Articles

  • Bush’s State of the Empire Speech

    Bush’s “State of the Union” speech was not in praise of “America” as he claimed–it was about fascism at home and imperialism abroad. It was a surreal vision that placed the U.S. in the center of a divine universe, in which the Chosen People would exterminate its enemies and forcibly enlighten its reluctant allies.

  • The World Wide Web Is Ten Years Old!

    Excuse me, may I have your cell phone? I see you’re wearing a pager; may I have that too? Your lap top computer, if you don’t mind? And I’ll take the palm pilot I see in your shirt pocket.

    Feel like somebody’s bewildered, possibly hostile naked lunch without your high tech toys?

    Welcome to the wrong side of the Digital Divide, the developing world in which hundreds of millions of poor people in the south are left behind the more prosperous people of the north at the lightning speed of the latest computer chip.

  • NAFTA At Ten

    It’s a good time to “do the sums” on NAFTA. But don’t stop for long. Despite clear victories in Cancun and Miami for popular movements and for Venezuela and Brazil and other countries with progressive leadership, the juggernaut extending corporate and United States interests, whether through bilateral, regional or global negotiations – or under the table with economic and political leverage – goes on apace. And, in Canada, corporate leadership, the “think-tanks” and lobbyists they employ, and the politicians who carry their freight have been pumping out speeches, papers and proposals for their “big idea”: ever deeper integration.

  • Beyond Nafta

    For many of us, it’s hard to get excited about another review of NAFTA’s economic successes or failures. It’s not that such an economic review is irrelevant – coping with the economic implications of NAFTA obviously remains central to anyone concerned with social change. But in itself, the economic debate is unlikely to move us much ahead. There are just too many Œwhat-ifs’ involved for any numbers to convince skeptics. (Would business investment in Canada have slowed down if the corporate sector were defeated on NAFTA? Would Canadian companies have been less productive if they didn’t face the pressures of free trade? Would U.S. retaliation against Canadian exports into the U.S. been worse?)

  • Life in Vaginaville

    Somewhere in that great pile of Junos and Emmys, I hope there’s an Elephant on the Table Award for the performer who discovers something perfectly obvious during the making of a television series.

    “The elephant on the table” is how communications experts describe something carefully overlooked and unmentioned but urgently important. It may sound impossible to ignore something so striking as a wild beast lounging in the middle of an ordinary room, but if the elephant is embarrassing enough, human beings can learn to do it.

    Such an award, if it exists, ought to go to Samantha Bee. She’s the sweet-faced Canadian component on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart’s wildly popular half-hour news parody, which recently replaced Mike Bullard’s nightly talk show on CTV.

  • Bolivia

    The multitude of Bolivians who were blocking the roads, building barricades and surrounding the presidential palace – the peasants, miners, street venders, unemployed and many others – were the product of at least a half-century of revolutionary struggle against landlords, mine-owners, big-business people and the U.S. Embassy.

    Beginning with the social revolution of 1952, which expropriated the mines and landed estates of the oligarchy and destroyed the military, the Bolivian workers and peasants forged their own class-based trade unions and militias. State power, however, was taken by the middle-class National Revolutionary Party (MNR), which began a process of re-establishing capitalist hegemony in alliance with the United States.

  • The Contemporary Struggle against Racism in Canada

    Racism continues to be manifest in various ways in Canadian society. It is not a distant “bad” memory, something that previous generations practiced and experienced. Many Canadians acknowledge some history of racial oppression and the need to address it. But efforts are often limited by the habitual contrast of Canadian racism with American racism in a way that encourages moral superiority, drawing on such artifacts as the underground railroad.

  • Racism in Canada

    Historians like to engage in thought experiments with dates. One way to measure the change in racism in Canada over the past forty years is to put the question in the context of the previous forty-year period. If one was asked the same question in 1963, Canada would probably not have looked all that different from the Canada of 1923. In 1963, as in 1923, Canada was still a country in which nearly all citizens (with the exception of Aboriginal people) could either directly or indirectly trace their ancestry to Europe. Within government policy and many organizations, non-white immigrants and Aboriginal peoples were still regarded as groups who posed “racial” problems for the processes of nation building and state formation.

    I doubt whether we can say that there is a similar continuity to the 1963-2003 comparison. Canada today is considerably different from the Canada that existed four decades ago

  • The Freedom to Choose

    Two major claims are made among gay and lesbian critics of the idea of gay marriage. The first is that the support of gay marriage represents a kind of assimilation to straight values and ideals. The second is that the widespread acceptance of gay marriage would threaten the existence of a separate gay and lesbian community. While there is some truth in the criticisms made from these two perspectives, they fail to come to terms with the reasons why some gay people might want to get married. What is more, they narrow the lived reality of marriage, failing to recognize that the practice has been multiple and varied.

  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace?

    When Toronto began issuing gay-marriage licenses on June 10, 2003, WorldNetDaily quoted Toronto attorney Michael Lershner as saying “The argument’s over. No more political discussion, we’ve won, the Charter won, it’s a great day for Canada.” Lershner had good reason to celebrate. Justices in three provinces had just redefined marriage as being between “two persons” instead of ” a man and a woman,” giving gay and lesbian couples across the country (and visiting citizens of the United States and elsewhere) legal grounds to apply for marriage licenses.

    However, hindsight shows Lershner’s proclamation that the political discussion is over to be a bit premature.

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