Articles

  • Introduction to the Subversion of the University

    Business interests have been grazing in the groves of academe for at least a century, and their presence has always troubled people concerned with academic freedom and the ability of institutions of higher learning to pursue research unfettered by the dictates of profit-seeking.

    Nearly fifty years ago, when Canadian Dimension was founded, the New Left sounded the alarm about the proliferating ties between industry and universities, with such prescient essays as E.P. Thompson’s “The Business University” and James Ridgeway’s The Closed Corporation: American Universities in Crisis. However, the sixties

  • War on Shareholders

    The Right do it right. It is time for the Left to get it right.

    When George W. Bush set the scene for his obscene adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, he identified particular wrongdoers. The countries were harbourers of known killers or run by vicious individuals. He demonized them. He named names. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein. Osama bin Laden had infected a whole country with his venom and Afghanistan needed to be cleansed to get rid of Osama, the despicable, and to eradicate his legacy. And, when talking about the invisible weapons of mass destruction, Bush and his minions would invariably invoke Saddam’s hands-on evil-doing: “He has them. He is not co-operating. He is lying. He gassed his own people.” The media, cartoonists and stand-up comedians obediently fell into line. It had become unanimous: Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were the toxic agents that had produced festering sores. They had to be removed to lance the poisoned hosts, whatever the cost might be to anyone, including the hapless hosts.

  • The Party’s (Almost) Over

    To the long list of wearying apocalyptic scenarios facing the future of humankind must, unfortunately, be appended yet another. One which, nonetheless, at least has the merit of focusing attention by virtue of its sheer immediacy.

    According, then, to many of the world’s most prestigious (independent) oil geologists and institutions, not only is the era of cheap oil now almost certainly at an end, but by the end of this decade – and likely before – the price of a barrel of oil will rise well past $100, and will continue to climb quickly and inexorably thereafter.

  • The Panhandler Law

    The writer Anatole France once observed, “the law, in its magnificent equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges and begging for bread in the streets.” In rookie mayor Sam Katz’s new Winnipeg, we now have achieved the same magnificent equality. In a recent vote at Winnipeg City Council, a new by-law was adopted forbidding panhandling within the vicinity of “captive” audiences: bus stops, banks and ATMs, parking lots and parked cars, indoor public walkways, elevators and outdoor patios. This step effectively fulfills Mayor Katz’s entire anti-poverty program advanced in the course of his election campaign just over one year ago.

  • Electing a Constituent Assembly

    In the struggle for Quebec independence, the Constituent Assembly, proposed by the Patriots in 1837 and by the États-généraux of 1966-69, seems more pertinent today than ever.

    The PQ attempts to monopolize the struggle for sovereignty, despite the repeated failure of its strategy and the undeniable political plurality of the sovereignty movement. At last June’s PQ congress, numerous voices demanded a clear rupture from the “good provincial government” strategy that holds that once the “winning conditions” are attained, a referendum on sovereignty should be held. Instead, the congress more or less reiterated its referendum strategy. A sovereigntist coalition is envisaged, but only after the election of the PQ and with the purpose of supporting the referendum campaign that would ensue. Under this strategy, the government and, therefore, the PQ, reserve control of the overall process.

  • Leaders and Members at Odds on CLC

    There is a tendency within Canadian labour to ignore the split occurring in the AFL-CIO. This is a mistake. In the United States the leadership of the largest unions have initiated a debate about the structure of the movement and the role of the AFL-CIO. The three largest unions have left the AFL-CIO and more may join them. In contrast, the leaderships of most Canadian unions appear completely satisfied with the laissez-faire approach of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) towards organizing and bargaining. But the election results in the CLC convention, where challenger Carol Wall received a whopping 37 per cent, indicates many activists feel otherwise. In fact, the debate in Canada is alive and well whether the leadership likes it or not.

  • Canada Needs a Real Public Health Care System

    Many people like to think of Canada’s health care system as an example of “socialist” medicine. In reality, however, this label does not accurately reflect the true nature of the system.

    Of course, it is certainly true that aspects of Canada’s health care system are publicly owned and/or publicly regulated. The public or social character of the health care system is most clearly seen in the principles of universality and distribution according to need (rather than according to wealth or social status). Not surprisingly, the principles of universality and needs-based distribution enjoy the broadest support amongst the Canadian people. They are what Canadians have indicated they are determined to fight to preserve.

  • America’s Other War

    Throughout the Cold War, Colombia was one of the largest recipients of U.S. counter-insurgency military aid and training. Counter-insurgency–CI for short–was designed to reorient recipient militaries away from a posture of external defence, toward one of “internal defence” against allegedly Soviet-aligned guerrillas. States that received U.S. CI military aid were told to police their own populations to make sure that “subversion” did not grow. Interestingly, when we examine the manuals used by U.S. military trainers to find out what they mean by subversion, we find some interesting clues as to why so many civilians died at the hands of Latin American “internal security states.”

  • Demanding More Than Democracy

    Over a million people filled the streets along the historic route of Mexican social protest on May Day–marching from the Angel of Independence to the Zocalo, and then filling the enormous square at the city’s centre. This was the largest demonstration in the city’s history, a great peaceful outpouring crying out, not just for formal democracy at the ballot box, but for more. The multitude demanded true choice in the country’s coming national elections, but they wanted more than that, too. People took to the streets to demand a basic change in their country’s direction.

  • Whatever Happened to Lula?

    The election of Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva raised great expectations on the centre-left. For most, his election heralded a new progressive epoch, which, while not revolutionary, defined the “end of neoliberalism.” Noted progressive religious figures like Leonardo Boff announced imminent “change,” which would challenge U.S. hegemony and lead to great popular participation. These hopes have not been realized.

    The rightward turn of the da Silva regime has spurred a range of explanations. In the first few months of his regime, da Silva loyalists argued that the orthodox neoliberal policies were “tactical moves” to stabilize the economy before turning to social reform. As da Silva’s policies, appointment alliances and legislation all converged into a logically coherent, orthodox neoliberal strategy, however, this explanation has gradually lost credibility. Among radical sectors of the Left, it has been replaced by a much more convincing, multi-causal explanation.

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