The financial crisis has now entered a new phase of intense political struggle over which classes will pay for the exit strategy from the crisis. It is now taking concrete form in the planning and implementation of so-called 'exit strategies' from the emergency fiscal measures to offset the demand shocks from the crisis. Although there remain serious concerns over the pace of return to the neoliberal orthodoxy of balanced budgets in the midst of still stagnant economies, calls for public sector austerity are coming from both the political right and social democratic parties. The IMF has gone so far as to suggest two decades of 'fiscal adjustment' – read long-term austerity – might well be in order as an appropriate 'debt stabilization strategy.' The push for austerity was recently endorsed by the G20 meetings in Toronto in June, although with a great deal of concern still being expressed about the possibility of slipping back into a sharp recession. This issue of Relay focuses on the battle over public sector austerity in the wake of the G20 meetings, with contributions from Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, Jane D'Arista, Jim Stanford, Paul Kellogg and others on assessing the economics and political challenges of the turn to austerity in the capitalist heartlands of North America and Europe.
The way the crisis has unfolded – and indeed the G20 Summit itself – has revealed only too starkly the sad shape of the left – able to express anger and despair, but completely impotent to counter neoliberalism and desperately lacking imaginative new forms of resistance from either the labour or social movements. The impasse of the left has raised a huge array of theoretical, practical and historical issues to be confronted. It has to be the central objective of the left in Canada and around the world to reconsider the left's organizational legacy, and map new beginnings.
Contributions by Daniel Bensaid and John Riddell do just that in examining the political tactic of the 'united front' in its historical and theoretical dimensions. Marta Harnecker does the same in looking at new organizational developments in Latin America. From a similar angle, Ian MacKay, Sam Gindin and Wayne Dealy look at the history of the left in Canada and ask whether new efforts to form workers' assemblies might be one measure to address organizational decline. The organizational challenges and the emerging left are also looked at in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Netherlands.
And more: the dialectics of capital, Canada and Apartheid Israel, ecology, the Hurt Locker, workers' councils in Iran.
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