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The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  772 ratings  ·  85 reviews
A world dominated by America and driven by cheap oil, easy credit, and conspicuous consumption is unraveling before our eyes. In this powerful, deeply humanistic book, Grace Lee Boggs, a legendary figure in the struggle for justice in America, shrewdly assesses the current crisis—political, economical, and environmental—and shows how to create the radical social change we ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by University of California Press
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M if revolution is narrowly defined as violent coups, then yes it's fanciful face-off the huge Military-industrial complex in the US let alone glo…moreif revolution is narrowly defined as violent coups, then yes it's fanciful face-off the huge Military-industrial complex in the US let alone global....but, something has to happen...the society cannot be in stasis, there is movement going on all the time, unnoticeable n noticeable, small n big...the noticeable is described by Grace Boggs as rebellions ie the 60s, Black Lives Matter, Occupy, Wikileaks. She's stating that revolution, in the coming times will be "creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will collectively constitute the next American Revolution"...farming in Detroit....working at these alternatives, interacting... creates a change in the framework...sustainable activism(less)

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A wonderful book about revolutionary, sustainable activism written by the daughter of Chinese immigrants who participated in several of the twentieth century’s major social movements, including workers’ rights, civil rights, women’s rights, and more. Grace Lee Boggs’s The Next American Revolution feels full of wisdom and at the same time accessible even to those still searching to define what activism means to them. I loved so many of the points Boggs includes in this book, including the focus o ...more
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
For nearly a century, leftists have been fixed on the debate over reform or revolution. The problematic surfaces in the most unexpected places, a recently discussed in an issue of the magazine Jacobin dedicated to the problem of copyleft versus intellectual property. Even Paulo Freire weighed in on the debate at one point in his life, arguing that reform must be seen as a learning opportunity on the road to revolution.

Grace Lee Boggs, together with her late husband, radical political thinker Ja
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research

Well-written, informative, easy to follow, Grace was very very smart. However we have differing views on why we do this work, and reading her critiques of "victimization" coming from oppressed people rubbed me the wrong way.
Malik Newton
A straightforward account of what we must do and what is already being done to bring about the next American Revolution. This book speaks simply and honestly about the need for a revolution in a society dominated by violence, alienated from nature (as much as itself), and dying from a lack of imagination, compassion, and (principled) action. The great, late Grace Lee Boggs dismisses as obsolete understandings of revolution that demand masculinists surges and seizures of state power. Instead, she ...more
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm looking forward to discussing this book in depth or at least attempting to during the salon that I read it for. I really was in lockstep with her on some major points and no where on the same planet that she resides on other key points. It wasn't exactly theoretical, but it was far from concrete. And some of the contradictions were less than helpful. Utopian, but also real in some ways (I know). This was written before the presidential candidate receiving the most votes "failing" to be elect ...more
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is basically a soul burrito. You can't smash the system with a burrito, but you can eat it, and be sustained a bit longer. And that's an important part of "working out a strategy that combines a short-run, immediate attempt to solve people's needs and a medium-run strategy of transforming the system" (p. 197). You can try to do one or the other, but things work out best when you do both at once.

I learned about GLB from a PBS special (filmed by Grace Lee of the Grace Lee project, FWIW).
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: community-work
Grace Boggs, is a 96 year old community activist from Detroit who writes with the clarity of a veteran and the vision of someone who expects to live another 50 years. In this book Boggs lays out her vision for participatory democracy in the 21st century with such clarity and practicality that it is hard not to believe she has seen the future with the vision of a prophet.I only learned of Grace Boggs about 3 years ago, but until reading this book, I only considered her an interesting figure. Howe ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Her veteran status does not forgive her ultra-left errors. Her book presents a disappointing mismatch of ideas without a clear direction. She falls into agreement with many of the same old arguments used against the left. She has a tendency to shy away from speaking truth to power, instead using a muddled and vague vocabulary. On the whole, the book is worryingly appealing on first appearances, which I fear will mislead many well-meaning comrades who would be better-off reading a sturdier concre ...more
I appreciate the compassionate approach to activism taken by Grace Lee Boggs. So much more productive to focus on what can be accomplished than to get dragged down by opposition. The missing link for me, however, was the economic component. I understand that Dr. Boggs wants us to get beyond our environmentally damaging, soul sucking focus on getting more stuff. At the same time, the reality we live in requires that we earn money to afford safe housing and provide us with adequate healthy food an ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing

This book is amazing! Grace Lee Boggs is so incredibly inspiring and redefines what it means to be revolutionary. This is a book I will read over and over and over again and quote for the rest of my life. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially if you are at all interested in social justice issues.
Eric Dye
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic book to read - particularly in this moment that we are in. Most of the essays in this book were written in he middle of Obama’s first term and so there seemed to be space for opportunity. It is sad to read some of the passages in the wake of what actually happened shortly after Boggs’ passing in the 2016 election. However, Boggs’ collection of essays lay out a revolution that isn’t really about electoral politics. It is about the work we all do to change ideas and foster a b ...more
Shasun Sulur
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The last line sums up the book pretty well: “They/ we are the leaders we’re looking for”

This book had me rethink what I understood about revolutions, anti capitalism , Marxist/Leninist thought, and abolishing power structures. Theory aside, Grace Lee Boggs draws on her vast knowledge and experience to urge activists and passionate people to not wait for a revolution but to start one in their own community. Understand problems created by oppressive power structures, understand what paradigm shif
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been waiting for this book all my life. At last, a revolutionary vision that makes sense! Not a bunch of violent macho extremism or ideological puritanism - just a great deal of creative thinking and common sense, distilled over a long lifetime of radical activism (and wide reading).

The book came out in 2011, and it is heartbreaking to read in 2018. The things she says about W's administration were certainly true, but they also sound like what we are living through now, only W's administr
Super grounded yet inspiring perspectives on progress and liberatory social change from possibly my favorite thinker/activist of the last century. As radical leftists, anti-capitalists, and seekers of social justice, we often feel that existing structures and institutions are so rotten that they need to be entirely thrown out and replaced - but how is this possible when they have such a stranglehold on power?

Existing notions of revolution involving armed struggle and popular seizure of power ha
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is engaging and fun to read but for some reason it's not very memorable. I am amazed by Grace Lee Boggs and so much of the content of this book is affirming and powerful. But as I read it, it feels like the words run through my fingers. For some reason, it just doesn't stick.

There are great sections about King, Gandhi, Love, Beloved Community, and the power of the people. I also love the way she emphasizes our need to grow souls.

reflecting on the ways of working in the 60s: "Our meetin
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
I quit this about one-third of the way through. She makes great points about the future of America, capitalism, and the necessity of change, but the entire thing is delivered in the manner of an inspirational commencement address. Yes we need to organize, yes the government has shorted the poor... but how? Do you have examples of things that have or are working? Or is it a call to arms to hold a protest sign and raise awareness.

The book is big on high-minded concepts that sound good on paper but
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A blast of hope in trying times. Highly recommended reading for anyone despairing over our tremendous social problems, inequalities, endless war, environmental destruction, institutionalized racism, broken education system. Read this if you're wondering how the world can possibly change. Are we screwed? Maybe, but maybe not. "Another world is possible."
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: オススメ
I haven't read a book that made me think & reflect about society and life in a very long time. Grace Lee Boggs will be missed. RIP. ...more
i finished this book in literally one day so i'll do a review later i just never want to read again
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Part of doing my own self-reflection lately means looking at moments of Black and Asian American solidarity which led me and a few other Asian American women to this book. I have been reading this slowly over the course of weeks and will take away a few things. Grace spent most of the 1950s attending Black Power meetings, and it wasn't until the 1960s that she felt that after living with the Black community, observing and being present, that she could act. Listening is key! I also appreciated he ...more
Annika (whatannikareads)
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I'm gonna preface this that I have a skewed opinion because I wasn't in the mindset to read this, I don't think.

That being said, this book just let me down mostly. I saw in a review that said it sounds like a commencement speech, and I totally see that. It just read like a lot of inflated rhetoric that isn't super specifically helpful and, while she has the right to brag about her work because she's accomplished so much, it just didn't sit right with me that a lot of it was centered on her achie
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed thinking about Grace Lee Boggs' long term vision of activism and evolution. Needed a book to give me some hope and nourish the spirit.
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
now i want to garden

on moving toward ~community self-reliance and an economy rooted in human solidarity rather than amoral competition ~
Annie Windholz
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Grace Lee Boggs is a radical American social activist, philosopher and feminist who has written many books, and pioneered many initiatives in her home town of Detroit. In the 1940s and 1950s she worked closely with Marxist leaders in the US, but in the 1960s she and her husband Jimmy Boggs created their own political direction which Grace continued until the end of her life in 2015. Grace Lee Boggs, of Chinese-American descent, was actively involved in the Black Power movement with her husband.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I set this book down for almost a year after I was half way in. It's fairly intense, but really lovely.

I purchased it because I knew I would enjoy her perspective on the needed revolution. She uses the evolving political ideas of Gandhi, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King to demonstrate the importance of adapting your politics to the changing times. Her message is that we need to create positive alternatives to the state structure instead of rallying against it. She repeatedly addresses how our so
GLB has a PhD in philosophy from Bryn Mawr (140).

p.29 - "[A]re we prepared to develop a whole new form of solidarity economics emphasizing sustainability, mutuality, and local self reliance?"

p.64 - six failed axioms of revolutionarie since the French Revolution.

p.71 - "The revolution to be made in the United States will be the first revolution in history to require the masses to make material sacrifices rather than to acquire more material things. We must give up many of the things which this co
Fran Darling
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I first hear of Grace on a PBS Point of View Biography video documented by one of Grace's "students." It was so captivating, I researched her and bought her book. Such a serendipitous occasion. I watched the video again by streaming the website which has since replaced it. It can be purchased however: It was the perfect introduction to this amazing woman.
She has the never ending enthusiasm for all that activist means and methods that produce real change
Anne Harm
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't often award top ratings, but I think this one earned it; first thing I needed to do upon finishing, was read it again. I gathered a bit more of the scope and detail the second time through; it provoked quite a bit of discussion for book club, as well. In fact I couldn't recall another book in the 2-3 years I've been an active participant of this club (at the local public library), where there was no criticism of the book, the author, the writing, the length, or any other aspect. We had t ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I could not put down this book, which does not happen to me very often with non-fiction. Lee Boggs was a talented writer and a brilliant social philosopher. This book felt like I sat down with my woke grandmother on her cozy window seat with a cup of tea and she told me all about her life and her plan to make the country and the world a much better place. Something about the deeply honest and personal nature of the Lee Boggs' prose made me feel like I was getting a hug the entire time I was read ...more
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