Other Voices

The Connexions Newsletter

Other Voices is a digest of new and archival content from the Connexions website and other progressive websites. Regular features include a digest of new articles, news about grassroots archives and people’s history internationally, website of the week, book of the week, film of the week, and other news and resources. To receive Others Voices via email click here

Current and past issues

Other Voices
April 1, 2017
April 1 issue

Other Voices always strives to present you with alternative views on important topics. This issue offers some really alternative perspectives and even some "alternative facts." As always, read critically - and enjoy.

Other Voices
March 18, 2017
Public Transit: Public transit – good affordable public transit – is key to a liveable city. Around the world, there are movements of transit riders fighting for better public transit. A key perspective guiding many of these struggles is the idea that transit should be free, that is, paid for not by fares, but out of general revenues. This is how roads are normally funded: their construction and maintenance are paid for by taxes, rarely by user fees. Free public transit by itself would not be enough, however. We also need good transit, transit that runs frequently and goes where people want to go. It also needs to be pleasant and safe. This requires substantial new investment.

Other Voices
February 12, 2017
Race and Class: Class conflict – first and foremost, the relationship between the capitalist class and the working class – is the fundamental contradiction that defines capitalist society. Class is a reality which simultaneously encompasses and collides with other dimensions of oppression and domination, such as gender and race. In the 20th century, Communists and Trotskyists in particular stressed the central importance of challenging racism in order to build a united working class movement. In the last few years, this insight has been carried forward by other social movements. The concept of ‘intersectionality’ has recently come into vogue in some circles, though others argue that ‘intersectionality’ is actually a step backward in that it assumes that there are separate ‘identities’ that ‘intersect’, an approach which can end up seeing the differences but missing the whole.

Other Voices
January 22, 2017
Disobedience: Ultimately all power structures depend on the obedience of those over whom they rule. It helps if people believe in the legitimacy of those who wield power, but the crucial thing is obedience.
Once people start to disobey in significant numbers, the dynamic of power changes fundamentally. Disobedience, especially on a large scale, shakes the power of the rulers, and increases the power of those who disobey.
Given the nature of state power, the most threatening form of disobedience is the refusal of soldiers to obey orders. In this issue, this is the form of disobedience we focus on. When soldiers begin question the orders they are given and start regarding the authority of those who give those orders as illegitimate, the military hierarchy, and ultimately the state itself, are threatened.

Other Voices
December 20, 2016
“Fake news” is the latest mania to convulse the mainstream media. All at once, we’re being subjected to an outbreak of hand-wringing reports about obscure websites which are supposedly poisoning public opinion and undermining democracy by spreading “fake news.” Since we don’t like to be left out when a new fad comes on the scene, Other Voices is jumping on “fake news” bandwagon too. Our focus, however, is not so much on the crackpots and trolls making mischief on the fringes, but on the dominant actors in the fake news business: governments and the corporate and state media.

Other Voices
November 27, 2016
Alternative Media: A special issue devoted to alternative media. The Internet has made it possible to launch a vast number of alternative media projects. These range from bloggers, tweeters, Facebook commentators, and other self-publishers active in the social media realm, to major information-rich websites and media projects with paid staff and professional standards. Just what are “alternative media”? The rough-and-ready definition used in selecting media to feature in this issue of Other Voices is that they are independent and that they are broadly left in their political orientation, that is, that they offer a left alternative to the mainstream media.

Other Voices
November 7, 2016
Depression and Joy: It’s a difficult thing to measure, but there are strong reasons for believing that the number of people struggling with depression has increased significantly in recent decades. Despite the evidence that this is a social problem, not merely an individual misfortune, the solutions and escapes on offer are almost all individual: pharmaceuticals and therapy, on the one hand; self-medication with alcohol, streets drugs, television, etc., on the other. Certainly there are individual circumstances and individual causes, but when millions of people are experiencing the same thing, we need to look not only at the individual, but also at the society. Many of us feel powerless in the face of economic decline, a burgeoning police state, a ruling class willing to risk all-out war to increase its wealth and power, and the growing likelihood of environmental catastrophe. Many of us also struggle to bring about a radical change of direction, but you’d have to be oblivious to reality to wake up each morning feeling cheerful and optimistic.

Other Voices
October 15, 2016
Lurching to War: There was a moment, after the long nightmare of the Cold War ended a quarter of a century ago, when it seemed as if the danger of war had finally diminished. To be sure, there has never been a moment in all those years when wars weren’t raging somewhere, but at least the possibility of nuclear war seemed less.
Foolish optimism. The risk of nuclear war is as great now as it was at the height of the Cold War. From the time the Warsaw Pact dissolved itself and the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States has single-mindedly pursued a hyper-aggressive strategy of surrounding Russia with hostile military forces and missiles aimed at the Russian heartland. The long-term goal is to bring about the collapse and dismemberment of the Russian federation, with the pieces that emerge subsequently turned into U.S. client states that provide raw materials but don’t compete with American corporations or America’s military.

Other Voices
September 10, 2016
Back to School: In this issue of Other Voices, we explore a few of the ways in which education and educational institutions are changing. We also look at ways in which education is used to bring about change.
George Monbiot shares his concerns about how children's lives are increasingly lived indoors or looking at screens, while their experience of nature and the outdoors - once a significant part of children's lives - is shrinking.
David Stratman casts a very critical eye on the so-called education reform movement that is transforming public education in the United States, Britain, and other countries. Another article looks at the devastating effects of the privatization of public education, specifically via charter schools. The widening gap between scholars working in academic institutions is the subject of two articles, "Academics can change the world -- if they stop talking only to their peers", and another by the late Ellen Meiksins Wood on The Retreat of the Intellectuals.

Other Voices
August 13, 2016
Sports and Politics: Sports in general, and the Olympics in particular, have never been free of politics. In the modern sports era, survival and success depend largely on the favour of corporations, whose power to provide or withhold funding and sponsorships now shape every aspect of sport, including athletes' incomes and lifestyles. The corporate conquest of sports closely parallels the corporate colonization of nearly all aspects of modern life. Accompanying this in recent years has been the increasing injection of militaristic content into sports spectacles. In Canada, hockey games are now commonly preceded by rituals honouring militarism. In the United States, similar spectacles have been staged for years. In this issue, we feature resources which remind us that resistance to the commercialization, corporatization, and militarization of sports is also part of our heritage.

Other Voices
July 23, 2016
Workers and Climate Change: Working people are affected by climate change in every aspect of our lives. As climate change worsens, our lives will worsen. If we are successful in bringing about the needed rapid change away from a fossil fuel based economy, working people are the ones who stand to bear most of the costs, including the cost, for millions of workers and their families, of losing their jobs.
Many elements of the environmental movement have been guilty of ignoring working people, while others actually blame ordinary working people for climate change and the injustices associated with it. Yet it is working people who are dying, in many places, even now, from excessive heat in factories, fields, construction sites, and homes. And million of working people stand to lose their jobs, homes, and communities in the transition to a low-carbon or no-carbon economy. It is rare for groups involved in the climate change movement to acknowledge this reality, let alone to develop plans for a just transition to a new economy.

Other Voices
July 2, 2016
Brexit, the British vote to leave the European Union, has thrown the political elites into turmoil and confusion. The referendum was supposed to be a safe political manoeuvre, a way to produce an appearance of democratic legitimacy for the profoundly undemocratic structures of the EU. The gambit turned out to be a spectacular miscalculation, as millions of people turned out to express their opposition to a state of affairs that is leaving the majority worse off while enriching a small minority. This issue of Other Voices looks at the Brexit referendum, elite loathing for democracy, and the related attempt to get rid of Labour's leftwing leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Other Voices
June 18, 2016
The topic of the week is homophobia, the hate that led to 49 deaths in Orlando last week, but which is present in greater or lesser form in every part of the world.
We are always concerned, not only with what is wrong with the world, but what to do about it. This issue carries an excerpt from Umair Mohammed’s book ‘Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism’ in which he warns against the pitfalls of individualist and consumer-oriented approaches and argues in favour of collective action to build an effective movement. Derrick Jensen considers some arguments in favour of pacifism and finds them wanting. He agrees that creative approaches to social change can oftentimes make violence unnecessary, but that sometimes violence is a necessary response to violence. Another article looks at the decline of liberation theology, targeted as a threat by both the Vatican and secular power structures.

Other Voices
May 21, 2016
The theme of this issue is Tax Evasion. The essence of the capitalist economic system is the drive to accumulate as much as possible, by any means possible. It is almost inevitable, therefore, that those – individuals or corporations – whose existence revolves around accumulating capital will seek to avoid paying taxes.
The best way to avoid paying taxes, when you’re rich and powerful, is to shape and write the tax laws. And indeed tax laws are almost invariably written to favour those whose wealth derives from profits and investment. For example, capital gains – income from investments – are either taxed at a much lower rate than wages, or not taxed at all.
Even so, this isn’t enough for the superrich. Employing a network of accountants, tax lawyers, corporate shells, tax havens, secret bank accounts, and other methods, the 1% have become extremely adept at evading even the low rates of taxation they are subjected to.

Other Voices
May 7, 2016
When governments get too far out of line – the most outrageous offence, from the point of view of imperial power, is pursuing policies that help ordinary people at the expense of transnational corporations and local elites – then they have to be overthrown. The preferred method is a destabilization campaign followed by a coup. The goal is to overthrow an elected government without having to resort to direct outside military intervention. In recent years, the preferred means have been massive funding of conservative middle-class political parties, groups, and media, and 'constitutional coups.' A constitutional coup is a means of nullifying an undesirable election result by making use of the levers of judicial and executive power to get rid of a leader or government who has too much popular support to defeat via the ballot box.

Other Voices
April 23, 2016
Science and its enemies. education in the sciences, are crucial to our future. These public declarations are strangely reminiscent of the equally sincere lip service they pay to the ideals of democracy. And, in the same way that governments and private corporations devote considerable efforts to undermining the reality of democracy, so too they are frequently found trying to block and subvert science when the evidence it produces runs counter to their interests. Real live scientists doing real live science, it seems, are not nearly as loveable as Science in the abstract. In this issue, Other Voices looks at science, anti-science, and pseudoscience.

Other Voices
April 9, 2016
Our topic of the week is Corporate Crime. Corporations have increasingly become legally unaccountable for their behaviour. All too often corporations break the law and engage in criminals acts which would be severely punished if they were committed by ordinary individuals. These illegal acts range from deliberate health and safety violations that cost lives, to land seizures, to environmental negligence that contaminates lands and waters. Most of these illegal acts are never prosecuted, and those that are, are usually dealt with by a fine that corporations can treat as a cost of doing business. There are movements demanding that corporations be held accountable for their crimes in a serious way, and, specifically, that corporate executives should face jail time when the corporation they are in charge of engage in behaviour that causes death, injury, and illness.

Other Voices
March 26, 2016
For countless centuries, forests, and the trees in them, have been seen as sources of life, livelihood, and spiritual meaning. For capitalism, however, forests are sites of extraction and profit-making, or obstacles in the way of ‘development.’ In this issue, we look at some of the threats to forests worldwide, and the ways in which people are resisting and defending the forests.
In the Amazon, tribal people are combining traditional skills with direct action and modern technology to fight against illegal logging. In India, villagers are organizing to protect their forests against being flooding by dams. In Palestine, farm families are staying on their land, and planting new trees to replace the ones destroyed by Israeli soldiers and settlers. In Mozambique, farmers and communities are organizing against land takeovers by foreign corporations. In the Organizing section, we look at the organizing work of Bonnie Phillips, a long-time forest defender.

Other Voices
March 5, 2016
In this issue of Other Voices, we mark International Women’s Day. An article written by Alexandra Kollontai in 1920 talks about the early history of this event, which grew out of a proposal put forward by Clara Zetkin at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women. A key focus at that time was winning the vote for women, with the slogan “The vote for women will unite our strength in the struggle for socialism”. The link between women’s rights and socialism became even clearer a few years later, in 1917, when a Women’s Day march in St. Petersburg turned into a revolutionary uprising which led to the overthrow of the Czar and the Russian Revolution.
The struggle continues. Kavita Krishnan writes about the campaigns for women’s rights in India in “Women’s Liberation, Everyone’s Liberation.” “Women in Arms” compares women’s struggles in Chiapas, Mexico, and in Kurdistan. Johanna Brenner takes a global view in “Socialist Feminism in the 21st Century.”

Other Voices
February 20, 2016
Black History is the topic of the week. We look at the Haitian revolution, when slaves confronted the French empire and won; black resistance against the Ku Klux Klan in the American South, and the meaning and limits of anti-racism.
This issue of Connexions Other Voices falls on the 40th anniversary of the publication of the very first Connexions newsletter, which was published in February 1976. That first issue carried the title “Canadian Information Sharing Service”, which was also the name of the collective which compiled it, from submissions from across Canada. As the Connexions project enters its fifth decade, we continue to carry on the original “information sharing” mission of connecting people working for justice with each other and with resources and information. Connexions also maintains the Connexions Archive, a physical archive of more than 100,000 documents spanning more than 50 years of grassroots activism.

Other Voices
January 30, 2016
This issue of Other Voices shines a light on the murky world of conflict of interest, the hidden reality that often underlies appearances of neutrality, objectivity, and due process. Conflicts of interest are inherent in capitalism, a system founded on the premise that the state and society should be subordinated to economic self-interest and the accumulation of private wealth. Scientists who are supposed to be studying the effects of GMOs are funded by agribusiness corporations. Doctors who receive money from pharmaceutical companies write articles promoting the drugs produced by those companies. Decisions about pipelines are made by regulators who have spent years working in the oil industry, and who will be heading back to jobs in the industry after their stint ’regulating‘ it. Politicians receive campaign funds from corporate lobbyists.

Other Voices
Janaury 16, 2016
Working to change things for the better, fighting to prevent things from getting worse, remembering the past to illuminate possibilities for the future: as always, that is the focus of Other Voices. In this issue, we pay special attention to working class organizing. There can be no meaningful change without the active participation of the majority of the population: working people. Yet much activism ignores this obvious reality, while the organized labour union movement has put much of its reliance on 'professionals' who see organizing as a top-down technique rather than a grassroots movement. Several articles in this issue look at aspects of these issues. We also delve into the relationship between feminism and socialism, and look at the so-called 'sharing economy,' which produces increasingly exploited and precarious work, and immense profits for super-rich corporate owners.

Other Voices
December 19, 2015
“A map of the world that does not include Utopia,” said Oscar Wilde, “is not even worth glancing at.” Utopian visions, be they practical or not, free our imaginations, if only for a little while, from the daily grind of struggle and worry, and allow us to dream about the kind of world we would hope to live in. Such dreams can inspire us and guide us, even if they are not always quite practical. This issue of Other Voices peers into the world of utopian visions, practical or otherwise: our topic of the week is Utopias. You’ll also find a potpourri of other articles, books, resources and songs to stimulate your thinking and your imagination.

Other Voices
December 5, 2015
This issue of Other Voices covers a wide range of issues, from the climate crisis and the ecosocialist response, to terrorism and the struggle against religious fundamentalism, as well as items on urban gardening, the destruction of olive trees, and how the police are able to use Google's timeline feature to track you every move, now and years into the past. Another article challenges the role of big NGOs in legitimizing the status quo and blocking working-class and grassroots self-organizing.

Other Voices
November 21, 2015
This issue spotlights climate change, the escalating crisis that the upcoming Paris climate conference is supposed to address. Climate change is not a single problem: it is a product of an economic system whose driving force is the need to grow and accumulate. Nor does it affect everyone equally: those with wealth and power can buy themselves what they need to continue living comfortably for years to come – everything from air conditioning to food to police and soldiers to protect their secure bubbles – while those who are poor and powerless find their lives increasingly impossible. A serious effort to address climate change therefore means social change and economic change.

Other Voices
November 7, 2015
Our focus is on the corporate rights treaties that are misleadingly sold as trade agreements. In particular, the spotlight is on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiated in secret, and now scheduled to be rubber-stamped by national governments on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The TPP is best understood as a major milestone in the long-term war waged by the corporate elite against any form of democracy. It gives corporations the power to block any environmental protections or health and safety legislation that could be interpreted as interfering with a corporation’s ‘right’ to make a profit by doing whatever it wants.

Other Voices
October 24, 2015
This issue sheds light whistleblowers and the murky world of national security. Governments and corporations may often pay lip service to the importance of protecting whistleblowers, but in reality they are almost always persecuted. Repercussions can range from being fired to being imprisoned. Whistleblowers - people like Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden – play a vital role in letting the public know what governments are really doing. At great risk to themselves, they tell the truth which governments seek to hide.

Other Voices
October 8, 2015
The focus is Elections, with information and ideas on getting out the anti-Harper vote in the October 2015 Canadian election. Election resources also include articles and books which argue that western parliamentary democracies are anything but democratic, in how they operate, and because the most important decisions are not subject to democratic decision-making. Articles on the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement ’ and on the use of finance and debt to take over countries and to attack working people, explore this theme in detail. On a more positive note, a discussion of James Hansen’s fossil fuel exit program, which suggests an approach for getting our economies off fossil fuels in the near future. .

Other Voices
September 25, 2015
Focus on the Canadian election and the importance of stopping Stephen Harper, and on the increasing prevalence of voter suppression. Voter suppression is an immediate concern in the current federal election in Canada, and, more generally, an important but little-discussed feature of politics in most countries that use elections to legitimate power. In countries with a supposedly universal franchise, certain kinds of voters – typically, those most likely to vote against the ruling party(ies) – are discouraged, obstructed, and prevented from voting in various ways.

Other Voices
September 10, 2015
The Labour Day issue. Working people confront overwork, anti-union legislation, and austerity. In Greece, Syriza’s betrayal leaves ordinary people searching for other alternatives. Union organizers and Zapatistas explore how to work for change. Plus: Contest: Guess the date of Harper's next ‘terrorist plot’ a win a Stop Harper button!

Other Voices
August 21, 2015
Spotlighting the abuses of power and democratic principles Canada’s Harper government has been guilty of since it took office. Analysis of the capitulation of Greece’s Syriza government to the international financial institutions, and what it means to the Greek people, who are now being hit with vicious ‘austerity’ measures so that the banks can be bailed out. Consideration of alternative strategies for the left, now that Syriza and similar European parties like Podemos have admitted that they have no plans and no hope for bringing about positive change. Topic of the week is Mining and the Environment.

Other Voices
July 3, 2015
Our spotlight this issue is on the debt crisis facing Greece. To understand the crisis, one has to look beyond the mainstream media to alternative sources of information. We’ve done that, with articles that set out to analyze the nature of the debt burden that has been imposed on the citizens of so many countries, not just Greece. Also: celebrating Grace Lee Bogg’s 100th birthday.

Other Voices
June 18, 2015
Corruption and power. Corruption – or at least some types of corruption – are much in the news, with the ongoing scandals in the Canadian Senate and the recent U.S. targeting of the Swiss-based football federation FIFA for alleged bribery. Other Voices looks at these and other forms of corruption, and the double standards which result in some corruption being prosecuted, while the most corrupt institutions are allowed to flourish. Also: contorversies about identity choices, racism, and the Magna Carta.

Other Voices
June 5, 2015
Residential schools and abuses of power. Reports and background on the just-released report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Residential schools in Canada and other countries residential schools were set up to forcibly ‘assimilate’ children by taking them away from their parents and communities, and depriving them of their language, culture, history, and emotional supports.

Other Voices
May 21, 2015
With the start of the growing season in much of the Northern hemisphere, Other Voices digs up articles and resources related to urban agriculture and local food production. Urban agriculture – growing food in and around cities – is a response to the problems created by industrial agriculture, a chemical-dependent industry shipping food thousands of miles from where it is produced to where it will be consumed. .

Other Voices
May 7, 2015
This issue of Other Voices ranges widely, from increasing worker activism and strikes in China, to advances in battery technology that make it much easier and cheaper to store solar and wind energy for future use, to testimonies from Israeli soldiers about the war crimes they committed routinely and as a matter of policy in last summer's attack on Gaza. .

Other Voices
April 23, 2015
In this issue of Other Voices, we mark the death of the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano by featuring two of his books, as well as an article about his life and work. We also commemorate the 40th anniversary of the final victory of the Vietnamese resistance against American invasion and occupation. These articles, and others in this issue, about indigenous women in Chiapas, efforts to transform Venezuela, and job hunting in China, look at the world from below, from the perspective of those who work and struggle, and those who worked and struggled before them.

Other Voices
April 9, 2015
Resisting Neoliberalism ‐ The version of capitalism which became dominant by the 1980s has been given the name neoliberalism. The term refers to the global economic restructuring which has taken place, and to the accompanying shifts in the structures of power under which local and national governments have seen their ability to act independently curtailed by international treaties and by institutions which owe their allegiance to corporate capital. The essence of neoliberalism has been an unending campaign of class struggle by the rich against the rest. Yet resistance continues, and indeed continues to grow. In this edition of Other Voices, and more extensively on the Connexions website, we look at both neoliberalism and the resistance to it.

Other Voices
March 26, 2015
This issue features items related to sustainability, ecology, and agriculture, including Vandana Shiva’s article “Small is the New Big,” the Council of Canadians’ new report on water issues, “Blue Betrayal,” the film “The Future of Food,”, and the memoir “Journey of an Unrepentant Socialist” by Brewster Kneen, a former farmer and long-time critic of corporate agriculture. Seeds of Fire for March 26 recalls the birth of the Chipko movement in India in 1974, when a group of rural women, the original “tree-huggers”, surrounded and held onto their trees to prevent them from being cut down by a lumber company.

Other Voices
March 12, 2015
The focus of this issue is organizing. How can we challenge and overcome entrenched structures of economic and political power? Our own source of power is our latent ability to join together and work toward common goals, collectively. That requires organizing, Power gives way only when it is challenged by powerful movements for change, and movements grow out of organizing. In this newsletter, we feature a number of articles, books, and other organizing resources.

Other Voices
February 26, 2015
Ukraine is spotlighted in this issue of Other Voices, with several articles on the events of the past year, from the overthrow of the government, to the rise of the far right, the armed conflict in the east, and aggressive US/NATO moves setting the stage for a possible nuclear war between the US and Russia. Also in this issue, #DomesticExtremists ridicule police state legislation in the UK, world inequality in one simple graphic, and people’s history items about mass strikes in the First World War, and the new People’s Archive of Rural India.

Other Voices
February 12, 2015
This week we’re featuring the 40-point program which SYRIZA, the Greek coalition of the radical left, put forward to win the Greek election. Oliver Tickell writes about the mass media’s latest campaign of pro-war propaganda, this time revolving around supposed ‘Russian aggression’ in Ukraine, while Paul Edwards looks at another form of war propaganda, Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’. The Topic of the Week is Water Rights. Related items include the film “Blue Gold: World Water Wars,” the featured website International Rivers, and articles on water-related struggles, past and present, including articles on the Walkerton water disaster and the Cochabamba water war.

Other Voices
January 29, 2015
This issue of Other Voices focuses on the issue of land seizures and land take-overs. Also included: Greece’s solidarity movement, and the challenges and opportunities it faces after the election of a Syriza government. From the archives, there are interviews about the 1974 occupation of Anicinabe Park, an article about anti-discrimination fighter Viola Desmond, and the publication, in 1929, of All Quiet on the Western Front.

Other Voices
January 15, 2015
The topic of the week is Workers’ Health and Safety. Articles on why environmentalists should support working class struggles; whistleblowers; the appalling death rate from U.S. drone strikes; the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris; and what humanity could learn from Bonobos. The feature from the archives is Traces of Magma. The International Labor Rights Forum is the group of the week, and Silkwood is the film of the week.

For older issues of Other Voices, click here.

For issues of the print publications published by Connexions (Connexions Digest, Connexions Annual, Canadian Information Sharing Service) see The Connexions Digest.

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