Scrapbook #1

Articles Lists

Selected Topics


If we think back a few years, before Gorbachev, then we remember an Eastern Europe which appeared to be, from the inside as well as the outside, an immovable monolith. The system of social control, while in some ways crude by Western standards, was total and relentless, and few saw any hope of ever achieving change. Only a tiny minority opposed the regimes, and they suffered for it. Yet almost overnight, those who but a historical moment earlier had no hope or thought of resistance or rebellion suddenly came together in their tens and then hundreds of thousands, and the powerlessness, passivity, and resignation of the people turned almost instantly into their opposites. The truly remarkable victories they have achieved should inspire us in our own efforts in working for change in the West and remind us that fundamental change is possible even against formidable odds.
Looking for Democracy

The hidden meaning, the real essence, of this slogan, is the belief that it is neither possible or desirable for two or more ethnic or language groups to live together in one country. I cannot imagine a more pessimistic and less socialist point of view.
Thinking About Self-Determination

We undermine efforts to turn violence into a social taboo when we indiscriminately label every objectionable behaviour, including thoughts and remarks, as "violence."
Combatting Violence'

Blogs & Notes

Compilations & Resources

Words of Wisdom

  • Revolution is never practical until the roar of revolution strikes. Then it alone is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the most futile and visionary of human language.
  • – James Connolly


Luxemburg was the leading exponent of a Marxism in the spirit of Marx. One indication of this, paradoxical at first glance, is that she was one of the very few leading Marxists who did not treat Marx’s writings as holy writ.
On Rosa Luxemburg

The idea that the right to democracy logically means shared and direct participation and control by all those affected by decisions is dismissed as impossible and probably "subversive." Thus the right to vote becomes the denial of the right to participate more directly in decision-making.
Rights and Liberties

Ulli Diemer's Scrapbook

The Red Menace #1 published

February 1976 - #

The first issue of The Red Menace, a newsletter published by the Toronto Liberation School, appears in February 1976. I am a member of the founding editorial collective.

The first issue, 52 pages in length, has several articles about a recent Popular Education Conference hold in Toronto. Members of the Toronto Liberation School played an important part in organizing the conference, and this first issue of The Red Menace reflects that, with four articles giving different perspectives on the conference. The differing views reflect our vision of what we want The Red Menace to be, namely a publication which encourages critical analysis and debate within a broadly libertarian socialist perspective.

Red Menace #1

In addition to the articles about the Popular Education Conference, the issue also contains a lengthy article by two members of the Toronto Liberation School about their experiences organizing in a small town in Ontario, an article about the revolution in Portgual, and an analysis of the wage and price controls introduced by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government.

The introduction, which I drafted based on input from from other members of the collective, outlines our reasons for launching the publication. It begins “The Red Menace is published by Toronto Liberation School. Toronto Liberation School is a group of libertarian socialists, independent of any political organization, who see a need for a broad range of educational and cultural activities that contribute to transforming this society. We see the constituency for these activities as all those people who have become concerned about their lives, their communities, and the problems of this society and its institutions; people who have become activists at the workplace or in the community, for their needs and rights, or around national and international issues; people struggling for their liberation.”

We go on to say “we do not intend that this newsletter reflect a single political line, not only because we do not believe that a coherent and comprehensive ‘correct line’ exists but more importantly because we believe that a necessary condition, and pre-condition, of libertarian politics is the widest and most open discussion. We cannot consider any questions closed. And certainly there will be many times when we print contributions that we do not ourselves agree with....

The project we are committed to is that of developing a libertarian marxism which takes as its project the critique of the totality of human life in capitalist society....
Based on this critique, we are committed to developing a revolutionary politics that is liberatory in the fullest sense of the word. Capitalism is a totalistic system of oppression that invades all areas of life: socialism must be the overcoming of capitalist reality in its entirety, or it is nothing.... a socialism that is partial can only become a parody of the liberatory ideals it espouses. The disastrous results of a ‘socialist’ movement that equated socialism with nationalization of industry speak clearly enough in this regard.

Our belief in a total revolution impels us to underline the assertion that Marx made the first point in the statement of principles of the First International: ‘The emancipation of the working classes must be achieved by the working classes themselves.’ ... Social liberation, human liberation is a process that must go to the root. It cannot be decreed. Nor can it be achieved without the participation of the vast majority of the population. A collective project, and therefore individual, as well, socialism must be self-liberation in every sense of the word.”

See The Red Menace #1 here.

Keywords: Community OrganizingLibertarian SocialismOrganizing for Social ChangePopular EducationPortugalToronto Liberation School

Seven News: My first issue as editor

November 20, 1976 - #

Seven News, Volume 7, Number 11, November 20, 1976

In November 1976, I became the editor of Seven News , a non-profit community owned newspaper published in Toronto’s “Ward 7“. Ward 7 was the area east of downtown, extending from Sherbourne Street in the west to Logan Avenue in the east, and from Lake Ontario up to Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue. Before I became editor, I had been working at Seven News for a year prior to this, as volunteer co-ordinator and business manager.

Seven News has been digitezed: all back issues, along with background articles and other materials, are available online.

It was a challenging time to take over as editor. The paper was in financial difficulty, with advertising not enough to carry the paper on its own, and fewer government grants available to make up the difference. At the same time, we were facing the loss of our office at the Don Vale Community Centre because the owner of the building, the United Church of Canada, had announced that it was going to sell it off. The first issue I edited, published on November 20, 1976, featured a front-page story on efforts to keep the community centre from closing. Another story reported that Seven News was going to be receiving a small Local Initiatives Program (LIP) grant which would allow us to pay the three staff for several more months.

I continued as editor for more than five years.

Further Reading:

Seven News: The Story of a Community Newspaper, by Lisa Horrocks
Index of Seven News issues published 1970 - 1985
Seven News articles by Ulli Diemer (a selection)

The Red Menace #2

Summer 1977 - #

Red Menace #2

The second issue of The Red Menace was published in the summer of 1977. I wrote a couple of articles for this issue. One of them is titled What is ‘Libertarian Socialism’? It’s one of three articles in this issue which attempt to explore the meaning of “libertarian socialism,” the term that we in the Toronto Liberation School (later renamed Libertarian Socialist Collective) have chosen to characterize our political perspective. My article is really a set of theses outlining my view of the broad principles of a libertarian socialist perspective.

My second article is about the recent conflict at the Bain Avenue Apartments in Toronto, which pitted one group of tenants, affiliated with the Wages for Housework group, against the majority of tenants, who were attempting to take control of their badly run apartment complex and turn it into a self-managed housing co-operative. I had orginally become aware of the conflict at Bain in my role as editor of the local community newspaper, Seven News. I wrote a couple of articles for Seven News describing the conflict and positions taken by the two sides. Both sides liked my Seven News articles: in fact, both sides handed out copies of the Seven News articles in their door-to-door canvassing. However, the more I saw, the more I came to see the Wages for Housework group as manipulative and undemocratic. My article for The Red Menace, Bain Co-op Meets Wages for Housework, described what had happened at Bain and criticized the behaviour of Wages for Housework. (Wages for Housework then wrote a reply which we published in the next issue of The Red Menace.)

This issue of The Red Menace also included an article by Elaine Farragher about working in libraries, titled A Tale of Two Offices. The article reflected our commitment to featuring articles about workplace experiences. Also in this issue were some humourous pieces, including a fake interview with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau satirizing his indifference to the unemployed, and an In Memoriam page for Mao Tse-Tung [Mao Zedong], the recently deceased Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. Our ‘tribute’ to Mao recalled his collaboration with the United States while the U.S. was bombing Vietnam, his top-down regimented version of ‘socialism,’ and his contempt for workers’ democracy.

The Red Menace #2 is available as a PDF

The Red Menace #3

May 3, 1978 - #

Red Menace #3

Volume 2, Number 2 of The Red Menace appeared in May 1978. My article Anarchism vs. Marxism appears in this issue, along with a companion article, Bakunin vs. Marx. I argue that anarchist critiques of Marxism typically reveal a lack of knowledge of what Karl Marx actually wrote, resulting in sterile denunciations of a straw-man opponent. There are other articles in this issue on the challeges facing the libertarian left, including "The End of Dialectical Materialism: An anarchist reply to the libertarian Marxists' and 'Some thoughts on organization - What type of organization should anarchists, libertarian socialists and libertarian Marxists be working towards?'

The issue is packed with articles and illustrations about a diversity of issues, including another workplace experience article on working in an office, a story about Radio Alice, a radical radio station in Italy, and even an artcle (included for the sake of encouraging debate), arguing that socialists should work with the New Democratic Party (NDP) to try to move it to the left.

I've also got a couple of shorter bits in this issue, including one on the misue of language on the left.

The Red Menace Volume 2, Number 2 is available as a PDF

The Red Menace Volume 3, Number 1

Winter 1979 - #

Red Menace #4

Volume 3, Number 1 of The Red Menace was published in early 1979. The issue featured a Political Statement of the Libertarian Socialist Collective. Liberation Socialist Collective was the new name we had adopted for the Toronto Liberation School. The statement was intended to be a draft version of a statement setting out our views, to be revised after further discussion and after input from readers of The Red Menace. In the event, we never managed to produce a revised version before The Red Menace stopped publishing in 1980.

The issue also contained close to twenty other articles, as well as a number of letters responding to previous issues.

Among the articles in this issue was another in our series about workplace experiences, this one about Working in a Supermarket. an article on censorship and repression in West Germany, a piece on science fiction, another questioning the justification for hierarchies of salaries and income, and a critique of “neo-primitives,” one of the incarnations of anarchism that was fashionable at the time. We also reprinted an 1871 interview with Karl Marx, focusing on the goals and organizations methods of the First International.

I had several articles in this issue, one about radical newspapers, another one about parapsychology, and another about the left’s use of language.

The Red Menace Volume 3, Number 1 is available as a PDF

The Red Menace Number 5

Summer 1980 - #

Red Menace #5

The fifth issue of The Red Menace appeared in the summer of 1980.

Included in this issue were two reports from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, one a first-hand report, the other a more theoretical look which also looked at political humour in Eastern Europe. An example:
Q. What is it when you have too much food in the country and no food in the city?
A. A Bukharinite right deviation.
Q. What is it when you have all the food in the city and none in the country?
A. A Trotskyite left deviation.
Q. What is it when you don’t have any food anywhere?
A. The correct application of the party line.

Also in this issue: an article on the role of women in a revolutionary movement, articles on terrorism, fashion, and prostitution, and different viewpoints on anarchism and Marxism, including one by me responding to Sam Dolgoff’s article in the previous issue.

This issue of The Red Menace was the last to be published.

The Red Menace Volume 5 is available as a PDF

The Connexions Digest - Volume 7, Number 4 - Housing

December 1982 - #

Connexions Housing issue

I started a new job as co-ordinator of the Connexions project in August 1982. Connexions produces a quarterly periodical, also called Connexions (subsequently The Connexions Digest). Connexions is a collective project, found in 1975, with the collective typically comprising eight to ten people, who together run the project and do the work of preparing each issue of the publication. I am the only paid employee.

The first issue I work on is a theme issue on Housing. In addition to spotlighting groups and resources on housing, the issue also features materials on International issues, Energy, Native Peoples, Racism, Community, and Labour. The issue also contains an annoucement informing readers that, for budgetary reasons, Connexions will be appearing four times a year, instead of the previous five.

Here is a scanned copy of the the first issue of the Connexions publication that I worked on: Volume 7, Number 4, published in December 1982.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 8, Number 1 - Women and Men

Spring 1983 - #

Connexions Women and Men

The Spring 1983 issue of Connexions is out: with Women and Men as the theme. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 8, Number 2 - Toward a New Economy

Summer 1983 - #

Connexions Toward a New Economy

The Summer 1983 issue of Connexions is out. The theme is Toward a New Economy. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 8, Number 3-4 - Native Issues

Winter 1983-84 - #

Connexions Native Issues

The Winter 1983-84 issue of Connexions is out: with Native Issues as the theme. Here is a scanned copy.

Medical Reform Group

Medical Reform Group Newsletter - January 1984 - #

MRG 28 MRG 29

In December 1983 I started working part-time for the Medical Reform Group of Ontario (MRG). The MRG was a physicians’ organization concerned with reforming the health care system, and with countering the ideology of the mainstream medical profession, which tended to support user fees, extra billing, and a two-tier health care system.

The three founding principles of the Medical Reform Group stated:

1. The universal access of every person to high quality, appropriate health care must be guaranteed. The health care system must be administered in a manner which precludes any monetary or other deterrent to equal care.

2. Health care workers, including physicians, should seek out and recognize the social, economic, occupational, and environmental causes of disease, and be directly involved in their eradication.

3. The health care system should be structured in a manner in which the equally valuable contribution of all health workers is recognized. Both the public and health care workers should have a direct say in resource allocation and in determining the setting in which health care is provided.

My job was to take care of the administrative tasks of the organization and to put out the group’s newsletter, working with a small editorial group.

The first newsletter I did was a quick mailing, rather than a full newsletter, containing, among other content, the MRG’s news release responding to the federal government’s introduction of the Canada Health Act. The first real newsletter came out in March 1984.

View the January 1984 mailing here, and the March 1984 newsletter here.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 9, Number 1 - Energy

Spring 1984 - #

Connexions Energy issue

The Spring 1984 issue of Connexions is out: with Energy as the theme. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 9, Number 2 - Rights and Liberties

Summer 1984 - #

Connexions Rights and Liberties

The Summer 1984 issue of Connexions is out with Right and Liberties as the theme. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 9, Number 3 - Housing

Fall 1984 - #

Connexions housing

The Fall 1984 issue of Connexions is out: with Housing as the theme. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 10, Number 1 - The Arts and Social Change

Spring 1986 - #

Connexions Arts and Social Change

The Spring 1986 issue of Connexions is out: with The Arts and Social Change as the theme. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 11, Number 1

Spring 1987 - #

Connexions 45

The Spring 1987 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 11, Number 2

Winter 1988 - #

Connexions 46

The Winter 1988 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 12, Number 1

Fall 1988 - #

Connexions 47

The Fall 1988 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Volume 12, Number 2

Winter 1988-89 - #

Connexions 48

The Winter 1988-89 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Annual - A Social Change Sourcebook - 1989

September 1989 #

Connexions Annual 1989 cover

The Connexions Annual - A Social Change Sourcebook. A 224-page sourcebook with information and ideas about social and environmental alternatives. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Number 50

December 1989 - #

Connexions 50

The December 1989 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Number 51

May 1990 - #

Connexions 51

The May 1990 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Number 52

August 1990 - #

Connexions 52

The August 1990 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Number 53

January 1991 - #

Connexions 53

The January 1991 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Digest - Number 54

February 1992 - #

Connexions 54

The February 1992 issue of Connexions is out. Here is a scanned copy.

The Connexions Annual 1994

March 1994 - #

Connexions Annual 1994 cover

The 1994 edition of the Connexions Annual is out. Here is a scanned copy.