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Book Discussion

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by BWNWAdmin No Comments

Eugene has a Beyond War Book Group that meets monthly to evaluate books and create discussion questions to include in a Beyond War Reader’s Guide in order to help other Book Discussion Groups.

The Dandelion Insurrection by Rivera Sun

When Occupy Wall Street hit the news from Zucotti Park in September 2011, the media buzzed with the question, “What do they want?” By October, Occupy protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 951 cities worldwide. After the police dispersed the last iteration occupying public space, the question became “What had they achieved?” Even the most ardent detractors concede that the protestors had changed the conversation. The phrase “we are the 99%” entered the vernacular. The disparity between the wealthy 1% and rest of the country was openly discussed.

In her novel “The Dandelion Insurrection,” Rivera Sun borrows heavily from the Occupy Movement. The novel is set in a near future dystopia. The United States has become a police state run by corporations. Zadie and Charlie, the young revolutionaries actively organize against the vertically hierarchical systems of the repressive government and the resulting distributive injustice.

Zadie explains the real price of wealth. “Every time we idolize the wealthy and try to become rich like them, we’re perpetuating the suffering of billions. . .if people keep lusting after money and power, no amount of revolution is going to help us.” (p.68) She argues that democracy has always been a threat to elitist power structure and the government doesn’t really want an informed citizenry. They only want soldiers and consumers. Consumption had once described a deadly disease, but now it described a wasting of the soul. Zadie appeals to people to stop all forms of excessive consumption, to withdraw not only their worship of wealth, but also their approval of the wealthy.

Sun’s novel is laudable in its goals. However, the writing style is a distraction. It is fraught with an exhaustive overuse of action verbs and purple prose. A more serious criticism is that while espousing nonviolence, Sun poses enemies by dehumanizing the faceless men in power. In the book “The Nonviolence Handbook,” Nagler cautions that “The more you respect the humanity of your opponent, the more effectively you can oppose his or her injustice (p.15). . . all violence begins in the failure or refusal to recognize another as fully human.”(p.17) If Zadie and Charlie operated with this intention, they could more effectively amplify the change in consciousness that can change systems.

Reviewed by Dorothy Sampson

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