Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times
a book by Charles Derber
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that When the Women’s March gathered millions just one day after Trump’s inauguration, a new era of progressive action was born. Organizing on the far Right led to Trump’s election, bringing authoritarianism and the specter of neo-fascism, and intensifying corporate capitalism’s growing crises of inequality and injustices. Yet now we see a new universalizing resistance among progressive and left movements for truth, dignity, and a world based on democracy, equality, and sustainability.
U.S. 2011 before-tax income by quintile
Derber offers the first comprehensive guide to this new era and an original vision and strategy for movement success. He convincingly shows how only a new universalizing wave, a progressive and revolutionary "movement of movements," can counter the world-universalizing economic and cultural forces of intensifying corporate and far-right power.
Derber explores the crises and eroding legitimacy of the globalized capitalist system and the right wing movements that helped create the Trump era. He shows how left universalizing movements can—and must—converge to propel a mass base that can prevent societal, economic, or ecological collapse, stop a resurgent Right, and build a democratic social alternative. He describes tactics and strategies for this new progressive movement. Brief guest "interludes" by Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Bill Fletcher, Juliet Schor, Gar Alperovitz, Chuck Collins, Matt Nelson, Janet Wallace, and other prominent figures tell how to coalesce and universalize activism into a more powerful movement wave—at local, community, national, and international levels.
Vivid and highly accessible, this book is for activists, students, and all citizens concerned about the erosion of justice and democracy. It thoroughly illuminates the rationale, theory, practice, humanism, love, and joy of the social transformation that we urgently need.
Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times thoroughly illuminates the rationale, theory, practice, humanism, love, and joy of the social transformation that we urgently need
They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era argues that the attack on progressives will lead progressives to define and enact a New Progressivism that will “. . . restore the legitimacy of public life by renewing the effectiveness of government and reforming the workings of politics.” Unfortunately, even though the progressives’ valid goal of progress and improvement is hard to find fault with, they look toward politicians as the heroes who will enable such improvements and government programs as the entities that will effect the needed changes. They should reread the Tofflers and other of our better writers/thinkers. The great progressive changes in society are made by a civilizational evolutionary process in which politicians are mostly at the trailing edge running to keep up, not at the leading edge gesturing for us to follow.
The great progressive changes in society are made by a civilizational evolutionary process in which politicians are mostly at the trailing edge running to keep up, not at the leading edge gesturing for us to follow
"This book is joyfully jammed with the wisdom, experience, tools and motivation to overcome the ravages of the corporate state. On page after page, the theme is about building democratic initiatives and institutions for the common good and the good life of justice, peace and freedom. So gripping and personal is Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times, you can scarcely put this book down without putting yourself down. Read, digest, reflect and join with others for a functioning democracy."—Ralph Nader, Consumer Advocate and author of Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Derber says progressive movements must work together to confront interconnected hierarchies of power, because smaller issues are intertwined with a larger system; you can't confront one problem without confronting them all. Derber talks about ten steps for universalizing resistance – and bases it all in the goal of overcoming the isolation and despair of so many Americans through bottom-up solidarity and love built in new relationships and movements. Despite the monumental perils, Derber makes a convincing case that we may be on the cusp of a new transformative struggle that has a chance to halt the Far Right as well as build an alternative democratic, sustainable world full of justice and community. The book also has poignant photos and stories from the trenches of the resistance that offer hope.
Derber says we must coordinate the resistance that is currently siloed and fragmented and disconnected
"Earlier progressive movements including the 1890s populists, the 1930s New Dealers and 1960s student activists all developed universalizing anti-system agendas. But after the sixties, the Left fragmented and “de-universalized,” breaking into silos organized into cultural identity movements of race and gender, and separate peace, labor and environmental movements. Mostly white males, especially on college campuses, led universalizing 1960s movements, but they marginalized women, people of color and other oppressed groups, leading them to form their own identity movements. The new identity politics achieved major gains for women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and others. But as silo movements, they lost the universalizing spirit and the focus on the capitalist glue linking capitalism with racism, sexism and other social crises. . . . Trump himself may be the ultimate catalyzer of progressive universalizing, since nothing unites progressives quite like the threat of Big Brother Trump."(Source: Universalizing Resistance: How to Trump Trump, Charles Derber, Counterpunch)
Trump himself may be the ultimate catalyzer of progressive universalizing, since nothing unites progressives quite like the threat of Big Brother Trump
Derber's book is divided into three main parts: an analysis of the system in which we live today, a proposal for how to overcome the system, and third, some concrete proposals on what people can do. We live in what he calls a system of "militarized corporate capitalism." As he says, the resistance is too fragmented. "Ever since the late 1960s, which I think was the last period when progressive left resistance had a more universalizing character to it, where Martin Luther King finally said, 'I need to connect the Civil Rights Movement with the anti-Vietnam War movement with the labor movement of the time, and so forth' ... Ever since that period, . . . the left has fragmented . . . into a kind of more diffuse and a 'siloed' set of identity communities which don't really talk to each other or coordinate with each other, nor do they see their particular problems as necessarily intertwined with the larger system. . . . the only way you can successfully resist it is if you connect the dots and try to build a movement that, first of all, understands the nature of these connected problems that they're dealing with, and are able to coordinate with each other. " (Source: Universalizing Resistance: To Fight Trump, Fight the System, Gregory Wilpert and Charles Derber, The Real News)
Martin Luther King finally said, 'I need to connect the Civil Rights Movement with the anti-Vietnam War movement with the labor movement of the time, and so forth'
- No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need
- It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America
- The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy
- One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported
- Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump
- The Coup D'état Against President Donald J. Trump
- Demagoguery and Democracy
- Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right
- Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy
- Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
- Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power
Derber talks about the 2014 People's Climate March in New York. He likes this march in particular because it was a really good model of a universalizing resistance. There were about 400,000 people marching in New York City against our planet's climate change. Some were walking under the banner of feminism, and others were marching under the banner of labor, others marching under anti-war and peace organizations and so forth. He defines the central task for progressives and activists working for social change and transformation: universalizing resistance—building the movement of movements. The challenge posed by Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times: actually creating the process or political mechanism by which the strategy of universalizing resistance will be implemented.
2014 People's Climate March in New York
Derber's Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times offers a rigorous diagnosis of our nation's pathology and then follows up with a range of prescriptions. All prescriptions are offered supplemented with examples of successes. His strategy includes short-term measures, campaigns and nuts-and-bolts-type considerations, AND an array of full-blown recommendations for system change as well as how it may be accomplished. The book also has compelling commentaries from well-known activists and writers such as the venerable Noam Chomsky.
"All major institutions are being turned into corporations. . . . The corporation becomes the dominant and defining model of social institutions, enshrining hierarchy, exploitation, profit-seeking, and money over people," say the authors. The elites that have snuck this transformation of institutions on us while they distracted us with shiny objects actually have "money over people" values, so they merely saw an increase in efficiency. Many citizens adopted these values as well, but many—hopefully most progressives—did not. Activists, by definition, work for the good of the people while elites work for the good of—you guessed it—the elites. See Noam Chomsky's brillliant Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.
Most activists say activism is just something they feel they have to do, because the world is going to hell in a handbasket
". . . activism is difficult. Most activists will tell you they love it because it connects them with exciting people, it gives their life meaning—and it’s also just something they almost feel they have to do, because the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and they feel like they owe it to themselves and to the rest of the world. . . . I spend a lot of my time talking to students—who are very receptive given what’s going on in the world. They are not stupid about what’s happening in the world, and they know they are facing a planet that may burn out or blow up. . . . What we need is a full-blown, coordinated, unified movement in which people take on this system of militarized capitalism. We have a whole array of grassroots movements fighting now on a silo basis. [which need to universalize]" (Source: Universalizing Resistance to Capitalism, Charles Derber, Antidotezine)
Our young are not stupid about what’s happening in the world, and they know they are facing a planet that may burn out or blow up
When Martin Luther King's speeches began putting together civil rights and antiwar and anti-capitalist ideas, he was seen by the elites as too dangerous to live, so the elites had a convenient "lone gunman" do their dirty work.
Bernie Sanders (the most popular politician in the United States, according to most recent polls) was an important change in political candidates because his ideas were not mainstream and he represented a resurgence of universalizing and he was willing to buck the system and represent a democratic socialist viewpoint as he pointed out the flaws in Hillary's elite militaristic capitalist views which were merely digging us deeper into a debt hole. She was Obama 2.0 in a skirt, and since Obama sold out the same as Bill Clinton, Dubya, and now Trump, the voters were not too thrilled with the prospect of business as usual managed by an establishment queen.
The corporatocracy conspired with the media to get the citizens distracted with chasing shiny objects, so they wouldn't see how they were being exploited, deceived, and bamboozled
Hillary shot herself in the foot by being Obama 2.0 in a skirt—the establishment queen
Trump's dismantling of democracy, regulations, safety, the environmental protections, fair tax structures, and reasonable border policies confused the rubes that voted for him, but he told them he'd make things great again so they guessed this is what 'great' is like so they stuck by him
So they went with Trump, which millions of people now regret but a third of the country are sticking by him as he "makes America great again." Of course, his dismantling of democracy, regulations, safety, the environmental protections, fair tax structures, and reasonable border policies he threw in for free. He hadn't told the rubes that voted for him that these were all his redefinition of "great." By the time they intuited that he was making the country better for the rich and everyone else was being screwed, he was pulling interminable attention-grabbing shenanigans, and the corporatocracy was conspiring with the media to get the citizens distracted with chasing shiny objects, so these intuitions were given little opportunity to emerge into consciousness, so these rubes kept supporting him as he undermined them behind their backs.
If you love our country, resist, and never ever give up!
Trump made the country better for the rich and everyone else got screwed
The common denominator that has underwritten the persistance of race inequalities, gender inequalities, sexual orientation inequalities, even climate change issues is capitalism. Derber demonstrates that we won't get much progress in race, gender, sexual orientation, even climate change, within a highly militarized capitalist society. The issues are intertwined and cannot be successfully addressed as separate entities. The activists are in divided progressive groups that cannot succeed with their silo context. The anti-Trump movement—a.k.a. the resistance—is helping the progressive grassroots movements mobilize far more members (than expected) and bringing together a far larger and more unified (than expected) life-and-death struggle against Trumpism. Such mobilism was seen for a few days with the Occupy movement, but the media swatted away the focus on Occupy and the police swatted down the protesters so the results of Occupy were underwhelming. Apparently the Kings of Wall Street didn't like the way the protesters failed to bow down as they entered Wall Street.
The police swatted down the protesters so the results of Occupy were underwhelming—apparently the Kings of Wall Street didn't like the way the protesters failed to bow down as they entered Wall Street
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
What changed after the heartfelt, sincere Occupy Wall Street protests where we were telling the powers-that-be that their transference of wealth from the 99% to the 1% was getting sickeningly unfair? Nothing. Who listened? Only others of us 99%ers. Not a single 1%er even bothered to glance in the protesters direction.
'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'
One type of civil disobedience is mocking the oppressors nonviolently and without insults
Derber hits the nail on the head when he says “Progressive universalizing resistance is nonviolent and loving, but it refuses to let the system continue business as usual. It aims to create a new system that can sustain a just democratic order and the environment we all depend upon. And, as a nonviolent democracy movement, it aims for a new society that moves beyond corporate oligarchy, authoritarianism, militarism, racism, sexism, homophobia, and inequality in all forms.” He advocates nonviolent confrontation that uses being disruptive to stop the environmental degradation, racial and sexual injustices, oppression. Use civil disobedience. One type of civil disobedience is mocking the oppressors nonviolently and without insults. On the other hand, the quickest road to a police state is violence that forces the oppressors to dump rights and start chalking up a serious body count. See Understanding the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion.
Here is the result of militarized corporate capitalism, which is set up to enrich the rich and rob the nonrich; most of us detest this; we need activism to begin changing it—so what are we wailting for?
The ladder of class mobility seems to be rigged! The rich get richer and the nonrich are screwed, which is the elite's plan in a nutshell