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Our Times 3

Sam Gindin

  • Health Workers: From Praise to Protection

    Crises sometimes bring out the best in society and sometimes—or even at the same time—they clarify what is so darkly wrong within. In the particular case of the commitments and risks taken by the front-line workers that we apparently value so deeply now, the contrast lies in how little they were valued before.

  • The GM Strike and the Historical Convergence of Possibilities

    The GM strike served as a reminder of two old lessons. Rank and file militancy is the foundation of working class struggles, yet it is not enough. And unions too – even the best of unions – though absolutely fundamental to workers having a more secure and all-round richer life, are by themselves insufficient.

  • NAFTA renewed. Now what?

    Was the push to renegotiate NAFTA only about Trump playing to his base? Was Trump reacting to a decline in the American empire? Was it about moving away from multilateral agreements to bilateral ones where U.S. strength weighs heavier? Is the narrowing of options that the renegotiation of NAFTA exposed just about free-trade agreements, or does it point to a more general characteristic of capitalism today?

  • In and Against the State

    Getting socialism seriously on the agenda requires addressing the question of political agency more broadly in terms that develop the agential capacity for state transformation, so that governments with a socialist project not be stymied by the inherited state apparatuses. In this respect, socialist parties in the 21st century cannot see themselves as a kind of omnipotent deus ex machina. Precisely in order not to draw back from the ‘prodigious scope of their own aims’, as Marx once put it, they must ‘engage in perpetual self-criticism’.

  • Will the Ontario Labour Movement Return to Class Struggle as Austerity Deepens?

    The Ontario labour movement is in deep crisis, and has been staggering since the end of the 1990s. Given the labour movement’s historic role in leading and supporting progressive change, its current disorientation should be a matter of alarm to its members of course, but also to anyone concerned with countering the insatiable greed and social destructiveness of capitalism.

  • The Crisis in the ATU: Labour Shoots Itself in the Foot

    Working class sovereignty can only have legitimate meaning if it starts with the Canadian rank and file as the final arbiters of changes in Canadian structures. It demands building the working class in both Canada and the U.S. through bringing more workers into unions rather than fighting over dues. And it means collectively struggling with how to reinvent our unions.

  • Bob White, Union Organizer, Union Leader: April 28, 1935 – February 19, 2017

    The story of Bob White will only provide a living legacy if it inspires workers and unions to draw on elements of his achievements to figure out anew how, in this particular era, unions can once again mobilize their members and their communities and lead the more general struggles for equality, justice, solidarity and a more meaningful democracy.

  • Class, Party and the Challenge of State Transformation

    The alliances that socialist parties would have to enter into, not least in face of the growing threat from the far right of the political spectrum, should not just be amongst elites but be directed at new working-class formation of the broadest possible kind, and aimed at developing its actual potential to become the transformative agent in a transition to socialism.

  • The Power of Deep Organizing

    Raising Expectations was full of struggles that McAlevey was directly involved in – struggles that showed what could be done despite the overwhelming power of capital. It had a personal, chatty feel to it and had an instant and powerful impact on rank-and-file workers and labour activists, quickly and deservedly making McAlevey a hit on the labour circuit as a speaker, trainer, and strategist.

  • Big Three Bargaining: Different Ways of Making History

    The time seemed ripe to lead a reversal in the labour movement’s trajectory – but this was not even tried. That failure defines what was in fact ‘historic’ about the 2016 agreement: it was not the highly overblown claims of the union’s achievements, but the confirmation of the end of the union’s leadership legacy within the labour and social movements.

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