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Chelsea Green Blog

How Americans Can Get Up and Stand Up

The following review of Bruce Levine’s book, Get Up, Stand Up, was written by David Swanson. It appeared originally on his website, davidswanson.org.

In December 2009, psychologist Bruce Levine published an article at Alternet called “Are Americans a Broken People?” His timing couldn’t have been better. Americans of good will and bad analysis were suffering a severe fit of Obamanation withdrawal. The article was reposted everywhere, commented on endlessly, and responded to voluminously. (This was my response.) Levine has now developed his article into an important book called “Get Up, Stand Up.”

Setting aside the particular burst of raging defeatism that has swept through the ranks of borderline Democratic Party loyalists who had placed their hopes in the Savior of 2008, there was always a problem. We had sat on our hands through blatantly stolen elections. We shrank the peace movement as wars grew less popular. We watched the government hand our grandchildren’s unearned pay to Wall Street in the biggest theft ever committed, and while a majority of us “opposed” it, almost nobody did a goddamn thing about it. The labor movement won’t engage in serious production-halting strikes, being too busy rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Wal-Mart shoppers trample people to death for cheap televisions and refuse orders to disperse, but crowds protesting enormous crimes pen themselves in free-speech cages, while airport travelers meekly submit to gropings and pornoscans, and the natural environment is being deliberately and methodically destroyed for all time before our knowing but glassy eyes. There’s a long-standing lack in our society of whatever it is that causes other societies to not put up with this kind of shit.

Let’s set some other things aside for the moment. We need a lot of reforms to the structure of our country. Political bribery should be criminalized, union organizing should be legalized, the media cartel should be broken up, the two political parties should be broken up, etc. We need better leadership in activist campaigns, which should stop bowing down before the Democratic Party, selling out, and opposing aggressive nonviolent disruption of business and murder as usual. I believe those are all hugely important topics. Activist energy is being misdirected and under-utilized all the time. It also exists in far greater measure than the corporate media tells us, adding to the importance of creating a useful communications system. But Levine’s topic, which does not necessarily exclude or dismiss any others, is the state of the individual U.S. activist, or inactivist as the case may be. Continue reading the full article at David Swanson Blog


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