Recent issuesAmong the thematic articles in the current issue: Henry Milner expresses concern that “social media politics,” as exemplified by the Quebec student movement, may be incompatible with representative democracy
by Henry Milner
Overall, electoral participation has been declining in democratic countries for the last generation, as has party membership.1 Many factors have been blamed for this weakening of the foundation of representative democracy – including the lack of clear distinctions between the political choices offered to voters and the constraints on political discretion in an age of globalization.
My own work, beginning in the late 1990s, focused on the relationship between political participation and political knowledge. I found that the decline in one tended to be accompanied by a decline in the other (see figure 1). Moreover, countries with relatively high levels of political knowledge – I use the term civic literacy Read more
by Judy Rebick
Like Henry Milner I have spent the better part of the last two decades studying and thinking about democracy. Unlike Milner, I believe the new generation rising up under the banners of the Quebec student strike and Occupy Wall Street are creating innovations that will profoundly deepen and broaden democracy.
Perhaps it is our different starting points. My bar for what deepens democracy is not our current form of representative democracy but rather the ideas Thomas Paine expressed in Rights of Man:
It appears to general observation that revolutions create genius and talents but those events do no more than bring them forward … the construction of government ought to be able as such to bring forward, by quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never
by Reg Whitaker
Every few decades an issue arises that unexpectedly becomes a defining moment for the country. Such issues can creep up and catch decision-makers unawares. The great free trade election of 1988 was one such: when Brian Mulroney signed the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement he had no idea that it would precipitate an election/plebiscite widely understood as a choice between two very different paths into the future for Canada. It was one of the rare instances of an election in which a great public policy issue overshadowed parties and personalities.
When the federal and Alberta governments, along with Enbridge and the various other corporate players in the Alberta oil sands, came up with the idea of a pipeline megaproject – Northern Gateway – that would pump bitumen from Alberta across northern British Columbia to the Pacific coast, whence supertankers would ship the cargo to refineries in Asia to feed the giant Chinese economy, it seemed a no-brainer. In a world in which nonrenewable energy resources were Read more
by Arthur Milner
Arthur Milner is an Inroads columnist. He writes from Bethlehem, where the Arabic translation of his play Facts is in rehearsal for a tour through Palestine and Israel
September 17, 2012
I arrived in Israel Friday morning, travelled to Bethlehem in Palestine, and then to the international city of Jerusalem. There’s no trace, that I’ve seen, of the apparently upcoming war with Iran or the recent protests against the Palestinian Authority.
The English version of Haaretz, Israel’s left-wing newspaper, is bustling with attacks on Netanyahu’s efforts to destroy Israel. I am reminded of a column by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman from a few months back: “It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current [Israeli] government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide.”1
According to several major Jewish journalists in the United States, that suicide is no longer “long-run.” The New Yorker’s David Remnick: Read more
Reviewed by Gareth Morley
A person could be well into middle age and not remember it, but for most of the 20th century class was the central category of both social theory and practical politics.
From Lenin’s arrival in the Finland Station until some difficult-to-pinpoint moment in the late seventies or early eighties, anyone who purported to be an intellectual had to grapple with Marxism, a doctrine that famously reduced history to the history of class struggles. Grappling with Marxism was by no means restricted to those on the left. Conservative anticommunists such as James Burnham (ex-Trotskyist, mentor of William F. Buckley and therefore grandmentor of Ronald Reagan) and Milovan Djilas (early ally of Tito but ultimately his Read more
Reviewed by Garth Stevenson
Doug Saunders, the European bureau chief of the Toronto Globe and Mail, has written an interesting book with the intention of dispelling some of the anxiety about Muslims and their religion that has flourished in North America and Europe, particularly since September 11, 2001. The book is divided into four chapters, each of which is divided into subchapters designated by Roman numerals, and is brief enough to be read in three or four hours. Saunders has previously written a book entitled Arrival City, which deals with the experience of migrants from rural areas who settle in large cities throughout the world, and which is referred to occasionally in the present work.
Islamophobia is a subject Read more