A New Playbook for Revolution
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Revolution for the hell of it? Perhaps, this latter-day rejoinder to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals suggests, since revolution of other kinds seems nigh on impossible.

Impossible, perhaps—but still worth trying. Occupy Wall Street co-creator White, a graduate of the Adbusters school of paradigm subversion, is nothing if not optimistic on that point, at least most of the time, even as he candidly assesses past missteps. “Occupy Wall Street was a political miracle,” he writes,” a rupture moment that redefined reality, pushed the limits of possibility and transformed participants into their best and truest selves.” That movement grew from an anti-Starbucks campaign that fizzled—and probably rightly, since Starbucks actually pays its workers a living wage—with “a few insignificant actions that didn’t catch on.” So, given that failure, the ultimate failure of Occupy for all its self-transformation, and the many failures of protest generally, why bother? Because, White assures readers, there’s life in the path to replacing old paradigms with new ones, and if Occupy “failed to live up to its revolutionary potential” and “protest is broken and the people know it worldwide,” that doesn’t mean injustice has taken a holiday. Though the author sounds Leninist at times (“the people must capture legislative and executive control constitutionally and legitimately”), White can be a little theological and even New Age–y, as well (“scour the edges of politics and adapt the protest behaviors that make you excited and a bit nervous”)—all while he looks toward the possibility of carving out new paths of resistance with such things as meme warfare along with the old tried-and-true of satyagraha and sit-down. Fans of Alinsky will find points in common here, but direct-action types will be disappointed to discover that under the revolutionary bluster, this is a rather quietly spiritual treatise and certainly no Anarchist Cookbook.

Of a decidedly leftist bent, but activists, organizers, and civil libertarians of whatever stripe will want to have a look.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-345-81004-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2016


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