Eco-Socialism featured at Toronto conference

The economic crises of capitalism are cyclical, but the current environmental crisis could be final. Only by means of public ownership under workers’ and community control can society address both man-made ills, and be empowered to save life and civilization.

That was the message of Socialism 2010: Socialism or Barbarism / Eco-Socialism or Extinction. Nearly one hundred people gathered from across English Canada, Quebec and the United States for four days of lectures, debates, discussions, films, lunches and socials at OISE U of Toronto, hosted by Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste. The eight conference sessions attracted on average forty participants each, with 55 to 60 attending Thursday night’s “Palestine, Afghanistan and Haiti: Occupation and Resistance”, and Friday evening’s panel “From Copenhagen to Mexico City — the World at the Brink”.

The Conservative federal government’s racist ‘security state’ regulations nearly sabotaged the participation of the Socialist Unity League (LUS) of Mexico, co-sponsor with SA-USA of the international conference. LUS representative Linda Avila was denied a visitor’s visa by the Canadian Embassy in Mexico which demanded proof of ample personal wealth. Fortunately, thanks to an iPhone connection facilitated by a good friend of SA/LAS – Canada, LUS leader Jaime Gonzalez was able to deliver two excellent 15-minute presentations to the conference, live from Mexico City. One was transmitted on Friday night to the ecology session. The second was a talk for the Saturday night panel on “World Economic Disorder and the G8/G20 Summits”.

Passionate discussions, frequently punctuated by enthusiastic applause, were a mainstay of the conference. One presenter, legal assistant and gay rights activist Troy Jackson, actually sang the first part of his contribution. Others, like OCAP organizer John Clarke, employed a more traditional, but highly compelling form of discourse. Sessions on “Women’s Liberation Today”, “Combatting the Corporate Agenda — Jobs, Pensions and Poverty”, “Dialectical Materialism — a philosophy for radical change”, “The Malthus Myth: Population, Poverty and Climate Change”, and “Civil Rights under Attack — Fight Back!” rounded out the exciting programme, against a backdrop of beautiful banners. Slogans affirming the rights of immigrant workers, women and youth, calling for union democracy and the fight for socialist policies in the labour-based New Democratic Party, and demanding “Solidarity, Not Charity, Never Occupation” for Haiti, festooned the hall.

Four new participants expressed interest in joining SA/LAS, which held its annual rank and file convention on the Sunday afternoon. SA-USA National Secretary Jeff Mackler, who was featured on two panels of the public conference, reported to the SA/LAS convention on the 16th World Congress of the Fourth International, the main organization of the world Trotskyist movement, which took place in Belgium in February.

SA/LAS – Canada, SA-USA and the LUS-Mexico pledged to issue a joint statement for Jobs, Justice and Eco-Socialism, to be published in English, French and Spanish, in conjunction with the mass protests slated for the G20 Summit in Toronto in late June. Can Socialism 2011 in Toronto next May top this? Be sure not to miss it.