The coming end of start-up culture and the limits of what can be commodified
There is a growing focus in liberal policy circles on fostering entrepreneurial spirit in an attempt to drive growth. Having run out of ideas for promoting the economic growth endemic to capitalism through the privatization of state assets, and seeing the lackluster productivity gains over the previous decades, the governments of advanced capitalist countries are looking to leverage the only part of their economies that are growing: the tech sector. This singular focus has resulted in changes to post-secondary education policy where university research are pushed ever further into becoming corporate R&D labs, and government research supports are spun off in an attempt to commercialize anything that looks like it can be commodified and sold.
The regular user's guide to using Linux
The purpose of this document is to outline how I work in Linux. While there are lots of documents online on how coders set-up and tinker with Linux, there are not many for regular users who want to become more proficient in their computer use.
A how-to install guide for Linux programs
This is a list of GNU and open source programs I use regularly. I have included some install commands and configuration details that I hope will make them easier to use.
Unions and ending the restrictions on work.
Discussions about 're-opening the economy' are just beginning. Capital's demands are not about worker protections and pay, their goal is a return to profitability. Labour unions must avoid full alignment with capital on their demands to ensure workers' interests are prioritized. There are many questions we need answered to start to support any process that ramps-up production.
Some socialist ideas for responding to the COVID-19 crisis
Services and products for people in need are going to be a problem in the coming weeks. Supply chains are complex and some businesses along those chains will not be able to support production during this crisis – or support the necessary ramp-up in production needed. To sustain production, the state is going to have to step-in and direct procurement and investment. As such, nationalized production should be on the table if it looks too complicated to coordinate the private sector to get the goods we need to the people that need them. Here is a list of recommendations outlining how socialists should be framing their demands during this time.
Unions, democracy, and labour reform for building worker power
When we are debating how best to build worker power through their unions it is usually in the context of winning demands at the bargaining table. But, under advanced capitalism, union power is mostly measured in terms of how badly we are losing. This is not useful as a metric for discussion of labour law reforms attempting to impose balance in labour relations between unions and capital. If we think of unions as structures of democracy, then we can shift the narrative around power simply to refer to winning or losing the battle for our own democracy. And, democracy, unlike worker power at the bargaining table, is entirely in the hands of workers. Socialists should focus on building democracy in discussion on labour reform. Then, no matter what we are able to win in terms of power at the union's bargaining table or reforms that raise standards for workers outside unions, we are helping to build the socialism we want.
Union dues and the struggle for democracy
To avoid the need to rebuild our democratic organizations – and thus waste valuable time – we must defend our current institutions of democracy. We must defend them even though they can, from time to time, be lead by flawed individuals – we are human, after all. It is not the people we defend as leadership can and will be replaced, but the institution. This defense is part of the historical fight for our right to practice and perfect our own democracy. (Photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash)
Technological change and automation in the workplace
Working people have been dealing with changes in the application of technology in their workplaces since the beginning of capitalism. The recent interest in the subject has largely been driven by the tech industry's promises of automated production and job-destroying robots, which will still somehow deliver a type of techno-Utopia. It is time for workers to take back the discussion and drive an agenda for the future based on clear analysis and the broader community's interests. In this full-length article, we revisit some of the issues and concepts around automation and its affects on workers.
Graduate student issues and the academy | Graham Cox
A version of this article was presented to the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario 2018 general meeting. The domination of the neoliberal view for the previous nearly four decades has meant that all public spending has to be couched as supporting the private economy. Even for something as basic as higher education cannot be described as having an inherent value, it must be commodified and linked to some private sector profit. In the case of university, public funding is only available because it is part of the private sectors desire to have skilled workers. As such, a post-secondary education degree is only talked about as a pathway to a job, and not as a valuable process by itself.
Alberta Conservatives Start Governing by Attacking Worker Rights and Future Generations
The newly elected United Conservative Party under Jason Kenney announced in the speech from the throne that their main priority is to drive wages down for workers, remove protections for workers at work, defund their political opposition, and undermine future generations in Alberta and around the world. Bill 1 is to attack the environment – kicking them while they are down. Bill 2 is going to attack workers, their unions, wages, youth, and health & safety for employees.
Ontario Budget 2019 undermines the academic system | Graham Cox
The Ford Government’s cuts to the university sector puts additional strain on an already stressed funding system. The new budget drives an aggressive free-market agenda obsessed with short-term results that does not work in a university setting and will undermine teaching, learning, and research in Ontario. The announced direction for Strategic Mandate Agreement’s (SMAs) will drive universities to align their teaching and research priorities with short-term labour market demands. This will undermine of the long-term research and teaching objectives at the heart of quality academic education and research. In short, the budget is a disaster for the academy and will bring hardship to the workers, students, and faculty on our campuses.
The Green New Campaigns in Canada | Graham Cox
In the US, the Green New Deal has gained deserved momentum because it is being promoted by charismatic elected officials, propelled to power on the basis of their broad left-wing credentials – and not only because of their focus on climate. We cannot bypass this step in Canada. This means that unapologetic socialist elements in our labour party must also be propelled into a position to promote such an agenda.
Ford's cynical politics and higher education | Graham Cox
The announcement on post-secondary education by the Ford government was a showcase of the new cynical politics of the right-wing. It was painful to watch. The minister, looking as excited as a drowned cat, delivered an announcement of massive and destructive change to higher education in this province using an ugly caricature of Orwellian language.
Student power through their unions | Graham Cox
Any challenge to the stability of student unions — one of the last independent democratic structures left in society — is an attack on democracy.
Conservatives in Ontario start their attack on workers' rights today
Doug Ford and his conservatives attack the rights of workers in Ontario with the repeal of Bill 148 provisions. This brings us back to the regressive position workers were in before Bill 148. For workers seeking union protection, the law removes all of the provisions that brought some balance back to workers. The new legislation will tilt labour law drastically in favour of employers and capitalists.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) will begin rotating strikes
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) will begin rotating strikes at 12:01 am tomorrow in Victoria (British Columbia), Edmonton (Alberta), Windsor (Ontario), and 1:01 am in Halifax (Nova Scotia). All times listed in local time. The strikes will last for 24 hours with locations striking daily.
Section 2 of the Canadian Charter. Or, what Ford has trampled.
Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – The Charter – lists your fundamental freedoms under the Constitution of Canada. The fundamental freedoms are freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
Toronto Council Seats: What to know | Citizens' Press
In the middle of the municipal election campaign, the new conservative government in Ontario run by Doug Ford (the one-time failed councillor from Toronto) has announced massive changes to the number of councillors in Toronto and the structure of representation in the city.
The case for publicly funded universities | Graham Cox
This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 Issue of the journal Academic Matters. All told, Canadian public universities are massive employers of students, teachers, researchers, librarians, academic and research support technicians, academic support workers (custodians, building services, food services, grounds and building maintenance), apprentices, councillors, utility workers, administrators, clerical workers, bartenders, security guards, and parking staff. Together, all of these workers maintain a space that fosters the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.
Just Transition: a task force and critique
Several things have happened in the previous few weeks that make it important to review what we mean about Just Transition for workers affected by major changes to employment. 1) The Liberal government has announced the Task Force: Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities. 2) Trade Unions for Energy Democracy have released ‘Trade Unions and Just Transition: The search for a transformative politics’. The new paper examines the inadequacies of the current policy development processes on Just Transition.