This statement was adopted at the Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’Action socialiste Annual Convention on June 12, 2022.
The global political situation is sobering, even dire, but its very volatility is pregnant with radically progressive potential outcomes.
Inter-imperialist rivalry dominates the headlines. The conflict in Ukraine, triggered by the expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia, threatens nuclear war. Russia’s disastrous invasion has strengthened rightist forces in Ukraine and beyond. Anti-war protests, still relatively small, struggle to highlight the crimes of Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and their imperialist allies.
The U.S.-led cold war against China, a sign of diminishing U.S. economic hegemony, can easily grow into a hot war with catastrophic consequences for humanity.
Rapid global warming caused by fossil-fueled capitalism, puts at risk all life on earth. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes this abundantly clear. Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC, said that “climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.” The world faces multiple unavoidable climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F). Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. Risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements. Increased heatwaves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plant and animal tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals. These weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic.
The pandemic arising from de-forestation and the expansion of agribusiness, is not disappearing. Up to March 2022, the statistics are staggering: Coronavirus Cases: 448,608,875. Deaths: 6,029,842. Recovered: 382,852,393. Less than 20 per cent of the peoples of the less developed countries are vaccinated even once, let alone three times. Patent protection ensures mega profits for Big Pharma, and future waves of fatal Covid variants.
The brutal 40-year policy of neo-liberalism continues, ramping up again in the west following a short Covid pause. Price inflation is surging. Workers and peasants, the world over, are being impoverished to the point of severe sickness, starvation and death, while billionaires are becoming trillionaires. Restrictions on travel and limitations on indoor gatherings are being lifted, in some cases too rapidly, even recklessly. Excess mortality during 2020 and 2021 stands at 18 million, suggesting an even larger impact on societal health.
By prioritizing profit over people, big business governments risk pandemic regression.
Capitalism is approaching a terminus. It is dragging life on Earth down with it. Either we defeat it, or die. That is the choice. The stakes have never been higher.
Consider the main elements of this scenario: war in Ukraine, the rise of the far-right associated with the failure of working class leadership, the peculiar case of China to which an unprincipled political ‘campism’ is linked, and the continuing radicalization of young workers and oppressed people who see no future for themselves under rancid, toxic late capitalism.
Ukraine at the Vortex
Socialists oppose all wars, except the class war. Workers and the poor, women and children are the first and foremost victims of conflagration, while a tiny, rich minority profit from the woe it inflicts on the vast majority. The current conflict over Ukraine shows this again. It stems from the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is led by Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and their imperialist allies. The unfolding tragedy can be halted by mass protest actions in every country, along with the construction of a broad, democratic anti-war movement. Those are the key tasks at this moment.
Despite promises to the contrary when the USSR dissolved, and later when East and West Germany united, the United States aggressively pushed expansion of NATO membership right up to the boundaries of Russia. It armed dozens of NATO countries with heavy military equipment, including nuclear weapons, while conducting war maneuvers on the border lands and coastal waters of Russia. Washington imposed over 100 sanctions on Russia before 2022. It backed the 2014 fascist-led coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine. The ensuing rump ultra-right government blatantly discriminated against speakers of the Russian language and promoted fascist militias that marched on Eastern Ukraine, attacking people in Russian-speaking regions. It violated scores of cease fire agreements. The US armed Ukraine’s military to relentlessly shell residents of the two breakaway republics in the Donbass region. Thousands died; many more were displaced from their homes.
Meanwhile, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his arch pro-Ukrainian nationalist Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland now send additional troops and weapons to eastern Europe, falsely posing as champions of democracy and self-determination. They bolster Ottawa’s war budget to buy new fighter jets instead of meeting human needs for enhanced public health care and economic supports during an ongoing pandemic, instead of providing for social housing, justice for Indigenous people and a rapid transition to a sustainable green economy in harmony with nature. Trudeau backs a brutal dictatorship in Haiti, seeks to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela with a punishing trade embargo, and endorses weapons exports to Saudi Arabia to spread starvation and mass murder in Yemen. A Canadian general led NATO’s horrendous carpet bombing and destruction of Libya.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine is a dead wrong response to NATO aggression. It should be condemned as a brutal invasion. Putin is harking back to the Russian empire and is treating Ukraine as a ‘little brother’ that he can dominate.
Putin’s excuse that he is helping the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine is spurious. Putin and his associates have been assisting the far-right in Europe for years. French far-right leader, Marie Le Pen, has been a frequent guest of Putin. Putin’s attacks on LGBTQI people and his promotion of the Russian Orthodox Church as the symbol of Russian nationalism align with familiar themes of ultra-conservatives. His violent invasion of Ukraine only strengthens that country’s radical nationalists, rather than mobilize progressive public opinion there and abroad.
During his long rambling address to the Russian people, Putin attacked the legacy of the Russian Revolution of 1917. He claimed that modern Ukraine “was entirely and fully created by the Bolsheviks” who did so “by dividing, tearing from Russia pieces of her own historical tendency”. In doing so, he revealed himself as part of a long tradition of Great Russian chauvinism that stretches from the Tsars to Joseph Stalin.
Putin’s actions are being used by military hawks in the US and Canada to whip up a pro-war atmosphere. The Pentagon, humiliated by its defeat in Afghanistan, is determined to re-assert ‘leadership’ over the Western world by posing as its defender. We should reject the cold war rhetoric of our rulers, and support anti-war actions in every country. Stand firmly with the workers of Russia, Ukraine and the NATO countries who demonstrate for peace, and who strive to disarm the war-makers. The only way to end inter-imperialist rivalry, environmental destruction and endless wars is to eradicate the capitalist profit system by means of workers’ socialist revolution.
We demand: No War in Ukraine. NATO Out of Eastern Europe.
Canada Out of NATO. No sanctions. No military intervention by Russia. Stop U.S. weapons supplies to Kiev. Self-determination for Donetsk and Luhansk.
The “Con”-voy and the Crisis of Working Class Leadership
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 undermine public transportation? Or ignore the housing needs of the population? Did it take a blistering heat dome, or extensive flooding to show that plunder of the environment spells doom for nature and human civilization?
But these events did demonstrate something noteworthy — the aggravation of trends long underway. Capitalism fosters conditions that promote racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, police violence, growing inequality and rising authoritarianism, more than ever.
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. It can be filled by right wing populism, expanding the space for the far-right, including White Supremacists and openly fascist elements. The “Freedom Convoy”, that mobilized many disgruntled workers despite its petty bourgeois, anti-science, anti-worker direction, showed the danger inherent in the situation.
So, what is to be done?
- Do not rely on the state and the cops! The Battle of Billings Bridge in Ottawa shows the potential power of working class self-mobilization against the insurgent right wing. The Toronto rally on March 5 against the far-right was another positive step forward.
- 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.
- 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 5 to 10 per cent of big housing developments for “affordable” units.
Unite on May First for massive International Workers’ Day rallies and marches. 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!
China and “campism”
Consider the peculiar case of the Peoples Republic of China. Understanding the class nature of this state is critical to a good grasp of the world political situation, and to fashion a proper response to China’s cheerleaders. Here is what respected Marxist economist Michael Roberts argues.
“The question for me is whether the capitalist sector in China’s economy is dominant. Does China follow the same law of value as other capitalist economies? China seems to be more than just an autocratic, undemocratic, ‘political’ version of capitalism compared to the ‘liberal democratic’ version of the West (as argued by Milanovic). Its economy is not dominated by the market, by investment decisions based on profitability; or by capitalist companies and bosses; or by foreign investors. Its economy is still dominated by state control, state investment, state banks and by Communist apparatchiks who control the big companies and plan the economy (often inefficiently as there is no accountability to China’s working people).
I remind readers of the study I made a few years ago of the extent of state assets and investment in China compared to any other country. It showed that China has a stock of public sector assets worth 150% of annual GDP; only Japan has anything like that amount at 130%. Every other major capitalist economy has less than 50% of GDP in public assets. Every year, China’s public investment to GDP is around 16% compared to 3-4% in the US and the UK. And here is the killer figure. There are nearly three times as much stock of public productive assets to private capitalist sector assets in China. In the US and the UK, public assets are less than 50% of private assets. Even in ‘mixed economy’ India or Japan, the ratio of public to private assets is no more than 75%. This shows that in China public ownership in the means of production is dominant – unlike any other major economy.
And now the International Monetary Fund has published new data that confirm that analysis. China has public capital stock near 160% of GDP, way more than anywhere else. But note that this public sector stock has been falling faster than even the neo-liberal Western economies. The capitalist mode of production may not be dominant in China, but it is growing fast. Which way will China go? In the post-pandemic decade will it move towards an outright capitalist economy that is just like the rest of world? In other words, adopting the neoliberal mainstream model. So far, in the light of the disastrous failure of ‘liberal democratic’ market economies in handling the pandemic, with death rates 100 times higher than in China and now deep in a slump not seen since the 1930s, that market model does not seem attractive to the Communist Party dictatorship or the Chinese people. Instead, Xi and Li seem to want to continue and expand the existing model of development: a state-directed and controlled economy that curbs the capitalist sector and resists imperialist intervention.
Indeed, China looks to expand its technological prowess and its influence globally through the Belt and Road investment initiative and its huge lending programmes to the likes of African and other states. And it will be able to do so because its economic model does not rest on the falling profitability of its admittedly sizeable capitalist sector. An IMF report found that China is now the world’s largest creditor to low-income countries.
That is why the post-pandemic strategy of imperialism towards China is taking a sharp turn. And this is the big geopolitical issue of the next decade. The imperialist approach has changed. When Deng came to take over the Communist leadership in 1978 and started to open up the economy to capitalist development and foreign investment, the policy of imperialism was one of ‘engagement’. After Nixon’s visit and Deng’s policy change, the hope was that China could be brought into the imperialist nexus and foreign capital would take over, as it has in Brazil, India and other ‘emerging markets.’ With ‘globalisation’ and the entry of China to the World Trade Organisation, engagement was intensified with the World Bank calling for privatisation of state industry and the introduction of market prices etc.
But the global financial crash and the Great Recession changed all that. Under its state-controlled model, China survived and expanded while Western capitalism collapsed. China was fast becoming not just a cheap labour manufacturing and export economy, but a high technology, urbanised society with ambitions to extend its political and economic influence, even beyond East Asia. That was too much for the increasingly weak imperialist economies. The US and other G7 nations have lost ground to China in manufacturing, and their reliance on Chinese inputs for their own manufacturing has risen, while China’s reliance on G7 inputs has fallen.
Source: Manufacturing shares from World Development Indicator online database. Reliance computations by authors, based on OECD ICIO Tables (https://www.oecd.org/sti/ind/inter-country-input-output-tables.htm).
So, the strategy has changed: if China was not going to play ball with imperialism and acquiesce, then the policy would become one of ‘containment’. The sadly recently deceased Jude Woodward wrote an excellent book describing this strategy of containment that began even before Trump launched his trade tariff war with China on taking the US presidency in 2016. Trump’s policy, at first regarded as reckless by other governments, is now being adopted across the board, after the failure of the imperialist countries to protect lives during the pandemic. The blame game for the coronavirus crisis is to be laid at China’s door.
The aim is to weaken China’s economy and destroy its influence and perhaps achieve ‘regime change’. Blocking trade with tariffs; blocking technology access for China and their exports; applying sanctions on Chinese companies; and turning debtors against China; this may all be costly to imperialist economies. But the cost may be worth it, if China can be broken and US hegemony secured.
China is not a socialist society. Its autocratic one-party Communist Party government is often inefficient and heavy-handed. (While a strong, centralized pandemic response prevented uncontrolled viral spread and saved millions of lives, the bureaucratic implementation hurt workers more than if workers’ organizations wielded power in the work places -editor.) The Maoist regime suppressed dissidents ruthlessly and the Cultural Revolution was a shocking travesty. Nobody can speak out against the top regime without repercussions. China’s leadership is not accountable to its working people; there are no organs of worker democracy. And China’s leaders are obsessed with building military might – the NPC heard that the military budget would rise by 6.6 per cent for 2020 and China now spends 2% of GDP on arms. But that is still way less than the US. The US military budget in 2019 was $732bn, representing 38 per cent of global defence spending, compared with China’s $261bn.”
The gains of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, that uplifted the Chinese from deep poverty and chronic underdevelopment, are now devoted to stabilizing bureaucratic rule, to fostering a large billionaire class and to securing markets and resources worldwide. China remains a severely deformed workers’ state, moving steadily towards capitalism, utterly hostile to socialist transformation and workers’ power. Revolutionary socialists reject the approach of campists, like the International Manifesto Group and its Multipolarity strategy. The IMG supports one or another of the major contending (anti-worker) states instead of world socialist revolution. Campists embrace and defend a pro-capitalist camp that is ostensibly against the American hegemon, rather than champion the independent struggles of workers and oppressed people (like the Palestinians, the Irish, the Kashmiris, the Tigrayans, and the Uighurs in north-west China), rather than build a revolutionary workers’ international. The working class can come to power in China only by means of a political revolution that smashes the Maoist-Stalinist bureaucracy, expropriates the billionaires, reverses privatization and institutes economic planning under workers’ control.
Russia rapidly restored capitalism over thirty years ago. It is technologically and militarily advanced. Its rulers refuse to allow American predation of its vast resources. It faces implacable hostility as a result, especially from the Democratic Party faction of the US ruling class. Russia’s economic prowess does not threaten the US as China’s does. Russia’s intervention to support the government of Syria, is a challenge to American Middle East policy. Its Su-57 stealth-tech jets appear to match anything the Americans have. But it faces a virtual encirclement by the US and NATO troops, tanks, planes, naval carrier groups and nuclear missiles.
Ottawa is complicit in the escalation of deadly conflict, not only by virtue of its role in NATO in Eastern Europe, not only by its membership in the Lima Group that seeks to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela, but shown earlier by its confinement and threatened extradition of Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou for the ‘crime’ of engaging in commerce with Iran, which Washington illegally forbids. SA correctly stated that the fastest way to free the two Canadians held in Beijing was to Free Meng. We continue to demand normalization of relations with China.
Barack Obama’s pivot to the east raised threat levels to China, with US bases all over the far east, and 2 carrier groups armed with nuclear weapons patrolling close to China’s southern and eastern shores. China has one foreign military base, in Djibouti, on Africa’s east coast. But its growing air and sea defense posture, not to mention its famous global infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative, have earned Washington’s enmity. US President Joe Biden continues on this track, and maintains the intensified sanctions imposed by Donald Trump on revolutionary Cuba.
The South Asian subcontinent is the scene of a racist and brutally neo-liberal government in India. It seized Kashmir, threatened Pakistan and provoked conflict with China. At home it is facing rising working class opposition, and the massive desperate struggle of millions of farmers. They achieved a partial victory in their struggle against deregulation by Narendra Modi who favours global Agri-biz monopolies seeking to lower prices to farmers and raise prices to consumers for food.
Canada is an imperialist power in its own right. It is a ruthless exploiter of African, Asian, Caribbean, Central and South American mineral resources and labour as it runs roughshod over the national rights of the host countries and peoples. Canadian capitalists share many bonds with American capitalists and are allied to the US in its aggressive imperialist posture on a global basis. At home Canadian capitalists, like their US counterparts, openly and grossly mistreat Indigenous peoples, Quebecois and Acadian peoples, queers, disabled people, women and trans people, racialized minorities and migrant workers. Canadian capital is among the most aggressive carbon and methane polluters worldwide.
The Great Recession of 2019, followed by the Depression of 2020-2021, are evolving into the Recovery of 2022. Employment in Canada is now above the pre-pandemic level. But economic inequality is sharply up. The cost of food, fuel and housing is skyrocketing. The shortage of labour in certain sectors actually affords the working class a golden opportunity — to recover and to make gains. Workers’ appetite for change is evident in successful unionization drives at West Jet, Indigo bookstores, Canada Goose, Starbucks locations, a Vancouver hotel, and in a near-win at Staples in Oakville. A major obstacle to bigger gains is the conservative labour leadership – so evident in the inferior deal imposed by OPSEU brass on the 60,000-plus Ontario public service.
The wave of mass protest against racism and police brutality sparked by the cop murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020, impacted the global political landscape. Millions demonstrated across the USA, followed by mass actions in Canada and around the world, notwithstanding the pandemic. The fiery civil revolt, including the torching of police stations, expressed the depth of anger stoked by generations of racist abuse and murders by cops. The reality of anti-Indigenous and anti-Black systemic racism in Canada was dramatized by mass protests and a public crescendo of demands to slash police budgets across North America.
The problem goes far beyond specific police personnel and finances. Socialists demand: Disarm, De-fund and Disband the capitalist police force. For Workers’ and Community-Controlled Policing. We have no illusions that this can be accomplished within the capitalist system. Transitional demands are designed to raise class consciousness, promote workers’ self-emancipation, and to build a bridge to a revolutionary workers’ state. We eagerly participate in the huge, semi-spontaneous mass actions, carrying our banners, placards and flags – while observing physical distancing. Socialist Action seeks ways and means to structure and focus the movement on concrete demands for justice, police accountability, and to build the power of workers and the oppressed.
In the context of pandemic, economic depression, and decline in US imperial hegemony, there is a failure of proletarian leadership. The political vacuum has been filled, partially, by right wing populism, as the anti-social ‘Con’voy demonstrated. Simultaneously, there is push back against the right wing, notably in Latin America. A widespread radicalization of young workers is evident. Opinion polls show that youths are turning to ‘socialism’ for answers. The wide gap between over-ripe objective conditions, and weakness on the subjective side, means that agitation from below and employment of the united front tactic are likely to play an important role. Why is this so?
Despite the utter lack of imagination and resolve by the union and NDP tops, there is the remarkable fact that union representation in Canada actually increased from 30 to 31.3 per cent during the economic plunge that affected most economic sectors. While business unionism cannot ‘flatten the curve’ or adequately cope with Artificial Intelligence and robotization, we do know that capitalist production will rely heavily on physical and mental human labour for decades to come. The power of the working class, when unchained, will assert itself and change the world fundamentally.
The salvation of the majority will depend increasingly on initiatives of groups of militant workers and radical social justice movements entering the field of action as minority vanguards. The classic class struggle left wing will be composed of folks both inside and outside the traditional mass organizations. The task of socialists is to Educate, Agitate and Organize in this context.
Though union pickets today are few, it would be a mistake to judge the existing relationship of class forces simply on the basis of the quiescence of the bureaucrats. The present situation is uncommonly volatile, showing many signs of rising anti-oppression and working class political consciousness. The majority express an intolerance of racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour.
The Conservative Party is sharply divided, forcing Erin O’Toole to resign as leader. Thousands of leftists joined the bourgeois Green Party to vote for ostensibly Eco-socialist Dimitri Lascaris, who came a close second in the 2020 GPC leadership race. Annamie Paul resigned under pressure from below due to her reactionary views on reproductive choice, imperialism, Zionism and party democracy.
Flak from the WE charity scandal forced the resignation of Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, on the heels of the SNC Lavalin imbroglio.
Governor-General Julie Payette resigned when an investigation revealed that she harassed and physically intimidated her staff.
Parliament passed a resolution to outlaw the neo-Nazi Proud Boys. It was an attempt to channel widespread disdain for fascists. Still, it was a mistake for NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to instigate this move because the expanding list of terrorist organizations will likely be used by the state against foreign and domestic leftists. The discreet charm of the War Measures Act, now the Emergencies Act, should not be forgotten.
The salient point is this. Public opinion favours progressive change, not retrenchment. Polls show that a majority of young workers prefer socialism to capitalism. In late 2019, 500,000 Montrealers demonstrated against climate catastrophe. Cross-country actions demand justice for migrant workers. A majority of Canadians oppose the Apartheid Zionist state and would impose sanctions until the ‘separation’ wall is demolished and the siege of Gaza ends. One-third of Jews in Canada are highly critical of Israel.
A majority of the population favours Basic Income, paid sick leave for workers, a national childcare programme, and proportional representation in Parliament. Of course, Socialist Action demands much more, but it is encouraging to know that we are not swimming against the current.
Under tremendous pressure from below, the Liberal federal government issued a Canada Emergency Relief Benefit to desperate individuals, and funnelled the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to giant corporations. Many, like auto parts manufacturer Linamar, passed much of it along to shareholders. Canada’s big three telecom companies collectively received more than $240 million in subsidies from Ottawa while continuing to pay out millions of dollars in dividends to shareholders. Some European countries banned the use of wage subsidies for dividends, share buybacks or executive bonuses. But not Canada. Never mind that such ‘strings’ would be an inadequate substitute for public ownership and democratic control.
The emergency relief benefits are gone. Employment insurance is denied to many workers who should be able to access it. Meanwhile, COVID had a devastating impact on income inequality. Working class families are taking on increasing debt loads – 44 per cent of households earning $40,000 to $60,000 are $200 or less away from insolvency – while the highest income Canadians are saving money at unprecedented levels.
Over 70 per cent of deaths due to COVID-19 in the Canadian state occurred in Long Term Care centres, a majority of which are for-profit enterprises. Crowded, vulnerable seniors, disabled people, and poorly paid, precariously-employed staff made the supreme sacrifice. Who benefited? Three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade. This huge sum does not include $138 million in executive compensation and $20 million in stock buy-backs. It is simply not enough to proclaim that the owners of Extendicare, Sienna Senior Living and Chartwell Retirement Residences have blood on their hands. Nor is it adequate simply to blame the governments that encouraged de-regulation, the reduction of inspections, and the steady privatization of health care. The scandal, which many health care providers foretold, is rooted in the capitalist profit system. Capitalism is the social virus that must be eradicated if nature and civilization are to survive.
Socialist Action addressed the pandemic, and related conditions, by leading direct protest actions in Toronto (at a Tendercare LTC facility), in Montreal, and in numerous widely circulated articles, including “COVID-19 Crisis Shows Trudeau’s Sick Priorities” (April 2020 SA newspaper) and “We Won’t Go Back” (May 2020 SA). The document adopted at the SA/LAS convention in June 2020, “Towards a Transitional Programme for the Working Class in COVID-19 Times”, plus the recently published booklet “Eco-Socialism vs. Fossil Capitalism”, present both an analysis and an action programme that is invaluable.
Suffice it to say that changed world conditions now make it a priority to fight for socialist measures to combat the pandemic and to transform class society. The rising outcry for decent wages and safe, fulfilling employment for all, and for retirement with dignity, is a new powerful political factor. Popular demands for quality food, housing, health care, childcare, education, and transportation for everyone impel the workers’ movement forward. Campaigns for a rapid transition to green energy, for public ownership under workers’ control, and for democratically planned production in harmony with nature, can create powerful positive momentum.
As revolutionary socialists, we strive to be in the forefront of struggles to advance these aims wherever possible, guided by the slogan “We Refuse to Go Back to Pre-COVID Times” and “Make the Bosses Pay for the Pandemic.”
“Our aim is to build SA/LAS, not as a loose network, but as a political organization with a coherent line, an effective practice and a visible presence in the working class and social protest movements. Central to our strategy is the construction of a class struggle left wing in both the labour movement and inside the political arm of labour in English Canada, the New Democratic Party. Alongside this goal is our commitment to build and intervene in a number of social movements and to seek collaboration with leftward moving elements interested in working for fundamental social change.” (Tasks and Perspectives for SA/LAS, 2014)
We remain committed to that general perspective. How should we evaluate our efforts in pursuit of these objectives in the recent period?
The Political Context
Business-as-usual complacency is not an option. The bourgeoisie made some concessions to the pandemic-stricken masses, but its corporate offensive is resuming. And the stakes are much higher than in the 1980s and 1990s. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has softened his bully-boy image. But we shall not forget his reckless and brutal austerity agenda. It took aim at social services that were already much weaker than those existing in the 1990s. That makes the impact of the upcoming round of attacks far more serious. Joined by reactionary provincial premiers in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Ford’s destructive work took place after a decade of sluggish economic recovery, on the eve of a global depression. Ford is part of an international current, a right wing that captured a post-2007 mood of anger and rejection of the neoliberal centre. The line between the Ford brand of mainstream conservatism and far right racism is hazy. He is part of a ‘blue tide,’ as he says, that holds power in six Canadian provinces and just fell short of taking the federal government in 2019. This development is linked to such monsters as Trump, Netanyahu, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Duterte and Orban. The urgency of a mass, militant working class response to this challenge cannot be stressed enough.
Secondly, we should note the changed political situation in the federal parliamentary arena. The Justin Trudeau Liberal government lost much of its popularity, particularly in Ontario. A litany of broken promises, a deteriorating trade position, an obsession with pipeline construction, and the SNC Lavalin scandal marked its decline.
The labour-based NDP has yet to recover from its sound defeat at the hands of the Trudeau Liberals who outflanked Tom Mulcair to the left in the 2015 federal election. Sadly, there was no Jeremy Corbyn-like candidate for the NDP federal leadership. This helped Jagmeet Singh parlay his large social media following into a victory that reproduced the very problem that led to the party’s electoral setback.
Meanwhile the Liberal rose wilted as Trudeau bowed to ruling class dictates on every front – climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and UNDRIP, electoral reform, national childcare and pharma care, state surveillance, refugee rights, imperial intervention abroad, and austerity at home. We seek to deepen the popular disillusionment with the Trudeau government. This is not only to prepare the ground for a renewal of struggles, but also to inoculate against any notion of lesser-evilism, against any resort to a Liberal-NDP alliance to block the (now divided) Tories.
The fight to win anti-austerity and eco-socialist policies must take place in the unions, and in the NDP too. Across the workers’ movement we face agents of the bourgeoisie. We confront the labour lieutenants of Capital, the union and NDP bureaucrats who collaborate with the bosses, vote for cutbacks, vote for military spending, and prop up the rotten capitalist system. Look at how the past Alberta NDP government stabbed the B.C. NDP government in the back over a dirty oil pipeline – and with what ignominious results for Rachel Notley’s team? The NDP and labour bureaucrats vest their personal careers in the state apparatus, putting that ahead of the interests of the working class as a whole. They undermine the political independence of workers at every step, except when workers force them to do otherwise. Pro-business bureaucrats must be replaced by class conscious revolutionary workers. Workers will develop class consciousness only in the fight against the bosses, and against the agents of the bosses in the workers’ movement.
That is why Socialist Action engages in struggle inside the mass working class organizations. Few groups that call themselves socialist are engaged in that struggle today. Most stand on the sidelines, talking mainly to themselves.
For Socialist Action, building a disciplined working class party inside our class is the heart of our strategy for revolutionary change. So, we fight for socialist policies and run candidates for executive office in unions and the NDP. We are leaders of the NDP Socialist Caucus. At the federal NDP convention in Ottawa in February 2018 we were at the forefront of demands for party democracy and for public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, and for solidarity with the Palestinian people. Most of our SC candidates got between 16 and 33% of the votes cast, and one, Dirka Prout, was elected chair of the Federal NDP Women’s Caucus. Delegates snapped up over 1,000 copies of Turn Left magazine.
Following its electoral debacle in October 2019, the federal NDP executive violated its constitution. It cancelled the 2020 federal NDP convention – a decision we protested vigorously up to the April 2021 convention, a highly manipulated online affair where, nonetheless, the Socialist Caucus acquitted itself well, winning a stunning victory for a $20/hour minimum wage policy.
We helped to shape the NDP debates on pipelines, education, childcare and taxation. And we will continue to push hard to Make the Bosses Pay for the Pandemic, to win Freedom for Palestine and Kurdistan, Canada Out of NATO, for homes not bombs, and to tax the rich.
In the face of the sickening prospect of four more years of Mayor John Tory-big business rule at Toronto City Hall, and the refusal of the NDP to run a slate of candidates, Socialist Action fielded a candidate in Etobicoke North in 2018. Disgustingly, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council backed a hodgepodge of pro-capitalist closet Liberals, red Tories and covert New Democrats. SA ran a candidate in the January 2021 city council by-election in Scarborough-Agincourt. While we garnered few votes, the SA effort reached many people across the city with an urban Workers’ Agenda, showing the way forward, especially on vital issues like housing and transportation. We connected with families of Long Term Care residents, social service workers on strike, anti-poverty groups like ACORN, homeless folks, and others. We plan to do even better, with allies, in the Fall 2022 city elections across the country.
In 2014, an opposition slate was victorious at the Canadian Labour Congress Convention. Unfortunately, President Hassan Yussuff and his team betrayed the working class. They failed the integrity test when UNIFOR quit the CLC. Our modest effort to launch a class struggle tendency in the labour movement through the Workers’ Action Movement was temporarily stymied by the bureaucratic maneuvers of the Communist Party. But with its debut at the OFL Convention, WAM is beginning to have an impact. WAM candidates at the Canadian Labour Congress Convention in 2021 got up to 17 percent of the votes cast. The fight for political independence and against the bureaucratic misleaders of the class is modestly advancing.
Despite its capitalist policies and petty bourgeois leadership, the NDP remains a working class party, chiefly due to its links to the labour movement. No union is affiliated to any other political party in Canada. The NDP, for all its flaws, is the only labour party in North America. In it there is a deep reservoir of working class militants and potential socialists. SA urges unions to affiliate to the party. We correctly advocated critical support for the NDP at the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. SA urges critical support for the NDP in the June 2022 Ontario election. We oppose support for the Green Party and other capitalist parties. It is neither necessary nor useful to join the GPC in order to dialog with socialists in it. In fact, crossing class lines to join the GPC is exactly the wrong thing for Eco-socialists to do. It is no different than supporting the pro-imperialist welfare-state candidate Bernie Sanders in the USA.
Political Work at the pan-Canadian level
SA/LAS is growing – more than tripling in size over the past four years. Our capacity to initiate political action is evident in the GTA. Activities connected to strike support (especially solidarity mass picketing at postal facilities in the Fall of 2018), and to issues involving Palestine and Venezuela, are prominent. We have designed and published several new booklets and significantly increased our social media presence. Outside of Toronto we have members or supporters spread thinly across the country. New branches are functioning in Vancouver, the Atlantic Region and Peel (the Brampton-Mississauga area), and additional ones may form in Ottawa, South-West Ontario and Alberta. One of our principal tasks remains to launch new branches outside the Greater Toronto Area. Building SA/LAS requires a mixture of propaganda and agitation. To that end there are a number of issues, oppositional struggles and tasks that warrant particular attention. Not the least of them is the need to turn new, young members into well-trained, professional revolutionaries.
An issue at the forefront is the danger of a nuclear holocaust emanating from the relentless U.S.-led western intervention in the Middle East, and in confrontations with Russia and Iran.
Idle No More, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQI organizations strive to hold police accountable for cop violence and indifference to murder and the disappearance of people who suffer systemic discrimination. Mass protests have registered important advances in consciousness concerning the fight against racism, homo/transphobia, and in dealing with the legacy of colonialism in the ongoing mistreatment of First Nations. We stand in solidarity with independent organizations of the oppressed, taking particular note of the pre-eminent role of women in the leadership.
Rapid erosion of the right to strike, persisting, even growing instances of precarious employment and unsafe working conditions, the scandal of the often-unpaid labour of immigrant workers, all demand direct action protest. So does the sabotage by Foodora of the successful unionization drive by the couriers. It proffered a clear case for immediately seizing the physical and financial assets of that corporation in Canada. This direction goes hand in hand with the need to revitalize and democratize labour unions. Striving within UNIFOR to reverse the unjustified split by its bureaucratic leaders from the Canadian Labour Congress is a necessary part of a labour radical renewal perspective. Likewise, is the effort to get unions not only to endorse and to affiliate to the NDP, but to fight for a Workers’ Agenda within it.
The concept of basic guaranteed income (BI, UBI or GAI) continues to have promoters among reformists, including a wing of the capitalist establishment. Basic income (including the pilot project cancelled by the Ontario Tory government in 2018) is a neoliberal response to the scarcity of good jobs due to automation. The aim is to move the impoverished into low wage precarious employment, provide a wage top-up to employers, and give governments a way to exit delivery of services they currently provide. Capitalist advocates of UBI see it as cover for curtailing public medicare and pensions, dramatically worsening and impoverishing the living conditions of the working class. No less a neo-liberal theoretician than economist Milton Freidman advocated a form of UBI. Basic Income on top of augmented existing entitlements (Raise the Rates) would be supportable. Unfortunately, it is not on offer.
The trend of automation is expected to continue. It is driven by the struggle of capital against the tendency of the rate of profit to fall due to global competition and overproduction. According to the NYTimes in March 29, 2018, “For every robot per one thousand workers, up to six workers lost their jobs and wages fell by ¾ of a per cent.” Basic income is not a solution to the disappearance of good jobs due to automation, nor to the plague of poverty. The transitional demands socialists advance include: Reduce the work week with no loss of pay. Share the available work. Within that framework, we call for massive retraining and expansion of unionized employment in green and socially useful occupations. Build a completely new infrastructure for green energy, for green transportation, and green food production. That is the route forward.
Ottawa has arrogated to itself new repressive powers to deploy against oppositional movements under cover of the ‘war on terror’. We oppose security state Bill C-59 (the successor to Bill C-51). SA opposed Justin Trudeau’ (short-lived) invocation of the Emergencies Act in 2022. We defend victims of repression, and fight for the right to asylum and refugee status for those fleeing from war, persecution and social collapse in countries ravaged by imperialism. The RCMP announced it would be spying on Canadians’ smart phone search histories without warrants — a massive invasion of the most private aspects of our lives including medical history, sexual orientation and political views and activities.
Imperialism seeks to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela. It continues to prosecute or promote wars that wreak havoc on dependent capitalist countries like Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. Recall the outrageous U.S./France/Britain bombing of Syria on April 13, 2018. Opposition to these wars and incursions remains weak in the imperial metropoles. The left remains divided on some of these questions. Our orientation on Venezuela, Ukraine and Syria is consistent with principled internationalism and anti-imperialism. We seek to take these positions into the NDP, labour and social justice movements – in order to foster the organization of a broad anti-war united front.
Canada is a member of the exclusive club of the dominant imperialist powers. It is our elementary duty as socialist internationalists to oppose Canadian militarism and the pillage of poor dependent countries by Canadian corporations. Canadian mine operators, for example, are among the biggest in the world, seizing resources from colonial and semi-colonial countries using cheap super-exploited labour, cheating local governments of royalties and taxes, and using American mercenaries to brutalize local opposition and the local work force.
We aim to stop arms deals to reactionary pillars of the imperial order, such as Saudi Arabia, to halt support for Israel which daily violates the national and human rights of the Palestinian people, and to end Canadian complicity with violations of self-determination, such as in Haiti. We oppose Ottawa’s fake “peacekeeping mission” to Mali, a central African country rich in uranium and gold, where generations of French colonial rule crumbled and massive Canadian mining operations exist right next door.
In relation to Palestine, Socialist Action played a pivotal role in the May 18, 2019 cross-country Day of Action for BDS and self-determination for the Palestinian people, and in the May 16, 2020 online rally. We persuaded the Canadian BDS Coalition to adopt the Day of Action, and SA most recently forged a strong partnership with Palestine House and Independent Jewish Voices, which will foster future campaigns to defend free speech, to defend celebrations of Al-Quds, and to show that a new majority opposes Israeli war crimes.
The diplomatic opening between Cuba and the United States, under President Obama, drastically reversed by President Trump, was a concession to the Cuban Revolution and world public opinion after a brutal 60-year embargo by American imperialism. We see no evidence that the Cuban Communist Party is about to abandon its commitment to socialised property relations and the social gains achieved by the Cuban people through their Revolution. Some on the left argue that the huge influx of American visitors (pre-pandemic), together with the internal reforms being implemented, pose new challenges to the cohesion of Cuban society. We recognize that Cuba needs foreign exchange. The economic development which it negotiates with foreign investors is overwhelmingly in the interest of the working class. In 2016 we celebrated the release of the Cuban Five after a long campaign of international solidarity, to which we contributed.
US imperialism, with its junior partner Canadian imperialism, is trying to export its economic problems to dependent capitalist societies, the BRICs among others. In Latin America, the left-nationalist bourgeois governments that were removed are making a bit of a comeback due to mass revulsion towards the ultra-right. The leftist regimes were brought to power by the very advanced level of struggle of the Latin American masses, which continues. Whatever our assessment of the character of these diverse regimes (the PSUV-led Bolivarian ‘revolution’ in Venezuela, the overthrown Evo Morales-led MAS government in Bolivia, the undemocratically deposed Brazilian PT regime led by Dilma Rousseff and the jailed Lula DaSilva), we vigorously defend them against imperialist sanctions and right wing attempts to overthrow them.
In 2016 and 2017 SA/LAS contributed to the formation of a new revolutionary political current in the Fourth International. It was based on a text which constituted a sound, principled and absolutely necessary challenge to the F.I. leadership’s abandonment of the historic programme of world Trotskyism. Published in six languages, the document gained support by organizations and individuals around the world. Unfortunately, the Platform for a Revolutionary International obtained few votes at the World Congress held in March 2018. The International Committee meeting of the F.I. leadership in March 2019 showed that it continues on its regressive course.
We pledge to maintain our close collaboration with our American comrades in SA (USA), our good relations with the Fourth International section in Greece, with the comrades of the A&R Tendency in the French Nouveau Parti Anti-capitaliste (NPA), with IZAR in Spain, with Socialist Democracy in Ireland, with comrades in Italy, Sweden, Hong Kong, Mexico and in other countries. Our efforts to participate in the FI as a sympathizing organization, or at least to attain observer status, have seemingly reached a dead end. Farcically, the moribund Gauche socialiste in Quebec, which claims to have ten members, remains the official F.I. section in Canada.
At the World Congress the policy of abandonment of revolutionary strategy, which has led to the liquidation of numerous national sections, was re-affirmed. As a result, it is clear that to build a revolutionary workers’ international, and to participate directly in that work, SA/LAS must turn its attention to Trotskyist and revolutionary socialist parties operating elsewhere, and to seek direct political collaboration with them.
Summary of our Tasks and Perspectives
1. Our central priority is to build SA/LAS as a Leninist-Trotskyist party. It is not a loose network of socialists. The left is littered with the debris of groups that opted to construct a network, a ‘project’, a caucus or a campaign, rather than a disciplined revolutionary workers’ party. Our concept is that of a centralized campaign party that applies the united front tactic, focussed on the working class, and rooted in its mass organizations. Every member of SA/LAS should try to think of ways to introduce our party to workers, women and youths, and to establish its presence in places where it is not presently organized, drawing on the existing resources and leadership of SA/LAS. Every member should think about stepping forward to devote the time and to get the training to become a ‘cadre’, a professional revolutionary. The provision of such essential training is a high priority for the party’s Central Committee. It will draw on all the necessary human resources, both inside and outside SA/LAS, to achieve it.
2. We aim to build a Revolutionary Workers’ International. Socialism in one country is a fraud and an impossibility. Internationalism, and working class independence from the institutions of capitalism and its state, are principles that inform everything socialists do. We look for partners in this endeavour. That means seeking collaboration with Trotskyist parties outside the official Fourth International whose leaders have abandoned its historic programme. It means maintaining ties with supporters of the Tendency for a Revolutionary International inside the F.I., although the TRI is not very active and there are differences within it over the right of oppressed nations to obtain aid from any source in order to resist imperialist aggression. It also means seeking collaboration with organizations like the PCL of Italy and the PTS of Argentina, although in the latter case we have grave concerns about its positions on Cuba and Venezuela.
While paying close attention to the formation of the so-called Progressive International, and wishing to dialog with its audience, we do not propose to join or to build what looks like an elite-driven, top-down gathering of left social democratic and liberal politicians and academics who seek only to tinker with the infernal mechanisms of global capitalism. Our closest ties will continue to be with Socialist Action – USA, our steadfast partners in the gigantic task of building a Revolutionary Workers’ International.
3. SA/LAS continues to participate in the struggle against capitalist austerity, the bosses’ attack on wages, job security and pensions, and the scourge of autocratic power, police surveillance and state repression. The pandemic forced the bosses to accommodate some workers’ concerns. Now Capital is driving for a return to full production, and seeking to roll back relief benefits, wage increases and social expenditures. A ferocious battle looms as restrictions due to the pandemic are fitfully lifted and reimposed. To unite opposition to the bosses’ agenda we promote militant unity in action – on a sectoral, city-wide, regional and national basis. This can take the form of one-day and multi-day walkouts moving towards a general strike. Beyond that, we strive for the establishment of a Workers’ Government based on mass working class self-organization, such as the workers’ council movement that has appeared in many countries over the past century. History teaches that there is no economic or electoral solution to the ills of the toxic, inherently racist and sexist, deeply undemocratic capitalist system. The capitalist state must be overturned and destroyed.
4. The existential threat posed by the profit system to nature is perhaps the greatest danger of all facing human civilization. Alongside the environmental movement, and especially with Indigenous people who have stood at the forefront of this struggle for decades, we will continue to oppose new pipeline construction, and to demand a rapid shift to green energy generation. The latter goal entails public ownership and workers’ control of the resource sector – not to make costly repairs to existing infrastructure, but to devote the accumulated, pirated wealth of Big Oil and Gas towards Indigenous restitution and also towards investment in the construction of a sustainable, multifaceted green energy system. (See the SA booklet on “The Struggle of Indigenous People in Canada Against Capitalist Oppression and Genocide.”)
5. The effort to replace the mis-leaders of our class, the traitors both timid and bold, will be the product of the critical self-activity of workers. One form this will take is the construction of class struggle groups or caucuses in every union and work place. The Workers’ Action Movement can play this role. WAM demonstrated its attractive potential at the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention in November 2019 where the WAM candidates won up to 36 per cent of the votes for the top two OFL executive positions. WAM intervened in the Canadian Labour Congress online convention in June 2021, and in the OFL convention in November 2021 with similar success. SA can strengthen its presence in the labour movement by engaging more comrades in this vital work. In the political/electoral arena, the NDP Socialist Caucus similarly advances this perspective. Over the past twenty years, it has built a base of hundreds inside the NDP. The SC enjoys a national media profile. It now has new activist branches across Atlantic Canada and the West. We will continue to build these bodies that are both broad and radical. At the same time, we remain open to working with like-minded groups and individuals, new and veteran, who wish to advance a Workers’ Agenda.
6. We advocate a Labour City Hall and a Labour school board in every city. Unfortunately, due to crass opportunism and its top-down obsession with control, the NDP brass opposes local party units openly campaigning for municipal office. For two years we tried to change this policy in the Toronto NDP Area Council, without success. As a result, SA seeks to build an anti-capitalist electoral coalition with other labour and socialist forces, where that is possible. The Municipal Socialist Alliance in the GTA is an example. This orientation is in contrast to participation in reformist/populist /petty bourgeois municipal parties. A policy framework for this work was adopted at the SA convention in May 2018. (See the “Resolution on Municipal Political Action”.
7. Social polarization, and the enabling factor of right wing populists in government, emboldens the Neo-Nazis and the Alt-Right scum. It is incumbent on revolutionary socialists to confront them primarily by utilizing the tactic of working class mass action (which is not reduced to scuffles involving a few dozen masked Antifas). The urgency of this effort is underscored by the prominence of far-right figures in the anti-vax, anti-mask “Con”-voy. With direct action by labour unionists, leftists and allies, the policy “No Platform for Fascists and Racists” can prevail.
8. The New Cold War is heating up. The imperialist powers, including Ottawa and the U.S.-led NATO war machine, are desperate to shore up their failed system with gross acts of military aggression and regional domination. The risk of a nuclear war, by accident or design, grows daily. So does the daily suffering of peoples on the receiving end of intervention and occupation. SA/LAS seeks to build an anti-war movement as a united front focussed on opposing the war actions of the NATO powers and their client states, particularly in relation to Russia, Eastern Europe, Venezuela, Cuba, the Middle East and Africa.
The thwarted attempt by U.S.-backed terrorist mercenaries from Colombia to invade Venezuela in May 2020 underscores the importance of building an anti-intervention movement.
The work SA has done as part of the Toronto Venezuela Solidarity Coalition is exemplary – initiating and helping to organize several significant actions to protest media lies and Ottawa’s complicity with Washington’s grotesque campaign to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela. While SA makes abundantly clear that it does not politically support the bourgeois-nationalist PSUV regime in Caracas, it is equally clear that our priority is to oppose the criminal policies and actions of the imperialist powers, and not to criticize beleaguered President Maduro. To borrow the analogy used by Trotsky in 1917 in relation to supporting Alexander Kerensky militarily against the attempted coup by General Kornilov, we place our guns on the shoulder of Maduro and fire at imperialism and its agents.
9. Millions of people flee their countries due to catastrophes caused by capitalism’s climate crisis, imperialist wars, and political oppression by authoritarian regimes allied with imperialism. The Canadian state receives immigrants from around the world who seek better living conditions. But Canadian capitalism often provides precarious jobs and poor working conditions to refugees. Winning these new Canadians to the ranks of the workers’ movement is a revolutionary task. For this purpose, Socialist Action seeks to build strong ties with refugee and immigrant bodies.
The Zionist state of Israel, backed by American imperialism, continues to oppress the people of Palestine. The ‘two-state’ solution is neither viable nor just. It would reduce Palestine to a few disconnected, impoverished Bantustans. The Oslo Accords failed to slow, let alone halt the proliferation of Zionist settlements across the West Bank. Israeli jails are full of Palestinians never convicted of a crime. To fight Zionism and support the Palestinian struggle, Socialist Action continues to propose and join in united front activities against Zionism. SA is at the forefront of efforts to organize cross-country actions for BDS and against Israeli Apartheid. Under pandemic conditions, together with Palestine House, Independent Jewish Voices and others, SA organized a successful online rally on May 15, 2021. We continue to demand: Lift the Siege of Gaza! No Annexation of the West Bank! Tear Down the Apartheid Wall! Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist state and economy! For the right of return for all refugees! Justice and Self-determination for Palestine!
10. International Workers’ Day celebrates the struggle for workers’ power and socialism globally. In contrast to Labour Day in September, May 1 marks the continuity of the movement for revolutionary change. Owing to the weakness of this tradition in English Canada, due in part to the regressive role of the labour and NDP bureaucracy, the occasion presents an opportunity to revolutionary socialists to take the lead by applying the united front tactic. In Toronto, Socialist Action engaged with several left and labour organizations in 2020 to host a modestly successful online rally. For the first time in years, a number of labour bodies endorsed and participated in a left-initiated May Day. Unfortunately, the manipulative behaviour and tone-deaf slogans of Fightback weakened the effort. The 35th annual SA celebration of Workers’ Day, held on April 30, 2021 was a joyous, inspiring online event that attracted over 200 viewers. SA remains committed to working in the Labour May Day Committee towards a militant, red, in-person May 1, 2022, and beyond.
11. Comrades newly joining SA/LAS have increased our capacity to better utilize social media, and to generate new platforms on which we can disseminate Marxist ideas and analysis. Brilliantly, SA rose to the challenge imposed by the pandemic by launching a series of SA Webcasts, by initiating The Red Review podcast, and by improving the quality of the SA website, Facebook page, and other platforms. Those steps honed the skills of existing members across the country, and are attracting many new recruits. Online education and political organizing tools are a priority. Looking forward, SA/LAS aspires to become a major media arm of the radical workers’ movement, and to train a new generation of socialist leaders.
Progress was made on many fronts, enabling the party to create attractive promotional materials for distribution, to publish new booklets, to enjoy a more visible and higher-quality presence at outdoor political events (e.g., by staffing the SA canopy and display table), to host pub nights and study groups, to conduct a monthly cross-country SA zoom, and to welcome many more young workers into our ranks. The pandemic limits what we can do, but we persist however possible. For nearly three years, SA has had a full-time Federal Secretary. Last year the party moved to hire, on a part-time basis, a Federal Treasurer/At-large Members Liaison, and a Toronto Branch Organizer. Eventually, SA shall establish a public headquarters, a meeting hall and book store in Toronto.
Humanity does not live by bread alone, so it is wise to further develop ties to a growing community of political artists. We desire a dynamic, critical, cultural presence for SA which can be advanced by the creative use of music, videos, comedy, drama and debates. As Bertold Brecht famously wrote: “Art is not a mirror. It is a hammer.”