An anniversary

It feels like a very long time ago that I started this blog, though it’s only been a year. Now that I have it, it’s hard to believe I went for so long without one.

Launched in the dog days of summer following the 2014 Ontario general election (in which I was a campaign staffer and, later, a parliamentary candidate) I was looking for a way to refocus after an exhausting campaign and a year in the intellectual wilderness following the completion of my Masters degree.

To commemorate the one year anniversary of this blog, I’ve compiled a few of my favourite posts. Here they are, in order of publication, with short summaries attached:

Liberalism and the Politics of Equality, Part I – Mania: The inaugural post was intended to be the first in a three part series about political liberalism in Canada. Though I haven’t (yet!) finished to other two parts, the first one certainly does much of the work. An historically-minded look at the much celebrated phenomenon of “Trudeaumania” – and its fundamentally conservative nature.

Scotland’s Democratic Horizons: As a Canadian with UK heritage and family connections, it was hard to know what to think of the union’s near death experience. Ambivalent but sympathetic to the sentiments underlying the Yes side, I wrote after the referendum’s conclusion that it had more or less been a vote on the UK establishment as a whole. The subsequent UK general election and developments in the Labour leadership race seem to have affirmed that assessment somewhat. Also published in Jacobin Magazine.

The Morning After and the Three Torontos: Rob Ford was no longer the mayor of Toronto, so why weren’t we celebrating? Despite the chaotic and destructive reign of Canada’s most infamous Chief Magistrate, he did render bare something fundamental and oft overlooked: our city and its politics are deeply divided along class lines and many of our elites aren’t interested in doing anything about it, preferring to astroturf the problem with the empty rhetoric of “consensus”. This, too, I argue, is connected to class.

Social Conservatism and Public DaycareWhen opposing universal social programs, conservatives often invoke the rhetoric of “choice”. That was certainly true of the Conservative Party response to the NDP’s proposed universal daycare scheme. But is “fiscal conservatism” really the source of this opposition?

Caricatures and ContradictionsThe right invokes two basic caricatures about the left, and they directly contradict one another.

Nationalism on the Frontiers: The late Christopher Hitchens used to say that nationalism is strongest at the periphery. The final decade or so of the socialist Brit-turned American nationalist affirmed this very point.

Has Stephen Harper Made Canada More Conservative?: Psychological explanations of Stephen Harper’s Canada and its authoritarian politics are all too common. Here I offer something of a contrary view. What if Canadian conservatism’s attachment to populist democracy during the 1990s was tactical rather than philosophical?

John Baird and His LegacyWhen Canada’s Foreign Minister suddenly resigned, the political class couldn’t clamour fast enough to celebrate one of their own and extol his virtues and decency. The only problem is that Canada’s (now ex-) Foreign Minister was also one of the most destructive political figures of modern times.

TAs, Public Goods, and What We Talk About When We Talk About Public Sector Strikes: Teaching assistants at my alma matter went on strike over a pay package that kept them below the poverty line, denigrated their work, and treated them as commodities to be managed by backroom administers focused on a soulless bottom line. The official response from the university revealed a lot about what’s really at stake during a strike at a public institution.

Social Media and the End of NuanceIn this post I synergized all the major innovations of social media and perfectly summed up what none of the haters can understand. I also wrote about how internet language is dumbing down and depoliticizing our discourse in two, paradoxically, countervailing ways.

How to Win at TwitterTwitter is a war, and your enemy’s city must be reduced to a cinder by your onslaught.

The Myth of the Muslim TideIn November of 2014 I published one of my most successful pieces of writing to date (provided success can be measured by mentions from influencers and a large volume of hate mail, both of which “New Atheism, Old Empire” engendered). While the piece dealt with the ultimately right wing nature of the “New Atheist” phenomenon and its relationship to geopolitics, a major component of this was its treatment of Muslims and Islam in general. Journalist Doug Saunders’ book proved to be a veritable arsenal of facts when it came to responding to the racist bile of many New Atheists and Islamophobes. Ultimately, those who seek to portray Muslims as a reactionary minority at odds with something called “Western values” are not only insidious and illiberal – they’re overlooking history, demographics, facts and, well, pretty much everything.

Why Our Politics is Brechtian: How social media and the 24-hour news cycle have broken the fourth wall of politics – and rendered elections largely an empty performance explicitly unmoored from the substance of issues.

COMING SOON: The sixth and final part of my blog series about the political history of modern Quebec and the politics of identity, Fragments of a Revolution. Parts I-V, which cover the British conquest, prewar Quebec, the Quiet Revolution, Pierre Trudeau, and Rene Levesque, can be read here (scroll to the bottom of the post).

Here’s to another year of blogging fun. Thanks for reading!

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