Left, Right : Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada
The left is supposed to be opposed to colonialism and at least skeptical of nationalism. However, Left, Right shows that, for decades now, this hasn't been the case in Canada. Yves Engler marshals damning detail on the long, surprising history of support from the New Democratic Party and labor unions for such policies and international interventions as the coup in Haiti, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Korean War, and much more. The rhetoric of the mainstream left, he shows, has also tended to concede major points to the dominant war-mongering ideology, with prominent commentators such as Linda McQuaig and Stephen Lewis echoing the terminology of right-wing politicians and thinkers. More than simply diagnosing a problem, however, Left, Right offers a path forward, laying out ways to get us working for an ecologically sound, peace-promoting, and non-exploitative foreign policy.
Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada details the Canadian Left’s promotion of colonial policies and nationalist myths, and outlines the NDP’s and labour unions’ role in confusing Canadians; from Korea to Libya, Canada’s major left-wing political party has backed unjust wars; Canadian unions supported the creation of NATO, the Korean War, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the coup in Haiti. Left, Right also shows how prominent Left commentators concede a great deal to the dominant ideology. Whether it’s Linda McQuaig turning Lester Pearson into an anti-US peacenik, Stephen Lewis praising Canada’s role in Africa, or others mindlessly demanding more so-called peacekeeping, Left intellectuals regularly undermine the building of a just foreign policy. Left nationalist ideology, both Canadian and Quebecois, has warped the foreign policy discussion; viewing their country as a semi-colony struggling for its independence has blinded progressives to a long history of supporting empire and advancing corporate interests abroad. Even many victims of Canadian colonialism among indigenous communities have succumbed to the siren song of supporting imperialism. Finally, Left, Right suggests some ways to get the Left working for an ecologically sound, peace-promoting, non-exploitative foreign policy that does no harm and treats others the way we wish to be treated.
“Left, Right is important and valuable in that it does not only illustrate and lament the corruption of leftist principles, but it also provides solutions about how leftist principles can be upheld; pushing the Left leftwards.”
“Yves Engler is Canada’s foremost feisty contrarian.”
"The NDP in Engler’s account is almost as bad as the U.S. Democrats. The labor movement is bigger but almost as bad as that in the United States. The think tanks and pundits of the Canadian left, the liberal heroes, the corporate media, and the nationalistic war-lusting of the culture as a whole are all almost as bad as in the United States.
Engler’s book provides an excellent survey and diagnosis. He points to U.S. influence, to financial corruption of many sorts, to labor unions lobbying for weapons jobs, and to the typical problems of corporate media. He describes a culture in which nationalism has been a response to U.S. influence, but in which that nationalism motivates participation in U.S.-led killing sprees. Obviously a better response to U.S. influence is needed.
The standard that Engler proposes for a better Canadian foreign policy is unimpeachable."
Dubbed “Canada’s version of Noam Chomsky” (Georgia Straight), “one of the most important voices on the Canadian Left” (Briarpatch), “in the mould of I.F. Stone”(Globe and Mail), “part of that rare but growing group of social critics unafraid to confront Canada’s self-satisfied myths” (Quill & Quire), “ever-insightful” (Rabble), “Chomsky-sytled iconoclast” (Counterpunch) and a “Leftist gadfly" (Ottawa citizen), Yves Engler (yvesengler.com) has published ten published books.
264 pages; 2019
Table of Contents
- Where’s Labour?
- Think Tanks and Critics
- Ties that Bind and Blind
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