By Helen Dumont
Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change by Cynthia Kaufman (Director of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action) explores a wide range of political traditions that includes Marxism, anarchism, anti-imperialism, postmodernism, feminism, critical race theory, and environmentalism. Kaufman fully acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of political movements and the ideologies inspired by or generated through them. She then offers a coherent analysis without pretending to offer “the final word” on complex issues. Instead, she helps orient a critical understanding of the social world and a glimpse of the excitement and rewards of serious intellectual engagement with political ideas. This new edition directly addresses the pressing issues of today ranging from mass incarceration to climate change, from the war on terror to the national security state, from rising inequality to a global shortage of care. Ideas for Action also examines the work of diverse thinkers such as Adam Smith, Paulo Freire, Grace Lee Boggs, and Stuart Hall. Kaufman’s insights break the chains of cynicism and lay a foundation for more effective organizing.
Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, extraordinarily well written, organized and presented, Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change is unreservedly recommended for both academia and non-specialist general readers alike. While very highly recommended as a core addition to community, college, and university library Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted that “Ideas for Action” is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).