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.
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.
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.
I don't think you can be a socialist on your own. You can hold all the theories, you can believe everything that I agree with, but you're not going to be a socialist until you're actually working and also meeting folks in the labour movement, or childcare workers who make $10 an hour, or the crosswalk guards who just got organized, it really just changes your perspective about what the left needs to do to reach the mass of people because way too often I feel we're stuck in universities and academic settings.
In union organizing drives and on picket lines...I've seen...racism, sexism break down. I mean not immediately, not in the first day or two, but over a period of time. Folks start to see that the person who's working with them side by side or standing with them in the picket line has a hell of a lot more in common with them then they do with the boss who's making racist jokes and sexist jokes.
I [found] myself spending more and more of my time on issues I was seeing [around me]....I saw tenant organizing in a similar way that I see union organizing: it's a way to actually build commonality.
Airing our differences
...polemicizing can be a danger and people don't talk, or groups don't talk, to each other. I agree that to some extent it's not helpful. To some extent it is. To give people a chance to really explicate the intricacies of what they model for a better society, I mean to some extent that's good. Let's hear that.
Dispelling the myth
I think a major part of what the Left needs to do now is to dispel this myth that capitalism can ever actually create a sustainable future.
State violence and movement strategy
I think if you've got enough people you can take a stand in any way to prevent stuff. But let's face it, the state has all the firepower, all the guns, and all it takes is an excuse and they'll use it….So when [the state] move[s] in they have every right in their mind to come in and surround and corner people...but if you defend yourself, if you resist that then you're the aggressor.
Organizing and alternatives
If the goal is equality, for example, then you have to organize society in such a way that you're going to get that equality and you have to organize the economy in such a way that gives you that equality. That means that the very ethos of this economy has to be overcome, has to be destroyed because as long as the economy is running on the basis of profit, and accumulation of wealth, and growth we can never achieve equality because it's the antithesis of the system. On a political level we have to have a decentralization of power. I don't agree that we can achieve it through...spontaneous uprisings all over the place, I don't think that's going to get us anywhere. We need to see centralized organizations as facilitating the grassroots movements rather than dominating the grassroots movements.
Ducking for cover
I think the mistake the Left makes...is when they come under attack, to duck and get defensive instead of standing up saying who they are. Like the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the States [during] the McCarthy era, there were people who ran for cover and others who stood up and defied them. Well, the people that defied them are now recognized heroes for having the guts to do that and when they did take a stand they suffered for it but it opened people's eyes.