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Tag: Working Class history

Truth Behind Bars

NOVEMBER, 2021 – It was in 1974 that I first picked up a copy of The Gulag Archipelago. I didn’t finish reading it until this century. It is a very long book—seven books to be precise, published in three volumes that together run to roughly two thousand pages in English translation. But it shouldn’t take forty years to read a book, even a very long one. Why it took me four decades to finish reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s crowning achievement requires a little backstory and can serve as an entry point into the present book. The above is the first paragraph of…

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Towards the United Front

APRIL, 2013 – Finally, almost a century after the fact, the proceedings of the 1922 Fourth Congress of the Communist International are available in English, thanks to the diligent translation and careful scholarship of John Riddell. Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 – the latest in a multi-volume collection of documents from the years before, during and after the Russian Revolution of 1917 – was made available to a limited audience in its 2011 hardback edition, and as of November 2012 in a much more affordable paperback version published by Haymarket Books.…

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Historical Materialism in Canada

In the shadow of the economic crisis in Greece, inspired by Occupy, the Arab Spring, and Quebec’s “Maple Spring”, the 2012 edition of the Historical Materialism Conference in Toronto, was a resounding success. More than 400 people attended the 80-plus panels during an intensive three-day event stretching from Friday, May 11 through Sunday, May 13. Historical Materialism saw an important series of discussions on indigenous politics, involving eight sessions, a plenary and a Long Table discussion. There was a well-attended session on the relationship between Marxism and Feminism and several sessions on key issues in political economy. The complete program…

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May 1919: When the workers ran Winnipeg

Ninety years ago today, May 15 1919, at 11 a.m., the Winnipeg General Strike began. Until the Quebec General Strike of 1972, the 1919 strike stood as the most profound class confrontation in Canadian history. The article here is based on a talk delivered 10 years ago, on the 80th anniversary of the strike. • Workers’ power – the working class of the world sweeping away the corporate directors, the financiers and the back room boys of the state apparatus – workers running the world without the bosses. It is an inspiring vision. And when we examine a page of…

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Norman Penner – A life for the struggle

May 3, close to 200 people crowded into Glendon Hall in Toronto to pay tribute to the life and work of Norman Penner, who sadly passed away April 16 at the age of 88.[1] There could not have been a more appropriate month for such an event. May is after all, the month where every year we celebrate May 1, International Workers’ Day. It is also the month where the great Winnipeg General Strike began, 90 years ago, a strike that remains the defining moment of the Canadian working class movement, and a strike which was brought back to life…

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Lois Dowson Bédard – a life for the struggle

Lois Bédard Dowson died December 14 2007, just shy of her 84th birthday. She was, for all her adult life, a committed revolutionary socialist in the tradition of Leon Trotsky. In the context of the Great Depression of her growing years, the rise of fascism and Stalinism in her teens, the horror of World War in her young adulthood – living a life as a revolutionary was not the easiest of choices. But Lois unlike many others, never wavered from her commitment to the left, to the working class, and to the women workers to whose future she was so…

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