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November 28, 2019

As working-class anger over economic inequality and the precarity of work grows, the Alt-Right has taken up populist tactics, rallying voices of hate and division, and it’s working.

In today’s workshop titled The Alt-Right’s Authoritarian Populism and What We Can Do to Counter It OFL delegates learned what the Alt-Right is, what it believes, how it uses persuasion and violence and most importantly how labour can counter it.

Tanner Mirrlees, Associate Professor, Ontario Tech University, provided a recent history of the Alt-Right movement in the US, and how that is growing in Canada. Delegates were shown evidence on how the promise of Neoliberalism has not lived up to expectations. Recent data shows that wealth has been massively concentrated among the richest families. In fact, just two Canadian billionaires are as rich as nearly one-third of the country, while more than 50 per cent of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque.

“Even though the global economy is expanding, the big gains are being concentrated at the top and not trickling down,” said Mirrlees. “The rich have clearly gotten richer and gotten richer faster.”

Miirlees then spoke about how right-wing authoritarian populism can grow in those conditions. He walked delegates through recent changes in the US and how these conditions have gotten to the point where Nazi-like language is often used to support the President.

“The Alt-Right is an authoritarian threat to our democracy, and Canada has not been immune to this,” Mirrlees added.

What can unions do? Stand steadfast against the Alt-Right and ensure local policing and security systems take it seriously. Make sure our education system teaches about the threat the Alt-Right poses to our democracy. Ensure our movement is inclusive and welcoming to all, and build solidarity with those communities being targeted by the Alt-Right.

“Labour can play a significant and important role joining with others to fight hate. [They can] provide intersectional and working-class people with a better vision for the future,” concluded Mirrlees.

COPE 343

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