Thursday 4 October 2007

Québec socialists on the return of socialism

The Return of Socialism By BENOIT RENAUD

from the latest issue of Résistance! Translated by Daphne Lawless

The idea of socialism, of a society without social class divisions, profoundly democratic, uniting all humanity beyond borders and divisions of all sorts, is as old as capitalism itself. Marxist ideas aren’t the cause of the class struggle, but quite the opposite. At the beginning of a new century, repetitive wars awaken a deep longing for peace, the climate crisis makes us conscious of the urgency to change the ways we produce and consume, and the poverty in which most of humanity lives, as well as a growing minority in the rich countries, inspires many campaigns and mobilizations for social justice. More and more people are conscious that imperialist wars, the destruction of the environment and social inequalities are not accidents or anomalies, but rather the inevitable result of a very specific way of organising our societies: capitalism. When the majority of big social and economic decisions are taken by small groups of the wealthy, as at the North American summit this year at Montebello, we shouldn’t be surprised that the needs of the majority carry very little weight. When the logic of the global race for profit guides the decisions of CEOs and governments, preservation of the ecological balance necessarily takes a back seat. When the only thing that counts is to eliminate the competition by any means necessary, there’s only one step from economic competition to war. In the 1970s, the return to ferocious competition on an international scale, after an unusual period of almost exclusive domination by the United States, forced a big swing to the right in every country of the world. Every national ruling class has sought since then to impose on its workers concessions without end in the name of “competitiveness”. This is what we call neoliberalism or globalization. These policies have been introduced everywhere, but not without resistance. The region of the world where the struggle against neoliberalism has generated the biggest and most successful mobilizations has been without doubt Latin America. After a period of brutal defeats, often imposed by dictatorial regimes supported by the United States (with the blessing of Canada), the mass movements of this continent, from peasant associations to indigenous nations, including the communities of the urban slums, have one after the other raised their heads, changing the political landscape of the continent from the 1990s onwards. From the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas in 1994, to the Oaxaca Commune last year, including the mobilization against the failed coup d’etat against Chavez in 2002 and the struggle against privatization of water in Bolivia, we could draw up a long list of exemplary mobilizations which are still sources of inspiration. In Europe, giant mobilizations against neoliberal policies and the war have equally changed the political landscape. As of now, there exists a “left of the left” breaking with the adaptation to liberalism which is corroding the traditional left parties, from British Labour to the German SPD. Québec solidaire is the only example in imperialist North America of a new left party looking to develop an alternative to neoliberalism. The more this new party takes inspiration from the better examples of what has been done in Europe and Latin America, the more difficult it will be to shift its trajectory in a neo-liberal direction. It also owes it to itself to be consistent in its opposition towards the wars and occupations in the Middle East, and to the racism which goes along with these colonial campaigns, like the islamophobic and xenophobic lunacy which has surrounded “reasonable accommodations” [measures by Canadian governments to reduce discrimination against immigrant communities]. Venezuela is currently moving towards the foundation of a new mass political party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. This party, which regroups all the political and social currents rallied around the presidency of Hugo Chávez and the process of the Bolivarian Revolution, explicitly seeks to redefine the project of socialism for the 21st century. Situated at the centre of a vast movement of resistance across the continent, this new political process could relaunch the international movement for socialism, in the same way that the mobilizations against the neoliberal summits beginning with Seattle relaunched the critique of capitalism and that the opposition to war in Iraq has made anti-imperialism relevant again. But this time, it’s not a matter of a negative (against war, against neoliberalism) and to some degree spontaneous movement, but a deliberate and positive move towards an alternative. Socialism will not happen by accident. Deep-down transformation of our way of life, of our political and economic structures , of relations between people and between continents, will not happen without the organization of a movement explicitly dedicated to this transformation, and the rallying of hundreds of millions of people to this project. The International Socialist collective inside Québec solidaire aims to regroup those who want to build a movement of this sort, here and now. We believe that the values that unite the thousands of members of QS and the necessities of the struggle against actually-existing capitalism lead in this direction. At the same time, we respect the diversities of points of view and experience of a non-socialist majority inside the party at this point in time. If you think that we need to put an end to capitalism as soon as possible, before it does more damage to our societies and the environment, join us and together we will search for the best ways to contribute to the specific and localized movements of resistance, as well as to the reinvention of a global project of radical transformation.

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