A Tale of Two Citations: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and Michael Harrington’s “The Other America”

Contrasting Lessons for Activists

More than half a century has passed since Rachel Carson meticulously exposed government and corporate poisoning of the planet with synthetic pesticides. Serialized in the New Yorker in weekly install­ments, Carson’s Silent Spring was officially published as a hard-cover book in September 1962 by Houghton Mifflin Co. for the price of $5. The book, with its wonderful drawings, excoriated the government and corporations for covering the planet with cancer-causing pesticides like DDT, a product of the newly powerful agribusiness and pharmaceutical infrastructure. Many of the pesticides were originally designed as nerve gasses and weapons of war.[i] “Since the earliest origins of modern industrial agriculture, agribusiness has been at war against all life on earth, including ourselves,”[ii] writes Brian Tokar, author of Earth for Sale and Monsanto: Origins of an Agribusiness Behemoth. From its origins, “chemical agriculture has been a form of warfare—it is a war against the soil, against our reserves of fresh water, and against all the microbes and insects that are necessary for the growing of healthy food.”[iii] But in an expansive America following World War II, few were concerned about the mass application of pesticides, which was promoted as part of the promise for securing “the good life” for all. (To actually achieve that, though – if it were possible to be achieved at all – would require powerful social justice movements to overturn the country’s legacy of white supremacy and Jim Crow laws. Millions of people were excluded from partaking in what was portrayed as the American dream, and which remained, for many, the American Nightmare.)

Carson’s mind-blowing exposé not only revealed the prevalence of chemical pesticides but – and we’ve forgotten this today – also the “secret” that radio­active Strontium 90, a byproduct of above-ground nuclear bomb tests, had tainted the nation’s milk supply. This was shocking information. “No one had ever thought humans could create something that could create harm all over the globe and come back and get in our bodies,” oceanographer Carl Safina told Eliza Griswold, whose story about Rachel Carson appeared in 2012 inThe New York Times Sunday Magazine. [iv] The uproar that followed inspired an army of parents anguishing over the threats of pesticides and radioactive Strontium 90 to the health of their children. Many were women who had worked for the first time in  jobs previously “set aside” for men, in support of the anti-Nazi effort during World War II, only to be replaced by male workers reclaiming “their” jobs upon returning from the war. They brought those experiences into organizing a new mass “environmental” movement in the context of the Cold War, and as their children were drilled to “duck and cover” under their desks in case Russia was to order a nuclear bomb attack – more an ideological device than offering practical protection.[v] Would such a mass environmental movement have emerged had there been no perceived external threat to fuse with ongoing ecological disasters? Would so many women have participated had they not first experienced a sort of liberation (at least in part) from traditional family roles through their work in factories during the anti-Nazi effort in World War II? It’s impossible to say. But one thing is true: As a consequence, women’s organizing of the ecology and Ban the Bomb movements, and their participation in factory jobs, shook up the typical or traditional nuclear family structure—a structure neither as typical nor as traditional as we’re led to believe. [vi]

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union heated dramatically after the Soviet Union launched its first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957 and especially as the Cuban missile crisis devolved toward the end of 1962 and threatened to blow up the world. In that context, it was not an easy matter to challenge the government on the releases of radiation from its atomic bomb tests and threats of annihilation in nuclear war. America’s fantasy machine has today rewritten the history of that opposition, casting Rachel Carson as an isolated figure, a romantic single-issue lone wolf against chemical pesticides like DDT. But Rachel Carson, bravely unconventional, was no isolated figure; she was part of a revolt in the 1950s and 1960s of scientists and leftist thinkers alarmed not only by chemical pollution and pesticides but – and this intersection is crucial! – by the above-ground nuclear bomb tests and the harmful effects of radiation on children. The societal changes that movements inspire succeed only when large numbers of people, in the course of mobilizing, start with and then transcend the immediate self-interest of each person, and give rise to new ways of seeing one’s place in the world and relationship to nature. These, in turn, have the potential to reframe the prevailing “common sense” idea that presents human activity and nature as non-reconcilable adversaries, with nature as expendable in a never-ending war for “Progress”.

If, as Milán Kundera writes, “the struggle of human beings against power is, in some important sense, the struggle of memory against forgetting,”[vii] then today, from a vantage of more than half-a-century, we need to look anew at that history and restore the role those women played in building the movement to oppose DDT and in mobilizing to ban the bomb. The decimation of song birds and birds of prey due to DDT spraying merged with otherlife-and-death matters in the 1960s, and “spurred scientists, emanat­ing primarily from the left, to raise searching questions about the destruc­tiveness of our civilization,” John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark wrote in a revelatory 2017 article in Monthly Review. “From this work the modern ecology movement emerged.” [viii] Rachel Carson inspired thousands to join an environmental movement that did not separate condemnation of chemical pesticides from support for banning the bomb. The issues were organically related and indivisible, and the joining of both efforts helped spur an emerging social-ecological sensibility.

A decade after her death from cancer in 1964, the movement Rachel Carson inspired succeeded in forcing the banning of domestic applications of DDT, an organochlorine pesticide that had been developed to replace the arsenic-based insecticides previously in use. Several industrial disasters added fuel to the fire, so to speak: the heavily polluted Cayuga River running through Cleveland, Ohio, caught fire in 1952 and again in 1969; the Donora smog disaster in 1948 (there’s now an entire museum in Donora dedicated to that disaster) on the Monongahela River, near Pittsburgh; the gigantic Santa Barbara, California oil spill in 1969 – these so-called “natural” disasters galvanized the nation’s consciousness and the already-existent but nascent environmental movement, and triggered action in Congress. The emergencies piled up, all a result of industrial pollution, with little in the way of long-range planning under capitalism to preventing them. All undermined the promise of “the good life” that so many had bought into, promulgated by U.S. capitalism’s “need” to expand without fetter.

In that context, new grassroots efforts emerged to preserve rivers, oceans, parks, and forests. The decades-long public opposition to pest-spray pollution was stronger than ever. By 1971, President Richard Nixon, one of the most reviled and hostile politicians of the era, nonetheless responded by out­lawing DDT, and issued executive orders and bills in Congress instituting the Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Water Act, Safe Water Drinking Act, Department of Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Clean Air Act, Pes­ticide Control Act, Endangered Species Act, and Water Quality Improve­ment Act—staggering to think about, and all of them currently under attack. Nixon aide John Whita­ker years later told Nixon he would be remembered for his domestic policy successes especially with regard to the environment. Nixon responded, “For God’s sake, John, I hope that’s not true,”[ix] and all occurring as Nixon expanded the U.S. bombardment of Southeast Asia and intensified police repression at home.

Nixon’s environmental policies were purely expedient. Capitalism needed to expand, and Nixon sought to save it from the movements forming around pesiticides and nuclear radiation, which were gaining adherents as industrial accidents turned into environmental disasters, threatening to impede capitalism’s expansion. Nixon believed that by sponsoring environmental legislation at home, he could make the environment a Republican issue[x] and break off some of the liberal support for antiwar radicals who were in the streets and clogging the jails in opposition to the U.S. military bombardment of North Vietnam’s cities Hanoi and Haiphong, the mining of their ports, inva­sions of Laos and Cambodia, and the U.S. military’s massive spraying of chemical pesticides over forests throughout Southeast Asia.[xi]

The pesticide devised for that purpose by Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont—Agent Orange—was used as a defoliant to strip Vietnamese forces of ground cover, while American helicopters strafed the now-exposed countryside and poisoned Vietnam’s agriculture and food supply. The Agent Orangeremained in the soil and sediment at the bottom of lakes and rivers for genera­tions. It has been found at alarming levels in breast milk.[xii] The U.S. military poisoned millions of Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers with chromosome-damaging and cancer-causing dioxin, a byproduct of Agent Orange’s accelerated-for-higher-profits production process. An estimated five million Vietnamese were killed by the U.S. government’s intentional mass-spraying of Agent Orange and other pesticides over Southeast Asia’s forests, rice paddies, and drinking water in more than a decade of U.S. mili­tary bombardment and warfare.

Revelations unearthed by journalist Jon Dillingham from the records Monsanto was forced to release during a landmark court case in 2017, prove that the U.S. chemical companies that made Agent Orange, and the gov­ernment and military authorities who ordered it sprayed and dumped on Vietnam, were fully aware of the terrible toll it would take, and they did it anyway.[xiii] They were thus complicit in orchestrating and enacting massive crimes against humanity and nature. But those revelations have escaped the kind of media attention that, in another era and in another country, would have sent government officials and corporate executives to the guil­lotine. Decades after the U.S. military was forced to withdraw from Viet­nam, spokespersons for Monsanto are still concealing evidence of Agent Orange’s devastating effects,[xiv] continuing to lie to federal authorities and falsifying studies, in defense of the company from over 9,000 lawsuits filed against it and its signature weed-killer Roundup.

Rachel Carson did not shrink from naming names, and was thus reviled by the American corporate structure, which libeled her mercilessly for chal­lenging the corporatocracy and U.S. government officials beholden to it. One crass letter in the New Yorker exemplified the vindictive stupidity of her critics:

“Miss Rachel Carson’s reference to the selfishness of insecticide manufacturers probably reflects her Communist sympathies, like a lot of our writers these days. We can live without birds and animals, but, as the current market slump shows, we cannot live without business. As for insects, isn’t it just like a woman to be scared to death of a few little bugs! As long as we have the H-bomb everything will be O.K.” [xv]

Mark Stoll, writer and associate professor of history at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, reviewed other scurrilous attacks on Rachel Carson:

“They accused her of being radical, disloyal, unscientific, and hysterical. In 1962, at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, criticism of the United States struck many as unpatriotic or sympathetic with communism. Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson wrote privately to former President Dwight Eisenhower that Carson was “probably a communist” (Lear 1997, 429). Velsicol’s threatening letter to Houghton Mifflin argued that if the public demanded elimination of pesticides, “our supply of food will be reduced to East-curtain parity [i.e., as inefficient as the Communist nations east of the ‘Iron Curtain’].”[xvi]

Stoll continued:

“[Critics argued that] if not an outright Communist, surely Carson was linked to “food faddists” or, as William Darby of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine characterized them, “the organic gardeners, the anti-fluoride leaguers, the worshippers of ‘natural foods,’ and those who cling to the philosophy of a vital principle, and pseudo-scientists and faddists” (Smith 738). Another decade or two would pass before most Americans considered organic gardening or natural foods as fit for anyone but cranks and misfits.”[xvii]

Another “crank and misfit,” Michael Harrington, took a different approach in authoring the classic The Other America (published that same year, 1962), whichprovided detailed facts, figures, and anecdotes about the extent of poverty in the U.S. Invisible within a supposedly affluent society, Harrington sought to “put a face on” the large number of impoverished people barely scraping by as the rest of the populace hid behind the effluence of affluence: shiny new Buicks, Chevys, Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best TV episodes, and the illusion of private ownership of homes and cars. The America of Harrington’s account, in writer Barbara Ehrenreich’s words, “prided itself on its classlessness and even fretted about the spirit-sapping effects of ‘too much affluence.’”[xviii] When poverty was examined at all, it was seen as confined to the South and served as a backdrop to the heroic actions of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Yes, they were indeed heroic – and so were tens of thousands of others omitted from mainstream accounts always in search of the heroic individual to hold up and then shoot down (sometimes literally). In fact, as great as he was, Dr. King depended upon and rose with the mass social movements for which he became one of their most notable and articulate spokespeople.) Nowhere was poverty on the radar of U.S. policy makers. And this was a “South,” by the way, that was being drenched in pesticides, but no one at the time saw anything wrong with it. The Other America shook the nation’s conscience and held up a mirror to a nation whose image of itself was as carefully manicured as its herbicide-soaked suburban lawns.

Unlike Silent Spring, however, The Other America—‘Other’ to whom?—de-clawed its findings and constructed a moralistic landscape acceptable to America’s political and economic elite. It painted a picture of a so-called “culture of poverty” in which impoverished people trapped themselves and were responsible (implicitly or explicitly) for their own bleak situation. Where Rachel Carson offered a systemic critique, Harrington framed his report differently, in a way that didn’t identify and challenge the economic power relations in American capitalism that were causing the impoverishment of a huge swath of people living there—a strange omission for a socialist like Michael Harrington who in general believed in strong government reg­ulation of corporations. Still, The Other America was an eye-opener for many, revealing for the first time the existence of widespread poverty in the United States. Harrington’s shortcoming was failing to observe that millions of people—perhaps one-quarter of the American populace—were not simply poor, but made poor. That verb has always been missing from America’s discourse on poverty, just as it’s missing now in liberal debates over America’s “growing inequality.” Poverty disappears as a class relationship (“made poor”), and is turned into a sociological condition based on one’s economic luck and income. Harrington failed to investigate the underlying social and economic dynamics that were caus­ing such a national calamity as he so movingly depicted. The Other America prompted an ongoing parade of largely ineffective re­formist movements filled with misconceptions about American society, whose strategies boiled down to faith, particularly faith in the generosity of those who own and control America. In the end, Harrington’s work (and others that followed) did serve to win immediate reforms, but they were quickly absorbed, undermined or co-opted, ultimately misleading those movements into pursuing ineffective strategies for challenging the ruling ideas of the capitalist system that led to approximately one-quarter of the population living in poverty.[xix]

A “ruling idea” is not just any idea that pops into one’s head, but a set of widely shared assumptionsthat guide one’s interpretations of perceptions and events, and that we rarely think to inquire about, so ingrained are the assumptions and so seemingly natural to think that way; within this culture we take it for granted. It’s an idea about how to see other ideas. For example, one ruling idea would be the assumption that it’s only natural that capitalists make a profit off of workers’ labor. It’s taken for granted, and elaborate rationalizations and social rituals (backed up, if necessary, by deadly force) cement that cornerstone of capitalism into place. While workers’ movements hold a variety of ideas about how much their wages should be, they rarely challenge the ruling ideathat the boss should get the products of workers’ labor at all. It is a hidden assumption that keeps workers, fighting for higher wages, from reframingthe question so that it asks: How much welfare should the working class continue to allow the capitalist class, in the form of value extracted from workers’ labor? [xx]

The ways in which we relate to each other and to nature, and the ways of seeing that go along with them, are, in spite of what capitalism would have us believe, not immutable but transient historically, not universal but specific to different geographical areas. “It wasn’t always this way, it isn’t this way everywhere, and it doesn’t have to be this way” should be emblazoned on every radical banner. They are part and parcel of capitalist and patriarchal society. Harrington came to understand this, at least abstractly. A decade later, he echoed Marx in observing that “the very categories in which capitalism thinks of itself will become absurd as the system disappears. They will then seem to the everyday consciousness as superstitious as the divine right of kings appears to the mind of modern capitalist human beings.”[xxi]

Barbara Ehrenreich, who worked closely with Harrington for a number of years in the formation of Democratic Socialists of America and which has, since 2016, become the largest avowed socialist organization in the United States, would conclude fifty years after The Other America‘s publication that the book had a major weakness that caused an unexpected effect: Unfortunately, because of its failure to make that class argument for whypoverty continued to exist (and was in fact worsening), Harrington “had fatally botched the ‘discovery’ of poverty,” Ehrenreich noted. As a result, many Americans who aspired to be middle class reacted unexpectedly to Harrington’s book with more of a “thank god that’s not me” sense of relief than with moral outrage, highlighting the shortcomings of Harrington’s liberal approach. They found in Harrington’s book, not an honest assessment of the dynamics giving rise to the systemic impoverishment of people that he at least in theory developed in later works, “but a flattering new way to think about themselves: disciplined, law-abiding, sober and focused. In other words, not poor.” [xxii]

Maurice Isserman, on the other hand, challenges Ehrenreich’s interpretation, both of the meaning of the terms Harrington uses in The Other America and of the significance of the book in shaping government policy towards the poor and downtrodden.[xxiii]The Other America,” writes Isserman, “can be read as a jeremiad, a lamentation about social wickedness, an attempt to inspire ‘anger and shame’ in its readers. But it is, in the end, an optimistic book, less an indictment and more a reminder to Americans to live up to their better instincts, and in doing so, redeem the promise of equality enshrined in the national creed.” And therein lies the problem that differentiates Harrington from Carson, and it remains a problem for activists today. The Other America did inspire presidential edicts (the “War on Poverty,” in particular), as John F. Kennedy and then, especially, Lyndon Johnson were eager to find some way to re­spond to and perhaps appease the burgeoning civil rights movement, and their program helped to salvage Americans’ liberal self-image. But though the “War on Poverty” was intended to be helpful to the immediate lives of poor people, neither Harrington nor presidential anti-poverty efforts addressed the root causes of poverty, and were quickly co-opted. In stark contrast, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring,with its well-informed attack on synthetic pesticides and nuclear bomb tests as causes of serious disease and ecological damage, and with its condemnation of the corporations that manufactured them and of government officials who worked hand-in-glove with those corporate behemoths, fostered a radical restructuring of old presumptions. This critical paradigm-shift inspired the modern-day ecology movement, and demands for more radical reforms and deeper systemic changes in addressing the ecological crises our planet faces.

Because Harrington’s book failed to explain the causes of poverty, it had a profoundly different effect. It was The Other America and not Silent Spring that, 30 years after its publication, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, latched onto the common misunderstanding of Harrington’s “culture of poverty” theme, insigning into law the infamous Welfare Reform Act. That law, among other “improvements,” eliminated Aid to Families with Dependent Children and appropriated $250 million over five years to offer “chastity training” for poor single mothers, as Ehrenreich notes with no small degree of sarcasm. And his Vice President, Al Gore, wrote a new introduction to Rachel Carson’s great work that re-examined the environmental issues and presented them to the public (much the same way that Harrington presented the ongoing – and growing – issue of poverty), without seeing the destruction of the planet as a class issue of capitalism and thus unable to present any long-term solutions, which would need to entail the kind of mass movement that Carson inspired.

A profound lesson can be learned by examining, as well, the palpable differences in public opinion and government response engendered by Carson’s and Harrington’s philosophical approaches. To what extent did the ways the authors framed the issues contribute to their effect or lack thereof on public awareness, social movements, and government policy? And how much of the variety of strategic approaches taken by the coming ecology and social justice movements was a manifestation of the way they each framed the issues they were dealing with, and how much of it was dependent on the ferment in society at the time and the existence of popular movements that saw “class” as one of their bases?

The new waves of pesticides, genetic engineering of crops, private patenting of DNA sequences in the living biological cell, and centralized ownership and control of seeds all have dramatically reshaped “the environment” in the five decades since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. Most of us experience that “brave new world” viscerally, if not intellectually, as those in positions of authority ignore our protests and enact decisions that impact severely on us, our society and na­ture.

Still, the system plods on seemingly oblivious to our efforts, leaving large numbers of people to wonder: does anythingwe do matter? The same companies making fortunes on their pesticides sell us treatments for the very cancers their pesticides are causing. And when we finally build up sufficient awareness of the dangers of a particular chemical, they just replace it with a newer one; arsenic begat DDT, DDT begat organophosphates, organophosphates begat glyphosate, and now glyphosate begets dicamba. Given the structures of power and corporate interest in the U.S., will anything we do make any difference?

Opposing the mass-application of all chemical pesticides enables organizers the opportunity to reexamine how to see our relationship to what we call “Nature”. While some encourage us to tackle the problems presented by pesticides one chemical or one corporation at a time (thus constraining our efforts to repeatedly beating back their individual chemical products as though each was the result of an isolated problem), it was Henry David Thoreau more than a century-and-a-half ago [xxiv] and Rachel Carson, 108 years later in her classic Silent Spring, who engaged in a deeper, more comprehensive critique, and did so with furious eloquence and unrelenting focus. Silent Spring served as a radical manifesto, and the modern ecology movement was launched on the worthy foundations of both Thoreau’s and Carson’s searing systemic critique.

So, to answer the question, “does anything we do matter?,” my answer is a qualified “yes”, but only when we reframe the way we see the ongoing mass-application of pesticides, on the one hand, and the widening existence of poverty in the U.S., on the other. (The top 20% of Americans own a staggering 86% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population own just 14% [xxv] So insane is this situation that the country’s three richest individuals—Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos—collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of the domestic population, “a total of 160 million people or 63 million American households.” Roughly a fifth of Americans “have zero or negative net worth.” [xxvi]). These ways of seeing can become windows onto visualizing a very different relationship with what we call “Nature” and how we view “Class”. Nothing short of a revolution in our thinking and in our actions based on those categorical frameworks has a chance to succeed in saving complex life on this planet.

Mitchel Cohen is the author of The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: the Politics of Pesticides.


[i]    Wayne Biddle, “Nerve Gases and Pesticides: Links are Close.” The New York Times, March 30, 1984.

[ii]   Brian Tokar, “Agribusiness, Biotechnology and War,” Z Magazine, September 2002. Also, Georgina Downs, “Poison in the Fields: Agriculture as Chemical Warfare”, Counterpunch, September 22, 2017.

[iii]  Brian Tokar’s essay “Monsanto: Origins of an Agribusiness Behemoth” is a chapter in Mitchel Cohen, The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides,” SkyHorse Publishing, 2019.

[iv]  Eliza Griswold, “How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement,” New York Times Sunday Magazine, September 23, 2012

[v]   See the 1082 film “The Atomic Cafe” for an intriguing look at what politicallyall the orchestrated Cold War panic was meant to achieve.

[vi]  Indeed, Betty Friedan’s important book, The Feminine Mystique, was published in 1963 just a few months after Silent Spring.

[vii]Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

[viii]John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, “Rachel Carson’s Ecological Critique,” Monthly Review,February 2008.

[ix]  Meir Rinde, “Richard Nixon and the Rise of American Environmentalism,” Distillations: Science+Culture+History, Spring 2017.

[x]   Ibid.

[xi]  “Some students confessed . . . their worries that ‘leaders in the political and industrial establishment are deliberately pushing the environment issue ‘to take some of the force out of the anti-war, anti-racism, anti-poverty issues.’” Edmund Muskie of Maine, one of the Senate’s prominent environmentalists and the unsuccessful Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1968, warned that a green movement should not become a “‘smoke screen’ obscuring the ‘challenge of equal opportunity.’ ” Zoë Carpenter, “In 1970, Environmentalism Was Poised to ‘Bring Us All Together.’ What Happened? Today, the Environment Is a Controversial Issue Divided Along Partisan Lines—But It Wasn’t Always That Way.” The Nation, April 20, 2015.

[xii]  An Dien and Jon Dillingham, “Da Nang Agent Orange Cleanup a First Step, But Questions Abound,” Thanh Nien News, August 17, 2012. http://www .thanhniennews.com/politics/da-nang-agent-orange-cleanup-a-first-step -but-questions-abound-5632.html

[xiii]Mitchel Cohen, The Fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides,SkyHorse publications, 2019.

[xiv]An Dien and Jon Dillingham, “US Chemical Companies Concealed Effects of Dioxin, Say Advocates,” Centre for Research on Globalization, August 6, 2009, www.globalresearch.ca/vietnam-chemical-companies-us-authorities-knew -the-dangers-of-agent-orange/14720.

[xv]Letter to the editor of the New Yorker[cited in Smith, “Silence, Miss Carson!” Science, Gender, and the Reception of “Silent Spring,” Feminist Studies. 27: 741. JSTOR 3178817.2001.]. See also Mark Stoll, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, A Book that Changed the World., http://www.environmentandsociety.org/exhibitions/silent-spring/personal-attacks-rachel-carson

[xvi]Mark Stoll, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a Book that Changed the World. Stoll cited Smith 2001, p736,ibid.

[xvii]       ibid.

[xviii]      Barbara Ehrenreich, “Michael Harrington and the ‘Culture of Poverty’,” The Nation, March 14, 2012.

[xix]See also fictional works such as Jack London’s The Iron Heel, Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird, and Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists for presentations of ways of addressing anti-capitalist strategies.

[xx]The clearest and most accessible outline of Marx’s labor theory of value, from which this question emerges, can be found in Marx’s Kapital for Beginners, published by Pantheon; Karl Marx, Value Price and Profit; and Fredy Perlman, “The Reproduction of Daily Life”. See also, Rosa Luxemburg, Social Reform and Revolution. For more on reframing, see Chapter Four of Mitchel Cohen, Zen Marxism : Direct Action: New Left Lessons in Reframing Revolutionary Strategy.

[xxi]Michael Harrington, The Twilight of Capitalism.

[xxii]       Barbara Ehrenreich, “Michael Harrington and the ‘Culture of Poverty’,” The Nation, March 14, 2012.

[xxiii]      Maurice Isserman, “50 Years Later: Poverty and The Other America,” Dissent,Winter 2012.

[xxiv]      See, for example, Henry David Thoreau, “Walden,” 1854.

[xxv]       Edward N. Wolff, Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States: Rising Debt and the Middle-Class Squeeze—an Update to 2007, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, March 2010.

[xxvi]      Noah Kirsch, “The 3 Richest Americans Hold More Wealth Than Bottom 50% Of The Country, Study Finds,” Forbes,Nov 9, 2017.


Mitchel Cohen is Coordinator of the No Spray Coalition in New York City. He can be reached at: mitchelcohen@mindspring.com.