Confronting Injustice: From Individual Activists to Collective Organizers

Karl Gardner

Reviewed in this article

Confronting Injustice: social activism in an age of individualism
Umair Muhammad

Precisely at a time when the Left needs a swift kick of optimism to keep us going, Muhammad remains uninterested in delivering such a vital blow. This is not to say he doesn’t offer effective tactics and strategies for activists pursuing meaningful social change. Nor does he refrain from positing what an achievable socialist society might look like. He does both. Muhammad writes, however, from a position of disappointment and fear concerning his experiences participating in contemporary activism. His experiences animate his uncompromising rejection of an increasingly popular strand of activism that is steeped in a navel-gazing, self-congratulatory individualism. Yet his analysis is activating; it inspires us to potentially rethink how we engage in social justice struggles. Written for activists and academics alike, Confronting Injustice serves as a great introduction for the newly politicized, a humbling grounder for the lofty theorist, and a succinct refresher for the more experienced organizer. It does this by forcing theories of social change to grapple with the messy, complex, and often contradictory realities of building a sustainable revolutionary movement today. Muhammad performs a triage of strategies, selecting for the reader a few promising directions towards ‘social activism’ – the necessary corrective to individualistic, lifestyle-oriented activism – while discarding those practices doomed to reproduce the very structures they set out to combat.

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