Commentary | Balaclava Discourse unmasked

How critiques of our structure are subject to change

A newspaper column is more like a film than a photograph. A collection of shots that told a story of transformation, Balaclava Discourse has shared my radicalization with the McGill community. Throughout the course of my column I’ve embraced Marxism, critiqued fellow students and administration for the first time, and actually got involved with politics on campus. The inevitable university phases of most students are kept to themselves and friends. Mine are open to the microscope of anyone curious enough to look.

With the creation of Balaclava Discourse, I sought to produce a column that would “challenge the structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination within society.” In comparison to the themes of the other two columnists (atheism and black feminism), mine was suprisingly far broader. This sentiment is apparent if you examine the beginning of my column, which included articles on Troy Davis, religion, and capitalism in Cuba. While all of these articles dealt with authority, hierarchy, or domination in some way, they had little connection to each other.

The lack of connection between articles in my column changed with my awareness of the accessible education movement. In early January, I had little knowledge of how student strikes worked, or of the history behind them in Quebec. As I write this, I’ve come to support the accessible education movement entirely. While I can’t say I’ve been completely swept up in the tide, I can say that I’ve been able to write about things I’m actually involved in for the first time. With the theme of my column corresponding so heavily to the goals of the accessible education movement, I dedicated the last half of my column to it exclusively. This was not planned, but it didn’t need to be: my column is motivated by the spontaneity of day-to-day life.

One of the most interesting things about being a columnist, though, is seeing how the public reacts to your writing. My opinions this year have gone against the grain of certain “moderate” elements of the McGill community. I am completely content with this, and, in fact, am somewhat pleased. If the majority of McGill students agreed with my views after the way I described them in “Are McGill Students Really Progressive?”, I’d be quite worried. I realize most people won’t agree with my views, and so – beyond merely trying to convince people – my articles are designed to get people to think. And more importantly, to get people to talk.

Karl Marx has stated that “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.” As a columnist with an alternative voice, writing for a paper with an alternative purpose, it only makes sense, unfortunately, that ideas like mine, or fellow columnist Christiana Collision’s, aren’t widely disseminated in the mainstream media. Students complain that The Daily is too left wing. Yet they fail to remember that upon leaving the university bubble, the very important issues university writers cover will be largely absent from other media sources. This is why I found it extremely important for Balaclava Discourse to not only challenge the structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in society, but also the structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination that determine what is “legitimate and acceptable discourse” in society. The voice of the masked is finally heard.

Balaclava Discourse is a column written by Davide Mastracci on the structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in society. You can email him at You can further access Davide Mastracci’s writing at

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