By Barry Weisleder
Responding to the call of Toronto Rise-Up, some seventy people, including members of at least four socialist parties, held a rally at the Toronto intersection of Christie and Bloor Streets to “take back (public) space” from far-right organizations. The latter recently led the anti-vax, anti-Covid-mandate, so-called Freedom Convoy that blockaded border crossings and occupied downtown Ottawa for nearly three weeks.
Socialist Action federal secretary Barry Weisleder spoke these words to the Toronto gathering:
“The recent prominence of the far-right is chiefly a product of two factors: 1. The advanced state of decay of late capitalism. 2. The crisis of working class leadership.
Did it take a pandemic to show that capitalist governments neglect public health care? Or that they starve public education? Or public transportation? Or the housing needs of the population? Did it take a blistering heat dome, or massive flooding to show that plunder of the environment spells doom for nature and human civilization?
However, these events did demonstrate something — an aggravation of trends long underway. Capitalism fosters conditions that promote racism, sexism, homophobia, police violence, growing inequality and rising authoritarianism.
That brings us to #2. The utter failure of the labour and NDP leadership to present an alternative to capitalist decay, plus the failure of the radical left to unite. These factors create a political vacuum that can be filled by right wing populism, expanding the space for the far-right, including White Supremacists and openly fascist elements.
So, what is to be done?
1. Do not rely on the state and the cops! The Battle of Billings Bridge in Ottawa shows the potential power of working class mobilization against the insurgent right wing. Today’s rally is one more positive step.
2. Needed are more common actions for Eco-socialism, for organizing the unorganized into unions, for the defense of Indigenous people’s rights, and for disarming and de-funding the police. Necessary are actions to repudiate NDP-backed pipelines and NDP votes for Trudeau’s short-lived invocation of the Emergencies Act, as well as demands for policies to surpass NDP half-measures for housing and to curb rampant price inflation.
3. On the left, we need to answer the real frustration of angry small business and working class individuals who see elite powers arrayed against them. If socialists can show that democracy means economic power to put people before profits, to make work safe and secure, to fund food and homes, not fighter jets, tanks and bombs, then the left can win.
Socialist Action proposes the following:
Assemble a broad, democratic movement against the war in Ukraine. NATO Out of Eastern Europe. Canada Out of NATO. No shipment of arms. No Russian intervention. Support anti-war movements, East and West.
Build a class struggle left wing in every union and in the NDP to defeat conservative bureaucrats and demand socialist solutions to the vast array of problems faced by working people.
Join the Municipal Socialist Alliance to run anti-capitalist candidates, in the October city elections, to demand expropriation of giant landlords and vacant units to house the houseless. Don’t settle for the weak porridge of a promise to cut the police budget by 10 per cent, or to set aside only 10 per cent of big housing developments for “affordable” units.
Unite on May First for a massive International Workers’ Day rally and march, starting at Toronto’s City Hall. Demand a $25/hour minimum wage. Share the available work by instituting a shorter workweek, with no loss in pay and benefits. Provide money for healthcare. Not a penny for war.
Smash racism. No platform for fascists. Workers to power!”