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
October 9, 2017
Meeting the Challenge of the Right
The Right is not a unified political force or organization, but rather a label used to describe a disparate collection of ideologies, parties, groups, and individuals. With millions of people unemployed or working in marginal precarious jobs, desperation and hopelessness is leading some to listen to right-wing demagogues who offer scapegoats – usually immigrants or other minorities – or who divert their attention to social ‘evils’ such as abortion, homosexuality, and sex education. These far-right parties in fact have no real solutions to offer, but they pose a very real danger to those they target as scapegoats. Further still to the right are a wide variety of groups and movements that openly flaunt racist and Nazi symbols and rhetoric. Challenging the Right requires not only anti-fascist actions in the street, but organizing to reach those who may be attracted the the appeal of the Right and offering an alternative social vision.


Other Voices
August 28, 2017
Official Enemies
We are never left in any doubt about who our enemies are. The word goes out from the United States that a certain country is a dictatorship which abuses human rights, supports terrorism, and poses a terrible threat to the world. The mainstream media then swing into action with military precision and flood us with stories, images, and commentary about how dreadful country ‘X’ is. The U.S. and its client states – also known as its ‘NATO allies’ – then move into action with a standard package of sanctions and forms of pressure, which may include economic warfare, military threats, and measures to lay the groundwork for a coup via clandestine contacts with opposition leaders and those elements of the military command who have been on the CIA payroll for years. When regime change is the goal, any method, from buying an election to military invasion, is acceptable.


Other Voices
July 22, 2017
Secrey and Power:
It is one of the essential attributes of power that it insists on secrecy. Or, more precisely, those who wield power over others routinely claim that the details of what they do, and why they do it, are far too sensitive to be revealed to the public. The decisions they take, the discussions they have, the information they consider, the lobbyists who influenced them: all this must remain behind closed doors. Terrible (though unspecified) calamities would result if their jealously guarded secrets were to be revealed.
Secrecy is an important weapon used by the state and other wielders of power against the public they ostensibly serve. Whereas everything that every member of the public does must be subject to surveillance by those in power, everything important done by those in power must remain a secret.


Other Voices
June 26, 2017
Public Safety
In the June 26 issue of Other Voices we look at how public safety is being sacrificed by governments cutting costs and corporations pursuing profits.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we have been witnessing a drastic rolling back of the systems and structures which Western societies developed over the past century or more to safeguard public health and safety. Politicians and business leaders, permeated with free-market ideology, have been jettisoning, with little thought or understanding of the consequences, the apparatus previous generations built, piece by piece, to mitigate the most dangerous aspects of industrial civilization. Systems which were established to protect public health have been deliberately dismantled by governments driven by a fanatical hatred of the public sector, in the name of eliminating ‘red tape.’


Other Voices
May 28, 2017
Resisting Injustice: In this issue, we look at the relentless persistence of people challenging injustice and entrenched power in places around the world, including Palestine, Korea, China, Canada, and the United States. We spotlight the ongoing hunger strike by Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons, workers’ strikes in China, and people in South Korea taking on a corrupt government. In the United States, the Equal Justice Initiative is collecting soil from places where blacks were lynched as a way of remembering their lives and the brutally racist society that murdered them. An article on recent terrorist attacks in Britain asks what underlies ideological violence and sociopathic rage. Ralph Nader asks why people who are supposed to be professional questioners avoid asking hard questions of those in power.


Other Voices
April 30, 2017
Affirming life, resisting war, reporting UFOs
What do we do when those in power recklessly put the future of the entire planet at risk with their acts of aggression and military provocations, while they ignore the growing disaster of climate change?
We fight back and organize, on every level, wherever we are, doing whatever offers the hope of resisting and of building a movement that can stop and overturn the out-of-control monster of late capitalism.


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.



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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