Nothing to Lose but Our Fear

Nothing to Lose but Our Fear

Resistance in Dangerous Times

By Fiona Jeffries, Interviewee Wendy Mendez, Marcus Rediker, Silvia Federici, David Harvey, Nandita Sharma, John Holloway, Lydia Cacho, Sandra Moran and Gustavo Esteva


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As the Egyptian revolution gained momentum in the winter of 2011, a common refrain echoed across Cairo’s Tahrir Square: “The wall of fear came down!” Mass protests against fear and authoritarianism have also rumbled across the aggrieved streets and plazas of Tunis, Athens, Madrid, New York City, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Delhi, and beyond. While the scale of these new uprisings may be unprecedented, the refusal of fear is not unique to our time.

Nothing to Lose but Our Fear brings together an international group of scholars and activists and asks them how can we think critically and act productively in a world awash in fear. Their conversations with Fiona Jeffries provoke consideration of the often hidden histories of people’s emancipatory practices and offer reflections that can help us understand the conjuncture of systemic fear and resistance.

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Jeffries has assembled the words of this impressive group of thinkers in Nothing to Lose But Our Fear to offer valuable insights into the ways fear is mobilized by neoliberal, patriarchal states around the globe, as well as how fear rallies individuals to act together in resistance.

– Fazeela Jiwa, Briarpatch Magazine

Multi-faceted, insightful, global: Fiona Jeffries’ conversations with some of our best contemporary theorists, activists, historians (and frequently all three at once) confront fear head-on and come out fighting. In-depth conversations tackle some of the thorniest topics confronting activists and theorists today: how best to understand the state? How best to fight against it? What types of global thinking and resistance can help us to think—and act—otherwise.

– Nina Power, author of One-Dimensional Woman

An eloquent and urgent book. Fiona Jeffries has assembled some of our planet’s most important thinkers, who help us figure out the present in order to imagine a better future.

– Greg Grandin, author of The Empire of Necessity

This book is a stimulant for hope. Passionate, positive, and practical, it suggests new ways to change our world.

– Joanna Bourke, author of Wounding the World: How Military Violence and War-Play Invade our Lives

Machiavelli told the rulers, “It is better to be feared than loved.” Ever since, rulers have devised methods of achieving fear while destroying love among the ruled. Here, like a family album of loved ones, is a collection from nine accomplished, active radicals whose biographical background helps introduce figures of resistance from our collective memory—the pirate, the migrant, the witch, the communard, the mother, the dispossessed, the Other—who recuperate our dignity through laughter, courage, truth, and indignation.

– Peter Linebaugh, author of Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosure, and Resistance


Fiona Jeffries
Part I: Historicizing
Marcus Rediker: The Theatre and Counter-Theatre of Fear
Silvia Federici: Remembering Resistance, from the Witch Hunts to Alter-Globalization
Part II: Theorizing
David Harvey: Indignant Cities
Nandita Sharma: Terror and Mercy at the Border
John Holloway: We Are the Fragility of the System
Part III: Practicing
Lydia Cacho: Dangerous Journalism
Sandra Moran: Feminist Indignation
Gustavo Esteva: Political Courage and the Strange Persistence of Hope
Wendy Mendez: Remembering the Disappeared, Revealing Hidden Histories of Resistance