The financial crisis that burst out of U.S. mortgage markets in late 2007 spread a contagion of banking failures and insolvencies across North America and Europe. The seizing up of financial markets was followed by sharp contraction in overall economic activity in 2009, and the first decline in the global world market since the Great Depression. We are now in a third phase of the crisis with a recovery gaining some momentum into 2010.
The crisis is realigning the political balance of forces: rather than neoliberalism being shunted to the side by the evident failure of some of its central policy planks, the ruling classes are actively advancing their interests and reconstructing neoliberalism.
The struggles over ‘exit strategies’ from emergency state policies and who is going to pay for the crisis is going to preoccupy the Left for the foreseeable future. Already, general strikes and public sector walkouts in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and France have unfolded. In North America, the Left's response to the crisis has been muted, to say the least. The key focal point has been urban struggles. This issue of Relay begins with a survey of the urban crisis in Canada by Justin Paulson and Carlo Fanelli. It is followed by analysis of new labour struggles in Toronto, Ontario and Canada by Herman Rosenfeld, Sam Gindin, Mark Thomas and Greg Albo. The intersection of the financial and ecological crises after Copenhagen is explored in an essay by Mary Thibodeau.
The political response to the financial crisis has demonstrated the complete collapse of social democratic parties – from British Labour to the NDP in Canada to the PASOK government in Greece – into neoliberalism.
Social democratic governments and parties are doing all they can to re-establish finance capital while calling for austerity from workers.
Never has it been so evident that a new left is urgently needed. Marta Harnecker has been at the forefront of thinking about what the organization of that new left might look like, and an essay summing her central themes is published in this issue. As well, the important new developments of the Anti-Capitalist Party in France and the Left Bloc in Portugal, as well as the political wreckage of the Left in Britain, are also presented.
And much more: a discussion with Rob Albritton on his best-selling book Let Them Eat Junk; a review of the new Socialist Register, Morbid Symptoms; a discussion of Feminism and Anti-Capitalism today; an analysis of the course of Turkey in the crisis by Baris Karaagac and Yasin Kaya; and others.
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