To ring in the new year I thought it may be useful to do a survey of the organizations that populate the anti-capitalist landscape in Canada (outside of Quebec). I tried to list only active organizations engaged in something more than a website or news. Also I didn’t list movements or groups centred around specific campaigns that may act, feel, and be radical, but aren’t specifically anti-capitalist organizations. Thus, I didn’t list Idle No More, Occupy or news centred organizations, such as the Media co-op, Basics News, or Rankandfile.ca or various organizations like the Public Interest Research Groups that dot university campuses across the country. This list is partial and I am sure I am missing organizations, especially on the west coast and the prairies (if you put comment on this post I will include any missed organizations that aren’t paper).
If I had to make a very generous educated guess I would say that these groups taken together have no more than 1200 members (discounting overlap), with about an equal number of fellow travellers. The Canadian population is a little over 34 million (26 million if Quebec is discounted). Obviously there is greater sympathy for anti-capitalist ideas than that number suggests and a fair number of independent anti-capitalists do exist. I just think it is worth pointing out where the left actually stands.
I think there are a number of reasons for the weakness of organized anti-capitalist groups, some are political, some are behavioural, some are strategic and some are circumstance. I don’t want to moralize about it and I don’t want to really frame this around personal failings (despite the quote below). The organized left is weak, it is a fact, not an eternal one, but a fact none the less. I think this fact largely explains why the broader left and the working class is getting beaten so badly at every turn. We need to strengthen our organizations and in some cases start new and better ones. I am not arguing that these groups should come to together and sing kumbaya, that is never going to happen. No, we need to be non-sectarian, but still be honest about our political differences, hopefully some of those differences can be resolved through practice, but certainly not all of them. Perhaps there could be more effective united fronts between groups across the country, I think the battle at Canada Post presents one such opportunity to do that. Time will tell. But unless the organized left, or some parts of it at least, make a break through in practice we will all be left spinning our wheels.
I forgot to include this when I first posted this piece, but I thought a quote from a movie I despise (and I am sure you do as well), Zero Dark Thirty, is humorously relevant. The team hunting Osama Bin Laden is called to a meeting to discuss the failure of their mission so far, one character sums up their predicament ( I changed one word to fit our context):
“I want to make something absolutely clear. If you thought there was some secret cell somewhere working on overthrowing capitalism, I want you to know that you are wrong! This is it. There’s no working group coming to the rescue. There’s nobody else hidden away on some other floor. This is just us. And we are FAILING.”Anishinabek Confederacy to Invoke Our Nationhood Barrio Neuvo Common Cause Communist Party of Canada Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) Fightback Greater Toronto Workers Assembly Industrial Workers of the World FAI – Informal Anarchist Front International Bolshevik Tendency International Socialists London Common Front New Socialist Group No One Is Illegal Platypus Affiliated Society Prairie Struggle Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada Rising Tide Socialist Action Socialist Party of Canada Socialist Project Solidarity Halifax Solidarity Against Austerity Spartacist League Vancouver Ecosocialist Group ======================