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Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet. ~ Alice Walker
Only our own deeds can hinder us; only our own will can fetter us. Once let men recognize this truth, and the hour of their liberation has struck. Nature cannot enslave the Soul that by Wisdom has gained Power, and uses both in Love. ~ Annie Besant

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change.

Broadly speaking, the governments today are organizations of elderly men who know no other way to work and govern than the ways of their youth, the ways of the past. They have little sense of why their methods no longer work. They know nothing of the new energies and impulses which flood the world today, and are baffled and betrayed by their inability to control events...
To a large extent, today, the People’s Voice is the voice of the young... it is the young who have the answers, who understand that humanity is One, who call for fairness, for justice and sharing, and an end to war.
The voice of such young people can never be silenced, and will not for long be ignored. The Voice of the People, young and old, will drown the whimpers of the men of money and lead humanity to the New Dawn.


You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. ~ Buckminster Fuller
Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the poor and needy. ~ Proverbs 31:9
  • I’m an idealist and an optimist: all my political work is aimed at helping usher in a better world. I believe that political cartooning should be almost a form of activism, not just idle commentary for the sake of commentary.
  • The one-sided class war of the last 40 years is becoming two-sided. The population is actually beginning to participate instead of just accepting the hammer blows. We now are having a huge strike. One of the major strikes in American history, when workers are simply saying, we’re not gonna go back to the rotten, oppressive jobs, precarious, broadens circumstances is novel, we’re just not gonna accept it. And that’s a major factor in the economy now. And yes, it’s a strike and it’s showing up in other ways too, there are, for example, the teacher’s strikes were quite important. These are non-unionized red states, tremendous popular support. When you live in Arizona, where one of them was signs on every lawn, supporting the teachers, not a radical state by any means. They were not just calling for better wages, which they greatly deserve, but for saving the children, saving the public school, public education, which has been under severe attack for 45 years.
  • We should recognize that white male supremacy is a deep current in American history. It’s not gonna go away immediately. But there have been dents, significant ones.... The main part of politics is activism and mobilization. ...The fact that mobilization and activism, or the core of politics, there’s very dramatic examples of that, but... The Sunrise Movement is one of the, at the forefront of activism on climate. They got the point of civil disobedience, occupying congressional offices, occupying Nancy Pelosi’s office, demanding change or narrowly, they’d just be thrown out by the Capitol police. They weren’t this time because one person from Congress came and joined them. AOC came to join them. They weren’t thrown out, moved on, that’s what led to Biden’s climate program. Not great, but better than anything before.
    Popular activism interacting with supportive people in Congress tend to lead to results. And this is an old lesson, we should learn. It takes a new deal, which greatly improved of the floors, greatly improved American society. How did it come about? Hand-built by a combination of militant labor action, CIO organizing, sit down strikes and a sympathetic administration. That combination is crucial.
Chevron and its allies have used the judiciary to try to attack the very idea of corporate accountability and environmental justice work that leads to significant judgments. And I think they’re not only trying to retaliate against me; they’re trying to send a broader message to the activist community, to the legal community, that these types of cases, that truly challenge the fossil fuel industry, that are intimately connected to the survival of our planet, should not be allowed to happen in court,at least not at this level. ~ Steven Donziger
The most powerful thing young students with neither money nor power can do, is to do activism and use journalists and their cameras. When people learn about the problems and discuss them, things start to change. ~ Oksana Shachko
We have to tell it like it is. Because if there are no positive things to tell, then what should we do, should we spread false hope? We can’t do that, we have to tell the truth. ~ Greta Thunberg
  • Activism, suffers injury when it is considered as merely practice and effect, for in fact it has also to carry forward not only the external but also the internal situation of things.'On the other hand, mental creativeness must be looked upon as something more than a mere preparatory stage for activism it has ever to present us with norms superior to the transient aspects and impressions of the world and of the moment, and it has to deal with the orientation of our quests.
    • Rudolf Eucken, Knowledge and life 1907, 1913 p. 172
  • Without penetrating Criticism, Creativeness fails to stand out in bold relief from the ordinary shallow life, and fails in self-reliance as well. But unless we pass from both into Activism the necessary clarification is lacking, and effects which are possible come to nought. Therefore the different tasks serve one specific total-task.
  • Pragmatism and activism attach very different meanings to the union of truth with life. The former regards truth as merely the means towards a higher end (which seems to us subversive of inner life), while the latter makes it an essential and integral portion of life itself, and hence can never consent to it becoming a mere means.
  • My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is danger­ous, which is not exactly the same as bad. If everything is dangerous, then we always have something to do. So my position leads not to apa­thy but to a hyper- and pessimistic activism. I think that the ethico-political choice we have to make every day is to determine which is the main danger.
    • Michel Foucault, “On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress.” Afterword, in Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Massachusetts Press. (1983)
  • To be naïve, especially politically, would mean seeing reality as simple and clear-cut once again. It would imply viewing the social world in an unambiguous and probably dualistic way with, for example, the ruling class and exploiters on one side, and the ruled and exploited on the other with no distinctions in between. Likewise it would mean conceiving of the world as eminently changeable and subject to human will, not as something given over to the play of accident or chance. Historically speaking, the naive attitude has engendered tremendous passion and commitment to the same degree that the ironic attitude has produced skepticism and passivity. Most mass movements of both the Left and Right have been naive in the sense described here. In fact it could be argued that activism is possible only where there is the real (though "naive") conviction that the world is completely mutable and therefore capable of being shaped by human action. Furthermore, the naive awareness does not allow itself to be paralyzed by obstacles, but rather engenders in its adherents a feeling of dedication and vision, of vigor and enthusiasm, just as early Christianity did (and the Church of the first three centuries was a model "naive movement"). Such movements acquire faith in themselves, and consequently great power, precisely because they see reality in unequivocal terms. Lastly, the naive outlook generates an inordinate capacity for heroism and heroic commitment which cannot be aroused by the ironic mode.
    • David Gross, “Irony and the ‘Disorders of the Soul,’” Telos, vol. 34, December 21, 1977, pp. 170-171
  • What we are seeing now in America is about so much more than people just being sick of the police murdering innocent people. It is a generational and class revolt. Yes, COVID certainly exacerbated it...
  • I'm more optimistic because I see the resistance in the streets, which wasn't there a few weeks and months ago. That's where hope lies. It lies in the streets. And I have got to acknowledge these people. They're mostly young, incredibly courageous, they are out there braving economic misery, arrests, indiscriminate, brutal and often lethal police violence and COVID-19, and they're fighting against injustice and the elites anyway. They're all heroes in my book.
  • Few have written about the joy of political life, the sense of comradeship and achievement. As activists we need to believe in vision and imagination; communicate a sense of possibility. Bleakness is not the whole story, and escape is not the only alternative. Change is possible.
    • Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz “Nine Suggestions For Radicals, or Lessons From the Gulf War” in The Issue is Power: Essays on Women, Jews, Violence and Resistance (1992)
  • What do Ben and Jerry’s, an 800,000-member South African trade union, countless college professors, a big chunk of Amazon’s Seattle workforce, and more high school students than you can imagine have in common? They’re all joining in a massive climate strike this coming Friday, September 20 — a strike that will likely register as the biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history.
  • We activists are not in the business of brokering power where expediency and compromise rule. Our business is to resist and expose the ugly face of power. We are guided and our work is informed by deeply held human values and causes. It seems to me that consistency of principles and commitment to humanity should inform all our work, thought, activism and advocacy.
  • Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the poor and needy.
  • To sin by silence, when we should protest,
    Makes cowards out of men.
    The human race Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
    Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
    The inquisition yet would serve the law,
    And guillotines decide our least disputes.
    The few who dare, must speak and speak again
    To right the wrongs of many... Press and voice may cry
    Loud disapproval of existing ills;
    May criticise oppression and condemn
    The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
    That let the children and child bearers toil
    To purchase ease for idle millionaires.
    ...Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
    Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
    Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
    Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
    Until the mother bears no burden, save
    The precious one beneath her heart, until
    God's soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
    And given back to labor, let no man
    Call this the land of freedom.

Forms of activism


See also

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