Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Taking on the System"

Al Giordano:
I've just penned this review of an important book that comes out tomorrow: Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era, by Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga (2008, Celebra). Here's an excerpt:

Taking on the System should not only be required reading for candidates for office and those that run their campaigns, but also for non-electoral and anti-electoral activists, too.
Chapter Five is titled "Feed the Backlash," and is summarized: "When your enemies begin to notice you - and attack you - you have arrived. Instead of avoiding confrontation with gatekeepers and opponents, embrace it and feed it. Stoking the flames of controversy brings visibility to your issues, raises your profile and effectiveness, and begins a cycle of ever-increasing attention that you can use to your advantage."It covers not only how to "embrace the attacks" but also "when to ignore the attacks." These are the simple techniques that the late Abbie Hoffman worked so hard to teach the few of us then-youngsters that would listen, back in the 1980s, when his own generation had pretty much used him up and spit him out. Today, in 2008, we have a current teacher from a new generation who discovered many of these techniques through his own experience, amended and mutated them to better fit the new century and its domination by media, and who now - as his multiple hat tips to Saul Alinsky suggest - has come to see his work in the tradition of the great community organizers that had been mostly forgotten for so many years.

Taking on the System goes on sale tomorrow. If you're an activist, a journalist, or an aspiring change agent of any tendency, the $23.95 price of admission ($16.29 online) will be the best and most economical college tuition you ever paid. And if you know somebody that is, or tries, or wants to be one of those things, and you sometimes wish they would just be better at it, then don't dawdle: purchase a second copy for him or her.

This is the most coherent guide to political organizing - on or off the Internet - penned in a generation.
Howie P.S.: BONUS excerpt: The release date for Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era, by Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga (2008, Celebra) was moved up from early September to tomorrow, August 20 – in the nick of time for the Democratic National Convention to be held next week in Denver. Howard Dean would do well to put a copy of that book on every delegate and candidate’s convention seat, as it is a roadmap for how to organize – on and off the Internet – to win political battles.

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