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?
Failures of imagination
For every person who is exposed to the media clip that says that anarchists are notorious and violent and whatever, if they look into it more and feel that there's anarchist theory that they can really be inspired by then that's cool. There's also potential to be like, ‘I want to be that notorious and autonomous, violent person so I can have an outlet for my male aggression.’ I mean I think that the lack of strategic function of doing that, running back into a mass protest after you've smashed some stuff...it shows a lack of imagination.
Care and organizing
I think it's important to nurture people in the political movements that are important to me. So the form is as important as the content. So how we organize, and how we talk to each other, and how we behave is extremely important….a person I truly respec[t] once said to me that [the]...only...criteria for [being] progressive [is] they had to be interested in ideas and care about people and if they didn't have one or the other they were not progressive. So there are a lot of people in our progressive movements who either don't care about people or don't care about ideas...that's what I mean… [by] the converging of the social and the moral.
Doing it ourselves
We've already been compromised and co-opted…[b]ut out of that…I think movements will continue to grow. Underground movements, grassroots movements...there was a woman I spoke to a few weeks ago, she's from San Francisco, where a huge grassroots midwifery movement took place in the ‘70s and ‘80s and...she said, ‘what do you do when women just start catching each other's babies and no one has titles, and no one has credentials, and no one has equipment, but yet that's what women want, and babies are well, and women are well, what if we just caught each other's babies?’ What would that look like? What message would that give?
The fetish of the local
I don't want to be programmatic about it but I certainly think there's something to the anarchist vision of free federated collectivities that makes a lot of sense to me. But I also agree that that's utopian in some ways, in the sense that I think that we will not solve the crises we currently face by retreating to the local, and imagining the local as a space that we can create a little life boat, and by growing our food locally, and by having very nice community assemblies, and by trying to just retreat to this imagined space of hearth and home that we'll somehow escape what's coming because it's only in building lines of communication and solidarity that we'll do that. I think that that's part of what it would mean to win to me. I'm not interested in creating a world or being part of a project that creates a world that revels in parochialism.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was a debate around mass organizing versus propaganda of the deed and that was the way it was framed….I recall those debates throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s and I recall really sharply [that] the spokescouncil meetings leading up to the WTO in Seattle gathered different communities from the Pacific North-West, from Washington state, or Oregon, or BC and [they advanced] very different approaches. By that time, we had developed a fair amount of respect for each other...[and] many of those debates were had in pretty fraternal ways and played out better than maybe they have most recently.
I've [retreated] from being so action focused because I didn't see the sum of all the actions I was doing actually building anything that was creating any fighting potential to actually challenge the social conditions around me. I just felt like it was going nowhere. The cafe was different. With the cafe we were putting together a project [which] we hoped would be an example of something that was organized differently on different principles. So we were organizing on this principle called participatory economics and we were organizing as a workers’ cooperative so, as we saw it, this cafe bookstore venue was...how we were organizing a very political space that was living by example and the hope was we could encourage other people to organize like that.
Building to revolution
The point is to keep doing something until...there comes a point where everything shifts….all the things that people understand [come through struggle], not by some theoretical discussion, [but] by creating an action based on what it is people want and when you do that action, the action itself leads to awareness….Little by little, incrementally, those things shift and quite frankly that's what a revolution is. It's kind of like boiling water, you put the pot on and at one point it's 210, and then at 211 it gets real hot, and then at 212 it turns into steam, something totally different, that's a revolution.
It's easy to be angry, and rant, and say the things that you don't agree with but when [do] you take the next step of, okay, how can we build something new? How can we build something better? How can we go forward? That's when the imagination is the most important because the imagination, it allows you to maybe think of something in a way that you've never thought of before.
Leadership not dictatorship
Things can happen awful fast sometimes...and [when it does happen] I think that the Left needs to...be...there to try and pick up the pieces and give it some coordination and leadership. Because I do believe in leadership, I just don't believe in the form of leadership that dictates to everybody what should happen. We've never really had a democracy.