Questions for Zero Books

Oct 25th, 2015 | By | Category: Articles, Zero Squared

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We recently put together a survey asking Zero Books readers and Zero Squared listeners what they thought about the possibility of introducing a Zero Books book club. We asked a variety of questions about reading habits and technology preferences, but we also left a space at the end where people could ask questions back.

Here are a few of those questions answered:

How is your weekend going?

So far we've spent our weekend in much the same way as we spend every other day. That is, we've spent it locked away in our little rooms planted in front of our various computer screens, mobile phones, or pyramid shaped orgone collectors. Thanks for asking.

What is the criteria by which you select writers to publish?

Many of the books we eventually publish are not solicited but arrive as slush. What we're most concerned about when picking new books is the quality of the writing, the rigorousness and coherence of the idea, and the platform of the author. The perfect project is one submitted by a writer who has been blogging for several years and who is already read eagerly by many, who has also written well for various newspapers and journals, and who has something significant to say about some aspect of this digitized late capitalist world. This doesn't mean that we aren't interested in works from truly new writers, we are, but people like Jordannah Elizabeth, Morgan Meis, and Leigh Phillips arrive fully formed. We love the obvious choice.

Who is this Zijek that my girlfriend has a poster of?

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He is the thinking woman's Shaun Cassidy. He plays a young detective who solves mysteries that the European Graduate Center can't solve. You can watch him every weekday on youtube.

Do the changes in the makeup of Zero Books's personnel mean (major) changes in the direction of the press?

Yes, but that answer should be tempered by pointing to the commonalities and continuities that exist in both the old and the new Zero Books.

Mark Fisher (probably the most prominent member of the old Zero Books team) wrote a book entitled Capitalist Realism for Zero back in 2009. In it he commented on how a moral critique of capitalism is deficient, how such a critique has little to no effect.

He wrote:

A moral critique of capitalism, emphasizing the ways in which it leads to suffering, only reinforces capitalist realism. Poverty, famine and war can be presented as an inevitable part of reality, while the hope that these forms of suffering could be eliminated easily painted as naive utopianism. Capitalist realism can only be threatened if it is shown to be in some way inconsistent or untenable; if, that is to say, capitalism’s ostensible ‘realism’ turns out to be nothing of the sort[...]
Needless to say, what counts as ‘realistic’, what seems possible at any point in the social field, is defined by a series of political determinations.

The new Zero Books agrees with Fisher's rejection of capitalist realism and his more refined point regarding the limits of a merely moral critique of capitalism. The contradictions inherent to capitalism do need to be exposed and understood.

However, the new Zero Books hopes to go one step further. In order to threaten capitalism we'll have to do more than understand that capitalism is inconsistent or contradictory and we don't agree that what is inconsistent is necessarily unreal. If we believe that exposing the bare fact that capitalism is contradictory, that it sets society against itself in class struggle for instance, is the end of critique we will fall back into the moralism Fisher is critiquing. Instead we must look at how these contradictions work to define the world. How it is that through contradictions capitalism becomes real.

The division between intellectual and physical labor is a significant example as this division is reproduced throughout society. The fact is that Capitalism splits thought from action and sets up thoughtless activity. One consequence of this division is that the political determinations that seem to define what is "realistic" are themselves set up and defined by capitalism.

In the end the reality of capitalism cannot be reduced to an ideological problem and breaking with capitalist realism is only the first step toward breaking with capitalism.

When will we have more Hegel?

I think, in a round about way, you just did get some more Hegel only as seen through the lens of Marx.

Where have you been all my life?
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We've been hiding behind the refrigerator.

Are you making the podcast a subscription service?

No.

Is it possible the mode of publishing through Zero Books be streamlined or better explained?

Take a look at our submission process on the Zero Books website. If you have any questions that aren't solved there then contact us and ask for help.

Space technology and exploration. Not a question, but a suggestion for a book/podcast.

We'd love to publish on these topics and encourage you to submit a proposal.

Do you honestly strive to publish genuine alternative literature?

It depends on what you're using to define us against. We do strive to think and publish beyond the level of received opinion and to help ourselves and others to understand the predicament that we can't help but hope might be accurately described as "late capitalism."

Do you feature talks/lectures (in UK)?
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Yes. Most recently Doctor Youssef El-Gingihy, author of How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps participated in the NHS protests and spoke in front of thousands in Parliament Square in Westminster. In the months to come we will be working on organizing more events and talks in the UK.

Do you include in your collection non-anglo authors? and if not, are you considering the hypothesis of translating other languages as long as the authors fit your purposes?

We do publish books in translation but do not, at the moment, have the ability to take on doing this translation work ourselves. Instead we welcome submissions from non-anglo authors and their allied translators.

What will happen after you achieve your aims?

Our aim is to publish better books, more radical books, in order to help along what Hegel called the negation of the negation. That is, we hope for something new. We hope to help along the development of a world where the split between thought and action has been overcome.

Something wonderful will happen. Just you wait.

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