New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Beautiful Trouble

May 30, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Ecology, Economy, Politics

Let’s Activate and Innovate, Before It’s Too Late

by David Swanson

Now here’s a book that’s meant to be used: Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution, edited by Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell.  The subtitle should be “Try this at home — but innovate!”  Instead it’s “From the people who brought you the Yes Men, Billionaires Against Bush, etc.”

Beautiful Trouble is a terrific addition to Gene Sharp’s catalog of nonviolent tactics, less comprehensive, more up-to-date, more U.S.-centric, and focused on the artistic and the entertaining. When someone whines about what they can possibly do if it’s really true that voting won’t fix everything, hand them this book.  When someone proposes violence as the only serious option available, hand them this book.

Here is a guide to activism that focuses on the serious moral case for fundamental change and on making it fun as hell.  Here is a sophisticated tool for shaping strategies that are both uncompromising and welcoming of newcomers.

The book is divided into five sections: Tactics, Principles, Theories, Case Studies, and Practitioners.  The section on Tactics is far and away the best, with some of the inspiring tactics further developed in the case studies.  While the book looks like a reference designed to be searched as needed like an encyclopedia (tons of pull quotes and text in cute little boxes, as if laid out for someone with a four-second attention span) it actually reads very well as a book if you focus on the largest font size and just read it straight through. (more…)