I don’t think Inroads has ever before devoted its main theme section to the same subject for two consecutive issues. But then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is one of the most consequential events of recent decades. In the last issue we focused on Ukraine, and especially on efforts by Ukrainians fleeing the war to reach Canada and Canada’s readiness to receive them. But while Ukraine is the theatre of this war, Russia is its protagonist. In this issue we turn our lens eastward to Russia, and to the role and motivations of its leader Vladimir Putin. Henry Milner pens an introductions to our Russia section in The Russia that Invaded Ukraine.
As a scholar, political activist and diplomat, Derek Shearer has been involved with Russia since he studied Russian and went on a study tour of the Soviet Union as an undergraduate at Yale in the 1960s. In Is There Hope for Russia?, he looks at the invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s mounting authoritarianism in the context of the Russia he has observed over those decades. And in Fascist International, Ronald Beiner relates Putin’s action to the thinking of far-right ideologue Aleksandr Dugin. Dugin, he notes, is influential not just within Russia but as part of an international far-right movement that notably includes Donald Trump’s ally Steve Bannon.
In Russia and the Rogue Intellectuals, Filip Kostelka, a native of the Czech Republic and expert on central and eastern Europe, challenges the contention by American “rogue intellectuals” that the West rather than Russia is primarily responsible for this war. In Filip’s view this position, expressed notably by University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer, “has limited explanatory power and is not supported by empirical evidence,” while it “plays into the hands of Russian propaganda.” Meanwhile, in his column, Arthur Milner revisits the Holodomor, the catastrophic famine engineered by Stalin in Ukraine in the 1930s, and asks why it has received so little attention in Lessons from the Holodomor.
Four articles examine political developments in widely dispersed and disparate countries. In Brazil, Fernando Feitosa notes that while right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has been defeated, Bolsonarism remains a powerful force. He suggests some measures incoming President Lula da Silva can take to mitigate its influence in Bolsonarism After Bolsonaro.
Moving to Europe, Richard Murray, Henry Milner and several Swedish colleagues debate the implications of the recent election that brought a conservative coalition to power, and especially the degree of influence the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats are likely to have in Sweden Opens the Door to the Right. In the United Kingdom, Eric Shaw traces the descent of the Conservative Party, previously known for economic competence and effective government, into “a state of unruliness, back-stabbing and mutual recrimination, a veritable shambles” in Brexit, the Fall of Liz Truss and the Tories in Disarray.
Turning to the United States, where the midterm elections have cast the spotlight on Congress and where the presidency is always front and centre, Gareth Morley takes a close look at the third branch of government, the Supreme Court, whose ruling on abortion may have been a decisive factor in the election outcome. In Crisis of Legitimacy, he asks whether what the Court does is really law – or is it politics?
Here in Canada, two articles probe complex issues involving Indigenous people. In Finding a Way Out of the Federal Lobster Trap, Ian Peach and David Perley analyze the dispute between the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which seeks to impose its rules on Indigenous fishers in the Maritime provinces, and Mi’qmaq and Wolastoqi fishers, who maintain that their right to fish outside of those rules is rooted in 18th-century treaties between their nations and the British Crown. Ian and David make the case that the treaties are constitutional documents and take precedence. The mass murder in the James Smith Cree Nation and a nearby village in northern Saskatchewan in early September prompted a discussion on the Inroads listserv about the high rate of “deaths of despair” (homicide, suicide, alcohol) in Indigenous communities in the Prairies and its relationship with the lack of employment and educational opportunities on reserves. Highlights of the discussion are presented here, in Tragedy in the James Smith Cree Nation.
Dale Eisler is the author of a recent book on Saskatchewan’s evolution from a social democratic stronghold to one of Canada’s most conservative provinces. Inroads co-publisher John Richards lived in Saskatchewan during that earlier period, serving a term in the Saskatchewan legislature. In an email exchange, they discuss the province’s political transformation – as well as environmental and other issues with a focus on Saskatchewan, in Saskatchewan and International Realities. John also reviews a book on international development by Oxford University economist Stefan Dercon. He is sympathetic to Dercon’s emphasis on the importance of local elites in promoting development, but finds that the author pays insufficient attention to education, in Why Some Countries Are Poor and Others Are Not.
Also in this issue:
- Alex Berland looks back at his experience managing mental health reform in British Columbia in the late 1990s and draws lessons about why well-intentioned policy so often fails, in Evidence Matters, but Context Rules.
- In Riding the Radical Conservative Tiger, Reg Whitaker examines the radicalization of once-mainstream conservative political parties and the danger this trend poses for democracy.
- Philip Resnick’s poems reflect his summer sojourn by the seaside in Greece, but also the world’s wars and other horrors that forced themselves on his consciousness, in The Sea and the Distant Guns. Philip also reviews Francis Fukuyama’s recent book in A Temperate Liberal.
- In Quebec’s Artificial Landslide, co-publisher Henry Milner points to the recent Quebec election results, which revealed the sharp electoral divide between Montreal and the rest of the province and how it is exacerbated by the first-past-the-post electoral system.