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RedBedHead: Ford Saga: Left Gives Cover To Right Wing Palace Coup

Cuts, what cuts? It’s all about bad behaviour photo credit: @HeartsOnTheLeft

Not one word about cuts. Not one word about privatizing garbage collection. Nothing about his refusal to ever attend a single Gay Pride Parade. Zilch about his actual politics. No, everything is focused on his drinking, his drug use and his public displays of such activities. The closest we get to something

wmtc: more moyers: democracy and plutocracy don’t mix

I found the preceding rtod post buried in Blogger drafts, something Allan saved there years ago. I never got around to posting it, but I never had the heart to delete it, either.

If you’re not familiar with Bill Moyers, he is an American independent journalist, producer, and public intellectual. Earlier in his career, Moyers served as White House Press Secretary under the Johnson administration, but he’s better known for the many shows he has produced and hosted on PBS.

Moyers has always been liberal, but over the past decade, he has become increasingly radicalized as he reacts to (Read more…)

wmtc: rtod

Revolutionary thought of the day: The Gilded Age returned with a vengeance in our time. It slipped in quietly at first, back in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan began a “massive decades-long transfer of national wealth to the rich.” As Roger Hodge makes clear, under Bill Clinton the transfer was even more dramatic, as the top 10 percent captured an ever-growing share of national income. The trend continued under George W. Bush – those huge tax cuts for the rich, remember, which are now about to be extended because both parties have been bought off by the wealthy (Read more…)

RedBedHead: Bye Bye Rob Ford, Hello Karen Stintz

There is the sound of champagne corks being popped and cheers in the streets. Everyone smiles at each other and winks, knowing that soon it will all be over. The hated burgermeister is falling and no one, except perhaps his family, will be sad to see him go. And he has been felled by none other than that champion of democracy, Toronto Police Chief William Blair.

Oh, wait a second. Bill Blair?

wmtc: faludi: corporatist pseudo-feminism vs radical change for women and all working people

I would like to draw your attention to an excellent article by Susan Faludi in The Baffler: Facebook Feminism: Like It or Not.

Faludi contrasts the corporatist, individualistic, me-first, privileged, self-centered, pseudo-feminism of “Lean In” with the collective, cross-class activism of some of the original feminists: the “Mill Girls” of Lowell, Massachusetts, who fought for human rights and labour rights for all women. Describing the links between feminism, class struggle, the labour movement, and even the abolitionist movement, Faludi demonstrates how all oppression is interconnected, and how only collective solutions can affect change. She shows how an effective women’s (Read more…)

drive-by planet: Slavoj Zizek’s sharp blade: video interview on changes in the global financial and political system

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek is one of the most engaging thinkers around, not only in terms of the ideas but in person. He’s engaging even if you don’t altogether agree with him. When he is in top gear he fulminates, gestures furiously with both hands and delivers with conviction. But it’s never just about the show and the fireworks. He gets his point across forcefully, sometimes playfully and subversively. Žižek is a true original.

When he offends people, it is often be because he is misunderstood or because he isn’t sufficiently respectful of sacred cultural cows. He was accused (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Our favourite Miliband | Red Pepper

Our favourite Miliband | Red Pepper.

Our favourite Miliband Hilary Wainwright reveals which Miliband caught her fancy August 2010


I’d better come clean. For some time now I’ve been a closet Milibandite. No, not the renegade Westminster branch of the tendency. It was the late Ralph Miliband, father of current Labour leadership contenders David and Ed, who impressed me.

It was not just Ralph Miliband’s ideas but also his approach that persuaded me: a notable modesty, refusal of sectarianism and a combination of deep socialist conviction with constant interrogation of established views, including his own. Such characteristics meant, incidentally, that (Read more…)

wmtc: hedges: "when harper passes right-to-work, you must go on a massive general strike, or you’re finished"

Last night, I heard author, journalist, and activist Chris Hedges speak at the Bloor Street United Church in Toronto, sponsored by the excellent Canadian Dimension.

Hedges is a radical intellectual, in the Chomsky vein, also compassionate and fearless, in the mode of Howard Zinn. He touched on many subjects – and credited the work and thoughts of many others. I can only hope to impart a few snippets of the many threads Hedges wove.

“A seismic moment”

Hedges called the recent US debate on Syria a “seismic moment”. The Obama administration pulled out all the familiar mechanisms used to sell (Read more…)

wmtc: the other september 11, why "they" might hate "us", and the right to live in peace

For many people in the world, especially people in South America, the date September 11 was significant long before 2001. On that date in 1973, Augusto Pinochet, with the help of the United States government, overthrew the democratically elected, socialist government of Salvador Allende. Allende was either murdered or forced into suicide. Pinochet then installed a military dictatorship that ruled Chile until 1990, and was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, tortures, and disappearances, along with right-wing economic policies that were equally brutal.

I often think of the Chilean overthrow, as I do about another CIA overthrow 12 years (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: The un-Canadian Harper Conservatives recently announced they are…

The un-Canadian Harper Conservatives recently announced they are giving away $1.5 million of our tax dollars to fund a politically motivated monument with the misleading name Memorial to Victims of Communism—Canada, a Land of Refuge.

It’s not “victims of Stalinism”, “victims of totalitarianism”, “victims of dictatorships”, “victims of the Soviet Union” or something along those lines – it’s victims of communism, an economic system, a political philosophy. This monument is not really about freedom or justice; it is a tribute to capitalism and right-wing ideologies. The pet project is spearheaded by a shadowy fringe group called Tribute to (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: Happy Labour Day weekend to all working class women and men. In…

Happy Labour Day weekend to all working class women and men.

In this corrupt age of ultra-capitalism, globalization, neo-feudalism and unrestrained class war, we need the labour movement more than ever! Now is the time to stick together and take what’s ours, instead of continuing to fight each other over crumbs from the rich man’s table.

This song is “Working Class Man” by the English proto-punk band (with one Canadian member) Third World War. If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of this band until now. After hearing their music, it’s apparent that their musical style influenced many bands that (Read more…)

RedBedHead: On Pythons & Media Generated Paranoia

My partner and I have been talking much about the horribly tragic death of two boys in New Brunswick a couple of days ago. KP is snake-o-phobic and this just confirmed her worst fears, especially with a reptile shop around the corner that sells large snakes.

For me, while it horrified me as a father of two young children to think of losing my kids so senselessly, what was also striking was how

wmtc: what i’m reading: clarence darrow, attorney for the damned, by john a. farrell

I last wrote about Clarence Darrow in early 2012, after reading a piece by one of my favourite New Yorker writers, Jill Lepore. Two new biographies of Darrow had been published, and Lepore wrote a tribute to the great defender, and mused on the state of North American labour movement.

Lucky for me, Allan found a copy of one of those books – brand new, in hardcover – on one of his used-book jaunts. I’m more than halfway through John A. Farrell’s Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned and still haven’t gotten to Darrow’s most famous triumph.

As (Read more…)

wmtc: rtod

This Revolutionary Thought of the Day brought to you by my abiding hero, Clarence Darrow. Darrow dismissed many of the remedial bandages that he and the labor movement had battled for: eight-hour-day laws, women’s suffrage, child labor legislation. “We are busy patching and tinkering, and doing a poor job patching and tinkering at that.”

The working class must seize the earth’s natural resources and the means of production, he said. “There can never be any proper distribution of wealth in the world while a few own the earth – a few men own the mines, the railroads, the forests, (Read more…)

RedBedHead: Massacre in Egypt: Is Revolution Worth The Price?

As I sat down to write this post the news of a tragic massacre of at least 32 Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated protestors, and the injury of 300 more was plastered all over the internet. That much is clear, the rest is yet to be disentangled (if ever) from two completely opposing stories by the Egyptian military and people on the scene. This is now one more massacre in a two year revolutionary

RedBedHead: Deflected Marxism: The Poison Of The Intelligentsia

I was thinking recently of an apocryphal story that was told to me many years ago as I sat in a dank basement drinking from a keg of beer. Apparently Lenin was listening to Beethoven with the Russian novelist Gorky and commented something along the lines: “ah, the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. Sometimes they produce such beauty that one wants to reach out and pat them on the head. But you mustn

wmtc: barcelona, day two

Barcelona is amazing. Some people suggested that five days here were too many, but we can barely fit in all the things we want to do – even though we are omitting one major tourist attraction and the most popular day-trip in Spain. (More on that later.)

I managed to sleep a little more than usual today, a rare gift, and we purposely got a later start than usual. After breakfast, we took the metro to our first views of La Sagrada Familia. This building, Gaudi’s great masterpiece, is truly unique in all the world. It is also famously (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: I just saw that today, May 5, is the birthday of Karl Heinrich…

I just saw that today, May 5, is the birthday of Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883), the German economist, historian, journalist and philosopher. I post this video in honour of the occasion. It’s a bit silly, and I’m not sure of the intentions of the creators, but I’ve been waiting for an appropriate occasion to share it.

I haven’t read any Marx in a very long time, other than passages that other people quote, but his writings are certainly still relevant today, especially in this era of economic collapse, ongoing exploitation of workers, growing inequality and top-down austerity measures.

Marx wasn’t (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: Here’s my final photo from the International Workers Day…

Here’s my final photo from the International Workers Day rally in downtown Toronto on May 1, 2013. I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of this “Bourgeois” tour bus parked near the starting point of the Mayday march. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who saw the dry humour in this, because someone else posted a photo of that bus here:

The Ranting Canadian: Toronto Mayday 2013 – Photo set 4 These two photos from the 2013…

Toronto Mayday 2013 – Photo set 4

These two photos from the 2013 International Workers Day march in Toronto are of the front and back of a Rebel Time Records “United Colours of Antifa” T-shirt — the black flag of anarchism and the red flag of socialism united against fascism.

You can probably get your own at

The Ranting Canadian: Toronto Mayday 2013 – Photo set 3 These are various photos of…

Toronto Mayday 2013 – Photo set 3

These are various photos of the International Workers Day march in downtown Toronto during the evening of May 1, 2013. A wide range of groups, individuals, causes and ideologies were represented — under the common banner of working class power.

The Ranting Canadian: Toronto Mayday 2013 – Photo set 1 These pictures are from the…

Toronto Mayday 2013 – Photo set 1

These pictures are from the starting point of the International Workers Day rally in downtown Toronto in the early evening of May 1, 2013. The trees and sunlight in these five photos highlight the other, much older, aspect of Mayday: nature, rebirth and the arrival of spring. It was a great night with warm weather and no trouble (as far as I know). Fortunately the police behaved themselves, unlike in Montreal and some other cities.

drive-by planet: NDP caters to conservative critique by nixxing ‘socialism’ references in constitution

Top: NDP leader Mulcair / Bottom: Atefa Akbary and Farshad Azadian The vote at the NDP Montreal convention to remove the word “socialism” from the party’s constitution is symbolic in all the wrong ways. It’s ironic that at a time when neoliberal policies are on the ropes and capitalism never so vulnerable… they go seeking some nebulous approbation by deleting references to “socialism.” It sends completely the wrong message and not unlike Labour in the UK, stinks of catering to the conservative critique.

Sure some have said reassuring things… that removing a constitutional preamble won’t change the character of (Read more…) party. If the party truly believed in its character it would care less about deleting “socialist” and be focused on taking down Harper – but there are a lot of other signs that the NDP is softening its position, not recent developments either.

A lot of people . . . → Read More: drive-by planet: NDP caters to conservative critique by nixxing ‘socialism’ references in constitution

drive-by planet: Billy Bragg on why he became a socialist

One of the main reasons Billy Bragg became a socialist was Margaret Thatcher. She inspired many to take up the fight against the policies that have been wrecking Britain.

Billy Bragg was a front line activist during the Thatcher years. In 1985 he formed Red Wedge – a musician’s alliance that promoted socialist views and encouraged youth participation in the political process. After Thatcher’s 1987 return to power, Bragg joined Charter 88 that was committed to reform in the British political system. 

Billy talks about the path he took during the Thatcher years:

And as a singer-songwriter who had

. . . → Read More: drive-by planet: Billy Bragg on why he became a socialist

Song of the Watermelon: A Socialist’s Lament

Let’s be clear about one thing: the New Democratic Party of Canada was never a socialist party.

For all the hands wrung and tears shed over its newly amended constitution, the NDP, since its formation in 1961, has always been a social democratic party like any other, and social democracy has been standing a respectful distance away from true socialism for nearly one hundred years.

Once upon a time, Europe’s social democratic parties may have been the standard-bearers of Marxist orthodoxy, but following the infamous “schism” in the international socialist movement over World War I and the Russian Revolution,

. . . → Read More: Song of the Watermelon: A Socialist’s Lament