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.
Hope and fear for the future
I draw a lot of my inspiration, especially when it comes to environmental activism, from the compassion that I have for the planet, from the emotional connection that I've built to the earth through many excursions, and wilderness trips, and exploring in nature, and the huge amount of appreciation I have for the world around me. So yeah, compassion, that is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from and also a little bit of fear and anger as well....Fear for the future. If nobody does anything then what is our future going to look like?
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.
Building autonomous networks
The state is using...these new innovations and technology to encroach upon us and I believe the potential of technology to undermine that and to pose real threats to state and capital are quite acute and I'm interested in building anti-surveillance and anonymity structures online. Housing the technology so that it's not dependent on the structures [that seek to]...capitalize...on those communications technologies....How can we build networks and systems that are completely autonomous that don't rely on those things? But...I'm also constantly questioning these sorts of pursuits...in relation to...climate chaos and the end of energy and so [also] thinking about how technology has a horizon.
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.
Property destruction and repression
I love the black bloc going out and smashing corporate windows. I think that corporations perpetrate violence...as part of doing business and I think...it's totally justifiable to go and destroy their property, to act violently towards their property as a way of...shaking them up and [provoking] fear in them. But what does that do? It justifies the security state and it allows them to be even more dominant and predatory.
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.
Struggling past isolation
I think some of the most significant barriers right now...have to do with the feeling of being really isolated, separated, disconnected….I think that's a huge barrier and I think somehow that has to change. This will involve people actually fighting to change those conditions that are pushing us around. We can't be pushed around so much, so we somehow have to hold our ground and that would require, actually, direct challenges to things like rent, to control over living spaces, to control over work spaces. It's the only way we can avoid being thrown around.
Confronting structures of domination
Organizing can be a space where actions can come out and thinking can be engaged...goal setting, and thinking, and...active critical analysis can happen because we don't live in a vacuum….[I’m interested in] the ability to translate...thoughts into the world we want to see…[through] the actions that we engage in, especially when they're explicitly aimed at challenging and confronting white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, other structures of domination.
No going back
I always think it's really exciting when people...move...and I think that the key thing…[is] not necessarily to take them and show them exactly what to do, but [to show them] there's no going back. They're either going to win or they're going to fucking lose and I think that's an important position. To push people out to taking those risks that they wouldn't normally want to take and getting them to feel like that's their decision, feeling empowered, and then creating that contrast, and then there's no going back, you're pretty much taking a leap.
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.