Articles in English
By Ulli Diemer

All articles on this site are available in English. Some articles are also available in the following languages: French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Farsi, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Abandoning the public interest
The neo-liberal drive to cut red tape is costing lives. Exposing the hidden costs of deregulation and privatization.
After Typhoon Haiyan: The true face of the capitalist state
In times of disaster, the capitalist state shows its true face.
Adding up to Zero
A sceptical look at “carbon-neutral” and “carbon-zero.”
Afghanistan and the ‘experts’
The ‘experts’ are never wrong. When each intervention turns into yet another predictable disaster – predicted by others, of course, not by the ‘experts’ – the ‘experts’ never acknowledge their mistakes, and the media never holds them to account.
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.
Algonquin Winter
The joys of winter in the wild.
Alternative media
It’s no wonder that the mainstream media are widely distrusted, and even held in contempt, by many people. They are seen, rightly, as part of the neoliberal system people are increasingly rejecting. On the other hand, the Internet has made it possible to launch a vast number of alternative media projects.
An alternative media list
An annotated guide to alternative English-language news sources.
Anarchism vs. Marxism
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.
Annals of the Firebreather - book review
Review of Marcel Horne’s memoir.
Anti-Vaxxer Protest
Dropping in on an anti-vaxxer protest.
Are the police doing their jobs?
It makes no sense to demand that the police “do their job”. The job of the police is to protect the wealth and power of the ruling elite against any challenge.
Arts, Media, Culture Overview for the Connexions Annual
Auto worker says automation creates worker alienation
It is only struggle, says Martin Glaberman, that creates an awareness of collective strength.

Bain Co-op hit by rent strike
Minority of residents launch rent strike while majority pursues co-op ownership.
Bain Co-op OKs evictions
Residents refusing to pay their full rent are to be served eviction notices.
Bain Co-op meets Wages for Housework
The story of the struggle that gave birth to a housing co-operative and destroyed the credibility of the ‘Wages for Housework’ sect.
Bakunin vs. Marx
The anarchist-Marxist split started with Bakunin, who systematically misrepresented Marx’s positions.
Beyond the Walls
Living life in a world of lockdowns and walls.
The biggest threat to a free society is freedom of speech, says Canada’s Public Safety Minister
Canada’s “Public Safety” Minister Steven Blaney says that the Holocaust could have been prevented if only Germany hadn’t suffered from an excess of freedom of speech.
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...
The Bomb won’t go away on its own
Our task is to break out of this closed self-justifying system by depriving governments of the passive populations they need, by refusing to accept the choices we are offered and instead becoming active participants pressuring them to accept our proposals.
February 14 is World Bonobo Day.
A bookstore moment
When you need some books...
Breaking News! Saddam Alive!
Confidential intelligence sources whose identity can’t be revealed have confirmed that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is still alive, and is in possession of weapons of mass destruction which could be launched within minutes.
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.
The bright side
The glory of our free media, where every journalist thinks for him- or herself.
Life and death, memory and grief, walk hand in hand.
By the people, for the people?
A tiny group of appointed politicians is ignoring the what the people have said they want.

The Canada Metals Story: A chronology
The ongoing struggle against lead pollution in South Riverdale.
The Canada-Soviet hockey summit 1972
Written shortly after the end of the 1972 hockey series between a Soviet team and a Canadian team comprised of players from the National Hockey League.
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.
The Capital Punishment Debate
The cold-blooded killing of a human being is horrifying. The existence of capital punishment make us all complicit in killing, and degrades us as a society.
Chemicals in your water: A little is too much
The irresponsible dumping of chemicals in and near water endangers us all.
Chomsky turns 70
Chomsky’s immense contributions have helped me feel more optimistic and helped me keep my energies focused on activism.
Chomsky’s Determination to change society before it slides into irreversible barbarism
Review of For Reasons of State
Circle in the Darkness: Memoir of a World Watcher - Book Review
Diana Johnstone provides a compelling and insightful account of her decades as a journalist, academic, activist, and truth seeker.
Close Encounter with a Red-tailed Hawk
A life-and-death drama in downtown Toronto.
Collective Memory, Archives, and the Connexions project
Michael Riordon interviews Ulli Diemer.
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.
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.
Comments on ‘religious rights’ and on the Notwithstanding Clause
Raising some questions about the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s approach to religious practices and to the Notwithstanding Clause.
Community, Urban, Housing Overview for the Connexions Annual
The Connexions Annual: Introductions to the directory & its sections
Constructive criticism can be a good thing
It’s counterproductive to say that for the sake of “unity” we shouldn’t criticize others in the environmental movement. Principled debate and critcism when it is called for helps us clarify issues and move forward.
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.
A Conversation with Don Weitz
Activist Don Weitz interviewed by Ulli Diemer, December 8, 2016.
A Conversation with Howard Huggett
Socialist Howard Huggett was interviewed by Ulli Diemer on May 24, 1989.
A Conversation with Joy Kogawa
Ulli Diemer spoke with Joy Kogawa in Toronto on March 14, 2017.
Corporate crime
Corporations have increasingly become legally unaccountable for their behaviour. All too often corporations break the law and engage in criminal acts which would be severely punished if they were committed by ordinary individuals. These illegal acts range from deliberate health and safety violations that cost lives, to land seizures, to environmental negligence that contaminates lands and waters. Most of these illegal acts are never prosecuted, and those that are, are usually dealt with by a fine that corporations can treat as a cost of doing business.
Covered Bridge Potato Chips
The search for Sea Salt and Pepper potato chips.

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.
Why I miss deadlines.
Dear Al Gorithm
The algorithms have it all figured out.
Death on Yonge Street
This city, which usually seems far too cynical and hurried to care very much about anything any more, has been deeply shocked and violently angered by the murder of the little shoe-shine boy, Emmanuel Jaques, on Yonge Street.
El Debate de la Pena Capital
Debating the NDP
The Left has been trying to ‘move the NDP to the left’ since 1933, achieving pretty much the same result as a dog chasing its tail.
Deep thinking about what the census shows
The experts analyze population trends, and come up with some surprising conclusions.
Democracy loses out
The people can say what they want, they can vote how they want, but the bureaucrats make the decisions.
Depression and Joy
It’s a difficult thing to measure, but there are strong reasons for believing that the number of people struggling with depression has increased significantly in recent decades. Despite the evidence that this is a social problem, and not merely an individual misfortune, the solutions and escapes on offer are almost all individual: pharmaceuticals and therapy, on the one hand; self-medication with alcohol, streets drugs, television, etc., on the other.
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?
Development, International Overview for the Connexions Annual
Diemer, Karl: 1920 - 2006
Obituary of Karl Heinz Diemer.
Diminishing residential schools abuse?
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.
Drowning in a Sea of Lies
Lies are the lifeblood of the world we live in. The American-dominated international order is rooted in violence and exploitation, but lies are its language, its public face, and its spiritual essence.
Drug strike long and nasty
A strike by 400 workers against a Ward 7 company is entering its ninth week with no end in sight.

Economy, Poverty, Work Overview for the Connexions Annual
The end of carding?
Education, Children Overview for the Connexions Annual
Environment, Land Use, Rural Overview for the Connexions Annual
Eratosthenes: Measuring the Earth on the Solstice
The Solstice is a special day, and for nerds like me, it’s also historic because it was on the Solstice in 240 BCE that Eratosthenes, a Greek geographer, mathematician, astronomer, poet, and librarian, first calculated the circumference of the earth.
Eulogy for Miriam
Eulogy for Miriam Garfinkle.
An evening paddle
On a canoe you can go places you can’t approach in a car or even on foot, moving quietly or staying still in one spot. Life slows down, and you can breathe.

Fading to Silence?
Major social media and search platforms have become extremely adept at disappearing alternative points of view simply by adjusting their algorithms.
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.
“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.”
Fallacies about free public transit
Opponents of free public transit resort to two fallacious arguments.
Farewell to Facebook?
Facebook is telling me that I will be locked out of my account unless I start using ‘Facebook Protect.’
Farewell to the Guardian
When a newspaper has arrived at the point of praising war criminals while deluding itself that it is holding the powerful to account, I know that it’s not a newspaper that I want to keep receiving.
A few decide where we live
We have to abolish a system whereby a tiny handful with a lot of money can decide how thousands of other people are going to live, how thin their walls are going to be, how much sunshine they’ll be able to get, where their children will play.
Foggy fireworks don’t flop
A special evening watching fireworks in the fog.
Following the Science?
“Following the science” has been the mantra of public officials from the very beginning of the pandemic. But what does “following the science” actually mean?
Free speech and acceptable truths
Some suggestions for making universities safe by purging them of dangerous words, ideas, and thoughts.
‘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.
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 Trade Debate: Look at the Contents, Not Just the Label
A response to criticisms of ‘What Do We Do Now? Building a social movement in the aftermath of Free Trade’.
Free Trade Emotions, Pro and Con
Ordinary people shouldn’t react emotionally to “free trade,” we are told, because corporate leaders might get upset.
“Free trade” fantasies
Economist wants us to pretend that giving control of a substantial proportion of the Canadian economy to the United States is of now more significance than choosing which corner store to patronize.
Freedom Convoy
A report from the “Freedom Convoy” protesting vaccine mandates.
From Cold War I to Cold War II: A brief history
A brief history of the closing years of the Cold War and the development of a new cold war.
From Lenin to Stalin (book review)
Victor Serge’s first-hand account of the Stalinist takeover in Russia.

Gaza 2023: Dehumanization and humanity
Introduction to the November 4, 2023 issue of Other Voices, devoted to the ongoing horror of Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza.
Gentle Patriot - book review
Review of Gentle Patriot: A Political Biography of Walter Gordon.
Giant Squid
Researcher hopes to find the rare Giant Squid – so he can kill it.
The Globe and Mail reports on protests
No surprises when the corporate media report on protests.
Gordie Howe is still #1
The National Hockey League continues to pretend that the World Hockey Association didn't exist.
Grand narratives?
Those who reject ‘grand narratives’ have simply bought into the hoariest grand narrative of all, the one which says that capitalism is all-powerful and eternal.
Grassroots Cells, Devil’s Architects Defend Community: Review of The Householders Guide to Community Defence Against Bureaucratic Aggression
Organizational principles and campaign tactics communities can use to fight projects or developments being foisted on them.
Grassroots Media Relations
A guide for activists on getting media coverage.
Greece, Debt, and Crises
The ordinary citizens of Greece (and other countries) never saw the money loaned to ‘Greece’ and derived no benefit from it. Yet they are expected to suffer the elimination of their jobs, wages, pensions, health and social services, etc., in order to repay the money looted by the oligarchs.
Green Municipalism
A green municipalist analysis offers valuable perspectives but can become a straightjacket if it is seen as ‘the’ answer.
Guidelines for police in dealing with mentally ill people
An investigative report report by the CBC shows that more than 460 people in Canada have died in encounters with police since the year 2000.

Have you heard the one about the negligent official and the obtuse columnist?
When people die as a consequence of your failures, joking about it just isn’t on.
He who pays the piper
Community groups have become dependent on government money resulting in an erosion of their community base and their independence.
Health Overview for the Connexions Annual
Heat Wave
It’s hot. It’s really hot. It has been hot for days, and the heat isn’t going away.
Hearts and Minds: How Do People Change?
How can we reach the millions we need to reach and engage if fundamental change is to happen? How can we accomplish the essential task of persuading a majority of the population that a fundamental social and economic transformation is necessary?
February 15 is World Hippopotamus Day.
How are the Germans keeping warm?
War rages – and Russia keeps exporting natural gas to Germany. Russian and Ukrainian technicians work together to keep it moving.
How I got vaccinated
Quick and easy.
How they shot those campus bums
The Truth About Kent State (review).
How Things Don’t Work (book review)
Review of a book by Victor Papanek & James Hennessey
Howard Huggett interview
Socialist Howard Huggett was interviewed by Ulli Diemer on May 24, 1989.
Human Rights & Civil Liberties Overview for the Connexions Annual
Hungary 1956: A workers’ revolt crushed by the “workers’ state”
The Hungarian revolution, brief though it was, did as much as a century of socialist theorizing to show what a united and determined people could do to transform their society.

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.
Inflated claims about Software Piracy
Money that isn’t spent on software isn’t ‘lost’ to the economy — it is spent on something else.
The intelligence of ravens and the foolishness of (some) humans
On the fallacy of thinking that intelligence is a thing that can be measured and quantified.
An Intelligent Guide to Intelligent Research
Review of the Oxford Guide to Library Research, a first-rate guide to how to think about research and how to formulate strategies for answering research questions.
International communism well documented in new publications
A review of three books about the Third International.
Interview with Ulli Diemer
Jeff Orchard interviews Ulli Diemer about socialism, capitalism, life, and social change.
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.
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.
Is that an archive in your basement... or are you just hoarding?
Are you an ‘accidental archivist’?
Is this how it all ends?
The risk of nuclear war is increasing day by day.
Israel: A Colonial Settler State (Book review)
The tragedy of two peoples brought into conflict by forces largely outside of their control.

Joy Kogawa in conversation with Ulli Diemer
Ulli Diemer spoke with Joy Kogawa in Toronto on March 14, 2017.
Joyce Nelson
Remembering Joyce Nelson.

Karl Diemer: 1920 - 2006
Obituary of Karl Heinz Diemer.
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.
Keep stressing the issue of democracy
The issue of democracy, or the lack of it, connects, or has the potential to connect, many struggles and movements.
Kogawa, Joy – In conversation with Ulli Diemer
Ulli Diemer spoke with Joy Kogawa in Toronto on March 14, 2017.

Lady Martha’s story
Normally, I delete the spam that gets past the filter into my mailbox as quickly as anyone. But I do have a sneaking fondness for those occasional carefully crafted letters that tell a complete and compelling story. Some of these are almost works of literature, little Chekovian gems in their own way. If Alice Munro fell on hard times and had to support herself writing spam, these are the stories she would tell to get her hands on our banking information.
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.
Legal decisions threaten press freedom
Press freedom is under attack, computer systems and police files are undermining our privacy, books are being banned, trials are being held is secret, police powers are being greatly expanded, governments are competing with each other in passing repressive legislation.
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals Chapter Overview for the Connexions Annual
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.
Letter to Metro Morning
Metro Morning, which is so welcoming and inclusive towards all manner of cultures and creative endeavours, is known for not giving coverage to events or groups which bring Palestinians and Jews together in dialogue and in working for peace.
Lewis attacks Waffle, begins to purge faction from NDP
In March 1972, Ontarion NDP leader Stephen Lewis delivered a major attack against the party's left-wing Waffle group, laying the ground for forcing the Waffle to either disband or to leave the party.
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.
Lissa Donner 1955 -2017
Remembering Lissa Donner 1955 - 2017.
Local NDP Fights to Keep Waffle Movement in Party
The NDP’s St. David provincial riding association is working to find a way of keeping the Waffle movement in the party, challenging Stephen Lewis’s move to expel the Waffle.
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.
Looking for Democracy
The revolutionary upheavals in Eastern Europe are an inspiration for everyone working for social change and show us that even the most seemingly entrenched system of control can be overthrown by popular movements.
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.

M is for Miriam (book announcement)
A children“s book about the life of Miriam Garfinkle.
The main enemy is at home
The main enemy is at home. That enemy – U.S. imperialism, NATO, Canada’s complicity, and the military-industrial complex – is the enemy we must fight.
Make the Don a Museum of Horrors
A museum depicting what prison is really like might motivate us to demand radical changes to the way we deal with offenders.
Margaret Somerville’s yucky logic
Dr. Margaret Somerville claims that the ‘yuck reaction’ some people feel when contemplating abortion is evidence that abortion violates our innate “moral instinct.”
Marguerite has come a long way
Literacy student writes the story of her life.
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?.
The meaning of “democracy”
Democracy as defined by the corporate media is a safe election every four years or so in which voters choose between corporate-dominated parties whose policies are virtually indistinguishable on all fundamental issues.
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.
Meeting the Challenge of the Right
When we talk about the Right, it is well to keep in mind that “the Right” is by no means a unified political force or organization, but rather a label used to describe a disparate collection of ideologies, parties, groups, and individuals.
Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Women’s Running Revolutionary
Book review
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.
Miriam Garfinkle 1954 - 2018
Obituary for my partner Miriam Garfinkle.
(Mis-)Remembering D-Day
The campaign to defeat the armies of Nazi Germany began in the East, and was primarily waged by the Soviet Union. The Soviets did the lion’s share of the fighting, suffered most of the casualties, and inflicted the bulk of the losses sustained by the German army.
A moment at the pizza place
A moment in the polling station
A moment on Queen Street
Moments. (PDF version here)
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.
Morality in 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.
More biased reporting from the CBC
CBC reporting reflects the perspectives of South Africa’ss apartheid government.
More than one way to strike
Rather than simply walk away from their vehicles, drivers could keep driving, but refuse to collect fares. This puts pressure on the employer without inconveniencing riders.
Mr. Hardass
A moment in the surgical waiting room.
The myth of a free market in publishing and high-tech
The high-tech industries owe their existence not to ‘free enterprise’, but to massive levels of government subsidies and intervention.

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.
Native Peoples Chapter Overview for the Connexions Annual
Nature Calendar 2019
2019 Calendar featuring photographs by Miriam Garfinkle.
Nature Calendar 2020
2020 Calendar featuring photographs by Miriam Garfinkle.
Nature Calendar 2021
2021 Calendar featuring photographs by Miriam Garfinkle.
Nature Calendar 2022
2022 Calendar featuring photographs by Miriam Garfinkle.
Nature Calendar 2023
2023 Calendar featuring photographs by Miriam Garfinkle.
Nelson, Joyce
Remembering Joyce Nelson.
Neo-con game
First starve the public sector of resources so it can’t act, then blame it for not acting.
New Hogtown Press
Profile of a left-wing Canadian book and magazine publisher.
A new laneway mural by Nick Sweetman
Chickadees in Miriam Garfinkle Lane.
Noam Chomsky turns 70
Chomsky’s immense contributions have helped me feel more optimistic and helped me keep my energies focused on activism.
Not guilty means not guilty
The gay news magazine, The Body Politic, is organizing a public campaign to make Attorney General Roy McMurtry withdraw an appeal against the magazine's acquittal on obscenity charges.
Notwithstanding Clause
The notwithstanding clause makes it possible for legislatures to overrule the courts. There are times when this is necessary, and a good thing. There are also times when it can be abused.
November 11
Official remembrances are often about forgetting as much as they are about remembering. Remembrance Day is no exception.

Obscenity Exposed
The police definition of ‘obscenity’ gets right to the crux of the question.
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.
Offsetting pedestrian deaths
Perhaps it’s time to borrow the concept of “offsetting” from the climate change front and apply it to problem of pedestrian fatalities.
150 Years of Dirty Water
Toronto’s water has been polluted pretty much since the beginning. That doesn’t mean we should put up with it.
One-sided discussion of free trade avoids key issues
‘Business’ is also about the people who actually work in the offices, factories, and farms, who are so profoundly affected by what happens in the world of capital.
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.
Only Christians Need Apply
Despite a clear provision in the Ontario Human Rights Code forbidding religious discrimination in hiring, a local group is urging people to give jobs to Christians.
Opposing Censorship
It is dangerous to think that liberation can be promoted by repressive legislation and censorship.
Organizing for social change: resources
Change requires organizing. Power gives way only when it is challenged by a movement for change, and movements grow out of organizing. Organizing is qualitatively different from simple “activism”. Organizing means sustained long-term conscious effort to bring people together to work for common goals. This is a selection of articles, books, and other resources related to organizing.
Ads targetting propaganda spread by right-wing business lobby.
Our job is to oppose the U.S.-NATO Empire
The U.S.-NATO empire is the main enemy for those of us who live in that empire. That empire is far and away the main enemy of peace, and of working people, in the world today.

Peace Chapter Overview for the Connexions Annual
People vs expressways battle is on again
After being beaten back five years ago, the expressway proponents are crawling out of the woodwork with their old plans, with only the tactics and the terminology changed.
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.
Photography and the Landscape of Memory
A good nature photo takes you beyond the photo. It makes you wonder ‘What is this place?’ ‘What happens next?’.
Pigeons and People
Every self-respecting downtown has pigeons, and pigeons have mastered the sidewalk ballet quite as expertly as we humans have.
The police vs. the law
In a democracy the police have to obey the law. In a police state, they don’t.
Political doubletalk
Perhaps the most striking thing about most politicians is that they seem completely incapable of giving a straight answer to anything, of talking in ordinary language, of communicating. Language for them isn’t a way of getting ideas across, but of confusing people so they won’t understand what’s really going on.
Politics of Illusion
Elections have become a contest to determine who is the best actor.
Polluted Logic
The idea of letting companies buy their way out of complying with the law is an idea with vast untapped potential.
Preface to Martin Glaberman’s Four Essays on the Working Class
Glaberman insists that the working class is not merely a victim of capitalism — working people are active participants in creating their own consciousness, their methods of struggle and their own history.
Private ownership of long-term care homes means overcrowding and more deaths
private ownership is associated with overcrowding, failure to invest in modernization, and more deaths.
Profits: now you see them, now you don’t
A private developer seems to be moving quickly into the non-profit housing field.
Progressives shouldn’t be begging the police to take more power
The last thing we need is to hand the police even more power to decide what we are allowed to see or read.
Psychotherapist Out of Touch
In this psychotherapist’s emotionally constipated vision of family life, there is no room for spontaneous physical expressions of affection.
Public Housing Redesign
Our obsessive and utterly futile ‘war’ against drugs is turning tens of thousands of people into ‘criminals’ and corrupting our entire society.
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.
A puzzling moment in the park
A woman, a German Shepherd, a conversation, and a game of fetch.

Questions about Israel’s Attack on Gaza
Quick Digressions
Quick bits and pieces from Radical Digressions. (Snippets: HTML version)
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.

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.
Radical Newspapers
A radical newspaper succeeds to the extent that in engages in dialogue with its readers and community, rather than it preaching to them.
Random Impressions
Brief items from Radical Digressions.
Red tape bad, more red tape better
The Ontario government is “cutting red tape” in its own special way.
Remembering Lissa Donner
Lissa Donner 1955 - 2017.
Resisting neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a fraud. The so-called free markets and free trade which it pretends to promote are in fact controlled by giant corporations, and massively subsidized by workers and ordinary citizens.
Response to criticisms of Dances with Guilt
A critique of Dances with Guilt said comments and attitudes are forms of ‘violence’ comparable to, or worse than, physical violence. This response argues that while verbal and emotional abuse can be very hurtful, beating someone up is qualitatively different from verbal aggression, and we should not say they are the same.
Returning to Chess
Rediscovering chess.
Review falsifies history
The voters rejected free trade – and got it anyway. That’s how our democracy works.
Review of the Press: Portugal 1974
The subtext of mainstream media coverage of social upheavals in post-fascist Portugal is that a return to dictatorship is necessary and inevitable to preserve the social order.
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.
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg’s revolutionary perspective includes supporting pressure for reforms within capitalism, but she is utterly clear that reforms cannot bring about fundamental change, that socialism can only come about through revolution.

Saddam Alive!
Confidential intelligence sources whose identity can’t be revealed have confirmed that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is still alive, and is in possession of weapons of mass destruction which could be launched within minutes.
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.
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.
Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology
Recalling events that happened on this day in history. Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.
Self-determination for whom?
Do the Cree of Northern Quebec have the right to self-determination? If some regions of Quebec want to stay part of Canada, do they have the right to self-determination?
Frank Showler
Remembering Frank Showler, 1919-2022
“Silencing” the unsilent
Politicians are constantly attacking and putting down opposing politicians. But if a female politician is criticized by a male politician, then, according to a Toronto Star columnist, the male politician is “silencing” the woman politician.
Situation Normal – April 1, 2021
News from the real world and beyond.
Situation Normal – May 1, 2021
News from the real world and beyond.
Situation Normal – June 1, 2021
News from the real world and beyond.
Situation Normal – February 24, 2022
News from the real world and beyond.
Situation Normal – May 25, 2022
News from the real world and beyond.
Situation Normal – November 28, 2022
News from the real world and beyond.
Skeptic no more
I used to be a hard-boiled cynic when it came to those alleged miraculous apparations of religious or pop culture figures whose images are always being spotted in various and sundry mundane objects. Jesus in a tortilla, the Virgin Mary in a watermelon, Elvis in a peanut butter sandwich – I scoffed. Until this week, when something quite extraordinary happened.
Smuggling Garbage
To reduce garbage we need to start at the point of production, and we need more incentives such as refundable deposits on everything from tires to household appliances.
Social Distancing
the rules around social distancing need careful thinking about these days, and it’s sometimes difficult for grown-ups to figure them out, so it’s helpful to have a three-year-old skilled in the use of Socratic questioning to guide you in the right direction.
Soil removal a possibility
The soil around houses in South Riverdale is so contaminated with lead that it may have to be removed.
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.”
Some of my best comrades are friends
The left’s sloppy use of language indicates sloppy thinking.
Something has to give
Emotional issues are potent. Left-leaning and reform candidates can be very vulnerable if right-wing groups are able to seize on emotional questions and make them issues during the an election campaign.
Special Places: Photography and the Landscape of Memory
Special places are not necessarily spectacular places. What makes them special can be subtle.
Sports and Politics
Sports in general, and the Olympics in particular, have never been free of politics. Allegations of bribery and cheating had already been part of the Olympics for centuries before that noteworthy day in 67 AD when the judges proclaimed the Emperor Nero winner of the Olympic chariot race even though he had been thrown from his chariot and failed to complete the race.
Spring sprung, grass riz, wonder where birdies is
Whether we’re ready to believe it or not, spring is upon us, and if we go out and look for it, we’ll come across signs that establish that fact much more firmly and decisively than the passing moods of the weather.
STOL lands again
The proposal for a major commercial airport on the Toronto Islands appears to be back on the agenda.
Stop TTC fare increase
Governments apply a double standard. They demand that public transit pay for itself and that health care and education be judged by ‘cost-benefit’ analyses. But they apply no such standard to industrial policy where billions of dollars are shelled out.
Strange Sounds Up in the Trees
Up in the tree: a weird combination of whistles, clacking sounds, chuckling, rattling, in no particular sequence that I can make out, and certainly not musical. What on earth?
Strike at the Post Office
Fed up with the endless hysteria in all the media about the post office and postal workers.
Super Salad
A moment in a coffee shop.
Supremacy, oppression, and power
It is the structures of domination and power, that create racism, sexism, etc., in order to justify the existence of unequal wealth, power and the oppression that goes with them.

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.
Taking a Stand
People across the country, and around the world, are taking a stand and disrupting business as usual.
Tax Evasion
The essence of the capitalist economic system is the drive to accumulate as much as possible, by any means possible. It is almost inevitable, therefore, that those – individuals or corporations – whose existence revolves around accumulating capital will seek to avoid paying taxes.
Teaching adults how to read
Learning to read means gaining more control over one’s life.
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.
Ten Lost Years (book review)
Review of Barry Broadfoot;s oral history of the Great Depression.
Their Internet or Ours?
The Internet, at one time a free & open space for sharing information & ideas, has been privatized & twisted to serve the profit-making agenda of huge corporations, working hand-in-glove with governments which want to suppress opposition & criticism. What happened? Is it their Internet or Ours?
A theological moment
Purgatory and beyond.
Things are getting better and better and bettxrxr and bxzyxxx
Please hold: we are experiencing a higher volume of calls than usual.
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?
Thinkig about Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope
Reflections on Terry Fox, cancer, and the nature of hope.
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.
Thoughts about the “college-educated left”
Today, in the neo-liberal phase of capitalism, neo-liberal ideology is dominant in the universities. Neo-liberalism denies the idea of class, denies that there are any alternatives to capitalism, and rejects so-called ‘grand theories’ which view capitalism as a historical period with a beginning and an eventual end.
Time for Creative Disruption?
Ideas for ‘creatively disrupting’ capitalism.
Today’s newspaper
You can buy today’s Globe and Mail even in rural Newfoundland, as long as you are a bit patient.
Toronto’s finest
Too many cops seem to enjoy intimidating people and smashing things.
Toronto’s historic cemeteries
Cemeteries of old Toronto.
Toronto’s newest street sign
Announcing Miriam Garfinkle Lane.
Toronto’s ravines — our to preserve
Toronto’s ravines are a treasure; it’s up to us to preserve them.
Toward the light
Introduction to the December 2, 2023 issue of Other Voices, the Connexions newsletter.
Trade agreements and the corporate war on democracy
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiated in secret, and designed to be rubber-stamped by national governments on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, is best understood as a major milestone in the long-term war waged by the corporate elite against any form of democracy. It gives corporations the power to block any environmental protections or health and safety legislation that could be interpreted as interfering with a corporation’s ‘right’ to make a profit by doing whatever it wants.
Trotskyism and the Vanguard Party
Trotskyists maintain that the vanguard party model holds the key to bringing about revolutionary change. The record of Trotksyism shows that vanguard parties are actually a political dead end.
True Facts
Gleanings from the media.
Twenty years of I.F. Stone
Perceptive, analytical, well-written, witty, and drawing on a vast, eclectic store of knowledge.

Ulli’s Newfoundland Tips
Some personal advice for someone making a road trip from Central Canada to the island of Newfoundland.
The Unfashionable Human Body (book review)
Review of book by Bernard Rudolfsky
Upholding journalistic principles
One mark of how seriously the Toronto Star takes its journalistic mission is that it has a Public Editor.
Utopian visions, be they practical or not, free our imaginations, if only for a little while, from the daily grind of struggle and worry, and allow us to dream about the kind of world we would hope to live in. Such dreams can inspire us and guide us, even if they are not always quite practical.

Viet peace will come with victory
Editorial on the Vietnam War.

War in the Gulf
Written upon the outbreak of the 1991 Iraq War.
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.
Were Marx’s principles only skin deep?
A British dermatologist has managed to get himself worldwide publicity with an article suggesting that Karl Marx’s painful skin condition may have caused him to say all those mean things about capitalism.
What are we eating?
What are we eating? A simple question which opens up a labyrinth of devilishly complex issues about production and distribution, access to land, control of water, prices, health and safety, migrant labour, and much else?
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.
What is Libertarian Socialism?
Revolution is a collective process of self-liberation: people and societies are transformed through their struggles for freedom and for a better world.
What is Stephen Harper doing to Canada?
The Harper regime has had a toxic effect on Canada. The wealthy are better off, but most Canadians are worse off, and rights and freedoms, democracy, access to information, and science have suffered.
What Next?
In the midst of our activism and organizing, we need to keep asking ourselves some important questions: What are our goals? And what should we do to reach our goals?
What’s Wrong with Front Yard Parking?
The negative effects of front yard parking are significant, and affect us all. The benefits are small, and go only to a few.
White-throated Sparrow
Why aren’t we expelling Israel’s diplomats?
Canada expelled Russian diplomats on the strength of unsubstantiated allegations that Russia was involved in the poisoning of a former spy in Britain. Will Canada now expel Israeli diplomats in condemnation of Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza?
Why make a fuss about the the murder of a brown-skined Muslim girl
Why things don’t work (book review)
There are lots of guides explaining how things work. This one explains how they don’t — and why they don’t.
Why vote?
What difference will voting make?
Women chapter Overview for the Connexions Annual
Words, Words, Words
One of the most striking things about the left is its habitual abuse of language.
Workers and Climate Change
Many elements of the environmental movement have been guilty of ignoring working people, while others actually blame ordinary working people for climate change and the injustices associated with it. Yet it is working people who are dying, in many places, even now, from excessive heat in factories, fields, construction sites, and homes. And million of working people stand to lose their jobs, homes, and communities in the transition to a low-carbon or no-carbon economy.
World Bonobo Day
February 14 is World Bonobo Day.
World Curlew Day
April 21 is World Curlew Day.
World Frog Day
March 20 is World Frog Day.
World Hippopotamus Day
February 15 is World Hippopotamus Day.

Yes Means No?
Puritans may not like it, but some people actually enjoy sex under circumstances that puritans don’t approve of.
Yes to life – In spite of everything
Children and Israel’s war on Gaza 2006 - 2024.

Publications & websites I’ve edited or written for + miscellaneous lists of articles

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.
Connexions Digest
The Connexions Digest was published by Connexions from 1976 to 1994 (with some variations in the name during the years of its publication). I was a member of the editorial collective from issue #36 to the final print issue in 1994 (#55). I also edited two issues of The Connexions Annual, in 1989 and 1994. All of Connexions’ print publications have been digitized and are available on the Connexions website.
I started working for Sources in the mid-1990s. At that time, Sources was a print publication, a book, typically around 200-360 pages thick, which was published twice a year and distributed to approximately 14,000 journalists and media professionals across Canada. The bulk of it was a directory of experts, with a comprehensive subject index (now online). It also featured articles on journalism and issues affecting journalists, as well as book reviews, especially of books related to research and the media. I became the publisher of Sources, and of two related directories/sourcebooks that grew out of it: Parliamentary Names & Numbers and Media Names & Numbers. I also wrote some book reviews and articles for Sources and for the website which launched in 1996. A number of back issues of Sources, Media Names & Numbers, and Parliamentary Names & Numbers are available to be downloaded as PDFs via the Downloads page. Articles published in the print publications or on the Sources website are available via Sources Select Resources.
Medical Reform
The Medical Reform Group of Ontario (MRG) was a physicians' organization founded by doctors who were concerned that there was no voice for progressive, socially-conscious physicians. The organization was based on three founding principles: 1. Quality health care is a right that must be guaranteed without financial or other deterrents; 2. All health care workers must address the causes of ill health in social, economic, environmental and occupational conditions, and work to change these; 3. The health care system must be changed to provide a more significant role for all health care workers and for the public.
Working with an editorial collective, I produced the Medical Reform newsletter from 1984 to 1995. Many of the issues of the newsletter have been digitized and are available online.
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.
The Red Menace
I wrote a number of articles for the libertarian socialist newsletter, The Red Menace. This is a link to the home page of The Red Menace, which has been archived online.
Varsity Articles
A few of the articles I wrote for The Varsity are available via this page.
Book Reviews
A list of some of my book reviews.
Selected Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor.

Notebook items in chronological order