Election 2008 and Beyond
Radical-Left Strategy in a Time of Right-Wing Consensus and "Centre-Left" Illusion

By Nathan Rao

Global Research, November 1, 2008
The Bullet - 2008-10-29

In these difficult times, those of us on the radical Left have learned to be grateful for tender mercies. And so it goes with the results of the October 14th federal election. A few bits of good news immediately come into view: the hard-Right crew around Stephen Harper was denied a majority government; and the main beneficiaries of the majority rejection of the Conservatives were not the centre-Right Liberals, whose crisis continues unabated, but rather the nominally social-democratic NDP, the sovereignist Bloc Québécois and the vaguely left-liberal Greens.

The Conservatives overplayed the limited hand they were dealt in the 2006 elections. In a context of growing capitalist economic crisis -- played out spectacularly during the campaign itself -- and US-led imperialist overreach in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Caucasus, there is real disquiet, especially in Quebec, about their hyper-neoliberal and militarist agenda. Conservative strategists felt they had a small window of opportunity to secure a majority government -- before the economic slowdown hit and before their American neo-con counterparts were thrown out of office. In the event, the window was even smaller than they thought and the opportunity perhaps not so great after all.

Beyond this, though, there is little to celebrate. The radical Left has arguably hit a new low within the period opened up by the mobilizations in Seattle (1999) and Quebec City (2001), especially outside Quebec. Indeed, it is very timely indeed that the long-awaited film The Battle in Seattle should be released in theatres just as we digest the results of the federal election. The juxtaposition enables us to contrast the tremendous hope and dynamism and the serious political discussion of that not-so-long-ago period with the virtual absence of the radical Left during this latest electoral contest. This absence is all the more striking given the crisis the project of corporate-led globalization currently faces on so many fronts. If ever there were a time for forces representing a forthright, visible and activist alternative to capitalism and imperialism, surely this is it.

This article is a modest contribution towards understanding the outcome of the federal elections and presenting a framework for the debate on radical-Left strategy that must now take place. Here are the main arguments put forward in the piece:

1. The nature of the current threat from the Right has been misconstrued. The threat of a hard-Right Conservative majority was overblown. The real right-wing threat is a bipartisan one, given the vast