State of Resistance

What California's Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Mean for America's Future

Professor Manuel Pastor's latest book looks at the last several decades of economic, social, and environmental transformations in California–and what they can tell us about the road ahead for the U.S.

Get it on Amazon.com or from a local bookstore like Eso Won Books, Chevalier’s Books, Bookshop Santa Cruz, and Vroman’s Bookstore here in the Golden State.

In his book, which is concise, clear and convincing, he contends that the redemptive arc of modern California’s history offers both cautionary and constructive guidance on a vision for the country as a whole.
— James Fallows, New York Times
Most importantly, Pastor is the rare political observer who sees through the senselessness of the seemingly perennial question: “Does our country have an economic problem or a race problem?” Of course it is both.
— Felicia Wong, The Boston Review
We should never underestimate what we can learn from history. Skilled storyteller and trusted movement educator, Manuel Pastor gives us a unique view of recent California history and reveals a hopeful way forward for the whole country. Everyone who’s concerned about our nation’s current direction should read this book—for insight and inspiration.
— Ai -Jen Poo, director, National Domestic Workers Alliance
The story of California’s rise, fall, and resurgence is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the state built a prosperous postwar economy, retreated from the American Dream in favor of race-baiting public policy in the face of changing demographics, then regained its promise with the leadership of communities of color. No one knows more about social movements than Dr. Pastor. He lets us see under the hood of so-called ‘protest movements’ to the sophisticated, multipronged strategy, developed and executed by everyday people with the most at stake.
— Rinku Sen, founder, Race Forward
In this fresh and insightful book, Manuel Pastor shows us that there is a way out of the political morass America finds itself in—and that California has already cleared the path. From the pain of a shattered social compact to the power of investing in the shared future of a diverse population, California’s recent history has important lessons to impart . . . State of Resistance is not a call to arms but a call to reason.
— Heather Mcghee, president, Demos
During a time of rising rightwing nationalism and Trumpism, State of Resistance gives us more than history—it gives us the shape our actions should take to build a more compassionate and inclusive society where people and the planet might thrive. This book is not just a call to action, it is also a call to hope.
— John a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, UC Berkeley
Professor Pastor’s remarkable new book serves as both a powerful history lesson and an insightful vision for the future of our country. Having worked in politics during the era of Donald Trump, I believe that State of Resistance paints a brilliant picture of how our generation can seize the opportunity to forge a more inclusive, just, and prosperous America for every family.
— Neera Tanden, president and CEO, Center for American Progress
Manuel Pastor thinks California is our future. I think he’s right, if we survive to get there. But he’s also got some useful guidance on how to make the trip.
— Joel Rogers, Sewell-Bascom Professor of Law, Political Science, Public Affairs, and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Manuel Pastor may be an accomplished academic expert, but he is also an integral part of the communities he studies and writes about. I can think of no better person to chronicle and interpret the events contained in State of Resistance: What California’s Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Mean for America’s Future. His book points out the important progress that California has made in addressing racial and economic injustice, even as our nation faces increasing inequity and division. California’s progress has come in part because we have had progressive leaders in key elected and appointed offices. Many of those leaders came from, and have deep connections to, community organizations, unions and social justice movements. Manuel Pastor delves into the conditions that have led to the inequity that remains today, but he also outlines the inside/outside strategies that leaders and organized movements have used to make needed changes. His book carries lessons that could benefit the whole country, and it is my hope that activists around the nation will find they can replicate lessons learned in California.
— Congressmember Karen Bass
A look at the recent history of California and what it may mean for the future of the United States.

Presenting both a broad overview and also a series of sharply specific deep dives, Pastor (Sociology/Univ. of Southern California; co-author: Equity, Growth, and Community: What the Nation Can Learn from America’s Metro Areas, 2015, etc.) traces the story of California since the 1950s, making a compelling case that the state’s revival over the last decade or so offers a road map for America in the age of Trump. It’s a landscape the author knows intimately; at USC, he co-directs the University’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. Here, he develops a multifaceted argument: that California’s growth and prosperity was a direct result of forward-looking policies, including free higher education and vast infrastructure projects; that its decline, growing out of the economic insecurities of the 1980s and 1990s, was triggered by xenophobia and protectionism; and that its restoration is the product of progressive political alliances that have made the state a model for national resistance. It’s a lot to pack into roughly 200 pages (minus notes), but Pastor pulls it off. He is a knowledgeable guide who writes with fluid authority that is accessible but detailed. Furthermore, his book is no facile defense of exceptionalism but rather a nuanced examination of both the state’s complicity in pioneering various destructive policies (reckless tax cutting, anti-immigrant efforts at the ballot box) and its emergence, in the aftermath, as a new political and social landscape, intersectional and built from the grass roots up. “Can the rest of the United States learn from the California story?” Pastor wonders. “The Golden State has its own peculiar history and there is no one size fits all….But no matter how the message may be received, Californians have a special responsibility to communicate what they have learned.”

Provocative and deftly argued, Pastor’s book reminds us that the future is unwritten and that it always has deep roots in, and connections to, the past.
— Kirkus Book Review
Pastor, University of Southern California professor and author of Unsettled Americans: Metropolitan Context and Civic Leadership for Immigrant Integration (2016), considers California’s political history and the lessons that can be drawn from it on issues like immigration, socioeconomic policies, and labor reform. Citing statistics, government reports, and local newspapers, Pastor traces and analyzes the various factors, movements, and trends in California’s decline and growth from the 1950s up to the present day. Pastor includes a broad swath of information and covers the impacts of both conservative and liberal policies on the state’s transformation. Pastor writes clearly and thoughtfully, but readers will need time to read and reflect on his arguments in this academic-leaning text. Readers interested in U.S. social and political economy at the state and local levels will find this a deeply engaging look at the sociopolitical landscape of the Golden State, and what it means for the rest of America.
— Raymond Pun, Booklist