Power to Us All: Constitution or Social Contract?|
by George Woodcock
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by Ted Whittaker
GEORGE WOODCOCK, at 80, has produced a prescient political statement, his most recent public attempt to salve our national itch. Ina progress of eight sociocultural essays, Power to Us All: Constitution or Social Contract? (Harbour, 191 pages, $14.95 paper) limns a decentralist, confederate stance resolutely opposed to centripetal power politics.
Some of Woodcock`s topics have become his personal intellectual property during the last 50 years: the contradictions severing law from justice; the social disasters occasioned by slavish conceptions of leadership; the necessity of Native selfgovernment; the concept of regional distinction (the staunch anarchist grants Quebec no more of this than he allows any other region and considers the province`s linguistic protectionism mere cowardice); the respect and power owed naturally to distinct communities within given regions; the unifying role and patriotic necessity of national communications and transportation networks; the need for local, national, and international environmental preservation and peaceful neutrality amid a chaos of warring states; and finally, the ways and means of achieving these eminently sensible goals.
Woodcock has always aimed to put his theories into practice, tirelessly advocating on behalf of dissenters and materially aiding refugees. In his conclusion here, while he suggests a devolutionary process whereby the Canadian state can be made to wither away, he also inserts into an open, organic social contract (to be formulated by a grand jury of political amateurs) civil disobedience, "a necessary tactic of democratic evolution ... linked closely to the idea of the empowerment of the people."
This notion, and many others more quietly subversive that crowd the pages of this pellucid little book, are not cloud-cuckoo talk at all. They are, on the contrary, absolutely invigorating and splendidly demonstrate their author`s perennial generosity. Woodcock himself calls them his legacy.