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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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KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

When I say that nationalization should stay in the dustbin, I'm not talking mass nationalizations- I mean any, other than possibly the exceptional one off.

The post above is an example of how a candle is still held out for nationalization is held out as a solution for all manner of 'localized' problems in capitalism. And fond references to the bygone 'mixed economy'. Turning away from all taht is an example of what I am holding out as NOT being part of generalized rightward shifts. That may have been oretty much the whole proximate reason for social democracy turning away from that, but we're not interested in even talking about going back there.

@ LP. Yes, Crossland Labour de-emphasisied nationalization. But there was still a place for it, and the NDP left does tend strongly to want to go back there, and see it as a problem [if not t big one] that we never do. Which in turn is another example of what is wrong with this party, its limits, etc.  Are you disagreeing with me about that?


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Catchfire wrote:
I don't know about that, Michelle. I think Niki Ashton will keep the party close to its leftist roots...

Here's a nifty nick name for Niki then.  Hail Mary.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Anti-imperialist politics is another example, and one that is going to be more controversial than picking on nationalization.

I will always 'vote for' the anti-imperialist choice. But its not a deal breaker, and I see lefty propensity to treat it as a deal breaker as a material obstacle to focusing on building a majoritarian coalition around what is both vital and within our reach even though we are still moving in the wrong direction: unapologetic and fulsome redistributionist and regulationist approaches to capitalism.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Lord Palmerston wrote:
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.  

Mostly these days its the other way around if you leave off the democracy part of 'social democracy.'  Nearly a trillion dollars of 'liquidity' put on the table by the ECB recently.  Where did it come from?  Does any of it include Flaherty's generosity of spirit on our behalf?  No one knows for sure exactly...but then again no one is raising the issue either.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

We don't have a party in this country raising any of these issues....not the continuing Israeli aggression in the Middle East, not the socialization of capitalist gambling losses, not the aggressive Canadian foreign policy, not the sluice gate wealth extraction schemes going on from one end of the country to the other by way of resource plundering... nothing.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Hopefully it wont derail the discussion to bring an example in from the leadership campaign.

There have been a number of comments whether Topp's apparent shift to the left is 'sincere', and more likely he is positioning/pandering for the eadership race.

Topp has not shifted left, he is not insincere, and this is for sure being used to benefit and positioning in the race, but that is not where his initiatives come from.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

He is reflecting the thinking and discussions carried on in the 'backrooms' [IE, Layton, Broadbent and a number of other 'lesser lights' like Brian Topp]. That and the May breakthrough [including the more modest by substantial one in the ROC]. 

The thinking being that there is a shift in the political environment and in what Canadians are looking at and willing to look at such that its time we can considerably 'stretch' the substance of what we propose. 'It is time' both in that we can do it, and that we need to start moving now to capitalize on the opportunity.

I think the fact that happened is part of why a more aggresive politics is more withing our reach- and it isnt a coincidence that the need is growing more desperate. But that does not mean there is traction/room for all the the nostrums that lefties in practice treat as if they are a package deal. The statements that people do not expect the moon, and of course would be happy with substantial movement that falls short of their aspirations... come off as less than convincing.


Rabble_Incognito
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Joined: Feb 21 2012

Whoever asked this question it's a good question.

If the NDP talks about becoming more like the Democrats, or becoming more centrist, I'll leave them and their 'principles' faster than you can imagine. And I'd hope the party would lose in elections horribly.

You know, the more I listen to the NDP 'strategists' here the more I wonder if the NDP is really the place for me. I mean, are foundational principles on the table with the NDP? Are principles 'flexible' depending on the need to spin it? I hate that about election talk - moving the party to the center - or the country - not sure what is meant - I presume Canada is to the left already, globally, since it has public universal health care.

Our left of center posture in the world, like our health care, helped make us great, and productive - our corporations don't have to pay health insurance, so that cost is zero. American companies have to pay health insurance. So moving our country to the center, and moving health care into the private realm to be 'centrist', would be 'folly'. It would reduce our competitiveness and reduce some of our citizens to serfs working to pay off health care debt burdens.

Move the country to the center, to the right, and the NDP will lose people that came to the NDP thinking it 'meant' something like social justice or even brotherly mutual support, lending a hand, or a strong public purse and functioning public sector and public health care.

Harper has already put health care on the table for carving up. He's now tying it to provincial productivity with his fed transfer payment scheme.

Meaning is in the principles, not the spin or the positioning of your party in the public eye for a brief moment to satisfy a quest for power. Left of centre is partly why people want to come to Canada - because it is held to be a rational, compassionate place, and for the first time in it's history, folks are coming to the NDP for the same reasons.

Centrism was how Obama disappointed and injured millions of people - he caved in to health insurance companies and their lobbyists - corporations do not need more laws to help them become more powerful, but centrism gives corps that power - I'm going to talk it up at the convention with people, and the candidate that talks about centrism the most, or moving the NDP or Canada a smidge to the right, is the one that loses his principles, in my mind. And they deserve to lose.


Arthur Cramer
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Joined: Nov 30 2010

Well, there is a possibility. I mean, it was happening under Jack (blessed be his memory). I do think the party as a whole including the leadership is considerably further to the left then the Libs. Notwithstanding, if the party goes the Democrat route, I'll simply quit, and withdraw from politics.

Simplistic answer maybe, but the truth.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

Me too.

I dont see the never dying merger idea having traction, but if it did, I cannot see that it would not amount to being the Dems.


Rabble_Incognito
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Joined: Feb 21 2012

Oh and after this note I'll shup - If the leader, whoever that is, moves in a direction that pleases a Tory, tories will sieze upon that change in direction. And good for him. If you try to play his game, you deserve to lose. And since it is his game, you probably will.

The NDP needs to define the game for the next election, and avoid being sucked into heeding conservative ideals.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Rabble_Incognito wrote:
You know, the more I listen to the NDP 'strategists' here the more I wonder if the NDP is really the place for me.

There is no other place, apart from tented encampments that no one takes seriously except for the police, or apart from storming the chilly palace on Parliament Hill; with no popular plans existing at the moment for that type of strategy. It's either the case that the NDP leadership cabal takes firm direction from a progressive party membership, and is held to that direction by an insistence on a set of core principles, or the membership is dragged along, casting apologies overboard along the way, by a zeitgeist that appears informed mainly by ambitions toward power above anything else.  In the US, progressive politics is in a state of crisis and abandonment as a result of this latter model being adopted by left leaning democrats, when the signs and speeches were there all along throughout Obama's campaign to inform them as to what to expect.


DaveW
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Joined: Dec 24 2008

Rebecca West wrote:

US Democrats are closer to our LPC than the NDP, and I would hate to see the NDP go that centrist.  I think any NDP alignment with the Libs is a mistake.  There's a reason Canada doesn't have the USian two-party system. 

you are right, but to grow, the NDP will have to reach new voter groups, mostly to their right

The Liberals were a classic "catch all" party, occupying  a (very) broad middle ground, and hence their multiple long-time majorities, like the US Democrats, who at one point were supported by US industrial unions and much of Wall Street, Northern blacks and Southern whites, Protestant establishment and Jacksonian populists. All aboard!

The biggest social democratic parties in Europe, like the Socialists here in France, all have as their main voting bloc the liberal and  State-supported middle class; teachers are the largest single professional group voting Socialist. Public sector unions are the most important labour constituency, not factory or industrial labour.

That is the future of the NDP if it grows closer to majority status.

 

 

 


NDPP
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Joined: Dec 28 2008

Slumberjack wrote:

It's either the case that the NDP leadership cabal takes firm direction from a progressive party membership, and is held to that direction by an insistence on a set of core principles, or the membership is dragged along, casting apologies overboard along the way, by a zeitgeist that appears informed mainly by ambitions toward power above anything else.

NDPP

I think this is well put. I would only say that based upon the 'progressive party membership's' virtually unbroken losing streak, as opposed to the 'NDP leadership cabal',  it looks like the first choice is strictly hypothetical and it will be no difference party door number two. Unfortunately also, as the cabal is quite cold bloody aware -  the worse things are made for us, the better their ultimate chances at seizing the big brass ring of power. And that old ndp trump card 'the others are worse', will continue to work its immodest black magic. PT Barnum was right. There's a new party member born every minute.


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

This is why the theoretical discussion is my sole indulgence here for the most part, in the main because leftist politics in this country has been reduced to pure hypothesis.  I thought PT Barnum said 'sucker' born every minute...or was it 'customer?'


Doug
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Joined: Apr 17 2001

Lord Palmerston wrote:

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?

Class-based politics isn't going away any time soon but the form it takes has to change. The industrial working class it once was based upon is now a small minority in society and so organizing on that basis makes about as much sense as starting a farmers' party and expecting it to make a difference. As for nationalization, it's a policy tool that one is forced to admit often did not accomplish what was intended and diverted public resources from more equitable uses. It also didn't accomplish greater economic democratization, which granted, was often not intended but is still a powerful criticism of nationalization as a policy tool in the postwar period.

 

Quote:

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?

Empirically, that's tended to be the case. I don't think it has to be so but left-wing parties have tended to stick closely by their industrial and government worker constituencies and so have tended to have less useful things to say to post-industrial private sector workers.

Quote:

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.  

 

No question - and this is also not going away any time soon.


Doug
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Joined: Apr 17 2001

Slumberjack wrote:

Mostly these days its the other way around if you leave off the democracy part of 'social democracy.'  Nearly a trillion dollars of 'liquidity' put on the table by the ECB recently.  Where did it come from?

 

It literally came from nowhere. Central banks can do that.


Aristotleded24
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Joined: May 24 2005

In the context of the NDP leadership race, I think the discussion about "Blairizing the party" or more specifically, which leader is likely to accomplish this, is quite misplaced. Obviously the leader has a great deal of sway over the party, but it's almost like some people expect a leader to come along and save them. The best example I can think of was how the NPI disbanded with Layton as leader thinking they had "won," and over the course of time Layton gradually shifted rightward. Perhaps if the NPI had remained we wouldn't even need to have this discussion? And leaders can change their tune. Look at Saskatchewan where a right-wing Lingenfelter was forced to run on a left-wing platform in the election. Granted that was a particularly extreme case where the party had to hide behind policy as its leader's image was irrevocably tarnished, but it shows that leaders can be pushed.

In other words, (assuming this is about Mulcair), instead of worrying about how Mulcair might shift the party rightwards should he win the leadership, why don't the rest of us organize and mobilize to the point that he wouldn't dare try?


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

For all the people who want a party that denounces all NATO led wars, and who want to put nationalization back on the table for more than a few select circumstances... hasn't the NDP *already* shifted to the right?


toaster
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Joined: Sep 5 2011

I actually think the Democratic Party is closer to our Conservative Party (the Republicans don't even register, way further right than even the Wildrose in Alberta), especially under Obama.   So, no the NDP should not try to become the Canadian version of the Democrats.


KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

The NPI ran out of gas and died of its own weight, not because people thought they had 'won with Layton'. The most that might have done is 'enabled' and rationalized the already existing fact that NPI wasnt going anywhere after the Convention, and the activists didn't really know what to do about it.

And the more pertinent point: I dont get the feeling this thread is about the possibility of Mulcair being Leader. I see it as an attempt to back away from that and look at the bigger and longer term picture.... which is also where I see your contribution fitting, I just happen to disagree with the point about NPI.

To the degree Leader choice relevavce does overlap this 'bigger question'...

Whether Leader's like Layton do not get people what they thought they were going to get [I didn't, for what that is worth], that does not mean that there are considerably worse choices that can be made.


josh
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Joined: Aug 5 2002

Yeah, there's simply no place for that nasty nationalization business.

Quote:
Iceland has recovered rapidly. The government nationalized the country's three largest banks, which had engaged in wild financial speculation. Creditors, not taxpayers, were forced to swallow most bank-related losses. It imposed capital controls to protect the country's currency. It tightened financial regulation. . . . . As a result, the recession in Iceland ended in the second half of 2010. Private spending increased and exports began to rise. Through the first half of 2011, its once-crippled economy grew 2.5 percent. Wages rebounded, boosting people's purchasing power. Income inequality declined. And despite the bank seizures, which critics claimed would sow financial chaos, Iceland's sovereign debt is now stronger than that of, say, Ireland, which refused to nationalize its financial sector.  
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57323068/comeback-countries-lessons-for-the-eurozone/

KenS
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Joined: Aug 6 2001

That would be in the category of exceptions.

In general, we shouldn't have anything to do with 'lemon capitalism'. Like nationalizing paper mills out of a misguided notion of saving jobs and communities.

Nationalizing the banks in Iceland was because citizens were left holding the bag after the wreckage. There was worse than no value in the financial system, and you have to have one, so the government and citizens 'owned' it by default.

Nothing to write home about. Even if they have ended up profiting from it.


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

The banking sector *should* be highly regulated. And there *should* be a significant government role in setting monetary policy.

That's what we have in Canada. Five banks, plus a Central Bank as a crown corporation. A shining example of the mixed economy.

Nationalizating a few of our banks *might* make sense if the banking system was in crisis. But they aren't.

Because the system we have is working pretty darn well.

 


gunder
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Joined: Jul 22 2009

I freely admit, I do hold a candle out for "state capitalism".  I think in can work in exceptional cicumstances, as you say.  But I am also for less-centralized economic democracy, like strengthening credit unions and co-operatives and creating a regime for community ownership.  That's what "public ownership" means to me, and I would be seriously dismayed if the NDP decided to throw it all under the bus because "nationalization doesn't work", "Worker control is scary", "co-operatives are nice, but we need to accept the free market" and other such nonsense.  By the same token, I blame the conflation of those concepts to a great degree on the "old left" in the party who see themselves as the self-appointed guardians of righteous thinking and never miss an oportunty for a good horrangue, even when it's obvious they are their own worst enemy.  But moderate socialism has a place in any broad social democratic movement, and frankly, it's essential for ideological cohesion. 

The whole business of the preamble was emblematic of that.  Rather than repudiate mass nationalization, Mulcair and co. simply excised all reference to public enterpise altogether.  Collective rights? Gone. Intervention in the market? Wouldn't dream of it. Subtly rooting out the undesirables like that is not the same as expanding the party.  Go on and have a big tent, but at least let me stand huddled at the back, instead of pissing into it from the outside.

 


gunder
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Joined: Jul 22 2009

"Anti-imperialism" is an entirely different kettle of fish. It's a catch-all phrase like "anti-capitalism" that can mean whatever the user intends it to mean.  It depends on the tools you use to oppose, counterbalance or temper the empire.  I don't want a party thatr makes Hugo Chavez-like pronouncements, and I don't think it's helpful or illustrative to many Canadians for us to bring "imperialism" into the discourse full-on.  However, if someone went around loudly advertising themselves as a pragmatist on foreign affairs and resorting to the standard line about standing with our allies, then yes, that would be a dealbreaker, and that person would alienate a large part of the NDP base, beyond the "socialists" to the NDP's moderate core and many of the young professionals it's trying to keep in the fold.  That's why Topp said he supported the Palestinians on day one, why Mulcair says he doesn't want "useless" (read: imperialist) wars, why Nash and Dewar focused on peacekeeping.  The Centre isn't tptally myopic.  They realize too that maintaining a safe distance from any imperialist project is a sine quoi non for holding on to Quebec.  Public ownership is a specific set of policy instruments the party can choose to use or not use as circumstances require. Throwing them all away is no more in our strategic interests than invading Iran would be.

 


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

What you're talking about -- workers cooperatives and worker ownership -- is completely different from nationalization, which is just capitalism run by the state. The less we keep dwelling on old ideas of nationalization and crown corporations, the more we can move onto new and successful policies of worker empowerment. Companies owned by employees are becoming increasingly common in Brazil, seem to actually do more for workers than something like Petro Canada, and don't carry as much political baggage.

As for anti-imperialism, I agree with you. There's a good amount of common sense among the leadership candidates. They were all vociferous opponents of Iraq AND Afghanistan. They don't oppose all wars, but then most Canadians don't. I'm pretty comfortable as long as we don't end up spending millions or billions of dollars propping up an American occupation.

Here's the main point:

Is there anyone worried about an NDP shift to the right on a policy that hasn't *already* been thrown out the window?

For the people who hold a candle for the idea that the NDP will re-nationalize Petro Canada or that we'll denounce NATO, I'm telling you that the NDP has already gone to the right. The ship has sailed.

Read the 2011 platform again, and ask, what's most vulnerable?

The only answers I find are too far fetched, and would only happen if we full on merged with the Liberals.


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

Speaking of Iceland and their banking sector...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/currencies/ice...

There's a difference between an economy in crisis and a stable economy. Iceland nationalized their banks because they had become toxic and needed to be cleaned out wholesale. We already have our national Bank of Canada, along with 5 highly regulated banks. Our system IS a mixed system. And it's working well enough that Iceland wants to peg their currency to ours, not the other way around.


flight from kamakura
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Joined: Nov 24 2006

JKR wrote:

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.

exactly.  the sort-of-sad thing is that if quebec were independent, it would probably figure on that list.


socialdemocrati...
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Joined: Jan 10 2012

I think that's the kind of social democracy I have in mind, too. To emulate a country like Norway, the Netherlands, or Finland. Two out of three sent troops to Iraq. So in some ways, we're already a step ahead.


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