This is an interesting and exciting time for the Left in Canada. I include in the Left a tremendous variety of local left groups across the country (anarchist, socialist, ill-defined), the labour movement and social-change movements, coalitions, the New Democratic Party, and unaffiliated individuals. It's difficult to write about the state of the Left today precisely because it is so very diverse. There is a tremendous amount of left organizing going on these days in communities across Canada. It includes new groups formed specifically to focus on building a stronger left alternative to capitalism to those who are prepared to rake action to stop the corporate takeover of our basic public needs, like water, health care, education and social services.
The surge of left activism in this country is an interesting contrast to the collapse of the largest economy organized on socialist principles about a decade earlier.
THE HISTORIC GLOBAL CONTEXT
The collapse of the Soviet Union had an immense impact around the world. One example is that governments in capitalist economies no longer have the same countervailing pressure coming from the U.S.S.R. There is less pressure on capitalists and governments to improve conditions for working-class people. Instead, governments are dismantling the welfare state. Despite many well-founded criticisms, the Soviet Union was an example of a society with a narrow income differential. Homelessness was addressed through the state provision of low-cost housing, even if apartments were small and sterile. Poor people weren't forced to live on the street. It was an example of an economy organized on socialist principles where a job was a right.
The collapse of the Soviet Union ushered in an era of unbridled global capitalism. Over the last decade, as global trade has reached new heights, the gap between the have-nots and have-nots has grown wider than ever before. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, social-democratic parties in developed, capitalist countries have moved to the …