Author: George Lakey

How to start a direct action group to make MLK proud

by George Lakey. Some people feel inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr., to do service projects. But the U.S. civil rights movement that he led was not about days of service, it was about days of confrontational action. Think about the hundreds of action groups that grew in the North as well as the South, […]

How to create a multi-level movement for climate justice

by George Lakey. The more we hear calls for the urgency of climate justice like that of Bill McKibben’s July Rolling Stone article, the more we confront a strategic dilemma: Where shall we put our energy, on the local or national level? The U.S. presidential campaign going on now is a daily reminder of the […]

Break out of your class bubble, get training and win!

by George Lakey. Many activists have access to anti-oppression trainings, and that’s one place to learn the kind of “inclusive strategizing” needed to build movements that cross class lines. But beware! Some traditional training styles that activists use have been influenced unwittingly by classist assumptions. I need to eat my own humble pie. I was […]

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 […]