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.
Winning without utopia
I really don't like utopian thinking because I really don't think if we were to beat back the forces of global capital that that would result in paradise on earth. I think there would still be a lot of challenge and struggle. But when I think about winning there would be a cap on how much any individual would be allowed to make, there would be a cap on how big any business [would be] allowed to be, there would be way more of a relationship between the [resource extraction and production processes] of any kind of industry….The people who live near that source, the people who extract that resource, the people who manufacture and do the labour producing that resource, and the whole shipping and distribution of that would be totally reformed to reflect sustainability and social justice, equality amongst workers.
Acting to win
The left is very intellectual and we have these complicated explanations for things and I really think we need to boil it down more, without losing the substance of it….I think that the left needs to stop feeling like a perennial loser and start acting more like the obvious winn[ing] choice.
Women, power, and winning
It would be about women recognizing power, women understanding that they hold that power, and that they can exercise that power, and that exercising that power can change society, can change the individual, can change the family, can change the community, can change the society. And that would look not only like women recognizing and exercising that power but the society...recognizing that that power is valid.
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.
Ducking for cover
I think the mistake the Left makes...is when they come under attack, to duck and get defensive instead of standing up saying who they are. Like the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the States [during] the McCarthy era, there were people who ran for cover and others who stood up and defied them. Well, the people that defied them are now recognized heroes for having the guts to do that and when they did take a stand they suffered for it but it opened people's eyes.
Winning, solidarity, and common sense
I guess in a grander way, I'm thinking of a quote...by Zygmunt Bauman who is a post-modern theorist. I remember reading an article of his and he ended by saying something along the lines of: the day you don't have to justify yourselves for being in solidarity with everybody else is the day that that's achieved. It's an abstract thought but in a way if you don't have to defend your decision about entering [into a relationship of] solidarity with someone, if you don't have to justify that, then it means that it's understood in common sense and therefore, if you don't have to explain that or justify that to anybody, then that means that you've won...in a way.
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.
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.
Engaging the system
I do believe that...there's not much difference between political parties that are offered to us. For example, the Conservative Party that is in power right now is so far right that it is shifting the cultural paradigm in Canada, right now, to the right, I think more than any other party has done so far and I think that's really dangerous and that affects many people concretely. All the social programs that are cut, all the policy changes that are happening at different levels, for example immigration, that has concrete immediate effect[s] on many people who are marginalized and have very little influence in our society and have a serious lack of security. So engaging with the political system that we have now in terms of achieving imperfect...short, term goals that have a concrete, immediate impact on people I think is important.
I don't think you can be a socialist on your own. You can hold all the theories, you can believe everything that I agree with, but you're not going to be a socialist until you're actually working and also meeting folks in the labour movement, or childcare workers who make $10 an hour, or the crosswalk guards who just got organized, it really just changes your perspective about what the left needs to do to reach the mass of people because way too often I feel we're stuck in universities and academic settings.