As world leaders eschew cooperation to address climate change, nuclear proliferation, economic meltdown, and other threats to our survival, more and more people experience a pervasive sense of dread and despair. Is there anything we can do? What can put us on the course from mutual destruction to common preservation? In the past, social movements have sometimes made rapid and unexpected changes that countered apparently incurable social problems. Jeremy Brecher presents scores of historical examples of people who changed history by adopting strategies of common preservation, showing what we can we learn from past social movements to better confront today’s global threats of climate change, war, and economic chaos.


In Common Preservation, Brecher shares his experiences and what he has learned that can help ward off mutual destruction and provides a unique heuristic—a tool kit for thinkers and activists—to understand and create new forms of common preservation.


“Ever since I read the draft of Common Preservation a year ago, I’ve been compelled to urge a surprising variety of colleagues to read it, above all else, to understand the history, the successes, the failures, and the profound lessons to be learned from social justice movements: professional and volunteers organizers and activists, engaged citizens who yearn to be more effective. This history is systematically informed by an extraordinarily broad, cross-disciplinary reach for scholarly works that provide practical insight to the lessons to be learned. I know that I am not alone in finding much scholarly work difficult to relate to my experience as an advocate. By integrating the direct experience of the author with such work, he has enabled me to do just that.” —Mike Pertschuk, former chair, Federal Trade Commission


“It is an autobiography of intellectual exploration and of practical experimentation with the problems of social injustice. It is a project of the urgent transmission of the lessons learned undertaken under the duress of historical time which threatens catastrophe. It is a valedictory and an exhortation.” —Joshua Dubler, Society of Fellows, Columbia University; author of Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison


“We’ve been talking about turning everyday life and its challenges into a meaningful political strategy for ages. Finally Common Preservation succeeds in doing it. Engrossing.” —Ferdinando Fasce, author of An American Family: The Great War and Corporate Culture in America

Common Preservation: In a Time of Mutual Destruction by Jeremy Brecher

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  • PM Press 2021

    New paperback

    400 pages