This is a gem of a book

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plappen's review of Protest Inc.

★★★★★

“This is a gem of a book”

Written on: 25/04/2015 by plappen (120 reviews written)

Protest Inc.: The Corporatization of Activism, Peter Dauvergne and Genevieve LeBaron, 2014, ISBN 9780745669496

In a time of what seems to be a rise in global activism, this book presents a very different view.

Things are not at the point of "Greenpeace/Pepsico" or "Amnesty International (A Division of Unilever)," but a person could be forgiven for thinking that such a day is coming. Major NGOs have entered into multi- million dollar partnerships with corporations like Shell, Coca-Cola or Walmart (they certainly have more global reach than the United Nations). These corporate partners are going to expect more business-like behavior out of what, twenty years ago, was a rag-tag bunch of activists. Groups like the Sierra Club or World Wildlife Fund now have multi-million dollar annual budgets, boards of directors, offices all over the world and hundreds (or thousands) of employees. A growing number of organizations are interested in "corporate friendly" activism.

The consumerizing of activism is another growing trend. Purchase a certain item (usually made in China) and a portion of the money will be donated to some worthy cause. It helps the retailer to look good, and the worthy cause may get a small amount of extra money in their bank account. On the other hand, is more consumerism really the answer for world hunger or cancer research?

When dealing with the police or city officials, taking the streets has never been easy. Post-9/11, new laws have been passed which make it nearly impossible. Almost any public protest or disruption of daily activity can be equated with terrorism. Facing a police force that dresses and acts like the military, courtesy of surplus equipment from the Defense Department, certainly doesn't help.

In the middle of the 20th Century, there was much more of a social interest in getting together, like at the local union hall, to discuss the state of society. Those days are gone. Today, society is much more atomized. People are working two jobs, just to make ends meet, or they are spending their free time playing video games, so getting together to better society is low on the list of priorities.

This is a gem of a book, though also rather disheartening. It is a huge eye-opener, and should be read by all parts of society, including activists and non-activists.

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