Speech to 2006
by Barry Weisleder, co-editor, Socialist Action newspaper
(presented on April 30, 2006)
Sisters and brothers, comrades and friends:
As millions prepare to celebrate May Day around the world, let’s consider the general health and stability of capitalist rule.
The central fact of world politics
The U.S. dollar is in crisis.
Ironically, Bush’s threat to use
nuclear weapons against
On March 18 the global antiwar
movement proved it is quite alive. Hundreds of thousands marched, including
Another aspect of the unstable
Empire is found in the belly of the beast. A multi-million movement of migrant
workers is under way. Tomorrow, May Day, it will flood from barrios, factories,
construction sites, and service industries into the streets of
Back at home, the discreet charm of the Canadian bourgeoisie is wearing a little thin. Lies, bribes, and the cheating of the people of Québec brought down Paul Martin’s Liberal minority government. Now we have a Conservative minority government. It’s not so different, just more brutally frank about its intentions.
Stephen Harper (the new
Conservative premier) is busy stepping up Canadian militarism and appeasing his
senior imperialist partner. The trip to
The truth is that the Canadian
population is not moving to the right. Some 60% oppose the intervention in
(Bye-bye Bob. You won’t be missed.)
Foolishly, the Ontario NDP suspended CAW president Buzz Hargrove for his union’s mistaken pro-Liberal policy. Rather than foster a broad political discussion, including necessary self-criticism of the weakness of the NDP campaign, the party hacks went for Hargrove’s head. They precipitated a split with the CAW. A responsible working class leadership would have made an effort to convince CAW activists that “tactical voting” is self-defeating. The split is a setback to the historic struggle for independent working class political action, of which the NDP is an undeniable, if problematic, expression.
Meanwhile, other labor
organizations are moving in a different direction. OPSEU is debating affiliation
with the NDP. OPSEU college teachers, librarians, and counselors effectively
So how can the workers’ movement go forward today?
We need to build rank and file groups in the unions to fight for militant policies and actions to challenge the bosses’ agenda, and to revive union democracy. The Workers Solidarity and Union Democracy Coalition is a step in that direction, which everyone here should join.
We need to work in the NDP to lift
the suspension of Hargrove, heal the rift with the CAW, argue against “lesser
evil” tactical voting for Liberals, and increase labor affiliation to the NDP. The
NDP Socialist Caucus strives to organize the left in the NDP. Everyone here
should join it too. A conference of the SC is set for May 20 in
Socialists support labor and
anti-imperialist struggles, while pushing the NDP to do the same. We should
support the Canadian Peace Alliance challenge to the NDP on
We should support the Canadian
Haiti Action Network and its campaign to release political prisoners, channel
government aid to democratically elected officials (not manipulative NGOs), and
end the foreign occupation of
We should support the Canadian Arab
Federation, which demands that the NDP denounce
Immigrants’ rights protests have
brought millions into the streets in the U.S. Hundreds are demonstrating in
Let’s keep in mind what we are confronting. It is a global bosses’ agenda that aims to dismantle all the past gains of the class struggle. It aims to rachet up private profits at the expense of workers’ wages, job security, decent living conditions, and the environment. The bosses are obliged to do this, not just out of greed, but to sustain their anarchic, crisis-wracked capitalist system. We, however, are not obliged to accept it. We are not obliged to accept trade deals which make public ownership a crime, and make Capital a god. We are not obliged to accept homelessness, poverty, disease, and ignorance as inevitable features of human nature and human society—because they are not.
Nothing less than a workers’ government will stop exploitation and oppression and save this planet from the polluters and war makers.
To achieve a workers’ government at least two things are necessary: (1) the majority of the working class must break from the parties of big business, and (2) large sections of the class must come together into a political organization that fights for a Workers” Agenda.
One big obstacle to a Workers” Agenda is the conservative bureaucracy that dominates our unions and the NDP. The bureaucrats’ embrace of capitalism prevents them from fighting to abolish the FTAA.
Their commitment to class peace causes
them to stifle protest. They killed the Ontario Days of Action and the 1997
But we must not commit the error of confusing the union brass and NDP tops with the thousands of union and NDP members who walk picket lines and march in antiwar demonstrations. Socialism without the working class is impossible. Fighting to become a majority does not mean catering to the prejudices of prevailing opinion. But it does mean working within the rank and file, setting a militant example in the mainstream organizations, and advancing the ideas that can help working people to emancipate ourselves.
That is how we must approach the problem, the problem of power. Capitalism must go. But it won’t go quietly. We must force the issue, or we’ll continue to live like slaves in a decaying environment. To free ourselves and humanity, we must convince the majority to break from ideological slavery to the system and the big business political parties.
Socialist Action strives to forge a leadership, a socialist cadre, which can make an indispensable contribution to this process. What is that contribution? It is the living memory of our class, the vision of a socialist future, and a strategy to get from here to there.
That contribution will be unbending loyalty to workers’ interests, and unyielding opposition to capitalist rule. It is a commitment to socialist democracy, for women’s and gay/lesbian liberation, for ecology, political pluralism, internationalism, and the construction of a cooperative commonwealth.
If you share those goals, if you believe in those principles, you should join Socialist Action / Ligue pour L’action socialiste tonight.
Together we can fulfill the promise of May Day. We can create a future worthy of humanity. To do it we need a revolutionary workers’ organization. So join us. There is nothing to lose, and a world to win.
Long live international workers’ day!
Long live the struggle for freedom, social justice, and workers power!