Canada Reads: Life Raft and Lottery

Reading on the Life Raft
Over at the Walrus I have a think-piece about the meaning of the CBC Radio program Canada Reads, which I use as a jumping off point for a larger discussion of the difficulties facing Canadian literature. The article can be found here.
An excerpt:
As an inciter of excitement about our literature, Canada Reads is inarguably a phenomenon. The show’s triumph has come during a difficult decade in which both CBC and the Canadian publishing industry need all the success stories they can find. In a time of rising flood waters, Canada Reads has been a life raft for both public broadcasting and literature. Given how necessary Canada Reads has become to writers and publishers, it seems churlish to question the show. But the very power of Canada Reads, now a national public institution on many levels, demands that we give it greater scrutiny

Why Fear an Egyptian Revolution?

So long as both of the key Arab powers—Egypt with its population, and Saudi Arabia with its petroleum—remain client-states of America, the Middle East and its oil are safely in US hands, and there is no reason to deny Israel anything it wishes. But should that ever change, the fate of the Palestinians would instantly alter. America has invested enormous sums to sustain Mubarak’s moth-eaten dictatorship in Cairo, cordially despised by the Egyptian masses, and spared no effort to protect the feudal plutocracy in Riyadh, perched above a sea of rightless immigrants. If either of these edifices were toppled—in the best of cases, both—the balance of power in the region would be transformed. 

Perry Anderson, 2001. (Anderson’s entire essay is worth revisiting at this moment since it offers a very clear-eyed view on many issues, including the limits of the “peace process” which was recently highlighted by the leak of the Palestinian papers.)

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The Political Circus, 1921 and 2011

Art Young, "The Political Circus" from 1921

Art Young (1866-1943) was arguably the greatest radical cartoonist America has ever produced and also one of the very few political cartoonists whose work gives me continuous aesthetic pleasure. Via my friend Warren Bernard,  here is an Art Young cartoon from 1921 which seems surprisingly timely.