Inside the Current IssueFor most of this century, the question of Western intervention in the Middle East has been at the top of the international agenda. In Inroads 40, Dominic Cardy makes the case for intervention in Syria, while contributors to the Inroads listserv present arguments on both sides of this question. Through the lens of three books that come to different conclusions, Paul Delany looks at the war in Iraq. Also in this issue, Chris Green finds climate change thinking long on hope but short on real policies; Patrik Öhberg and Elin Naurin report on Sweden’s about-face on refugees; Patrick Webber calls for unity in the political centre to resist extremes of right and left; and Philip Resnick, in poetry, evokes the current malaise in Europe and the United States.
Standing up to Trump, Le Pen and Putin
The regressive left, the alt-right and the need for a radical centre
by Patrick Webber
In the last issue of Inroads I examined the rise of new populist movements in western Europe and North America, suggesting that they share common threads of parochialism and a rejection of postwar liberal ideals, rendering old left-right methods of describing political movements obsolete.1 I offered ideas on how those holding broadly liberal views (pro–free trade, pro-immigration, pro-internationalism) could challenge the populist narrative. One of these was calling for new political alliances: if the old left-right binary has been transcended, it is, by definition, no longer effective. This article seeks to expand on this suggestion and explain how the rise of the regressive left and alternative right (alt-right) movements, which share the parochial populists’ illiberal impulses, intensify the need for a political realignment in defence of classical liberal values.
Most people still slot themselves into categories of Read more
Ambition without means
A serious approach to climate change requires real policies, not aspirational goals
by Chris Green
Barely a month after Canada’s new Liberal government took office, senior government officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, flew to Paris to participate in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, better known as Paris 2015. The government committed itself to the the international climate policy framework coming out of that conference, and its climate policy manifesto, Canada’s Way Forward on Climate Change (climatechange.gc.ca ), makes clear that it is “committed to working with international partners to reach an ambitious climate agreement.”
The two main policy initiatives in the manifesto are putting a price on carbon and investing in clean energy and technology. But how effective will these initiatives Read more
Why do the poor support Ford and Trump?
by Arthur Milner
Years ago – maybe 40 years ago – I attended an all-candidates meeting for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party. I happened to be sitting next to a visiting Swede and after the debate I asked his reaction. As I remember, he was surprised at how “middle-class” the party was. I asked him to elaborate. He said the party seemed geared toward the middle class and not toward the poor.
That story has come to mind several times recently – as I was writing a column for the Winter/Spring 2015 issue of Inroads (“The left’s greatest gift to the political right”); as I’ve watched the militant and growing support for Donald Trump; during the celebration of Rob Ford’s life and mayoralty; as I witness Thomas Mulcair’s Read more
Stay the course, scale down or get out?
America’s fifteen-year war in the Middle East
by Paul Delany
This review could easily list 15 or 20 books on U.S. involvement in the Middle East since 9/11, and most of them would agree with David Kilcullen that the United States should be devoting more resources to the “Global War on Terror.” Andrew Bacevich is far outside the foreign policy consensus in arguing that the United States should simply withdraw from the region because its war cannot be won. Derek Chollet makes the case that Barack Obama has steered a sensible middle course between the binary choices of escalation and withdrawal. That course has been something closer to the Cold War strategy of “containment,” whereby you trust that your enemy will eventually fall victim Read more
The last days of Weimar?
The erosion of trust and civility and its consequences for U.S. democracy
by Reg Whitaker
Even by the degraded standards of the 2016 U.S. election, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments at an August 9 rally that his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, might be appropriately targeted for assassination caused shock waves. Trump thereby crossed a line never crossed before in the turbulent history of American democracy.
Subsequent disclaimers that he was just “joking” cannot be accepted. The United States is a country riven by continued horrific gun violence – a country where no fewer than four presidents have been assassinated, attempts have been made on a number of others, and presidential candidates have been murdered while campaigning. In such a country, there can be no “joking” about assassination. But never before has Read more
The deep culture of Canadian politics
Fragment theory and the fate of the red tory meme
by Gad Horowitz
Half a century ago I published “Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism in Canada: An Interpretation” in the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science.1 Following Harvard political scientist Louis Hartz’s “fragment” approach to the “new societies” founded by emigrants from Europe, I argued that English Canada is, like the United States, a liberal fragment, but with a “tory touch” sufficiently weighty to give rise, in interaction with liberalism, to a significant socialist movement. My essay was for some reason given a lot of attention and soon enough reviled as the new “conventional wisdom.”
This brief sequel revisits and expands some of the main points of the 1966 essay, considers the fate of the famous “red tory” meme, pays special attention Read more
The strange tale of Canada’s Israeli lobby
How the campaign against BDS turned into an attack on open democratic debate
by Reg Whitaker
In August 2016 the Green Party of Canada concluded its annual convention. Elizabeth May, the party’s leader and sole elected MP, met the media, but not with the usual bland partisan clichés. Instead she complained, “I have to say I’m pretty devastated.” Soon she was even talking about quitting the leadership altogether, walking away from the small but influential young party she had personally infused with an enviably disproportionate national profile.
Was this a party leader rebuked and rejected by her followers, like Tom Mulcair in the NDP? No, there were few signs of discontent with her leadership; quite the contrary. Nor had the rank and file signalled a desire for any radical break with the Read more
Political theatre, then and now
by Arthur Milner
When Canadian theatre was born in the late sixties, it had, like the decade, a left-wing and nationalist temperament. There was no funding for the arts at the time, and there were a total of six Canadian plays in existence, so if you were going to found a theatre company dedicated to the production of Canadian political plays, you had to be obstreperous – which might be an apt description of the era’s artistic directors and theatre companies like TWP, Passe Muraille, Factory Theatre, Globe Theatre (Regina). There was one Canadian playwright – George Ryga – so, not surprisingly, a lot of the early plays were collective creations. And the target was a general audience, not theatre artists, of whom there were too few to fill a Read more
The enduring Jack Kerouac
A writer of roots and routes
Jack Kerouac, La vie est d’hommage,
edited by Jean-Christophe Cloutier.
Montreal: Boréal, 2016. 346 pages.
Jack Kerouac, The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings,
edited by Todd Tietchen, translations by Jean-Christophe Cloutier.
New York: Library of America, 2016. 466 pages.
by Bob Chodos
As a writer who gained fame primarily by capturing a cultural moment that has long since passed, Jack Kerouac (1922–1969) could easily have faded from consciousness. He was, and remains, best known for his novel On the Road, published in 1957, whose popularity was one of the early signs of widespread cultural rebellion among American youth. But Kerouac and that rebellion soon parted ways; unlike his friend Allen Ginsberg, he never made the transition to the very different cultural Read more