of our lives is both fascinating and troubling. Because it’s so ubiquitous we use this language without questioning its deeper meaning, some of which, as Leary illustrates, is less than benign.” —The Independent, Santa Barbara
“As [Leary] explores what our language has looked like, and the ugliness now embedded in it, [he] invites us to imagine what our language could emphasize, what values it might reflect. What if we fought ‘for free time, not ”flexibility”; for free health care, not “wellness”; and for free universities, not the “marketplace of ideas”?’ His book reminds us of the alternatives that persist behind these keywords: our managers may call us as ‘human capital,’ but we are also workers. We are also people. ‘Language is not merely a passive reflection of things as they are,’ Leary writes. ‘[It is] also a tool for imagining and making things as they could be.‘’ —The Outline
“[Leary] has written a clever, even witty examination of the manipulation of language in these days of neoliberal or late stage capitalism. Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism reminds the reader that those who control the language can more easily control the culture while also providing that reader with the tools needed to decipher the capitalist class’s manipulation of the words we use.” —Counterpunch