Political Action: A Practical Guide to Movement Politics

New from NYRB Classics

Political Action
A Practical Guide to Movement Politics
Michael Walzer

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Written at one of the darkest moments of the Nixon administration, Political Action is as timely, intelligent, and useful today as it was then. With clarity, wisdom, and wit, Michael Walzer lays out the practical steps for keeping movement politics alive both in victory and defeat. Political Action addresses important questions such as:

  • What do people need to do when out of outrage or fear of looming disaster they come together to demand change?
  • What can and can’t be accomplished through electoral politics?
  • How can movements operate democratically?
  • What is effective leadership?

Both an indispensable resource for activists and a lasting call to action, Political Action is an inspiring book for our times.


“The idea of republishing this book came from some high school students in Los Angeles. They were part of a social justice group at their school, and most of the projects they were contemplating involved organizing of some kind. To help them think about that, their faculty adviser photocopied parts of Political Action and handed it out. ‘This is really good!’ they told him. ‘This is what we need.’ What the kids said next became the impetus for this new edition: ‘Why is there nothing like this?’”

– from the new introduction by Jon Wiener

“Walzer’s first political call to action resonates as much in today’s tense, precarious climate as it did when the author originally crafted it… An authoritative master plan for forming effective, influential citizen activism.”

– Kirkus Reviews


For a limited time, Political Action will be available at 30% off.

Stacey Abrams on “Identity-Conscious Politics”

E Pluribus Unum? The Fight Over Identity Politics
By Stacey Abrams

My notes from an excellent article in Foreign Affairs:

not to the exclusion of others but as a recognition of their specific policy needs.

articulating an understanding of each group’s unique concerns instead of trying to create a false image of universality.

The marginalized did not create identity politics: their identities have been forced on them by dominant groups,

a politics that respects and reflects the complicated nature of these identities and the ways in which they intersect.

identity has been used to deny opportunity.

Embracing the distinct histories and identities of groups in a democracy enhances the complexity and capacity of the whole.

These parallel but distinct developments are inextricably bound together.

amorphous, universal descriptors devoid of context or nuance.

an expanded, identity-conscious politics.

By embracing identity and its prickly, uncomfortable contours, Americans will become more likely to grow as one.

STACEY Y. ABRAMS served as Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017 and was the Democratic Party’s nominee in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election.


Joe Henry

Joe Henry (born December 2, 1960) is a great singer-songwriter and producer. He has released 13 studio albums and produced multiple recordings for other artists, including three Grammy Award-winning albums. This video begins a YouTube mix playlist.


Please sign “Americans for Humanity: A Declaration”

Please endorse this declaration at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JF5DHPR

Endorsers will be invited to discuss possible next steps. An established organization might then adopt the project, assume ownership of the AmericansForHumanity.org domain name, and work with other organizations to advance the project. With assistance from 27 collaborators, Wade Hudson served as principal author of this declaration. For more info, click here.

Americans for HumanityA Declaration

I/we support the growth of a popular movement that:

  • serves humanity, the environment, and life itself
  • respects the essential equality of all human beings
  • encourages everyone to identify as a member of the human family
  • affirms individuals’ multiple identities
  • opposes efforts to dominate others due to one of their identities
  • relies on love and trust rather than hate and fear
  • channels anger productively
  • attracts people with face-to-face community and caring friendships
  • honors our nation’s accomplishments, criticizes its failures, and helps build a more perfect union
  • fully represents and gives voice to the American people
  • helps transform the United States into a compassionate community that:
    • supports the rule of law, individual rights, and the freedom to engage in activities that do not deny freedom to others
    • encourages people to relate to others as individuals of equal worth
    • promotes partnerships that empower people
    • nurtures democracy throughout society
    • meets basic human needs
    • assures good living-wage job opportunities
    • protects free speech
    • makes it easy to vote
    • enables everyone to participate in society fully and productively
    • encourages supportive relationships with other countries, backs their right to self-determination, promotes human rights, and advocates peaceful resolution of conflicts with mediation and negotiation
  • pressures Washington to implement compassionate policies supported by strong majorities of the American people
  • engages in nonviolent civil disobedience and consumer boycotts when needed
  • encourages members of the movement to:
    • improve their emotional reactions
    • engage in honest self-examination
    • support each other with their personal and spiritual growth
    • avoid oppressive or disrespectful behavior
  • supports members who want to form small teams that share meals, strengthen connections, provide mutual support, and plan other activities
  • cooperates with movements in other countries that also serve humanity, the environment, and life itself.

To endorse, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JF5DHPR.

James Baldwin (1985)

“The present social and political apparatus cannot serve the human need…. In the United States the idea of community scarcely means anything anymore, except among the submerged, the Native American, the Mexican, the Puerto Rican, the Black.” 

From “The Evidence of Things Not Seen” (1985) by James Baldwin

Quoted in “James Baldwin: Pessimist, Optimist, Hero” by
By Holland Cotter
The literary figure is the glowing subject of a group exhibition, curated by the New Yorker critic Hilton Als, that is part personal narrative, part study of his influence on contemporary artists.