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Playbook for Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 9. August 2011

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“In addition to his descriptions of a successful organizer's qualities and roles, his insider view of activism, and his thorough knowledge of participants and parties through the years, gives this book its value”—Publishers Weekly
“An Art of War for organizers around the world. Buy ten copies and pass them on.”—Mike Davis

"We desperately need change. We need to reclaim and rebuild real democracy. The skills of organizing that Eric Mann shares in Playbook for Progressives are the life blood of democracy, human rights, social and economic justice, and planetary survival."—Vandana Shiva, author of Soil Not Oil and Earth Democracy
“Eric Mann has written an essential field guide for community organizers. His voice is crisp and clear, and his footsteps on the pavement are sharp. A pragmatic primer for all radicals.”—Vijay Prashad, author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World
“Eric Mann is a bridge builder, a gifted organizer who unites Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and whites in the fight for social justice and change. Playbook for Progressives is the Rules for Radicals for the twenty-first century.”—Rodolfo Acuña, author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
“Based on concrete examples of organizers who transformed their countries, communities, and workplaces, Playbook for Progressives is a beacon that effectively illustrates the techniques and skills of transformative community organizing. A must-read for individuals and organizations that want to change the ideological and economic roots of oppression.”—Melvin H. King, emeritus faculty, MIT; author of Chain of Change; and founder of the South End Technology Center  

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Eric Mann is director of the Los Angeles–based Labor/Community Strategy Center and cofounder of the Bus Riders Union. He is the author of six books and has worked extensively with many organizations, including the Congress of Racial Equality, Students for a Democratic Society, and the United Auto Workers. He lives in Los Angeles. 

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HASH(0x8c30133c) von 5 Sternen What the Occupy movement can learn from the 60s 27. Dezember 2011
Von Reese Erlich - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Back in the 1960s, I remember having tremendous respect for veteran communists and socialists of earlier eras. I also thought they were a bunch of old geezers who spoke a funny language of class warfare. What was the relevance of "workers of the world unite" when we were dealing with African American, women's and gay rights?

I suspect that today's Occupy movement looks at the 1960s Old Geezers with a similar combination of awe and contempt. They might want to read Playbook for Progressives.

In this new book, veteran 60s organizer Eric Mann lays out his critique of modern capitalism and a vision of how to change it. He calls his method "transformative organizing," which he describes as changing both society and the organizer. Mann combines specific organizing techniques with anecdotes from his long history as a civil rights, union and community organizer.

Through no fault of their own, many young activists who occupied Zuccotti Park in New York or Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland are cut off from the history of earlier social movements. As it turns out, however, many of the debates communicated with "mic checks" in the parks today echo those of the 1960s:

There are no leaders. Mann shows that people are disgusted with opportunistic and self serving leaders. But real leaders always emerge from grass roots movements; they should be supported.

Participatory democracy. Today's movements reject elections that are rigged in favor of the ultra-rich. Democratic decision making from below is a viable alternative. But endless meetings and seeking unanimous consensus isn't democracy either. Electoral politics, when led by genuine progressives, can have a positive impact.

Building a multinational movement. Mann has a great deal of experience dealing with racism, which impacts all of American society, including progressives. He has helped build a multi-national and multi-racial movement in Los Angeles that can provide valuable insight for the Occupy movement.

I hope young activists have a chance to read Playbook. Maybe the publisher could donate a few boxes to the free libraries at the Occupy sites. It's good reading for the Old Geezer crowd as well.

Reese Erlich
Journalist and author
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HASH(0x8c301390) von 5 Sternen Review of Eric Mann 27. November 2013
Von Alan Wieder - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Eric Mann's Playbook for Progressives is two books in one. The book wouldn't work any other way. Mann is true to his title and introduction, presentings a 74-page section on the roles of an organizer. Included in this section are 12 specific yet overlapping responsibilities that are representative of political organizers -- foot soldier, evangelist, recruiter, group builder, strategist, tactician, communicator, political educator, agitator, fundraiser, comrade & confidante, and cadre. The second section of the book,"16 Qualities of a Successful Organizer,” takes the roles of the first section further by building on the earlier descriptions with substantive portraits of “strategy and tactics” that are crucial for successful radical, political, organizing.

Playbook for Progressives is not two books because it includes distinct sections, but rather because Mann combines theory and action, with biography and autobiography, to bring alive, through real lives, what radical organizing means in the struggle against racism and class disparity in the United States and throughout the world.

Eric Mann one of the founders the Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC) in 1989, has been the organization's Director since its inception. His earlier political work included being a Field Secretary for The Congress of Racial Equality, an aboveground member of Weatherman, and a radical, activist/organizer in automobile and airplane production plants throughout the country. Many of the examples of radical organizing in the book are the stories of Mann and other organizers at LCSC. Mann explains in the introduction of Playbook for Progressives that the organization was launched as "an experiment to reassert the powerful, positive impact of progressive ideology and transformative organizing." As an aspect of the rationale for the Center, Mann writes about 'activists' wanting seats at the tables of power -- an issue that might be even more problematic at the present time.

Labor and community organizers began talking about 'empowerment' rather than power, 'a seat at the table' rather than concrete demands and political independence, and 'public-private partnerships' rather that a challenge to the profit motive and corporate power.

Throughout the book there are also stories of many other organizers, some whose names we know and others that we don't, but all examples of people fighting class disparity and racism -- locally, nationally, and globally. LCSC's largest undertaking is the Bus Rider's Union (BRU). Founded in 1992, BRU's membership comprises mostly black people and Latina people who have organized to fight against the two-tiered discriminatory system of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and BRU's success is legendary beginning with a 1994 suit against the MTA that concluded with the court rescinding raised fares and bus passes. The successes remain to this day -- of course the need for continuing this particular struggle illustrates the necessity of ongoing activism and organization. Much more can be read about the BRU in Eric Mann's book. While LCSC has various initiatives, the other one that I will highlight is the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline. Briefly, LCSC is part of a coalition that has fought to de-criminalize truancy in Los Angeles -- again more of the story in Playbook for Progressives.

Mann is clear on the hard work, discipline, human warmth, and expertise necessary for progressive organizing. He is very detailed describing and analyzing the theory and dispositions of radical activism. "In the United States in particular, and among organizers in general, there is a pragmatic, antitheoretical tendency... The problem is that theory is an overview that gives you a map as to where you are going." Mann's detail is important, but the people's lives that he portrays wed the details to human actions. I want people to read and re-read Playbook for Progressives. Thus, until I come to this review's conclusion, I will provide brief portraits of Eric and a small sample of the other organizers he brings to his book.

As a young man in the mid-sixties, Mann worked with the Newark Community Union Project (NCUP) going door-to-door asking people to become involved in meetings and protests against racism and oppression. There were sobering moments that might still occur in 2013. Mann writes about one of the people he met:

She wanted to offer me food, but her refrigerator was almost bare. She would bring me hot coffee, and we would sit and talk. Once, perhaps influenced by Martin Luther King Jr.'s metaphor, I asked her if she had a dream of what her life could be like. She told me, "My dream is that I am able to walk in front of a car and leave this life and God will not punish me for abandoning my children.

This is the "exceptional" United States of America.

And of course, the above quote speaks to the importance of Playbook for Progressives. While talking of the successes of the BRU, Mann speaks of four key elements for radical organizing. Before citing the list – Mann’s caveat is the Cabral quote, “Tell no lies and claim no easy victories."

1. Listen very carefully and let the person talk
2. Show a deep concern about very specific conditions people face
3. Present very concrete demands
4. Frame the conversation within an up-front worldview of those fights as part of a larger social transformation

The process is exemplified in Eric's meeting and continuing work with Eduardo Fuentes in Wilmington, California where the toxic emissions of the oil companies was causing serious and sometimes fatal health conditions for the Latina (o) population. LCSC's project was called Watchdog. Eduardo approached Eric at a meeting and told him that his local organization, Parents Against Pollution, shared the values of Watchdog. As Eric attempted to build a coalition of the two groups he learned that Eduardo was the group. "I asked him how many parents were in the group and he said, 'One. Me.'" More importantly, Eduardo was reticent about joining Watchdog. Eric had written a book on the topic and the values and actions of LCSC on the issue clearly corresponded to those of Eduardo Fuentes -- yet he was leery. As the two men met Eduardo asked about the action part of Watchdog -- picketing, sit-ins. He then explained that in his native Guatemala "the government, with the support of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, kidnap and kill indigenous peoples, union leaders, and revolutionaries." Eduardo was also concerned about the anti-immigrant movement in the United States. But Eric Mann had followed all four of the key elements of radical organizing cited above and spoke about the safeguards for the 'undocumented' in Watchdog actions. Not only did Eduardo Fuentes join the project, he became a local leader in Wilmington.

Mann writes of strategy and provides more real life examples. An illustration is the work of Manuel Criollo, who directs the organizing at LCSC. There are stories from the Bus Riders Union and that of Deloros Huerta, the legendary United Farmworkers leader. The third chapter of Section Two has the great title, “Sings with the Choir but Finds Her Own Voice,” the perfect mantra for organizing and a people’s socialism. Another chapter, “Generosity of Spirit: Take Good Care of Others,” tells the early 1960s organizing story of The Newark Community Union Project, but also extends the camaraderie to the present as group organizers, living throughout the country, fight for the housing rights of Terry Jefferson, one of their comrades, now 87 years old. Mann tells the tale of his activist work with Mark Masaoka at the Van Nuys General Motors plant in the 1980s. And finally, not really as there are additional personal/political vignettes, Mann tells the story of the coalition of New York Domestic Workers and Shalom Bayit – Jews for Racial and Economic Justice that culminated in the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

Corresponding to the peoples’ stories, Mann connects theory and practice and the many intricacies and complexities that they include. The importance of the individual and the group is connected to conversation and reflection.

At the Strategy Center, I am fortunate to have close comrades who will take me aside, which I appreciate in itself, and explain to me things I have done that were arrogant, chauvinist, insensitive. They will point out ways I have been inconsistent and even vacillatory – changing my mind and contradicting something I said only a few days ago without realizing it. They show me instances when I did not listen to or respect the ideas of others and assumed I was right, when in fact they understood the situation far better than I did.

Mann suggests that commitment and hard work needs to be connected to expertise with both national and global examples:
Organizers who are ill-informed about their issues can speak only the general truths of the revolution and are outmatched by the scientists and expert witnesses marshaled by their opponents. They are usually unpersuasive, unable to effect actual change, and are used as caricatures by the system to discredit the movement.

After writing of expertise, and using more biographical and autobiographical examples, Mann explores militancy, bravery, and courage as necessary elements of radical organizing. After telling the story of “Maria Guardado: Salvadorian saint,” Mann explains: “The courageous example of individuals is critical, but courage must be found in a collective context.”

Finally, Playbook for Progressives portrays the deeds of more well-known struggle leaders such as Audre Lorde. Mann quotes Margaret Meade as a connector of organizing and revolutionary theory and practice and the comrades whom he portrays.

“Never doubut that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Eric Mann’s weekly radio show on KPFK-Los Angeles, Voices from the Frontlines, is archived and can be heard at [...]

Alan Wieder
Portland, Oregon
(Alan Wieder is the author of Ruth First and Joe Slovo in the War Against Apartheid, Monthly Review Press, 2013)
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HASH(0x8c3017c8) von 5 Sternen For the Long Haul 9. November 2011
Von James R. Tracy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This book came out just as the Occupy Wall Street movement took off. It's essential reading for those who seriously want to tackle the question of "what's next?" as cold weather and police crackdowns diminish the amount of occupiers. Mann deals well with the usual issues of tactics, strategy and leadership. He also manages to bring to life the human joy of organizing, no small accomplishment.
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HASH(0x8c301b94) von 5 Sternen a must-read for progressives who want to build a movement and fight the right 29. Oktober 2011
Von lefthanded - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
What can I say? Every page of this book is filled with invaluable practical lessons, powerful personal stories, and shrewd political insights; together the 16 qualities and 12 roles of the organizer make for a hugely useful guide for people who want to see real progressive social change become a reality. It challenged me -- and will challenge you -- to think hard about what role each of us can play and, most importantly, how to be effective. The author clearly has been at this work for decades. He effectively weaves together his own personal insights and stories with the stories of so many amazing organizers -- like being in a seminar where each week the teacher is a different amazingly talented, inspiring veteran who is an expert in their trade.

At a historical moment when progressives desperately need clearer strategies and sharper tactics, when we need to think about building a long-term movement not only to fight a resurgent Right-wing but also to advance our own values, this book couldn't come at a better time. I'm glad to have read it and highly recommend it to others, whether season activist or a newbie to the work of social justice.
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HASH(0x8c301c78) von 5 Sternen you need a copy. 18. Oktober 2011
Von gonji - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Playbook for Progressives is an accessible read with profound anecdotes and poignant messages. It's a history book,a political science book, and a how-to book all in one. A crucial read for anyone who has ever wanted to be part of a collective effort to make the world a more beautiful place.
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