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.
Other ways of knowing and doing
We [First Nations communities] were the original communists without the authoritarianism, really, truly. There's ways we have of dealing with stuff that I think is directly applicable to all the stuff we're talking about. The idea of a council, of people doing things as a collective where they have to come to a consensus and come to agreement….the community decides and that's the difference between a collective model and a hierarchical, pyramidal way of doing things. It's done in a circle not a pyramid.
Hope and moving beyond
I have tremendous amounts of hope. I don't know what folks who don't have that do….I think in the course of human existence the current system, capitalism…[has had an] incredibly short lifespan. Longer than my life, so there's a sense of perspective, but really in terms of the way that humans have organized, it’s one form amongst many that we've gone through and I think that we can move beyond that.
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.
A revolving door of resistance
I feel like it's a revolving door of resistance where people are...doing stuff and they leave or people become disgruntled with it and then [even though] more people...are becoming politicized, they're not necessarily taking it a step further and really trying to push that agenda of active resistance and direct resistance against the state. [My] frustration with that is the lack of people who really want to get involved but I also have to remind myself that the place where I am at right now has taken fifteen years [for me to get to].
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.
You know what [winning] looks like for me? [It] looks like my life. My life if my kids were around me…[I’ve] got a place to live, little garden, a guaranteed annual income because I'm on a pension now, time to engage in conversation, time to be with friends and family, time to go for a walk on the beach, time to listen to some music. I think my life is so privileged except for what capitalism has done to take my sons away from me, which is an economic and social phenomenon. What capitalism has done is to make me lonely.
Equity across time and space
Equity is a really challenging thing, when you're dealing with equity...on a geographic scale. I'm drinking a coffee, obviously someone had to like pick the beans, and it is a fair trade coffee so I have that sense that I've purchased a product and I'm able to see the connection, at least tangentially understand, that there's ways and means to creating more equitable distributions, but again that's...just relying on some of the functions and features of capitalism to solve problems that are fundamentally being precipitated by [it]. And then equity across generations is an even more difficult thing, especially when you're talking about climate change because...the decisions we're making now are going to have an effect on our grandkids.
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.
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.
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.