Author: George Lakey

Coming out as a working class man

by George Lakey. I came out as someone brought up working class in a statewide Freeze convention in the early 1980s. As a gay man, I use the phrase “came out” intentionally. The norm in the U.S. Campaign for a Nuclear Freeze was to believe that the higher a person’s class and status, the more […]

How class tunnel vision hurts social movements

by George Lakey. One of the saddest things to watch is dedicated people in education and human services burn themselves out for lack of a winning strategy. In the U.S. “playing defense” has dominated liberals and centrists since Ronald Reagan became President. Canadians started that disastrous policy more recently. This summer, I learned that in […]

What can activists learn from Romney’s ‘47 percent’?

by George Lakey. For Democrats caught up in the race for U.S. presidential power, Mitt Romney’s description of “the 47 percent” is a great chance to pile on. Here is a super-rich Republican showing his contempt for the working class, many people are thinking — let’s make the most of it! But sometimes the “caught […]

Riddles of working class politics

by George Lakey. “Why do working class people vote against their own interests?” I’ve heard that question dozens of times from middle class activists trying to navigate the mysteries of social class and politics. I’ve heard it so many times — often more as a complaint than as an honest question — that I’m tempted […]

Do we mean what the politicians mean by ‘class’?

by George Lakey. For most of my life, mainstream U.S. politicians have carefully avoided the term social class. It is inconvenient. If we the people think of ourselves as having class differences, we might think we have class interests and vote accordingly. The 1 percent, who control both political parties, want to minimize that possibility. […]

Opening ourselves to the realities of class

by George Lakey. How can a small group make a difference with genocide-level violence happening half a world away? When some of us faced that question in 1971, we learned something about leveraging our power. We also learned something new about how people from different classes can form an alliance. President Richard Nixon and his […]

Middle-class confusion about class war

by George Lakey. With his July Rolling Stone article, Bill McKibben attracted enormous attention for his proposal to step up the fight against the fossil fuels industry in the struggle to forestall global warming. To identify a clear opponent and mobilize power against it is, of course, a strategy of polarization. McKibben has been getting […]

How does class matter?

by George Lakey. The hardest job I ever had in a half century of social change work was coordinating a multi-class coalition. It didn’t simplify things that it was also cross-racial. Nor that it was composed of people who had substantially different politics. I led the Pennsylvania Jobs With Peace Campaign for seven years, in […]

A diversity of tactics, a paucity of participants

by George Lakey. Ward Churchill, Peter Gelderloos and others have argued that the option of using violence needs to be available to movements fighting entrenched power, even alongside mass participation in nonviolent tactics like occupations and strikes. “Why tie our hands behind our backs?” they ask. Occasions may arise, they insist, when repressive police and […]

Diversity of tactics and the 1 percent

by George Lakey. In July I participated in an all-Britain Peace News camp in which we discussed, among other things, the idea of diversity of tactics. I was a little surprised when my fellow panelists wanted to turn it into a conversation about pacifism and whether violence can ever be justified. Although I’m a pacifist, […]