Inciting Democracy: A Practical Proposal for Creating a Good Society
by Randy Schutt
AVAILABILITY: Usually ships within 2-5 days
Publication Date: 2001
Publisher: SpringForward Press
Topics: Democracy: Theory & Practice, Labor & Work / Classism, Nature, Nonviolence, Personal Growth, Race & Civil Rights, Sexism / Patriarchy, Social Movements
Description: 'Inciting Democracy' offers a vision of what a good society might look like and explores how we can overcome five key obstacles to creating such a society. It offers a practical way to develop a large, decentralized education and support program (the Vernal Education Project) that would bolster grassroots movements so that people of goodwill can democratically and nonviolently transform society.
The book first defines the term "good society" as one in which no one is oppressed and in which people treat each other the way they would like to be treated - a safe, fair, just, democratic, humane, compassionate, tolerant, and environmentally sustainable society. The book then identifies the five primary obstacles to creating such a good society:
* An adverse power structure that entices and coerces us all to support inhumane institutions
* Cultural conditioning that makes us accept destructive social norms (such as individualism, materialism, militarism, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia)
* Dysfunctional emotional conditioning that makes it hard for us to work together (due to depression, low self-esteem, irrationality, rigidity, addictions, phobias, etc.)
* Widespread ignorance of positive alternatives and social change methods
* A scarcity of resources (information, money, and emotional support) among people of goodwill working for change
The book next skeptically evaluates a variety of social change strategies and processes - exploring what has worked and what has not. This analysis suggests that we can create a truly good society only by using democratic and nonviolent methods that prefigure a good society - in particular, through an extensive education process and through broadly based social change movements that are massive in size - with at least a million progressive activists and advocates working for fundamental change for decades.
The book then details a practical strategy for transformation in which goodhearted people would take several steps:
* Form supportive communities with other people of goodwill.
* Educate themselves and others to overcome their ignorance, hopelessness, and personal limitations.
* Learn to work together and practice change skills.
* Teach these skills to others and support and inspire others to work for positive change.
* Build powerful, grassroots social change organizations.
* Challenge the domination of the power elite and destructive cultural norms in all realms of society.
* Create alternative institutions that can meet everyone's true needs.
To implement this strategy, the book outlines a project consisting of an education and support system that could, over time, generate a force of about a million skilled and dedicated people working simultaneously for progressive change in communities all across the United States. The last section details a plan for implementing this project - the Vernal Education Project - beginning
with a decentralized education program for dedicated activists.
Note that the entire book can be downloaded and read for free from the Vernal Project web site .
"We have it in our power to begin the world over again." - Thomas Paine
Review(s): "'Inciting Democracy' addresses the urgent civic question of how to best go about developing and sustaining a powerful and effective grassroots based social change movement. Schutt offers a compelling vision of what a "good society" might look like and how ordinary citizens can overcome five key obstacles to creating such a social order. Very highly recommended and informative reading for social activists and political reformers, the engaging and provocative text is enhanced with 71 figures, 44 sidebars, 270 quotations, 166 detailed endnotes, 233 annotated references, a bibliography of 110 cited works, and a comprehensive index." - Midwest Book Review, Wisconsin Bookwatch, August 2001
"'Inciting Democracy' is an exciting, page-turning book describing a new, attainable Eden. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop - I had to know how it was going to work. I wish I were 40 years younger so I could see it all happen." - Doris (GrannyD) Haddock
"Randy Schutt has written the book that we in the progressive social change movement have been waiting for. 'Inciting Democracy' offers an inspiring vision and concrete action plan for pursuing effective progressive social change. It also provides a constructive critique of where we have been and an easily accessible analytical framework for understanding what we face. The book is destined to become a core and comprehensive guide for those seeking a better society, and it will make an excellent main textbook for any course on citizen advocacy. Thank you, Randy, for leading us to the next level of effectiveness and organizing." - Abigail Abrash, Program Director, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, and instructor, Antioch New England Graduate School
"Here's a tackle box, a tool belt, a veritable Leatherman for doing the big job that needs doing: redeeming our society. Sure it's an optimistic vision - but that may be just what we need." - Bill McKibben, author of 'The Age of Missing Information', 'The End of Nature', and 'Hope, Human and Wild'
"Randy Schutt has given shape and form to a collective vision of a new America. 'Inciting Democracy' draws from the core values of the Sixties to present a new and better balanced approach to changing our world and improving the lives of ourselves and others. Schutt backs up his call for new initiatives and new leadership with a detailed and well thought out strategy based on his own wide experience with the real dynamics of personal and social change. Randy is a good listener and a perceptive observer who has distilled his years of involvement into a book that satisfies on many levels. 'Inciting Democracy' describes the 21st century approach to really creating a good society and an empowered citizenry." - Bob Cooney, co-editor of 'The Power of the People: Active Nonviolence in the United States'