Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Perspective on the Road Ahead

(This article was originally written in 2001)

Never has capitalism been as pervasive as it is today. Seldom has it been more brittle and therefore, more fragile. Therein lies the opening for the left. Just when it seems that nothing can challenge the monolith, a new and authentic movement of the young rises up in many parts of the world to refuse the latest steps toward capitalist integration. The triumphalist claim that the "new economy" has eliminated boom and bust now lies in tatters. The crisis of the technology sector is severe and global in scope. This is a moment for analyzing the world anew and for thinking in bold, even in utopian terms about the future.

We live in a class divided society---a society in which a dominant class, making up a tiny proportion of the population enjoys wealth and power at the expense of a dominated class which constitutes the overwhelming majority of the population. This system now operates on a truly global scale, crowning a thousand or so billionaires with unimaginable wealth and power, while relegating the majority of the human race to conditions of mere survival or worse.

The capitalist and working classes entered the historical process in tandem, in the same epoch, and have been irretrievably linked to each other ever since. Together, they created capitalism and indeed were created by it. As a consequence of their interaction, both classes earn a living. But as a consequence of the relationship between these two classes there is an enduring disparity of power between them. In a capitalist society, there can be no capitalist class without a wage and salary earning class. Equally, there can be no wage and salary earning class without a capitalist class. Without workers, who sell their labour to earn wages or salaries, those with capital to invest could not make a profit.

The most consequential societal fault line falls between those who control capital and those who work for a wage or a salary. The lives of those on one side of the fault line are qualitatively different from those on the other side of the line. And migration from the class of wage and salary earners into the capitalist class is no easy thing.

More important than the high standard of living enjoyed by those who control capital is that capital is able to reproduce itself through the employment of labour. In our society, capital is a magical commodity. It opens the door to the acquisition of the labour of others and to reaping the profits that result from that labour. No wonder capital is more highly prized than any other commodity. The control of capital allows capitalists to maintain their position and keeps labour locked in its subordinate place.

Today, wage and salary earning Canadians are losing ever more control over their lives. For two decades, while vast new wealth has enriched those who control capital, there has been no real improvement in the standard of living of the average Canadian. The average male employee in Canada makes about $35,000 a year, the average female about $22,000 a year. (More women than men work part time. Today women make up forty-five per cent of the Canadian labour force, compared with under twenty-seven per cent in 1960.) For millions, the concept of a living wage is slipping out of reach. On the treadmill of the market economy, the eighty per cent of Canadians in the labour force who are wage and salary earners receive ever less protection from the government programs that were won in an earlier generation.

A unique feature of capitalism in our era is its deployment of an industrial apparatus that is laying waste the world’s ecology in the interest of short term gain for a tiny proportion of the world’s population. It is not apocalyptic to assert that the present global order is not environmentally sustainable over the medium term future. The brutal fact is that American capitalism, hiding behind an obscurantist denial of scientific opinion, is unwilling to acknowledge the need for even the mildest measures to combat global warming.

The conventional wisdom has it that we live in the age of globalization. The truth is that we live in the American Empire. The big lie of our era is that all states are losing power to a force called globalization. In fact, the U.S. state is accumulating power at the expense of other states. Not only does the United States pressure other states to play by rules designed to benefit an American centred status quo, the U.S. state acts unilaterally to pursue its own interests, unwilling even to accept international norms and conventions created to keep U.S. domination secure. The nuclear test ban treaty, the anti-land mines treaty, the germ warfare treaty, the agreement against militarizing space, the Kyoto environmental accord, the International Criminal Court----these are among the international agreements to which the United States refuses to adhere. And now, notoriously, the Bush administration is pushing ahead with its plan to deploy an anti-missile defence system. The U.S. is about to opt out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty of 1972, a step which threatens to provoke a new global arms race. The truly dark side of American unilateralism is a militarism, which poses the risk, among other things, of a dangerous showdown with China.

In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks in New York and outside Washington, the Bush administration is assembling a global coalition to wage war against terrorism on its terms. Washington has made it clear that nations either buy the whole U.S. package or risk being associated with the forces of "evil".

No cause can ever justify the terrible assault against innocent people in the United States. There is no doubt, though, that the role the United States plays in the world, with its military, economic, political and cultural impact in virtually every region, means that the U.S. is going to trigger feedback against itself, and sometimes that feedback will take a virulent form. The U.S. is not the first great power to feel such feedback. The role in Ireland since the middle of the 17th century provoked terrorist attacks on the British mainland that still continue from time to time. Similarly, the historic role of the Netherlands in Asia provoked violent attacks a couple of decades ago in the Netherlands itself. And the same thing has happened to France as a result of its colonization of Algeria.

For much of the past century, the order of the day was struggles among imperial powers. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and its system of satellite countries, the United States now presides over the greatest empire of the modern age. The U.S. state uses its political, cultural and military resources---the U.S. spends as much on the military as the next eight powers combined---to make the world safe for the American version of capitalism.

The American Empire protects and enhances a global system of capitalism at whose zenith are about five hundred multinational corporations, two thirds of them based in the United States and Japan, with most of the rest based in Western Europe. The annual revenues of these 500 top MNCs are equivalent to about thirty per cent of global economic output.

One consequence of such immense and growing concentration of corporate power is that leading corporations are able to dictate terms to nation states in a way that was never imagined in the past. The top multinational corporations are the most potent weapons in the arsenal of today's capitalism. Because a genuinely global economic system has evolved for the first time in history, corporate giants that operate in all parts of the world exercise unprecedented leverage against recalcitrant states that try to apply regulations that are stricter than those in force elsewhere. Not only do they dominate the global economy through the sheer size of their operations, they perform what we can call a "civilizing" role on behalf of the system, pulverizing local centres of opposition, forcing the world's states and peoples to play by a common set of rules.

Below the level of multinational business, there is the bulk of the private sector, with its innumerable firms, operating in every sphere of the economy, from the smallest businesses to the middle, large and very large national companies. Tens of thousands of such firms exist even in an economy as relatively small as Canada's which gives one some means of comparison with the scale of the 500 largest multinationals which directly account for the production of over one quarter of the goods and services on the planet.

The capitalists below the level of multinational firms constitute a vast throng of people whose life circumstances vary all the way from super wealth for the owners and top managers at the high end of national corporations to near-poverty for capitalism's struggling hangers-on in very small companies and retail outlets. These capitalists employ the majority of those who work for a salary or a wage in the developed world. Sub multi-national capitalists run the businesses that conduct most of the private sector activity within national economies. And it is salutary in an age when globalization is constantly touted to note that most economic activity still takes place within local, regional or national boundaries. Even in a country as dependent on foreign trade as Canada, roughly two-thirds of economic activity is domestic, involving the production of goods and services in Canada for sale at home.

Small and middle sized firms which operate in the domestic economy (many smaller firms are also involved in exporting and importing goods and services) grow or shrink depending on what is happening to domestic economic demand, hiring or laying off employees as the economy expands or shrinks. In most industrialized countries, there still is what we can call a dual economy, in which firms operating in the international sector carry on in an environment that is quite different from that experienced by firms whose market is domestic. In Canada and France for instance, there have been two quite distinct economies in recent years, an export sector dominated by multinational business, which has been booming, and a domestic sector dominated by sub-multinational business, which has been essentially stagnant.

Capitalists at the level of sub multi-national business provide the capitalist class with its essential ballast. These are---particularly at the lower echelons---the masses of the business class. They are encountered in every city, town and hamlet. They shape the mood of capitalist opinion and they have an enormous influence on politics at all levels. While politicians, particularly top government leaders, frequently have to pay attention to multinational business, it is to the business class on the sub multi-national level that politicians largely play.

Most of the hand to hand fighting in the class war takes place at the level of business well below the commanding heights of the multi-nationals. This is where bosses fight workers for every cent in compensation and in the battle to keep benefits low and payroll taxes as low as possible for employers.

It is at the level of sub multi-national business that battles are fought for legislation to make it as difficult as possible to form unions and to ensure that governments allow the use of replacement workers during legal strikes. It is also at this level that the battles are fought against improved environmental standards and in opposition to more stringent health and safety regulations on the job. This is where the war is waged to prevent same sex couples from having equal rights to time off in cases of bereavement. It is here that the fight takes place to abolish affirmative action programs for women, minorities and the disabled.

It is also among the ranks of business at the sub multi-national level that the struggle for major tax benefits for capitalists takes place. This struggle and the others mentioned motivates business at this level to exert pressure to mold the behaviour of the leading pro-business political parties in the industrialized countries. The British Labour Party and Conservatives, American Democrats and Republicans, the French Neo-Gaullists, the Canadian Liberals, Conservatives and the Alliance all interface with business largely at the sub multi-national level.

Depending on particular circumstances and traditions, these political parties are more or less straight-forward advocates on behalf of business. Indeed, their main task in terms of policy formation is to work out an approach which takes into account the often contradictory, or at least divergent, interests of different segments of the capitalist class from its noisy and sizable small business segment at the bottom to world girdling multinationals at the top.

We live in an age of shrinking real democracy. Under the political and military direction of the American state, a system of rules---often in the guise of trade deals that are really covenants protecting the rights of capital---has been put into place to limit the rights of peoples everywhere to govern themselves. These rules reinforce, and make uniform, the power of capital. Their purpose is to prevent popular movements from attempting experiments that enhance the power of working people. Shackled by the acceptance of those rules, Canada’s federal and provincial governments do not make basic decisions. Instead, they administer decisions that have already been taken.

The task of the left is to stand up for the rights of the majority of Canadians.

Never has Canadian society been as diverse as it is today. Diversity has often been used to divide working people on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation. The struggles of our day take place on many fronts, a recognition of the way in which inequality and exclusion affect millions of Canadians---among them women, immigrants, gays, lesbians and the disabled. Canadian society has become heterogeneous in ways that would have been virtually incomprehensible at the time the first social democratic government was elected in Saskatchewan in 1944. In recent decades, immigration from the Caribbean and Asia has transformed the nation’s major cities, making Canada much more than a union of Anglophones and Francophones.

There have also been dramatic changes in the lifestyles of Canadians. The two-parent family, with the husband in the workforce and the wife in the home, was seen as the norm in the post-war decades. Today, most women participate in the paid labour force, divorce is immensely more common and the number of children raised in single-parented and blended families has skyrocketed. Gays and lesbians, once unacknowledged, have fought for and achieved visibility and increasing social legitimacy. Feminism and environmentalism have transformed the culture to such a degree that the definition of what is mainstream has itself been significantly altered.

Although the advance of our society toward heterogeneity is unstoppable, it continues to provoke significant waves of backlash, which benefit the right politically. In recent years, conservatives have made much of their commitment to traditional values, rededicating themselves fervently to the defence of social norms they claim to have inherited from the past. By making itself the defender of the family, religion and small business, conservatives have played on the stresses in a multiracial, multi-lifestyle society.

What most fundamentally distinguishes the left from the right is that the left is open to everyone. Its humanity is not restricted to elites, the propertied or those of particular races, religious affiliations or sexual orientations. The right, by contrast, has always defined itself through its exclusions. Today’s right-wing menu consists of a main course of greed, garnished with bigotry and sweetened with "family values". Particularly among the young, racism and homophobia are increasingly falling on deaf ears. In the long term, the left’s greatest political advantage is that it embraces everyone and not the exclusive few.

Never has there been a greater need to unite working people in a common struggle. Despite the multiple identities of wage and salary earners in Canada, the crucial point is that they make up a single social class. Throughout the history of capitalism, the most significant fault line has been between those who own the means of production and the sources of wealth on the one hand, and those who sell their labour power for a wage or a salary on the other. Capitalists from the super-rich to the not-so-rich exercise immense power over others because they decide whose labour will be purchased and whose will not. And wage and salary earners in non-managerial positions are the sellers of labour power. What gives the capitalists an immense community of interest, despite their intense struggles for dominance against each other, is precisely the fact that they are the purchasers of labour. There is little they will not do to protect this privileged societal relationship from which their power flows.

And it is the obverse of this that creates a common condition among those who sell their labour. Whether they are a part of the minority of this segment of the population working in manufacturing, or in the majority, working in the service sector, whether they work in the private or public sector, the position of wage and salary earners in contemporary society has strikingly common features. Over the past two decades the sellers of labour in the industrialized countries have faced two dominant realities: their real incomes have hardly increased while those of their bosses have soared; and they have been faced with the fact of more or less permanent job insecurity. These threats have linked the fates of this very large and diverse group of people. To be sure, the intensity of these threats has differed from country to country, from one specific job sector to another, and it has affected the young and those in part-time work more harshly than those who have been in the labour force for a decade or more. But there have been broad similarities in the experience of wage and salary earners in the industrialized world and it is those similarities that place them in a single, if diverse, social class.

The fact that those who work for a salary or a wage face similar economic and social pressures does not mean that they understand the world in the same way. Indeed, the individual men and women who make up this class do not normally regard their status as wage or salary earners as the most important feature of their personal identities. Whether one is a woman or a man, a member of a visible minority group or of the white majority, gay or straight---these facts of one's existence stand on their own, and are by no means subsumed as a consequence of belonging to a social class. There is much truth in the notion that today's powerful systems of communication make it more possible than ever before for individuals to fashion their own identities. There is nothing implausible about individuals adopting an outlook and even a culture which links them with others who may reside on the other side of their country or even the other side of the globe.

But while being a wage or salary earner may not be the feature of an individual's identity that is usually in the forefront of his or her consciousness, it is nonetheless an important feature. And at crucial times, it can become the most vital aspect of a person's life. When a man or woman needs full-time instead of part-time work, or is in danger of losing a job after a corporate merger has occurred, or belongs to a union deciding whether to go on strike, nothing matters more than being a wage or salary earner. As individuals with mortgages to pay and families to support, it was a personally searing decision for the auto workers at the Canadian plants of General Motors to resolve to strike one of the world's most powerful corporations in September 1996. The same was true for the teachers of Ontario who concluded that to protect the educational system and their jobs, they had to embark on a strike against the Ontario government in October 1997. The same can be said about the health care workers who have recently put themselves on the line in battles against the governments of Nova Scotia and British Columbia. It is easy to look from afar at such wage and salary earners in a time of crisis and to conclude that they are members of a group following their leaders. But that is a very incomplete view. They are also individuals making personal decisions, discovering at a moment of crisis just who they are and where they belong.

Particular groups---women, ethnic minorities---may address these questions in their own way, conditioned by their own experience, but just as the problems that have arisen as a consequence of discrimination against women will not be resolved by addressing class questions, it is also true that addressing gender or racial discrimination will not resolve the question of the inequality of social classes.

In the final analysis, wage and salary earners occupy a single social class because their experiences vis a vis the dominant social class are more convergent than divergent. Today's wage and salary earners are face to face with a capitalism that is more monolithic in character than the system that prevailed during the post-war decades. The contemporary experience of teachers, nurses, academics, bank employees and other employees in the service sector has become ever more like the experience of industrial workers.

The NDP has too often caved in to the relentless pressure to accept the idea that there is no alternative to the direction in which our society is moving. In today’s ideological warfare, the first thing the NDP has to do is to stop worrying about today’s conventional wisdom. The more the NDP takes up the cause of working people and of Canada the more the party will be subject to scathing denunciation by the right wing media. It should not surprise us that the ruling ideas of our age are the ideas of those who promote American style capitalism. The left can make itself the real alternative in Canada only when it states its cause without apology.

Throughout the world today, new movements have arisen in opposition to the theft of democracy by a host of institutions whose rules reinforce the power of capital at the expense of working people. Hundreds of thousands of people in many countries have joined the struggles against the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, the FTAA, and the G 8 in the face of rising police repression. A new generation of activists, imbued with an internationalist outlook, now leads these battles.

Canadians have a stark choice. Either they assert their right to govern themselves, or they end up on the periphery of the American Empire. The corporate, political and ideological drive for continental integration is gaining momentum. Almost the whole of the capitalist class in Canada---those tied to the multinationals, the large Canadian financial institutions and most other major and small Canadian businesses---have opted for continental integration. For them, integration with the U.S. and the dismantling of the Canadian state are the best ways to win the class war at home, to keep Canadian wage and salary earners weak, divided and unable to resist. After a decade of the FTA and NAFTA, the same interests who claimed their goal was merely free trade, are calling for the elimination of the Canada-U.S. border and the adoption of a North American currency (read U.S. dollar) by Canadians. In the next round, Canada could be reduced to little more than the thirteenth federal reserve district, a country that has become a mere geographical expression, a resource base, production platform and consumer market for American capitalism. We are awash in American cultural offerings as our own cultural industries atrophy. Canadians are robbed of an understanding of their own society and of Canadian perspectives on the rest of the world.

Since the terror attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, a chorus of voices has called for a common North American security perimeter and the dismantling of the Canada-U.S. border. At this highly emotional time, the following case is being urged upon us:

The Canada-U.S. border is too long and porous to be properly policed. It’s time to open our border with the United States as well as the frontier between the U.S. and Mexico. This Fortress North America would feature common immigration and refugee policies and common visa requirements for visitors to the continent. Canadians would forego their own customs and immigration authorities in favour of a new continental authority. With a hardened continental perimeter in place, it would be possible to eliminate the borders within the continent and to allow full mobility of persons in North America. Crossing the border from Canada to the U.S. would be like crossing an inter-provincial border. It would be the same between Mexico and the U.S.

While the present preoccupation in the United States with the security of the homeland makes near term moves to open the frontiers with Mexico and Canada highly unlikely, the idea of a common perimeter around North America will not go away. Right wingers who want the full integration of Canada with the United States and a tightening of our immigration policy are using the present crisis to push their agendas.

An open border with the U.S. would raise serious security concerns for us. The Bush administration is opposed to an international accord to limit the world’s trade in small arms on the grounds that this violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right of Americans to bear arms. An open border would inevitably import the American gun culture into Canada, something most Canadians strongly oppose.

Guns would not be our only concern. As the Europeans discovered when they set out to open frontiers, we would have concerns about the movement of banned drugs, explosives, child pornography, toxic waste, and certain categories of animals, plants and food. In addition, what do we think of the idea of high speed police chases across the border, something the Europeans had to consider?

The problem, of course, is that unlike the European case where there was a balance in size and power among the states involved in opening frontiers, there is no such balance between Canada and the United States. It would be the American way or the highway on this important list of matters that bear heavily on the kind of society we want.

Giving up sovereignty over immigration would be disastrous for Canada. As a country that proportionately has grown much more rapidly in population than the U.S. for many decades, Canada has its own immigration and manpower needs. Since the terror attacks, we are constantly being told that we live in a new world. Under that mantra Canadians are being hustled to accept the idea that we must now throw in our lot, lock stock and barrel, with the United States.

The left alone can say Stop. We will go not one step further in the dismantling of Canada. Our allies in progressive movements in the rest of the world are important to us. But it is up to us to win this battle in our own country. No one else will do it for us.

The left affirms that justice cannot be achieved in Canada without justice for First Nations. Canada has been built on the territory of aboriginal peoples, whose societies were decimated and uprooted by European colonization. Over the past quarter century, First Nations have transformed their self-definition, emerging from the long shadow of colonialism, to assert their right to live and to thrive according to their own lights.

A new partnership is needed between English speaking Canada and Quebec. In its day, the Confederation deal of the 1860s provided a basis for the extension of Canada from coast to coast. But the Confederation deal was based on an incomplete recognition of the rights of Quebeckers in the Canadian state. For the past forty years, Quebeckers have made it clear that they want a new arrangement that recognizes Quebec’s rights as a national community. That new deal is essential to the ability of both English speaking Canadians and Quebeckers to acquire control over their own lives and communities.

The essence of our struggle is to fight for an ever deeper democracy---democracy throughout Canadian society and within the left itself. Traditional social democracy has talked a good game when it comes to democracy. But its practice has been less lustrous. Once in office, NDP governments have been run by premiers and cabinets in exactly that way other governments have operated. We need to ensure those who work to elect progressive governments are not ignored the moment office is achieved.

In the wider society, true democratization will elude us until we recognize that the accumulation of capital is a social process. It is labour, not the stock market that creates wealth, despite the conventional wisdom that stands reality on its head. The reinvestment of capital quite literally determines the priorities of society. The left opposes the idea that the deployment of capital is a private matter. Gaining social control over the investment of large sums of capital is crucial to the democratization of society. Popular sovereignty has to include democratic control over setting priorities for capital investment. Cooperatives, unions, non-profit bodies, and worker owned associations need to be involved in setting priorities for capital investment.

So too do governments at all levels, depending on the nature of the investment. The only institution Canadians possess that can stand up to the power of capital, both multinational and domestic, is the Canadian state. We live in a period in which it is fashionable to bash the state, to denigrate those who work in the public sector and to call for the ever greater devolution of power in the Canadian federation from the federal government to the provinces, and from provinces to municipalities. We have ended up with the worst of all possible arrangements----phony devolution in which revenues are not shifted to lower levels along with responsibilities and the general deterioration of public services. In the past crown corporations in the transportation, energy, and communications sectors were key to a Canadian economic strategy. Now, with privatization and NAFTA, governments have given up any notion of an economic strategy. Absurdly, we don’t even really have free trade. When we are highly competitive in a sector such as softwood lumber, the U.S. nails us with crippling countervailing duties. Even if we ultimately win in a trade tribunal, our industry is devastated by lengthy disruptions.

Our experiment with letting the market take us where it will has left Canadians with ever less control over their own economy. It is time for the left to assert that Canadians have a right to own and control their economy and to take collective steps to steer it so it can deliver the best results.

It falls to us to democratize the way public services and social programs are developed and administered. Historically, public ownership, like private ownership, has involved authoritarian management without real involvement of the people who deliver or receive services. We need to create new models of social and public institutions.

We need, as a part of this process, to tackle the question of democratizing the work place, whether it be public or private. Those who work for a salary or a wage, in non-managerial positions, are always vulnerable to the authority of the gate keepers, those who have the power to hire, fire, promote and demote. This is true, whether you work in the private sector or the public sector. Unlike the political realm, where citizens have a right to participate and express their views (although money and career politicians have most of the clout), the work place, with rare exceptions, is not a democracy of any sort. Once you enter the premises, you have to do what you are told (subject to health and safety regulations, and rules that may exist in a collective agreement if you are a member of a union).

Those at the bottom of the hierarchy in a work place typically have their dignity denied in palpable ways. Secretaries who work in law or accounting firms take great care not to let their private lives intrude on their jobs. While the partners in such firms feel free, when their schedules permit, to go home to take their children to dental appointments or to care for them when they are sick, secretaries do not. Secretaries are often closely monitored. The frequency of their visits to the washroom and their conversations with fellow employees are often subject to comment and even to restrictions.

Of vital concern to you if you work for a wage or a salary is the attitude of your immediate superior. You have to be careful what you say when you are on the job. A careless remark which makes it seem that you object to the way things are being run can land you in very hot water. It could even cost you your job. The work world is an authoritarian world.

The minority of the work force which is employed in the public sector generally experiences an environment which is only marginally less authoritarian than that in the private sector. Public sector employees, even those who have considerable education, work in a situation that is highly constrained, in which one's opinions are best kept to oneself.

Workers must gain ever more control over how work is organized as well as over the goals of the work place.

Is a society of greater equality possible? Even by taking the first step of thinking such a thought, of grasping the possibilities, we are opening the way toward taking further steps. Must we accept that at the apex of society there will always be tycoons whose individual ownership of capital gives them an immensely disproportionate say in human affairs? Is it impossible to imagine a future in which no one is allowed to own assets on such a scale? Is it not conceivable that we can limit the power of financial markets to decide how many people will work and how many will be left on the margin? Can we not figure out how to turn our present "Ptolemaic" conception of the economy around, so that the goals of the people at large set the agenda, and financial markets are reduced to serving those goals?

The principles are simple enough: the highest priority should be meeting the needs of wage and salary earners, and this should be achieved via the transfer of power from the members of the dominant capitalist class---they have far too much power---to the dominated wage and salary earning class. Our goal, always the goal of socialists, is to transcend a society divided into dominant and dominated social classes in which the life chances of a few are so much more favourable than the chances of the many. In its place, we seek a society whose goal is human fulfillment where the purpose of work is to enhance life. We reject the present order in which people are a means to the ends of making profits and amassing capital.

Over the past couple of decades, the NDP has become a political organization run by professionals, for whom politics is a career. It is firmly in the hands of those in office, those who seek office and those who dream of seeking office. The gap between this cohort of professional social democrats and social movement activists has never been wider. Over the course of its life, the CCF-NDP has moved from a genuinely radical analysis and political prescription, to the hollow rhetoric that suffuses today’s offerings. The federal NDP has become the beached whale of Canadian politics, gasping for survival. To remake itself the NDP has to become involved in social movement and trade union struggles as a basic part of its political work. The NDP may yet remake itself as that political party, or it may not. That remains an open question.

The left can be, and often is, badly led. It can be divided, morose and underfunded. It can suffer famous defeats.

What causes the party of equality to spring back from the very edge of extinction, however, is the reality of the human condition. It is wealth, privilege and the power of the few to decide the fate of the many that gives rise to a new left when an old one falls by the wayside.

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