Klein & Adbusters

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Wed Apr 5 16:32:53 PDT 2000

[Barlow & the Council of Canadians are part of the creepy International Forum on Globalization crowd, no?]

Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 19:16:09 -0400 (EDT) From: jesse hirsh <jesse at tao.ca>

just so we don't confuse the two, check out the anti-adbusters site that we've initially setup at http://adbusters.tao.ca

to quote from it: "this page is meant to be a resource countering the perception that adbusters magazine is 'left', 'progressive', or worth supporting in any political, economic, or cultural manner. often the work of tao communications is associated with the perspective or position of 'adbusters', and with the anticipated release of kalle lasn's (publisher of adbusters) book, we felt it important to gather various critiques of and examinations of adbusters and its mystique. "

and now back to klein:

On Wed, 5 Apr 2000, Sam Pawlett wrote:

> Jesse Hirsh wrote:
> > >as for maude barlow or mcquaig, what do they do besides get a lot of media
> > >attention? have they been building grassroots radical organizations? i
> > >don't think so. i mean you might make the argument that the council of
> > >canadians is grassroots or radical (it is neither) but maude barlow
> > >herself was and may still be a member of the Liberal (governing) party,
> > >and did once serve in the Prime Ministers' Office...
> Big deal. Ramsey Clark was the attorney general under Johnson I think
> and he has done some good work around anti-imperialist issues e.g.
> exposing war crimes against the Iraqi people. It is possible to have a
> change of heart.

well, many of my american friends and colleagues have had a lot to say on the negative influences ramsey clark has had on movement building and other coalitions or broad issue-based campaign. there are a lot of people who distrust him, and feel he is often a disruptive presence to broader solidarity work (due to dogma), not so much because of his background, but because of his current activities. i'm sure others on this list can speak to the validity of that impression.

> Barlow's Council of Canadians is much closer to being a grassroots org
> than any other comparably sized party or movement in this country. It
> has grown to something like 150,000 members now.

i disagree. the Council of Canadians, much like the NDP (centre-left party) are really top-down organizations, that have very little rank and file democracy, and have pretty much no way of influencing the leadership or holding them accountable. i was at a demo held in ottawa around an OECD ecommerce ministerial meeting, where a broad coalition had been formed, by labour, students, radicals, and the council of canadians, which staged a nice (and entertaining) protest. however near the end of the demo, the chair of the OECD came out, acting all neoliberal concerned like, and asked if anyone wanted to come inside the ministerial to represent the concerns of ordinary people. everyone at the protest said: "no, you have to bring the minister's on the street to meet us, cause that's when and where we have the power" but instead maude barlow nominated herself to go in and be part of the ministerial as the token of "civil society". it was pretty crappy thing to do, and the coalition later fell apart since nobody wanted to support such hijacking of grassroots process and organizing...

> Both Barlow and Mcquaig give speaking tours whenever they can and
> charge nothing if you can't pay.

to get back to the initial topic, this is what naomi does as well. in fact many people do this, and do so for free, i.e. they pay their own way. i think the really great thing about naomi is that she doesn't belong to any group, but instead help sout many many gruops. that to me is grassroots. not a single group with lots of people, but many groups that serve many more people. that's a movement. that's where i see the struggle taking shape. not one big vanguard party in the sky. ;)

> They're politics certainly aren't mine --the nationalism
> drives me
> up the wall-- but they deserve credit for putting out some kind of
> alternative to neo-liberal capitalism. Even if Barlow just wants to
> restore the Canada of 1975, that's better than what we have now.

there are many more articulate and coherent alternatives in canada other than the Council of Canadians. i mean, maybe i'm spoiled cause i live in toronto, but i do know all across the country there are radical and dare i say revolutionary community and grassroots groups..

> Big media attention is exactly
> what the left needs now. There's a potentially large constituency for
> left ideas, the message just needs to get out there and that means using
> any means possible.

i agree whole heartedly. in fact, i think the left needs to start making more television. that's where the people are. we need to take our messages and movements to the people, and a great way to do so is by making our own tv. to do this however, is a struggle in its own right...

> If Black thinks Maude Barlow should be shot that is
> a pretty good endorsement of her.

but that does not make her a good or a grassroots leader. in fact i think its black deliberately holding her up so she can easily be taken out.

> I've heard Mcquaig speak a few times and she is sympathetic to
> marxism and socialism. Her books are ok. though they are filled with
> errors. If she can get her ideas out through the Post or the Glib and
> Stale that's great.

is it though? i mean when in the capitalist press we need to diversify our stories, but i also think the real issue is building our own (mass) media.

jesse at tao.ca

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list