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Will the NDP have to become more like the US Democratic Party/New Labour to form the government?

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Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

You think so, josh?  Convince me.  Tell me what the Democratic Party and the Conservative Party disagree on.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

You also have to be careful about what you consider to be watered down goals. A lot of people in the NDP and the left in general still hold out for the possibility of the old goals of nationalizing ownership. While many of us pushing for a more aggressive social democracy than we get think that one belongs in the dustbin of history. [Not that there could not be exceptions.]

And no, I do not agree that is a reflection of generally lowered horizons. Nationalization is useless, possibly even worse than what we have, and would not help if we could have it with a snap of the fingers.

In assessing what is 'watered down' or what is progress in vision/goals the focus has to be on universally shared criteria. Social democrats vary on how devoted they are to working on inequality and income distribution- but improvement is a universaly shared goal. So is regulation of capitalism to a degree currently considered by the mainstrem to be 'umwarranted/undesirable interference'.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Nobody seems to be taking seriously the 'campaign from the centre, govern on the left'.

But to seal the deal: a lot of people thing the Hrper Cons did/do the opposite, but its not true. They did not, and neither can we.

Only the recently but not necessarily permanently departed "natural governing party" can do blatant bait and switch.

The visceral dislike lefties have of Harper and company blind them to the reality that in the main the Conservatives have told Candians what they are going to get. Clever and manipulative about it. Certainly not forthright in 'ful disclosure' of where this is going. But no bait and switch.


autoworker
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Joined: Dec 21 2008

I think the question would be better framed if asked: "Is a U.S. Democratic Party paradigm necessary to counter the U.S. Republican paradigm currently governing Canada?


josh
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Joined: Aug 5 2002

Michelle wrote:

You think so, josh?  Convince me.  Tell me what the Democratic Party and the Conservative Party disagree on.

The Democratic party is overwhelming pro-choice, there may be a pro-gay marriage plank in this year's platform, they advance policies (albeit fitfully) that tend to advance the role of government in the economy, they generally oppose cuts to the social safety net.

Moreover, while I get the impression that rank and file Conservatives are to the right of their leadership, rank and file Democrats are to the left of their leadership.  The problem for Democratic leadership in fighting for more progressive policies relates a great deal to the nature of the political system in the U.S.  With its division between the executive and the legislature, and the Senate filibuster.  And that members of congress can vote against their leadership with little fear of reprisal.  I suspect that if you surveyed an average Liberal and an average Democrat, there would be little to separate them.


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

The main difference between the Conservative Party of Canada and the Democratic Party of the United States is that the latter is basically a party of the (entitled) status quo, whereas the former is ideologically bent on dragging Canada far to the right of the political spectrum and dismantling what little social democracy Canadians have managed to build over the last hundred and fifty-odd years.


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

KenS wrote:

I dont like the frameing of the title- the kind of truncated or simplistic questions it tends to lead to.

...

At any rate, become 'more classless' is not necessarily the same thing as becoming more waterd down social democracy in goals.

On point.

Also agree with your follow-up post about nationalization. There are some ancient social democratic ideas that are more trouble than they're worth. I can't think of many industries that, in the context of a global economy, would be better off with a national provider. Auto insurance (at the provincial level) maybe.

Petro Canada is a good example. There were good intentions behind it: reduce the price of gas. But with the inevitabilities of peak oil, and the pressures of the international fuel supply, gas prices went up anyway. Meanwhile, other companies that sold gas at full price fared better, and Canadians were assuming the economic risk if Petro Canada found itself in trouble. Even if we managed to reduce the price of gas slightly by internalizing the profits back into the price... It was fighting a losing battle. It was sticking our finger in the metaphorical levee.

And on top of all that, "Western alienation".

Compare that to merely regulatating the shit out of the tar sands, forcing them to build refineries domestically, and investing in green energy infrastructure. Not only are all those things better politics -- an easier sell across the country. They actually have a hope of reducing the *demand* for oil, reducing gas prices in a more sustainable way, and creating more jobs here that we can maintain.

I mean we can argue about the nitty gritty of policy. But nationalization is political suicide, and offers marginal benefits beyond what we could do with a few well placed regulations and incentives. Which is still far more than what the Harper would do.


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

adma wrote:
Well...maintained until relatively recently.  But don't forget cases like Bramalea-Gore-Malton and Scarborough-Rouge River...

Yes, these pickups were a surprise to many including myself.  The NDP ran very strong local candidates and made inroads in the Sikh and Tamil communities in the last election.  The people at Project Democracy had no clue about what was going on at the ground level and in BGM wrongly thought that it was a Liberal/Tory race rather than an NDP/Tory race.


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

josh wrote:
there may be a pro-gay marriage plank in this year's platform

Wow, in 2012 they might consider supporting gay marriage?  How progressive!  

(I agree the Harper Conservatives however are more supportive of the neoliberal orthodoxy than the Obama Democrats are right now.) 


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

I figure the Democrats now occupy same relative space as the Progressive Conservatives when they were up against the Reform. See the 1990s, or present day Alberta for their positioning. They don't play up the same bigotry, and they don't campaign against social services, but do end up cutting them in the name of "fiscal responsibility".


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

That sounds a lot like the LPC.  


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

Yeah, that's been the LPC since Trudeau's last days. They're more or less PCs.


adma
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Joined: Jan 21 2006

Lord Palmerston wrote:

adma wrote:
Well...maintained until relatively recently.  But don't forget cases like Bramalea-Gore-Malton and Scarborough-Rouge River...

Yes, these pickups were a surprise to many including myself.  The NDP ran very strong local candidates and made inroads in the Sikh and Tamil communities in the last election.  The people at Project Democracy had no clue about what was going on at the ground level and in BGM wrongly thought that it was a Liberal/Tory race rather than an NDP/Tory race.

And, y'know; there could be a lot more like them, if the NDP's enterprising in its candidacies and campaigns.  Which'd turn the whole "redistribution favours the Tories" theorem on its head...


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

KenS wrote:
Nationalization is useless, possibly even worse than what we have, and would not help if we could have it with a snap of the fingers.

You state that as if it's as self-evident as the sun rising in the east.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Sorry if it sounds that way.

It is this:

- it is a firmly held opinion

- it is firmly held by a big swath of the party, and cutting across ideological lines.

- there are a lot of people in the party who dont have strong opinions. IE, they neither have a particular attraction to going back there, nor rule it out.

- but there are a lot more of us firmly opposed to ever going back there than those of you who would like to and figure the opportunity will arise. We just dont have to express it since the laissez faire de facto direction of the party is against going back there.

There would have to be a groundswell majoritarian demand to bring nationalization back into active NDP policy, or even policy possibilities. And it ain't going to happen. That will be chalked up to the establishment stopping it, blah, blah. But it wont fly because there is too much of the grassroots ready to shoot it down if it ever looked serious.


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

Catchfire wrote:
Of course, the NDP has a chance to permanently shift the political discourse in this country. The proof has never been stronger and popular will has never been more against neoliberal politics. The NDP have the opportunity to show true leadership and vision, promoting an alternative to every aspect of the capitalist policies which are destroying the social fabric. They can say that we and all Canadians believe in a society where everyone is clothed, fed, housed, cared for and valued; they can recognize our colonialist and imperialist past and make unprecedented strides to heal those wounds and create a true, just, equal and representative democracy which protects and strengthens its most marginalized and vulnerable. They can send a message to Bay Street that people matter before profits, that social justice and community co-operation are what truly mobilize, and have always mobilized an electorate. They can prove what Tariq Ali once told me after UK Labour had lost one of the safest seats in Britain: if you base your politics on a lie, you will get found out. Instead, they can prove the truism that courage is always, always rewarded. The opportunities presented to the NDP over the next four years are truly breathless.

Very good, I very much agree with this but like Michelle I certainly agree they don't "have to" but they are very likely to do so.  Shifting the discourse is harder work, and it's easier to "go where the votes are."  But Tariq Ali is right, eventually you will be found out.

So I keep hearing from many social democrats that class-based politics and nationalization was OK in the 1960s but not today...why is that? My question is why someone in say a routine white-collar occupation is inherently less "socialist" and less open to a redistributionist platform or a class-based appeal than an industrial worker? I would think given the changes in the capitalist structure, redistributionist politics would have to move leftward because capitalism isn't so accommodating anymore, as it was during the prosperous "Keynesian" postwar times.  But the response has generally to be more accomodating to the new capitalism.

There's indeed a contradiction in social democracy in that the ability to pursue reforms (that are opposed by capital) depends on a healthy capitalist economy.  



KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Less "socialist" and less class based does NOT at all necessarily even imply less into a redistributionist platform [and a more fulsomely regulationist one].

A lot of us think that nationalization was a failed experiment. We are not uninterested in going back there simply because it would be a vote losing albatross. We're just not interested in going there period, anyway.

And since getting a more fulsomely and unapologetic redistributionist and regulationsist social democratic agenda is already going to be a hard slog, why shed tears that a lot of us who want that have NO interest in the old socialist nostrums.

Goodbye Lenin. Goodbye Kautsky. And goodbye Bernstein as well. Sayonara.

If you want to have a left with some mass, then you are going just going to have to get over that.

And explain to me the relevance of 'how accomodating capitalism is'?  We have to fight for the crumbs let alone dispossesing them. They arent the problem. The problem is the interest or lack thereof of the working class. The deadweight socialist nostrums arent going to help with that.


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

I don't recall even mentioning nationalization initially, I think you did, and others have trotted out the abandoning of nationalization presumably as a means of saying that the "old ways" don't work anymore.  It's funny how people invoke "nationalization" as a caricature of postwar social democracy, given that it was only a small part.  It was during the 1950s revisionism that the emphasis on public ownership was dropped and the idea of working with capitalism with Keynesian welfare state measures etc. was embraced.


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

KenS wrote:
Goodbye Lenin. Goodbye Kautsky. And goodbye Bernstein as well. Sayonara.

If you want to have a left with some mass, then you are going just going to have to get over that.

I don't recall mentioning any of these people. 


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

They belong in the discussion whether you mentioned them or not.

Except that too many people dont know what the relevance in, so its like shop talk jargon.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

The point of bringing up nationalization was the larger question of the trend in watered down goals of social democracy.

Its one thing to agree that there are watered down goals, and that needs to be turned around... and as a starter at least not allowed to get worse.

Its another thing to agree on what we want to make stronger. I picked nationalization because its the poster child for what we do not agree on. There is broad agreement that social democracy has gone limp on redustribution and fulsome regulation. But a lot of us- and I would submitt easily a majority- who agree on that much, do not miss the demise of calls for nationalization and feel it should stay in the dustbin of history.

I think I already said that. Regardless of whether you agree even somewhat, is it clear at least?


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Lord Palmerston wrote:

It's funny how people invoke "nationalization" as a caricature of postwar social democracy, given that it was only a small part.  It was during the 1950s revisionism that the emphasis on public ownership was dropped and the idea of working with capitalism with Keynesian welfare state measures etc. was embraced.

You are contradicting yourself. First nationalization is a small part of postwar social democracy. [I would quibble with that, but dont think its an important point.] Yet the de facto dropping of nationalization is treated as emblematic of heightened 'revisionism'.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

One can argue that "nationalization" is a charicature of the fuller socialist notion of taking over the commanding heights. "Of course 'nationalization' didnt work, because its a pathetic shadow of socialism."

Maybe, but the only nationalization that some people vainly hope will return to NDP agendas is a re-run of that stripped down version of socialising the commending heights of capitalism.

But we hardly care about the theoretical difference- because we are not interested in either, not even open to it. And the working class is even less interested.

So we can talk about common ground, or you all can lecture us on what could be. What is your preference?

 


gunder
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Joined: Jul 22 2009

"Nationaliztion" as code for MASS nationalization is patently absurd, since as you point out, LP, it has never meant that, even prior to the postwar consensus.

What the economic debate within the NDP should be about is economic democracy.  We no longer have anything resembling a "mixed economy" and it's time to acknowledge that.  That means creating a better  legislative and cultural environment for co-operatives and unions and independent businesses, but it also must mean the government playing a more direct role in some sectors, including the  resource sector.  Very few people in the NDP, even on the traditional "left", expect or want to nationalize oil and gas, but what about mining? Pulp and paper? Textiles? The market hasn't done a good job of using our industrial capacity, and I can't recall any "experiments", failed or otherwise, with government administration in those sectors.  If it isn't about losing votes, then why not have those discussions? Why can Danny Williams do what the Federal NDP can't?  Or how about providing the environment for community-based bidding on abandoned plant and capital? That would be economic democracy in action, but I guess it would  also be scary  "democratic control" and "socialist" thinking like that went out a bajillion years ago.  If we refuse to have these debates, even on our own terms. we'll  keep getting bad public policy, regardless of which party is in power or what regulatory regimes exist.

 


gunder
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Joined: Jul 22 2009

I should clarify that I'm not unreservedly in favour of nationalizing any of the above, but it's unwise to exclude discussions like that from broader ones of economic democracy on the grounds that the *idea* of "nationalization" is distasteful.


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

If we're having any trouble at all using our industrial capacity, it's because we've become nothing more than a resource state. When global free market pressures are unmitigated, we export our lumber, aluminum, oil, and so on, without ever creating the infrastructure to build it up at home (and all the job creation that would come with it). And on top of all that, those exports drive up our dollar, making our other exports less competitive, and destroying what manufacturing base we have left. (AKA, the Dutch Disease.)

A few well placed regulations and investments would fix that. High speed rail would also make it more viable to ship raw materials around Canada, instead of sending it south. A few investments in refineries. Some incentives to produce green technologies. All things that would create jobs, let alone other social benefits.

And if we have trouble using our industrial capacity, it's not because public ownership would do things better. IMO, public ownership is just "state-owned capitalism". It's nominally owned in the public interest (actually it's owned by the Crown but let's pretend it's in our interest), but the managerial structure is essentially the same, and it still operates within a capitalist system. So for all the feathers that are ruffled from nationalizing that industry, it still succumbs to the destructive pressures of the free market anyway.

Government is better off changing the rules of the game than becoming a player.

(There are exceptions, of course. Health insurance being a key one.)


laine lowe
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Joined: Dec 15 2006

I think that current crown corporations should not be privatised. I also think that recent privatizations should be reversed (ie. AECL). I also think that the threat of nationanlization should be weilded carefully to make major corporations behave in a responsible way (environmentallly, job security and quality). I also think the P3s should be avoided and abandoned as a failed concept. In other words, I think we should abandon any economic model that is tied to market speculation.


CanadaApple
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Joined: Dec 1 2011

I think it's fair to say that political discourse has shifted to "the right" over the past few decades. When this started I don't exactly know, it may have been the late 70's or the 80's under Thatcher, Reagan and Mulroney.  Personally, I think all the talk of "left,right and centre",  in poltics is a bit too simplistic, and my time here on Babble really only confirms this. I for one find it a little funny how Conservatives like to call the NDP "Liberals in a hurry", while the NDP tends to treat the Liberals and Conservatives as two-sides of the same coin. The point I'm trying to make is all this talk is really quite relative; it depends on you views as a individual. For example, some people might call me a stupid leftie, others might call me a centreist pushover. That's fine. I know I can't please everyone.

Having said that, I realize that use of "left,right and centre" in politics has become the norm, so one can't really help but to use it, otherwise they get left out of the conversation. So I'll use it because I have to, not so much because I want to. At any rate, I can't think of an alternative. The only thing I can really come up with is to treat everyone with respect, regardless of opinion. I really do think most people want to make things better in the world,on one level or another, but disaggreements arise on how to do it. Maybe if we can do that, politics doesn't have to be so vile at times.

Now, with regards to the OP, the honest answer is I don't know, and I don't think anyone here really does either. The next election is three and a half years away. Who knows what's going to happen between now and then? Some people think that the rise of the Occupy Movement can mark a shift to "the Left". Perhaps that's true, it's within the realm of possibility afterall, and if it is the case, then the answer to the question may be no. On the other hand, "Austerity" seems to be the buzz word of the past year of so, which could actually mean a shift further to "the Right", in which case the answer may be yes. The words "may be" in those last two sentances are key though. Because like I said, I really don't know. The answer will probably be clearer in the years to come.

And I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense to anyone reading it but me. =


Lord Palmerston
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Joined: Jan 25 2004

KenS wrote:
You are contradicting yourself. First nationalization is a small part of postwar social democracy. [I would quibble with that, but dont think its an important point.] Yet the de facto dropping of nationalization is treated as emblematic of heightened 'revisionism'.

Not at all.  I'm not using the term "revisionism" with a disparaging intent.  There was a "revisionism" in 1950s social democracy in which public ownership was deemphasized and Keynesianism, the welfare state and a managed economy were embraced.  One of the most important thinkers was Anthony Crosland.  In his book The Future of Socialism Crosland described his project as "revisionist."

The Winnipeg Declaration was the CCF's key "revisionist" document.


JKR
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Joined: Jan 15 2005

Lord Palmerston wrote:

It was during the 1950s revisionism that the emphasis on public ownership was dropped and the idea of working with capitalism with Keynesian welfare state measures etc. was embraced.

The social democratic countries have been able to provide much better living standards for the working class without nationalization:

Top 10 Countries with the Best Work-Life Balance

Quote:

1. Denmark
2. Norway
3. Netherlands
4. Finland
5. Belgium
6. Switzerland
7. Sweden
8. Germany
9. Portugal
10. France

OECD

The experience of nationalization behind the Iron-Curtain and in Maoist China showed the world the economic weakness of nationalization. Nationalized monopolies create a lack of competition that fosters inefficiency and waste.

The NDP should show Canadians the advantages of setting up the kind of social democratic systems they have in countries like Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany.


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