De Anza College The Closing Statement Hope Comes from the Hopeless Discussion

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Read the assigned chapter

You will find that our readings from Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism are in a much more personal and informal writing style than our sociological readings.  So instead of taking reading notes and writing a note to Jen, you will be reading the book and reflecting on how it connects to what we are reading in Rigging the Game.

Read this roundup of some of Nadya Tolokonnikova’s most inspiring thoughts from Read and Riot

“’We are the system that we complain about.’”—Paul Verhaeghe on p. 106 in Read & Riot

“From one of the most brilliant of political organizers, Saul Alinsky: ‘It is not enough just to elect your candidates.  You must keep the pressure on.  The separation of the people from the routine daily functions of citizenship is heartbreak in a democracy.’…We are ping-ponged back and forth between indifference and hysteria.  The media universe fills us with a feeling of total helplessness, total defeat…What every human being needs is to have a set of tools to overcome the horror.  Our aim should be to create this set of tools.” P. 104

“If you want to change something, you need to know how things work.  An activist should know this.  You’re learning about how things work by practicing them…Try. Win. Fail.” P. 23 in Read & Riot

“Don’t wait until you’re told what you’re supposed to do.  Choose by yourself.  And do it yourself.” P. 23 in Read & Riot

“Vote with your money.  Every time we spend our money on something, we vote for this thing to exist in our world.  Purchasing something sends a message to the marketplace, affirming the product, its ecological impact, its process of manufacture…If we spend our money differently, we can change the world…Perhaps by spending less or more carefully you will be able to work less?  Consider reducing your working hours.  Many people are locked into 40-hour-per-week jobs even though they’d prefer to work shorter hours and receive less money.  This locks people into over-consuming lifestyles.” Pp. 30-31 in Read & Riot

“There is a popular misconception: people keep thinking that political struggle is boring…In fact, the truth is completely opposite.  You Just need to find a way to recognize it, this ultimate joy of uniting efforts.” P. 42 in Read & Riot

“There’s no bigger joy than seeing how your voices and powers are amplifying and growing into something bigger.  There’s this weird, fantastic and nonlinear mathematics of people’s movements: 1 voice + 1voice + 1 voice may equal 3 voices, but 1 voice + 1 voice +1 voice may also equal a whole new social and cultural paradigm.” P. 47 in Read & Riot

“What helps me get out of my hurricane of self-doubt is good solid action.” P. 47 in Read & Riot

“Perhaps that’s why radical politics changed so many things in the political structure back then: those amazing, brave, and beautiful beings knew how to live passionately, how to treat political action as the most exciting and pleasurable love affair in their lives.  Nothing will change if we prefer to sit around and complain that politics is boring and because it’s boring we don’t want to take part in it.  It’s up to us to reshape what politics is.  Take it back.  Bring it back to streets, clubs, bars, parks.  Our party isn’t over.” P. 50 in Read & Riot

“Nothing ever changes without people exerting pressure…The pressure has to be maintained, because the opposing powers are massive and they’re not used to losing.” P. 56 in Read & Riot

“The goal of those in power is to make you believe that it’s in your best interests to maintain the status quo.  Your goal is to make them scared.  Force them to share with you what they have—power, capital and control over natural resources.” P. 60 in Read & Riot

“’Instead of being merely consumers, we must once again become citizens—not just in the voting booth but above all in the way in which we lead our lives…If we want politics to be governed by the public interest—and that is more necessary than ever—we ourselves must promote that public interest, rather than private concerns.’”—Paul Verhaeghe on p. 105 in Read & Riot

“Don’t’ expect that these rights to participate in direct democracy will be handed over to you, though.  The Koch brothers and Putin’s buddies, oligarchs like the Rotenbergs, will make sure that we won’t get them.  We need to gnaw out these rights…We have to call to account those who are abusing power in our name.  We need to grab the power back.”  P. 107 in Read & Riot

“Step into the streets and take back what’s ours.  Streets, squares, corners, yards, shores and rivers—they are public; education, health, transport, and natural resources are public too.  We just have to remember that.” P. 118 in Read & Riot

“One of the biggest challenges in resisting abusive power is that you constantly have to look for more inspiration and motivation.  They beat you, and you don’t just bear it, but you find in yourself enough courage and mischievous energy to laugh.  The key is consistency.  Power is abusive pretty consistently.  We should be consistent in spotting it and buiding altnerative futures.” P. 121 in Read & Riot

“’You have two babies very hungry and wanting to be fed.  One baby is a patient baby, and waits indefinitely until its mother is ready to feed it.  The other baby is an impatient baby and cries lustily, screams and kicks and makes everybody unpleasant until it is fed.  Well, we know perfectly well which baby is attended to first.  That is the whole history of politics.’”—Emmeline Pankhurst on p. 138 of Read & Riot

“Like a lot of rights unwillingly granted by states, the right to vote is fragile…We have to not only work for new rights but protect the ones we already have.  Like hungry babies, we must kick and screen and raise hell to be fed.”  P. 139 in Read & Riot

“When guards searched me and saw cards, they realized that I may be physically alone here in this prison, but I was a part of a powerful community of likeminded people.  And this is a very important thought for a prison guard.  You should plant this thought into your guard’s head.  You’re not alone—you’re an army.” P. 165

“The most radical act of rebellion today is to relearn how to dream and to fight for that dream.” P. 185 in Read & Riot

“What if sometimes, in order not to feel insane, or lonely, or sad, or fucked, you have no need to take a pill—you can find others who are experiencing the same feelings, discuss your problems, organize and solve the problem?  You have no money to pay back student loans—you have a right to feel sad, angry, fucked.  You work all day long and have no money to pay your rent—you have a right to feel insane.  But don’t take a pill; it’ll help you fall asleep but will not solve the issue.  Reach out to your people.”  P. 191 in Read & Riot

“What I learned from my hunger strike is that to protest is better than not to protest.  Talking out loud about your values and goals is better than not saying anything.  Before I learned this lesson, I was trying to be patient in Mordovia—for a year.  I was telling myself that things could not be changed, because everything is too rotten.  I’m too weak to change it, I thought.  You can hardly find anything more typical than this kind of thought.  They make us give up in advance.  Without even trying.  What we often don’t realize is that trying may not bring you right away the bright future you’re seeking, but it’ll surely give you power, strength, and muscles.” P. 167

“TINA helps elites, it does not help us.  We choose to fight for our dreams, we choose not to be powerless.” P. 194 in Read & Riot

Write a discussion post (20 points)

One of my favorite quotes is from the therapist and activist Faith Harper: “Did you know that studies show that doing something nice for someone else activates our reward centers even more than when we do something nice for ourselves.  Seriously…Nothing ever got changed by sitting around, hoping that people come to their senses and make better choices.  Things change when we change them.  Or, at the very least, we are empowering ourselves to fucking try.  I don’t know about you but I’m not about to sit by and do nothing when the world is on fire.  I’ll find a bucket of water.  Or spit on it if that’s all I got.  But I always feel far better when I try to make things better.

Given everything you read in Read & Riot this quarter, in this week’s chapter from Rigging the Game about “Escaping the Inequality Trap” and in the lessons over the last week, please think and write about the following questions:

  • What was most inspiring to you?
  • What are two actions you can commit to taking to reduce human suffering? 
  • What are two ways in which you could become more politically active around the issues that most matter to you?

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