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Another politics: Movement-building in the 21st century

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, I speak with Chris Dixon. He is an author and a long-time activist. He speaks with me about his new book, Another Politics: Talking Across Today's Transformative Movements (UC Press, 2014), and about a new strand of radical politics emerging today in the midst of social movements and communities-in-struggle across North America.

Dixon currently lives in Ottawa, but he has been active in a range of movements, in a range of places across North America, since he was a teenager. And in the course of his organizing work, he developed a sense that there were certain practices and certain sensibilities that seemed to cluster together and that he was encountering in a lot of different places, movements, and contexts. He wanted to learn more about that. More importantly, he wanted to do it in a way that resulted in knowledge that might actually be useful for movements themselves. So he entered graduate school, but rather than taking up the usual tools used in universities to study movements, which tend to objectify them and result in knowledge that is really not very useful to people who are themselves engaged in struggle, he instead committed himself to learning from activists and organizers and with the knowledge that is produced by them in the course of struggle.

To do his research for the book, he went to cities around Canada and the United States and talked to organizers and activists whose work enacts these emerging politics -- "another politics" he came to call them, borrowing the phrase from Mexico's Zapatistas, and he came to characterize the loose and diverse political tendency that is enacting them as "anti-authoritarian" in a broad sense. He learned from and synthesized the reflections of these organizers on what they do, how they do it, and why they do it, and brought together this movement-produced and movement-useful knowledge about practices, strengths, challenges, and yet-to-be-answered questions into his new book. And in the last eight months, he has been travelling across the continent yet again, giving talks, leading workshops, and sparking conversations among activists and organizers about this emerging approach to movement politics, and about the questions its practitioners are currently wrestling with. We spoke about the research; about what he learned from the activists and organizers he spoke with; about the conversations he has had in his more recent travels; and about the ongoing struggle for social transformation on Turtle Island.

To learn more about Another Politics and about Dixon's other work, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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