Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era

July 1, 2009

reTakingBy Markos Moulitsas Zuniga; Celebra, 2008; 275 pages; $23.95

Reviewed by James Trimarco

A new book by Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of Daily Kos, is es­sential reading for anyone who wants to use new media to organize political activism. The author may rankle some progressives with his contention that today’s media landscape has often ren­dered mass street protests irrelevant. Yet it’s impossible to argue with the long list of achievements he attributes, at least in part, to “netroots” activism.

Many examples are partisan: for instance, an online progressive cam­paign in Virginia used citizen pressure to draft a strong and ultimately suc­cessful opponent, Jim Webb, to chal­lenge Republican incumbent George Allen for his Senate seat. But Internet communities were also indispens­able in rallying support for the Jena Six — black students in Louisiana who faced charges for fighting with a white student, weeks after nooses were hung from a tree on school grounds.

For Zuniga, such achievements emerge from a more inclusive politi­cal environment ushered in by Internet technology. While elite editors and pro­ducers once served as gatekeepers, he argues, today there is nothing to stop the average citizen from setting up a blog, speaking out, and being judged on the merits of his or her arguments. Φ

James Trimarco is a consulting editor at YES! Magazine. This review appears in the Summer 2009 issue.

Photo courtesy of: www.nextleftnotes.com

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