Summer Books That Inspire and Challenge

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Nonprofit Industrial Complex
Edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. South End Press , 2009. 256 pp.

My initial reaction to being asked to write a review for The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex was one of reluctance. My concern was that I do not have a foundation of knowledge regarding the non-profit industry in the US. Upon reflection, I was able to identify a fairly clear link between the work I am involved in and the invaluable analyses provided in this anthology. My scholarly efforts have been primarily focused on examining the ways in which the mental health professions have reified systemic forms of discrimination like white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, classism, and ableism under the guise of psychological treatment and healing. Similarly, the essays in the The Revolution Will Not Be Funded provide a compelling argument for how seemingly benevolent institutions like NGOs and non-profits can be systematically co-opted to sustain the repressive state order.

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded is an excellent resource for anyone who is interested in the history, influence, and consequences of the Non Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC). The essays included in the anthology provide a complex critical analysis of how the non-profit industry has perpetuated systems of power and privilege by supporting reformist frameworks, while simultaneously undermining more radical social justice movements aimed at transforming “white supremacist US society.” Reading this book also provides an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work of the Syracuse Peace Council, which continues to effectively function outside the 501(c)(3) system. Please join us at the next Radical Reading Group meeting to discuss this wonderful book!

Richard Shin is an associate professor of counseling in the School of Education at Syracuse University. His scholarship is guided by a commitment to creating a more just, equitable, and peaceful society

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
Bill McKibben. Times Books, 2010. 272 pp.

SPC’s Radical Reading Group met on May 3 to discuss the book Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben. The group highly recommends the book as a very important, yet easy read. McKibben uses the term “Eaarth” to refer to the former planet Earth and spends a significant portion of the book giving example after example of why the planet we live on is radically different from the one we once knew. Why is that? He gives a host of reasons but all can be linked by the number 350. 350 parts per million is the bearable threshold or upper limit for carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere—a level we have passed, as we are currently at 391 (for most of human history we were at 275). After his sobering warning, the second section of the book is more optimistic, arguing that it is possible to follow a path back to 350. Many of the actions he encourages individuals and communities to take are things happening around us in Syracuse and CNY: farmer’s markets, small local farms (that use traditional techniques), CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture farms), home and community gardens, reducing energy consumption, and working on efficiency. His general message is that “local and dispersed works better than centralized, at least in a chaotic world.”

Sara Watrous is a former Peace Council intern and a current Steering Committee member.

Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay
Yves Engler and Bianca Mugyenyi. Fernwood Publishing, 2011. 272 pp

Stop Signs is a combination road trip story/manifesto against the auto/oil/sprawl complex at the core of capitalist growth, militarism and social-ecological destruction. Written in the voice of Bianca Mugyenyi, a Canadian of Ugandan origin, the book takes us along on a mostly car-free trip to a score of North American cities and a few African ones as well. The reader feels right there with Bianca and her co-author, Yves Engler, as they encounter the dangers and difficulties of mobility in dirty and boring autocentric cities and, occasionally, the joys of exceptional urban enclaves that cater to walkers, cyclers, and mass transit riders. Each city visited opens up a fact-filled reflection on the social, cultural, economic, and environmental destructiveness of automobility.

The book concludes with a positive vision of direct action and public policies toward a car-free, people-friendly urban future. The authors do not guilt the driver who must drive out of necessity, but rather call for mass action towards cities designed for people, not cars and the profits of the auto/oil/sprawl complex. As we face a major turning point in Syracuse’s future with the decision on I-81, this book could not be more relevant.

Howie Hawkins is a Teamster living in Syracuse and active in the Green Party.