Author: George Lakey

A fresh look at ‘the mainstream’

by George Lakey. As an activist I’ve usually been proud of not being part of the U.S. political mainstream. When most people supported the invasion of Afghanistan, I was happy to point out what a mistake I thought it was. When George W. Bush got away with making tax cuts for the wealthy a priority […]

Get beyond your friends

by George Lakey. The mistake people in all sorts of situations make is to invite only their friends to a party, and then expect the group to grow far beyond that number automatically. It probably won’t. And nowhere is this more true than in an action group engaged in resistance work. I’ve known predominately black […]

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 […]