Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste: How the Left Can Win Big After the Pandemic

June 16, 2021

Niki Ashton, Kshama Sawant, Bhaskar Sunkara, & Vladimir Safatle 

Wednesday, June 16, 4:00PM–5:30PM PDT, Via Zoom Webinar (Registration Required)

Organized by SFU's Institute for the Humanities

Register HERE


In this final session of our series on "Thinking Through the Pandemic," we’re bringing together leading figures from international movements for systemic change to discuss the lessons from the pandemic for all those interested in building a more just world. 

The response of governments around the world to COVID-19 has exposed many of the myths upholding neoliberalism, as it turns out governments can mobilize unprecedented public resources to respond to a crisis. That said, in almost every jurisdiction the pandemic has seen widening inequality, soaring profits for the billionaire class, and a disproportionate share of the burden—whether measured in deaths, job losses, or highly exploited precarious labour—shouldered by working class and racialized populations. As we come out of the pandemic, there’s a growing sense that a “return to normal” isn’t what’s needed and that systemic inequality must be overcome. And yet most efforts to begin to truly transform society—Bernie Sanders’ run for the U.S. presidency, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the UK Labour Party, ‘left-populist’ experiments like Podemos in Spain—have still fallen short. 

This panel discussion will discuss and debate prospects for left and anti-systemic movements worldwide. 


Niki Ashton is the NDP Member of Parliament for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski in Manitoba. First elected in 2008 at age 26, she was re-elected in 2011, 2015, and 2019. Niki Ashton is a council member for Progressive International.

Kshama Sawant is a Seattle city councilmember and a member of Socialist Alternative. She has served on Seattle council since 2014, and was most recently re-elected in 2019 despite a massive effort to defeat her by Amazon and other corporate interests. Kshama Sawant has played a key role in the movement for a $15/hr minimum wage.

Bhaskar Sunkara is the editor and publisher of Jacobin, as well as the publisher of the scholarly journal Catalyst and the UK-based Tribune. He is the author of "The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality."

Vladimir Safatle is a Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at University of São Paulo, has been a visiting scholar at UC - Berkeley, and an invited professor at Université de Paris VII, Paris VIII, Toulouse, and Louvain.


"Thinking Through the Pandemic" is a series of panel discussions hosted by the Institute for Humanities at SFU featuring leading activists and thinkers addressing the short and long emergencies facing our society. Topics that have been covered in earlier talks include the climate emergency; the inadequacies of existing public health care systems; big tech, surveillance and policing; as well as how to achieve an economic recovery that reduces rather than widens inequality.