Thursday, March 29, 2012

From Adbusters to This: An Overview of Counter-Culture Magazines in Canada

Magazines have been used throughout history as the voice of the people. From zines, journals and politically charged publications, these forms of communications have helped to bring together like-minded people around causes and issues that are of concern to them.

Adbusters, one of the most notorious of Canadian counter-culture titles, has inspired a global movement of shit disturbers, most recently inciting the Wall Street occupation just by publishing a blog post and encouraging the protest through social media.

"We want folks to get mad about corporate disinformation, injustices in the global economy, and any industry that pollutes our physical or mental commons."

The magazine is concerned with creating global movements and culture jamming the dissemination of corporate messages that harm the public good. They hope to create a culture of participants rather than passive spectators.


Alternatives Journal is a national environmental magazine based in Waterloo, Ontario. Since the first issue was released in 1971, the magazine has covered issues of environmental science, issues, policy and debate. The magazine works to promote a more sustainable future, providing "the tools needed to take us there."

Briarpatch Magazine from Regina, Saskatchewan describes itself as "a contemporary issues magazine with a chip on its shoulder and a fire in its belly." The magazine takes a radial, grassroots perspective on issues that are impacting the Prairie Provinces as well as the rest of Canada.

Canadian Dimension is another left-leaning publication from the prairies. From Winnipeg, Manitoba the magazine promotes political thought and discussion on issues of justice, labour, food, first nations, feminism, the environment and other issues impacting Canadian consciousness. The magazine's byline reads, "For people who want to change the world."


Geez creator, Aiden Enns, was the managing editor at Adbusters before he moved on to create a magazine based on faith, activism and social change. Set in the same tone and playfulness as Adbusters, Geez works to subvert commonly held notions of religious beliefs and ways of seeing.

Socialist Worker promotes radical upheaval of the current capitalist system in Canada and around the world. The magazine, set in newspaper format, suggests supporting a new revolutionary socialist party that is committed to organizing the working class and encouraging activity that would completely abolish all forms of oppression.

This Magazine is "the alternative to that." Launched in 1966 by a group of school activists, it covers a variety of political issues from food politics, the environment, the economy, as well as pop cultural and the arts.

Upping the Anti, targeted directly at activists and revolutionaries, provides a reflection of the state of political organizing in Canada. The journal promotes the politics of the radical left, focusing on topics of anti-capitalism, anti-oppression and anti-imperialism.

Magazines are community builders in their most basic sense, spreading messages, educating and drawing support towards specific issues and topics. The above magazines show the power and influence their messages have on thoughts and beliefs within Canadian civil society.

Read more about Geez and Adbusters in the new issue of Canadian Magazines canadiens, which launches next week!

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