Hello and welcome to Perspectives: the Broadbent Institute’s journal of political economy and social democracy. My name is Clement Nocos, the editor of this new and exciting publication, and I am delighted to steward this latest endeavour of the Institute, to share ideas and progressive perspectives that can help shape and build a just and equitable world.
Perspectives is in some ways a continuation of the theories and practice previously developed by the Broadbent Institute in its research, analysis, panel discussions and public debates–more than a decade of thought leadership since the Institute’s inception in 2011 that had been posted in its blog has been archived in this new publication for posterity. It is also a new home, built on the Broadbent Principles for Canadian Social Democracy, for movements and institutions alike to exchange ideas and information that can “lift all boats.”
Perspectives is a new space for the Canadian progressive left to build on the ideas of political economy, governance and working-class political strategy. The publication has room to grow and change over time, while being grounded in the Broadbent Principles. At this time, the thematic areas Perspectives will explore align with the Broadbent Institute’s current research areas of interest: decommodification, empowering workers, and climate action, as well as science and tech for all which the Institute plans to build on as left perspectives are needed in this latent discourse, often commanded by capitalism and its opportunists.
Decommodification has become a defining characteristic of social democratic struggle. From healthcare to housing, according to the Broadbent Principles, “to achieve [equal worth and equal rights for all people] in a country with a market-based economy requires an ongoing process of decommodification, a process that sees important social and economic benefits taken out of the market and transformed into universal rights.” As governments retrench on their social contracts to provide universal care, the promise of prosperity remains out of reach for an increasingly educated society, and the housing affordability crisis threatens what little democratic efficacy existed under Canada’s present political and economic system, decommodification must return as a democratic socialist principle and practice. Perspectives aims to play a part in returning this understanding to Canadians whose cherished institutions of decommodification have been left dilapidated or precarious.
To empower workers, Perspectives will also dig deep into political economy and will attempt to push for more working-class analysis into the mainstream discourse. We want the Canadian left to be able to understand and talk about price inflation, international trade, and profits with authority, and to bust myths that neoliberal hegemony has made “common sense” through its late 20th century global “revolution”. We also want to talk about democratic reform, not as if it were a mere change in voting systems, but as working-class empowerment that gives more economic and political democratic control to more Canadians. We can make the case in Perspectives to do away with archaic systems meant to entrench aristocratic power by demonstrating what alternatives can do to make society just and equitable through democratic empowerment.
Furthermore, the summer preceding the launch of Perspectives saw climate change induce the most scorched earth across the planet than humanity has ever seen in recorded history. Fires, droughts, and floods have intensified in strength and frequency, ravaging ecosystems and human communities around the world in 2023. Meanwhile, action towards the great transformations needed to blunt these disasters has been inadequate. Overlapping with the areas of decommodification and empowering workers is where we place our discussion on climate action, for climate justice and equality, and to put Canada in a necessarily global context. From a Just Transition, to a Green New Deal, to Degrowth and an understanding of resource extraction on Indigenous lands, Perspectives will hold discussion and debate on the branches and spurs of progressive approaches to political economy that compete with, and/or complement, an alternative to today’s inadequate environmental capitalism.
Lastly, Perspectives is meant to fill a somewhat missing role among Canada’s progressive left with criticism of the political economy and public policy of science and technology, not used for the advancement and equality of humanity, but instead used to pad economic growth models and obscure systematic inefficiencies. From the public ownership of pharmaceutical manufacturing and telecommunications, to the myths and merits of so-called clean technology, and the race to develop technology for resource extraction in extreme environments from the deep sea to outer space, I would like to see the progressive left in Canada develop its criticisms and analysis in the pages of Perspectives.
Perspectives is another addition to the ecosystem of Canadian progressive publications that deliver strong left-wing analysis and commentary, and I hope that this new initiative complements the legacies and movements for justice and equality fostered by this ecosystem. I invite submissions to Perspectives at any time as we publish opinion, podcasts, and other content on a rolling basis, and aim to construct a long-form journal that replicates the advanced thought in legendary publications such as the New Left Review and Socialist Register. I hope to amplify progressive ideas and constructive conversations that have typically been muted, despite their importance. Once again, welcome to Perspectives, and travel with us for unique vantage points and angles on the world we need to win.