TORONTO (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 03rd September, 2020) The current societal unrest in Canada, the United States and other parts of the world is proof that current systems in place are failing citizens, Communist Party of Canada leader Liz Rowley said in an interview with Sputnik.
Amid the ongoing unrest, politicians, activists and other public figures have often asserted that communists and other left-wing groups are at fault. Rowley says that while communists and other left-wing factions are part of the movement for change, characterizing the protests as a left-wing conspiracy is to ignore all the issues that ordinary citizens face.
"I can tell you that there are a lot of communists and other progressive people who are at those protests and demonstrations in the US, in Canada, and for that matter, around the world," Rowley said. "What we're actually seeing is an uprising of people who are outraged by police violence and by systemic racism against the black community, indigenous peoples in the first place, but also all racialized people."
Rowley added that what the world is witnessing is a "very broad movement," that is far too complex to attribute to one group or another but that boils down to one simple fact: the current systems in place are failing ordinary Canadians and contributing to rapidly growing inequality.
The leader of Canada's Communist Party says that a lot of the anti-communist rhetoric is being underpinned by tired stereotypes propagated by governments, entities and systems concerned by changing attitudes toward socialism.
Attitudes toward socialism and left-wing ideologies are indeed changing all over the Western world. Many young Europeans, who grew up in social democracies, already support many left-leaning policies. However, even the United States, once a bastion of free-market economics, is seeing a rise in support for socialism. A poll conducted last year by YouGov in conjunction with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 70% of millennials are somewhat or extremely likely to vote for a socialist candidate.
The Communist Party of Canada leader says that such trends and the ongoing coronavirus-induced economic downturn exemplify the pitfalls of current Canadian governance.
"It's pretty obvious that capitalism is not working for many, many people. The current economic crisis underlines that," Rowley says.
As the Canadian economy slowly emerges from a two-month shutdown this spring, according to the state statistics agency, employment numbers remain well below pre-pandemic levels, with many more having had their working hours reduced. Rowley says that most of these individuals are not eligible for unemployment insurance, as it currently stands, and questions how they will get by going forward.
"Seventy five percent of [people currently receiving COVID-19 benefits] are not eligible for unemployment insurance. And so how are they going to live? Capitalism caused this crisis that all of us are facing now through corporate greed and governments that pandered to these big corporations - most often the mouthpiece of these big corporations - that people are thinking, 'maybe socialism is the way to go,'" Rowley says.
When asked if socialism can exist in democratic society - most socialist states tend to be regarded as authoritarian by Western experts - Rowley says the current Canadian political system is not as democratic as advertised, adding that it is a myth that socialism is anti-democratic.
"The argument that people who oppose socialism use is that Marxism, in particular, is anti-democratic. I can say, that couldn't be further from the truth," Rowley says. "I think Cuba, Vietnam, and other socialist-moving countries - their governments are very democratic. They are governments that represent the people and they generally have very broad public support."
Rowley says, that while all forms of governance have their drawbacks, including socialism, the fact that citizens in countries like Cuba are willing to stand by their leaders, in spite of persistent foreign interference by countries like the US and Canada, is the marker of a democratic society. She adds that Canadians and other Westerners simply do not have an accurate understanding of socialist societies because of pervasive disinformation efforts by domestic media.
Rowley also dismisses the notion that a transition to socialism has to have violence, like other communist and socialist revolutions in the past. She, however, warns that the civility of any transition is predicated on the will of ruling elites.
Marxist-Communist Ideas 172 years later, as relevant as ever.
Earlier this year, communists around the world marked the 172-year anniversary since the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels was first published in February of 1848. Rowley says the principles outlined over 170 years ago are just as relevant today.
"I think the exposé of capitalism that Marx, [Vladimir] Lenin and Engels initially described is proving to be true," Rowley says, adding that Lenin's books on imperialism and his critique that private appropriation of the proceeds of social production results in imperialism, colonialism and racism accurately reflects the state of affairs today.
Furthermore, Rowley says that technological advances, including increased automatization and artificial intelligence has only accentuated the rate of exploitation of the proceeds of production by capitalist ownership.
Canada's Communist Party leader also believes that communist-Marxist ideology - relatively young in comparison to other systems, like capitalism - is constantly evolving and needs more time to mature.
Rowley says that the Communist Party's platform is largely based on the principle of investing in Canadian workers and harnessing the changing societal attitudes, especially among young Canadians, to grow the party. The party's goal is to increase membership by 50 percent by May 2021, which coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the birth of the Communist Party of Canada.
The ambitious platform includes, provisions for a transition to a green economy, higher standardized wages and pensions, free post-secondary education, and a plan to build one million new affordable housing units in the next five years to address the country's housing crisis, a major sticking point amongst young Canadians.
The plan also includes a return of the manufacturing base, eroded by disastrous, according to Rowley, free-trade agreements that need to be scrapped.
Rowley says her party's ideas have many allies and sympathisers, not only in Canada's progressive movement, but among mainstream party members; the problem she says is Canadian political heavyweights including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and even New Democrat Party leader Jagmeet Singh are unwilling to work with her or other left-wing parties and groups.
Rowley hopes that an ambitious platform coupled with changing attitudes among the next generation of Canadians will enable her party other left-wing allies to erode the Liberal and Conservative Party monopoly on governance in Canada.
"One of the questions is how can we harness the atom and move the struggle for socialism forward in Canada so that we're not continuously stuck with: 'will it be the Liberals who [form] the government in the next election or will it be the Tories [Conservatives]," Rowley says.