Book Review - Swim against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow by Jim Hightower
The fact I'm even reading a book like this says a lot about how I've changed politically over the last four years... Swim against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow by Jim Hightower with Susan DeMarco. Four years ago, I wouldn't have bothered as I didn't agree with his "extreme" views. Now, I'm nodding in a significant number of places...
Section 1 - Business: Business without Greed; Fair Trade; Cooperation Works; Socially Responsible; Putting Workers in Charge; The Good Business Life; Banking on Change
Section 2 - Politics: Shape Up, America!; Run for It!; Clean Elections; Democracy School; Build It!; Granny Power; The Politics of Fun
Section 3 - Life: Take Charge!; How We Live; A Mass Movement Arises; Flowers in the Field; The Conscience of an Evangelical
Final Thoughts; Connections; DeMarco's Reading List; Index
I first heard of Hightower from a coworker back in 2000 when I worked at Enron. Needless to say, I thought his views were rather extreme and biased towards industry and Republicans, and my friend was out on the far left. Now, my friend is still out in left field, but I can now see him from where I'm at. And Hightower is making a great deal more sense. In a very folksy, down-home manner, he skewers big business, big politics, and big polluters with a rallying cry for Americans to wake up and start thinking. He examines how small businesses can be profitable and humane towards society, the environment, and their workers. Politics by the corporations for the corporations is not acceptable to him, and he urges people to get out and talk to others. Start the grass roots movements to make your voice heard. And of course, there's the whole environmental and global warming issue that needs to be heeded before it's too late.
Do I agree with everything he says here? No. I got the distinct impression that for him, all big business is bad. Even companies that are considered leaders in alternative options, like Whole Foods, are written off as pretenders that are riding the coattails of social change. In my opinion, neither of those options are true. If all businesses were small cooperatives, we'd be back in the 1800's. Is big business always good and right? No. But let's not pretend that it's always evil and bad, either. I *was* impressed that he actually treated evangelical Christians as people with brains who aren't living in the dark ages. Stereotyping any group (liberals, conservatives, etc.) is bad, and he's one of the few writers (especially of the "liberal" bent) that didn't lump religion with ignorance (and yes, I just stereotyped liberals there... sorry!). That was refreshing...
While I may not run off to read every other book he's written, Swim Against The Current did show me that I'm changing politically, and that I'm more dissatisfied with "business as usual." And I'm really sure that's a good thing...