June 1, 2017

Bookshelf; Rules for radicals

Bruce Levine - Occupy Wall Street insider Jonathan Smucker’s recently published Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals (AK Press, 2017) is the post-Occupy guide for how to be smarter about politics. Smucker, a long-time grassroots organizer, does not dismiss what Occupy did right but is honest about its failures. The 99% remain just as powerless as ever, and we still have endless wars, corporate control, and increasing social and economic injustices.

In the tradition of Saul Alinsky and Antonio Gramsci, Smucker points out that “knowledge of what is wrong with a social system and knowledge of how to change the system are two completely different categories of knowledge.”

Smucker spares nothing and no one—including himself—in his passion to achieve political victory. Smucker asks himself: “How many times, I wondered, had I favored a particular action or tactic because I really thought it was likely to change a decision-maker’s position or win over key allies, as opposed to gravitating toward an action because it expressed my activist identity and self-conception? How concerned were we really, in our practice, with political outcomes?” Smucker concludes, “We often seemed more preoccupied with the purity of our political expression than with how to move from Point A to Point B. It felt as if having the right line about everything was more important than making measurable progress on anything.”


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