This Issue: Thinking Clearly in a Time of Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our world. Many of us feel some degree of disorientation and uncertainty about when and how we will return to some kind of ‘normal’ and what that new normal will look like. Important choices lie ahead, so it is vital that we think clearly, ask questions, discuss with others, and make our voices heard.

One question is the future course of this pandemic, and how we as a society will live with it. There is little chance that the COVID-19 virus will disappear in the near future. It is highly contagious, and it exists in many different countries around the world, meaning that it almost certainly will continue to spread from one place to another. There are no islands of refuge in a globalized world. So one way or another we have to live with it – and with other pandemics that almost certainly lie in our future.

Other questions concern what we can do to lessen to reduce the circumstances which breed these novel viruses. Industrial agriculture, and livestock operations in particular, are driving the emergence of new and extremely dangerous diseases. The global supply chain spreads them very effectively. The need to change the fundamentals of our economic system is urgent.

Meanwhile our ability to handle outbreaks has been significantly eroded by austerity and cutbacks to health care systems and public health preparedness. This cannot be allowed to continue.

As an article in this issue of Other Voices points out, sanctions imposed by the United States and its obedient allies, indefensible and vicious to begin with, are now tantamount to genocide, as the U.S. blocks imports of vital medical supplies to countries like Iran and Venezuela.

One lesson of this pandemic is that governments, when they decide the need is urgent, can find vast sums of money to spend on critical priorities. The opportunity, and the resources, exist to bring about fundamental change. We need to find the will to do it, and the political power to make it happen.

The articles in this issue of Other Voices probe beneath the surface of the pandemic to look at underlying causes and possible directions for the future. Read on....

– Ulli Diemer

As always, we invite you to share this newsletter with your friends.

You can forward this email, or send them the link to the Other Voices page on the
Connexions website:

Please consider sharing Other Voices via social media.

If you'd like to subscribe and receive this newsletter by email,
please send an email to:

Your feedback is appreciated - and so are donations to keep us doing what we're doing!

Critical Thinking

We are put to the test whenever we confront a situation which we have not previously encountered. How do we act when we are faced with problems for which there are no ready-made answers, or for which ready-made answers are promoted by those with interests and power to defend and power? At those times, the ability to think critically is crucial. The Connexions Subject index has a wide selection of materials on critical thinking.

Amid Plague, Sanctions are Genocide

Sanctions have long been indefensible; now in the time of Covid-19, more so than ever. Nor are they some minor phenomena. Over a quarter of humanity lives under U.S. economic sanctions. That means millions of people lack untroubled access to food and medicines during a lethal pestilence. Under ordinary circumstances, these embargoes are economic warfare. By putting Iran and Venezuela under economic siege even before the pandemic, the U.S. had murdered tens of thousands of those countries’ citizens. Such collective punishment is a war crime under the 1949 Geneva conventions. Read more

Keywords: Collective PunishmentEconomic Warfare

Thinking Clearly in a Time of Crisis

A crisis like this pandemic is not a time to stop thinking. "It is a time," says Ulli Diemer, "when critical thinking and public discussion are more important than ever. A small number of officials and politicians are taking decisions with enormous and far-reaching implications for the lives of many people, not just for the duration of this pandemic, but far into the future. The time to have serious discussions about what they are doing, and the direction we are heading in, is now, not some day in the future when it will be difficult, or too late, to change course." Read more

Keywords: Critical ThinkingEvidence

Pandemic Insolvency: Why This Economic Crisis Will Be Different

Covid-19 has put economic rationality in second place, as countries shut down economies in the name of public health. But just as importantly, it is reshaping our ideas of what economics is. The sight of governments bailing out not only banks but also consumers and mortgage holders isn’t a sign they have grown soft, but rather a sign of the kind of crisis we are entering. This crisis is very different from the last, and it’s likely to reshape politics and economics across the Global North for years to come. Read more

Keywords: Economic AlternativesEconomic Crises

How "Just-in-Time" Capitalism Spread COVID-19

The globalized supply chain, with its reliance on “just-in-time” movement of goods and materials back and forth across the globe, is a major contributor to global climate change, pollution, and degradation of ocean ecosystems. It turns out that it is also deeply implicated in the spread of contagions like the COVID-19 virus. Mapping of the spread of COVID-19 has shown that it has closely followed supply chain networks. The emphasis for the last two or three decades on lean production, just-in-time delivery, and, more recently, “time-based competition,” along with updated transportation and distribution infrastructure, has accelerated the speed of transmission. Read more

Keywords: Globalization of EconomyJust-in-time Scheduling

Why Measles Deaths Are Surging – And Coronavirus Could Make It Worse

A viral outbreak has killed more than 6,500 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and is still spreading through the country. The foe isn’t the feared coronavirus, which has only just reached the DRC. It’s an old, familiar and underestimated adversary: measles. The situation has mushroomed into what WHO experts say might be the largest documented measles outbreak in one country since the world gained a measles vaccine in 1963.

The highly contagious measles virus continues to spread around the globe. In 2018, cases surged to an estimated 10 million worldwide, with 140,000 deaths, a 58% increase since 2016. In rich countries, scattered measles outbreaks are fuelled by people refusing to vaccinate their children. But in poor countries, the problems are health systems so broken and underfunded that it is nigh-on impossible to deliver the vaccine to people who need it. And now, 23 countries have suspended measles vaccination campaigns as they try to cope with COVID-19. Read more

Keywords: MeaslesVaccines

Coronavirus: Global academia gets a taste of the Palestinian lockdown

For decades, no Palestinian university or school has escaped lockdowns and interruptions. As a result, the right of successive Palestinian generations to an education, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has been regularly violated and compromised under colonialism.

Israeli policies systematically obstruct Palestinian access to education daily, through the notorious restrictions on movement at military checkpoints, the apartheid wall and settlements, along with arbitrary arrests of students and faculty, school closures, campus raids, demolitions of classrooms, barring of international academics, and the siege on Gaza. The Palestinian educational sector, especially students, have been the foremost victims of closures and lockdowns. Read more

Keywords: Palestine/OccupationIsraeli Occupation Forces

Website of the Week

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The CCLA is monitoring the response to COVID-19 to ensure that it is based on science and is not unnecessarily intrusive to our liberties. The CCLA describes what is being witnessed in many parts of the country as a “policing pandemic.”

According to their website, there are “Too many COVID charges, too many tickets, too many fines. It’s a public health crisis, not a public order crisis. Too many Canadians doing their best have been charged under new COVID laws – laws which change rapidly, differing from city to city, province to province. It’s confusing. One day it’s okay to go here, but not there, and the next day it changes. Instead of relying on police and bylaw enforcers to educate and warn the public about these new changes, arbitrary enforcement blitzes have launched in too many regions of Canada.

Dog walkers, families getting fresh air, and honest mistakes have been met with charges that some simply cannot fight or cannot pay. The homeless face impossible choices: stay inside an overcrowded shelter or risk a charge outdoors. Racial profiling also becomes a reality for too many minorities outside, during COVID. And the financial penalties being levied are wildly disproportionate to the alleged offence – particularly against the backdrop of massive unemployment and financial hardship.”

Keywords: Abuse of PowerElite Panic

Book of the Week

Yellow Earth

By John Sayles

In Yellow Earth, John Sayles introduces an epic cast of characters, weaving together narratives of competing agendas and worldviews with lyrical dexterity, insight, and wit. When rich layers of shale oil are discovered beneath the town of Yellow Earth, all hell breaks loose. Locals, oil workers, service workers, politicians, law enforcement, and get-rich-quick opportunists -- along with an earnest wildlife biologist -- commingle and collide as the population of the town triples overnight. From casino dealers to activists and high school kids, everyone in the region is swept up in the unsparing wave of an oil boom.

Sayles’s storytelling draws an arc from the earliest exploitation of this land and its people all the way to twenty-first-century privatization schemes. Through the intertwining lives of its characters, Yellow Earth lays bare how the profit motive erodes human relationships, as well as our living planet. The fate of Yellow Earth serves as a parable for our times. Find out more

Keywords: Oil IndustryIndigenous Communities/Environmental Issues

Films of the Week

Planet of the Humans

This environmental documentary, directed by Jeff Gibbs and backed by Michael Moore, is highly critical of the ‘green energy’ movement. Its main target is biomass energy, which largely means burning trees instead of fossil fuels. The film shows this is neither carbon neutral, renewable, nor sustainable. It also critiques wind and solar power, and this aspect of the film has made it very controversial. It has been widely criticized by some environmentalists, and praised by others. Judge for yourself: watch it here

Keywords: Renewable EnergyBiofuels

Solidarity: Five Largely Unknown Truths about Israel, Palestine and the Occupied Territories

Texas-based filmmaker Bob Peck has just released a free documentary coalescing 72 years of struggle against displacement, apartheid and racism into an accessible 110-minute film. Drawing on both historical and current struggles for Palestinians under siege, occupation and forced displacement, including the Great March of Return in Gaza, the film provides a stirring indictment of Israel’s settler project as well as that of the media’s deliberate spin to shield Israel from accountability. Watch it here

Keywords: Palestine/OccupationSolidarity


Strike for Your Life!

Jeremy Brecher writes: “While the coronavirus spreads, another contagion is brewing - a contagion of strikes for protection against the coronavirus.” He says that cascading strikes and other direct actions could have a real impact today, creating irresistible pressure for public policy to conform with public health needs. This is not just a matter for the workers directly affected. Keeping front line workers safe is essential for the safety of all of us. Read more

Keywords: Direct ActionWorkers' Health & Safety

People’s History

Maubere Timor:
Keeping East Timor's Songs of Resistance Alive

Domingos Pinto Gabrial, also known as Berliku, was 19 years old when Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. He became part of the resistance to Indonesia’s genocidal occupation, and, up in the mountains, composed songs to lift the spirits of independence fighters. Captured in 1990 and jailed on a remote island, Berliku was presumed dead for many years. Eventually freed, he is now lead singer of Maubere Timor, a band of veterans who sing patriotic songs composed in the mountains during the dark days of the occupation. Maubere Timor seeks to use music to link the present to the struggles of the past. Read more

Keywords: East TimorMusicians

Mel Watkins: Engagement for the Common Good

Canadian socialist economist and political activist Mel Watkins died on April 2, 2020. Read more

Keywords: Social DemocracyWaffle Movement

From the Archives

Workers Have a Birthright to Tell Our Own Stories

A conversation with activist and oral historian Candace Wolf about her self-published book of interviews with workers all over the world, Shifting the Universe, and about working people's birthright to tell their stories. Listen to it here

Keywords: Oral HistoryWorkers’ History

Seeds of Fire

May 15, 1919
The Winnipeg General Strike

Virtually all workers in Winnipeg go out on strike seeking wage increases and recognition for their unions. A Strike Committee co-ordinates the strike and arranges for essential services to continue.

The ruling elite mobilizes to defeat the strike. A “Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand” organizes anti-strike propaganda and calls for federal government and military intervention to crush the strike. The capitalist newspapers scream that Bolsheviks have taken control, and run cartoons showing hooked-nosed Jewish radicals throwing bombs. The government dismisses virtually the entire Winnipeg Police Force because police have voted to support the strike. In their place, they bring in federal troops, militia, Royal Northwest Mounted Police, and “special constables” (hired thugs who are paid significantly more than the police were paid). Strike leaders, including J.S. Woodsworth, the future leader of the CCF) are arrested and sent to prison.

On June 26, the Strike Committee calls off the strike.

May 16, 1934
Minneapolis Teamsters Strike

Teamsters (truck drivers) in Minneapolis go on strike and shut down nearly all commercial transport. The only exception are farmers, who are permitted to come in on their own trucks and deliver directly to grocers, but not to the warehouse district. Violence breaks out on May 19 when police and so-called ‘deputies’ (thugs hired by the companies) attack strikers. On May 22, an all-out battle starts when police and private deputies try to break the picket lines. Police and deputies are forced to retreat; two deputies are killed.

On May 25, employers and the union reach an agreement that provides for union recognition, reinstatement for all strikers, seniority and a no-discrimination clause. The agreement lasts less than two months: On July 17, employers announce that they going to renege on the agreement. The strike resumes.

On July 20, police open fire on strikers with shotguns, killing two and injuring sixty-seven. A public commission, set up later by the governor, finds that “Police took direct aim at the pickets and fired to kill. Physical safety of the police was at no time endangered. No weapons were in possession of the pickets.”

In August, a federal mediator brings about a new agreement, which includes union recognition and acceptance of the union’s major demands. In the aftermath, thousands of workers in other industries in Minneapolis unionize.

May 24, 1798
Irish Rebellion

Beginning of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, an organized Irish attempt to drive out the British. The rebellion is planned and organized by the United Irishmen, a secular republican revolutionary group influenced by the ideas of the American and French revolutions. It has widespread support, but is opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which actively sides with the British, who it regards as a lesser evil than secular republicanism. Local uprisings occur in a number of counties. The rebels win some victories, but gradually the British gain the upper hand. Wherever the British win, they engage in systematic atrocities, including torture of prisoners, burning prisoners alive, massacres and widespread incidents of rape.

On August 22, after the main uprisings have already been defeated, France sends 1,000 troops to assist a rebel force of 5,000. They have some initial success, but are ultimately defeated by the British. The captured French soldiers are sent back to France; the Irish rebels are massacred.

Some rebel guerrilla forces continue to harass the British for a number of years afterwards, until 1804.

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers. Quote by Thomas Pynchon from 

Your support is needed to keep Connexions going

All of the work of the Connexions project is done by volunteers, but our expenses include rent, phone and computer costs and technical support, as well as expenses related to our ongoing project of converting printed archival materials into digital formats. You can make a one time or regular monthly contribution through the Donate page on the Connexions website.


Many of us have made working for social justice a lifetime commitment. If you are thinking about leaving a legacy for social justice that will live on, you might want to consider leaving a bequest to Connexions in your will. If you'd like to discuss this option, please contact us: Connexions Archive and Library, 401 Richmond St. West, Suite 410, Toronto ON M5V 3A8 Phone: 416-964-5735 or see the Bequest page.

Copyright Connexions 2020. Contents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. This means you are welcome to share and republish the contents of this newsletter as long as you credit Connexions, and as long as you don’t charge for the content.

This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.


401 Richmond St. West, Suite 410
Toronto ON M5V 3A8

Phone: 416-964-5735

Enjoyed this issue of Other Voices? Want to introduce friends and family?
Then we encourage you to share this link.

Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is always available online:

CakeMail is proud to be Connexions Archive & Library's Email Marketing provider. logo