How to Occupy Your Time

Some Reading Suggestions While You Create a Revolution

It saddens me to say this, but my guess is the behemoth that is capitalism, particularly its USAmerican variety, is not going to fall anytime soon. Nor do I believe that the capitalist class that represents the 1% named by the Occupy Wall St. protesters are trembling in their suit(e)s. Not yet, anyway.

No, at this point, I think we are seeing a beginning. A beginning whose end, the eventual dispersal of the Occupy inhabitants back to their homes and separate lives, with the TV cameras dealing with endless follow-ups detailing the movements rise and supposed fall, will be carried in the hearts and minds of a whole new generation of activists and idealists. What they do after that, therefore, is of extreme importance to all of us.

Thus, while sending well-wishes, food, and sleeping blankets are all helpful, I think it also incumbent upon us to also do what we can to plant some seeds, whose growth potential in the rich soil of those who are braving the coming cold and police push back (which I feel sadly inevitable) is assured. What if, I asked myself, the library/bookstore/book stall set up in Zuccotti Park made a reading list and set of volumes available to be discussed and debated? What should it contain? Elements of the past, assessments of the present, and ideas for the future should all be represented. The various threads uniting the disparate demands and views should be included as well. And since the status quo—politically, socially and economically—is being challenged, alternatives need to be offered. Lastly, given the now widespread nature of the Occupy Movement, (events this past weekend occurred in hundreds of US cities and has moved around the world) introductory surveys should represent a significant portion of the works. Democracy, organizing, war and militarism, labor, socialism, and anarchism; these would thus be just a few. And so here is my personal list of 15 titles, in no particular order, for those in the front lines of creating a new world or, at minimum, a new conversation:

1. A People´s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
2. Strike! By Jeremy Brecher
3. Democracy For the Few by Michael Parenti
4. The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many;
5. Keeping the Rabble in Line; and,
6. Class Warfare, all three by Noam Chomsky
7. Looking Forward: Participatory Economics for the 21st Century, by Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel
8. Socialism by Michael Harrington
9. Post-Scarcity Anarchism by Murray Bookchin
10. Killing Hope by William Blum
11. War is a Racket by Gen. Smedley Butler
12. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements by George Woodcock
13. History of the Labor Movement in the United States (3 volumes) by Philip S. Foner
14. The United States Constitution: 200 Years of Anti-Federalist, Abolitionist, Feminist, Muckracking, Progressive, and Especially Socialist Criticism, Ed. by Bertell Ollman and Jonathan Birnbaum
15. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Rev. José M. Tirado is a poet, priest and writer finishing a PhD in psychology while living in Iceland. Read other articles by José.