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.
Violence, clarity, and context
Diversity of tactics - really what it boils down to is black bloc versus no black bloc and that...gets turned into violence versus non-violence [but] they don't line up. I think starting with a definition of what is violence, and what is the black bloc, and where does it fit on the spectrum of violence, and what's the particular advantages and disadvantages of a black bloc, and taking that out of the conversation of violence versus non-violence because it's not the same question as far as I'm concerned. Equating those things doesn't make any sense to me. When I think of violence...in social movements [I think of] revolutionary wars or something [like that] which has no bearing [on] what's happening in our context at the moment. So what do I think of violence? I think it's certainly justified and necessary in cases of self-defense.
A revolving door of resistance
I feel like it's a revolving door of resistance where people are...doing stuff and they leave or people become disgruntled with it and then [even though] more people...are becoming politicized, they're not necessarily taking it a step further and really trying to push that agenda of active resistance and direct resistance against the state. [My] frustration with that is the lack of people who really want to get involved but I also have to remind myself that the place where I am at right now has taken fifteen years [for me to get to].
Coming to terms with privilege
We need to know what we don't know. We need to know our privileges, our intellectual, social, economic privileges and how they actually intersect with other people. Not to feel guilty all day long not that…[w]hiny, guilty shit. We are unable to cross over because we don't know what we don't know. So we actually believe everybody in the world lives like we do, we actually believe that nobody goes to church, we actually believe that nobody lives in the suburbs, we believe all of that. I don't know how we've come to believe these ridiculous untruthful things but we've come to believe them.
Memories of struggle
Here in Nova Scotia we're losing all kinds of memory of our own history everyday as people pass away. In the late ‘80s, as an undergrad student, I had a project [in] a labour history course I was taking….I went up to Cape Breton and interviewed folks in their kitchens around what was happening with the mine workers’ strikes in the ‘20s and ‘30s. The best folks died and I don't think I realized at the time how useful that stuff was. We don't have that even going on today and we're losing…[our collective] memory….we don't have a tremendous amount of intergenerational memory on what [struggles were] about, what [they were] fighting for, what the underlying basis [for them was.]
I think that the communist movement in the early part of the twentieth century did have a vision, I'm not sure that it was the right vision, but they had a vision. They did believe that somehow or other they were going to take over the state and institute a social society. I think that was the wrong vision but it was a vision, and one of the things that you find from reading some of the historical stuff is that they saw themselves as separate from the system, they saw themselves as outside the system, they saw themselves as creating a new society. The history and practice of state control as it got exercised in the Soviet Union and [elsewhere] shows that at least [that] way of achieving that vision proved to be wrong, but at least they had a vision. The problem today is that we don't have a vision outside of the system.
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.
So our strategies are influenced by the [institutional] foothold we have and us wanting to hang onto that. And the strategies of this other [radical] group that might be coming up are in reaction to their perception of us failing at [being radical enough,] so they're going to do it. So their strategies and tactics are going to be different and I think in order for [social change to happen] they both need to be in place.
My perspective has been coming from a radical, egalitarian position. I know that there are many different points one can attack something [from], but the point is to draw the links between those things….So yeah, I have an anarchist-communist outlook, that doesn't mean I'm not sympathetic to other things and other perspectives.
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.
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.