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.
Imagining the future together
I'm sitting on this side of the river saying ‘I'm happy to cross over with you,’ I don't know what the bridge looks like, but I think we have to sustain this bank of the river so that it doesn't collapse on our way to that one. Because I do not have sufficient radical imagination to know how we're going to get from here to what I imagine for the future, I don't have that. I don't think that gives me an excuse not to keep on keeping on because I think the struggle against slavery in the United States took four hundred years. I've been working for about forty and not consistently….I'm saddened that I don't have the imagination to understand [how] we're going to get from a and b but I think we need to discuss how we're going to get from a to b together because there are smarter people than me.
To what ends are we growing this economy? I think there's sort of three fundamental objectives of development in the twenty-first century: low carbon because of climate change, adapting to climate change, [and] reconciling some of the differences that exist within the current system. We need low carbon development and we need to create food security, energy security, and robust, resilient systems that people will be able to provide for their needs, and provide for their families, and so on. It's pretty simple. It's not growing the economy, because that's what got us into this mess in the first place.
The absence of movements
It's the absence of social movements in general that I think is the issue. In the past in the [International Socialists], at least in the incarnation that I was a part of...it was a very clear delineation. You don't take a position above a [union] steward position, that's it, and you don't challenge for [union] president because that leads to all kinds of other stuff and you certainly don't take a staff job by any means. I held to that for a long time. The conditions, I think, are different now. We're not seeing the same opportunities and where they exist [there are] bits of bubbling but not a boiling pot by any means. It's the absence of social movements that has folks like me going into full time jobs that we would never have taken in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
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.
When most people think of politics, they think of electoral politics. So while many of us may think of this in much broader terms as far as measuring winning I think we have to give ourselves things that can be actually measured and [success in] electoral politics in the next two to five years probably wouldn't make sense for any kind of political movement that would develop. So I don't think that that would be on the goal post but it would certainly involve engagement with that political process in some way. So we actually have to be able to win things because that's the only way that we convince people that we can succeed.
Industrial civilization and root problems
As long as we continue to be preoccupied with material consumption and economic growth that's based upon material consumption then we're just sort of pissing in the wind in terms of solving these problems. The fundamental root of the problem is an industrial growth model that is based upon this false premise that you can use resources within a human economy and that the only consequence of it is having to deal with the waste on the other side or having to find more resources to exploit. We're now encountering the point of pushing ecological thresholds beyond their finite capacity. So if that's the case then we need to reinvent the system so that it is one that is more aligned with what the finite ecological capacities of this planet are.
Struggling past isolation
I think some of the most significant barriers right now...have to do with the feeling of being really isolated, separated, disconnected….I think that's a huge barrier and I think somehow that has to change. This will involve people actually fighting to change those conditions that are pushing us around. We can't be pushed around so much, so we somehow have to hold our ground and that would require, actually, direct challenges to things like rent, to control over living spaces, to control over work spaces. It's the only way we can avoid being thrown around.
It's well within the realm of possibility that we will see...increasing...violence and warfare precipitated by [climate change]....Sociological instability will continue along with ecological change.
Selling people short
Personally I'm really critical of [the belief that] in order to mobilize people [you] have [to] appeal to the lowest common denominator. I think that really sells people short….If we take the G8 organizing [in the] spring [of 2010], I remember being at a meeting and someone said using the slogan ‘stop globalization: another world is possible’ was too political and they had to take ‘stop globalization’ out of the slogan. It's just kind of, like, really? I mean the reality is not that many people are going to come out to this protest anyways, do you have to make it so watered down? It's a watered down slogan as it is but to water it down even more to be just ‘another world is possible’ it just doesn't make any sense to me.
Living collectively without the state
I don't think we can get that far if we keep getting concessions from the state….What do I think is the way forward? I think...we have to be more creative about thinking collectively to get things done. Being able to imagine that it actually is possible that we can get things done without the state or whatever other institution it is that we're talking about.