Table of contents

Acknowledgements Introduction Reconnaissance and Resistance Chapter 1 Socialism: The Revolutionary Science of Social Evolution Chapter 2 The Emergence of the First Formation in Canada, 1890–1902 Chapter 3 The Class Question Chapter 4 The Religion Question Chapter 5 The Woman Question Chapter 6 The Race Question Chapter 7 War, Revolution, and General Strike Chapter 8 Showtime, 1920 Notes Index


In Reasoning Otherwise, author Ian McKay returns to the concepts and methods of ?reconnaissance? first outlined in Rebels, Reds, Radicals to examine the people and events that led to the rise of the left in Canada from 1890 to 1920. Reasoning Otherwise highlights how a new way of looking at the world based on theories of evolution transformed struggles around class, religion, gender, and race, and culminates in a new interpretation of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

As McKay demonstrated in Rebels, Reds, Radicals, the Canadian left is alive and flourishing, and has shaped the Canadian experience in subtle and powerful ways. Reasoning Otherwise continues this tradition of offering important new insight into the deep roots of leftism in Canada.

Reasoning Otherwise is the winner of the 2009 Canadian Historical Association's Sir John A. Macdonald prize.

Ian McKay teaches at Queen?s University in Kingston, Ontario. His previous books include Rebels, Reds, Radicals, For a Working-Class Culture in Canada, and The Quest of the Folk: Antimodernism and Cultural Selection in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia.


  • Winner, The Canadian Historical Association Best Scholarly Book in Canadian History Prize 2009


This is no misty-eyed nostalgic romp; McKay writes openly of the sexism, classism, and racism that plagued the left during those years and to which many on the left were obviously blind. In retrospect we can see how socialism has taken on more humanist values in response to the changing of the lens through which we view social problems.

This is all good to know. For the next time.

- The Voice Magazine

Reasoning Otherwise is a substantial achievement. It is provocative, original, and contains numerous flashes of insight that will provide scholars and students of the left with many questions to ponder and points to challenge for years to come.

- Labour / Le Travail

Like many books that are able to come up with some really key, wide-ranging insights, Reasoning Otherwise is both interdisciplinary and accompanied by an innovative and original methodology…. acts as incitement for other scholars and students to delve deeper into the complicated construction of the left.

- Canadian Literature

A fascinating and comprehensive account that will undoubtedly become the benchmark for studies of the period … it has greatly enhanced both our understandings of the Canadian Left and of Canadian cultural history more broadly.

- H-Canada, H-Net Reviews

As Ian McKay effectively demonstrates in this sweeping and incisive reconnaissance into the era, a rich, first formation socialism (to use his term) set itself against the emerging liberal social order and attempted to ‘reason otherwise’… We [need to] sharpen our own analytic tool to understand the multiple and varied ways in which liberalism creates its opponents. McKay’’s book is a crucial contribution to this task.

- <p>Canadian Historical Review</p>

A first-rate history that deserves a wide readership. The American historian Jack Hexter once said that some books should be authorized to put on their covers: “Pay attention! Listen to me! Follow along! Have fun!” This is such a book.

- Winnipeg Free Press

Reasoning Otherwise is an excellent resource for anyone interested in left politics before the First World War, whether in Canada or internationally.

- International Socialist

Essential reading for historians of labor and the left as well as of North American history more generally. It is one of those rare books that inspire you to throw out your undergraduate lecture notes and to start anew.

- <em>American Historical Review</em>