No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age

“Jane McAlevey is a deeply experienced, uncommonly reflective organizer. In NO SHORTCUTS, McAlevey stresses the distinction between mobilizing and organizing and examines how systematic conflation of the two has reflected and reinforced the labor movement’s decline over recent decades. More than a how-to manual for organizers, NO SHORTCUTS is a serious, grounded rumination on building working-class power. It is a must read for everyone concerned with social justice in the US.”
~ Adolph Reed, Jr., Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

“McAlevey’s decades as a labor and community organizer means that she knows what organizers do, or should do. This book lifts the lessons McAlevey takes from that craft into the intellectual realm of power and politics. This book is for anyone who wants a democratic society in which ordinary people share power.”
~ Frances Fox Piven, author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America

“Whether it is Black Lives Matter, climate change, feeling the Bern, or worker rights, success hinges on the ability to build real and sustainable power. Jane McAlevey gives us both a practical guide and a set of underlying principles to understand how organizing matters more than any other available strategy to grow power, and, what it means to organize. A must read for anyone hoping to create a better world.”
Dan Clawson, Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Income inequality has reached levels not seen since the 1920s. Labor unions’ membership is in decline, and popular opinion has turned against them. Promising movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter lack an organized base, and therefore are unable to build the power to effect meaningful change. Why do progressives in the United States keep losing on so many issues, and what is to be done?

In NO SHORTCUTS: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, Dr. Jane F. McAlevey investigates the reasons behind the recent failures of unions and lays out a way forward for the progressive movement. McAlevey, an experienced community, electoral, and labor organizer, presents a dozen case studies of unions and social movements seeking to effect change in the twenty-first century. As she analyzes each case, she identifies the reasons for the movement’s success or failure.

Progressives can win, McAlevey argues, but lack the organized power to enact significant change, to outlast their bosses in labor fights, and to hold elected leaders accountable. NO SHORTCUTS shows that what victorious movements have in common is the use of grassroots mass organizing rather than the top-down strategies such as advocacy that have recently gained favor.

Beyond the concrete examples in this book, McAlevey’s arguments have direct implications for anyone involved in organizing for social change. Much more than just a cogent analysis, NO SHORTCUTS explains exactly how progressives can go about rebuilding powerful movements at work, in communities, and at the ballot box.

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