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 worlds are possible
The Zapatistas offered a vision that other worlds were still possible. That a radical struggle against global capitalism could be engaged in that people could come together in a spirit of affinity and solidarity and actually not try and just dominate and control each other with a singular blueprint of the world or what the world could be. And I found that all very inspiring. And the fact that it was communicated through parables, through myth, through allegory, through poetry, through symbolic demonstration as much as through an armed uprising I found really powerful.
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.
You learn about history and all the really bad stuff that has happened, to the Indigenous population particularly, and I was like, wow, what keeps people motivated there?...if human society is going to get through what we're going through now, it's going to be because of the knowledge of indigenous peoples. I feel like there's that wealth of knowledge there that's just not tapped in the mainstream and it's the total opposite of the dominant culture.
...what is possible today? What would it look like if the people won? On the one hand, I believe that Lenin was right, a revolution can't be sustained without a very highly organized and disciplined central group. This is the big dilemma. On the other hand, a highly trained and disciplined central group tends to want to perpetuate itself and you can't have one and you can't have the other.
I think there's something to be said for keeping our internal struggles internal. Stephen Harper does that really well and that's not say again that we need to become authoritarian or hierarchical. It's just to say that if we're going to argue about whether we're libertarian or communist or something else we should not argue about that in the Chronicle Herald. We should not split our broader leftist movement apart publicly.
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.
Organize where you are
You have to organize where you are. If you go to high school, you organize high school students, you don't organize pensioners or something. If you're a...pensioner you organize other people who are like you, you organize your friends, you organize. And that's something that's really important, it's building those [struggles] link by link, person by person. So if you're doing environmental organizing...you're bringing a radical perspective that links that struggle to other struggles. People often come into being active or caring about certain things through particular...issues, right? Going through the process of gaining a political consciousness...usually centers around one thing and then hopefully there's people there who can make links between that one thing and a broader perspective of capitalism, a broader perspective of a whole range of things.
Recently, as a result of being in a family, [I’ve] really change[d] the way...I'm socially engaging with…[the] activist community….I feel like there was a certain point at which I started to admire people that I considered post-activist. What I [mean] by that is that being an activist or revolutionary or whatever as your main title, that is abstract and has nothing to communicate other than that you feel righteously busy. [It’s] not something that...I want to identify [as] and I feel like there are some other really important things, really important roles....I want to be a good son to my parents, I want to be a good brother to my brother, I want to be a good parent, I want to be a good partner.
Violence and radical social change
I like expressions of violence. Expressions of violence inspire me and feel sincere to me where other expressions of anger don't, they lack something. So I like to see places get windows broken and fires...started but [they’re] mostly...an expression of anger…[they’re] not...the violence that is going to bring down the state.
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.