Blogs & Notes

Articles Lists

Radical Road – Photo by Ulli Diemer

Compilations & Resources

Selected Topics


An updated example of chutzpah is provided by right-wing ideologues who, day after day, year after year, devote their energies to badmouthing public institutions and demanding they be stripped of resources and denied the ability to act, and who then have the gall to point to the deliberately engineered impotence of these agencies as proof that public institutions don’t work.
Neocon con game: First deprive public institutions of their ability to act, then blame them for not acting

The business of allowing polluters to buy their way out of complying with the law is an innovation with vast untapped potential. For example, law-abiding drivers could sell their unused speeding and dangerous-driving credits to drivers who want to be able to hit the road without having to worry about speed limits or the niceties of the Highway Traffic Act.
Polluted Logic

Selected Articles
By Ulli Diemer

This is a selective list of articles, long and short. For a more or less complete list of English-language articles, see Articles-EN. For articles in languages other than English, see these lists: Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Vietnamese. For a more or less complete single-page list of articles in various languages, see Articles-AZ

Pigeons and People
Every self-respecting downtown has pigeons, and pigeons have mastered the sidewalk ballet quite as expertly as we humans have.
Thinking about Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope
Reflections on Terry Fox, cancer, and the nature of hope.
The main enemy is at home
Karl Liebknecht ’s message is just as valid today as it was in 1915. For those of us who live in the U.S. Empire, that is, the United States and its NATO client states, including Canada, the main enemy is US/NATO imperialism, and our own countries’ complicity in that imperialism. This is the enemy we must fight.
Watching the News
Watching “The National” on CBC, as well as some local news programs, is proving to be an interesting experience. I haven’t lived in a house with TV for more than 15 years, and hadn’t watched TV news for many more years before that, so I come to this experience as a more-or-less naive outsider.
The intelligence of ravens and the foolishness of (some) humans
Reflections on measuring intelligence.
Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Women“s Running Revolutionary
Review of a book about youthful long-distance runner Maureen Wilton, who set a world record in the marathon when she was 13.
The people who are preparing for war, and the lies they tell
The security state and the media collaborate in spreading misinformation designed to increase the risk of confrontation and war.
Adding up to Zero
A sceptical look at “carbon-neutral” and “carbon-zero.”
November 11
Official remembrances are often about forgetting as much as they are about remembering. Remembrance Day is no exception.
Heat Wave
It’s hot. It’s really hot. It has been hot for days, and the heat isn’t going away.
Longing for freedom, and grieving loss: Reflections on watching swifts on a summer evening
The natural world is very important to me, and a source of happiness, and for that reason it is also, in these times, a source of pain and grief.
Some musings about risk
The first time my partner and I arrived in Pukaskwa, a wonderful national park on Lake Superior, planning to spend a week or so camping, we were presented with some disconcerting news. “I just want to inform you,” the person in the registration booth said, “that a woman was attacked by a bear in the park yesterday.”
Thinking Clearly in a Time of Crisis
A crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is not a time to stop thinking. It is a time when critical thinking and public discussion are more important than ever. This applies both the the pandemic itself, and to what comes after.
Morality in an Amoral World
A crisis is a mirror. A crisis like the novel coronavirus COVID-19 shows us – if we have the courage to see – who we are as individuals and as a society.
Faith, Hope and Persistence
When we look at what is happening in our world, it can be difficult to believe that there are grounds for hope, let alone faith. And yet we – we humans – continue to live and act in ways that testify to our hopes, and to our faith in the possibility of a better future.
Miriam Garfinkle: Activism, Articles, Interviews, Letters
I created this page in memory of my partner Miriam Garfinkle. It provides links to Miriam’s articles and interviews, letters; accounts of her activism and organizing; stories from some of the occasions when Miriam’s activities landed her in the news; photo albums; and tributes to Miriam.
Eulogy for Miriam
Eulogy for my partner Miriam Garfinkle.
Moments with Miriam
Miriam Garfinkle died on September 15, 2018. On this page, people who knew Miriam describe their feelings, their memories, and their moments with Miriam. There is also a PDF version of the Moments with Miriam contributions here.
Miriam Garfinkle 1954 - 2018 Obituary
Obituary for my partner Miriam Garfinkle.
Massacres and Morality
What can one say about the morality of Israeli soldiers who shoot unarmed protestors, and then are caught on camera cheering their kills? And how do we judge the civilian population of Israel, many of whom openly support and cheer their soldiers as they go about their work of killing Palestinians? And what can we say about the political leaders of other countries, Canada say, who sit down and smile and make deals with officials of the Israeli government at the very moment that the killing is going on?.
Collective Memory and Cultural Amnesia
Our society is obsessed with the short-term present. It devalues memories and the past. That’s the nature of capitalism, especially the speeded-up hypercapitalism of today. The past is useless: profits are made by getting rid of the old and replacing it with something new.
Left parties
“There is no alternative.” That is capitalism’s message in the neo-liberal era. The rich keep getting richer and richer, millions of people are unemployed, millions more are trying to survive on precarious, marginal, and part-time work, hundreds of millions are without health care, housing, education, or clean water. Environmental collapse is increasingly likely, masses of people are fleeing wars and economic disasters, nuclear war is a real danger. And all that the corporate elite, the corporate media, and the mainstream political parties have to offer is their insistence that there is nothing we can do about it: there is no alternative.
Official Enemies
We are never left in any doubt about who our enemies are. The word goes out from the United States that a certain country is a dictatorship which abuses human rights, supports terrorism, and poses a terrible threat to the U.S. and to the world. The mainstream media then swing into action with military precision and flood us with stories, images, and commentary about how dreadful country ‘X’ is.
Secrecy and power
It is one of the essential attributes of power that it insists on secrecy. Or, more precisely, those who wield power over others routinely claim that the details of what they do, and why they do it, are far too sensitive to be revealed to the public.
Public safety
It is becoming increasingly clear that we have been witnessing a drastic rolling back of the systems and structures which Western societies developed over the past century or more to safeguard public health and safety. Politicians and business leaders, permeated with free-market ideology, have been jettisoning, with little thought or understanding of the consequences, the apparatus previous generations built, piece by piece, to mitigate the most dangerous aspects of industrial civilization.
Public transit
Public transit – good affordable public transit – is key to a liveable city.
Race and class
Class conflict – first and foremost, the relationship between the capitalist class and the working class – is the fundamental contradiction that defines capitalist society. Class is a reality which simultaneously encompasses and collides with other dimensions of oppression and domination, such as gender and race.
Ultimately all power structures depend on the obedience of those over whom they rule. It helps if people believe in the legitimacy of those who wield power, but the crucial thing is obedience. Once people start to disobey in significant numbers, the dynamic of power changes fundamentally. Disobedience, especially on a large scale, shakes the power of the rulers, and increases the power of those who disobey.
‘Fake News’
“Fake news” is the latest mania to convulse the mainstream media. All at once, we’re being subjected to an outbreak of hand-wringing articles and commentaries about obscure websites which are supposedly poisoning public opinion and undermining democracy by spreading “fake news.”
Liberal Condescension
In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. election, a debate has erupted on the liberal left about the best way to deal with working class people who voted for Trump. The disagreement, for many of the participants, appears to revolve around whether liberals ought to spend their time giving patronizing lectures about white privilege, or patronizing lectures about other aspects of reality. What people on both sides of the debate seem to share is the assumption that the job of middle-class liberals is to lecture the working class.
Lurching to war
Capitalism hates competition, and the U.S., the world’s dominant capitalist power, has never tolerated competitors, rivals, or leaders who dare to put their own country ahead of U.S. interests.
Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, and Contempt for Democracy
A constant theme in elite reaction to the Brexit referendum, expressed especially through the mainstream media, has been a visceral contempt for democracy. Ordinary working people are portrayed as stupid and reactionary, incapable of understanding how wonderful the European Union project is. Again and again, one hears the comment that the great unwashed should not be allowed to vote on issues which they are incapable of understanding. This reaction is not new: ruling classes for centuries have loathed democracy, which is seen as an existential threat to the wealth and privileges of the elite.
Destabilization and regime change
People looking at the United States from the outside tend to assume that life is easy when you're an imperialist superpower in command of the world’s largest military forces, backed by the world’s most powerful economy. With so much power concentrated in your hands, what could possibly go wrong?
Science and its enemies
Our society and its institutions, public and private, regularly tell us that science, and education in the sciences, are crucial to our future. These public declarations are strangely reminiscent of the equally sincere lip service they pay to the ideals of democracy. And, in the same way that governments and private corporations devote considerable efforts to undermining the reality of democracy, so too they are frequently found trying to block and subvert science when the evidence it produces runs counter to their interests. Real live scientists doing real live science, it seems, are not nearly as loveable as Science in the abstract.
The Case for Grassroots Archives
Preserving the documentary history of grassroots movements has largely fallen to individuals and small organizations who have seen the importance of preventing this history from disappearing “down the memory hole.”
Also available in French and Farsi.
A comment on John Holloway’s Read Capital: The First Sentence
Capital, and Marxist theory generally, can’t be interpreted on the basis of what Marx put in the first sentence of the book.
TIFF’s corporate mentality
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) tries to prevent anyone from handing out flyers to people standing on the sidewalk waiting for a film.
A quick note on neoliberalism and state capitalism
The key to understanding neo-liberalism is power, not ideology. Capitalists have always sought to get everything they possibly can, while resisting any controls on capital and its activities.
Questions about Israel’s attack on Gaza
Why do these terrible outbreaks of violence keep happening? Written during the Israeli attack on Gaza in July 2014.
Birth of Karl Marx: May 5, 1818
Marx breathes dialectics and revolution. For Marx, radicalism means going to the root, and Marx–s radicalism seeks to go to the root of capitalism, to comprehend its essence dialectically, to understand its inherent contradictions – and the seeds of revolution it contains...
Returning to chess
Rediscovering chess after years of not playing.
National Post columnist traumatized by having to wait his turn
Jonathan Kay thinks people with money should get quicker treatment in emergency rooms than people who are poor.
Medicare Myths and Realities
Since medicare is an extremely popular social program, the media and right-wing politicians have learned that it is unwise to attack it directly. Instead, they propagate myths designed to undermine public support for, and confidence in, the health care system, with the goal of gradually undermining and dismantling it.
My politics in brief
I am a libertarian socialist. My goal is the end of capitalism and its replacement by socialism, ‘an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.’
Tactics of desperation: Using false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a weapon to silence criticism of Israel’s behaviour
The attempt to outlaw criticism as Israel by labelling it as ‘anti-Semitism’ is a serious threat which needs to be exposed and challenged, but it also a sign of desperation.
‘Free speech’ – as long as it doesn’t offend anyone
Many people claim to be in favour of free speech: but only so long as it isn’t used to express views they find unacceptable or offensive.
Why make a fuss about the murder of a brown-skinned Muslim girl?
History gives us numerous examples of social movements which come, over time, to adopt positions directly opposed to the principles on which they were founded. It appears this has happened to the “feminists” who seek to silence those who speak out about violence against Muslim women.
Inclusion or exclusion
People who advocate a vision of distinct communities that speak different languages, keep apart from each other, and communicate with the structures of the larger society only through interpreters, are doing more harm than good. What they are advocating is not diversity but entrenched division.
Free speech for me – you shut up
The right to express offensive views is at the very heart of the princple of free speech.
Free speech and acceptable truths
Some suggestions for making universities safe by purging them of dangerous words, ideas, and thoughts.
National Post columnist traumatized by having to wait his turn
Jonathan Kay thinks people with money should get quicker treatment in emergency rooms than people who are poor.
The Iraq crisis in context
A rogue state, heavily armed with weapons of mass destruction, openly contempuous of international law and the United Nations, plunges the world into crisis.
Abandoning the public interest
The neo-liberal drive to cut red tape is costing lives. Exposing the hidden costs of deregulation and privatization.
Contamination: The Poisonous Legacy of Ontario’s Environmental Cutbacks
A story about fanaticism and death: The story of Ontario’s right-wing Harris government, which gutted health and environmental protection polices, leading to the Walkerton water disaster.
Canada’s Distorted Electoral System
Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system is notorious for producing results at odds with the wishes of the electorate. There are alternatives.
Ten Health Care Myths: Understanding Canada’s Medicare Debate
Medicare’s opponents have launched a sustained ideological attack on medicare. Their propaganda relies on myths and misrepresentations.
Introduction to the Connexions Annual
We have to answer two simple questions: How are we going to live? and What do we do now? The Connexions Annual is dedicated to the idea that change is both possible and necessary.
Thinking About Self-Determination
Does that familiar canon of the left, ‘the right to self-determination’, actually mean anything, or is it an empty slogan whose main utility is that it relieves us of the trouble of thinking critically?
Dances with Guilt: Looking at Men Looking at Violence
When we throw around indiscriminate terms like ‘male violence’ and give credence to theories that men are inherently violent, we are slandering men who are not violent and, unthinkingly, we are actually perpetuating the stereotype that to be a man is to be violent.
What Do We Do Now? Building a social movement in the aftermath of Free Trade
We have the potential to create a social movement in this country that goes beyond single-issue organizing to work toward an integrated vision of a more just and caring society.
Interview with Ulli Diemer
Jeff Orchard interviews Ulli Diemer about socialism, capitalism, life, and social change.
Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves About the NDP
Canadian socialists are terribly reluctant to give up their illusions about the NDP. No matter how often we are beaten over the head with the hard facts, no matter how often the party lets us down, no matter how far to the right it drifts, we don’t want to face the bitter truth.
One Vote for Democracy
The ‘consensus’ model of group decision-making rarely works well. The democratic model is better both in principle and in practice.
Against All Odds
The shadow which haunts the power structure is the danger that those who are controlled will come to realize that they are powerless only so long as they think they are. Once people stop believing they are powerless, then the whole edifice which they support is in danger of collapse.
Rights and Liberties
Civil liberties and human rights appear as a key dimension in almost every other field of social justice and social change, but those who seek a freer and more just society cannot rely on the state to achieve their goals.

Articles A-Z
Alphabetical list of articles, reviews & letters, in multiple languages
Subject Index
Subject index of articles on the site

Connexions is an online library/archive/website of articles and documents about social change. My contributions include Seeds of Fire, a people’s chronology, the Manifestos page, an Alternative Media list, the Connexions Quotations page, the page of Organizing resources, and the subject index and search engine for the website.
Other Voices
Other Voices is the electronic newsletter published by Connexions. I edit it and usually write an introduction to each issue. All issues are available on the Connexions website. The introductions to each issue, all of which I wrote, are here
Seven News Articles
A selection of some of the articles I wrote for Seven News, a community newspaper published in Toronto. Seven News is archived online here.
Selected Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor.
Quotes and Snippets
Short bits and pieces from Radical Digressions.
Other Voices Introductions
Newsletter introductions.

Pukaskwa. Photo by Ulli Diemer.