Foreword Reviews - ForeSight Politics - July 2011
A government that has spiraled out of control and is no longer responsive to working Americans demoralizes voters, regardless of their party affiliation. These are the people Bruce E. Levine reaches out to in Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite (Chelsea Green, 9-781-60358-298-8). Levine holds a PhD and is a practicing clinical psychologist who relies on professional insight to offer plans and strategies to energize the public to take back control from the “corporatocracy,” the corporate/government alliance that ensures a small, wealthy elite maintains power over the majority anti-authoritarians.
The author portrays the American Revolution, abolitionism, and late nineteeth-century Populism as successful mass movements that resulted in positive change and serve as models for current groups comprised of angry Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Levine demonstrates that “corporatocratic” subjugation can be challenged by people who recover their self-respect and self-esteem then go on to connect with like-minded individuals who become empowered to challenge the elite fat cats who are calling the shots.
Dissident psychologist Levine (Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic) contrasts American political apathy to the popular revolts in many countries against harmful policies pushed by the power elite. He diagnoses the numerous maladies that make ordinary Americans feel powerless in the face of “tyrannical corporatocracy”—from too much corporate-controlled news and entertainment and overprescription of antidepressant and attention deficit disorder medications to the decline of organized labor and the lack of real economic differences between our two dominant political blocs. Levine argues that ordinary folk on both the right and the left can find common ground, much like the populists who united disparate strands of anticorporatism and antielitism to storm the economic heights of the Gilded Age. Levine prescribes a mixture of education, protest, promotion of independent economic institutions, and revival of the belief that Americans can once again control their own future rather than meekly accept the dictates of the corporate powers that be. VERDICT A compelling alternative look at today’s unsettled U.S. political circumstances through the lens of social psychology, this will be attractive to those who already feel alienated and those looking for new ways to make sense of our changing world. —Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Libs., Iowa City
Get Up, Stand Up - Toward a Liberation Psychology
By RUSSELL MOKHIBER - Counterpunch - May 1, 2011
The majority of Americans want a single payer, universal heath care system – everybody in, nobody out.
Yet, during the health care debate, there were no mass protests demanding it.
Why didn't we get up, stand up – and confront the health insurance industry and its lackeys in Washington?
Put aside all of the books on health care reform.
For that matter, put aside all of the books on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on clean energy, on corporate crime – on any issue you care about.
And buy a copy of Get Up, Stand Up – Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite by Bruce Levine (Chelsea Green, 2011).
In this remarkable book, Levine puts us on the collective couch and gives us a peek into the American political psyche.
Like I said, you'll have to get a copy of this book and read it.
But to give you an idea, here are ten snapshots into the American political mind courtesy of Dr. Levine.
Fatalism. "When fatalism sets in, truths about economic injustices and lost liberties are no longer enough to set people free. While a charismatic politician can still garner a large turnout of voters who are angry with whichever party is in power, the majority of Americans appear resigned to the idea that they have no power over institutions that rule their lives."
Learned helplessness. "Learned helplessness is one commonsense explanation for depression and immobilization. When people have been conditioned to believe that no action they take will stop their suffering, they learn helplessness and powerlessness and sink into an immobilized state."
Abuse syndrome. "Are Americans locked into an abuse syndrome of sorts in which revelations about their victimization by a corporate-government partnership produce increased anesthetization rather than constructive action?. . .Abuse is, at bottom, about control. Some abusers may get a rush from inflicting pain, but all abusers are addicted to control. Abusers seek to gain complete control over their victims. When the abuse starts, the victim may have the strength to identify the abuse, confront it, and – if necessary, and if the option exists – end the relationship. If this does not happen and the abuse continues, a vicious weakening cycle – what's commonly called the abuse syndrome – takes hold."
Social isolation. "One method of breaking individuals and populations is social isolation. When people are kept isolated from one another, they will not have their doubts about authority validated. They are less likely to consider that there are others such as themselves who could potentially band together, achieving greater strength and enough power to overthrow a tyranny."
Self-respect vs. self absorption. "Self-respect is quite different from self-absorption. Self absorption is an incessant focus on one's own feelings, dissatisfactions, and image. This can ultimately diminish one's self-respect. People lacking self-respect are often self-absorbed, insecure, and so ego-attached to their opinions that they are incapable of listening to others and having respectful discussions. Thus, self-absorption contributes to social isolation and prevents respectful relationships. . . With self-absorption, people actually lose self-respect and the capacity to work together. But self-absorption is exactly what a consumer culture demands. Self-absorption makes it more difficult to form friendships and other significant human relationships, and loneliness is good news for a consumer economy that thrives on increasing numbers of 'buying units.' More lonely people means selling more televisions and DVDs."
Comfortable/Afflicted Dichotomy. "I don't presume to know what everybody in the afflicted class needs, but I can tell you what would have engaged me when I was a member. I certainly didn't need lectures or other easy ego-tripping advice on what I should do. From the comfortable, I would have liked to hear some recognition that human beings often become passive not because they are ignorant, stupid, lazy or immature but because they are overwhelmed by their pain, and their primary goal is to shut down or divert themselves in order to function at all. So when I found myself watching too much stupid television to divert myself from the pain of my life, I knew that watching stupid television was destructive for me. People know that alcohol, drugs, gambling, and other shutdowns, escapes, and diversion are not healthy. But they also know that without these shutdowns and diversions, their pain can be so overwhelming that they feel suicidal, homicidal, or psychotic. Comfortable anti-authoritarians need to respect the reality of the effects of overwhelming pain. The assumption that people's inactions are caused by ignorance sounds and smells elitist to many in the afflicted class who lack the energy to be engaged in any activism. Instead of lecturing to the afflicted, the comfortable might try respecting them and, if possible, sharing resources with them. Respect, resources, and anything that concretely reduces their level of pain is likely to be far more energizing than a scolding lecture."
Depressed reaction. "The desire to rebel against unjust, disrespected, and oppressive authority is valid, and the strategy of disruption is a legitimate one. However, the specific tactics of disruption may or may not be wise ones given the nature of the authority. When people lack self-respect or are depressed, they tend to either do nothing or flail without wisdom. Research shows that significantly depressed parents are more likely to create additional problems rather than solve them when parenting – such parents routinely underact or overreact to their children's behaviors. Absent morale and healing, human beings tend to be reactive rather than proactive. They tend to be impulsive rather than strategic. Depressed people may be passive or they may be agitated. They may do nothing, or they may flail out and create blowback that makes matters worse."
"Similar to depressed individuals, when a group is demoralized and lacks individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, it can also tend to either do nothing or flail out without wisdom. Thus, there are interplays among self-respect, success, morale, confidence, and the wisdom to size up a situation and select the right strategy and tactics that gain the most power."
Bridging the Left/Libertarian Populist Divide. "One example of an anti-authoritarian movement that I am personally familiar with is the mental health treatment reform movement, which comprises people who identify themselves as 'on the left,' others who identify themselves as 'libertarians,' and still others who disdain any political labels. I can tell you from my nearly two decades of working with these reformers that they certainly have different political views, but they all share a distrust for Big Pharma, a contempt for pseudoscience, and a belief that people deserve truly informed choice with respect to treatment. Most of these reformers respect Erich Fromm, the leftist psychoanalyst, along with Thomas Szasz, the libertarian psychiatrist – both passionate anti-authoritarians who have confronted mental health professionals for using dogma to coerce and control people."
Individual self respect and collective self consciousness. "Historian Lawrence Goodwyn has studied democratic movements and written extensively about the Populist Movement in the Untied States that occurred during the 1870s through the 1890s, what he calls 'the largest democratic mass movement in American history.' Goodwyn concludes that democratic movements are initiated by people who are not resigned to the status quo or intimidated by established powers, and who have not allowed themselves to be 'culturally organized to conform to established hierarchical forms.' Goodwyn writes in The Populist Moment: 'Democratic movements are initiated by people who have individually managed to attain a high level of personal political respect. . .In psychological terms, its appearance reflects the development within the movement of a new kind of collective self-confidence. Individual self-respect and collective self confidence constitute, then, the cultural building blocks of mass democratic politics.'"
"Similarly, the education reform movement includes anti-authoritarians across the ideological spectrum, from libertarian educators such as John Taylor Gatto to left educators such as Alfie Kohn. While there are political differences among them, they agree that most standard schools are oppressive environments that more often encourage obeying orders, apathy, and dependence on authorities rather than nurturing curiosity and critical thinking."
Liberation psychology. "In this war, human relationships are vitally important. It is in the interest of the elite to keep people divided and to keep them distrusting one another. It is in the interest of the people working toward democracy to build respectful and cooperative human relationships across all fields of society."
"When one understands that the battlefield for democracy begins with the battle to restore individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, one then sees the entire society and culture replete with battlefields in which such self-respect and collective confidence can be won or lost."
Russell Mokhiber edits Single Payer Action.
Read the original review.
How Americans Can Get Up and Stand Up - by 26 April 2011 - Posted on
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.
When a group of people gives President Obama $76,000 in order to politely protest his criminal policies for a couple of minutes, there is something wrong with their strategy. But there is probably something wrong in their souls as well. And everyone else in the room who stands by embarrassed that people would bring up the topic of torture: are they healthy? And the hundreds of millions of people doing nothing and telling each other that nothing can be done? There may not be a purely systemic solution to their mental damage. There may be something broken inside them. They may need to be cured of some strain of bubonic babbittry or corporatocritis. And there may or may not be a cure.
I've struggled with how to answer what I think of as the "But why don't we all just kill ourselves?" questions that really started coming up in speaking events in 2009. In the guise of asking a question of an author, people cough defeatism all over the room by declaring everything hopeless and citing some of the supposed reasons why. How does one respond? Telling people they're mentally damaged doesn't seem an ideal solution. Telling people success is right around the corner is dishonest and unpersuasive. I'd prefer ultimately to see people able to do what needs doing and enjoy it regardless of whether success is visible on the horizon or not. I'd like to see us motivated by morality. Similarly, I think the peace movement's focus on the damage wars do to Americans is off-track, as U.S. wars do ever less damage to Americans while killing ever more people. Unless we learn to care about non-Americans, our military will destroy the world. But how do we get to the point where people are motivated by morality, or even by a combination of morality, expectation of success, excitement, solidarity, and peer pressure? The same facts can prove that change is hopeless or guaranteed; the choice comes from inside each person. How do we make it the right one?
This is where Levine's book begins to point us in some very useful directions. We need to develop individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, Levine writes. We need to unite as anti-authoritarians, regardless of other differences. We need to learn from immigrant groups that have been least infected by our culture of disempowerment. Many factors are working against us: long work hours, lack of health care, and lack of job security or home security. Psychologists now drug people who display signs of anti-authoritarianism, which is treated as a crime. Our prisons are packed with some of our society's most rebellious, and therefore useful, members. We're administered every greater doses of television, which is ruinous regardless of the content:
"Researchers confirm that, regardless of the programming, viewers' brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state. That's part of the explanation for why it's so hard to turn the television off even when it's not enjoyable -- we have become pacified by it."
While watching all that television, we fail to talk to each other and build friendships. Increasingly, Americans live alone and lack confidants, something online social media provide only a false sense of. If we had more friends we would be more active citizens. We have learned helplessness, writes Levine, comparing us to a group of dogs in an experiment who were conditioned to believe they could not escape an electric shock and who then failed to escape even when an easy way out was made available.
We also feel helpless because we are. Increasingly, Americans do not know how to grow their own food or even cook their own food, repair their car or their plumbing, or otherwise survive without expert assistance. This, too, teaches inactivism. We're in debt, including student debt, which tends to make people less challenging of their employers. We also feel spied on because we are, by both our employers and the government, and even by family members. We're trained to value money and to put a price on everything. We're conditioned to identify with the Wall Street gang that’s robbing us blind. We're taught in school to be elitist and, above all, obedient. And if we're not, we're diagnosed with "Oppositional Defiant Disorder." U.S. psychologists once invented a disease with which to blame slaves for escaping. They now have diseases for activism.
According to Levine we are in an abusive relationship with corporatocracy, and the abuse has been made to seem normal. Obsession with money and consumption and greed has been normalized. Banks foreclosing on people's homes is viewed as a natural force or a law of physics, not an immoral act by a bunch of bankers. We must start seeing through lies and treating horrors we have come to accept as horrors to be resisted. We must, Levine writes, forgive ourselves for believing the lies, stop allowing the corporatocracy to define us, and form relationships with other survivors.
Most people think,
Great god will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights.
We need to build social connectedness, and to raise children and young people with self-respect. This means that parents and teachers have a special role in developing citizens capable of activism. This also means that our salvation is years away -- unless we can find therapy for adults. Levine is a psychologist who often finds his patients to have been misdiagnosed with a medical problem when their problem is political:
"I have counseled hundreds of young people and adults who had been previously labeled with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse, depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric diagnoses. What strikes me is how many of these people are essentially anti-authoritarians."
Essentially. Meaning they're built that way. They're what our society needs to fight off the virus of tyrannical plutocracy, and yet we remove them with drugs, prisons, and coercion. Levine tells parents that coercing an anti-authoritarian child is counterproductive:
"I ask them if they would try to coerce their homosexual child into being heterosexual or vice versa, and most say, 'Of course not!' And so they begin to see that temperamentally anti-authoritarian children cannot be similarly coerced without great resentment."
What if we didn't? What if we were all raised ideally and the prison walls came tumbling down? Then what? Then populists should unite across the lines of non-corporatist issues, those things like abortion and guns that the corporatocracy takes no position on. They should organize, win small victories, and develop confidence. They should learn from current examples of success, which my Email box is drowning in but I never find in the newspaper. They should learn from past successes: Levine recommends Lawrence Goodwyn's book "The Populist Moment," as do I, for its account of the building of a mass movement at the end of the nineteenth century.
Our movement should not begin or end or necessarily be involved at all in electoral politics. Every campaign and tactic should be evaluated for whether it builds individual self-respect and collective self-confidence. The answer to the ubiquitous question "Who can run against Obama for us?" should not be a list of names. There are thousands of qualified candidates. The answer is that we should build a confident and militant movement that will challenge the corporatocracy. The replacement or reform of politicians will follow.
"A major role of the US government in a corporatocracy," writes Levine, "is to deflect people's anger from the corporate elite. The corporate elite need elected officials to be taken seriously by the populace. Thus, a demonstration against government is actually a statement that the people are taking their elected officials seriously, which is exactly what the corporate elite want, though of course the elite don't want demonstrations to actually alter government policy in ways that negatively affect the elite."
Immigrants rights marches in 2006, Levine recalls, blocked bad legislation in Congress. But the corporatocracy was neutral or on the side of the immigrants. The civil rights marches of the 1960s were more effective than the anti-war marches, Levine argues, because the corporatocracy backed the war but not segregation. I would argue that the anti-war marches eventually helped end the war nonetheless. Levine points to the work of groups that are using direct action and public shaming of banks to prevent foreclosures as a way to win small victories and develop activists. I'm inclined to agree. I may not be aware of the extent to which my background of having experienced countless victories by ACORN before ACORN was destroyed has made me immune to defeatism and hopium withdrawal.
I'm thrilled to see the independent activism of campaigns like USUncut going after the corporatocracy, even though I wonder whether saving particular houses wouldn't build more activism than holding PR protests, protests that send a message more than they actually interfere with business and robbery as usual. I also favor targeting Congress in ways that may not lead to immediate or complete victory but inspire people through how much fun they are and how clearly they communicate the problem. Imagine if everyone who needs a job showed up at Congress with a resume in hand: http://briefcasebrigades.org Imagine if online organizing, while detached and isolating, promoted independent and empowering messages that could then be taken into real communities: http://rootsaction.org
Levine recommends learning from planned communities and withdrawing from the corporate economy, considering the possibilities for state secession, and as long as our government won't make education free avoiding -- if possible -- the disempowering student-debts that come with university degrees. In 2001, he points out, MIT put 1,900 of its courses online for free. Most college education comes from books, and books can be had without the colleges. Levine recommends foreign travel and volunteer work. He praises collective businesses and farms. But he is not so much preaching escapism and false purity as he is counseling therapeutic preparation for the struggles people seem unable to take on, struggles we could quite easily win if we had our heads on straight.
Read the original review.
Achieving Social Justice
There is democratic fervor and revolutionary ferment in many spots around the world today. There are mass and sustained demonstrations taking place throughout the Middle East. Some are revolutions, some appear more so to be engineered coup d’états – the intervention and attack by western imperialist forces on one side in a civil war in Libya seems best described as a coup-in-the-making. The United States, a nation that has been the most egregious slaughterer of civilians in history, pressed for involvement on the pretext of protecting civilian lives. It is an irony of the most sordid type. Yet, even back in the United States a populist uprising sprouted up against anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin.
Against this simmering backdrop, psychologist and author, Bruce Levine’s book, Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated and Battling the Corporate Elite, is extraordinarily relevant. Levine tackles a massively important subject: namely, how to achieve social justice.
Get Up, Stand Up is anti-war, anti-capitalism, and anti-imperialism. It is about how to escape such destructive systems and societies.
Levine reveals one obstacle to escape from the system is so-called democracy. Levine finds democracy to be a game rigged to be won by elitists. The last US presidential election added to the historical evidence of a system predisposed to plutocrats. The result was that Barack Obama bailed out the Wall Street financiers with the money of the masses who have been bilked by the self-same tycoons.
It is also the masses who wind up paying for the wars of the elitists. The Nobel Prize peacenik, Obama, has raised expenditures for US militarism.
Levine opposes the wars of US empire, but he mislabels them. If one were unaware, then Afghan War and Viet Nam War would sound like civil wars, but it was a US war against Viet Nam, a US war against Afghanistan, and a US war against Iraq. So let us not obscure that fact by misleadingly labeling such “wars” minus the initiator and perpetrator of the violence.
Joblessness is on the increase, and with joblessness comes loss of self-respect and despair. Without financial means, then seeking needed health care becomes a luxury one must forgo. Why are people not fighting back?
Levine says people are living in a state of fear. “Fear breaks human beings, and America’s health care system creates fear for the unhealthy and healthy alike.”
Levine acknowledges the difficulty of getting past such a situation: “… without a large enough number of people regaining individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, even the best organizers will fail.”
Levine posits several reasons for people’s passivity, among them psychological explanations such as learned helplessness, abuse syndrome, cognitive dissonance, and others such as drugs, disinformation and propaganda, and alienation. Since solidarity is crucial to resistance, it follows that alienation would have a negative effect on resistance.
Higher education has long been pointed to as the way for lower-income classes to escape their penury. Some people even speciously claimed, despite palpable evidence to the contrary, that the education system was a meritocracy. Even the sham of a meritocracy crashed to the ground with the student loan debt that has burdened so many students during schooling and upon graduation. Levine calls it “indentured servitude.”
Big Brother is here. People can hardly move around in privacy anymore as CCTV has become increasingly omnipresent. Levine warns that such surveillance will be considered normal for the recent generations raised under watchful eyes.
Worker solidarity is imperiled as unions are targeted by governments and their corporate sponsors. Levine cites figures that reveal the wide gap between union and nonunion wages and benefits. Thus unions are targeted to better keep profits out of worker hands. Where unions do exist, all too often the union leadership has been co-opted by union leaders, which makes one wonder why workers don’t function by mass consensus instead.
The elitists also have a fear: workers uniting to overthrow them. That, Levine explains, is why the corporatocracy wages war on workers.
Schools are places where powerlessness in inculcated. Levine says, “A key way to break people is to deprive them of free and private time to reflect on who they are and what they truly care about.”
Levine does not fault teachers too much, noting that they function within an undemocratic system. However, in a system that routinely espouses the virtue of critical thinking, the paucity of critical thinking among educators can be staggering.
I know only too well the authoritarianism that is rife within schools. I asked at one school staff meeting if teachers were meant to impose a note-taking system upon all students or that students might be granted autonomy to choose a method that best suits them as diverse individuals. The answer was that they were to be compelled to adopt the system the school administration chose for them.
I replied, “That’s authoritarianism.”
“Yes,” came back the terse rejoinder.
No justification was forthcoming for the authoritarianism.
Levine also laments that attaining higher education entails “jumping through meaningless hoops” – contrary to what a critical thinker would willingly perform.
Levine also takes aim at mainstream psychology saying it buys into the prevailing economic system. That, however, would hold for most institutions within society. Levine touts liberation psychology, and compared to the human carnage wreaked by APA psychologists at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere in the US gulag, it is certainly a more humane human-centered approach.
Get Up, Stand Up argues that gaining individual self-respect and empowerment are crucial to overthrowing the classist system in society.
Levine sees benefit in a classless, non-hierarchical society. Levine states boldly his preference for anarchism despite the demonization of the term’s meaning.
To the argument that anarchism will not succeed because humans are intrinsically greedy, Levine rightly points out that this is assertion. Whether humans are greedy or altruistic: “no one can definitively prove their case.”
It is likeliest that human character is in large extent shaped by the system and society one finds oneself in. If so, and indubitably it is, then human character can be shaped by designing culture and society to elicit desirable traits.
The electoral battle field is a no-win scenario. The two-party Tweedle Dee-Tweedle Dum focus is distracting and enervating.
Levine holds that lesser evilism is bad for democracy. If lesser evilism is so terrible, one wonders what Levine meant when he wrote of the US presidential election in 2000, “… Nader and the Green party lost their luster.” It seems that one could just as well conversely state that lesser evilism gained luster, but for this writer, each election has adduced that lesser evilism appeases iniquity and only the evilists gain.
Levine recounts that elections are a long, long trail of defeats for progressives. What to do?
Levine calls for disruption, which he acknowledges is risky. It is not a novel call; it has been known by many for a long, long time. Workers have power in that their labor is required to work the factories and workplaces. Workers using their wages to consume is necessary to keep capitalism flowing. Disruption is another name for general strike.
Levine warns of “violent revolution, one risks the loss of life and the loss of even more power if defeated.” This is a risk. However, Levine does not address that violent revolution originates with the authoritarianism and classism of the capitalist system. Violence is the modus operandi of the elitists, and violent resistance is legitimized by the initial violence of the elitists.
Get Up, Stand Up examines alternatives to capitalist society, a dropping out of the rat race: communes, worker cooperatives, lower-cost online education or worker colleges.
The right to study in tuition free universities should be enjoyed by every person. If university academics truly are critical thinkers, they might ponder deeply whether the university hierarchy is justifiable and preferable.
Levine does not explore deeply an alternative economic system, and it would have improved Get Up, Stand Up if he had included discussion of such, for example, parecon which empowers workers and is non-hierarchical.
The basic thrust of Get Up, Stand Up is laudable. A few times the book digresses from its thesis, and that is when it read unevenly. For instance, Levine appears to take couched potshots at Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, referring to him as a “ruthless dictator” on one hand and “not all that powerful” on the other hand. Why does Levine use a figure demonized by the capitalist-imperialist hierarchy to make his points and rather unconvincingly?
Such examples are points of contention among leftists, as is the current civil war with many foreign interlopers in Libya.
Solidarity is a sine qua non of revolution. The general strike will require everyone to look after each other. Electoral strategies and military or economic interference in the systems of other states are potentially unity destroying topics better discussed and decided upon after the revolution is won.
Get Up, Stand Up is valuable for societal and psychological insights into what fosters and maintains continuation of egregious violence, exploitation of resources and maldistribution of wealth, and classism (the ignoble prejudice that one group is in some way superior as human beings to other groups). Getting out of this jaundiced cycle of capitalism is needed for humanity to fully progress.
(Note: I do not use the term progressives here because progressives would not encourage or support violent intervention in the civil war of another state, especially by warmongering imperialist states that pursue regime change to exploit the resources of another state.)
Read the original review.