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Jolting the Mind for Action

1. Corporations Are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2012. This book is for corporate accountability and the grossly uneven relationships between corporate personhood and real people. Clear, historically founded, compellingly invigorating and connected to a growing movement (see freespeechforpeople.org).

2. The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley, Patagonia Books, Ventura, California, 2012. You may be wearing the apparel of this outdoor clothing company, but you may not be aware of the remarkable pioneering practices and counter-intuitive wisdom of this successful company and its casual, underworking founder and outdoorsman, Yvon Chouinard.

3. Government is Good by Douglas J. Amy, creator of governmentisgood.com, Dog Ear Publishing, Indianapolis, IN 2011. This professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College debunks the myths of corporatist-Republican propaganda, surfaces the realities of government’s services, explains the war on government and how to revitalize both democracy and government from its present distortions by self-seeking organized private power. Douglas Amy is the man Cong. Paul Ryan would never debate.

4. Buying America Back by Alan Uke, Selectbooks, New York, 2012. Uke is a domestic manufacturer of Scuba diving and industrial lighting products and the architect of the federal Automobile Smog Index. The book’s dedication is “to the workers displaced, the factories closed, the small towns decimated and the opportunities denied to the people of America. It is also dedicated to all of us, the consumers, whose money has been harvested by those who work against us.” He has proposed to put a specific fight-back tool in our hands.

5. We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley, Vanguard Press, New York, 2012. The former U.S. Senator and basketball start delivers his wide-ranging thoughts on the book’s title. The book is short, clear and tells you where he stands. If presidential campaigns covered such subjects, the people would know where the candidates stand, instead of the blizzard of trivia, repetition and distortion to which they are exposed.

6. Bad Brake: Ford Trucks Deadly When Parked, by Robert Zausner, Camino Books, Philadelphia, 2012. If you want to see the gripping persistent pursuit of the rights of people whose lives were devastated by a popular truck defective brake design by trial lawyers at their creative best, read this documented story. As Arthur Bryant, director of Public Justice, wrote: “The book shows how trial lawyers are our last line of defense against corporations maximizing profits over people’s safety and lives.”

7. The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs by David C. Unger, Penguin Press, New York, 2012. The book’s title understates the depth of the author’s indictment of the national security state – built by both political parties – into a folly that has traded away “the country’s greatest strengths for a fleeting illusion of safety.” Unger does not leave his readers hanging. He provides them with ten proposals to reverse course.

8. When the World Outlawed War by David Swanson, (self-published, 2011). The author of several books, political activist and civic leader, brings to contemporary memory the existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 that outlawed war. Still on the books and signed by 54 countries, including the United States, the Treaty was the result of the leadership of assertive citizens in many countries and their governmental officials, including our Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, following the horrors of that preventable World War I. Our forebears’ vision should stimulate their descendants today into a reawakening for muscular institutions of peace.

9.  My Seventy Years in the Labor Movement by Harry Kelber, Labor Educator Press, New York, 2006. Now at age 98 and writing articles every week on his blog http://laboreducator.org, Harry Kelber has been championing working men and women for seventy-five years and holding slugglishy-led trade unions’ feet to the fire. With no one else stepping up, he is running for the presidency of the AFL-CIO on a detailed reform platform of greater activism. An inspirational, instructive auto-biography.

10. Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated and Battling the Corporate Elite by Bruce E. Levine, Chelsea Green, 2011. Going beyond the how-to-become-active civic handbook, Levine, a clinical psychologist invites us to explore what he calls the “learned helplessness” that has “taken hold for a great many Americans…locked into an abuse syndrome in which revelations about their victimization by a corporate-government partnership produce increased anesthetization rather than constructive action.” The author, citing historian Lawrence Goodwy, then shows many ways toward “individual self-respect” and “collective self-confidence,” the “cultural building blocks of mass democratic politics.”

11. Days of Destruction Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Nation Books, New York, 2012. This brilliant combination of prose and graphic comics reports from the field on four of the poorest, most abandoned areas of the U.S. The plight of the Americans barely existing there reflects the power of the corporate supremacists and their indentured governments to exploit and deny.

Want to disturb your routine and enliven your vision for human possibilities, read through the above works. It will take you a lot less time than the authors spent delivering their minds to yours.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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