The Subversive Seventies

The Subversive Seventies
A thought-provoking reconsideration of how the revolutionary movements of the 1970s set the mold for today's activism.

The 1970s was a decade of "subversives". Faced with various progressive and revolutionary social movements, the forces of order--politicians, law enforcement, journalists, and conservative intellectuals--saw subversives everywhere. From indigenous peasant armies and gay liberation organizations, to anti-nuclear activists and Black liberation militants, subversives challenged authority, laid siege to the established order, and undermined time-honored ways of life. Every corner of the left was fertile ground for subversive elements, which the forces of order had to root out and destroy--a project they pursued with zeal and brutality.

In The Subversive Seventies, Michael Hardt sets out to show that popular understandings of the political movements of the seventies--often seen as fractious, violent, and largely unsuccessful--are not just inaccurate, but foreclose valuable lessons for the political struggles of today. While many accounts of the 1970s have been written about the regimes of domination that emerged throughout the decade, Hardt approaches the subversive from the perspectives of those who sought to undermine the base of established authority and transform the fundamental structures of society. In so doing, he provides a novel account of the theoretical and practical projects of liberation that still speak to us today, too many of which have been all but forgotten.

Departing from popular and scholarly accounts that focus on the social movements of the 1960s, Hardt argues that the 1970s offers an inspiring and useful guide for contemporary radical political thought and action. Although we can still learn much from the movements of the sixties, that decade's struggles for peace, justice, and freedom fundamentally marked the end of an era. The movements of the seventies, in contrast, responded directly to emerging neoliberal frameworks and other structures of power that continue to rule over us today. They identified and confronted political problems that remain central for us. The 1970s, in this sense, marks the beginning of our time. Looking at a wide range of movements around the globe, from the United States, to Guinea Bissau, South Korea, Chile, Turkey, and Italy, The Subversive Seventies provides a reassessment of the political action of the 1970s that sheds new light not only on our revolutionary past but also on what liberation can be and do today.

Publication Date: 
September 5, 2023