Articles Reviews

  • Seizing the means of (data) production

    Unpredictability, economic unpredictability in particular, means that it’s never a good idea to leave things without a good plan. A truly free market is chaotic and leaves too much room for the possibility of failure, especially for the wealthy and well-endowed. A good plan, however, limits the possibility of failure and tries to make things work for the best possible outcomes. But in the absence of democratic control over planning, who sees the rewards of those best possible outcomes?

  • 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.

  • 1919: A Powerful Interpretation of Canada’s Most Famous Strike

    Crucially, the book perceptively roots the origins of the Strike in the systematic dispossession and genocide of the Indigenous peoples who called these lands home. Capital’s dominance of the city and its environs would have been impossible without it. Along this line, the book does well to connect the events in Winnipeg to working-class protest across Canada and the globe.

  • He also writes thrillers ... and good ones, too

    Fletcher is also adept at intersecting his political concerns with convincing references to jazz (Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard), appropriate food fixes (Portuguese linguica sandwiches, for example), and much else. In such ways, the book feels especially “real.” Moreover, the centrality of the Cape Verdean connection draws the various mentions of Cabral and African struggles into the story quite seamlessly. These latter realities remain important right up to the last chapter.

  • Pushing back on Canada’s war on drug users

    Every night that Overdose Prevention Ottawa ran its illegal supervised injection site, we opened with a ritual: a moment of silence for everyone we’d lost to the war on drug users and to recognize the shit disturbers who came before us — those who made our work possible. In his book Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction, Travis Lupick tells the story of those organizers and their incredible impact.

  • Capitalism: A Crime Story

    Harry Glasbeek is a real oddity — a lawyer and professor of corporate law who specializes in exposing the way in which law is manipulated to provide aid and comfort to the dubious maneuverings of corporate power. In this short but concise book he moves beyond his earlier critique of the shield provided by corporate personhood to examine the ways in which the spirit of liberal jurisprudence is undermined by the way courts interpret corporate malfeasance.

  • David Camfield’s We Can Do Better

    David Camfield’s We Can Do Better is a concise introduction to social theory that attempts to address this zeitgeist in general, and the newcomers to anti-capitalist politics in particular. Throughout, Camfield presents a case for what he calls “reconstructed” historical materialism. This is essentially a Marxist theoretical orientation incorporating aspects of feminist, anti-racist, and queer theory perspectives — an approach, argues Camfield, that can reveal to us both how we got into this mess and how we can get out.

  • A Marxist History of Capitalism

    Since the 1970s, Marxist discussion of how and when capitalism was born has been dominated by two competing academic currents. World-System Theory, first enunciated by Immanuel Wallerstein, locates the origin of capitalism in the expansion of world trade and the plunder of the new world in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Political Marxism, developed by Robert Brenner, says the transition took place somewhat earlier, and only in rural England, where feudal lords converted themselves into capitalist landlords.

  • 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.

  • Parasites in paradise: behind the capitalist curtain

    The writer of this book is a journalist who, as a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, did yeoman work uncovering the Panama Papers. The most intriguing part of the book is the telling of the trials and tribulations of journalists from all over the world who collaborated to put disparate pieces of evidence together. They had to find outlets and overcome mainstream publishers who were reluctant to publish and, when persuaded to publish, to do so at times agreed-to by competitors who were given the same access to the stories.

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