Alibi V.12 No.27 • July 3-9, 2003 

Art Article

Letters to a Young Activist

Todd Gitlin
Basic Books
hardcover
$22.50

What's the point, really? Although the hearts of young, seething activists might be in the right place when they take to the streets to protest official lies about free trade or war or the environment, how much do they actually accomplish? Are all those tears shed in the swirling fog of tear gas worth it? Is anyone actually listening? In Letters to a Young Activist, veteran activist Todd Gitlin insists that today's youth are not only capable of effecting social change by taking to the streets, they are morally obligated to do so. The essays contained in this book describe how protests were conducted in the '60s and offer advice for how to conduct them in a contemporary context. Even more important, Gitlin discusses the intellectual framework required for understanding the official crimes that must be protested. Given all the colossal mistakes made by activists from Gitlin's generation, it might be worth your while to listen to the old bugger. All in all, Letters to a Young Activist looks to be a useful book for any young, politically involved person.