Notes on Spontaneity and Organization

Elise Thorburn, Adrie Naylor, and Robyn Letson

On March 18, 1848 silent processions marched through Berlin – a city of 450,000 that was over 85 percent working class – collecting their dead and gathering crowds. For the first time in days, the city was quiet as the sun set. There were no gunshots, no barricades, no army, no police; just the revolutionaries and the King.

A years-long crisis precipitated revolt. Failing crops in 1845 doubled, sometimes tripled, the price of bread in the winter of 1846. Household budgets, of which two thirds were already devoted to food, became exclusively caloric. Demand for furniture and clothes evaporated, and with them the jobs that sustained Europe’s new industrial cities.
Ribbons of telegraph wire sent news from comrades in one city to newly emboldened radicals in the next. The Parisians were first in February. Days later Vienna fell. News of uprisings in Madrid, Saxony, Bavaria, Naples, Venice, and Prague spread. 1848: it was the Springtime of the Peoples.

There had long been a radical contingent in Berlin demanding a free press, free speech, and free elections, but they were constantly rebuffed by the aristocracy. By 1848, however, King Frederick William IV was also reading the newspapers and began to adopt a more concessionary disposition. On March 13th, a massive crowd gathered to celebrate a new constitution and new civil liberties. Students mixed with the unemployed, who mixed with the factory workers, all surrounded by a ring of mounted soldiers. As the King stepped out onto his balcony to greet the crowd, a drumroll sounded and suddenly the soldiers charged and fired shots. The jubilant crowd turned ferocious: “We are betrayed; to arms!”
As one witness recounted, “In all directions the thoroughfares were soon blocked with barricades. The paving stones seemed to leap from the ground and to form themselves into bulwarks surmounted by black, red, and gold flags and manned by citizens, university students, tradesmen, artists, laborers, professional men, hastily armed with all sorts of weapons, from rifles and shotguns down to pikes, axes, and hammers.” Part way through the street battle white banners were unfurled from the palace bearing a single word: Misunderstanding.

The church bells began to ring and did not stop until well after the fighting. The city was bombarded with artillery, gunshots, the sounds of executions and of cries. Over 200 people died. On the third day, the King ordered his troops to leave: the people were not going to be coerced into submission.

And so silent crowds descended on the palace and called for the King. He stepped out and for perhaps the first time in modern Europe – bowed to the crowd, honouring the dead and the revolutionaries. All of your demands, he told them, are accepted. A single voice punctuated the silence: “Smoking, too?” Another noble, Prince Lichnowsky, spoke up: “Yes, smoking too.” “Even in the Tiergarten?” “You may smoke in the Tiergarten, gentlemen.”

By the end of 1848, revolutionary forces everywhere in Europe were in full retreat. Hope for change was met with reneged promises and a new monarchist constitution. (1)

How many springs have we known? Over a year ago, people around the world were celebrating the emergence and proliferation of the Arab Spring, feeling as though they had been woken up from many winters of hardship and powerlessness. As with past springs, these events were marked by a sincere hope of revolutionary change – often appearing to emerge spontaneously and without centralized leadership. It is impossible to watch images of Tahrir Square in 2011 and deny that winning seems possible. But often these moments have no staying power: while some uprisings managed to topple long-time dictators, serious questions remain about whether or not systemic change was achieved. As with the rise of Otto von Bismarck after the 1848 Springtime of the Peoples, the revolutionary hopes of the Arab Spring are displaced as the defeat of the dictator gives way to a new ruling class.

The relationship between spontaneity and organization is a long standing and important topic for debate for revolutionary Left. Contemporary analyses have pitted the two as dichotomous, ignoring their dialectical relationship and leading to conclusions that ignore the role of organization and fetishizes spontaneity. Chief among these analyses is that of John Holloway, who, in the opening pages of his widely-read book, Change the World Without Taking Power, says:

“In the beginning is the scream. We scream.
When we write or when we read, it is easy to forget that the beginning is not the word, but the scream. Faced with the mutilation of human lives by capitalism, a scream of sadness, a scream of horror, a scream of anger, a scream of refusal: NO.
The starting point of theoretical reflection is opposition, negativity, struggle. It is from rage that thought is born, not from the pose of reason, not from the reasoned-sitting-back-and-reflecting-on-the-mysteries-of-existence that is the conventional image of the thinker.
We start from negation, from dissonance. The dissonance can take many shapes. An inarticulate mumble of discontent, tears of frustration, a scream of rage, a confident roar. An unease, a confusion, a longing, a critical vibration.” (2)

For Holloway, this moment of spontaneous refusal is the most naked, pure expression of resistance. But how can the collective “No” sustain itself beyond the first, initial scream?
Our goal in this editorial is twofold: first to complicate and elaborate the Left’s understanding of spontaneity and organization and then to turn to the question of strategic implications. The issue has re-asserted itself with urgency in light of recent struggles that have attempted – with varying degrees of success and failure – to distance themselves from centralized party modes of organizing or state-focused methods of movement building towards what have been described as more multitudinous, rhizomatic experiments in organizational movement structure. Much of the 1990s saw an exuberant shift to spontaneous organizing for many radicals and activists – an exuberance which continues to hold tremendous power. But our reliance on spontaneity has produced ephemeral movements: quick to disappear, easy to defeat.

Though there is no shortage of existential strategic questions for the Left to resolve, one of the most pressing in our minds is this: how do we embrace the energy and optimism of spontaneity without allowing it to slip through our fingers or be wrested from our grasp?

Too often spontaneity is thought of without sufficient rigour: it is conceived of as something that appears out of nowhere. To hope for spontaneity is to hope for a miracle, to rely on some phenomena that knows no conventional rules. This, to be sure, is spontaneity’s outward appearance; but form should not be confused with content. Spontaneity should be properly understood as a rupture – a moment where the patterns that seemed to be governing everyday life are suddenly understood to have a dramatically attenuated hold, or no hold at all. This kind of thinking allows us to understand that spontaneity is conditioned: beneath the surface, social forces are constantly interacting and reconfiguring life as we know it. Spontaneity occurs at the moment in which those forces break through the rigorously managed veneer of custom and normality. In short, spontaneity is the recognition of a new social ordering.

The Debate Revisited

Last May, in the midst of the Québec student strike, former Minister of Education Michelle Courchesne defended the government’s decision to put hard limits on the right to protest with Law 78, saying: “The right to protest is total. What we are saying [with this bill] is that spontaneity can also create excesses.”(3) With the implementation of Law 78 came the seemingly spontaneous emergence of casseroles, the pots-and-pans clanging, cacophonous demonstrations that took to the streets each night throughout Québec and in cities across Canada. These demonstrations were filled with rage and discontent, but also celebrated the power of solidarity, community, and spontaneity.

However, while spontaneity makes the state nervous, some leftists are loathe to embrace it, preferring instead to maintain control over protests, crowds, and strategy. During the 2010 G20 protest in Toronto, many activists faced aggressive tactics by volunteer marshals of the labour rally, who physically prevented demonstrators from heading south to the fence that protected the convention site. At times marshals linked arms at intersections to force demonstrators away from the fence. Moments like this reveal the contradictions of centralized planning in mass mobilizations and the mix of excitement and fear that accompany the possibilities of spontaneous moments.

Commenting on the process of labour organizing and activism, Paul Mattick writes:

“In the matter of organisation this, then, is the dilemma of the radical: in order to do something of social significance, actions must be organised. Organised actions, however, turn into capitalistic channels. It seems that in order to do something now, one can do only the wrong thing and in order to avoid false steps, one should undertake none at all. The political mind of the radical is destined to be miserable; it is aware of its utopianism and it experiences nothing but failures. In mere self-defence, the radical stresses spontaneity always, unless he is a mystic, with the secretly-held thought that he is talking nonsense. But his persistence seems to prove that he never ceases to see some sense in the nonsense.” (4)

For classical Marxism, spontaneity had to be channeled by external forces in order to ameliorate its inherent limitations and become effective. Trotsky used the analogy of steam when he wrote, in the History of the Russian Revolution, that “without a guiding organization the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a piston-box. Nevertheless, what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam.”5 Similarly, Lenin saw resistance as unconscious and argued that it would remain that way without the aid of already-constituted socialists. Both Trotsky and Lenin saw the need for outside ideas, organizers, and agitators, to intervene in spontaneous struggles and empower the working class.

This understanding of revolution, though, ignores the consciousness that already exists within the working class and the modes of organization inherent in its culture. Further, uprisings led by subjects not generally considered part of the officially sanctioned working class – women, the unemployed, students, and youth - are cynically deemed spontaneous.
For Rosa Luxemburg, spontaneity promised to prevent an authoritarian dictatorship over workers and to prevent a counter-revolution in the revolutionary party. Spontaneity was central to organization, even with its contradictions. Luxemburg, as Alex Levant explains:

“appears to have argued that the contradictions of capitalism lead to its demise, and that the unfolding of this process moves workers into action. This view would make the role of an organization created for that purpose rather irrelevant. On the other hand, she clearly believed in the need for such an organization to intervene in this process. Some commentators have resolved this apparent paradox by locating a disjuncture between her political economy and her activist writing. Others have argued that these two perspectives speak to distinct moments in her political development.” (6)

Antonio Gramsci argued that there is no “pure” spontaneity but rather actions and movements that lack elements of a conscious leadership. He pointed to uprisings that occurred amongst marginalized movements (or “subaltern classes,”) but never assumed that these movements were necessarily progressive or revolutionary; in fact, he argues, they were often reactionary. Levant argues that a closer reading of Gramsci and Walter Benjamin reveals another way of understanding spontaneity, so that it “begins to appear less like an automatic response to the unfolding of the contradictions of capitalism, and more like conscious self-activity on the one hand, and a return of repressed collective trauma in a moment of collective struggle, on the other.”(7)

Levant argues further that the assumption that consciousness is suddenly and collectively realized – as in Holloway’s collective scream – ignores the slow process of radicalization in many communities.  Demystifying sudden collective action, he points out that the process of class-consciousness does not happen by way of external forces – it comes through struggle. And in these diverse struggles one cannot think of spontaneity and organization as opposites, but rather as emergent dialectical processes – often informing and influencing each other.

Spontaneous eruptions have always developed from class struggle, however muted, and can push organizing forward by linking movements and communities together in the moment. But how can we sustain and direct these connections to create what Alan Sears has called “infrastructures of dissent”? (8)

Strategic Spontaneity

Spontaneity as a tactic captured the imagination of the Civil Rights movement in the US, allowing it to create a narrative around singular, impulsive acts by individuals or small groups that fostered broad-based support. Strategic spontaneity was a movement hallmark: actions that were rigorously organized by movement activists are thought of by many of as unplanned, even today.

One of the most important examples of this type of strategic spontaneity is Rosa Parks’ decision in December 1955 to resist segregation. By refusing to give her seat in the coloured section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white passenger, Parks disobeyed the bus driver and broke the law.
Here is a common – albeit historically inaccurate – version of this story taken from a 1991 elementary school textbook and references by Michael Schudson in his article, “Telling Stories about Rosa Parks”: 

“When Rosa Parks rode on a bus, she had to sit all the way in the back. Her city had a law. It said black people could not sit in the front of a bus.
One day Rosa was tired. She sat in the front. The bus driver told her to move. She did not. He called the police. Rosa was put in jail.
Some citizens tried to help. One of them was Martin Luther King, Jr. The citizens decided to stop riding buses until the law was changed.
Their plan worked. The law was changed. Soon, many other unfair laws were changed. Rosa Parks led the way!” (9)

This is obviously a simplistic and inaccurate painting of the events account the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In fact, the action was highly planned: Parks was a long-time member of the National Associate for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently completed the Highlander Folk School’s activist training in Tennessee.10 The Highlander Folk School (now known as the Highlander Research and Education Center) in New Market, Tennessee was a social justice training centre that played an extremely important role in the Civil Rights movement, training many Civil Rights leaders, including Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Parks herself emphasized the spontaneity of her action and downplayed her own agency. Shortly after her arrest in 1956, in an interview on Pacifica Radio, she was asked by Sidney Rogers whether or not her act of defiance had been planned:

Parks: No, [it] hadn’t.
Rogers: It just happened.
Parks: Yes, it did.
Rogers: Well, had there been many times before in your life when you thought that maybe you were going to do just that kind of thing?
Parks: I hadn’t thought that I would be the person to do this. It hadn’t occurred to me.
Rogers: But don’t you suppose you and many others also thought one time or another you were going to do this thing, sooner or later?
Parks: Well, we didn’t know just what to expect. In our area we always tried to avoid trouble and be as careful as possible to stay out of trouble, along this line. I want to make very certain that it is understood that I had not taken a seat in the white section as has been reported in many cases. (11)

Mythologizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott as a spontaneous act disregards both the planning that led up to Parks’ action and her activist credentials more generally. But this was not simply revisionism designed to make her more palatable to a hostile nation – it was also, at least partially, a strategic decision by Civil Rights organizers in Alabama. As Schudson notes, in the context of constant accusations that the Civil Rights Movement was the work of “outside agitators” – Northerners, communists, and subversives – stirring up resentment within otherwise contented Black southerners; it was extremely important that the resistance be seen as indigenous. (12)

Throughout the early 1950s, the Highlander Folk School struggled with failed attempts at direct action. Parks was chosen for her role not only because of her experience in organizing, but also because of her image as a working class woman who nevertheless had more economic stature than other Black women – the idea was to reach out to white, working class Americans. Portraying Parks as a fed up working mother was a deliberate strategic attempt to garner support for the Montgomery Bus Boycott specifically and the Civil Rights movement more generally. That Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on the bus seemed impromptu was the whole point; it was a meticulously staged direct action that banked on dominant notions of courage, risk, and power to manufacture a perfectly spontaneous and catalyzing moment.

The tactic reemerged in 1960 when the SNCC staged a series of lunch-counter sit-ins. The particular case of the Greensboro sit-in, where four Black students refused to leave a whites-only counter until they were served, was a catalyst that prompted identical actions in cities across the US: 

“The sit-ins began in February 1st in Greensboro, N.C., when four freshmen at Negro North Carolina A&T sat down at a variety store lunch counter after purchasing several items in other departments of the store. They were refused service. Their action was a spontaneous rebellion against the accumulated indignities suffered by Negro Americans since Reconstruction days. “Why must we be continually under tension and indignity when we want to eat, or find a lodging place, or use a rest room?” they asked. Their action has led others to ask the same questions - and to do something about it. Since February, the sit-ins have spread to almost 100 cities in every Southern state.” (13)

For SNCC, the sit-ins were autonomous, student-led actions meant to not only galvanize student activism against segregation, but also to create space for direct action outside of the traditional leadership of the Civil Rights movement. The sit-ins challenged the gradualist strategies of the traditional leadership, which SNCC disagreed with, by underlining the urgency of the issue.  However, spontaneity also meant, as Francesca Polleta describes, “no organizational tie-in of any kind, either local or national.” (14) These modes of organizing strengthened SNCC by creating spaces of direct action; the organization’s ability to institutionalize spontaneity strengthened the movement as a whole. Polletta describes how spontaneity became a strategic consideration for SNCC:

“Spontaneity, emblematic of students’ independence and their unique contribution to the movement, became organizational commitments with both animated and constrained strategic action. Students called for coordination, but resisted direction, wanted the movement to speak to the nation, but were wary of leaders, wanted to expand the scope of protest but distrusted adult advice.” (15)

For SNCC, spontaneity not only demonstrated youthful rage, but autonomy outside of a traditional leadership. Far from hindering the success of the Civil Rights movement, this autonomy contributed to its strength. The success of the lunch counter sit-ins proliferated into wider mainstream gains such as voter registration. The infamy of these actions demonstrates the power of spontaneity not only to energize and proliferate struggle, but to crystallize it in popular history.

Occupying the Moment

Since the 1960s, the spontaneous and autonomous energy of organizations like SNCC has moved and morphed through the student and anti-war movements, to the anti-globalization movement, to the Arab Spring, and was taken up eagerly by the 2011 Occupy movement.

The power of Occupy came in part from its rapid proliferation. There was almost universal surprise at the eruption of Occupy camps globally, growing out of a simple call to “Occupy Wall Street.” The idea of spontaneity was tied to the idea of Occupy as a movement where the diverse population of the 99 percent came together to discuss and debate the problems of contemporary capitalism and to contemplate and build a different world. Without a centralized message or set of demands, the various Occupy camps mobilized instead around the slogan “Occupy Everything. Demand Nothing.” The slogan itself demonstrates the power of autonomy: without centralized power or a top-down structure, people – regular people – can make their own decisions, be their own leaders, and provide for themselves and each other collectively and democratically.

Though Occupy was successful as a model of organizing insofar as it seized upon contemporary discontent and the zeitgeist of the moment, critics were quick to note the problems with the call to an imagined body of the 99 percent, and the way the newness of Occupy obscured histories of anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles. While Occupy claimed to have an open network of participation, there was often an absence of critical race and feminist analyses in its camps and assemblies. Indeed, the movement generally struggled to confront oppression, given that anti-oppressive and anti-racist policies were difficult to pass or maintain within the amorphous decision-making body of the General Assembly.

This points us to a fundamental contradiction in spontaneity: if a movement or an action is spontaneous, it is assumed to have no history and thus the pre-existing networks and communities that may have given rise to these struggles can easily be ignored. This takes for granted the long and labourious conversations about leadership and participation that have happened in previous incarnations of anti-capitalist struggles and mass movement organizing, not to mention the efforts to engage excluded communities. These issues was addressed in the DeOccupy Oakland formations and in debates around the term “occupy” itself that arose over the encampments’ various lifespans, and are reflected upon in the recently published anthology: We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation.

In their essay, “Occupy and the 99%,” Lester Spence and Mike McGuire take up the notion of open networks of participation. They note that “open source” movements like Occupy tend to be perceived as movements that require not much more than the deployment of a social network to support their progressive goal. They suggest that the resources and networks tapped to make a movement like Occupy happen are considered to arise naturally and thus the horizontal deployment of resources means equal distribution to all of members of the so-called 99 percent who already have relatively equal levels of resources. The reality, Spence and McGuire note, is much more complicated: these movements – up to and including Occupy – are created and sustained by networks that already exist and that are themselves connected to other pre-existing networks. They note that:
in part because of the decimation of the non-white Left through COINTELPRO, in part because of the reduced capital non-white groups have (as a result of white supremacy), the networks tend to be white and tend to be connected to other predominantly white networks. Even though the movement itself has open elements, the network that lends resources to the movement are often closed. (16)

While spontaneous organizing and actions may be inspiring for some, they are sometimes uncritical expressions of privilege – not only around race, but also in terms of access, ability, gender, and sexuality. The process of relationship building, sharing skills, increasing inclusion, and the role of leadership are often glossed over – if not ignored entirely. At best, this is because we hope that these processes will happen naturally; at worst, it’s because some of us fear of the transformation that a commitment to these processes might actually bring about.

It Feels Good, But Only For a Little While

It cannot be denied that in the moment of unplanned actions, traditional spontaneity feels good. It feels good to cut loose. It feels good to be free, even just for a moment. It feels good to arrive at a city park and camp out with a day’s notice, to join thousands of people banging pots and pans in solidarity with the Québec student strike, to rapidly assemble and occupy an intersection for a few hours. It feels good to see a cop car burn, to break through lines of marshals or police, to look at YouTube videos of riots. But all too often, we cling to these memories and images for inspiration as our own momentum slowly fizzles out. 

Though spontaneity itself is inevitably fleeting, it cannot be understood outside of organization if we hope to use effectively. The ongoing success of movements relies both on the excitement of spontaneity and tedious labour of organization. The role of spontaneity allows organizations to adapt to different situations, to bend and twist according to the needs of the movement.

Our task is this: to use spontaneity sustainably, and foster the longevity and growth of revolutionary politics. A spontaneous upsurge – without any organizational infrastructure – is ephemeral. How can organizations provide a structure to spontaneity without dampening it or appearing on the scene too late?

Over the course of the Occupy movement, existing Left organizations struggled to engage in a meaningful way with the excitement and possibilities around them. While they showed up and provided money and resources, they were often unable to adopt the principles of Occupy into their own organizations. What has been more common, in the months following the encampments, has been an adoption by Left organizations of the language of Occupy (especially “the 99 percent”) without any discussion of how its organizing principles might impact the work of the organization.

Based on our experience in Occupy Toronto, it is difficult to conceive of other ways that Left organizations could have engaged without the fear of co-opting the movement. But this has to do with the predominant structure of these organizations – including bureaucratic trade unions, whose leadership was unwilling to potentially take direction from a more radical base within and outside of the union – and not, we argue, with an inherent inability among these organizations to respond to and grapple with spontaneity.
The task for revolutionary organizations is to both foster spontaneity amongst their members and respond to spontaneous uprisings in society more generally. If the inspiration of spontaneity was better channelled into organizations, that would not mean its end but rather more opportunities for beautiful mischief to confront capital in tangible and sustainable ways. And in non-revolutionary times such as ours, spontaneity can still be used strategically to build alliances, raise consciousness, and signal unrest.

How do we think about the relationship between spontaneity and organizing? How do we organize spontaneity so that it proliferates, and proliferate spontaneity in organization? Despite their predominance in historical left debates, these questions are largely absent at the current moment. Part of the relevance of these discussions historically had to do with the fact that they were seen to really matter. Whether Lenin or Luxemburg won the debate was seen to have an immediate impact on the structure of revolutionary organizations and the development of revolutionary tactics – and thus on the capacity to overthrow capitalism. The absence of these types of debates seems to indicate a feeling that we aren’t going to win or that it doesn’t really matter how we are organizing – what matters is getting people into the streets.

It’s My Party…

In the long 20th century, the party was the paradigmatic political form – the central structure for political action. To speak of a “revolutionary organization” was to speak of the party, often but not exclusively associated with Leninism. This was in contrast to the insurrectionary 19th century, marked as it was by the revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune.  For Lenin, the party was the revolutionary strategy that most aligned with the age of imperialism, and all revolutionary capacity resided in the party – it was the kernel of revolutionary process. In “Lenin and the Party, 1902,” Sylvain Lazarus noted that “the end of the 19th century saw the lapsing of the category of class as the sole bearer of politics, and the end of the 20th century saw the lapsing of the party form, which can take no other form than the state party.” (17)

Whether or not the party form has lapsed, it is certainly true that it is no longer the predominant way that radicals organize. Of course, there have always been non-Leninist forms of organizing alongside Leninist parties: anarchists and councilists in the early 20th century saw the party as a brake rather than a catalyst for social change; student radicals in 1968 France eschewed the politics of parties and the state; the anti-globalization movement – in some ways best exemplified by the Zapatistas in Mexico – saw communities as their own agents of change and demanded the state and parties of all kinds back away.

Lazarus argues that the problem today is not the lack of a party to lead us into revolution, nor even the lack of a revolution, but rather our need for a politics without party, something, he says “that does not prevent radicalism or prescribe resignation to the order of things, but imposes the hypothesis of other possibilities.” (18)

Doing away with traditional and simplistic understandings of spontaneity and organization that characterize spontaneity as explosive upsurges and organization as ossified and overly disciplined party structures can allow us to examine their relationship in practice more dialectically. Recent movements – Occupy, the Quebec student strike, and others – have experimented with new political forms that permit this dialectical relationship between organization and spontaneity and they have ushered new political subjects into struggle. Perhaps to get beyond the limitations that these recent movements have come up against, an investigation of previous forms of struggle is necessary – including the councils of council communism and the Italian factory council movement, the soviets of the first Russian revolution, and the steward committees of the radical British shop steward movement in the 1910s. These historical formations might tell us something about where we want to go today and how we should get there.

Contemporary experiments should also inform our practice. The assembly model proliferates globally – from Syntagma to Tahrir to Liberty Squares. More structured attempts at assembly politics include the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly, the Southern Workers’ Assembly, the Southern Movement Assembly, and the departmental, faculty-wide, and neighbourhood assemblies that directed, sustained, and breathed life into the months-long student strike in Québec last spring. Some of these projects and experiments will be failures – some already are. But they fail not because they repeat ad infinitum calcified models of political practice; rather they fail because they are experiments, because they attempt something new, and because they must stumble clumsily towards something truthful. We cannot let our failures hold us down; we must commit to ever increasing spontaneous proliferation of organizational experiments and when we fail we must learn to, as Samuel Beckett said, fail again and fail better.


1. See Mary Gabriel, Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011) and George Katsiaficas, The Imagination of the New Left: A Global Analysis of 1968 (Cambridge MA: South End Press, 1987).
2. John Holloway, Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today (London: Pluto Press 2002), 1.
3. Andrew Chung, “Massive Public Support for Charest’s emergency law,” Toronto Star, May 19, 2012,—massive-public-support-for-charest-s-emergency-law.
4. Paul Mattick, “Spontaneity and Organization.” Anti-Bolshevik Communism. (Britain: Merlin Press 1978).
5. Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, volume I, (London: Sphere Books 1967), 17.
6. Alex Levant, “Rethinking Spontaneity Beyond Classical Marxism: Re-reading Luxemburg through Benjamin, Gramsci, and Thompson,” Journal of Socialist Theory, 40.3 (2012), 370.
7. Levant, “Rethinking Spontaneity,” 383.
8. Alan Sears, “The Left and the end of Harper,”,  July 1, 2011,
9. Michael Schudson, “Telling Stories about Rosa Parks.” Contexts, 11.3 (Summer 2012),
10. Schudson, “Stories.”
11. Schudson, “Stories.”
12. Schudson, “Stories.”
13. Francesca Polletta, ”It Was like a Fever ...” Narrative and Identity in Social Protest,” Social Problems 45 (May 1998), 146.
14. Polletta. “It Was Like a Fever,” 149.
15. Polletta. “It Was Like a Fever,” 152.
16. Lester Spence and Mike McGuire, “Occupy and the 99%,” in We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation, ed. Kate Khatib et. al. (Oakland: AK Press, 2012), 59.
17. Silvain Lazarus, “Lenin and the Party, 1902 – November 191.” in Lenin Reloaded: Towards a Politics of Truth, ed. Sebastian Budgen, Stathis Kouvelakis, Slavoj Zizek. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), 256
18. Lazarus, “Lenin and the Party,” 265