Tools for Radical Democracy: How to Organize for Power in Your Community
a book by Joan Minieri, Paul Getsos, and Kim Klein
(our site's book review)
Tools for Radical Democracy is an essential resource for grassroots organizers and leaders, students of activism and advocacy, and anyone trying to increase the civic participation of ordinary people. Authors Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos share stories and tools from their nationally recognized and award-winning work of building a community-led organization, training community leaders, and conducting campaigns that changed public policy and delivered concrete results to tens of thousands of people.
This how-to manual includes in-depth analysis of how to launch and win a campaign, tools and guidelines for training people to lead their own campaigns and organizations, and insights for using technology effectively, building more powerful alliances, and engaging in the social justice movement.
Involving and organizing others—especially the most marginalized members of society—in a social-justice movement
"The authors offer a guide to involving and organizing others—especially the most marginalized members of society—in a social-justice movement. Throughout the book are examples of meeting agendas, campaign plans, surveys to determine the key issues that are important to local residents, lists of desired qualities in community-organizing leaders, and other resources that can serve as templates." —Chronicle of Philanthropy, January 10, 2008
This book should help inspire the next generation of social change movements (the best one: MCs), which our country is in dire need of. This book has the key to building collective power for the goal of long-term social change. It makes the claim that it teaches how to rebuild democracy from the ground up. The democracy doesn't need ground-up help. The Consitution and Bill of Rights and the establishment of the three governmental pillars (judicial, legislative, executive) of our democratic structure have given us the perfect ground already.
The U.S. is now a puppet government run by a shadow government
What needs rebuilding is how these pillars function, how elections happen, how the corporatocracy has so corrupted the government that it is now a government of the corporatocracy, by the corporatocracy, and for the corporatocracy. We need to have our leaders give back the civil rights of the people half of which the Patriot Act robbed from us citizens. We need to expose and dismantle the shadow government that is the true power behind the apparent power of the government. We are now a puppet government. We elect a Supreme Court that votes to let corporate money buy elections, so that we've traded our democracy for an oligarchy. We need to get money out of politics and go back to the Founders' version of a democracy.
The Founders are turning over in their graves because of how we've managed to butcher our democracy
Before reading this book, read Democracy—an American Delusion and see if you still believe the U.S. is a democracy. Since it isn't, the task then becomes replacing the current oligarchy with the democracy we used to have.
The authors are entirely correct that grassroots movements and citizen activism will be necessary to get our government back on track, because currently it has run off the tracks.
The authors are entirely correct that grassroots movements and citizen activism will be necessary to get our government back on track, because currently it has run off the tracks
The authors show how to organize for power in your community, and a tiny amount of this work can be done through the voting process, but most of the work is about the type of work most people never contemplate: building a community-led organization, training community leaders, and conducting campaigns that change public policy. Grassroots movements and citizen activism will be necessary as well as working with the established local governmental structures which may be compromised by corruption or at least laziness. This is a good book if you're looking for real-world, practical lessons on radical social justice organizing. You can make a big local impact with such a book, but the national political situation is way beyond help with the book's modest strategies. For example, the Occupy Wall Street protest was ignored by press and the 1% as well, even though it acted in a national context.
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'
This book is based in the real life experience of very skilled community activists whose desire is to share their knowledge to increase the viability of local communities. We should all spread the ideas that people working together can create positive change in our neighborhoods.
The authors tell us that "We both came of age during the rise of the conservative agenda* in the United States. Yet, over the last 25 years we have seen first hand that organizing and building power for social justice is not only possible in this political climate—it works. We have seen community-based organizing campaigns win changes in social policy, improve the administration of programs that service millions of people, preserve and protect our environment and force companies to pay living wages, provide benefits and pay for community benefits and improvements."
The conservative agenda* is very different now than it was in the 1950s and 1960s. "Don't spend money you don't have" has changed to "spend tons of money you don't have on warmongering, plunging the U.S. into deep debt, because the neocons and oligarchs in charge want to profiteer from war and from Big Bank shenanigans with debt itself." And "direct military intervention should be replaced with aid (sometimes covert, sometimes not) to allied forces" has changed to "let us let fanatic neocon American military empire builders lead us into as many wars as it takes for us to have world hegemony."
This is how the neocon warmongers that run our government from the shadows see U.S. citizens: cannon fodder
The problem is that these newer, modern agendas are the same for the liberals as they are for the conservatives (except that the conservatives now have the evangelicals on their side, full of fire and brimstone values centered on the Culture War). Neither party tells citizens about their real plans—they simply lie through their teeth (e.g., Dubya, Obama) while planning to do whatever the fanatic neocons ask since they're scared of them. Neither voting for a conservative Bush nor a liberal Obama has made any difference to the U.S. following this imperialist agenda, and both parties love to spend like crazy knowing full well the huge debt load would wreck future generations' chances. We citizens cannot vote to stop this warmongering ugliness because no candidate represents such a view. The people do not want this eternal war nonsense but we get exactly that whether we like it or not. Why even vote? The war-loving shadow government runs the show.
"Too few people have way too much power in the U.S. and far too many citizens have far too little power," say the authors. This premise motivates people like Joan Minieri, Paul Getsos, and Kim Klein to help people learn how to organize for power in their communities. The U.S. is a place of heros—the myths and realities of the individual that does great things. Even though war is a time of collective heroism (WWII), it is the individuals singled out for medals that we remember (or elect to office, e.g., Ike). The collective power of mass movements is downplayed by both our leaders and our media, since the former want the glory for themselves and the latter are only too happy to keep them in the spotlight to such a degree that often the news is little but a running commentary on presidential matters. The collective power of mass movements is rarely given a footnote, even though actual political progress in the U.S. is almost always at the local level with citizen activism—a fact entirely ignored by national media, although occasionally commented on in local media reports.
The authors say it best: "If you are willing to take on those who make decisions that have negative effects on the many while benefiting the few, this book is for you." Democracy is rule by the people, but this happens only if people reach out aggressively and grab it. It is by NO means automatic, nor is it built into democracy. Only the potential for people power is built into democracy. But all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. And the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Inactive citizens serve the elites (by default) while active citizens serve the people.
The rise of the right-wingers led to abandonment of aiding people in need at the local, state, and national level while giving huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy
There has been an abolitionist movement, an 8-hour work day movement, a child labor law movement, a minimum wage movement, a civil rights movement, a women's rights movement, a gay rights movement and a labor union movement. All worked well and changed society for the better. On the other hand, the book notes the rise of the right-wingers which led to abandonment of aiding people in need at the local, state, and national level while giving huge tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. Additonally, the book notes, individual rights have been reduced as the U.S. military has expanded its warmongering and police power across the globe.
The NSA burning the Constitution—goodbye rights, hello government spying
Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!