ZNet Interviews Michael Albert about…

(1) Can you tell ZNet, please, what your new book, Trajectory of Change, is about? What is it trying to communicate?


Trajectory of Change is a collection of my essays about aspects of building a powerful, effective movement for social change. It takes up questions of goals, methods, and commitment. It addresses attaining solidarity while respecting autonomy, understanding and solving problems that movements have retaining members, dealing with decisions, addressing race, gender, and particularly class in the movement as well as in society, combining urgency with a sense of patience and attention to the long haul, and the importance and some words about vision.


I guess the book is trying to communicate lessons I have learned or had taught to me or picked up from others over the years, that I think can help activists in their daily and longer term agendas.



(2) Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?


There are two parts to this question.


Most of the essays were written individually either for Z Magazine or ZNet. Often they were written in some context of struggle, or to address some pressing situation, as I saw it. The content comes from movement activism, percolated through me, I guess you might say.


The book as a whole, however, came into being when the folks at South End Press got in touch with me about the essay the book is titled for, and said they’d like to do a book based on it and similar pieces. I said sure, that would be fine with me if they would choose the pieces and help massage them into a coherent whole. Anthony Arnove, then at SEP, took up that task and accomplished it far better than I ever could have.


My own contribution, to the book as compared to the essays, was mostly to follow Arnove’s advice in editing out redundancies between essays, and in adding content here and there for continuity and completeness, plus writing a post 9/11 foreword and afterword to situate the book.



(3) What are your hopes for Trajectory of Change? What do you hope it will contribute or achieve, politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, what will you deem to be a success? What would leave you happy about the whole undertaking? What would leave you wondering if it was worth all the time and effort?


I hope the book helps activists in their work. I hope it gets certain insights more firmly understood and acted upon – the need for vision, among them. Trying to make a better world isn’t easy. It takes time, effort. It has its ups and downs. I hope Trajectory of Change can increase the number of “ups” for a lot of people, and thus for movements as a whole.


Interestingly, just yesterday I did an interview with folks from Ithaca New York, for their local paper, preparatory to going there to give some talks. The interview and the invitations to speak in Ithaca were propelled by people reading Trajectory of Change and finding it useful for their work. On the assumption they aren’t alone, that certainly makes me feel it was worth the time and effort.

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