This month’s dialogue is inspired by the book The Resistance, published in 2018 and edited by David Meyer and Sidney Tarrow. The book featured numerous insightful essays analyzing various aspects of the resistance movement that arose in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. Most of our readers will be familiar with the highly visible protests that occurred after the 2016 election but are likely less aware of the work that may or may not be going on behind the scenes to mobilize opposition to Trump’s reelection.
This month, we have three outstanding contributors. Many thanks for their contributions on this topic:
Editors in Chief,
Rory McVeigh, David Ortiz, Guillermo Trejo, and Grace Yukich
My thanks to “Mobilizing Ideas” for the ingenious idea — taking off from The Resistance, published in 2018 and edited by David Meyer and myself — of taking the story of the movement against Trumpism to the run-up of the upcoming presidential election. Having moved on to other issues and to other venuessince The Resistancewent to press in mid-2017, I cannot claim to have original material to contribute to this new debate. But often the most interesting ideas for an author come after publication. What I propose is to look at the resistance to Donald Trump drawing on my experience as a comparativist as an experience of what may be shaping up as a new democratic transition. Continue reading
By Erin M. Evans PhD
Kucinskas, Jaime (2019) The Mindful Elite: Mobilizing from the Inside Out, Oxford University Press: New York, NY.
Jaime Kucinskas’s first book, The Mindful Elite, offers an innovative contribution to social movements literature. Dr. Kucinskas and I met as participants in the Young Scholars of Social Movements conference, where I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with her early research on this topic, and it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to review it for Mobilizing Ideas. Her book explores what she conceptualizes as “the contemplative movement,” a group of individuals and organizations who set their sights on incorporating meditation into public life starting in about the 1970s. Using an historical qualitative approach, she describes how advocates for mindfulness used insider processes to spread meditation practices across institutional arenas, including business, education, and science. Her data includes over 100 interviews with early pioneers in the movement, participant observation at multiple large events for mindfulness advocates, and content analysis of media data. Kucinskas’s analytical strategies reflect an in-depth and rigorous exploration of how meditation and mindfulness was legitimized as cognitive behavioral treatment and, consequently, a practice that is now widely used beyond the previous enclaves of the new age community. Continue reading
By Juhi Tyagi
Wrecked: How the American Automobile Industry Destroyed Its Capacity to Compete. Joshua Murray and Michael Schwartz (2019, New York: Russel Sage Foundation)
Wrecked tries to solve a puzzle. How did US Auto, once the largest, most prosperous industry in the richest, most powerful country in human history, fall to needing a 80.7 billion dollar bailout in 2008?
Unfolding the puzzle chapter by chapter, Murray and Schwartz’s book reads with the ease and grip of a very well written thriller. But it also opens the way for what I consider is one of the finest and closest analytical approximations to the dialectical ebb and flows that you will find mirrored only in our actual lived reality. The authors do not become stuck in instrumentalizing the role of economic structures. Nor do they, on the other end, fetishize cultural factors; staying removed of both economic and cultural determinism (both of which serve as popular explanations for the decline of US auto). Instead, they achieve a verisimilitude of the role of both structure and agency in our social world. Production structures (of the auto industry) limit and create possibilities for human agency (for both capitalists and workers), but human agency is often unpredictable. Human actions and decisions then determine how things play out. Wrecked beautifully walks us through this complex dialectical process.
The book begins with the common factual knowledge that Continue reading
By Lyndi Hewitt
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown
Detroit-based writer and trailblazing pleasure activist adrienne maree brown has been deeply engaged in organizing around black liberation, climate justice, and feminism for over two decades. Having previously served as a national coordinator for the 2010 U.S. Social Forum and as executive director of The Ruckus Society, brown is shaped by and remains a crucial voice in contemporary struggles for justice. Much to my good fortune, last year during an intersectional feminist faculty learning circle, a colleague* recommended brown’s Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds (2017). Since then I’ve found myself returning to it again and again.
While Emergent Strategy was published 2 years ago and has since become wildly popular among activists of color, Continue reading
By Charles Seguin
Stonewall and the Myth of Self-Deliverance by Kwame Anthony Appiah
If you’re like me, you already have more summer reading goals than you can possibly finish. Therefore I’m recommending a fairly short OpEd: “Stonewall and the Myth of Self-Deliverance” by Kwame Anthony Appiah. Appiah argues that popular accounts of social change and liberation tend to overemphasize movements of oppressed people. Appiah does not dismiss such movements – they have clearly been important. He argues, however, that the narrative of self-deliverance has come to crowd out other important explanations of social and political change such as altruism from powerful outsiders. Movements of marginalized people need, as Appiah notes, “the help of other people who recognize the struggle for equality as a moral one, universally binding,” and that, “[o]nly those who need no rescuing can pick and choose among their rescuers.”
This is the reason I’m recommending Appiah’s OpEd instead of Continue reading