We live in a settler-colonial capitalist society. That means we’re ruled by a tiny class of rich and powerful people who own and control corporations, no matter what government is in office. Existing structures and political systems will continue to prioritize capital over people and the planet.
Although electoral politics will not move us toward upending capitalism, that doesn’t mean that who forms the government of Manitoba doesn’t have real-world consequences for working-class people. Since the Progressive Conservatives took office in 2016, they have attacked health care, education, and other services. They have weakened workers’ rights. They have held down the pay of public sector workers below the rate of inflation. In 2020 when they threatened cuts to publicly-funded services so deep that even major capitalists were opposed, we saw what the PCs dream of doing if they can get away with it.
We have seen the Conservatives throwing more money at public services over the last year in an attempt to convince the public they have Manitobans’ best interests at heart. However, once the election is over, we can expect further cuts if they are elected for another four years.
Under a PC government public services will continue to be eroded. This austerity agenda will exacerbate the hardships that already exist in the lives of working-class, Indigenous, disabled, and other oppressed members of our society.
Unfortunately, we shouldn’t have any illusions that the NDP will do much to improve these conditions.
From 1999-2016, when the NDP were in office, we saw more spending on public services that help working-class people get by – but also more spending on policing and prisons. The NDP never did anything to tilt the balance of power away from capital and towards the majority of people. Instead, they gave capitalists some of what they wanted even if they didn’t get as much as the PCs would have given them.
Further, when the NDP took office in 1999 many leftists tried to work alongside or with the government, instead of organizing in workplaces and communities to build counter-power that could push the government to implement policies that would improve the lives of working-class people. If the NDP takes office again and we repeat this acquiescence, then we can almost guarantee that they will deliver almost nothing positive.
In addition, the possibility of recession makes it even more likely that a victorious NDP will govern from the right. When the next recession hits, the NDP in office will be pressured by the ruling class and economic conditions that raise unemployment and reduce government revenue. If they win, we will need to constantly demand that the NDP protect and expand public services – and that they shrink spending on prisons and subsidies for businesses.
Regardless of the election outcome, Solidarity Winnipeg believes that people in Manitoba who want to change the world need to shift our focus away from relying on electoral politics as the way to change the material conditions we are faced with. Organizing to build broad movements and a radical ecosocialist organization within them is the way to challenge power structures and fight for a just and sustainable society. It wasn’t that long ago that thousands of people were in the streets for climate justice, solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en struggle, and justice for Black lives – we need to build on those moments that gave us hints of the power of the working class and oppressed people to change the world.
We believe that people need to come together to build a movement that puts workers’ rights, Indigenous rights, climate justice, healthcare, education, housing, and the idea that an injury to one is an injury to all at the forefront of our common fight, no matter which party forms government. We must work to counter the interest of capital and prioritize people and the planet.
Solidarity Winnipeg is a small group of ecosocialists who’re working to lay the basis for a local organization committed to putting those ideas into practice. We do what we can to work with others in unions and community groups to build grassroots power, and we do political education through our podcast (check it out!) and other activities.
If you like the sound of this, let’s talk! We encourage people who’d like to participate in our work to learn about what membership involves. People who want to support us without joining can ask to become formal supporters.
Website: www.solidaritywinnipeg.ca (sign up for our newsletter there)