Articles Social Movements

  • Remembering Seattle: Class, Globalization, and the State

    Globalization

    The protest in Seattle demonstrated the power of a convergence of class and new social movement politics but without a plan to seize state power the left will always be reactive. The lessons of Seattle are the power of solidarity but also the power of the state. Protests are empowering, they generate solidarity, but they can only slow down capital momentarily.

  • What Democracy Looks Like: Reflections on Trauma, Protest, and Quebec City, 2001

    Globalization

    I left Quebec City with the knowledge of how far my government would go tosilence us. And I am a coward. So I have never participated in another protest since that weekend in April 2001. I lost my faith in elected governments. I lost my faith in direct action. I lost my faith, in some ways, in social change. Maybe I just grew up. I try to keep fighting, but Quebec City changed me forever. It turns out that was what democracy looks like.

  • Protesting the Israel Defense Forces is not anti-Semitic

    Social Movements

    Objective journalism and principled politics require that we hear from both sides—as well as impartial witnesses—before drawing conclusions. So long as all criticisms of the Israeli state are immediately and uncritically branded as anti-Semitic, Palestinian voices will be silenced and barred from public discourse, and coverage of the issue will remain one-sided and unhelpful.

  • Twenty Years After Seattle: Dispensing with Myths

    Globalization

    Over the last two decades, counterproductive myths have developed around the Battle of Seattle. Now is a good time to dispense with them. One way to do this is to revisit the history from the perspective of those who were involved in organizing the mass direct action. I was one among them – at that time, a 22 year-old activist living in Olympia, Washington. Along with dozens of others, I helped found the Direct Action Network (DAN) and spent months organizing for the protests.

  • Red Flags: Reflections on racism and radicalism

    Social Movements

    Capitalism lives and breathes racism. It can’t survive without it. It picks it up, cultivates it, and injects it into everything. Because of this, the particular racial strategies of Winnipeg capitalists in 1919 are crucial for understanding the racism of our striking ancestors. In turn, this requires that we comprehend that those businessmen were the products of a specific racist tradition, namely the process of colonial conquest that reached its most violent depths just three decades before the strike.

  • Protest Alone Won’t Save Our Planet

    Environment

    Protests are not without limits. They can move one forward on the path to seriously confronting concentrated wealth and power, but they can also serve as pressure-reducing safety valves, providing emotionally potent illusions of popular power and functioning as strange vehicles of incorporation and co-optation. The deadly system marches on, without serious disruption of its inner workings.

  • We’re stepping up – join us for a day to halt this climate crisis

    Environment

    On September 27, at the request of the young people who have been staging school strikes around the world, we’re walking out of our workplaces and homes to spend the day demanding action on the climate crisis, the greatest existential threat that all of us face. It’s a one-day climate strike, if you will – and it will not be the last. This is going to be the beginning of a week of action all over the world. And we hope to make it a turning point in history.

  • 1919: Recovering a Legacy

    Social Movements

    Reclaiming the legacy of the 1919 general strike is a formidable task – one that will only happen if the unions and the Left are rebuilt in a reciprocal renaissance of the politics of opposition and class struggle.The prospects of either of these linked movements reviving alone, without the advance of the other, are slim indeed. Recovering and reclaiming the legacy of 1919 is, in 2019, challenging and complicated. Yet it is also desperately necessary. It may well be our only option.

  • Why Friday’s Climate Strike gives me hope for the future of our planet

    Environment

    I know all too well that my son will probably read this one day. I hope that he will see the positive results of our actions. Depending on our choices and decisions in the coming years, he can learn about this chapter in human history, one in which we made real sacrifices and stopped a serious catastrophic event. Or, he can learn about how we failed to rise to the occasion and left his generation to deal with the consequences of our inaction.

  • Why Should You Climate Strike on Friday, Sept. 27?

    Environment

    A year ago, inspired by Greta Thunberg, young people around the world began ‘climate-striking’ — walking out of school for a few hours on Fridays to demand action against global warming. In March, when 1.4 million kids around the world walked out of school, they asked for adults to join them next time. That next time is Sept. 20 (in Canada and a few other countries on Sept. 27) and it is shaping up to be the biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history.

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