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Reclaiming Democracy

Reclaiming Democracy: The Social Justice and the Political Economy of Gregory Baum and Kari Polanyi Levitt

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Reclaiming Democracy
    Book Description:

    Contributors include Samir Amin (Third World Forum, Senegal), Lloyd Best (Trinidad and Tobago Institute of the West Indies), Duncan Cameron (University of Ottawa), Ursula Franklin (University of Toronto), Norman Girvan (University of West Indies), Denis Goulet (University of Notre Dame), Arvind Sharma (McGill University), Carolyn Sharp (Saint Paul's University), Mel Watkins (University of Toronto), and Michael Witter (University of the West Indies).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7271-3
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acronyms and Abbreviations List
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    In the fall of 1998, the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy invited friends, colleagues, students, and the public to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthdays of two leading Canadian scholars, Kari Polanyi Levitt and Gregory Baum. This was a wonderful occasion. The presence of at least three generations confirmed what we already knew: the influence of these two remarkable people continues to grow as young people discover Kari and Gregory through their teaching, writings, and many public appearances in Canada and abroad. The participation of eminent scholars such as Samir Amin, Ursula Franklin, Mel Watkins, and others testifies to the enduring...


    • 1 Planning and the Religious Mind; “Der Mensch denkt, Gott lenkt”
      (pp. 13-20)

      Please allow me to begin with my thanks - being asked to contribute to this book is a privilege and an expression of friendship that I appreciate deeply. The invitation has also given me the impetus to revisit the issue of planning and think about the inherent ambiguities in its foundation and practice that have troubled me for many years.¹

      The thoughts offered in this paper rest on a few assumptions. One of them is that there are two attributes that seem to differentiate between secular and religious views and value systems. Certainly, these are notallthe distinguishing attributes,...

    • 2 On Culture, Religion, and Development
      (pp. 21-32)

      For Gandhi, religion and politics are inseparable. “My devotion to Truth,” he writes, “has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”¹ And ever since their founder uttered the curt injunction “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,”² Christians have been trying to decipher exactly what things belong to God and to Caesar.

      “Development” - an image of secure affluence...

    • 3 On Human Dignity and Human Rights: Western or Universal
      (pp. 33-42)

      Human dignity and human rights are two concepts which are often invoked together, as in the very preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.¹ The relationship between the two, however, remains to be fully clarified. It might well be possible to configure them in several different yet equally credible ways. This is an issue that has political implications since it raises the question whether human rights can claim to be universal or whether they are simply a set of values proper to a particular culture. Can the world religions acknowledge human rights? These are questions I have often discussed...

    • 4 To Build a Just Society: The Catholic Left in Quebec
      (pp. 43-55)

      Among Gregory Baum’s numerous contributions to theology is that he has taught us to think politically about matters of faith. From his work and his example, we have learned that affirmations of faith, theological discussions, ecclesial structures, and liturgical practices exist not in a vacuum but in given social and political contexts. He has thus challenged us to reflect critically upon the consequences of what we believe and how we live out our faith, in order to free our theologies and our churches from complicity with the forces of oppression and engage these same theologies and churches in the cause...

    • 5 Religion, Emancipation, and Human Rights
      (pp. 56-68)

      The presentations of my colleagues have concentrated on the humanistic dimension of the religious heritage. Ursula Franklin saw in religion a counter-force to mechanistic thinking, Arvind Sharma found in the world religions support for human rights, Denis Goulet spoke of religion as a resource for life-sustaining development, and Carolyn Sharp presented religion as a spiritual force for emancipatory practice. Liberating religion does exist.

      In the context of this volume it may not be out of place to tell the story of my own religious commitment to justice and reconciliation. My first major interest in therology was the ecumenical movement of...


    • 6 West Indian from East Europe. Kari Polanyi Levitt
      (pp. 71-91)

      I am delighted to participate in this volume to honour Kari Polanyi Levitt. Kari hails from a distinguished, acclaimed line. Her intellectual pedigree is unmistakably Austro-Hungarian, and she was educated in England. It was in Canada that she led most of her professional life, and in the Caribbean that her heart found reason to stay engaged, productive, and lucid.

      Kari’s is perhaps a tale of the global village. Not the global village created by the migration of capital and the disembedding of trade and production from their own context of culture and society but the one restored to wholeness by...

    • 7 Kari Polanyi Levitt and the Theory of Plantation Economy in Contemporary Perspective
      (pp. 92-101)

      “Whatever happened to Plantation Economy?” a student in my graduate course on theories of development recently asked. We had completed a review of dependency theory, in which the theories of Plantation Economy developed by Lloyd Best, Kari Polanyi-Levitt, and George Beckford had figured prominently. The student wondered why he had not been exposed to this work in his undergraduate training. He thought it was relevant to an understanding of contemporary issues in development and the world economy.

      In the ensuing discussion I sensed a revival of interest in nonmainstream economic thinking, particularly political economy and analysis of institutions and relations...

    • 8 The New Canadian Political Economy: Classic and Beyond
      (pp. 102-112)

      It occurred to me as I sat down to write this paper that if my two friends Kari Polanyi Levitt and Gregory Baum are eighty then I must be older than I imagined.

      What do an economist and a theologian have in common? Charles Kindleberger, my teacher in graduate school days, liked to tell that he went into his graduate seminar in international economics one year at MIT and there sat a person he had never seen before who was wearing a clerical collar. Kindleberger asked him, “Father, what economics have you taken already?” The priest replied, “That’s one branch...

    • 9 Kari Polanyi Levitt and Critical Thought in the Caribbean: A Sketch
      (pp. 113-117)

      In 1973, when I was helping my Ph.D. advisor to reorganize his office at Stanford University, I noticed a set of bound manuscripts in the dustbin. They turned out to be copies of the original papers setting out various models of “Plantation Economy” written by Kari and Lloyd Best. These fascinating documents were to inspire my doctoral thesis on the growth of export economies in which I focused on the accumulation process that underpinned the dependency of the export economy. Shortly after my thesis was submitted, I discovered that Samir Amin had already covered much of what I had written...

    • 10 Reconciling the Transition to Socialism
      (pp. 118-140)

      This discussion of the transition from capitalism to socialism begins with a deceptively simple statement.¹ Conceptions of the transition depend on what is meant by capitalism and socialism. Major currents of the historical left have never agreed on the essential nature of capitalism – or of its antithesis, socialism. Disagreements also exist within Marxism. Strategies of transcending capitalism – whether democracy in the west, bolshevism, Maoism, or radical anti-imperialism in the Third World, to mention only the most important – differ significantly from each other.

      A second observation is equally simple: history has failed to prove the validity of any of these theories....

    • 11 Confluences
      (pp. 141-166)

      Much time has passed since we gathered in Montreal in October 1998 to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Gregory Baum and Kari Levitt, an event attended by friends and well wishers, old and new, including Canadian and Caribbean colleagues who found time to travel to Montreal and prepare important presentations. The day was full and long, and did not permit reflection on the papers by colleagues whose work and friendship is intimately woven into the fabric of my perambulating life. Released from constraints of brevity, I welcome this opportunity to record the web of confluences which has linked my work...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 167-174)

    What matters in academic life is the collegial pursuit of knowledge and understanding and the inspiration received from contact with others who share the quest. This book is homage to that tradition. Reflecting on these contributions, which include those of the scholars whose lives are honoured by this publication, we are struck by how ideas work themselves out to similar ends: they help us to discover communities of thought in dialogue and to see the world afresh.

    Canadian intellectual life has been forever enriched by the presence among us of Gregory Baum and Kari Polanyi Levitt. That is the most...

  10. Selected Publications
    (pp. 175-176)