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Oppose and Propose: Lessons from Movement for a New Society

205 pages2 hours


Rarely remembered by name today, many of the new ways of doing radical politics that the Movement for a New Society (MNS) promoted have become central to anti-authoritarian social movements. MNS popularized consensus decision making, introduced the spokescouncil method of organization to activists in the United States, and was a leading advocate of a variety of practices—communal living, unlearning oppressive behavior, creating co-operatively owned businesses—that are now often subsumed under the rubric of “prefigurative politics.”

Oppose and Propose fills an important historical gap, asking where do the tactics, strategies, and even ways of living we take for granted today come from? Cornell answers that question through a long monograph based on original research--followed by an edited transcript of a panel discussion held with former MNS members, an interview with MNS founder George Lakey, and excerpts from two MNS pamphlets.

This book should interest academic and activist audiences. It is the first in-depth study of an important post-1960s group that redefined the way radical politics happen in the US. It also uses that history to raise crucial strategic and organizational questions for activists today. It’s an engaging, serious, and accessible study in which every page offers new insights.

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