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From Slavery to the Cooperative Commonwealth

Cambridge University Press, 2015

(Spanish, La Republica Cooperativista, Capitan Swing;  Korean, Knomad) 

Freedom once presupposed slavery. In the nineteenth century, some began to argue that freedom was opposed to slavery. Over time, the language of republican liberty became a critique not just of slavery but of wage-labor. This labor republicanism developed into a demand to replace the 'wages system' with a national economy based on producer and consumer cooperatives. This is the story of how freedom became a radical idea.


Political Theory, Symposium with Genevieve Rousseliere,

Jason Frank, and John McCormick

DissentAmy Dru Stanley
European Journal of Political Theory, Frank Lovett

American Political Thought, Joel Winkelman

American Historical Review, Robert Weir

Perspectives on Politics, Steven Klein

Civil War Book Review, Chris Tomlins

Journal of Global Slavery, Gordon Baker

Lawyers Guns & Money, Erik Loomis

Filozofija I DruštvoSzilárd János Tóth

Book Interviews: The Dig, Jacobin Talks, Sublation Media 

In the pressJacobin, Open Democracy, New Socialist 

Reseñas y entrevistasEl PaisEl Salto, Letras en vena, El Crític, La DirectaPublicoCrónica Global

"Every once in a rare while, a book comes along with an argument that, once advanced, not only changes how we think but makes you wonder how we ever could have thought anything else. Alex Gourevitch has written such a book ... The transformative insight at the heart of [this] book is that in the nineteenth century, in the United States, slavery was not a rhetoric but a reality, which drove some of the most breathtaking innovations in how republicans thought about freedom. And once slavery was abolished, its successor - wage slavery, as it was called - drove even more innovations. What emerges from Gourevitch's treatment is a wholesale reconsideration of the republican tradition, in an utterly novel setting ... Once we've read this book and digested its implications, we'll never talk about freedom, republicanism, or domination - not just in the past but in the present - in the same way." Corey Robin, Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center


"Alex Gourevitch's new book powerfully challenges received understandings of the relationship between liberal and republican ideas and unsettles familiar narratives about the history of American political thought. He shows that republican political theory is not as automatically or easily egalitarian as has often been assumed; that nineteenth-century laissez-faire free labor doctrines themselves made civic and not only liberal claims; and, most importantly and centrally, that those he identifies as 'labor republicans' offered a neglected, fascinating, and distinctively American critique of capitalism and wage labor. From Slavery to the Cooperative Commonwealth is an exciting and highly original work." Jacob T. Levy, Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory, McGill University


"This is a mind-opening study of an American movement in which the republican idea of freedom was invoked in support of workers. It reminds us that, traditionally understood, freedom argues not just for an open market and a transparent state, but for employment and workplace conditions that guard against servitude and servility. The book makes for salutary reading in an age of 'business-friendly' government." Philip Pettit, L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values, Princeton University, and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Australian National University

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