We desperately need a mass socialist party. But the dictum “build it and they will come” won’t get us very far. Such a party has preconditions. It demands grounding in dramatic and sustained uptakes in the level of popular struggles and, above all, the generalization of institutionalized, vibrant bases of working-class support.
Yet after the multi-decade defeat of the labor movement, it’s precisely such bases of deep support that are so conspicuously absent. External factors like another economic crisis, even if it leads to a powerful political backlash, will not magically generate this foundation. Nor will it come about through some spontaneous dynamic internal to unions.