Warnock, John W. SASKATCHEWAN: the roots of dissent and protest. 2004. Black Rose Books, Montreal.

Warnock was the first person who came to me in the mid-eighties and said: you have to learn about Free Trade; It´s very important. So when an elderly friend told me to do something about the planned FTA, I responded to her by organizing a meeting for Jack to speak about Free Trade. Since then he has published several books on this topic, all excellent resources about the planned takeover of our commons.

Jack moved back to Saskatchewan and has been very active in political life there in recent years. His return to the crucible of much of the radical political thought and change in Canada has inspired his latest combination of history, criticism and analysis.

He traces the rise of political movements in Saskatchewan led by farmers and workers who had a clear understanding of their problems and solutions. One of the solutions was the formation of the CCF party which wanted universality of social programs, control over the economy and the elimination of poverty. In the middle of the last century we saw many of these goals realized. But today the corporations control most of our economy; including public media and education (just see all the agri-biz companies on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan). The possibility for public debate and analysis based on knowledge has shrunk to invisibility. Warnock says that the media and academia both promote the free market as the solution to all ills.

Political parties echo that ideology and the NDP, the offspring of the CCF no longer promotes public ownership or universality with any conviction. What holds for Saskatchewan, in spite of its radical history, holds for all of Canada. The study of economics, Warnock says, makes no mention of wealth and power. And he details the sellout of social democracy everywhere, with the Labour Party of UK as a leading example.

Warnock closes this book with a chapter on building an alternative to neoliberalism – locally and globally. In fact, the two are in today’s world, indivisible because neoliberalism is aimed at disempowering citizens in the powerful minority world while it impoverishes and degrades the majority world. The results are most severe in the majority world and it is there that the leadership of the new anti–globalization and social justice movements has risen. We have seen the opposition to the corporate right in this region in Seattle, the opposition to trade agreements and in Mexico, on the day NAFTA came into effect, the Zapatistas burst into or consciousness and for 10 years have provided an example of local people power against global elite power. Ecology based movements and parties in many countries now present alternatives to the right and centre traditional parties.

Warnock points out that the world capitalist system is going through an economic and political crisis. The war on Ira is one example. The crisis of legitimacy as Walden Bello of the Philippines calls it, has revealed the false promise of capitalism to many in the majority world. And here, Warnock says, people still are opposed to privatization of public assets, we oppose militarism in many instances and we are, in spite of our governments not convinced of closer integration with the USA. Warnock is optimistic that people in Canada, as elsewhere, will build on our new resistance movements and reject the elitist free market solution whose façade is cracking everywhere. It is our task to enlarge those cracks and to push up from our roots, a new organic and just society.

(Black Rose Books Website: www.web.net/blackrosebooks)

Filed under Book Reviews, John W. Warnock