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How to Turn an Outpouring of Progressive Activism Into a Winning Social Movement

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Discarded protest signs at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. (Rex Features via AP)

  • Why the left needs to build power, now.
  • Related: How to Revive the Peace Movement in the Trump Era

Astra Taylor, the Nation

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https://versobooks-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/000011/154/direct-action-front-1050-max_221-ee12ffa84f9e935a2486e656c0438c14.jpg March 23, 2017 | In the wake of the catastrophic election of Donald Trump, we all know the left needs to get its act together. But how?

I posed this question to Jillian Johnson, L.A. Kauffman, and Jonathan Matthew Smucker, three longtime activists well-positioned to provide some insight and advice to anyone ready to commit to the budding resistance. Jillian Johnson is a year into her tenure on Durham, North Carolina’s City Council, where she is uniquely poised to contribute to a progressive turn toward municipal and state-level politics across the country. Kauffman’s new book, Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism, traces the history of a powerful strain of American dissent, and how it is being harnessed by a new generation of change-makers. Smucker’s Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals, gets into the nitty-gritty of why movements fail, and how they can succeed. Our conversation lays out much-needed historical lessons and theoretical guidance for anyone engaged in grassroots organizing today.

Astra Taylor is the director of the documentary films Zizek! and Examined Life. She has written for The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Baffler, n+1 and other outlets. She is the author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age (Metropolitan Books).

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Related:

How to Revive the Peace Movement in the Trump Era, Daniel May, the Nation

  • Why we need a peace movement - and why we don't have one 
  • Antiwar Organizing and the new movements
  • Related: How activists have already scored victories against Trump's policies

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