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.
Climate crisis and fascism
From what I can tell the environmental changes that we're going through at a global scale are really concretely affecting a lot of people and the way that they can survive. Especially people who live or are more directly dependent [on] direct production [on] the land,….people who live in areas where climate already generates conditions of precarity, and that's exacerbated and we can see shifts [in] accessibility [of] resources, [of] food, already happening. I fear that those who have access right now will increasingly follow a trend...towards fascism in terms of claiming and enclosing access, in very rigid and violent ways, excluding [others from being able to] access...resources and food.
I volunteered with an underground midwife....she still caught babies, still did the exact same job...but there was no funding for it, women still paid her out of pocket. So where did that take me? I guess that was a turning point in my politics because it really made me think not just about women's choices and how women conceptualize those choices and manifest them but how...the broader society manipulates women, or offers certain choices for women.
The limits of telling a better story
People on the left have this conceit that if only we explained things better to people then the scales would be lifted from their eyes and they would all realize that [the source of their problems is] really capitalism after all. That's not necessarily true….the [first] problem with [this focus on] framing is that it's simplistic….and the world isn't simple. So we rankle at the idea of simplifying things for good reasons. The second reason is that it's not an equal fight, it's not like we're both starting out from the same situation on the right and the left….they're in an open competition and….of course the right has power behind it.
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.
For Marxism to work it has to be a discussion and if you look at the period where...the great Marxist revolutions happened, I mean the early 1900s, it was a discussion. Lenin and Trotsky would debate each other, Luxemburg would debate, other folks from Germany or from France would weigh in on those debates. It was a conversation about...what tactics the progressive movement should be using but also on the actual composition of what Marxist theory is and then with the establishment of the Soviet Union it became this very, very doctrinaire approach to Marxism which is an absolute failure and has led us to the point where I think the left is the weakest it's ever been since the rise of capitalism in a lot of ways.
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.
Reconsidering the end goals
We need to change the end goal. Is the end goal about economic growth and increasing wealth or is the end goal...human well-being and quality of life? There is a really rich discourse around those things - gross national happiness and genuine progress indicators and those sorts of things. It's not enough just to do the academic research and come up with these ideas, there has to be direct correlations within the politics.
Putting people and revolution in front
I don't believe in models...but there are examples and when one stands up and fights for principle, when one puts a revolutionary interest, when one puts the interests of the people in the forefront you can accomplish...tremendous...things. What Cuba is about is not a question of whether Cuba is better or worse than any other country, the question is that Cubans are asserting their right of self-determination and sovereignty to solve their own problems themselves. The same thing with the Venezuelans, the Bolivians, what's going in Ecuador, what's going on in a number of other countries. So they are an example that when you struggle, you can achieve certain things - that it's not futile to struggle, and that one can put the interests, revolutionary interests and the interests of the people in the forefront.
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.
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.