A Review by Bill Ayers

Howard Waitzkin’s Rinky-Dink Revolution (Daraja Press, and Monthly Review Essays, 2020) is small to be sure—light-weight, unimposing in appearance, and with an abbreviated wing-span of just 72 pages total, including 11 pages of fore-and-after-matter. A quick read. 

But rinky-dink? Quite the opposite. 

It may be a quick read, but it’s rapidly become an enduring force in my mind, now readily available for deeper reflection and for ongoing dialogue.

Waitzkin eloquently expresses a key contradiction in his text with this rather hefty subtitle: Moving Beyond Capitalism by Withholding Consent, Creative Constructions, and Creative Destructions. 

And off we go, dancing the dialectic with Howard Waitzkin, a perfect dance partner, whirling and twirling between rinky-dink and creative destructions, between light-hearted observations and profound analysis, between suffering and resistance.

And as we join him, tripping the light fantastic, Waitzkin takes the lead, deftly grooving us into the future. But the future for him, and the future we behold, is not some imagined socialist utopia following a violent insurrection somewhere vaguely on the farthest horizon; rather the future is a tangible, practical way of living right here and right now, a beloved community in-the-making, always opposed by the powerful, and always within our collective reach. And so we explore the many practical expressions of a solidarity economy, for example, of communal living, cooperative housing and collective food production. Importantly,  Waitzkin never frames resistance as a grim necessity, but always in terms, for example, of the “joy of war tax resistance;” or the exuberance that accompanies acts that slow down the smooth functioning of predatory capitalism; or the abiding pleasure of working arm-in-arm, shoulder-to-shoulder to solve the problem of food production.

Like the best revolutionaries in all times and places Howard Waitzkin is guided by a powerful sense of possibility as well as deep feelings of love. He’s pissed off to be sure, because he pays attention to the crimes of racial capitalism. But he also knows that “even anger at injustice makes the brow grow stern,” and that being pissed off will not take us where we need to go—only love and joy and generosity can do that. He illustrates over and over that the greatest weapon in the cause of liberation is our beating human hearts longing to be free.

This book is bantam-weight, as I said—the perfect mini-manifesto to slip into your back pocket or your backpack, a worthy companion as we mount the next action or tend the community garden.

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