With this issue of Canadian Dimension, we draw the curtain on 56 years in print.
This decision – the result of perpetual penury due to debt, shrinking grants, a decrescent subscriber base, and the pressures of the contemporary media environment – would be more heart-rending than it is, were it not for the promise of eternal life in cyberspace. So, in fittingly dialectical terms, this is at once a demise and a transcendence of English-speaking Canada’s longest-lived radical left magazine published in Winnipeg for the last six decades.
This defiant and scrappy periodical for people who want to change the world was launched at a historical moment when changing the world, or at least bringing about some sweeping changes in Canadian society, seemed a more distinct and immediate possibility than it does now. But the very first issue to see the light of print reminds us that the false promises of capitalism and the threat of nuclear war weighed heavily on the generation of the New Left. Introducing the magazine, Cy Gonick wrote: “Despite the terrifying (and terrified) world in which we were born, we are not without hope for a better future. We have not become so disillusioned, so swamped by commercialism, so paralysed by the bomb that we have halted the search for ‘the good society’ and the use of reason as a guide to action.”
Founded in 1963, Dimension was an oasis in what was then a largely bleak media landscape for the Left. The only independent left publication of note in English-speaking Canada was the anarchist monthly Our Generation, published in Montreal. Dimension prceded The Last Post, Briarpatch, In These Times and many other periodicals that emerged to satisfy the need for radical left analysis of Canadian politics, economy and culture.
However, the kind of radical movement of which Dimension was a reflection and an integral part has ebbed over the decades. The organized labour movement is a shadow of its former self, having mostly retreated into corporatism and futile rear-guard action against the assaults of neoliberal capitalism, when what is needed is mobilization for massive class struggle. The peace movement too has flagged. Outside Québec, where students were the advance guard of the popular movement known as the Printemps érable in 2012, the student movement hardly exists. The NDP has moved steadily rightward in spite of periodic efforts to infuse it with some semblance of fighting spirit – this at a time when socialism, however vaguely defined, is inspiring a new generation of young people in the United States.
Our raison d’être remains intact. And although CD is a political project that first found expression in print, that project is not tethered to a specific medium. Our aim has always been to give voice to left ideas and to spark discussion. Today, with the irrevocable rise of the Web, the conversation to which we want to contribute is taking place principally online. And we plan to continue speaking our piece in that vital virtual space.
We will still offer the in-depth analytical pieces that have been our hallmark for more than half a century, but going digital will enable CD to be more responsive to the fast pace of left debate and intervene more quickly in ongoing discussions.
We invite our readers and supporters to join us online as we make this transition, and we look forward, in the months and years ahead, to engaging with a new generation of people who want to change the world.
As we bow out of the tangible world of print, we want to thank our subscribers – both the stalwarts and the relative newcomers to CD – for their sustaining solidarity. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!