Time for the NDP to Put Capitalism on Trial

Capitalism isn’t working. The proof is overwhelming. Across Canada, 1.5 million are unemployed, not counting discouraged workers and the under-employed. The numbers are expected to rise well into 2010. The International Labour Organization warns that the number of jobless worldwide could reach 239 million this year, and that young people will be the hardest hit. The system’s spin doctors are trying to fool the public by talking about ‘recovery’. But when pressed, the big shots admit it is a ‘jobless recovery’.

The failure of Canadian and global capitalism is evident in advancing climate change, impending environmental disaster, and the spread of drought and famine. It is apparent in the brutal imperial wars of occupation, in the growing gap between rich and poor, and in the assault on democratic rights wherever popular resistance takes to the streets.

Clearly, years of cuts, concessions, privatization, and tax breaks for giant corporations did nothing to solve the biggest problems facing society. They simply made the rich richer at the expense of workers. They emboldened the ruling elite to demand more, stimulated corruption in the highest places, and extended the life span of a dying, wasteful and outmoded system that puts profits before people every time.

Even if ‘recovery’ from the current world economic depression occurred tomorrow, the fact remains that capitalism condemns humanity to recurring cycles of recession/depression. It sentences us all to endless crippling wars, eco-disasters, glaring inequalities and obscene oppression.

So, why continue to make excuses for the system? Why continue to tinker with the mechanisms of a death machine? Why keep Capital on life support at the expense of Labour? As former NDP MP Svend Robinson famously said, “Capitalism is like a rabid dog that should be put down.”

The time has come to stop scratching at the surface. We need to expose the fundamental flaws, the deep-rooted contradictions of the system, and to fight for a socialist alternative.

It’s time for the NDP to put capitalism on trial. That’s the task facing delegates at the party’s federal convention, August 14-16, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

We can easily demonstrate that capitalism is killing the planet and its inhabitants in a multitude of nefarious ways, and that to survive the working class and its allies are compelled to replace the system root and branch. It’s the truth that needs to be told, with the power to conquer misinformation and fear, and to give voice to millions.

The NDP can lead the fight for a future worthy of humanity, but not if its leaders mince words and make opportunistic concessions to the powers that be. NDP support in the 2008 election campaign peaked at 22 per cent, compared with 15 per cent now. The idea of entering a coalition government with the big business-controlled Liberal Party dealt a severe blow to the NDP’s independence as a party of the working class. Since then, the party leadership has echoed the lame lamentations of the labour brass, when what is desperately needed, in addition to fixing E.I. and saving pensions, is a bold campaign to turn government bail-out money into public equity — towards the nationalization, under workers’ and community control, of auto, steel, oil and the big banks. Make Capital pay for a massive public works effort to convert to green energy, to repair roads, bridges, railways and ports, and to build social housing. That is the way to defend and expand employment, and to meet human needs by democratizing and planning the economy.

As the NDP Socialist Caucus has argued since its foundation in 1997, and which we re-state today with greater conviction than ever, to survive the NDP must turn sharply to the left. Increasingly, this is an argument for the survival and prosperity of humanity as a whole. If you agree, please join us in fighting for socialist policies. Please visit: www.ndpsocialists.ca -Barry Weisleder