Big P Politics - Theory and Practice


For whatever reasons of upbringing and temperament, I have always been profoundly engaged by the politics of things – the small ‘p’ politics of the fields of endeavour I have written about and been active in; but also the big ‘P’ politics of state formation and governance. For it is in the political realm, historically and actually, that I think that we as a species are most challenged, and most existentially threatened by our weaknesses in governing ourselves.


The pieces posted on this page are of very different order and ages. Some are 40 years old (e.g. ‘Masculine Dominance and the State,’ a historical and theoretical paper that was among the first to analyze how state formation over several epochs should be understood as gendered), but are in still use every day and in many different countries, if my notification service is telling me the truth. Indeed, I am astounded and delighted every time it dings me. Other essays were written for  magazines and journals with general readerships in mid, others pieces are radio documentaries (transcripts are linked) and yet another article is a personal/political memoir about a crucial period in my own politicization.


What they all have in common is the theme of power as manifest in different moments and spheres – governmental institutions, political parties, social movements, environment, health, key sites in popular culture. My notification service is only for academic usage. Nevertheless, it tells me that many people recognize the importance of having a historical, as well as current, understanding of the issues and debates in these fields in order to think better about what is happening in them today, and what that requires of us.


Finally, with respect to a very hot spot in global politics as I write this text and 2024 unfolds, with the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, 2023, I have begun writing again on subjects related to Israel-Palestine. Two new articles are linked here, and watch this space for more.

Canadian Friends of Peace Now Newsletter: The two-state solution re-emerges – can it triumph after all? Canadian Friends of Peace Now. February 5, 2024. Click here for PDF

Canadian Friends of Peace Now Newsletter: The path to two states – insights from Hagit Ofran of Settlement Watch. Canadian Friends of Peace Now. Feb. 14, 2024. Click here for PDF

Annual anthology: The New Imperial Order Foretold.  The Socialist Register 2005. Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, eds. Merlin. London (UK). 

Memoir: How I Became A True Radical. Canadian Dimension Magazine.  
Mar/April 2005

Annual anthology: The Dystopia of Our Times: Genetic Technology and Other Afflictions. The Socialist Register 2000.  Vol.36.  Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, eds. Merlin. London (UK). 

Annual Anthology: Sport, Gender and Politics: Moving Beyond the O.J Saga. The Socialist Register 1996. Vol. 32. Leo Panitch ed. London (UK). Annual Anthology

Manifesto: Women Against Free Trade Manifesto and How Women Against Free Trade Came to Write its Manifesto, (with Judy Rebick.) Resources for Feminist Research Vol 17 #3. Sept 1988.

Anthology: The Left and the Porn Wars in Who’s on Top? The Politics of Heterosexuality. Howard Buchbinder, Varda Burstyn, Dinah Forbes, Mercedes Steadman. 1987. Garamond Press, Toronto. Non-Fiction Book. 

Radio documentary: Israel at the Crossroads. IDEAS. CBC Radio, 1987.

Radio documentary: Public Sex. IDEAS. CBC Radio, 1983.

Four hour-long documentaries on the politics of the pornography debates, the sexualization of advertising and commodities, the censorship of sexually explicit art and the wider spread of sexual issues in public discourse, including thorny issues of representation and censorship.

Left to right: Varda Burstyn, Deirdre Gallagher and Debbie Field at first International Women's Day March, Toronto, 1978. Varda was a founding member of the organizing coalition.

Annual Anthology: Masculine Dominance and the State. The Socialist Register 1983 Vol. 20.  Ralph Milliband and John Savile, eds. Merlin. London (UK) 

Monograph: Women, Class, Family and the State.  Garamond Press, Toronto, 1985. Reprinted from the Socialist Register, 1983. 

One of two monographs in this volume, the other by Dorothy Smith. 

Annual anthology: Economy, Sexuality, Politics: Engels and the Sexual Division of Labour. Socialist Studies Annual 1 (1) 1983. University of Manitoba Press. Winnipeg. 

Radio Documentary: Feminism in the Political Arena. IDEAS, CBC Radio, 1982. 

Four hour-long documentaries with prominent feminists in Great Britain, the United States, Quebec and English Canada, exploring the impact of feminism on and in government, and the impact of working in government on women who chose this path.