Articles Reviews

  • Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett

    Wormwood tells the story of Eric Olson’s lifelong investigation into his father’s death. Did he fall? Did he jump? Was he pushed? Was it an accident? A mind-control experiment gone wrong? Was it murder? Was it an execution? To get to the truth, Wormwood also re-enacts the last ten days of Frank Olson’s life. Thus, about 18 minutes into the first episode, Frank Olson is being driven to a lakeside lodge for a meeting with his Fort Detrick and CIA colleagues.

  • Alexander Payne’s take on climate change, overpopulation, social inequality, and more

    Alexander Payne’s new film Downsizing, is an uneven, but engaging science-fiction satire that proposes to solve the earth’s ecological and other problems by “downsizing,” or physically shrinking, human beings. The creator of such noteworthy films as Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002) and Nebraska (2013), Payne employs, in Downsizing, a generally light touch in attempting to address pressing social ills.

  • Roman J. Israel, Esq.: Rebel with a cause

    In Roman J. Israel, Esq., the dilemma of the independent-minded Israel evokes the condition of many conscientious individuals in various fields today, including the film industry. Gilroy must surely be commenting on the current reality in Hollywood, where giant conglomerates attempt to control or smother any oppositional projects. Gilroy explores the moral and creative dimensions and consequences of being trapped in a world that has been reduced, as he puts it, to “transactions,” between people.

  • A wake-up call for radical communities

    Muhammed’s book states plainly that we must end capitalism or capitalism will end humanity. He dismisses Western democracy as the plutocracy the powerful that created it intended it to be, and calls for something radical to be instituted. Although emphasis is placed on broad mass movements and civil disobedience to bring along this change, Muhammed does not negate the importance of capturing state power.

  • It’s the economy, stupid!

    The impression of a region teeming with internecine enmities along bewilderingly archaic ethnic and religious lines hampers understanding of the Middle East. Stephen Gowans’s book on Syria contests this impression powerfully. It focuses on of four key actors: U.S. imperialism, secular Arab nationalism, the political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist offshoots, and Saudi sponsored Wahhabism.

  • Nawrocki’s Displaced/Misplaced exposes plight of migrant workers

    Norman Nawroki, long a stunningly creative voice from out of Montréal’s anarchist community, combines spoken word with guitar, drum, piano and some very haunting violin in this compilation to benefit the city’s Immigrant Workers centre and Solidarity Across Borders. Nawrocki’s political poetry blends acute observation of the plight of migrant workers and refugees with musical and background voice arrangements.

  • Historical foundations of Aboriginal rights

    Having long ago established himself as a foremost scholarly interlocutor of Canadian Indigenous history, Arthur Ray, with a career that spans those ’70s books on my shelf (two magisterial studies: Indians in the Fur Trade and with Donald Freeman Give Us Good Measure) to new books including Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History, one would have thought he would be happy with what could be called “vanity projects.”

  • Addiction among the middle class

    In recent years, my newsfeed has played host to a steady trickle of articles documenting the alarming rise of opioid addiction rates in North America. Described by political pundits as a “quiet epidemic,” the explosion in the use and abuse of pharmaceutical opioids — substances with clinical names like oxycodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone — has gone largely unnoticed, media coverage often limited to celebrity overdoses and litanies of dreary statistics.

  • Exploring settler-colonial culture

    Lowman and Barker’s Settler really dwells on the dominant culture in Canada as a settler-colonial culture. Hence it is not “about” Indigenous peoples per se, but rather the bad faith of a culture constructed on ongoing colonial dispossessions. It is my own view that we do not yet have a fully developed theory of the specificity of settler colonialism, though such a theory no doubt is coming and can be found in nascent forms in earlier writing on colonialism.

  • First choice for a younger generation

    No doubt for a younger generation of activists, Palmater’s Indigenous Nationhood will be a first choice. Her cadences — and anger — capture the mood of an emerging generation of social justice, broadly Left-oriented, ground level activists. When she writes that one of her goals is to “help us kick the colonizers out of our heads,” (4-5) she puts her finger on an enduring problem within and around Indigenous social movements.

Page 1 of 14