Thursday, November 24, 2011

Five of the best books on leaderless revolution

Carne Ross, a former British diplomat, is currently on Occupy Wall Street’s general assembly. His latest book, The Leaderless Revolution, explores alternative systems of organizing world affairs, in particular anarchism.

He discussed five books on leaderless revolution with Eve Gerber at The Browser, including:
Common Sense
by Thomas Paine

You’ve cited five books that lay the foundation for just such a leaderless revolution. Let’s begin with America’s most revered revolutionary tract, Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Why should we still read this pamphlet from 1776?

It's an extraordinary and brave book, written by a man who was born in England and adopted America as his homeland, so I relate to him in that way. It's just an incredibly clear account of what was wrong with British colonialism and why Americans should throw it off. It's a brilliant political argument and a model of inspiring political writing – eloquent but also concise. It's about freedom. It's about how to throw off the shackles of repression.

How does this relate to leaderless revolution?

Paine saw a particular circumstance at that time and he felt that people were not articulating clearly what the real problem was and what the solution was – that they were just dancing around the problem. To an extent that's how I feel. We're talking about manifestations of the problem without getting to the fundamentals. He cuts to the chase and that was an inspiration.

But Paine argues strongly for a democratically elected government, right?

To an extent he does. He talks about the design of Congress and it's an ideal system that he describes. But I think Thomas Paine would be pretty horrified by what he might see today that passes for democratic government.
Read about another book Ross tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue