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Relay #31: Winter, 2010/11

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Relay No.31

The current political conjuncture is dominated by enduring struggles and new dilemmas for the Left trying to stop the bleeding. The enduring financial crisis has posed the matter starkly: is neoliberalism in terminal crisis and over, or are the ruling classes intensifying its distributive norms and its political form? The outcome of the May Federal election revealed some of the same patterns: an historical consolidation of the hard Right Conservative government of Stephen Harper, and an unprecedented electoral surge for the social democratic NDP (and however harsh one is on the nature of contemporary social democracy, it is the first time that any political party in North America who has its ideological roots in socialism has captured such a significant part of the electorate and emerged as the second party).

This issue explores some of these enduring struggles and emergent dilemmas. Palestinian solidarity work in Canada has been both. In an important contribution, Abbie Bakan reviews current debates about the usage of the term 'apartheid' and looks ahead at strategies for the BDS movement. Suzanne Weiss and Jesse Zimmerman add to the discussion reviewing recent critical interventions on Israeli apartheid in Canada and the US. Another enduring political struggle has been the transformations in China as capitalism has been built, and a new left struggles to emerge in a radically new context. Articles by Lance Carter and John Riddell explore different dimensions of the political context in China.

In terms of emergent dilemmas, the instabilities of 'world money' as played out in national currency wars is in the first grouping of key contradictions. This is being felt strongly in Canada as the combined impact of a declining US dollar and an ascendant Canadian 'petro-currency' has posed stark economic divergences between different regions of Canada. These issues are debated in essays by Paul Kellogg and Jim Stanford.

It hardly needs stressing that the radical Left in Canada – and in this the Canadian Left hardly stands alone – is facing a significant turning point. The rise in the fortunes of the NDP battling, perhaps, the most neoliberal government in the core countries will draw many social activists within its orbit, and certainly the main leadership of the union movement. This will, in turn, intensify the disorganization, marginalization and drift into even more ultra-left campaigns and strategies of many others. More of the same, only better, is hardly an option. There is need for some bold new adventures in thought and practice.

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