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.
A rock and a hard place
Yes, socialism is still necessary but at the present moment if there is no real socialist possibility we might have to bite the bullet and become involved in reform activities which we have very little hope in. That's the present tragic dilemma of the Left and of the world.
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.
The end of the world?
I don't believe we're that close to the end of civilization as some people would have us believe in terms of an ecological crisis. I think here, where we're situated, it'll be a long time before we feel the worst effects of that. I don't think that's true everywhere and what that leads to remains to be seen I guess but I don't think here that's imminent, at least that's my impression….Maybe I am more confident that I'm going to see the end of the world in some sense than I actually am that I'm going to see the end of capitalism.
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.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was a debate around mass organizing versus propaganda of the deed and that was the way it was framed….I recall those debates throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s and I recall really sharply [that] the spokescouncil meetings leading up to the WTO in Seattle gathered different communities from the Pacific North-West, from Washington state, or Oregon, or BC and [they advanced] very different approaches. By that time, we had developed a fair amount of respect for each other...[and] many of those debates were had in pretty fraternal ways and played out better than maybe they have most recently.
Crisis and collective action
I feel like there's going to be some sort of big shift, something's going to happen, maybe all the ice is going to melt in the Arctic and its going to finally make people, I hope, wake up. I think that it's sad that this is the way it is but I feel like people won't unite as a whole until something cataclysmic happens. I feel like that might be the kick in the pants our species needs.
Plugging into radical politics
Discussion often degenerates very quickly and is not about trying to find...strategic solutions to problems but rather is about getting defensive and wanting to yell about why your strategy is the best and I don't want to engage in that kind of debate. I don't really have any time for it because I think that our strategy right now should be to be talking to people about what's fucked about the system that we live in….[How] are you going to plug people into radical political movements? We're at a point where there's not a lot to plug people into...that's meaningful, that's consistent, that's going to enact actual social change. What we need to be doing is building people’s understanding of why the system that we're living under is the root of the problems that we're facing.
Asserting ourselves effectively
We had massive demonstrations, for example, against the war in Iraq, massive protests all over the world. Massive protest, [a] vast [number] of people...against the war and yet...the invasion of Iraq [happened anyway]. So there's this institutionalization of protest, so people sit back and say, ‘okay, I get all this anger, and yet I have no power, I'm impotent in terms of affecting policy.’ So once again this raises the issue of how [do we] effectively assert [ourselves?]
The meaning of ‘radical’
I don't...think that being radical is necessarily about having a project about how the world should be or about how we can change it but is always about understanding that from our most individual and most intimate and personal relations all the way up to the most impersonal and macro social relations there's something wrong here and that it's a change at all levels that's going to be required if we want to live in a world where we're free and we have a certain level of autonomy and equality. Do I consider myself a radical? Yeah, but I do struggle with...that language because I don't think it's accessible to people who are outside of political movements.
I think that your generation is starting ahead of where my generation started and that brings me some hope. Now I think there are a bunch of things that I think you guys are doing that is totally as stupid as we did but there are things that I think you are thinking about, and concerned about, and critical about, and open about that was not reflected in the left wing movements of the sixties and seventies….there were many things we couldn't have known. But I think this generation of activists has a body of knowledge based on the trajectory of things that have happened in the last thirty, forty years that you are actually more humble about.