I find the debate about Canadian arms companies selling weapons and vehicles to Saudi Arabia a little perplexing. The media coverage seems to turn on the question of whether the arms and equipment are being used to oppress the civilian population of Saudi Arabia. I find this perplexing because there seems to be ample evidence […]

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I just finished a new research proposal on campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns in Canada. I am in the middle of a series of meetings with faculty members, working both to refine it into something the department will approve and to establish a committee.


Activism depends on more than just idealism. It is not enough that people be attitudinally inclined toward activism. There must also exist formal organizations or informal social networks that structure and sustain collective action. The volunteers were not appreciably more committed to Freedom Summer than the no-shows. Their close ties to the project, however, left […]


First, to a remarkable extent, they have remained faithful to the political vision that drew them to Mississippi nearly a quarter century ago. Second, they have paid for this lifetime commitment with a degree of alienation and social isolation that has only increased with time. The political and cultural wave that once carried them forward […]


As radical an organization as SNCC had always been, its modus operandi had remained but an aggressive variation on the “petition the masters” strategy. Its approach depended upon the federal government’s willingness to respond to “moral suasion,” albeit of a forceful sort. Events in Mississippi had undermined SNCC’s confidence in such a strategy. But it […]


Using credentials borrowed from sympathetic delegates from other states,a contingent of MFDP [Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party] members gained access to the [1964 Democratic National] convention floor and staged a sit-in in the Mississippi section. The sight of black Mississipians being carried from the convention floor by uniformed, white security officers was but the ultimate ironic […]


The fact that about 17,000 blacks traveled to the courthouse attests to the persistence of the volunteers and the extraordinary courage of those attempting to register. Although only 1,600 of the completed applications were accepted by state registrars, the lonely trips to the courthouse proved to be a major step toward the democratization of voting […]


Therein lies their significance. For historical currents do not irresistibly propel themselves and everyone in their path. No matter what their broader structural or ideological roots, they both carry along and are carried along by people, who are not merely the passengers of history, but its pilots as well. In the end, social history is […]


The Atlantic has an interesting article by Kurt Anderson about why so many Americans believe the crazy things they do. He argues that it’s both rooted in history and particular to the ideologies and self-understanding of the United States: America was created by true believers and passionate dreamers, and by hucksters and their suckers, which […]


Sometimes convincing moral arguments take the form: outcome X is unacceptable, and since it arises from behaviour A then behaviour A can no longer be allowed to continue. This is implicit in many of the hundreds of posts I have written about climate change, but I thought it would be good to have an open […]