ten commandments of effective struggle… (interview with Mike Davis)

November 14, 2011 by

Last week (November 12) RAIN had an email interview with Mike Davis.

Rest of the interview will appear in the printed version of RAIN (coming out later in December) but below is one of the answers. 


rain– What do you see when you compare the youth-led movements of the 60s with what has occurred since, i.e. the anti-corporate globalization movement and now the Occupy movement? Do you think the Occupy movement will have a long lasting impact? Will we see some profound radical change?

Mike Davis:

Right now the Occupy movements are candles in a storm.  Can they kindle real social fires?  Especially when so many dark forces are being released by the global depression?

I have no profound answers and the Sixties are, at best, only a partial template, if that.  But I would advocate ten commandments of effective struggle, synthesized from the experiences of both the 1930s and 1960s.

First, the categorical imperative is to organize or rather to facilitate other peoples’ self-organization.

Second, leadership must be temporary and subject to recall.  The job of a good organizer, as it was often said in the civil rights movement, is to organize themselves out of a job, not to become indispensable.

Third, protesters must subvert the media’s constant tendency toward metonymy – the designation of the whole by a part, the group by an individual.  (Consider how bizarre, for instance, that in the USA we have’ Martin Luther King Day’ rather than ‘Civil Rights Movement Day.’)  Spokespeople should regularly be rotated.

Fourth, the same warning applies to the relationship between a movement and individuals who participate as an organized bloc.  I very much believe in

the necessary of an organized revolutionary left, but groups can only claim authenticity if they give priority to building the struggle and keep no secret agenda from other participants.

Fifth, as we learned the hard way in the 1960s, consensual democracy is not identical to participatory democracy.   For affinity groups and communes, consensus decision-making may work admirably, but for any large or long term protest, some form of representative democracy is essential to allow the broadest and most equal participation.  The devil, as always, is in the details: the necessity of rotating positions, ensuring that any delegate can be recalled, formalizing rights of political minorities, guaranteeing affirmative representation, and so on.

At the end of the day, good anarchists, who believe in direct self-government, will find much of value in Roberts’ Rules of Order  (a useful technology for organized discussion and decision-making).

Sixth, an ‘organizing strategy’ is not only a plan for enlarging participation in protest, it must also be a strategy for aligning protest with the constituencies that bear the brunt of exploitation and oppression.

For example, one of the most brilliant strategic moves of the Black liberation movement in the late 1960s was to take the struggle inside the auto plants in Detroit.

Today, ‘Occupying the Hood’ is a similar challenge.  And the Occupy movements must especially respond to human rights crisis in working-class immigrant communities.  The immigrant rights protests five years ago were amongst the largest mass demonstrations in US history.  Perhaps next May Day we can hope to see a convergence of all the anti-inequality protests  on a single day of action.

Seventh, building movements of poor and working-class people require organizational infrastructures to deal with elementary survival issues (food, shelter, childcare) and to overcome unequal educational and skill backgrounds.

In the long winters ahead, survival collectives which enable lives of struggle are more essential than ever.

Similarly we must rebuild the apparatus of movement-committed legal professionals (like the National Lawyers Guild) that played such a vital role in sustaining protest in face of mass repression in the 1960s.  Likewise we need to establish local and national bail funds.

Eighth, the future of the Occupy movement will be determined less by the numbers in Liberty Park (although its survival is a sine qua non) than by the boots on the ground in Dayton, Cheyenne, Hattisburg and El Paso.  The geographical spread of the protests is in many cases equivalent to growing inclusivity of people of color and trade unionists.  The advent of social media has dramatically accelerated such growth, as well as creating a space for discussions between (non-leadership) activists all over the country and the world.   But Occupy Main Streets need more support from better resourced and mediagenic metropolitan groups.  A national speakers and performers bureau would be invaluable.

Conversely, it is essential to bring the stories from the heartlands and borders to national protest audiences.   The narrative of protest needs to become a mural of what ordinary people are fighting for across the country, e.g., stopping strip-mining in Mingo County, West Virginia; reopening hospitals in Laredo; supporting dockworkers in Longview, Washington; fighting a fascist sheriffs’ department in Tucson; protesting death squads in Tijuana; or global warming in Saskatoon; and so on.

Ninth, the increasing participation of unions in Occupy protests – including the stirring mobilization that forced the NYPD to back down from its attempt to evict OWC –is mutually transformative and raises the hope (unrealized by the anti-Vietnam student movement) that this can become an authentic class struggle after all.

Yet at the same time, we should have no illusions that the majority of the union leadership is still committed to its disastrous marriage to the Democratic Party, as well as to internecine union wars that have squandered most of the promise of a new beginning for labor.   Anti-capitalist protesters need to more effectively hook up with rank and file opposition groups and progressive caucuses within the unions.

Tenth, one of the simplest but most important lessons we learned during the Civil Rights era was to learn to speak in the vernacular.

Thus a good starting point for an agenda that would unify the greatest number of people in the current rebellion is FDR’s 1944 campaign platform: An Economic Bill of Rights.  This was the most advanced reform idea to arise from US labor and democratic forces in the twentieth century.

It is a clarion-like definition of the essential rights to employment, housing, healthcare and decent life.  It should be the existential minimum demand for any movement proclaiming to oppose inequality.  It also embodies every neoliberal and reactionary’s worst fear: a foundational entitlement to economic justice.

When the famed writer Upton Sinclair undertook his sensational and nearly successful campaign for Governor of California in 1935, his manifesto, ‘End Poverty in California Now,’ was essentially the program of the Socialist Party translated in New Testament parables.   FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights, by the same token, is incontestably the legacy of the mainstream but objectively anti-capitalist.



October 31, 2011 by

Deadline for Issue #5 is November 10th, 2011. Don’t be late!

Calling all artists, writers, and zine enthusiasts!

Some of the themes of this issue are: creating counter-institutions, radical social change, decolonization and deschooling!

be part of this issue! here’s how:

1. send us something: an essay, poem, interview, art, etc., that is about the themes above or something you think would be awesome for RAIN!

2. make it with us! join us with the layout, editing and design (do let me know soon if you do want to do this)

3. Please send us your stuff by November 10th

radical social change

Want to be a part of RAIN? Look no further than this very website!

First, read rain so you know what we are all about! In short, we like offbeat, critical discussions, rants, counter-culture, independent, emerging writers (first time writers). We are keen about Vancouver living;  ideas and dialogue about how to make it a better city. Global perspectives are also welcomed.

See Here for further information

Slug! the newest zine published by RAIN!

September 28, 2011 by



We’ve taken the RAIN zine template and done our own thing! still a RAIN production, but a new flavour. We call it Slug Zine.


Amazing Local Poets

All about Cascadian Black metal

Backyard Mutual Aid by Derrick Jensen

A Radical Critique of Veganism

Social Change from Below… creating counter institutions

DVD: Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside

Beautiful local artists

and much much more!

pick up a copy at your local rad book/zine store or at the purple thistle centre!

under the umbrella!

February 14, 2011 by

hey rain friends!

The past few months have been pretty exciting for the rain crew.  A bunch of youth have come together at the purple thistle centre to make a new zine called SLUG!!  The current collective is a mix of former rainers and a few brand new folks.   Maya and Mike Jo have stepped in to co-ordinate the making of this issue, which is fucking awesome of them!  As the process went on it was evident that this group was imagining something a bit different from RAIN’ZINE, so we put our heads together and decided that the best way to make this zine represent the folks making it was to re-name it.  And they did, it’s called SLUG! check it out. This new issue and launch party will be coming our way early March!

With the changes going on at RAIN, I realized that RAIN, while still small, low-to-the-ground, has moved beyond a one zine project, and that’s fantastic.  It is now a guerrilla art project, and with the soon out new zine, Slug – one under the umbrella of RAIN – I think we may have a radical micro (super micro) media/publishing project emerging and I couldn’t be happier.

in solidarity,


RAIN’ZINE is back!

August 4, 2010 by

hello friends!

After a little break from zine making (but lots of in our community time) we decided that making the zines are super fun! so with  a bunch of new folks – that’s right, there is now a larger, eager, and tremendously talented collective – we are  ready to make a new rain’zine!.

We work out of the Purple Thistle Centre, a youth run arts and activism centre, and  meet weekly and usually Sunday’s (check thistle webpage for current details). All welcomed.

We will update our ‘rainy day people‘ page soon! Then you can all get to know the new rain peeps!

Submission deadline for issue #5 is September 30th !

please see submissions page for further details


the RAIN crew

c.r. avery: “Coroner’s Office and Figure Eights” rain content #4

February 17, 2010 by

My sister was a figure skater
i grew up in rinks
i know their smell well
combination of compressed ice and popcorn
i used to stand on a chair and draw at the counter of the little rink canteen
i could choose one law bidding sweet treat
a croatian chocolate bar
bag of lick your lips salty chips
or crackerjacks with the treasure map inside
and so on and so forth
i’d peek over the counter
talking with the nice lady who sold the candy bars and hot dogs
spending hours deciding what my choice that day would be
while i drew

for the full poem go here: cravery

Time for a change…

February 3, 2010 by

dear RAIN‘zine folks,

It saddens me to announce that we will no longer be publishing the analog zine, Rain. Anita and I feel like we have completed what we set out to do and that it’s time to move on to other projects.  We’ve had a great time making rain‘zine and would like to give a big thanks to all the folks who have helped in putting it together!  Indeed,  we could not have done it without their passion, ideas and love (check out rainy day people on here to read more about these talented folks).  Also, it was especially great because we got to meet so many amazing people!

The mandate for rain was to build community,  get people engaged in dialogue about social change in their ‘hoods, AND to be all ages!  Due to the magnificent community that joined in with rain, as contributors, readers, and makers, we feel like we have accomplished that mandate and we thank everyone who took part in making our dream a reality!

We plan to keep the webpage going, and will have guest bloggers now and again and write about our newest project: Radical Art In Nature: Guerrilla Arting that will run out of the Purple Thistle Centre!

So, please check us out from time to time!  And one day there just might be an issue number five 🙂

For now, it’s time to be on the streets with our communities making art and culture.  Email us to find out more about this new exciting project.

Carla and Anita

Image by Anita Olson

More content: “A Closer Look at Canada’s Unsustainable Pacific Gateway Strategy.” by Ben West

January 29, 2010 by

I work at Canada’s largest membership-based wilderness preservation organization, The Wilderness Committee. Sometimes people are confused about why we are trying to stop the expansion of Metro Vancouver’s Port Mann Bridge, which is part of the federal and provincial “Gateway Project”. Historically The Wilderness Committee has taken people into remote parts of our beautiful country to protect ancient forests and endangered species.

for full PDF go here:A Closer Look at Canada’s Unsustainable Pacific Gateway Strategy

Content from issue # 4 – The Resistance Issue!

January 24, 2010 by

“If they can take away your right to say ‘fuck’, next is your right to say ‘fuck the government’” By Matt Hern

There is every reason to resist the Olympics in every way possible, and we should most certainly be making these jackasses unwelcome. But I’ll submit to you that the Olympics aren’t the problem. They’re just another symptom.

The real issue is that the Olympics are just one more spectacular expression of the neo-liberal remaking of our political and social landscapes. The five-ring circus is a blunt force for transforming cities, going end-around on civic democracy and transforming public space into hyper-securitized surveillance zones. The Games themselves are just another piece in a larger effort that is inserting Vancouver into the global economy in a very specific way. It’s another rendition of Naomi Klein’s disaster capitalism: circus capitalism.

For FULL PDF go here:

“If they can take away your right to say ’fuck’, next is your right to say ‘fuck the government’” by Matt Hern

image by Meghan Corsie

The Resistance Issue! Number 4

January 24, 2010 by

the resistance issue

resistance issue

O... You Suck

Rain Hitting the Streets!

January 7, 2010 by

RAIN#4: The Resistance Issue

Wednesday, January 20th 7 PM

$10 dollars at the door BUT you get a FREE issue of RAIN with ticket (and this issue has a DVD in it!!)

W2 Culture + Media House
112 West Hastings Street
(across the street from Woodward’s)

Speaker: David Eby
Spoken Word: Aly!
Special Musical Guests: Adrian Glynn and c.r. avery

plus much much more!

Please Spread THE WORD!

*we won’t turn anyone away for lack of funds*

RAIN #4, the Resistance Issue, Contributors:
Am Johal, Matt Hern, Harsha Walia, Irwin Oostindie, David Eby, Richard Smith, Peter Prontzos, Dave Olson, Ben West, Leia Herrera, Sylvia McFadden, Maura Doherty, Zach Bergman, Reel Youth, The Purple Thistle’s Youngunz, Aly D, Emma Wallace, Indigo, Kris Krug, Tara Robertson, Miriam Tratt, Meghan Corsie, Nicola Hodges, Daisy Couture, Karen New, Julie Flett, Eva Dominelli, c.r. avery, Adrian Glynn, Julia Kozlov, Nikol Haskova, Fiona Balazsi, Siren, Anita Olson, Carla Bergman, Wibke Kreft, Patrick Thrift…and more!

Content includes:

  • An interview with Fish & Bird
  • A DVD full of awesome films!
  • Travel writings by Adrian Glynn
  • Olympics stuff, lots. Resistance baby, lots
  • Art, photography
  • Raindrops reviews telling you about some of the amazing work people are doing in their communities. You can read up about the Cultch Youth Panel IGNITE!, Freewrite, the B:C:Clettes, Car-Free Days, No One is Illegal, Teach 2010 Resistance, etc…
  • and just a whole lot more

Add to your events on Facebook

Rain’zine at the EastSide Culture Crawl

November 18, 2009 by

making analog love

Come check out our fundraising swag at the Crawl! We’re raising money to help print issue #4. Visit us at the Purple Thistle Centre in the green Mergatroid Building at Vernon and Parker. We’ve got buttons, bags, books and more. (but we’re just about out of zines).

Purple Thistle Community at the Crawl

Feature Essay from Issue#3

September 22, 2009 by

Are We Dense, Or The End of Lawns as We Know Them  (pdf of full article)

By Matt Hern

“If Vancouver is to make good on any of its ‘green’ pretensions and ambitions we have to start thinking and acting like a real city. It’s time to dispense with the faux naivite, pastoralist cliches, and paranoia about urban life. It’s time to get dense.”

“…but you can’t manufacture vitality or it has all the heart of a laugh track: density has to come incremnetally, and the process has to be driven by citizens and communities.”


"Crosswalk" by Jeremy Crowle

"Crosswalk" by Jeremy Crowle

Issue #4 Submission Deadline — Oct 1st

September 12, 2009 by

Got something to say about Vancouver living? Do you care about activism, art, music, and your community? Tell us about it! Write something, draw something, photograph something, wax poetic about something, then submit something. 


Check out our submissions page for more info

Rain’zine’s interview with Dan Mangan (Issue #3)

August 30, 2009 by

When Dan Mangan performs he gently takes over the room. Voices hush and all attention is drawn to him. His music resonates out of his whole body, starting from his toes. His songs evoke introspection: leaving you sipping tea and looking out whatever window is nearest. His words are tinged with a universal melancholy. His music is a direct link to the heart, his lyrics a direct link to the mind. Listening to Dan is a whole body experience.

Dan Mangan is a Vancouver singer-songwriter and he has just released his second album, “Nice, Nice, Very Nice”, with two sold out shows at the newly renovated Cultch.

Link to the PDF of RAIN’s spring interview with Dan.

Dan ManganDan Mangan at 2009 Folk Fest.

2009 Pride Parade

August 10, 2009 by

Amongst the glitter, glamour and gold, I sat throughout the crowd watching the fabulous floats at this year’s Pride Parade, which was once again outstanding, and (way too much) fun! Some of the highlights were the Vision Vancouver float – the first time an entire city council has been on a float together. The clever use of “city streets signs” replaced with words such as “PRIDE” and “SAY NO 2 H8”, made the Vision float one of my favourites. Cleve Jones was one of the Grand Marshals this year, which was really inspiring to see him in the flesh! Cleve Jones was a good friend of Harvey Milk, and has been a key player in keeping Milk’s memory alive, and continues to spread the message of liberation against oppression. It was so nice to see the whole city come together to celebrate being proud of loving whoever the hell you want! Educate, liberate, celebrate! –David Ng





Friends of RAIN at the 2009 Folk Fest

July 31, 2009 by
Folk Festival (2009)

It was 30 degrees outside. Everyone was wearing tie dye. It was the 32nd Annual Folk Festival. (I’m still wondering if the ubiquitous tie dye was some sort of ironic self-deprecating statement or if hippie revival chic is back full tilt)

Geoff Berner at the 2009 Folk Fest

Geoff Berner’s set was sarcastic, energetic and totally awesome to behold. His music screams originality. Klezmer with a punk mentality and an accordion, what a combo!

Mark Berube at 2009 Folk Fest

Mark Berube at 2009 Folk Fest

Mark Berube (playing with the Patriotic Few and others) performed with his signature intensity. The audience was completely absorbed by his music and so was he. It’s reaffirming to be so close to such awe-inspiring talent. Although Mark recently moved off to Montreal, he developed a strong and dedicated Vancouver base while living and performing here.

Dan Mangan at 2009 Folk Fest
Dan Mangan at 2009 Folk Fest

Dan Mangan’s inspiring performance on the Folk Fest’s Stage Five in the blaring heat made even the birds in the trees sit and listen. His emotion-filled voice echoed through the rapt audience.

Check out the full photo set

Iron and Wine at the 2009 Folk Fest

Iron and Wine at the 2009 Folk Fest

Although not technically a friend of rain, Iron and Wine (who happens to be just one man named Samuel Beam) played a wonderful set. He was introduced as the man who had to record all his songs in a whisper, so as to not wake his children, and he maintained that sensibility throughout the show. His songs are gentle and warm, non-abrasive and comfortable, just the way a whispered song should be.