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

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,024 ratings  ·  115 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 ...to 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 ...to 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

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
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
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
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.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: movement
ht aisha shillingford circa 2017

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 educati
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Yes already feeling this. Blew through the first hundred pages thanks to my insomnia. This is the perfect book to read as I muddle through my own spiritual and political crises.
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." ...more
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 ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: activism
I was lucky enough to receive this book as a gift from a friend, filled with little sticky notes that marked parts where he stopped and things he wanted to highlight.

This is my first book of 2021 and I wish Grace was here to see it now. As a first generation Chinese American who is involved in activism- change seems daunting and impossible on this globalized scale. Grace reminds us that it is with local, community work across different communities across the world that helps to enact true change
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
Nov 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
It was great to read the words of Detroit's famous Grace Lee Boggs. She had a whole lot of experience in pursuing a better future for the world.

I thought the book, in many ways, felt like it was about to take a bite into something and share a big revelation, but never did.

Though, that might just be part of what this revolution is about. You can't pin it down exactly. You can point in directions and hope others see a path towards better humanity in themselves and in improving connections from t
Darnell Anderson
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Important Read for Positive Change

So many transformative gems from a lifelong activist and philosopher. Must-read for any stage of activism. Grace Lee Boggs is a national treasure
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. ...more
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 ~
Megan Gafvert
Jan 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Great chapter on education, but lots of philosophy and history that was over my head
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up.
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