All posts by Julius

Key Lessons of pro-Indigenous uprising

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by Gary Porter

We have witnessed the beginning of an historic shift.  It is a turning point for indigenous rights, for climate change resistance, and for a new generation of fighters for justice. It is a powerful step forward in social protest in Canada for a new generation of militants.

In mid-February, the RCMP, Canada’s federal police force, moved to attack the blockade erected by hereditary chiefs of the Wetsuwet’en people and their supporters who were there to stop the construction of a methane pipeline across their unceded land.

An unprecedented wave of protest broke out across Canada. From Halifax to Victoria, thousands of indigenous people, especially the young, acted in solidarity with their sisters, brothers and siblings in northern BC. The number, size and militancy of the actions caught the federal and British Columbia provincial capitalist governments off guard.

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Book review: Magnificent Fight

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Magnificent Fight by Dennis Lweycky Fernwood Publishing 2019

Though not beautifully written, this is a serviceable summary of an iconic struggle that shaped the workers’ movement in western Canada and beyond. Published in the centenary year of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, it is a timely reminder of the background to the epic struggle that showed the potential for workers’ control and a new society. Abysmal social conditions, flagrant inequality, and outrage that the War to End All Wars benefited big business rather than the surviving soldiers, fuelled the strike for union recognition, shorter work time, and better wages.

Ironically, while the author documents the brazen class bias and infernal practices of the bourgeois state, he argues for reliance on that very state, and to making reforms within it, to radically change society – a perspective with which the professors of the Socialist Project would be quite comfortable.

COVID-19 and Trudeau’s Sick Priorities

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by Barry Weisleder

The sh*t has hit the fan.  COVID-19 now afflicts multitudes.  World War C.  It has triggered the shutdown of all but ‘essential’ production, leaving millions without jobs and income.  In Canada, the ‘value’ of stocks plunged more than $1 trillion in a month, severely undermining pensions and retirement funds.  A record nearly 1,000,000 workers applied for employment insurance benefits just in the third week of March, compared to the usual 35,000 for that time of year.  This is just the tip of a deadly iceberg.  Economists predict up to 35 per cent unemployment, far above the peak joblessness rate of 27 per cent in 1933 during the Great Depression.  It seems the term Recession just doesn’t cut it anymore.

And let’s be clear:  the current economic downturn preceded the virus.  It was already underway in December.  GDP growth, capital profitability, capacity utilization, volume of working hours, etc., indicated the onset of a recession. In 2019, countries like Germany saw the lowest growth rates since 2009, the peak of the global financial crisis. In addition, mass layoffs in the global automobile industry were no longer simply the result of computerization or the transition to e-mobility, but reflected a slump in economic activity.  Capitalism and crisis are inseparable.

Continue reading COVID-19 and Trudeau’s Sick Priorities

VIDEO: Socialist perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic

Join us this evening for a socialist perspective webcast on COVID 19! Starts at 7pm Toronto time!

 

 

Speakers include Dr. Robbie Mahood, MD, SA Montreal; Daniel Tarade, Scientist, SA Toronto; Basia Sokal, Postal Workers and former President of Winnipeg Labour Council; and Janna Pratt, Sasktel worker deemed essential and member of UNIFOR.

#covid19 #socialism #SocialistAction #capitalism #revolution #pandemic #generalstrike #NotDying4WallStreet

Book reviews: State and Revolution and Terrorism and Communism

State and Revolution by V.I. Lenin

In the midst of the storms of insurrection, V.I. Lenin wrote a book about workers’ democracy. It was in response to reformists and anarchists, though more in sympathy with the latter. Karl Kautsky, a leader of German social democracy, is exposed as a reformist who clings to the capitalist establishment uttering phrases all too familiar today: workers are not ready for radical change; just replace the top officials, the reformists say. Then the state can serve all, including the most oppressed. Lenin systematically eviscerates that claim.

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Terrorism and Communism by Leon Trotsky Pathfinder Press

This polemic against Karl Kautsky, the dean of European Marxism in the early 20th century, is not only a defence of the Russian Revolution (then in its third year), but agitates for a class-based approach to the state and the lessons of the Paris Commune of 1871.

The Verso edition of the book foists upon its readers a tortuous Foreword by Slavoj Zizek who sings along with the renegade Kautsky, contending that only a slight difference distinguishes Trotsky from the hangman Stalin. The Bolsheviks employed stern measures to give the first workers’ state a chance to survive attacks occurring on every side. Zizek accuses them of not being able “to perceive in the Stalinist terror the ultimate offspring of their own acts.” But he concludes more charitably: “In Trotsky, the dead Lenin continues to live like Joe Hill – he lives wherever there are people who still struggle for the same Idea.”

What is a revolution? Who is responsible for its maternal birth pangs? Is there a peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism? Can the class struggle be resolved by a vote in a legislature? What is the role of terror in past revolutions? Will the bourgeoisie abandon its booty without inflicting war and destruction? The Paris Commune of 1871 was a ‘working institution’, not a parliament, the French word for ‘talk shop.’ The Commune’s earnest strides forward were lost due to its lack of organization, its divided authority, and the terror of Adolphe Thiers and Versailles.

What is the dictatorship of the proletariat? It is the antidote to sadistic counter-revolution, which Paris suffered so completely.

System change entails much more than a Cabinet shuffle. “The policy of coalitions contradicts internally the regime of the revolutionary dictatorship.”

Pertaining to matters of life and death, on the knife edge of foreign intervention, Kerensky’s military policy is that of an ostrich.

Trotsky saw compulsory labour service as the temporary answer to economic prostration – to avoid turning the whole country into a peasant state. Improve transport, open up a period of machine building, and later produce articles for personal consumption. Electrification occurred by leaping over the age of steam.

He debates the one-man principle versus the collegiate approach to management, in a country with few capable managers to be trusted.

Kautsky presents the Russian working class as a collection of egoists, loafers and cowards. He says not a word about the conduct of the Russian bourgeoisie, nor does he excuse his apathy towards German and Entente militarism which erected an iron blockade around Russia. An open split with the reformists is inevitable, wrote Trotsky. Only the timing was to be determined. Evidently.