March 23, 2010


People's Voice Editorial

Radicals who want to create a better world often swing between bleak cynicism and blind faith. Hardened by past betrayals and retreats, we can succumb to the idea that nothing short of total revolution will achieve real gains. Or we can view any progress as a signal that the path to social change will now be straight and easy. For example, when we see the heroic struggles of the Greek workers against an outrageous attempt to make them shoulder the entire burden of capitalist crisis, one reaction is to shrug, "OK, but Canadian workers would never take such militant action." Another is to assume that a similar massive fightback is just around the corner in this country.

What's the truth? The Greek working class is certainly displaying a high level of revolutionary understanding. But there are also positive developments in Canada. The outstanding rally in Montreal on March 20 drew far more than the 50,000 public sector workers predicted by the Quebec Common Front unions. Given a clear goal and committed leadership, other workers in Canada will also flex their muscles. The labour-led Coalition to Build a Better B.C. has the possibility to strengthen links with the anti-HST campaign in that province, and to shake up the deeply unpopular Campbell Liberals. After a decade of lethargy imposed by former opportunist leaders, the Ontario Federation of Labour is moving into action around the economic crisis, and trying to overcoming divisions which hindered a successful fightback.

This is not a moment to stand back and hurl insults at the shortcomings of these struggles. That doesn't mean there is no place for constructive criticism. It does mean that the main emphasis must be on all-out efforts to nurture these valuable shoots of resistance. The task of left activists in the labour and people's movements today is to help build truly broad, united, mass movements against the corporations and their right-wing governments. Not every springtime of hope brings a summer of victories, but this important opportunity must be grasped.

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