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John-Henry Harter

  • Can the federal Green Party reshape Canadian left politics?

    There has always been a gap between how the Green Party of Canada is framed by the mainstream media and how it’s perceived on the left. Only time, and the membership, will tell if the party will do what no Canadian political formation currently holding seats in Parliament has done in the twenty-first century—elect a socialist leader.

  • Heritage Minutes: History, culture, and propaganda

    The Heritage Minutes gloss over the linguistic, social, cultural, and economic fractures in pre- and post-Confederation Canadian history and the Conservative Party of Canada when in government has directly funded these efforts. The false outrage of Conservatives over the portrayal of Canadian history masks their own very real efforts to construct a Canadian history that compliments their own ideology.

  • Remembering Seattle: Class, globalization, and the state

    The protest in Seattle demonstrated the power of a convergence of class and new social movement politics but without a plan to seize state power the left will always be reactive. The lessons of Seattle are the power of solidarity but also the power of the state. Protests are empowering, they generate solidarity, but they can only slow down capital momentarily.

  • Lessons from strikes past

    Direct Action Gets the Goods is the latest graphic novel from the Graphic History Collective along with artists Althea Balmes, Gord Hill, Orion Keresztesi, and David Lester. It is slim volume but it packs a punch. Subtitled A Graphic History of The Strike in Canada, it does not purport to be a comprehensive history of every strike throughout Canadian history.

  • Colonization, resistance and popular culture

    It is perhaps naïve to assume that Premier Horgan or Prime Minister Trudeau are simply misunderstanding the history of Indigenous people. It is more realistic to frame our political leaders as willfully ignorant. But, that does not mean that we have to be. Simply watching a film … or reading a comic will not bring about reconciliation on its own. However, it is a much needed start.

  • The politics of the popular

    “Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of Black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of Black and brown lives in the prison-industrial complex.” Nike, by trying to capitalize on Kaepernick’s image, also amplified his powerful critique of systemic white supremacy. In this way, the ad embodies both the commodification of resistance while simultaneously pointing to the resistance itself. Nike is not revolutionary — but their new ad might be.

  • The cautionary tale of Superman

    Superman has always been identified as representing truth, justice and the American Way. He was an unambiguous superhero, no hints at darkness, not a trace of the anti-hero. Certainly, Superman has never been identified with any type of critique of capitalism. In a time where America represents neither truth nor justice (if it ever did) there may not be a rush to the bookstore to buy a graphic novel about the creator of the Superman mythos. However, that would be a mistake.

  • Walking Dead abandons progressive potential of horror

    The failure of TWD to build on the promise of the progressive zombie tradition has resulted in a negative portrayal of human potential that negates mutual aid and cooperation in favour of violence. The Walking Dead has destroyed the progressive cultural tradition of the modern zombie. I would argue that any worthwhile progressive politics has to have hope as a fundamental building block; sadly TWD is where hope goes to die. Or is it just undead?

  • Undercover Boss: disciplining workers for fun and profit

    The show is predicated on a CEO going undercover in their own company to understand their business and workers better. Superficially, Undercover Boss is a feel-good story about the benevolence of corporate CEOs, a closer reading reveals it creates a myth that resolves itself squarely on the side of capital while simultaneously functioning as a warning to workers that their boss could be watching them at any time.

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