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.
Activism and marginality
Just looking at our immediate context right here in Halifax...looking at...the organizations that people have to fight through right now, the only ones that we see around us are these unions that right now are pretty backwards….[T]hey don't really fight anything except legal strikes which are almost nothing these days, small windows, pickets that aren't really challenging the company. I think for me it matters who is showing up, who are the people that are involving themselves and I'm seeing the activist community, a loose knit group of people involved in different NGOs in the city, people involved in student activism, that are showing up at all these different events but these aren't the actual body of workers that are out there. This isn't like a working class movement and if it's not a working class movement it doesn't really have the potential to transform conditions in our society.
Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will
"Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will," it's a famous saying by Gramsci. In other words you know rationally that the chances of doing anything radical are very small but you do it anyway. You fight anyway. You cannot have optimism of the will without some idea that it would be possible to have a different world and various institutional things have an impact on people's radical imagination.
Turning the tide
I guess what I keep hoping is that the people who are using the skills of working together, of growing food, making things, of connecting with people despite barriers and differences, that when there is an inevitable big shift in this particularly unsustainable political and economical world we live in...there will be enough of these to...turn the tide.
Means and ends
You have to decide before your action, what is my end result? What do I want to achieve? Do I want to engage the masses and try and change them or not? Because if it's not, then hell yeah, do whatever you gotta do. But if you want to play it this way then violence won't play.
The future, darkly
I'm cynical and pessimistic so I'm just going to tell you my science fiction dystopia. Everything will be privatized, more than fifty per cent of the people will live in total poverty, those who don't will be eking by except for a much smaller top of the pile, [the] twenty-first century aristocracy, who have access to the latest technology to spy on us and control our behaviours. They can censor whatever, they can use this media...to message us in any way they want repetitively to the point where we believe whatever [they] want [us] to believe….[A]ny opponents will be disappeared, concentration camps, the whole nine yards.
The necessity of decolonization
...I think Canada is a colonial state and the question is to what extent will First Nations ever have self-determination as long as Canada is a settler state? I guess never maybe….So does that mean I overthrow Canada?...I think we need to decolonize, I think we need to think through how we're colonizing by being here and...actively confronting that...in the same way when you’re part of a system of oppression. For example, gentrification, if you live in a low income neighbourhood because that's the only place you can afford but you recognize the fact that you’re also forcing people out who are on a...lower income, a different bracket of class...or of color, how do you oppose it? I don't know, burn down the condo?
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.
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.
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.
Taking back our communities
I think we need to recognize that we want to get to that point where we're really taking back...our community. It's not that I'm opposed to violent stuff, it's just that we need to do the groundwork so we can lay that out. That requires collective decisions, patience, and getting to that point is not something that just happens right away. [That’s] one [of the] thing[s] I can appreciate...about the Zapatistas, they went into the jungle in 1983 and didn't come out until 1994...and I think that's something that we need to think about.