Open Letter for a "NEW" Democratic Socialist Party
Sisters and Brothers,
In his Oct. 9th, 2010 column, titled "The NDP: Not your father's socialism," John Ivison of The National Post wrote about the NDP's "metamorphosis of an old 20th-century socialist party into a vibrant 21st-century social democratic party." What exactly a "21-st century social democratic party" looks like is hard to discern though a few clues were provided by Ivison in a lower paragraph in the story:
Marc Lee, of the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, has proposed an excellent 12-part program for a reoriented and reinvigorated Canadian Left. He has done us a real service by identifying key themes that would define the Left and catalyze fundamental change:
• a universal guaranteed income program
• sectoral collective bargaining
• legal changes to rein in the power of corporations
• abolition of intellectual property (copyright and patents)
• public control of key economic sectors and infrastructures through regulation, nationalization or the creation of public corporations
Ed Miliband's challenge to "the manufactured, the polished, the presentational" practice of politics, where democracy is reduced to "showbiz, a game, who is up and who is down," deserves to be discussed in terms that go beyond the effect this may have on his own electoral prospects. It should open up a larger debate on what's wrong with the practice of democracy today. For it is indeed the case that "people's sense of the artificiality, the triviality, the superficiality of politics is more highly tuned than ever," not only in the U.K., but in one country after another.
When Andrea Horwath is called a right-wing populist (by me, among others), I'd like to clarify that it's not the populist part that's objectionable. Populism is a good starting point. There's no agreed definition, but in general it builds on a sense among "the people" that they've been screwed: by the big shots, the elites, the one per cent -- a sense that's usually justified.
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The great French poet Victor Hugo speaking to an international peace conference in 1849 called for the establishment of a United States of Europe. With the blood hardly dry after World War II ended in Europe in 1945, a group of French thinkers, notably Jean Monnet, drew up plans for European economic co-operation.