After reading my recent satire piece, a good friend of mine (and tech worker) asked if I had a list of books or other resources to learn more about labor history and capitalism in the United States, and how the tech industry operates in this broader context. I had been meaning to write about this, and I figured others would likely be interested, too. So, if you are interested in these topics then this is post for you!

And if you aren’t interested, well… I think you should consider it. Too often I hear folks say something like, “I’m just not that into politics” or “I’m just not very political”. Whether you like it or not, everything is political — all the time. Nothing is compartmentalized. That is simply the nature of the world we live in. (And I’m not talking about swampy donald and the hyper-partisan anti-maskers. I’m talking about ordinary daily life, how you choose to spend your time and money.)

You are free, of course, to brush that off and continue to be “not that into politics”, but I can assure you of a few things. Your boss and company CEO are “into politics”, the investors that fund your company are very “into politics”, and your landlord is “into politics.” These people have a significant impact on your daily life. They have an outsized influence on our political and legal system because of their wealth, status, and access to resources. The tech industry is undermining workers’ rights and reshaping the global economy to their benefit, right before our eyes. So maybe getting into politics isn’t a bad idea.

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One final note before we dive in. Despite the title of this post, much of what I’m recommending here is not necessarily specific to the tech industry, but all of it is important to understanding it. Everything is interconnected. If we want to deeply discern how the tech industry functions, we must understand the system in which it operates. To be direct, that system is racist, oppressive, neoliberal capitalism. And a key understanding is that racism and corporate authoritarianism are core features of the system, not simply bugs or unintended consequences.

We must understand how racism (and sexism) function in society in order to fully understand other parts of the system, like the tech industry or any other workplace. Unsurprisingly, racism and sexism are still an enormous problem in the tech industry. Silicon Valley’s “diversity and inclusion initiatives” continue to fail. The main obstacle is that tech is a microcosm of neoliberal late-stage capitalism. The issue extends beyond our industry and, frankly, tech is ill-equipped to address these problems because the industry is still overwhelmingly controlled by very rich white men who lack the necessary skills and lived experience to do so.

This language and view of the world may sound extreme to you, but I encourage you to approach the material below with an open mind. Our disagreements are the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one. Many of the resources below are blatantly anarchist and anti-capitalist, but don’t let those labels scare you off. Most of what you’ve heard about anarchists and anarchism is probably nonsense — without realizing it, you might even be an anarchist yourself!

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Below are books, blogs, documentaries, and other various resources. These should also lead you to many other great authors. I have attempted to group them roughly by topic/genre, but that’s difficult because there is so much overlap. Items in each section are in no particular order.

While I have read (or watched) many of these, some of them are still on my todo list, but they have been highly recommended by friends I trust. If you think something should be added, let me know! Oh, and please don’t buy from Amazon. You should be able to find these at your local bookstore, or public library. When possible, I’ve linked directly to the independent publisher.

With that said, here is my list of recommendations to get you started!

Tech industry and tech-adjacent

Tech and labor

  • Tech Workers Coalition:
    • Newsletter, which we publish roughly every two weeks. There’s a lot of good content in the archives as well. The focus is on labor organizing in tech, workers’ stories, labor history, critiques of the tech industry, and tech news as it pertains to labor and capital.
    • Learning Clubs. When TWC was more active, we hosted various “Learning Club” meetups, a few of which I organized and led. The format consisted of readings to be completed (as much as you could), and discussion questions to consider. We would meet and discuss the readings. All of the materials are still available on the site. Many topics cover labor history in general, like the 1934 San Francisco General Strike. Others cover current labor issues in the tech industry, like the increasing trend toward hiring Temps, Vendors, and Contractors instead of full-time employees. Going through these readings and discussion questions might be a cool thing to do with some friends or partner.

  • Notes From Below. These issues in particular:
  • Collective Action in Tech, a media and research project to advance the tech workers movement. This provides current and historical perspectives and analysis of the labor movement in tech and tech activism. You can subscribe to their mailing list, and follow them on social media. They have an impressive collection of stories about workers organizing to take collection action in the tech industry.

  • Workers for Workers. Collections of essays written by workers for workers about their experiences in the workplace.

  • A general resource for labor organizing, loosely affiliated with the IWW.

  • Tech Inquiry, specifically the report on Silicon Valley companies working with the US military and other US agencies like ICE. This was also covered in Issue 7 of the TWC newsletter.

Labor, work, capitalism, class-struggle

Racism, race, gender



  • Requiem for the American Dream (2015). A documentary described as “the definitive discourse with Noam Chomsky.” I highly recommend this one. It’s freely available on YouTube, too.

  • 13th (2016). “An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.” Also very good.

  • All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011), a 3-part TV documentary series. This series feels sort of dated, despite being produced in 2011, but it is still pretty relevant. At times it is a bit bizarre and even somewhat problematic, but overall is still worth watching. It provides a brief introduction to the history of the rise of Silicon Valley, the California Ideology, the creation of our current predatory financial system, western imperialism, and more.

  • The Corporation (2003). A documentary that “looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.”

  • Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992). There’s also a book of the same title, which I haven’t read. My understanding is that this documentary is not really a replacement for the book, but more like a companion to it.

  • San Francisco 2.0 (2015). More informative, less of a critique of labor and capitalism, but still interesting. It covers the tech-induced economic inequality and housing crisis in SF, and offers plenty of criticism of the tech industry, but lacks intersectionality. Some parts are kind of cringey. This would be best to watch after the documentaries above, which do provide good critiques and analysis, so then you can approach it more critically.

I’m not sure how widely available some of these documentaries are, but I heard that you can definitely find torrents for them. 😉 I also heard that Transmission is an excellent torrent client.