by Jeremy Brecher
Publisher: PM Press 2017
Easy to read 100 page book about how to collaborate and proactively work to stop the end of the world — or at least the extermination of humanity — aka climate change. Clearly committed to non-violent direct action, there is a lot here that could be useful for anti-capitalists and anti-imperialists interested in working on the issue of climate change with more mainstream peeps. In case you’ve forgotten the standard guidelines for behaving nicely and politely with liberals and other largely pro-capitalist forces, the book offers some useful reminders about how to frame your position or voice.
Some anti-fascist movement folks could probably learn a point or two by reading this text and then applying the same methods to anti-fascist organising. Check out chapters eight and nine on turning the public’s mind and turning worriers into warriors. Both chapters probably have the greatest value for any movement, including fighting climate change, because they help address two key issues: dealing with the public and getting privileged and/or scared people to move past worry into action.
Another key tool Brecher leverages is connecting the struggle to the Public Trust Doctrine. This is brilliant, and it is leveraged by other activists aside from Brecher. The concept, though, of acting to enforce the laws even when government won’t, is instructive. What claim do animal rights, prison abolition, and anti-imperialists center that connects with their intended audience?
Some tone and attitude were annoying, and yes, I get irked when people do not want to remove the underlying cause for global destruction, market and state sponsored capitalisms aka greed, but, in the mean time, Brecher’s book offers a clear and open road map for people of all sane political stripes that want to make sure there’s still a planet to live on. And while Black Blocs, direct action, and militancy is certainly helpful in multiple venues and multiple issues, Brecher’s book offers a quick, easy guide for those who want to put on liberal activist masks for a bit and work collaboratively with masses to avoid human species suicide.
My beef: using the term insurgency is hyperbolic because it implies armed conflict. Brecher is clearly non-violent and seems to abhor non-symbolic property destruction. So be it. Then again, maybe he’s using insurgency to encourage placard carrying, protest marshall obeying, normally okay with law enforcement feeling people, aka white middle class, to finally throw down a bit more, get arrested, and actually move past their Facebook protest posts while trying to save the planet.