For a Working-Class Culture in Canada: A Selection of Colin McKay's Writings on Sociology and Political Economy, 1897-1939

Description

615 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
$29.95
ISBN 0-9695835-6-7
DDC 305.5'62'0971

Author

Year

1996

Contributor

Edited by Ian McKay
Reviewed by Terry A. Crowley

Terry A. Crowley is a professor of history at the University of Guelph,
and the author of Agnes Macphail and the Politics of Equality.

Review

This hefty volume of writings by seafarer and leftist journalist Colin
McKay (1876–1939) brings to light the thought of a man the
editor—Queen’s University historian Ian McKay (no relation)—
regards as a visionary who provided a critique intended to serve a
working-class culture in order to transcend the contradictions of
capitalism. This reviewer sees journalist McKay as a largely one-man
show—reticent in person but prolix in print—whose commentaries
attempt an uneasy blend of Christianity, evolutionary socialism, and
Marxism. Most of his writing was derivative of British popular
philosopher Herbert Spencer, American sociological writer Lester Ward,
and the Marxist orthodoxy of writers like Karl Kautsky.

Editor McKay fails to demonstrate that journalist McKay’s ideas were
thoroughly original or that they were influential, the two chief
criteria for significance in intellectual history. The self-indulgent
and excessive scholarship that the editor brings to the introductions to
each of the book’s five parts (which include 135 selections) befit a
university apparatchik in the 1990s. Journalists wanting examples of
academic nonsense sentences will find rich ground here.

Citation

McKay, Colin., “For a Working-Class Culture in Canada: A Selection of Colin McKay's Writings on Sociology and Political Economy, 1897-1939,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4568.