A ‘New Normal’? WHOSE ‘New Normal’?

Vancouver Ecosocialists
We want change!!

Sister, Brothers, and Friends,

In less than a month our political landscape has changed drastically. Millions of

lives are disrupted in ways unimaginable a few weeks ago. In the absence of

well-organized progressive forces, fighting effectively for progressive policies,

the post-coronavirus world will be designed by corporate bankers and grim for

all the rest of us.

Already there are important campaigns against bailing out the fossil fuel

industry and in favour of closing the industrial construction camps and

implementing effective anti-virus measures in First Nations communities and

poor urban neighbourhoods. Undoubtedly, the future holds corporate demands

for drastic cuts to social spending and reduced union rights. And probably much


As the combined viral-economic-environmental crisis unfolds in coming

months, please seriously consider the following statement by the Vancouver



To contact us …..

email: info@ecosocialistsvancouver.org





Whose New Normal?


Many voices predict that, following the coronavirus crisis, we will not return to

normal. Rather, there will be a ‘new normal.’


Few voices are asking the key question: “Whose ‘new normal’—one that’s good for

the 99 per cent or only for the 1 per cent?”


Optimists, eager for something positive to look forward to, point to the 1930’s

New Deal in the U.S., during the great depression. They recall that job creation

programs put millions to work on key infrastructure projects, including some that

were environmentally important. Social security and other public welfare

programs were established, and trade union rights were strengthened, while a bit

more stringent regulation of banks and corporations was instituted. A

stupendous rural electrification plan eventually transformed life for farm families

and mountain folk. A new and better normal.


What the optimists leave out is that this ‘new normal’ resulted from huge class

battles—in workplaces, on the streets, and at the ballot box—between profit-

hungry bankers and employers on one side, and newly unionizing workers on the



People were hungry, angry, and getting organized. In 1932, the Bonus Army of

43,000 unemployed First World War veterans, their families and supporters,

marched on Washington, D. C., and, after a month of protests, were cut down and

driven off by cavalry and motorized troops.


In 1930 and again in 1933, tens of thousands of California fruit and cotton pickers

staged dozens of strikes. In 1934, a longshoreman’s strike closed all the west

coast ports for weeks and led to a 4-day general strike in San Francisco. That

same year 400,000 textile workers along the opposite coast shut hundreds of

cotton mills, woolen mills, silk weavers, and other work places for up to 22 days.

In 1936-37, long, massive strikes by teamsters in Minneapolis and autoworkers in

Cleveland, Toledo, and Flint involved repeated, pitched battles with police. (Of

course, there were clashes in Canada, too—most famously in the police-instigated

1935 Regina Riot, which halted over a thousand rail-riding “on-to-Ottawa

trekkers,” but the numbers and scale of conflicts were much smaller.)


These struggles changed U.S. workers’ relationship with the bosses on the job and

in politics. The Communist Party took root in the union movement, growing both

the party and the movement. In the 1932 presidential election the combined vote

for candidates of the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, and the Socialist

Labour Party numbered over one million.


The bosses and their political parties used the New Deal to save their own skins

and their own system, not to benefit workers. But they were also ceding ground to

the power of working-class unity and militancy.


In the US and Canada today, we need to be preparing for the coming battles. This

is clearly indicated by the “stimulus” packages that are being passed by US,

Canadian, and other governments which support big capital much more than

working people, First Nations, or the poor.


In Canada, profit-driven exemptions of large industrial work camps across the

country from social distancing requirements are another clue. So is the failure to

create safe, contagion-reducing solutions on First Nations reserves and in the

poorest urban neighbourhoods. (Of course, the Trumpian criminal negligence in

the US is worse.)


So-called “stimulus” spending legislated by Parliament has given far too little to

working people and indigenous communities and students, while leaving far too

many falling through the cracks. At the same time, it allows corporate-friendly

Liberals unchecked power (until October) to bail out fossil fuel industry profits

initially driven downward by a global price war caused by too much oil and gas

for sale.


(In fact, we are facing a triple-crisis: the virus, the somewhat related economic

“downturn”, and the already unfolding climate catastrophe.)


In both countries, as the crisis lengthens, we can expect less relief for the 99%

and more for the 1%.


Whenever the coronavirus/economic crisis is deemed to be over, there will still be

millions of unemployed and underemployed, desperate for an income. And there

will be thousands of employers and bankers who want to start raking in profits

again. The employers and bankers, along with the governments who prioritize

their desires, have never sought advice from workers, First Nations, and the poor.


They’re not about to start doing so now, in creation of the ‘new normal.’

We should also add that the rising numbers of far-right groups, who are already

agitating for racist, anti-immigrant, anti-democratic responses to the crisis, will

also be pushing their ideas about the ‘new normal.’ These neo-Nazis will also be

focusing their messaging on working people. From the 1930s we also know where

this could lead.


If the ‘new normal’ is going to be ours, we need to fight, so our goals come before

those of corporate profiteers.


Among other things,


 We want a healthcare system that immediately improves health for all and is

ready to meet any threats of future pandemics (research, communication

protocols, medical equipment, shorter supply-chains for essential goods, etc.).


 We need a democratically planned economy quickly re-employing people,

transitioning beyond carbon emissions, and providing the millions of green

jobs and other steps necessary to protect our children’s futures.


 We require legislation and enforcement of globally recognized rights of

indigenous peoples and rights of all people to decent incomes, employment,

transportation, food, housing, educations.


 We demand a world free of war, racism, immigrant bashing, and the

oppression of women and others because of sexual orientation or self-identity.


 We reject profit and enrichment of the 1 per cent as motives for anything.

Inevitably, this fight will have to create a huge mass movement going beyond

electoralism to include massive street rallies and occupations (when the

pandemic allows this again), coordinated general strike actions, social solidarity

between neighbourhoods and cities and across borders, and the formation of

radically progressive governments. Through these struggles we will hope to build

a new society based upon solidarity and community, where we understand the

free development of each of us is the only way to win the free development of all.

(And during the pandemic, we’ll have to devise innovative forms of political

mobilization that demonstrate our political and economic power to those who

would attack us—but also to each other.)


Understanding all of the above, it is urgent that the left and progressive groups in

Canada (and elsewhere) start discussing how we can combine our forces and

other resources to agitate for working people (unionized or not), First Nations,

poor communities, and all progressives to fight for what we want the ‘new

normal’ to look like.


April 12, 2020