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.
In between winning and losing
I can't conceptualize political movements as win-lose. Maybe I could conceptualize them as winning and losing in that it's a constant process. I don't think there is anything to win. Not only is it a myth but also it’s dejecting. If I try and think about what it would mean to win, I just can't, it's not possible for my brain to think about that and so anything that comes short of having won is then a failure. Even if I were to try and conceptualize winning and losing, obviously, I think right now we're losing but I do feel like I make gains when I have a conversation with my sister and...at the end of the conversation [she] commits to changing her behaviour in some way that I find impedes her ability to have meaningful social relations with other people, especially other women.
[I spend] a lot of time networking with people and trying to be inspired by others and also trying to have conversations with people to...share some of my experiences and knowledge...with them and...be an active part of the resistance against capitalism, against the state, against prisons, and to support people who have had…[their] freedom taken away from them by [the] prison society that we live in.
I [found] myself spending more and more of my time on issues I was seeing [around me]....I saw tenant organizing in a similar way that I see union organizing: it's a way to actually build commonality.
The state and class rule
The Canadian state itself is an instrument of class rule, and the Canadian state itself...has been deployed...against workers, against progressive peopl[e], against the First Nations, against minorities….The Canadian state[‘s]...foundations are colonial, we only have to talk about what happened to the First Nations, we only have to talk about what happened to Louis Riel.
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.
...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.
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.
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.
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.
Popular education and action
Before getting people to act you need to educate them and then you need to incite some sort of emotion in them. Those are vague but that happens just with grunt work like posters, discussion nights, talk nights, showing movies, making it on people's radar...people need to be reminded of issues of social and environmental justice as much as we're being reminded that we need to buy Blackberry.