IT'S UP TO YOU: A Guide to Changing the System by Timothy J. & James Haughton Cooney

IT'S UP TO YOU: A Guide to Changing the System

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Our 'waste-and-weapons' value system is dead and intelligently buried here; youth must 'unhook' itself from the priorities that only dig us in deeper if youth is to dig us out. The first prong of the bipartite thesis is argued convincingly and very fruitfully: the authors -- they're the architects of Fight Back, the Harlem group whose main objective is to place blacks and Puerto Ricans in construction jobs -- examine the economic binds, political paradoxes, and racism (a facile cover-up for more pervasive, more profoundly toxic syndromes) operating in today's society. Less disciplined, however, is the ensuing projection of 'the new society,' a hypothetical program for radical change perhaps absolutist as a platform (e.g., legislating a $100,000 limit on net annual income), but instructive as a sample. Even working within the system to build the brave world that must be (by lobbying for the good, boycotting the bad, spreading the word) can mean leaping over lots of territory and stepping none-too-gingerly on lots of toes -- one's own included, comfort-wise; but that's the challenge posed by these perspectives and the how-to proffered by two men who've been there, who know and show why neither rhetoric nor ""the careless romanticism of violence"" will solve the problems. As Pete Hamill says in the hard-sell introduction, they're not ""in the social-experimentation business, acting out doctoral theses""; ""Revolution is the favorite word of ideological sprinters. This is a book by a pair of long-distance runners."" It's a hortatory book written from the gut to provoke and inspire but not to inflame; passing by the conventional handbook cliches and amenities, it gambles on honesty while most of the current literature remains flaccid. This is not, nor importantly, should it be the last word on the subject -- its particulars are open to question; but because it comes out as responsible proselytizing, it's a productive point of departure for anyone tough enough to maintain his balance.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1971
Publisher: Washburn