#OccupyEducated Primer Reading List: The Essentials

This is an emergency response to the destruction of the library at Occupy Wall Street, a clear attempt to destroy the education of passionate people who are tired of living in a deeply flawed system.  Razing libraries and burning books has historically failed every time; thiis will be the most colossal failure to repress education in history, because this time, the education will not be centralized.

Just as the library was a collection of donated books, OccupyEducated.org will be a place where you can have your say as to what books are important reading for understanding the occupation.  For pre-launch, here is a list brought to you by the Practical Change Working Group.

The only thing no one can ever take away from you is your education.

If you are curious about why Occupy Wall Street has turned into Occupy Everywhere, if you want a basic understanding of the problems in the system that make this stand necessary, we believe these are the books to start with, in no particular order.* The links go to a description, video, and ways to borrow or buy.

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein
This book explores our species’s tendency to allow decisions to be made for us when shocked – a sense of desperate disorientation searching for whatever leadership comes first. This biological phenomenon has now been turned into a philosophy of obtaining and maintaining power over the masses. Find Out More…

Debt: The First 5000 Years – David Graeber
This book shows how living in a debt-based economy, with interest that can only be paid back by putting another person deeper into debt, is one of the larger roots of our problems. Find Out More…

The End of Growth – Richard Heinberg
As obvious as it may seem, though it rarely discussed on television, you can not sustain an growth-based economy on a finite planet. Our current system is entirely dependent on a growing economy, which requires infinite oil, infinite energy availability, infinite soil, infinite potable water… too bad there’s only so much oil, so much cheap energy, so much fertile soil and so much water that can keep this train charging. Find Out More…

In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan
As the food supply grows, nutrient levels have dropped, leading Big Ag to genetically manipulate their crops in an attempt to protect them from new super pests they’ve created, and to keep their customers alive as the quality of the food is leaving the population undernourished. This book explores the history of “nutritionism” in the US, how corporations have bought your health, and how to get your family healthy again. Find Out More…

Griftopia – Matt Taibbi
Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia argues that the story of the crisis is actually the result of a marriage between Washington and Wall Street, colluding to change market regulations so that money and power can be transferred to the .01% “grifter class”. Taibbi claims that people at all ends of the political spectrum are being bled dry by a tiny class of grifters who are all too willing to reward the powers who helped them rise to power. Find Out More…

Democracy Matters – Cornell West
West argues that if America is to become a better steward of democratization around the world, we must first wake up to the long history of imperialist corruption that has plagued our own democracy. Both our failure to foster peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis of Islamist anti-Americanism stem largely from hypocrisies in our dealings with the world. Find Out More…

Find the books at your local library, via WorldCat.org

These #ows primer books have been selected because they

  1. give a basic yet rarely-discussed understanding of the structural problems that need to change
  2. are often-requested books at the Occupy Wall Street Library
  3. are relatively objective, even though that complete objectivity is impossible, as trolls and certain media will profess

#Occupy has spread from Wall Street to the entire globe, and occupiers everywhere are proving that tools of the system cannot break a movement simply by tearing down a few tents and beating up your fellow 99% citizens. It’s time you empower yourself, occupy everywhere; stop your contributions to the system and move to fix it.

Many excellent, pertinent books will be added to the various more specialized lists, but we feel this is the minimum education to understanding the state of your current world.

*These primer books, of course, do not represent all there is to know, nor does it represent the opinion of 99% of the country or 99% of the movement; a six-book list can never reach this level of consensus, which is a good thing, as debate is vital. The content of the site is subject to change, based on your participation, so please start posting!

Know Any Great Books, Films, Videos, or Resources You Think Should Be Promoted?

Please post them in The Recommended Books & Films section of The Discussion Forums.

We are currently cataloging all recommendations posted in The Discussion Forums and in a few weeks we will present them all on the site so The Public can vote on, discuss, sort, and view by topic to easily find the highest ranked educational resources available! We will also be synthesizing these resources and working with various authors to create definitive, original, free educational material in the form of Articles, Videos, and Online Classes. See you in The Forums!


  1. Casey Walker says:

    fyi: Contact page is not working. Cannot enter info.

    • admin says:

      got a quick fix, to be followed by a real fix – you can just write info at occupy educated dot org for now. cheers

    • Mark Olague says:

      Well, can’t believe no one has mentioned the whole series of books that really started this OWS movement: Hardt and Negri’s trilogy, Empire, The Multitude, and The Commonwealth. Two of the three is available in its entirety (or was) online for free.

  2. Whittaker says:

    Murray Rothbard, A History of Economic Thought (2 volumes)

  3. Kevin says:

    Pleeeeeease add “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn to this essential list.

  4. vtjb57 says:

    Great interview on Ustream, Jessie! Thanks for clearing up a lot of questions and announcing this site.

  5. Austen MacLeod says:

    I really like the idea. I know there will be a great many suggestions and here are some; I’d like to see anything by Howard Zinn, though A People’s History seems pertinent and anything Chomsky.

  6. Synergy says:

    I few important books from my perspective:

    –”Culture Jam” by Kalle Lasn
    –”The End of Work” by Jeremy Rifkin
    –”No Contest” as well as “Punished by Rewards” by Alfie Kohn (similar to Dan Pink’s book on motivation and incentives popularized by TEDtalks and RSAnimate on youtube)
    –”The Best That Money Can’t Buy” by Jacque Fresco
    –”The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard (famous for her internet video series of the same name)
    –The Crowd: Study of the Popular Mind by Gustave Le Bon

    A couple useful free PDF’s:

    The Lights in the Tunnel (talks about how technology will eliminate most jobs in the very near future) — http://www.thelightsinthetunnel.com/LIGHTSTUNNEL.PDF

    Designing the Future (very short version of Fresco’s The Best That Money Can’t Buy) –http://thevenusproject.com/downloads/ebooks/Jacque%20Fresco%20-%20Designing%20the%20Future.pdf

  7. Synergy says:

    A list of free documentaries might be useful as well?

    Pyramids of Waste: The Lightbulb Conspiracy (planned obsolescence) — http://dotsub.com/view/aed3b8b2-1889-4df5-ae63-ad85f5572f27

    The Corporation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pin8fbdGV9Y

    Psywar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCKLqkKBRsM

    Zeitgeist: Addendum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w

    Money as Debt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc3sKwwAaCU

    Zeitgeist: Moving Forward: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w

    Home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU

    Consuming Kids: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uUU7cjfcdM

    Future by Design (based on Jacque Fresco’s RBE): http://dotsub.com/view/15872a88-fbfe-4b18-a47f-10e0ae06fa9f

    Orwell Rolls in his Grave: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_lYGyIaK80


    Maybe that’s overkill, but they’re all fantastic. I hope someone might find them useful.

    • Ray the Anarcho-Capitalist says:

      I second the vote for Money as Debt. The movie clearly explains the systemic problems of our banking system.

  8. Synergy says:

    One correction, wrong url for Zeitgeist: Addendum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EewGMBOB4Gg

    If a mod could add it to my previous post and delete this one, that would be great.

  9. IMHO, ALL Humanity should read “The Ringing Cedars Series” of books by Vladimir Megre’

  10. I would also add David Harvey’s “A Brief History of Neoliberalism.” Fantastic primer, quick read, good scholarship.

  11. We highly recommended Censored 2012 Edited by Mickey Huff and Project Censored as reading for Occupy and the Media. Understand how corporate media serves the 1% transnational corporate class in the quest for concentration of wealth and expanding capital. Recognize that the US NATO military industrial media complex is a global empire of power and managed news, resulting in a global a truth emergency.

  12. Should be added to the list:

    Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom

  13. Jes says:

    Are there no authors of color that you could have included? Is it really true that authors of color were not widely requested/don’t write about the system/are not stocked in your library? Considering people of color are more widely affected by poverty than white people, I would think it would be appropriate to include an equal number of authors of color in relation to white authors (as well as an equal ratio of female authors to male authors; queer authors to straight/cis authors) who have published books about economic and political misconduct, as well as books on anti-Capitalist/anti-establishment. To call this site “Occupy Educated” and only include white authors on your reading list is rather insulting to authors of color. I am sure you did not intend this, but I would consider revising your required reading list to be more inclusive.

    • K says:

      This, this exactly. You can’t call yourself the 99% and not reflect the 99%.

    • benz says:

      Awesome feedback Jes and K. It inspired the next post we made, cheers

    • Synergy says:

      Here’s a good one that falls into that category: “Are Prison’s Obsolete?” by Angela Davis. Very short, but thorough and thought provoking.

    • IceMaryIce says:

      RE: Writers of color not included. Take a coin or bill out of your pocket, if you have one. Read the part that says “United We Stand’. Say it, taste it and be it. The 1% loves to break us down into little powerless groups, see how that works for them? The men who engaged in the first American Revolution had a plan, freedom at any cost and keeping our freedom safe. We must be one in taking back OUR country. If you have a suggestion for the library should it really be based on race? Why separate? Why not just add your suggested reading?

    • Ray the Anarcho-Capitalist says:

      Since the color of one’s skin is important to you I suggest you read anything by Thomas Sowell. For those who aren’t obsessed with race I suggest you read anything by Thomas Sowell.

  14. Alice Clark says:

    “The Student Loan Scam” by Alan Collinge

  15. TJ bob says:

    I would also add Friedman’s “Free to Choose: A Personal Statement”

  16. Cindy says:

    In the primer list, there’s another important topic that’s not covered well. Please consider adding the Retirement Heist by journalist Ellen Schultz. It will make you sick to read about why people don’t have pensions anymore. One reason—regular people’s pension money was siphoned into the regular coffers of companies and given to executives for their huge pensions.

  17. Chantal says:

    I think you should consider diversifying this list if you wish to be taken seriously by educated people who want to support your movement or are already (possibly exasperated) allies. Pick some an author precisely because of their skin color. Racial representation should be considered when talking about pretty much anything, but especially when you are stating that you are “educating” people about democracy and economics. Not self-examining and criticizing your own selections communicates racial bias, whether you intended it or not. Thanks.

  18. Jim says:

    I would also put the following books high on the list:

    “The Bridge at the Edge of the World ……”, by Gus Speth

    “Plan B 4.0: …….”, by Les Brown

    “Limits to Growth: 30-Year Update”, by Meadows, et al.

    “The Long Emergency: …..”, by Jim Kunstler, and/or “The Party’s Over: ….”, by R. Heinberg

    “The Web of Debt: ….”, by Ellen Brown

    “What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism: ….”, by Magdoff & Foster

  19. tkf says:

    I have a free booklet on simple meditation practises for both
    maintaining calm presence under duress as well as specific help when
    experiencing physical pain/ injury. Developed from my own pain
    management needs following long term disability and chronic pain, this
    guide makes it relatively easy for anyone to master using some unique
    everyday ordinariness as examples. I have a more full version that I am
    still compiling, when finished this too will be released also free. I
    wish to contribute to enabling human beings to be human beings, not to
    increase profit.

    If understood fully, meditation is a phenomenal means to assist with
    your non-violent actions. Bless you ALL! What an example you are to the
    whole world.

    It is currently hosted for download here;



    • Alec says:

      Thanks TKF. Will review your pdf seriously.
      Am enjoying this post and jotting down lots of titles.

      For anyone who enjoys learning from novels – John Dos Passos USA series is a serious antidote to the Horatio Alger mythology to which most of us have been subjected.

      • admin says:

        Thanks Alec, thanks Mr. Kees. Please post these suggestions in the forum, and you’ll get a lot more discussion!

  20. michele says:

    A couple of requests for possible consideration:
    “Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation”- Silvia Federici
    “Stuffed and Starved”- Raj Patel
    “Soil Not Oil”- Vandana Shiva
    “Savage Inequality: Children in America’s Schools” – Jonathon Kozol
    “The Ecological Rift”- John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York
    “Real World Economics: A Post-Autistic Economics Reader”

  21. You can find all of the primer books on the amazing http://library.nu

    I’ve also got a huge collection of great books etc at http://files.uniteddiversity.com

    Some good book length money and economics related ones in no particular order are:

    Bernard Lietaer’s The Future of Money here:

    Peter Barnes’ Capitalism 3.0

    James Robertson’s Creating New Money

    Lester Brown’s Eco-Economy

    Richard Douthwaite’s Ecology of Money

    Margrit Kennedy’s Interest and Inflation Free Money

    Stephen Zerlenga’s Lost Science of Money

    Tom Greco’s Money and Debt

    Richard Douthwaite’s Short Circuit

    Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow’s The Sharing Solution

    Yochai Benkler’s Wealth of Networks

    Ellen Brown’s Web of Debt

    Christian Siefkes’ From Exchange to Contributions: Generalizing Peer Production into the Physical World

    Except’s from Tom Greco’s Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender

    Draft copy of Deirdre Kent’s Healthy Money Healthy Planet

    Tom Greco’s New Money for Health Communities

    That is just the relevant book length stuff in my Money and Economics folder, lots more good reading too:



  22. this is just a comment without loads of links to highlight that I’ve just posted one with loads of great links :)

  23. OK, so not all of the primer books are on http://library.nu but 4 out of 5 of them are (Debt: First 5000 years not on there, yet).

  24. Mary Anne says:

    I’d suggest, for starters, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” by Paulo Friere.

  25. ceti says:

    Can’t forget the recently released “With Liberty and Justice for Some” by Glenn Greenwald. Depressing but tells us exactly how we’ve come to this point where the 1% commit high crimes and never suffer the repercussions, while everyone else is feeling the truncheon thing of an increasingly authoritarian state.

  26. Jo says:

    I would like to make a comment on this, and would love feedback. “The only thing no one can ever take away from you is your education”. While no one can take away your education, the value of that education in the labor market can be significantly, dimished.

  27. michele says:

    This isn’t a suggestion, but a huge thank you to Josef for your incredible links, website and files. It is all so well-organized, and i look forward to reading from it for some time to come. i watched a lecture by Bernard Lietaer the other day and was so very impressed with his work. Even as i write this thank you i am watching Lester Brown:) Thanks for the site to Occupy Educated as well!

  28. Adora says:

    Add 30 days of race by J.A. Mitchell, a new book by an indie author that discusses scientifically what race is alongside his memoir of discussing race with strangers for 30 days.

    Support the 99%

  29. Jen B says:

    This a good start with some great suggestions in the comments. I’d add a few:
    Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins – Globalization and Corporatocracy
    The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis – Marketing and Politics (documentary available on Google Video)
    The Decline of Capitalism by Harry Shutt – Internal Limits to Self-regulated Capitalism
    The Real Wealth of Nations by Riane Eisler – Economics of Caring vs Domination

    I haven’t read it yet, but Eleanor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action might also prove insightful.


  30. Matthew L Kees says:

    Two that come to my mind, as primers, are:

    Walden (along with Civil Disobedience)

    Common Sense (Paine)

    • admin says:

      Thanks Mr. Kees. Please post these suggestions in the forum, and you’ll get a lot more discussion!

  31. Nagle says:

    Besides the “Occupy Forclosed Homes”, I think this is one of the best things to come out of OWS! What a great idea to show people the “real” books so we can educate ourselves properly. Someone mentioned documentaries, so I’ve mixed in a few of my favorite clips as well.
    1) “The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry” by William K. Black
    2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA_MkJB84VA
    3) “Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times” by Robert W. McChesney
    4) “The Secrets of the Federal Reserve” by Eustace Mullins
    5) “The Creature from Jekyll Island : A Second Look at the Federal Reserve” by G. Edward Griffin
    6) “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work” by Paul Babiak
    7) “Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics” by Henry Hazlitt
    8) “The Law” by Frédéric Bastiat
    9) “The Case Against the Fed” by Murray N. Rothbard
    10) “A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II” by Murray N. Rothbard
    11) “What Has Government Done to Our Money?” by Murray N. Rothbard
    12) “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek
    13) “Economics for Real People” by Gene Callahan
    14) “Pathology Of Power” by Cousins Norman
    15) “Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny” by Theresa Amato
    16) “Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq” by Sheldon Rampton & John Stauber
    17) “Wake Up Call” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yT1GavDtiwM&feature=related
    18) http://www.archive.org/details/ThePowerOfNightmares
    19) How Iceland fought the bank corruption & won: http://www.truth-out.org/why-iceland-should-be-news-not/1322327303
    20) OWS- Documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adHqO7IMuR4

    I apologize for being long winded… love, educate & reoccupy!!! —Nagle

  32. Bill says:

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned “From Dictatorship to Democracy” by Gene Sharp. Put out by the Albert Einstein Institution, it is the essential handbook for anyone wanting to change the world. It is very popular in Egypt and the middle east as well as South America. Check it out!

  33. Jane says:

    Lots of FREE books to download; food for thought from Aristotle, John Locke, Thomas More, Bertrand Russell, and lots more stuff, including the text of the Constitution: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Politics_(Bookshelf)

  34. mikeG says:


    Above is the Orientation Guide for the Zeitgeist Movement. Please add.

  35. Zane Zodrow says:

    Parliament of Whores by P.J. O’Rourke has always been a favorite of mine.
    Great job on the site!

  36. Kristen says:

    Check out the documentary/movie Gaslands. It uncovers the lies of the oil and gas industry, especially Cabot Oil & Gas, and shows how local resident’s lives and land were destroyed.


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