The Silent March, by C.M. Klyne: And Why I Second Guessed Posting My Review of It.

I was in the midst of finalising a draft of this review, hurrying to make it to the University library where I do volunteer work transcribing oral histories of Alberta’s aviation pioneers. I wanted to make it to meet my partner for coffee while still having a meaningful amount of time for the transcription work before she was off for the day (she works at the University library, we transit home together.) 17606689At any rate, I was in a rush wanting to get this review right so I could post it and also in a rush to get to the train. That’s when the dogs started barking. They were outside and I had to let them in. Frustrated, I got up from the computer. I intended to leave the review for the time being and get myself and the beasts sorted so I could leave. I got to the back door and opened the screen, stepping out to call the dogs. Continue reading

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The Legislature


The Alberta Legislature was completed between 1907 and 1915. In 1905 Alberta became a Province of Canada and the Legislature building sits a stones throw from the sight of Fort Edmonton, a key Hudson Bay trading post that had occupied several sites since 1795, but which, in 1830, moved to its final spot on a promontory overlooking the North Saskatchewan river. Continue reading

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Old Church at Fish Creek

We happened upon this church when driving south from Batoche along highway 225, where it intersects highway 312 just east of the bridge, going from pavement to gravel. Interestingly, the bridge marks the spot where Gabriel Dumont operated a ferry crossing in the years before the resistance, and it is named in his honour. As we finally got close to our destination the church came into view. After a few bends along the country road which follows the line of the South Saskatchewan River, it poked out from the trees reaching into the blue afternoon sky.

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Fort Battleford National Historic Site, Saskatchewan. Summer 2017.

Copy of FortBatttleford2017

Fort Battleford National Historic Site. Summer 2017. Acrylic on panel. 8 5/8″ x 4.25″ (framed).

I believe Canada would look a lot more like South Africa had the numbers been different back at the end of the 19th century. Continue reading

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George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and its Modern Critics.

“…the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.”

Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon.

Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell, has been called one of “the most personal and directly political” of his writings. It is the memoir of the man behind the pseudonymous Orwell, Eric Arthur Blair, and his time in Spain fighting in the civil war over the course of a critical year. He passes through experiences which would have a profound impact on him and his writing.homage_to_catalonia2c_cover2c_1st_edition His travelogue of the revolution and front lines of civil war are mirrored by an inner travelogue which traces the progression of his perspectives under changing circumstances. His time in Spain would refine his socialist tendencies and push him to defend a revolutionary perspective on the conduct of the war. His experience gives him foresight enough to predict the end of the war as it comes to pass in 1939. Paradoxically in later years he would recant his perspectives from those days in Spain, scorning his rationale in a later essay. But In Homage to Catalonia we find Orwell at his most radical, fighting for something and not just against something. Despite his disposition against revolution, and later repudiation of his own revolutionary sympathies at the time, he never attempted to erase his flirtation with revolutionary political thought from his record of the Spanish Civil War. As such Homage to Catalonia is a fascinating memoir that remains controversial to this day.
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1905. By Leon Trotsky.

I read a .pdf of this book available online at the Marxist Internet Archive. The HTML version may be better. But the transcription in the .pdf seems like it was simply scanned without any proofreading or editing. Some numbers, letters and even entire words appear as punctuation. Words are missing, or transcribed improperly rendering the meaning confusing, or non nonsensical, in places. I would recommend either buying or borrowing a book version of 1905 if the HTML is just as poor.

51ekd691msl-_sx296_bo1204203200_Aside from that, this is an excellent book if you like politics and/ or history. Trotsky wrote this after the revolutionary events of 1905 in Russia. Trotsky would become a leading light of the October revolution of 1917 which inaugurated the first workers state in history. The Soviet system which took power in 1917 first arose in 1905, organized by striking workers to coordinate their activities. Leon Trotsky, activist, theoretician and organizer (then in his twenties) played a critical role in the Soviet. In the last days he became its official secretary and this book is a culmination of his experience in this role. Continue reading

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Their Morals and Ours. By Leon Trotsky.

Today I read “Their Morals and Ours” by Leon Trotsky. He wrote the piece in 1938 for publication in ‘New International,’ the theoretical Journal of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States. It was barely a year before the outbreak of the Second World War, a time when fascism was spreading through Europe and Asia. The democracies of the west were facing strife, strikes and protests were the order of the day. Stalin was consolidating his hold on the Soviet Union. The Republican side of the Spanish Civil war was losing ground to Franco’s Fascists. Trotsky was facing attacks on his methods and revolutionary perspective from the right and left internationally.

Early criticism of Trotsky depended upon antisemitism. Later, it came in the form of attacks on the methods of the early Bolsheviks. Instead of ethnic prejudice Trotsky’s opponents tried to use “theory,” appearing slightly more sophisticated. Stalin pulled leading lights of the international labour movement into his orbit, encouraging the spread of anti-Marxist ideas on the left.  The Bolshevism of Trotsky and Lenin was attacked directly on the basis of “morality.”  Most often it was a portrayal of the leaders of the early Bolsheviks as violent men bent on power willing to murder, deceive, steal, etc to achieve their ends.

Not unlike the anti-semitic portrayals, the attacks from the left however did not always take on the prejudices of the right wing. In his article Trotsky exposes their moralising as differing little in substance than that of the right wing, ie. idealistic deceptions which let the ruling class get on with the business of being the ruling class. Their position in general was that “morality” ought to guide the actions of activists and politicians in the labour movement. Seeing this as the subversion of the revolutionary logic of Marxism, Trotsky responded. (1)

Trotsky’s article is a defence of Marxist methods demonstrating his analysis of the historical role and evolution of “morality” from the realm of religion to the realm of philosophical idealism, to its relevance in modern Capitalist society. He at once defends himself and the Bolsheviks from charges of “amorality” by demonstrating how Marxism handles the concept, as opposed to the bourgeois philosophers. And also how a Marxist considers what constitutes “right” and “wrong” in making “moral” decisions.
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