What's Left 2017-03-12 Volume 90

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois Running for Québec Solidaire; ServiceOntario is a for-profit American company; Fighting Propaganda; Repeal of Obamacare; France; LEFT NOISE; What we shared this week

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Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois Running for Québec Solidaire

This week, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (GND) announced that he will be running to fill the Gouin seat left vacant by Françoise David’s retirement, and that he would be running for spokesperson of the left-wing Québec Solidaire. Not necessarily surprising, but a great boost for the socialist movement.

Québec Solidaire (QS) is a European-style coalition of smaller left-wing parties focused on winning people to the ideas of sustainable, inclusive, democratic socialism. QS started with most of its support in urban areas of Québec, but has expanded its base of support with an unwavering commitment to common sense solutions for the issues of employment, public investment, and environmental sustainability backed-up with strong economic analysis.

The QS leadership has always been among the most recognized in the province and adding Nadeau-Dubois to their team will only increase their profile and their ability to build support for progressive policies in Québec.

ServiceOntario is a for-profit American company

Did you know that ServiceOntario is owned and managed by a private, for-profit American company? In 2011, the Serco was contracted by the Ontario government to provide all health card, birth/marriage/death certificates, driver and vehicle licensing, business registration, and fishing and hunting licences.

While this may be old news to some, the election of Donald Trump in the United States should heighten concerns that the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002 could be used to demand that confidential information about Ontario citizens be released to American government agencies including the CIA and FBI.

Service Ontario



Fighting Propaganda

With the rise of new sophisticated tactics for the spreading of propaganda, researchers are looking at old ways to fight it and discovering their new tactics are not so new after all.

As corporate communications developed, propaganda departments became known as “communications” departments and been oriented to advertising and messaging. Universities and colleges started tailoring courses to the “new” industry that increased in importance with the introduction of 24 hour a day news and electronic campaigns. These campaigns changed the medium and the messaging. However, this glut of professional propagandists also meant that fringe movements and autocratic state actors were able to develop their own strategies to build audiences. In what used to be the sole purview of Western governments, sophisticated mass distraction, disinformation, and drown-out campaigns are being launched by many with the desire to bend the truth or avoid detailed criticism.

The secret to fighting this deluge of propaganda is the same as it was in the past: organizing, developing counter narratives, coming up with fact-based and principled responses, and strengthening our movements. In essence, the most effective way to push forward is by proactively demanding progressive change, not waiting to react to neoliberal proposals.

Three kinds of propaganda, and what to do about them

Repeal of Obamacare

The Republicans have announced their draft plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the US. While much of the left rightly criticized the final version of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., Obamacare) as a sop to the private medical insurance companies, it has nothing on the Republican plans. Trump’s proposal leaves in place many of the so-called issues of Obamacare identified by Trump during the election, but expands the allowance of gouging by insurance companies, reduces supports for the poor who cannot afford health insurance, and cuts Medicare for the elderly.

In response, California progressives put forward an act to introduce universal, single-payer, tax funded health insurance for their state. It might be that the anxiety created by the mess at the federal level will create space for progressives to put forward real solutions to provide universal medical care for all.


The fight over the centre in the French presidential election has meant a rise in the probability of the fascist Front National (FN) winning in the election. Recent polls have put the far-right Le Pen at 45% in a run-off vote with Macron, the young liberal running independently. The centre-right Republicans’ candidate Fillon has suffered a collapse in support following investigations into allegations that he paid members of his family with public money for doing nothing.

Hamon, the centre-left Socialist Party candidate, has been facing an uphill battle to convince people he is different from previous candidates like Holland who campaigned left and then implemented right-wing economic policies. This has been made difficult given that Holland appointed Macron to implement his right economic plan.

The over abundance of centrist candidates means that the message from the other parties is diluted into conversations about which bland version of neoliberalism to vote for.

Unfortunately, the solid left-wing candidate Mélenchon is running as an independent candidate of the left and has been ignored by the corporate and state press. His campaign has also not had active forces on the ground building support and countering the growth of far-right, anti-immigration rhetoric from the FN during the previous three years. The media has also bolstered the FN with constant hand-wringing about the possibility of a Le Pen victory.

In addition, the Socialist Party, while talking left, has not delivered socialist policy – undermining the trust of those who legitimately promote such a program. As a result, traditional working class voters – especially younger voters without a college degree – have been exposed to more far-right hate propaganda than workable left-wing policies.

Too many liberal centrists, the abandonment of socialist policies by the apparatus of the Socialist Party (outside of elections), and a unified far-right spouting fascist rhetoric have all put Le Pen closer to power. It seems, as is so often the case, that without an activist left, the far-right are able to make significant opportunistic gains.


1. A History of Anti-Fascist Punk

In its four decades, punk has meant many different things to many different people.

Its relationship to fascism, the specter of which has stopped rattling its chains from history books and re-appeared in the West, is one of the most complicated examples of how aesthetics and philosophy can appeal to both anti-authoritarian and deeply repressive positions. categories: [“What’s Left”]

2. First Aid Kit - You Are The Problem Here

First Aid Kit gets political with a song released in honour of International Women’s Day 2017

3. Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ Helped Germany Leave Nazism in the Rear-View


The techno pop masterpiece heralded a new sound—Industrielle Volksmusik

4. Katy Perry - Chained To The Rhythm

Yes, this is cotton candy political pop, but maybe that is a good thing?

Her single “Chained to the Rhythm” is a cheerfully depressing indictment of not only Trump but all of society.

5. Buy music, support the ACLU

11 Albums You Should Buy on Bandcamp Right Now to Support the ACLU

6. Barbara Dane - I Hate The Capitalist System

This is an amazing album - start to finish.

You can buy the album, Smithsonian Folkways here.


“What we shared this week”

International Women’s Day

Rise Up for Change

‘Watch Out, You Machista’: A Network of Feminist Activists Is Building Across Latin America

Le 8 mars, célébrons la résistance des femmes et construisons des alternatives pour un monde meilleur!

The Trudeau Liberals’ weirdness managed to get even weirder on International Women’s Day

Who is minding the gap?

It’s Not Just Uber

What about International Men’s Day?


Trump adviser admits to contact with DNC hacker

Bernie Sanders on Trump and the resistance: ‘Despair is not an option’

Americans oppose bathroom laws limiting transgender rights: poll

When private goes public – community wins

WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents

CIA upset about breach of privacy

What is “1917. Free history”?

Amazing maps shows how much Toronto has changed since 1954