Why I rejoined the NDP

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shartal@rogers.com
Why I rejoined the NDP

I have been thinking about Steven Lewis's eulogy at Jacks funeral. I rejoined the NDP when I acknowledged that the reasons I had let my membership lapse ; the hockey night in Canada jingle discussion, refusal denounce entering into the war in Afghanistan, refusing to take leadership role in denouncing Israeli apartheid etc. I also thought the NDP was changing into New Labour. I was wrong. I am Israeli by origin. My family were early zionists and I followed in support for Israel as easily a breathing. However I was also a deeply committed democrat. When I was 17 my democratic commitment led me to refuse orders while I was in the army and I ended up a not thought out war resister. The army eventually jailed and discharged me. My political understanding grew and my commitment to democracy eventually brought me to join the Israeli Communist Party (Hadash). I loved being in the Party. It is mass Party and my cell at University had over 70 members. But it is also a contradictory organization. Although committed to equality between Palestinian and Jewish Israelis most meetings were run exclusively in Hebrew, the Party did not acknowledge that Israel is a colonial state and Zionism was defined as the ideology of the Israeli ruling class and not as a racist antidemocratic ideology.However, notwithstanding my major ideological disagreements with the CPI I remained a very active member because the party is the largest binational organization in the country, it is unfailing in it's active opposition to the occupation and in support of 2 states, and because it organizes useful work in the community. Today in Canada we are not in a "pre-Revolutionary" situation. I am a poor people's lawyer who works exclusively with disabled homeless and marginally housed clients. I would be elated if we could get moderation and good government. When I recognize that political work always involves trying to be useful today while trying to inspire more ambitious goals for the future than the useful alternative is the NDP. I was wrong. Thus I have rejoined. I urge all others who left because the NDP " was moving too far right" to reconsider. As the neolibs try to shred and redesign government we are not arguing about revolutionary goals and we need all the solidity we can get.

ottawaobserver

Welcome home. And thank you for the important work you're doing in your legal practice.

Lachine Scot

Thanks for this post!

janfromthebruce

it is a super post - welcome back to the NDP family!

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Shartal has thoroughly internalized the class-collaborationist politics of the Israeli CP, and it is reflected in her decision to stop worrying about neoliberalism and imperialism and embrace social-democracy.

I would argue to the contrary, that the need for revolutionary goals has never been greater than today, and to postpone that perspective to the indefinite future (if not in perpetuity) is a defeatist position and a capitulation to capitalism.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Crap. I thought the Israeli CP was better than that. Anyway, as long as Ms Shartal understands that babble/rabble is not a rubber stamp for the NDP, and that she will come up against views that are critical of the NDP both from the right (sadly) and the left, then I suppose she should feel welcome here.

Howard

Fascinating story. It's a shame the communist movement in Israel/Palestine historically split along Arab and Jewish lines. Your statement reminds me a bit about the documentary film "Madrid before Hanita" about Jewish volunteers in the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. The title of documentary is from a statement by a communist to Ben Gurion who wanted him to stay in Israel and help build a kibbutz: "you think you're going to stop Hitler at Hanita?"

In some ways the struggle for social progress is the similar in Canada. You can choose to join the NDP (or some other party) to try and stop Harper or, to borrow from Voltaire, you can stay at home and tend your own garden. The choice is yours.

NDPP

The Death of Jack Layton and the Myth of National Solidarity  -  by Richard Dufour

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/aug2011/layt-a30.shtml

"On foreign policy, the NDP has provided vital political cover for the Canadian boureoisie's eager participation in US-led military interventions in places as far-flung as Afghanistan, Haiti and more recently Libya, in the hope of advancing its own predatory geopolitical interests and securing a share in the redistribution of the world's resources through naked imperialist aggression.

The NDP is being groomed and promoted to play a leading role in smothering the class struggle and , should the Harper government falter in the face of popular opposition, to assume direct responsibility for imposing the bourgeoisie's agenda of austerity and war..."

genstrike

Howard wrote:

In some ways the struggle for social progress is the similar in Canada. You can choose to join the NDP (or some other party) to try and stop Harper or, to borrow from Voltaire, you can stay at home and tend your own garden. The choice is yours.

No, that's just incredibly wrong.

If we are going to stop the austerity agenda, it's going to take resitance in the streets, communities, workplaces, and campuses, rather than continue putting our stock in the parliamentary system and a coterie of often careerist official leaders who work to demobilize and divert our struggles when shit gets serious.

To say that people who aren't members of the NDP are just "staying at home and tending their own garden" is not only plainly wrong, but insulting to the many people who are engaged in actual organizing and struggle, beyond electoral games.

NDPP

I agree - the new pro-NATO, pro-imperialist NDP is precisely the wrong place to be at this point in history. NDP = No Difference Party. Voltaire also said: "Of one thing only can we be sure: we shall remain stupid'. Seems so.

Howard

As if joining the NDP (or another political party) and resisting in the streets were mutually exclusive...

shartal@rogers.com

Of course they are not exclusive. The real issue is what is someone or any organization actually doing. Resisting library cuts, holding a strike line, working to get someone housing, trying to raise minimum wage, or going to jail for refusing to server on the occupied territories are all active actions of resistance. The value of a persons politician work must be judged in deeds and mobilizing communities always starts with the immediate issues. In Hebrew organizers were charged to "push the people farther than they would go without you but not so far that they run away from you." In my humble experience the hope that concrete issues can be won; be it a grievance, a strike, or reclaiming a field from the army, is needed before "the masses" are willing to risk safety or liberty to stand before the forces of The State.

Clearly working with homeless disabled client to get them more money, keep them out of jail and help them keep housing are not revolutionary acts. However helping them successfully resist the state increases my clients' resilience and the likelihood that they will resist neoliberalism.

If I wait for a revolutionary movement in a revolutionary moment before I do more that talk at meetings and write essays very few people read I have difficulty understanding how the revolutionary moment will ever arise.

shartal@rogers.com

Of course they are not exclusive. The real issue is what is someone or any organization actually doing. Resisting library cuts, holding a strike line, working to get someone housing, trying to raise minimum wage, or going to jail for refusing to server on the occupied territories are all active actions of resistance. The value of a persons politician work must be judged in deeds and mobilizing communities always starts with the immediate issues. In Hebrew organizers were charged to "push the people farther than they would go without you but not so far that they run away from you." In my humble experience the hope that concrete issues can be won; be it a grievance, a strike, or reclaiming a field from the army, is needed before "the masses" are willing to risk safety or liberty to stand before the forces of The State.

Clearly working with homeless disabled client to get them more money, keep them out of jail and help them keep housing are not revolutionary acts. However helping them successfully resist the state increases my clients' resilience and the likelihood that they will resist neoliberalism.

If I wait for a revolutionary movement in a revolutionary moment before I do more that talk at meetings and write essays very few people read I have difficulty understanding how the revolutionary moment will ever arise.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

What alternative for progressives is there to the NDP in Canada? None that I can see.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Boom Boom wrote:
What alternative for progressives is there to the NDP in Canada? None that I can see.

genstrike: "To say that people who aren't members of the NDP are just "staying at home and tending their own garden" is not only plainly wrong, but insulting to the many people who are engaged in actual organizing and struggle, beyond electoral games."

This is aside from all sorts of political formations of one sort or another, some of which use elections to raise issues that the NDP refuses to, that are on the left of the NDP and anti-imperialist or socialist or both in orientation.

 

PS for Ms Shartal. You've posted the same thing twice. What we often do here is to erase one of the duplicates and type "duplicate" in the space. you can do that by clicking on the edit function and saving your changes. thxbye.

shartal@rogers.com

I am learning how to use an iPad. I work with clients who sleep and was behind St. Michaels when I sent the last post.

It is a learning thing,....sorry

shartal@rogers.com

I am learning how to use an iPad. I work with clients who sleep and was behind St. Michaels when I sent the last post.

It is a learning thing,....sorry

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

lol. Wait a bit after your posts to see if you've successfully posted. or not.

shartal@rogers.com

The problem is the sensitive touch screen

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Well, I voted BQ last time, not because they're progressive or anything, but because they had a history here of beating the Conservatives after Mulroney retired. I didn't see the Orange Wave coming. Embarassed

shartal@rogers.com

Horrible iPad screen. It also corrects some words without asking. I was working with a client who sleeps out behind St.Mikes when I sent my last post sorry

janfromthebruce

Boom Boom, well that so surprises me that you didn't see the Orange Wave coming as you are so politically connected, re: Rabble member, and thus the election was huge on the online forums, and especially the orange crush coming. The polling numbers coming, and the visual response to Jack at rallies in Quebec. That said, don't be ashamed buddy.

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm in an area without any local news whatsoever aside from a Sept-Iles weekly paper that for the most part doesn't carry politics. I think everyone here expected the BQ guy to win.

ottawaobserver

I told you weeks before the campaign to revisit that assumption. You didn't believe me, Boom Boom. :-(

genstrike

Howard wrote:

As if joining the NDP (or another political party) and resisting in the streets were mutually exclusive...

I never said they were.  Your comment was implying that people who aren't members of the NDP aren't doing anything - trying to "stop Hitler at Hanita" or simply "tending to their own garden"

That's not true.  In fact, a lot of the most dedicated activists I know aren't members of the NDP.  Just because someone isn't in the NDP, that doesn't invalidate all the good work that they do.

shartal@rogers.com wrote:
Of course they are not exclusive. The real issue is what is someone or any organization actually doing. Resisting library cuts, holding a strike line, working to get someone housing, trying to raise minimum wage, or going to jail for refusing to server on the occupied territories are all active actions of resistance. The value of a persons politician work must be judged in deeds and mobilizing communities always starts with the immediate issues. In Hebrew organizers were charged to "push the people farther than they would go without you but not so far that they run away from you." In my humble experience the hope that concrete issues can be won; be it a grievance, a strike, or reclaiming a field from the army, is needed before "the masses" are willing to risk safety or liberty to stand before the forces of The State. Clearly working with homeless disabled client to get them more money, keep them out of jail and help them keep housing are not revolutionary acts. However helping them successfully resist the state increases my clients' resilience and the likelihood that they will resist neoliberalism. If I wait for a revolutionary movement in a revolutionary moment before I do more that talk at meetings and write essays very few people read I have difficulty understanding how the revolutionary moment will ever arise.

I didn't advocate that people don't do anything before a revolutionary moment.  I think that kind of stuff is all well and good.  However, I don't think being a member of the NDP and working to elect politicians falls into the same category, and definitely doesn't have some kind of primacy over all that other stuff to the point that being a member of the NDP is a litmus test as to whether someone is doing something.

Fidel

And being critical of the NDP isn't very revolutionary either. Just sayin'.

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

And being critical of the NDP isn't very revolutionary either. Just sayin'.

Right, because Lenin never criticized the Mensheviks.

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

And being critical of the NDP isn't very revolutionary either. Just sayin'.

Right, because Lenin never criticized the Mensheviks.

Howard

genstrike wrote:

Howard wrote:

As if joining the NDP (or another political party) and resisting in the streets were mutually exclusive...

I never said they were.  Your comment was implying that people who aren't members of the NDP aren't doing anything - trying to "stop Hitler at Hanita" or simply "tending to their own garden"

That's not true.  In fact, a lot of the most dedicated activists I know aren't members of the NDP.  Just because someone isn't in the NDP, that doesn't invalidate all the good work that they do.

That would be you reading that in to my statement. All I meant by "tending your own garden" was the decision to participate in the electoral process or not. 

genstrike wrote:

shartal@rogers.com wrote:
Of course they are not exclusive. The real issue is what is someone or any organization actually doing. Resisting library cuts, holding a strike line, working to get someone housing, trying to raise minimum wage, or going to jail for refusing to server on the occupied territories are all active actions of resistance. The value of a persons politician work must be judged in deeds and mobilizing communities always starts with the immediate issues. In Hebrew organizers were charged to "push the people farther than they would go without you but not so far that they run away from you." In my humble experience the hope that concrete issues can be won; be it a grievance, a strike, or reclaiming a field from the army, is needed before "the masses" are willing to risk safety or liberty to stand before the forces of The State. Clearly working with homeless disabled client to get them more money, keep them out of jail and help them keep housing are not revolutionary acts. However helping them successfully resist the state increases my clients' resilience and the likelihood that they will resist neoliberalism. If I wait for a revolutionary movement in a revolutionary moment before I do more that talk at meetings and write essays very few people read I have difficulty understanding how the revolutionary moment will ever arise.

I didn't advocate that people don't do anything before a revolutionary moment.  I think that kind of stuff is all well and good.  However, I don't think being a member of the NDP and working to elect politicians falls into the same category, and definitely doesn't have some kind of primacy over all that other stuff to the point that being a member of the NDP is a litmus test as to whether someone is doing something.

This reminds me of a song...

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Your song reminds me of another song ...

So don't block the hallway

if you won't heed the call

and get out of the way

if you won't lend a hand ...

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Howard wrote:
That would be you reading that in to my statement. All I meant by "tending your own garden" was the decision to participate in the electoral process or not.

Nice try, but it won't wash. Here are your words:

Howard wrote:
You can choose to join the NDP (or some other party) to try and stop Harper or, to borrow from Voltaire, you can stay at home and tend your own garden. The choice is yours.

Clearly you seek to create a dichotomy of "choice" between trying to stop Harper by joining a parliamentary political party such as the NDP, or staying at home and tending your own garden.

It doesn't take a Navajo code-breaker to see your implication that anyone who doesn't join a political party (or as you rephrase it "participate in the electoral process") is not trying to stop Harper.

So who is it exactly that's claiming to be a better anarchist/Harper-stopper than the other guy? Clearly you. And without the slightest justification, I might add.

Fidel

No one is saying you are working synergistically with the Harpers or their cousins the Liebranos to defeat the one party in Ottawa that has never governed federally in the 140 some-odd years of Canadian history. At least not me anyway. Because that would actually be counterrevolutionary.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Well, it would be "counter-social-democratic", which is hardly the same thing.

Howard

M. Spector wrote:

Howard wrote:
That would be you reading that in to my statement. All I meant by "tending your own garden" was the decision to participate in the electoral process or not.

Nice try, but it won't wash. Here are your words:

Howard wrote:
You can choose to join the NDP (or some other party) to try and stop Harper or, to borrow from Voltaire, you can stay at home and tend your own garden. The choice is yours.

Clearly you seek to create a dichotomy of "choice" between trying to stop Harper by joining a parliamentary political party such as the NDP, or staying at home and tending your own garden.

It doesn't take a Navajo code-breaker to see your implication that anyone who doesn't join a political party (or as you rephrase it "participate in the electoral process") is not trying to stop Harper.

So who is it exactly that's claiming to be a better anarchist/Harper-stopper than the other guy? Clearly you. And without the slightest justification, I might add.

Any sentence that starts with "clearly" cues the tautological truism...enjoy your solipsism. On that note, I think I'll return to my Gramsci readings on cultural hegemony...

Fidel

M. Spector wrote:

Well, it would be "counter-social-democratic", which is hardly the same thing.

It's very difficult for Marxists in Canada to elect an MP to Ottawa never mind gain official party status. We need more left wing voices in the halls of power, and it's one of the many reasons why I vote NDP. One Canadian should equal one vote, and right now that's just not the case.

So continue working synergistically against your own political interests. The two old line parties will make absolutely sure Marxists and other left wing voices are barred mathematically in that place where the corporatocracy has full representation and then some.

Marx said to win the battle for democracy. What are you doing about it, really?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Ooh, Karl Marx told me to vote NDP? I must rush out to the polls and do my revolutionary duty!

6079_Smith_W

I think the good thing about a site like this is that it is an opportunity for people from across the spectrum of the left to find common ground and common causes, and learn something about each others' ways of thinking. 

To disagree about ideas is one thing, but to focus on telling others they are wrong for picking a certain political party is worse than useless. In the first place, it kind of defeats the purpose of coming together in the first place. Secondly, it's pointless because there is no way we are all ever going to see everything in exactly the same way. 

And finally, it is a distraction from the real work (and I know we all do it to some degree. It is hard not to).

I didn't have the same reaction to Stephen Lewis's eulogy, though I did find it inspiring in other ways. But I am glad it helped Shartal bring things into focus.

 

Fidel

And apparently some of us lefties don't mind the Liberal, Tory, same old story for the last 140 years in a row non-stop. A modern electoral system to make way for Marxist voices in Ottawa? To hell with that! Because it's just the NDP showboating again and making our corrupt stooges in Ottawa look worse than they really are.

It really is the NDP who gets their backs up. They don't mind putting up with the poverty, shitty economy, soaring national debt and "stubborn" unemployment, the human rights abuses, the vicious toadying to Warshington etc as long as the NDP isn't interfering with all those excellent Marxist policies happening in Ottawa. Their purpose in life is to make sure the one party that has never actually governed in Ottawa doesn't get that chance to spoil the Liberal, Tory, same old story in the colonial outpost of Ottawa. It scares hell out of them that we might have someone other than the long line of corrupt stooges running things for a change.

Stargazer

I rejoined the NDP and I'm happy to have done so. being realistic they are the only party even remotely close to what I believe in, and until this system changes and allows for more voices on the left, this is where I plan to stay.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

A Stargazer sighting! What a great long weekend...

janfromthebruce

I'm with you stargazer!

takeitslowly

I cannot accept Jack Layton's policies on Israel, if the other Thomas something guy won, I seriously will reconsider my vote for the NDP. Stephen Lewis's speech didnt do much for me..it was kind of the same old same old.

janfromthebruce

I found Lewis' speech fantastic!

Stargazer

Me to, his speech was the highlight.

If you don't vote for the NDP who else to vote for? the Cons and the Liberals are farther apart then the NDP on Israel.

 

In Ontario, where there is a more than good chance Hudak will be "leader" the NDP is the only option.

 

Hello catchfire!

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Was it fantastic that Lewis appropriated the words of Arundhati Roy, a solid anti-imperialist, when his party has no intention of taking an anti-imperialist approach in Parliament, now or ever? Isn't that misleading the public? Or is it OK to mislead (only) the left and suck them into supporting the NDP, carte blanche, when only a critical perspective is a good one?

Fidel

ikosmos wrote:

Was it fantastic that Lewis appropriated the words of Arundhati Roy, a solid anti-imperialist, when his party has no intention of taking an anti-imperialist approach in Parliament, now or ever? Isn't that misleading the public? Or is it OK to mislead (only) the left and suck them into supporting the NDP, carte blanche, when only a critical perspective is a good one?

 

Misleading the public is something that occurs on a regular basis with Canadian elections. It's why we have lower voter turnouts than in the advanced democracies. Misleading the public began after 9/11 in Washington. All the NATO countries were sympathetic to America then as the 9/11 war machine was unleashed on the world. This is a colder war, and we still have a narrow base of voters to court. Taking the incentive out of electoral politics for the Libranos and Tories to deceive the public, or providing incentive for a united front on the left will require injecting some truth into our mathematically absurd electoral system plain and simple. There is no truth in the current worst past the post baloney. Scrapping the phony majority machine is high on the NDP's agenda not the Libranos nor the Tories who benefit most from the mathematically absurd system we have now, or at least, the Libranos were prolific phony majority winners before the last election. 

I don't believe we can appeal to everyone all the same when courting a narrow base of voters still voting in Canadian elections. We can't demand that everyone be exactly like ourselves in every anti-imperialist way. Perhaps what we can do is appeal to as many people on principles the NDP does share with most voters, like democracy and social justice. We have to point out how undemocratic the Harpers are in all of their maneuvering and ignoring transparency and accountability to the public. 

Yes let's take the misleading electoral system that encourages so many misleading political comments to the public in our northern Puerto Rico, and throw it out the window. Let's vote for NDP, the pro democracy party.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

I found his appropriation of Roy's words, when he has never shared her vision, rather typical of a smooth politician.  Much like Harper singing Imagine.  

6079_Smith_W

Is it just me or is this thing about the quote starting to seem a bit ham-handed and belaboured?  Even given any presumed political differences I have no problem with Lewis evoking that powerful image, especially since it was part of a eulogy, and especially since the essence of the quote was that of transformation and rebirth that goes beyond specific issues. 

Speaking of appropriation, is this really about approriation or about how much some people want to slag the NDP?

But then what the fuck do I know? I really wanted to comment because I have heard of Harper singing "With A Little Help From My Friends", but not "Imagine". Though if he did, I doubt he'd have the guts to sing the original words.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Just got this on Google:

6 Apr 2011 – A video of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper singing "Imagine"  at a campaign stop has been removed from YouTube due to a copyright.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

6079 it is not just your views that are acceptable on babble.  And if you are going to use stupid excuses for a drive by then at least get your facts straight.  I gagged when I saw this video in April. 

Quote:

Poor Stephen Harper can’t get no respect. His attempt to play off the popularity of Maria Aragon has backfired.

Yoko Ono, a peace loving woman and keeper of John Lennon’s flame, had the Harper video of Imagine yanked off YouTube.

Nothing could be more false than Stephen Harper singing the famous Lennon hope for peace in the world.

 

 

http://njnnetwork.com/2011/04/yoko-ono-cant-imagine-stephen-harper-singi...

 

janfromthebruce

I agree it was using the quote about transformation and rebirth. From what I see around me, it appears most people who are interested politically may not agree 100% with the politics of their party but do most of the time with the majority. If I waited around for the perfect party I would be waiting forever. So I would much rather work within the NDP.

And I really liked Jack and yes, I thought Lewis' speech was fabulous.

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