From January 3rd to 9th, 2021
I read many interesting articles, blogs, op-eds, stories, and academic papers sent to me. Here’s a summary of what I read this past week.
Why Unions Must Recommit to Expanding Their Base by Jane McAlevey
In the past few years, I’ve tried to expand my understanding, analysis, and policy solutions to embed stronger class consciousness. As far as I understand, there’s been a trend in progressive politics to ignore class considerations. I went to a talk Jane McAlevey did in Vancouver a few years ago. I really enjoyed her straight-talking attitude about politics, organizing, and movement building.
This piece by Jane McAlevey is a great pitch for why Unions need to expand their base (instead of fighting for just “access” to powerful people like during the Obama years). However, it gives lessons for all political and social movements.
Indigenous rights bill weak, but necessary by Khelsilem and
Okay, shameless plug, I know.
I want to thank Jonathan Sas for his help to craft this very well-intentioned op-ed. We set out to add to the public discourse on Bill C-15 — the proposed legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since the bill was put forward a month ago, most of the national columns have come from right-wing commentators.
Then Romeo Saganash and others crafted Bill 262. Then BC expanded on it with Bill 41. The framework behind these bills is deceptively simple, but they open so much possibility and impact. While Bill C-15 has significant critique from Indigenous commentators and leaders, I wanted to stake out an important position that this proposed law should be supported despite its weaknesses.
The Abstract sums this study up so well:
“Why do some social problems seem so intractable? In a series of experiments, we show that people often respond to decreases in the prevalence of a stimulus by expanding their concept. When blue dots became rare, participants began to see purple dots as blue; when threatening faces became rare, participants began to see neutral faces as threatening; and when unethical requests became rare, participants began to see innocuous requests as unethical. This “prevalence-induced concept change” occurred even when participants were forewarned about it and even when they were instructed and paid to resist it. Social problems may seem intractable in part because reductions in their prevalence lead people to see more of them.”
On issues like racism, so-called “structural white supremacy,” or “privilege,” I found this study fascinating.
The Death of Hannah Fizer by Adam Rothman and Barbara J. Fields
I am reading Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Barbara and Karen Fields. Barbara Field’s work is illuminating the faulty logic that has entered so much of our discourse on race. This op-ed hits had a nagging topic I’ve found hard to openly talk about: brutal police violence against all is abhorrent and should be challenged, but the focus on disparities in who receives the violence has been a focus in the past few years. They make a compelling case for framing a disgusting phenomenon that should be challenged with a broad coalition in our society to end the injustice to all or any of us.
Writers call for a more nuanced alternative to ‘cancel culture’ by Tara Henley.
I’m so sick of the term “cancel culture. Perhaps it’s the abstract nature of the term. Maybe it is the way right-wing politicians and commentators have so popularized it. But it’s been fascinating and challenging to watch the left, without a sense of irony, act like cops to each other with various tactics that are sometimes called “cancel culture”.
Systems of accountability have existed in various forms for decades. However, this piece highlights the nuances that might be needed. We try to grapple with what accountability and justice mean, especially when simultaneously trying to fight for restorative justice over more right-wing forms of justice.
The Pandemic Disproved Urban Progressives’ Theory About Gentrification by Jacob Anbinder
There’s been an allyship between the entrenched land-owning class and progressive renter classes to oppose new housing in our neighbourhoods for so long. The scarcity of supply in a housing market contributes (among other influences) to rising housing prices.
What I appreciated most about this piece is helping put an end to this illogical idea that supply and demand don’t impact housing and rental prices. It sadly, however, doesn’t mention the role of racial discrimination in historical or contemporary housing policies and politics.
First Nations really should be seen as levels of government in our Canadian pluralistic society. The difference is First Nations, as governments, lack fiscal tools like the ability to charge corporate taxes and income taxes in our ’counties’ (also known as territories). Instead, First Nations have moved towards what could be seen as a “state-capitalist” model where First Nations-owned companies are similar to Crown Corporations. This has become a trend since the early 1990s so First Nations governments can be less reliant on Federal or Provincial government program funding.
Many First Nations have heard of Membertou’s success. They’re excelling in education, language, and economic development. But this long-form piece describing their recent power move to purchase, for $250 million, one of the largest commercial fishing companies in Canada is an insightful and powerful read into the growing power of Indigenous governing bodies. The piece even includes a brief mention of the Sen̓áḵw Development in Vancouver that the Squamish Nation is leading.
Canada succeeds when Indigenous communities succeed. I’m excited to see their investment succeed for their community and learn what lessons other First Nations can gain from their success as well.