The following represent a random sampling of voices from those activists and organizers who participated in our research project. To see more, refresh this page. Use the tag cloud to the right to navigate by theme.
The necessity of decolonization
...I think Canada is a colonial state and the question is to what extent will First Nations ever have self-determination as long as Canada is a settler state? I guess never maybe….So does that mean I overthrow Canada?...I think we need to decolonize, I think we need to think through how we're colonizing by being here and...actively confronting that...in the same way when you’re part of a system of oppression. For example, gentrification, if you live in a low income neighbourhood because that's the only place you can afford but you recognize the fact that you’re also forcing people out who are on a...lower income, a different bracket of class...or of color, how do you oppose it? I don't know, burn down the condo?
I think one of the problems with the Left is the idea that they can return to the past….if you take Canada, for example, people believe they can return to the social contract of the post-Second World War era. Coming out of this era there was a sort of agreement between the labor unions and capital for the social welfare state, pensions, and so forth and that it's possible with this latest onslaught against workers right here...people think they can go back. I think that social contract is dead, it's a corpse. People need to come up with new arrangements, new ways of organizing society. So they need to think anew.
Accelerating the collapse
I think that the whole concept of shit hitting the fan is a weird way to refer to a collapse that's already in progress and that's depressing. I feel like there's going to be an acceleration that could be really fast.
You always have the obligatory paragraph or two paragraphs about these youth who we want to disassociate from because we have no problem with the police. So [the 2010] G20 [meetings in Toronto] was an eye opener because the police deliberately attacked people. The police deliberately threatened people in the prisons and people who would normally say, ‘well, it's these youth who bring on the violence of the state because we're decent, orderly people who participate,’ were stunned when they were there. They saw the state attacking people willy-nilly. So I think that was an eye opener and I think that provides the context we consider this in. We have our differences but we can have political unity and we can have discussion about tactics but…[it doesn’t] because [some people] have a denigrating concept of youth.
One of the things we do a really bad job of is fostering a sense of hope. I know that's kind of cheesy but people come to radical politics because they think it's going to do something and be a legitimate option and we don't make it that. We make it seem like a club, we make it seem like something that people of only a certain ilk can engage in….It should be a part of everyone's day to day experience.
Winning right now
So, short term what would winning mean to me? I would like to see the Canada health act pass into legislation right now. I'd like to see [the former] NDP government pushed on a variety of different fronts from below to keep it to the minimum promises it made and I'd like to see the beginnings of building some kind of mass progressive movement here in Nova Scotia. That to me would be the short term win.
Whiteness and the limits to movements
[What are the] conversations that need to be had? Well...there's the race conversation. Not that that conversation doesn't happen but I don't think it happens in a way that ever gets anywhere near to addressing the issue. It kind of happens in this...massaging white guilt kind of way - we're talking about it...but it never actually gets addressed at all. I think that's a major issue locally….I think there's the whiteness of our movements and then there's racism in Halifax and where the activist community fits in to addressing that. I think that's a conversation that needs to be had that isn't because I think it very much limits what groups can do and what organizing can accomplish in the city...
At a base level, winning would mean workers control the means of production and community control of resources around us. I think it would be breaking down and getting rid of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and other issues. Winning would mean ensuring that there's no one who's living in poverty at all. Winning would mean that kids have opportunities, that beginning at an early age whether it's early childhood education or making sure they've got food. Winning would mean a sense of communities being able to come together and make decisions that are relevant to their lives and have those decision-making processes matter in a way that they don't today. Winning would mean an entire transformation of society.
Anarchism and radical social change
Eventually I came to [anarchism]... and a complete rejection of the entire system and seeing its destruction as the only possible solution. It didn't seem like it was hierarchical in any way. It didn't seem to be intimidating in the sense that you had to prove yourself to be a part of it or climb any kind of ranks or whatever, or find a place to be. You were just an individual making your own decisions and individual actions for what you saw as a potential for change.
I think that the communist movement in the early part of the twentieth century did have a vision, I'm not sure that it was the right vision, but they had a vision. They did believe that somehow or other they were going to take over the state and institute a social society. I think that was the wrong vision but it was a vision, and one of the things that you find from reading some of the historical stuff is that they saw themselves as separate from the system, they saw themselves as outside the system, they saw themselves as creating a new society. The history and practice of state control as it got exercised in the Soviet Union and [elsewhere] shows that at least [that] way of achieving that vision proved to be wrong, but at least they had a vision. The problem today is that we don't have a vision outside of the system.