Monday, November 07, 2005


After deciding that I should take advantage of my current state of unemployment by (among other things) starting an online blog, it took me a while to decide on a name. I finally ended up going with 'Ideas For Action' both because i think it fits with what ima try and do with this thing but also because its the title of a great book by long time activist, teacher, and writer Cynthia Kaufman.

My parents actually gave me this book about two years ago when they visited Modern Times bookstore out in San Francisco, one of the few great bookstores still around in the United States that have not been bum-rushed by Mr. Barnes & Nobles and the crew at Amazon (I might write more on this later, but it always saddens me when activists still buy radical books at places like Amazon instead of supporting their local bookstores just because they save a few bucks...we gotta support our idependent bookstores and pubishers!) .

The description of Ideas for Action reads:

"From the Enron scandal to global warming, from the war on terrorism to the war on drugs, a growing number of people are unhappy with the status quo. Yet those genuinely interested in reading about the issues find that few contemporary theorists are seriously committed to accessible, clear writing. Furthermore, the mainstream media rarely represents social movements, and the theories associated with them, without distortion or bias.

Written in an engaging and accessible style, Ideas for Action gives activists the intellectual tools to turn discontent into a plan of action. Exploring a wide range of political traditions—including Marxism, anarchism, anti-imperialism, poststructualism, feminism, critical race theory, and environmentalism—Cynthia Kaufman acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of political movements and the ideologies inspired or generated through them.

Kaufman incorporates elements of her own activist experiences, and offers a coherent analysis without pretending to offer "the final word" on complex issues. Instead, she encourages inquiry and further investigation, offering readers the information to orient a critical understanding of the social world and a glimpse of the excitement and rewards of serious intellectual engagement with political ideas.

Ideas for Action examines the work of diverse thinkers such as Adam Smith, Paulo Freire, Stuart Hall, and Grace Lee Boggs. In chapters that cover economics, imperialism, racism, feminism, the environment, authority, nationalism, and the media, Kaufman's insights break the chains of cynicism and lay a foundation for more effective organizing."

Especially for younger activists (she had her own students in mind when she wrote the book) this is a great introductory read both into the world of political theory (which is often too complicated for most of us to understand) and actual activism (she starts off the book by describing what she felt like when she came to her first organzing 'meeting', a feeling i think many of us have shared in common over the years. Anyway its good stuff so without logging on to Amazon try and get your hands on it...

1 comment:

the burningman said...

take care with the blogs on unemployment time. I started one up when I had time to burn and then got busy with paid work, etc and the blog languished. It's much fun, very rewarding -- and the number of intelliegent radical blogs that are consistant is very small.

Good luck. Check out the date of my last blog entry...