Even as capitalism unsteadily moves into recovery from the current crisis – the deepest economic crisis in seventy years – its impacts will persist. The IMF as well as national economic authorities and financial interests are already warning that a decade of austerity is at hand. The coming fights over wage rollbacks, concessions and public sector cuts will necessarily preoccupy many impending struggles. These need to be turned from defences against further attacks on workers into political confrontations with neoliberalism and capitalism. This is one of the reasons why Julia Barnett and Carlo Fanelli's assessment of the recent City of Toronto strike in this issue of Relay is so important, as it may well presage a series of struggles confronting the public sector. These same concerns of how to respond and build in a period of austerity and crisis figure in a series of articles on the new NDP governments in Nova Scotia and Manitoba, and the role of community-labour alliances in rebuilding the labour movement by Sam Gindin, Greg Albo, Jamilah King and Herman Rosenfeld.
The reforming of a viable new left cannot be limited to particular issues and single struggles. We need to push beyond the present disorganization and divisions of the left to what Marta Harnecker refers to as “the creation of an alternate social bloc.” This is why Relay has been making a concerted effort to publish commentary on the “emerging left” in different parts of the world. In this issue, there are reports on the MST in Brazil and unions in Columbia, as well as new efforts to develop new political instruments in Greece, South Africa, Germany and France.
Finally, 2009 marks the 60th year of the Chinese revolution and the 50th year of the Cuban revolution, and this issue of Relay covers a range of perspectives on the trajectory of these world-historical revolutions.
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