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Book Review: Occupy This Book

“The Planet is fine! The People are fucked!”

-George Carlin

I love that George Carlin quote, but I’m not sure how Mickey Z. would feel about it. The author/vegan/activist makes a strong case in Occupy This Book that it would perhaps be more accurate to say that the planet is fucked, but that there’s still hope for people.

Don’t take that thought as an implication that Occupy This Book is a gentle reminder of the damage we’ve done to our planet and to each other. Mickey Z. has written a number of fiction books in the past that have seamlessly combined bloody-knuckle social commentary with bizarre circumstances and characters who are both cartoonish and depressingly realistic. For Occupy This Book, Z. takes a different tactic. He strips away the fictional elements, takes the sum total of his experiences in the world as an advocate for substantial, permanent change, and gives us what can best be described as a guidebook to the Occupy movement.

To Mickey Z. and others, not only is the Occupy movement something that is still going on, but it is a concept that existed long before the media got around to caring about it. Mickey Z. believes passionately in the very real dangers that are swirling around our planet on a constant basis. No one can argue with facts such as how many land and marine animals are destroyed due to the animal byproducts industry (over a trillion). No one can dispute that a staggering 90% of all large fish in our oceans have been obliterated, or that 200, 000 acres of rain forest are gone by the end of each day. None of these things are up for debate. This information serves as part of the foundation of the enraged call to action that Occupy This Book represents. These facts and other items from the book are designed to get you as fired up as Mickey Z is to initiate change in the world around you.

This is a guidebook, but it doesn’t lay down rules that must be followed to the letter without wavering. Mickey Z. has a deep understanding of the notion that being an activist starts as individual experience. It has to come from a rage that genuinely exists within the individual’s heart, which is then coupled with a desire to be proactive about that anger. It is then that the individual will seek out allies that feel as strongly about things like police brutality, the vegan lifestyle, capitalism, speciesism, and ableism as they themselves do.

With all this in mind, Occupy This Book is not a guidebook in the sense that it tells you everything you have to do. It doesn’t relegate activism or anarchy to the depths of neat, banal labels. Mickey Z. endeavors in the book to inspire and enlighten. He gives you insight, touches on a number of ideas designed to give you a greater understanding of the perils we collectively face, and leaves the rest up to you. For those who want to work towards a liberation that can benefit us all but don’t know where to begin, Z. does make suggestions. A message that appears consistently in Occupy This Bookis that things need to change. Although Mickey Z. makes his own views on things like veganism, the Occupy movement, militarism, and other subjects extremely clear, the book ultimately lets you decide what you should do. He writes with an emphasis on awareness, and he explains that attacking one problem is not the answer. To make anything of substance happen in this world, everything needs to be studied, questioned, and deconstructed. He drives home this point with moments of humor and a tone that is somber-yet-conversational.

Occupy This Book takes a pragmatic approach to activism. Featuring a number of witty cartoons by Richard Cole, Mickey Z. touches on a number of subjects, answers virtually any question you’re going to think of as you read, and lays the groundwork for anyone who is sick of the way things are to make the next move. For those who have been desperate to find a starting point that will put them on the path towards true activism, Occupy This Book is a blessing. For those who think they already have all the answers, the book can serve as a startling, necessary refresher course.

Occupy this Book is now available from Sullivan Street Press. Click here to purchase.