It is clear that capitalism has entered into one of the most serious economic crises in its history. North American unemployment rates in the narrow calculation of official figures are heading toward double digits; global unemployment has increased by some 50 million already. The Euro zone has just recorded a quarter of negative inflation (deflation), and trade and growth levels in East Asia continue to decline as well. There is every reason to think we are only in the beginning phases of this crisis.
These developments frame the issues covered in this issue of Relay. Where are new class struggles emerging? What has happened to socialist aspirations and where are they reforming?
One critical issue is union struggles. Greg Albo, David Banerjee, Peter Brogan and Herman Rosenfeld look at current struggles of the North American union movement, and in particular developments with teachers, healthcare workers and auto workers.
Another has been debates over political responses to the economic crisis from the left. Both Leo Panitch and Yen Chu address directly the question of socialist aspirations and visions beyond re-regulation and bank nationalizations.
The question of alternate visions immediately confronts the limits imposed by the capitalist media. In an important series of articles, Robert McChesney, Tanner Mirrlees and Lainie Cassel examine both the capitalist media and the struggles for media democracy.
Finally, a series of articles examines critical questions and experiences of the left that is emerging. This ranges from the interventions of Badali Jones, Carl Davidson, James Suggett and Ingo Schmidt on the makings of a 21st century socialism; to the contributions of Phil Hearse, Mitu Sengupta, Raju Das and Sehlare Makgetlaneng looking at some of the setbacks and new openings from the elections in India to the election of Obama.
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