Mickey Z. Occupy this Book. Illustrations by Richard Cole. New York City: Sullivan Street Press. E-book, 6.95, pp 113.
(Swans - April 21, 2014) Mickey Z's latest book is a much-needed call to action. Writing in his customary pithy and witty style, Mickey Z urges us to become activists. This is not a time for inaction, as we face the looming disaster of climate change, the ongoing corporate rape of the environment, a dominant ruling class culture besotted with heaping more wealth on the privileged at the expense of workers, and a ruthless militarism that sows death and destruction across the globe. As Z puts it, "What we do (or don't do) in the next few years could quite possibly tilt us all toward either the point of no return or a far more sane form of society."
Activism did not begin and end with the Occupy movement. Its history is as long as that of humankind, although one would never know that based on its invisibility in the short attention span media, which instead offers up a steady diet of generally empty-headed or distorted distractions. "The 1% is killing the planet," Z points out, "partly because these elite players have chosen to look no further into the future than the next fiscal quarter. Meanwhile, our spectacle culture exists to train and condition the 99% to maintain an equally narrow and lethal perspective."
Mickey Z encourages us to take the long view. The media may have written off the Occupy movement, and any given event may produce a disappointing turnout. Activism requires patience and effort. "This is hard work and entails tasks we may not like to do or know how to do -- like reaching out to those who've been heavily conditioned by mainstream culture. Working through their resistance to your message can be an agonizingly slow, inch-by-inch effort -- but this is the crucial work."
The book is structured as a catechism of activism, with many of the chapter titles in the form of a question, and the content providing instructional answers and a guide to activism. Unlike a religious catechism, though, this book is grounded in urgent reality and laced with ample doses of humor.
To achieve anything, one has to act. "The corporations assaulting our ecosystem don't hope they can steal more land, exploit it, despoil it, and make boatloads of cash off it," Z writes. "They make a plan, and they make it happen."
"It's not enough to hope the powers-that-be stop gunning down young black men; to hope they stop poisoning our food; to hope they stop listening in on all our communications. If we want change, we have to make it impossible for the oppressors to continue oppressing, for the exploiters to keep exploiting, and for the killers to go on killing. They must learn there will be a steep price to pay for their crimes, and that price will progressively escalate until the carnage ends."
Mickey Z's refreshingly clarion message is one that needs to be heard, and his bracing book deserves to be read by anyone who cares about the fate of the planet and its inhabitants. As he reminds us, "Complacent = Complicit. There is no neutral."
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Gregory Elich is an independent researcher, a journalist, and an activist. (back)