Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Saskatchewan: The roots of discontent and protest

Saskatchewan has been an anchor for the political left in Canada. The progressive farmers' movements were joined by trade unionists and others to create the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and then the New Democratic Party (NDP). Why did social democracy find its North American home in a sparsely populated prairie province?

This is the first book since Seymour Martin Lipset's Agrarian Socialism (1950) to offer an overall political economy analysis of the development of Saskatchewan. There has been ongoing discontent over the fact that the provincial economy remains based on agriculture and the extraction and export of natural resources. Its major contribution to the rest of Canada is a well trained labour force.

No matter which direction you head - north, south, east or west - all you find is the great open space of the prairie. Isolation is part of the psyche of this sparsely populated prairie province, and this abundance of great open space has uniquely shaoped the people, their politics, their economy, and their relationship with the rest of North America.

While progressive on many fronts, Saskatchewan is tormented in other areas. Racism directed primarily against Aboriginal people remains deeply entrenched. Traditional patriarchal values are stronger here than elsewhere in Canada. The province is struggling with environmental change brought by free trade capitalism, global warming and climate change. The progressive populism of the past appears to be giving way to a right wing populism as support for the Canadian Alliance/Conservative Party and the Saskatchewan Party increases. Is the political culture changing? Are there any new political forces on the horizon?

Knowing that history is necessary to understanding how a society came to be what it is today, and using the broad, interdisciplinary social science approach of political economy analysis, Warnock traces Saskatchewan's past in an attempt to understand the present and glimpse the future. Along the wary, he tells the story of Saskatchewan, from inception to centennial.

JOHN W. WARNOCK teaches in the Department of Sociology and Social Studies at the University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan. He has a long history of involvement in political, human rights, social justice, and environmental organizations and is well known as a popular journalist. He has been a farmer and a consultant on food and agricultural issues. His books include The Politics of Hunger: The Global Food System, Free Trade and the New Right Agenda, and The Other Mexico: The North American Triangle Completed.

Table of Contents
1 Saskatchewan in the Era of North American Integration
2 Economics, Political Economy and Human Society
3 The World of Capitalism
4 Saskatchewan as a Permanent Hinterland Area
5 Saskatchewan and the Wheat Economy
6 The Political Economy of Racism
7 The Roots of Racism in Saskatchewan
8 The Persistence of Patriarchy in Saskatchewan
9 Populism of the Political Left and Right
10 Forest Resources in Economic Development
11 The Struggle Over Resource Royalties
12 Social Democracy on the Prairies
13 The NDP and Structural Adjustment
14 Building an Alternative to Neoliberalism

427 pp. Cover art by Mike Steadman entitled "We Remain."
Paperback ISBN: 1-55164-244-1 C$29.99

Order your copy today at Black Rose Books.

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