Canadian Dimension: A wake-up call for radical communities

Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism Umair Muhammed Haymarket, 2014 Drawing on his years of activism and academic research, Umair Muhammed delivers a compelling case for change within activist communities in his book, Confronting Injustice. The book is a quick read and constructed cleverly; it unites political anecdotes, historical facts, quotes from ...

Canadian Dimension: It’s the economy, stupid!

Washington’s Long War on Syria Stephen Gowans Baraka Books, 2017 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 the origins, motivations and interactions of four key actors: U.S. imperialism, ...

Canadian Dimension: Nawrocki’s Displaced/Misplaced exposes plight of migrant workers

Displaced/Misplaced Norman Nawrocki Les Pages Noires, 2017 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. There were other instruments I couldn’t even recognize. Nawrocki’s ...

Canadian Dimension: Historical foundations of Aboriginal rights

Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History Arthur J. Ray McGill Queen’s University Press, 2016 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 ...

Canadian Dimension: Addiction among the middle class

Opium Eater: The New Confessions Carolyn Zwarenstein Nonvella Publishing, 2016 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 ...

Canadian Dimension: Exploring settler-colonial culture

Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada Emma Battell Lowman & Adam J. Barker Fernwood Publishing, 2015 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 ...

Canadian Dimension: First choice for a younger generation

Indigenous Nationhood: Empowering Grassroots Citizen Pamela Palmater Fernwood Publishing, 2015 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 ...

Canadian Dimension: Criminal law ejects Indigenous peoples from the frontiers

Fragile Settlements: Aboriginal Peoples, Law, and Resistance in South-West Australia and Prairie Canada Amanda Nettelbeck, Russel Smandych, Louis A. Knafla and Robert Foster UBC Press, 2016 A legal system designed to settle new territories and eject the resident population. A security apparatus installed to monitor the movements of dissenters. Collective punishment meted out with cruel ...

Canadian Dimension: One girl’s trauma exposes plight of nations

The Break Katherena Vermette House of Anansi Press, 2016 I received Indigenous author Katherena Vermette’s debut novel, The Break, as a gift over the holiday season. Having heard nothing of it, little did I know, upon turning its opening pages, that I would be carried from the comforts of my Winnipeg south-end suburban home into ...

Canadian Dimension: Mothers of colour challenge white feminism

Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines Edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens and Mai’a Williams Between the Lines and PM Press, 2016 This is an extraordinary book. Its dedication to all the revolutionary mothers expands Malcolm X’s call for freedom, justice, equality “by any means necessary”: “mothering is love by any means necessary.” ...

Art Threat: How Do you Spell Colonialism? A Review of Hot Docs’s 2017 Opening Film Bee Nation

The article below also appears at POV Magazine, which is providing comprehensive coverage of the Hot Docs festival, including an alternative take on the film reviewed below (by Judy Wolf). The notion that an Indigenous spelling bee competition could serve as the cohesive force to unite disparate First Nations children across Canada under one nation, ...

Canadian Dimension: Review: I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro Raoul Peck Velvet Films, 2016 Now and then, and despite its capitalist and racial biases, our culture throws up something that can speak quite eloquently and uniquely about the times we’re living through. In this case, I’m referring to an amazing documentary film that has been released recently, I Am ...

Canadian Dimension: Essays on Indigenous struggles offer both insight and oversight

Blockades or Breakthroughs? Aboriginal Peoples Confront the Canadian State Yale Belange & Whitney Lackenbauer McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015 Canada has a long history of Indigenous resistance to colonialism. A geography of Indigenous struggle with the state is invoked by the names Oka, Ipperwash, Gustafsen Lake and Caldeonia. Blockades or Breakthroughs, a new collection edited by ...

Canadian Dimension: ‘People’s history’ brought to life with voices from vibrant era

A Future Without Hate or Need: The Promise of the Jewish Left in Canada Ester Reiter Between the Lines, 2016 This is a wonderfully dense, rich, descriptive and analytical volume, certain to be unique in the appreciation and understanding of the Canadian Left. Emerita professor Ester Reiter deploys an amazing number of old photos, posters ...

Canadian Dimension: Reopen Bethlehem!

Open Bethlehem Leila Sansour Iambic Dream, 2015 He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder If I could put a notion in his head: ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a ...

Canadian Dimension: Transnationalism and Italian anarchists in Canada, 1915-1940

Transnational Radicals: Italian Anarchists in Canada and the U.S., 1915-1940 Travis Tomchuk University of Manitoba Press, 2015 There are numerous studies of the left in Canada. These studies range from social-democratic parties like the CCF, various socialists movements, and communists. Curiously there is a lack of studies into anarchist groups in Canada. While there is ...

Canadian Dimension: Mapping the vocabulary of the radical Left

Key Words for Radicals: The Contested Vocabulary of Late-Capitalist Struggle Edited by Ian Kelly Fritsch, Clare O’Connor and AK Thompson AK Press, 2016 In social movements, terms like “accessibility,” “bodies,” “communities,” “revolution” and “space” are in frequent usage, yet their meanings are often so varied that it is a miracle we can have effective conceptual ...

Canadian Dimension: Comic collection inspired by everyday heroes

Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle Edited by The Graphic History Collective with Paul Buhle Between the Lines, 2016 Comic books have a political substance whether we like it or not. The gender dynamics are overt in mainstream comics, with aggressive male characters and hyper-sexualized female characters. This influences children and adults alike. ...

Canadian Dimension: Mother Tareka addresses the elephants in the room

Elephants Mother Tareka & the Rebel Funktion Self-released, 2016 With blasting Afro-beat horn lines, a funky rhythm section, clever samples and lyrics that cut to the point of the major issues in our world, Elephants by Mother Tareka & the Rebel Funktion is music for movement and action. 

Mother Tareka (a.k.a. Tarek Funk) is a ...

Canadian Dimension: The Propaganda System in Canada

A Propaganda System: How Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation Yves Engler Fernwood, 2016 Propaganda is only as good as the processes through which it is concealed. Traditional examples of propaganda — the cult of personality, the political commissar, and the threat of the work camp (or worse) — were blunt and ...

Canadian Dimension: Ava DuVernay’s ‘13th’ a must-see exposé of mass incarceration in the US

13th Ava DuVernay 2016 Avu DuVernay’s latest documentary 13th comes at an important junction in American history. The 2016 presidential elections confirmed that divisions of race and class continue to be central and defining features of contemporary US society. After all, Donald Trump ran on a platform of open bigotry, courting a reactionary following and ...

centre of the universe: Product Review – Amopé Pedi Perfect

I’m not sure when the state of our heels became such a huge concern, but apparently it’s a big thing. Like. At some point in the past few years, someone realised that the true path to success is through baby-soft heels. To be clear, I’ve never had a pedicure in my life, so I don’t know…

Kersplebedeb | Kersplebedeb: Stein Lillevolden Reviews Det Globale Perspektiv

A book review of Torkil Lauesen 380 pages Nemo Publishing, Copenhagen 2016 by Stein Lillevolden (social worker) First posted at: https://radikalportal.no/2016/05/27/det-ulike-bytte/ Also published in the Danish newsletter Demos In the late 1970s, I studied political science at Oslo University, by all evidence pretty half-heartedly. With half a heart — mostly because it was a deeply ...

Canadian Dimension: Rebel Youth offers depth but lacks dimension

Rebel Youth: 1960s Labour Unrest, Young Workers, and New Leftists in English Canada Ian Milligan University of British Columbia Press, 2014 Many readers of this magazine will remember April 1971. Some attended the New Democratic Party convention where, after four ballots, David Lewis defeated his Waffle opponent, James Laxer. The Waffle, struggling to push an ...

Canadian Dimension: The “People’s Poet” in three dimensions

Milton Acorn: The People’s Poet Kent Martin & Errol Sharpe Roseway Publishing, 2015 Though I had heard of Milton Acorn for many years before his death in 1986, I never knew his poetry very well. Acorn was the political enfant terrible of the Canadian poetry scene, infamously passed over for a Governor-General’s Award in 1969, ...