Relevant Theory for Radical Change

Ideas for Action—Relevant Theory for Radical Change by Cynthia Kaufman, South End Press, $20

If you’re looking for a left-wing book publisher, don’t look any further than South End Press at 7 Brookline St. #1, Cambridge, MA 02139-4146, phone 800-533-8478.

When I want hard-hitting, left-wing investigatory writing, I peruse South End’s catalogue and Web site ( I am always looking for ideas for action, and so I was intrigued when I came across the book written by Cynthia Kaufman. Right away, I knew I was in for lots of good ideas.

The 332 pages, including index and bibliography, are not only packed with specific suggestions for rabble rousing, but also an exhaustive study as to which ideas are legitimate and which will get you into trouble. Unfortunately, as with most lefty literature, it’s pedantic, overly wordy, the reasoning sometimes is convoluted, and the words used come from old Worker’s World newspapers. But it is a scholarly tome that deserves to be read by wanna-be radicals, of which I am one.

The viewpoint is almost Marxist, but she goes beyond the old labor versus capital issues to address gay rights, the environment, and racism, as well as many others. She’s strong on organizing ideas but weak on specifics in the tactics. For example, she encourages reaching out to different classes and races, both genders, but gives few specifics as to how a person, especially one living in Rockford, can do it. She treats the liberal do-gooder better than most Marxists, and sometimes even tips her hat at their accomplishments. Her discussions about vanguardist groups reminds me of the national anti-war demonstrations against the Vietnam war, and these lessons are very applicable today as well.

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