book review: the next american revolution by grace lee boggs27 Jan 2021
What are the main ideas?
- most people are walking around with a definition of “revolution” that is outdated and rooted in leninist-stalinist timeframes. those timeframes create a fundamentally different revolutionary need than the times today: they were revolting from a place of scarcity; today’s revolutions (at least in the global north) are needed to move in the direction of less.
- revolution is an inside job
- people really underestimate the role of education (as political work) in revolution
- malcolm and martin, whose lives were both cut short, have had their complexities and their analsyes frozen in time by the flattening of history. but, their trajectories seemed to be leading them closer to each others’ stances (malcolm was moving towards a more spiritually grounded stance for revolution (see his hajj), martin was realizing that nonviolence wasn’t a relevant or strategic tactic in all contexts (see his time in chicago)).
- rebellion is against the status quo, generally reactive. revolution is towards something better and may begin reactively but is rooted in people ready to create something else.
- revolution, if effective, must create more human humans.
If I implemented one idea from this book right now, which one would it be?
the next american revolution will require us to remake ourselves in order to remake the society. any revolutionary who is serious about society change will also be serious about their personal change and understand the link between the two. i should bring the same rigor i apply externally to my internal change processes.
How would I describe the book to a friend?
incredible. in this brilliant manifesto or sorts, grace lee boggs, a movement strategist, theorist, organizer, and teacher, brings together major threads as she frames, given her lived experience, what the front edge of american revolution looks like. from deep understanding of inner work to clarity about the breadth of many generations of revolutionary organizing, boggs powerfully pulls together critical pieces of what has stopped working with visions for what could. her life and legacy of work in detroit demonstrate that her thinking is praxis, not just intellectual pontification. this feels like a once in a half-century kinda book.
reminder: book review structure