Reading list curated by Micah White, co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, for activists and social revolutionaries. Thank you for buying your books directly from us: we ship worldwide and your order funds our activist efforts.
Is protest broken? Micah White, co-creator of Occupy Wall Street, thinks so. Disruptive tactics have failed to halt the rise of Donald Trump. Movements ranging from Black Lives Matter to environmentalism are leaving activists frustrated. Meanwhile, recent years have witnessed the largest protests in human history. Yet these mass mobilizations no longer change society. Now activism is at a crossroads: innovation or irrelevance.
In The End of Protest Micah White heralds the future of activism. Drawing on his unique experience with Occupy Wall Street, a contagious protest that spread to eighty-two countries, White articulates a unified theory of revolution and eight principles of tactical innovation that are destined to catalyze the next generation of social movements.
Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry, and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all.
Germinal expresses outrage at the exploitation of the many by the few, but also shows humanity’s capacity for compassion and hope.
Micah says: "I re-read this novel whenever I'm feeling burned out. Zola captures the inner logic of a revolutionary uprising with an uncanny ability to see the event from multiple perspectives. Brilliant!"
"Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains"
These are the famous opening words of a treatise that has not ceased to stir vigorous debate since its first publication in 1762. Rejecting the view that anyone has a natural right to wield authority over others, Rousseau argues instead for a pact, or 'social contract', that should exist between all the citizens of a state and that should be the source of sovereign power. From this fundamental premise, he goes on to consider issues of liberty and law, freedom and justice, arriving at a view of society that has seemed to some a blueprint for totalitarianism, to others a declaration of democratic principles.
Micah says: "I'm studying this book closely now as it holds the key to unlocking the mystery of Sovereignty and the General Will. This is a brilliant and refreshing book for today's activists."
In a revolutionary America at the edge of our imagination, two men face off in a struggle for the future. On one side is Lando, a twenty-something urban guerilla whose obsession with saving the country drives his Army of the Republic deeper into a violent campaign of bombing and assassination. On the other side is James Sands, a billionaire entrepreneur so determined to preserve his privileges that he unwittingly hires death squads to hunt down and murder his own family. Against the backdrop of mass demonstrations and corporate armies, this thrilling kaleidoscopic novel explores the deeper issues of love, family, and lethal rebellion.
Micah says: "Too few people have read this thought-provoking novel on the limits of protest and the morality of political violence."
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. he will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.
Micah says: "Best anarchist novel ever written, period. This is a classic that will be read by activists for centuries. I'm re-reading it now!"
A riveting novel of labor strife and apocalyptic violence... At once a relentlessly fast-paced, admirably observed novel of social unrest and the story of a young man's struggle for identity, In Dubious Battle is set in the California apple country, where a strike by migrant workers against rapacious landowners spirals out of control, as a principled defiance metamorphoses into blind fanaticism. Caught in the upheaval is Jim Nolan, a once aimless man who finds himself in the course of the strike.
Micah says: "Wonderful for its depiction of communist organizing in rural America. Strong dialogue and discussion of social change theory."
Dr. Stockmann attempts to expose a water pollution scandal in his home town which is about to establish itself as a spa. When his brother, the mayor, conspires with local politicians and the newspaper to suppress the story, Stockmann appeals to the public meeting—only to be shouted down and reviled as 'an enemy of the people'. Ibsen's explosive play, adapted by Arthur Miller, reveals his distrust of politicians and the blindly held prejudices of the 'solid majority'.
Micah says: "Fantastic play that reveals how people react when an activist appears in their midst."
An arresting debut novel, "In the Pond" is a darkly funny portrait of Shoe Bin, an amateur calligrapher who wields his delicate artist's brush as a weapon against the party bureaucrats who rule his provincial Chinese town.
Micah says: "A vision of activism in Maoist China, fascinating!"
Violence, Slavoj Žižek states, takes three forms--subjective (crime, terror), objective (racism, hate-speech, discrimination), and systemic (the catastrophic effects of economic and political systems)--and often one form of violence blunts our ability to see the others, raising complicated questions.
Does the advent of capitalism and, indeed, civilization cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of "the neighbour"? And could the appropriate form of action against violence today simply be to contemplate, to think?
Beginning with these and other equally contemplative questions, Žižek discusses the inherent violence of globalization, capitalism, fundamentalism, and language, in a work that will confirm his standing as one of our most erudite and incendiary modern thinkers.
Micah says: "Foundational text on thinking about violence. Crucial reading for revolutionaries."
Lesabéndio is an intergalactic utopian novel that describes life on the planetoid Pallas, where rubbery suction-footed life forms with telescopic eyes smoke bubble-weed in mushroom meadows under violet skies and green stars. Amid the conveyor-belt highways and lighthouses weaving together the mountains and valleys, a visionary named Lesabéndio hatches a plan to build a 44-mile-high tower and employ architecture to connect the two halves of their double star. A cosmic ecological fable, Scheerbart’s novel was admired by such architects as Bruno Taut and Walter Gropius, and such thinkers as Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem (whose wedding present to Benjamin was a copy of Lesabéndio). As translator Christina Svendsen writes in her introduction, “Lesabéndio helps us imagine an ecological politics more daring than the conservative politics of preservation.”
Micah says: "Those who are willing to suffer will go far... This is a work of utter genius and inspiration for social visionaries."
A man trapped in a millionare's deadly game of political and sexual betrayal.
Filled with shocks and chilling surprises, The Magus is a masterwork of contemporary literature. In it, a young Englishman, Nicholas Urfe, accepts a teaching position on a Greek island where his friendship with the owner of the islands most magnificent estate leads him into a nightmare. As reality and fantasy are deliberately confused by staged deaths, erotic encounters, and terrifying violence, Urfe becomes a desperate man fighting for his sanity and his life. A work rich with symbols, conundrums and labrinthine twists of event, The Magus is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining, a work that ranks with the best novels of modern times.
Micah says: "The masterwork of subjectivism!"
The Seven Military Classics is one of the most profound studies of warfare ever written. It presents us with an Eastern tradition of strategic thought that emphasizes outwitting one’s opponent through speed, stealth, flexibility, and a minimum of force—an approach very different from that stressed in the West, where the advantages of brute strength have overshadowed more subtle methods.Safeguarded for centuries by the ruling elites of imperial China, even in modern times these writings have been known only to a handful of Western specialists. In this volume are seven separate essays, written between 500 b.c. and a.d. 700, that preserve the essential tenets of strategy distilled from the experience of the most brilliant warriors of ancient China. Only one of these seven essays, Sun Tzu’s famous Art of War, has been readily available in the West.
Micah says: "Extremely important and indispensable volume. There is tremendous strategic and tactical wisdom on each page. Study this book closely."
A book judged so dangerous in the Soviet Union that not only the manuscript but the ribbons on which it had been typed were confiscated by the state, Life and Fate is an epic tale of World War II and a profound reckoning with the dark forces that dominated the twentieth century.
Life and Fate juxtaposes bedrooms and snipers’ nests, scientific laboratories and the Gulag, taking us deep into the hearts and minds of characters ranging from a boy on his way to the gas chambers to Hitler and Stalin themselves.
This novel of unsparing realism and visionary moral intensity is one of the supreme achievements of modern Russian literature.
Micah says: "Life and Fate is an unforgettable account of war and peace in Soviet Russia. Running throughout the book is a poignant theme of resistance against the orthodoxy of thought. Stalinist forces tried to erase this book's existence."
Edward Abbey was a hero to environmentalists and rebels of every stripe. With Fire on the Mountain, this literary giant of the New West gave readers a powerful, moving, and enduring tale that gloriously celebrates the undying spirit of American activism.
John Vogelin's land is his life—a barren stretch of New Mexican wilderness mercifully bypassed by civilization. Then the government moves in. And suddenly the elderly, mule-stubborn rancher is confronting the combined land-grabbing greed of the county sheriff, the Department of the Interior, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the U.S. Air Force. But a tough old man is like a mountain lion: if you back him into a corner, he'll come out fighting.
Micah says: "A glorious tale of resistance against all odds. Inspiring!"
In her stunning novel, Hall imagines a new dystopia set in the not-too-distant future. England is in a state of environmental crisis and economic collapse. There has been a census, and all citizens have been herded into urban centers. Reproduction has become a lottery, with contraceptive coils fitted to every female of childbearing age. A girl who will become known only as "Sister" escapes the confines of her repressive marriage to find an isolated group of women living as "un-officials" in Carhullan, a remote northern farm, where she must find out whether she has it in herself to become a rebel fighter. Provocative and timely, Daughters of the North poses questions about the lengths women will go to resist their oppressors, and under what circumstances might an ordinary person become a terrorist.
Micah says: "An insurrectionary feminist novel written in haunting sparse prose."
Internationally renowned author Arundhati Roy draws on her unprecedented access to a little-known rebel movement in India to pen a work full of earth-shattering revelations. Deep in the forests, under the pretense of battling Maoist guerillas, the Indian government is waging a vicious total war against its own citizens-a war undocumented by a weak domestic press and fostered by corporations eager to exploit the rare minerals buried in tribal lands. Roy takes readers to the unseen front lines of this ongoing battle, chronicling her months spent living with the rebel guerillas in the forests. In documenting their local struggles, Roy addresses the much larger question of whether global capitalism will tolerate any societies existing outside of its colossal control.
Micah says: "Honest, real and provocative."
"The lectures that were the basis for Man and the State were delivered at the University of Chicago at a time when Maritain was still in the first enthusiasm of his participation in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He devotes particular attention to the concept of rights, since, historically, rights theories were fashioned to supplant the natural law theory to which Maritain as a Thomist gives his allegiance. Maritain provides an ingenious and profound theory as to how natural law and natural rights can be complementary. For this reason alone it remains a fundamental contribution to political philosophy, but it is filled with other gems as well. Was Maritain too optimistic in his appraisal of modernity? Or have we unjustly lost the optimism that was his? Man and the State is an invitation to rethink the way we pose the basic questions of political philosophy."―Ralph McInerny, Jacques Maritain Center, University of Notre Dame
Micah says: "Crucial for understanding Sovereignty."
"To read Heidegger is to set out on an adventure. The essays in this volume--intriguing, challenging, and often baffling to the reader--call him always to abandon all superficial scanning and to enter wholeheartedly into the serious pursuit of thinking....
"Heidegger is not a 'primitive' or a 'romanitic.' He is not one who seeks escape from the burdens and responsibilities of contemporary life into serenity, either through the re-creating of some idyllic past or through the exalting of some simple experience. Finally, Heidegger is not a foe of technology and science. He neither disdains nor rejects them as though they were only destructive of human life." —William Lovitt, from the Introduction
Micah says: "The most important essay ever written on the nature of technology."
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