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Occupy This Book: Mickey Z. on Activism Paperback – April 23, 2014
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I would have liked a little more how-to articles. Actually, a lot more how-to. The steps advised to form a strong protest group advocate standing on a beach, city street etc. thinking of how many problems are caused by environmental exploitation and (just like that) finding a bunch of people who think the same way. Where to start, please, such as: whether an NGO website is a good place or a bad one; whether the author trusts the information presented by the well-funded WHO or the charity UNICEF; which international media present a more balanced picture on the web; whether a would-be activist should make their own social site page or try to find some already out there, like a zombie march; and whether student demos are welcoming of non-students.
Some statements are so over the top as to appear satirical, like the 'Blue Bloc' (policing) being run by and for the one percent who the author believes dominates, willing to use force of arms against protestors doing their knitting or playing musical instruments. But, maybe he's telling the truth. I wasn't at the Occupy Wall Street protest.
The sweeping nature of the author's statements backed up by the cartoon skits, that for instance all media outlets lie and falsely represent issues and protestors, because their business is to sell advertising and they want to keep the general public on the side of big business, does the author and his movement no service in my opinion. Some media outlets are probably guilty of this unjournalistic behaviour. But other media firms and journalists believe in educating the public and providing the truth so that members of the public can make up their own minds. Press firms in Britain and Ireland have often broken scandalous news about politicians, financiers and meat producers, and carried the truth about tobacco products, to name but a few cases.
I suggest reading:
The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos
Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions
The People's Republic of Chemicals
Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation
The Bankers: How The Banks Brought Ireland To Its Knees
The author provides in his own street words, including occasional strong language, his own reasons for having been involved in various issues such as equality of access for people with reduced mobility, vegan diet and petroleum use. I appreciate knowing where a person has come from and what their motivations are. I would have liked some more points of view and interviews with other activists to see their points. Possibly these have been presented in earlier books, as the author claims to have written twelve other books, though they do not appear on Goodreads and are not listed at the back of this book.
Few actual facts are presented, for instance about fracking, the death of the ocean (ocean plastic is not mentioned), the tax paid by giant corporations and the responsibility of banks to the public, though the issues are name-checked. In short the book is skimpy on hard detail and not at all journalistic. Issues the author feels strongly about include prisons. Dire as these may be, colleges for crime as they are, some people believe that a criminal locked up is a criminal who can't break into their home or sell their kids drugs. So I would have liked a proper explanation of what the author means and why he (a middle-aged employed white man, he tells us) dislikes the mere idea of prisons. Would he support sending corrupt bank officials or corrupt police officers to prison?
A few constructive suggestions are given; taking up a vegan diet, walking or cycling and finding other people who feel strongly about the same issues. More would help. For instance, reviewing and sharing books. Buying a house and fitting it out with insulation and energy saving appliances, rather than renting from a landlord who never has an incentive to save power. If the world is focused on business, using the power of your pocket is a great way to create change - like buying environmentally certified coffee, chocolate, cotton and other products, and not changing phones every few months. This is how we got rid of the CFCs in aerosols and fridges and polystyrene fast food cartons. The author is correct when he says that small changes can be made along the way to a bigger change.
On the whole, some people reading this book may be inspired to start their own protest, and good for them. Other people will continue leading a life of nature conservation, truth-telling, asking for improved disability access and supporting good movements, as they have always done. Each side will believe they are leading by example. The people in between are the hardest to reach, so every book or article produced may make a difference. I hope to read more from this author.
"Occupy this Book" is appropriate and recommended for readers high school age and up.
In addition, the author does not identify as a "leader" but rather, a fellow traveler in a wide range of activist circles.
With all that cleared up, order the book and get busy!