The Instinct for Cooperation (Paperback)

A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky

By Jeffrey Wilson, Eliseu Gouveia (Illustrator)

Seven Stories Press, 9781609808167, 112pp.

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

List Price: 13.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


In the tradition of Joe Sacco's graphic journalism comes the first interview-based graphic novel treatment of Noam Chomsky's political ideas and activism.

An astonishing graphic novel that brings Chomsky's political analysis to bear on real people's stories on the frontlines of America's struggle for economic justice and human dignity. The Instinct for Cooperation innovatively balances those real-life stories of struggle with conversations the author has had with Chomsky on how best to understand them. Although the themes are wide-ranging, this book is ultimately about the importance and need for spaces of resistance in countering state and other institutional forms of violence. For example, when discussing the removal of books by police and sanitation workers from Zuccotti Park in November of 2011, Chomsky paused to say "Arizona knows all about that," referring to the 2010 ban of Mexican American Studies in Tucson schools under Arizona House Bill 2281, which deemed classes that taught "ethnic solidarity" to be illegal. Rather than footnote the reference, Wilson tells that story. Like Joe Sacco's animated political journalism, this book offers a unique perspective on current issues, while providing a major contribution to the understanding of Chomsky's political theories.

About the Author

Jeffrey Wilson is a graphic novel author and Ph.D. Candidate in Geography at the University of Arizona. His work focuses on the social determinants of health, specifically the effect of foreclosures on health in Detroit, Michigan. He received a Master's in Anthropology from Columbia University where his work explored the ways ethnography could be written in graphic novel form. He has published one of the first graphic novel interviews to appear in a peer-reviewed journal. He currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Eliseu Gouveia is a Portuguese author and illustrator whose work range from Moonstone Books' The Phantom and Vengeance of The Mummy to covers of Brian Pulido's Lady Death to Marvel Comics sketchcards and many comic titles by independent publishers.

Praise For The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky

"The Instinct for Cooperation expands the burgeoning graphic-novel format into new territory, adding dimensionality to an interview with intellectual progressive icon Noam Chomsky. Jeff Wilson's interview is wide-ranging and interesting; Eliseu Gouveia's comic art serves as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 for Chomsky's responses, allowing for illustrations and digressions that wouldn't be possible in a 'normal' prose book on the same topic. Even if you think you know all about Chomsky, this is well worth checking out." —Ted Rall, cartoonist, author, and graphic novelist

“In this kaleidoscopic experimental comic book, writer Jeff Wilson uses a conversation with Noam Chomsky as a jumping off point to explore everything from the Spanish Civil War to Medicare to Occupy Wall Street. The result is life affirming and sophisticated. Again and again Jeff returns to the basic goodness of human beings and the possibilities for our liberation. Seeing the work of a bright new comics writer like Jeff makes me optimistic about the future of comics and society in general.” —Seth Tobocman, founding editor of World War 3 Illustrated, author of You Don't Have to Fuck People Over to SurviveWar in the Neighborhood, and Len

"Laser-sharp graphics and critical analysis, and radical love. Wilson and Gouveia give us a conversation with Chomsky that everyone can be part of." —Kate Evans, author of Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg, and Threads: From the Refugee Crisis

"By placing readers into an intimate conversation with one of this country’s most important thinkers, as well as members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Wilson and Gouveia provide a vital entry point for those seeking to wrestle with these ideas, sure to inspire further explorations of their own." —Nick Sousanis, author of Unflattening, assistant professor at San Francisco State University

“What can be done? How do we begin to understand how to organize our thoughts — and our communities — to right inherent wrongs? One place to start might be The Instinct for Cooperation. Wilson, a doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Arizona, has distilled some of Chomsky’s ideas about threats to social and economic justice into a series of conversations with Chomsky and others. These chats highlight moments in history that could very well be seen as tipping points, where decisive action spawned by malaise replaced complacency. This book may serve as a primer for those who are interested in learning how to better organize themselves to confront issues that plague our communities.” —Santa Fe New Mexican

"Graphic novelist Jeffrey Wilson has blended compelling narrative with beautifully rendered illustrations by Eliseu Gouveia for The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky. ... In the novel, which is based on conversations between the author and Chomsky, the latter comes across as approachable and fearlessly honest. ... In easy-to-follow, plain English discussions of issues like Occupy Wall Street and book-burning, a necessarily fascinating dialogue emerges, almost like a documentary set to page.

Graphic novels are typically much more nuanced than their comic book cousins. Epic showdowns of good vs. evil, though, come in many forms, and putting themes of social justice into an illustrated format is ingenious, a way of making big concepts both accessible and surprisingly entertaining." —Santa Fe Reporter