Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times

Absolutely what we eed in these days of spreading gloom. " —John Holloway, author of Crack Capitalism

" A guide to a fulfilling militant life. " —Michael Hardt, co-author of Assembly

" Rigid radicalism " is the congealed and debilitating practices that suck life and inspiration from the fight for a better world. Joyful Militancy investigates how fear, self-righteousness, and moralism infiltrate and take root within liberation movements, what to do about them, and ltimately how tenderness and vulnerability can thrive alongside fierce militant commitment.

Carla Bergman co-edited Stay Solid: A Radical Handbook For Youth.

Nick Montgomery is an organizer and writer currently at Queen 's University.
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Published December 12th 2017 by AK Press (first published October 30th 2017

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Thes passages from Joyful Militancy: There is omething that circulates in many radical movements and spaces, draining away their transformative potential.

Radicalism becomes an ideal, and everyone becomes deficient in comparison.The anxious posturing, the vigilant search for mistakes and limitations, the conflic that crushes a hesitant new idea, the way that critique becomes a reflex, the ense that things are urgent yet pointless, the circulation of the latest article tearing apart bad habits and behaviors, the way shaming others becomes comfortable, the ceaseless generation of necessities and duties, the notio of feeling guilty about one ’ s own fear and shame, the clash of political views that requires a winner and a loser, the performance of anti-oppressive language, the way that some stare at the floor or look at the door.

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We 're so conditioned by our school system to be critical of new ideas rather than creative and curious, and it felt really validating to see it put into words. " Everyone has glimmers, at least, of the ays that fierceness can be intertwined with kindness, and curiosity with transformation. " " Rebecca Solnit has taught us to see optimism and pessimism as two sides of the same coin: both try to remove uncertainty from the world ...

Whereas happiness is used as a numbing anesthetic that induces dependence, joy is the growth of people 's capacity to do and feel new things, in ways that can break this dependence. " " We are interested in how the capacity for refusal and the urge to fight an be enabling, relational, and open up potentials for the collective struggle and movement, in ways that are not necessarily associated with controls, duty or vanguardism. " " We want an expansive conception of militancy that affirms the potential of transformation at the expense of comfort, safety or predictability. " Emphasis on movements/community instead of actions.Solnit in A Paradise Built in Hell- " In the wake of an earthquake, a bombing, or a major storm, most people are altruistic, urgently engaged in caring for themselves and those around them, strangers and neighbors as well as friends and loved ones.

From a paranoid perspective, things like gratitude, celebration, curiosity and openness are naive at best and potentially dangerous. " Walidah Imarisha: " In a society that fits everything into a dichotomy, you win or you lose.

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I read this with a book group, and ha so compelled by carla and Nick 's framework for nurturing leftist organizing cultures.

To turn friendship into a solution or a goal is to erase the form of freedom we are getting at, which is the freedom to work at relationships- to participate more actively in the shaping of our worlds. " However, cue the book group or reading buddy: since we ca n't really create " shared thinking-feeling-doings " ( like trust and responsibility) when they 're compulsory or prescribed, what does it take to put the ideas in th book into action?

Pouring over these ideas with others can help sort out the particularities of how joyful militancy can be practiced, attempted, and processed inside of our specific contexts.

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n interesting lend of academic research/sourcing and contemporary interviews, Joyful Militancy reminds us of the consequences of " rigid radicalism " and offers ideas and examples for bringing joy into our political work.

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But form and underlying presumptions about how knowledge should be produced still matter and I want a deliberate step away from academic ways of dealing with ideas would 've strengthened this book.

Despite its injunctions against doing so, sometimes it seeme like specific experiences were being generalized in unhelpful ways, without due attention to how it all could work quite differently for differen people situated in other ays.

So I think there are insights and ideas in th nove that are generative and that I hope spark further discussion of what is a very important issue, but it also demonstrates the need for ongoing work – and here I 'm talking about work that falls on all of us who take movement-generated knowledge seriously – to figure out how to draw out and talk about the inds of deeply situationally embedded and complex experiences of everyday life, including everyday life in movement contexts, that form the core of th ook 's concerns.

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© Nicole Waggonner