I must admit to having been sceptical from the start
We agree with both Alan and David that grassroots organizing
After the excitement around the Sanders and Corbyn campaigns, the reasons to be excited about the renewed possibilities within the NDP are evident. It’s clear that whatever their shortcomings, left electoral campaigns can energize new activists, open the political imaginations of millions, and shift the spectrum of acceptable opinions to the left in a short period of time.
A statement by the editors of New Socialist Webzine
If you’re not horrified by the 2015 federal election, you’re not paying attention. As the long campaign rolls on, many people are turned off politics by the shallow rhetoric and tightly-controlled discussion orchestrated by the major parties and the mainstream media. Just as bad, the range of political options being offered to people by the leaders of the parties is shrinking.
On the first night of the Labour Party conference in the British seaside town of Brighton, there was a blood red moon in the sky. Superstitious types may have viewed this cosmic event favourably. Others, perhaps, with foreboding. With the left wing MP Jeremy Corbyn taking to the stage as the newly elected leader of the Labour Party, was this the sign of a new dawn for politics in Britain?
The New Democratic Party may be poised to make a historic breakthrough in the current Canadian federal election. In 2011the NDP won more seats than it ever had before, becoming the Official Opposition for the first time. Now polls suggest that they could win even more seats, possibly forming a federal government for the first time ever. It is important to ask if this represents a shift to the left in Canadian politics.
In the following piece British socialist Dan Swain builds on Hal Draper’s classic discussion in the essay “The Two Souls of Socialism” of socialism from below vs socialism from above and shows its relevance to the contemporary period. We are republishing this article because we think it makes a useful contribution. But we also think it is important to note that the article does not address lessons learned since the 1960s about the importance of anti-oppression struggles in creating conditions for democracy within social movements. This is perhaps reflective of broader political weaknesses on the contemporary left. We believe it is critical to be attentive to the ways in which racism, sexism and heterosexism structure power relations within society – including within movement organizing – and limits the discussion around what it means to practice the politics of socialism from below today. Socialists need to actively promote anti-oppression politics – anti-racist queer feminist socialism from below!
– NSW editors
It is gut-wrenching, watching Syriza [the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left] beg, and plead with the creditors not to crush Greece. Too late did they realise that they weren’t negotiating. They had nothing to do negotiate with, no cards to play. They went looking for the ‘good euro’, and found only ruthless, mercenary capitalist enforcers. They sought compromise and were given fiscal strangulation.
Review of Steve Fraser, The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015)
All of us on the left are all too familiar with the capitalist offensive of the past forty years. Under the banner of “neo-liberalism” capital has rolled back almost every gain working people across the world have made since the 1930s. All sorts of public industries, services and institutions have been privatized, social welfare programs that protected workers from the worst insecurities of the labour-market have been rolled back or simply abolished and unions and working class political parties that had traditionally organized and represented working people have been severely weakened.
By David Camfield
There has never been more talk about human rights than there is today. Social media is full of calls to sign petitions or send e-mails about human rights causes. Almost no one says they’re not supporters of human rights, from radicals on the left to people on the hard right like Stephen Harper. Governments of Western countries justify war in the name of defending human rights. We now have a Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.
By Steve D’Arcy
Review of Chris Dixon, Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements (University of California Press, 2014)
If there’s one thing that activists often lack, it is opportunities to reflect about what they’re trying to do, and how it might be done differently and better. Often overworked and pressured to focus on pragmatic and tactical questions under urgent timelines, it can be difficult to give political and strategic reflection the attention it deserves.
Just in the past couple of years, however, a number of widely discussed and important books have been published, inviting serious thinking and sometimes rethinking about what left activists are up to when they organize for social change.