by Mina Garlick, SFU Student
Vancouver has recently started a campaign called the “Vancouver Plan” to encourage positive change for issues in the city. These efforts feel like a step in the right direction, but the city should be doing more than simply posting videos and updating their website. These online platforms are performative — simply appeasing the masses instead of addressing the root cause of the issues and admitting that there is a need for entire systemic change. As a student affected by the city’s lack of action, I want to see Vancouver’s current elected officials show us that they care by tackling the root cause of systemic issues: capitalism.
Before I delve into the city’s issues, I need to highlight what is working. Programs such as public libraries, funding surrounding art, and community centres all are influenced by socialist methods. These socialist methods allow citizens to have a space where all can have easy access to books, fitness, collaboration, and much more. With universal access to these, it allows everyone a fair chance to meet their goals. I have yet to see a success in Vancouver that did not use socialist standards in its making.
Now that I have highlighted what is working, we need to see what is not working: racial and economic disparities. Both of these issues meld into capitalism. Racism, or any form of discrimination based on characteristics out of one’s control, helps perpetuate capitalism. Many young BIPOC I know from Vancouver have struggled financially more than their members of white communities — even if both parties have excellent experience and performance. This reality shows us that in this city capitalism will affect our BIPOC population more heavily due to disparities out of their control.
Regarding economic disparities, for capitalists to exist they need to ride on the shoulders of wage workers who bring in large profits for capitalists. Such large sums would not be possible if wage workers were paid equally to CEOs. Capitalists in Vancouver, and any political groups or organizations supported by them, will benefit from this current system. This is not fair for the rest of us and, as stated in the Vancouver Plan, we need to thrive for equality. To be true to this plan, Vancouver must take action on this.
These struggles within our city cannot cease to exist under the reins of capitalism. As mentioned before, capitalism relies on the dehumanization, exploitation, and economic inequality of working class people and marginalized groups. With this economic state, there is no pure way for more democratic practices to bloom while human rights decrease at the cost of capitalist expansion.
In addition, if the city my fellow students and I reside in is a profit-over-people economic state, we will not be prioritized. I’m a student wanting to work in the environmental planning sector of local governance. Though, job security is not as present because under capitalism there is no social mobility for the working class. Where does this leave me and other students who are merely aspiring for stability in this system? It leaves us in fear that something as simple as wanting financial stability in our field will not be an attainable goal.
In Vancouver, I hope to see capitalism dismantled because it harms those most vulnerable to its pitfalls. Hopefully we can see a shift towards other economic and governing systems, such as socialism, to ensure the needs of all people are met. Real system change is much better than perpetuating falsehoods with a supposed “plan.”