Articles

The 2014 BC Teachers’ Strike: Weathering a Perfect Storm

By Lisa Descary

It is hard to imagine that anybody who strongly supports public education in British Columbia was thrilled when the BC Liberals pulled off an unwelcome, last-minute election victory in 2013. Given the Liberals’ history of failure to address the basic needs of the public school system, it was plain to see that more trouble was on the horizon. But this time teachers would not just face the ongoing ebb and flow of government cut-backs and attempts at privatization that our union has to push back against, but a perfect storm that would test us like never before.

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The Real Attack on Democracy in Canada

By James Cairns

On October 22, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed in front of the War Memorial in Ottawa. Since then, his life as a soldier in the Canadian military has been celebrated in Parliament, in schools, in National Hockey League arenas, and in endless media coverage. 

Three days after the death of Cirillo, an explosion at an industrial plant in Veolia, Ontario seriously injured five workers. One of the workers has since died. But the body of the dead Veolia worker will not be paraded past cheering crowds on the so-called “Highway of Heroes.” There will not be tributes for him in Parliament. The Veolia explosion has hardly been discussed in the media. 

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Reacting to Violence with Scapegoating

This article by NSW contributor Todd Gordon was written for readers outside Canada but is definitely also worth reading by people in Canada.

Two Canadian soldiers were killed in targeted attacks in Canada last week. The first was on Monday, October 20, in Saint Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. But it was the second incident, on Wednesday, October 22, in the federal capital of Ottawa, that drew international attention.

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Reinventing the Workers’ Movement

By David Camfield and Salmaan Khan

The workers’ movement in Canada and Quebec is in a state of disarray, unable to deal with ongoing attacks on the diverse working class. Whether unionized, non-unionized, temporary, racialized, women or indigenous workers, the weakness or absence of workers’ organization reveals a movement in need of reinvention. What follows is an introductory piece meant to open discussion on the state of the workers’ movement today. We plan to publish responses and other articles that add to the discussion. We invite readers to respond directly to this opening article with reference to some of the key questions and concerns it raises (or others that you think it ignores). Responses do not have to be long (between 1000 and 2000 words) and can be sent to website[at]newsocialist.org  Shorter comments posted below the article on the site are also welcome, as always.

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“It is Not Enough to Be Anti-Capitalist”: Quebec Socialist Declaration

The Front d’action socialiste (Socialist Action Front) is an organization of socialist activists launched publically in Montreal on May 1, 2014. We are publishing an English translation of its founding declaration as a small contribution to strengthening much-needed links between socialists in Canada and those in Quebec and because we find its non-sectarian emphasis on building movements and its revolutionary humility admirable – NSW

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Harper, the Islamic State and the New War in Iraq

By Todd Gordon

Consider an organization in the Middle East that in less than two months this past summer killed, according to most sources, approximately 1500 civilians, roughly a third of whom were children, and displaced thousands more.

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Palestine Solidarity and Mass Mobilization

 By Alan Sears 

                                  Solidarity with Gaza rally held in Toronto, Canada 

Omar Barghouti wrote in December 2013 that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign “may well be reaching a tipping point.” Barghouti is one of the founders of this movement to pressure Israel to recognize fundamental Palestinian rights. This may be the breakthrough moment for BDS, shifting from the slow accumulation of modest victories to major successes and widespread support. He described this as the “South Africa moment,” where BDS organizing would reach the critical mass of anti-apartheid solidarity in the 1980s. 

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Toronto Municipal Elections: Beyond Politricks

 

By Salmaan Khan 

As election day draws nearer, the race for Toronto’s Mayoral seat has narrowed down to three out of the initial 65 registered candidates. Benefiting from selective corporate media exposure,  John Tory, Olivia Chow and Rob Ford have managed to build themselves campaigns that regurgitate many of the same vague promises: less traffic; greater accountability; transit relief; tackling youth unemployment; supporting businesses; and of course, talking taxes. The obsession with tax rates has become so normalized that even the “progressive” alternative has found it a useful mantra as all three candidates clamor for votes.

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The Allure of Violence and the Decline of the Organized Left in India: An Interview with Himani Bannerji (Part 3)

                                               Image source: hindustan times  

This is Part 3 of an interview with Himani Bannerji by New Socialist Editor Salmaan Khan on the outcome of the Indian elections. This final portion of the interview focused on the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI[M]) which fared poorly in these past elections, securing only nine seats out of 97 candidates – a progressive decline from the last two national elections and the lowest since the formation of the party in 1964 – followed by a discussion of the difficulties that come with organizing people according to a formula derived from outdated and inappropriate conceptions of industrialization and capitalist developmentPart 1 of this interview, “India and the Rise of Religious Nationalism,” is here. Click here for Part 2, “Masculinity, Islamophobia and Neoliberal Politics in India.” 

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Masculinity, Islamophobia and Neoliberal Politics in India: An Interview with Himani Bannerji (Part 2)

 

                                           Image source: hindustan times

What follows is Part 2 of Salmaan Khan’s interview with Himani Bannerji. After laying the context for what India looked like going into the 2014 federal elections in Part 1, Bannerji now speaks more directly to the nature of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the advance of neoliberalism, and the continued oppression faced by marginalized groups in India. Also discussed are the geopolitical implications of a BJP dominated India and the consequences of its relationship with the West. Part 1, “India and the Rise of Religious Nationalism,” can be found here 

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India and the Rise of Religious Nationalism: An Interview with Himani Bannerji (Part 1)

 India recently concluded its 2014 federal elections in which a record 550 million people cast their votes, electing Narendra Modi of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as Prime Minister and securing his party’s position with a majority 282 out of 543 seats in Parliament. New Socialist editor Salmaan Khan had the opportunity to discuss the election results with Bengali-Canadian writer, scholar and activist Himani Bannerji. What follows is Part 1 of a three part interview series. In this first piece Dr. Bannerji lays the context for what India looked like going into these elections and outlines the conditions that helped pave the way for the appeal of religious nationalism. 

                   Image source: Press Information Bureau India 

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Radical Left Praxis in an Election Year: Lessons for Brazil

By Sabrina Fernandes

                        Rally held in June 2013, Brazil. Source: MidiaNinja media collective

The general commentary regarding Brazilian politics is that the “politicians are all the same” or “there is no political alternative” and that even the good ones get corrupted once they reach power. It is no wonder then, that the massive protests of June 2013 throughout Brazil, which were filled with diffuse voices and eclipsed by broad demands, revealed what many termed a crisis of representation.

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Colonialism and the Working Class in Canada

By David Camfield

It’s good news that in a number of cities people “are meeting together in growing numbers to explore what it means – and doesn’t mean – to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples within Canada,” as journalist Meg Mittelstedt wrote recently.

As Mittelstedt notes, this is happening because of the recent upsurge of protest and resistance by indigenous people. This includes Idle No More, campaigns around murdered and missing women, confrontations with companies that hope to make big profits from fracking, pipeline construction, mining and other activities on the traditional territories of indigenous peoples, and conflicts with governments that want to dismantle anything they see as barriers to corporate profit, including environmental regulations and indigenous rights

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David Graeber’s Democracy Project: A Review

By Brian S. Roper 

Review of David Graeber, The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement (Allen Lane,  2013)

Was the Occupy movement an anarchist movement? David Graeber certainly thinks so and dedicates much of The Democracy Project depicting it in these terms.

In reality the influence of Anarchism as a diverse political current was highly uneven across the hundreds of occupations that took place globally in September, October and November of 2011. The relative influence of anarchists, socialists, feminists, Indigenous activists, greens, social democrats, left nationalists, and others varied largely according to the relative strengths of these currents prior to the emergence of the Occupy movement, and how they conducted themselves during the course of the encampments.

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BC Teachers Strike 2014

By Lisa Descary

It’s July in Greater Vancouver. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and BC public school teachers like me are signing up for picket line shifts. Yes, that’s right: I am walking the picket line in July, a time when my school is not even in session. And I don’t even teach summer school. How did this happen?

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Nonracialism Through Race (and Class)

By Betsy Esch and David Roediger

This article challenges us to go beyond an either-or approach to race and class. It is a very slightly edited version of an article originally published in 2006 in issue 56 of the print magazine New Socialist.

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Austerity with a Smile: The 2014 Ontario Election

By James Cairns

It’s always good to see Conservatives lose. And Tim “Zillion Job Cuts” Hudak was the biggest loser on election night in Ontario. Hudak’s macho version of Austerity-by-Sledgehammer failed to win broad support. The Conservatives lost legislative seats, and their share of the popular vote dropped. Of course, they’ll be back, refreshed by a new leader, and perhaps by the directionally-intriguing “enema from top to bottom” Doug Ford has kindly offered to give the party. For the moment, however, I certainly am relieved not to be waking up in Premier Hudak’s province.

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