The brilliant German playwright Bertolt Brecht once said that capitalists were the ultimate radicals. That is because during the past 200 years, the 1% of the wealthiest and most powerful people, along with the politicians they buy, the media they fund and the state institutions they control, helped create a world of spectacular inequality, poverty and injustice.
Yet today, intellectuals refer to those who want to build an alternative society based on democracy and fairness as militant, radical thinkers who dream up unrealistic fantasies. Much of the time, the Left is only too willing to follow along, sometimes even referring to themselves as “radicals” who are proud of being out of the ordinary.
It’s time we put an end to this nonsense. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that is “radical” or “extremist” about socialist democracy. The values we hold dear, including the creation of a free and classless society and an economy that is environmentally sustainable and democratically-controlled by workers and communities, are those which are shared by millions of people in Canada and an overwhelming majority of the world’s population.
Bertolt was spot on, because if you want real extremism, look no further than global, corporate capitalism. Billions around the world don’t have access to basic needs like clean drinking water, housing or education, according to even the World Bank. The number of people who will die this year from starvation and malnutrition is over nine million, an increase since the 2008 economic crash.
And now, the financial criminals who helped engineer the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression and were bailed out by taxpayers, apparently want even more of this radicalism in the form of further tax cuts, deregulation and attacks on the rights of working people.
At the same time, governments in Canada and the media continue to play the same game. I can’t count how many times pundits have commented on the NDP leadership race and our party’s apparent “outdated” values, saying we need to “modernize” our ideals for “new realities.”
Really? The last decade has meant nothing but increasing inequality, wage decline, evaporating pensions, global conflict, and the increased dominance of a tiny group of banking and corporate elites who play by their own rules.
If the NDP really does have to “modernize” to reflect “new realities,” wouldn’t that mean putting forth policies like public ownership of our oil industry, reducing the workweek with no loss in pay to create jobs, and creating a guaranteed annual income for all Canadians?
Maybe those media pundits have a point, because if we’re really serious about avoiding further financial upheaval, then the NDP should propose placing our banks under social ownership and democratic control. Banking and finance should be a public service, not the personal casinos of the 1%.
Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with “radicalism.” Like other policies put forth by socialists around the world, it is a practical, sensible solution to the severe failures of modern capitalism.
It’s time for the NDP to call out the real extremists in the corporate head offices on Bay Street and their fanatical, narrow-minded capitalism and propose common sense, socialist alternatives that put working people first.
Because our society simply can’t afford to give any more power to unrealistic, pie in the sky, out-of-touch radicals.