Should the left split from the NDP? (Part 2)

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Jacob Richter
Should the left split from the NDP? (Part 2)

Given the surge in the interest in class politics resulting from this financial crap (Die Linke and the class-based third parties in the U.S. come to mind, not so much the "social-democratic" Quebec Solidaire), should the left split from the NDP and finally form a politico-ideologically independent class party?

 

One thing that has puzzled me over these many months is the hyped claim that Canada is more "left-wing" than the US. While true (though I'm not sure about the economic side of things), that's only in regards to the "mainstream," politically correct, class-collaborationist left.

 

In the U$, you've got the SP-USA, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and perhaps the Peace and Freedom Party. Up here, all we've got are "official communist" parties, Trot sects, the utopian-socialist "Socialist Party of Canada," and the ever-content-as-think-tank "Socialist Project" - and maybe the Work Less Party.

keglerdave

Jacob:

I guess you have to look at the political climates of various countries with strong socialist tendencies and compare them to the North American climate. There needs to be a recognition of the political make up of Canada as a whole. What you find is that most people are centrists in their political ideals in Canada.  I guess you could almost call it a utopian sense of what people want. They want strong health care, education, transit, and other things, but also want strong management of the economy, balanced taxation policy, and strong fiscal management.  Much like neo conservatism isn't palatable to the average Canadian voter, neither is hard left wing politics either.  Granted the neo cons have a huge advantage given the media in this country and the concentration on the far right of the political spectrum, and have made in roads by conning people to believe that somehow Steve Harper is really being picked on and deserves to be lauded for standing up to the big nasty coalition.

The NDP has a tremendous opportunity, to grow and gain through balanced fair policies that appeal to all segments of the population. The Libs and Cons have gone to the right, and further right with Iggy at the helm of the Libs. The NDP did a great job with its advertising in the last election, cheeky, aggressive and showing Jack as a pragmatist. The coalition was an opportunity that in my opinion has come and gone. There is an opportunity to reach out to disaffected Liberals to join the NDP, as some have done in Quebec.

But as I said it comes down to being pragmatic and gaining more political influence to work towards some strong policies that benefit all Canadians, such as the worker's wage protection bill recently passed. I'm a strong trade unionist and also a supporter of the New Democrats. But I'm not a huge socialist, and I think I'm reflective of some of what average working Canadians believe in. I want the strong social policy of public health care, education and social programs to help out the people who need it, but I also believe in having strong solid economic fundamentals, that provide for those programs.  Its been done before and can be done again.

RosaL

Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't see that their tiny far-left parties are better than our tiny far-left parties.

It's an uphill battle for all sorts of reasons, some internal to the parties themselves, some external. For example, people sometimes don't seem to know how to communicate without using the technical language of the far left.  Moreover, it's hard to get your message out when you have no money, when the media ignore you except when they're ridiculing you, and when the entire population is told from morning to night that your ideas have been proven a) not to work and b) to lead to mass murder. I could go on and on but I need to get to work.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I'll agree with what RosaL said, but at the same time, I think there might be something to this idea. Look at the effect of the Reform Party on Canadian politics. A fringe party, grown on populist anger, shifted the entire political spectrum to the right - eventually cannibalizing the Progressive Conservative party that it was spun out of. The same could be accomplished on the left. And probably should be.

The NDP plays it far too safe these days. Fundamental questions go unasked. Why is nationalization not an option?  

Stockholm

Don't think this hasn't been tried before. When the Waffle was expelled from the NDP in the 70s, they formed a new party with the unfortunate acronym MISC (Movement for an Independent Socialist Canada), ran in a few ridings, got fewer votes than  the Rhinoceros Party and then sank without a trace. Similarly in the UK despite everything Blair did - parties to the left of the Labour Party have received virtually no support whatsoever (ie: less than the Dog Lovers Party or the Raving Loony Party).

Caissa

The only viable way the Left could split from the NDP is if we moved to some form of PR.

Stockholm

They have PR in New Zealand and the New Zealand Labour Party is actually a lot more middle of the road than the NDP. Yet, the only party that is to the left of Labour is "Jim Anderton's Progressive" and they got about 1% of the vote in the last election.

madmax

keglerdave wrote:

 But I'm not a huge socialist, and I think I'm reflective of some of what average working Canadians believe in. I want the strong social policy of public health care, education and social programs to help out the people who need it, but I also believe in having strong solid economic fundamentals, that provide for those programs.  Its been done before and can be done again.

You just described a strong socialist. :)

skarredmunkey

Jacob Richter wrote:
Should the left split from the NDP and finally form a politico-ideologically independent class party?
You mean, another leftwing political party for Canadians to not vote for?

Are you serious, or is the ultimate goal to make the NDP look safe in comparison?

Jacob Richter

Are you another Tory or Liberal troll?

 

Quote:
The only viable way the Left could split from the NDP is if we moved to some form of PR.

 

The problem is that you are trying to cast this as a chicken-or-egg argument.  Expanded "democratic" republican rights in this day and age can only be achieved through class struggle, as this politico-economic crisis has shown.  Because the Blairite NDP has NEVER had the spine to even acknowledge class politics, their "struggle" for PR has and will continue to be ineffective.

Caissa

Class struggle aside, and I wasn't discussing, GB, the only way I see a left wing party receiving representation under our current parliamentary system is if we move to a form of PR. And there is no guarantee they would achieve the threshhold for seats. YMMV...

George Victor

"Given the surge in the interest in class politics resulting from this financial crap (Die Linke and the class-based third parties in the U.S. come to mind, not so much the "social-democratic" Quebec Solidaire), should the left split from the NDP and finally form a politico-ideologically independent class party?"

--------------------------------------------------------

Separation should be seriously considered where the current take on a world-wide financial implosion and economic meltdown is summed up as "financial crap."

Pogo Pogo's picture

The Communist Party (in various forms) already exists outside the NDP and presumably to the left.  So I guess you mean 'to the left of the NDP and not a communist'.

RosaL

Pogo wrote:

The Communist Party (in various forms) already exists outside the NDP and presumably to the left.  So I guess you mean 'to the left of the NDP and not a communist'.

 

Yes, there are several marxist parties left of the ndp. I guess he must be talking about people left of the ndp but in the ndp. I don't know.... 

Sean in Ottawa

If you can't enter the NDP and move it left then how do you expect to make a dent on the wider political spectrum?

I'd rather see an NDP not as close to my ideal as I might prefer win power and do half of what I want than a party that represents everything I want fail to elect a single member while bringing the NDP out of party status.

Sure some say this of the Liberals as well but the difference is that the Liberals promise half of what I want and manage to do less than a hundredth while the NDP promise 3/4 of what I want and I think would likely do half. The Liberals I cannot live with. The NDP I can. And we already know that it would be an incredible feat for them to get elected. Promising more might not serve to help achieve what might be possible.

 

That said I would like a more courageous activist tone to the NDP and a stronger more persistent focus on economic issues rather than political personality points, petty issues and marginal concerns. Frankly I think the NDP has been doing much better at this over the last while - with a few relapses. I still think the NDP remains something we can work within. If you want 100% agreement then your group ends up being a group of one.

Also in a society you lean out a distance and lead people to you. If you go and reside on a different planet then you have no influence.

This point has been made about Obama in some circles-- that Obama may be leaning as far left as he can in US society and that he will need the dominant culture to catch up before he leans further. We can argue about details but even if he is to the right of Harper he is leaning and moving his country to the left while Harper is leaning and moving people to the right. It is unreasonable and foolhardy to ignore political context.

Sean in Ottawa

What do you want that they are not behind-- can you give some examples?

RosaL

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

If you can't enter the NDP and move it left then how do you expect to make a dent on the wider political spectrum?

....

Sure some say this of the Liberals as well but the difference is that the Liberals promise half of what I want and manage to do less than a hundredth while the NDP promise 3/4 of what I want and I think would likely do half. The Liberals I cannot live with. The NDP I can. And we already know that it would be an incredible feat for them to get elected. Promising more might not serve to help achieve what might be possible.

There's your answer: The ndp don't promise three quarters of what I want. They aren't even talking about what I want. 

People are sometimes - especially during times of crisis - willing to consider something radically different while remaining lukewarm to a slight amelioration of the same old thing.  

RosaL

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
What do you want that they are not behind-- can you give some examples?

An end to capitalism. Social ownership - and I'm not just talking about utilities! Smile 

Sean in Ottawa

Ok-- I don't expect an end to a political economic philosophy. I want to see it reined in as much as possible.

I do not as such have ending capitalism as a political goal.

Containing it and taking government out of the hands of private capitalists seems like a difficult enough political agenda.

Doug

RosaL wrote:

An end to capitalism. Social ownership - and I'm not just talking about utilities! Smile 

Which is all very well and good to say, but how do you get there from here? More to the point, how do you get there from here and get elected and re-elected to be able to do it in the first place?

Coyote

There are - as has been said already - a number of communist groupings in Canada. i do think they should put the past behind them and move on to present an explicitly anti-capitalist view to the voting public. I think it would be a good thing for Canada, and a good thing for the NDP - which is a proudly, and staunchly, social democratic party.

Coyote

Well, if you believe "has got it right" equals "I have never heard of these people", then yes, they have it right.

Jacob Richter

Pogo wrote:

The Communist Party (in various forms) already exists outside the NDP and presumably to the left.  So I guess you mean 'to the left of the NDP and not a communist'.

To be more accurate, it's "to the far left of the NDP and not 'Marxist-Leninist' (Stalinist)  or Trotskyist or ultra-left (council-communist/Bordigist/left-communist/etc.)" - in substance a small-c communist party like those in the old Second International, except for the labelling.

Coyote wrote:
There are - as has been said already - a number of communist groupings in Canada. i do think they should put the past behind them and move on to present an explicitly anti-capitalist view to the voting public. I think it would be a good thing for Canada, and a good thing for the NDP - which is a proudly, and staunchly, social democratic party.

And that is the problem with every official "Communist" party in the world today, combining an authoritarian leftover from the old Comintern with reformist opportunism (thereby continuously vulgarizing the "minimum progam").

The question of demarchy (mass assemblies, networks of smaller decision-making groups formed by lot and NOT elected) or radical left republicanism (election of all officials Embarassed) is, at this point, a secondary matter.

On the other hand, the SP-USA is for all intents and purposes a Marxist party (notwithstanding having non-workers in the party), and there's a smaller Workers Party in America (http://www.workers-party.com/) that has got it right with its class principles.

Jacob Richter

In what sense?

Coyote

I have never heard of these people. What, exactly, have they got right? Except ideology, which anyone can subscribe to.

skarredmunkey

Quote:
Are you another Tory or Liberal troll?

Of course. That must be the only explanation for why someone would be skeptical of the idea that the U.S. "Party for Socialism and Liberation" is a good model to follow.

My question was legitimate. Since Canadians can barely find it in themselves to mark an x for the only idenifiably leftwing party in mainstream Canadian politics, what exactly is the advantage or the goal of creating another leftwing party? (Or in your view, an actual leftwing party).

Is merely asking this question evidence of my class collaboriationism? If so, at the very least you could answer Doug's very sensible question which I will repeat:

Quote:
...how do you get there from here and get elected and re-elected to be able to do it in the first place?

skarredmunkey

Quote:
And that is the problem with every official "Communist" party in the world today, combining an authoritarian leftover from the old Comintern with reformist opportunism (thereby continuously vulgarizing the "minimum progam").

The French and Italian Communists don't have a chance in hell of winning a national election , but boy can they tap into the democratic spirit of the people by getting them out on the streets for one helluva general strike! And AKEL just won the presidency of Cyprus. Those parties are a lot more responsive and democratic than any pissant little merry band of Marxists in the U.S. or Canada. They've dropped the foolish rhetoric but kept the values.

Jacob Richter

skarredmunkey wrote:

Quote:
Are you another Tory or Liberal troll?

Of course. That must be the only explanation for why someone would be skeptical of the idea that the U.S. "Party for Socialism and Liberation" is a good model to follow.

My question was legitimate. Since Canadians can barely find it in themselves to mark an x for the only idenifiably leftwing party in mainstream Canadian politics, what exactly is the advantage or the goal of creating another leftwing party? (Or in your view, an actual leftwing party).

Is merely asking this question evidence of my class collaboriationism? If so, at the very least you could answer Doug's very sensible question which I will repeat:

Quote:
...how do you get there from here and get elected and re-elected to be able to do it in the first place?

I wasn't talking about the fetish for electoralism.  In the case of either demarchy or radical republicanism (both being iterations of "participatory democracy"), liberal "democracy" / parliamentarism will have to be extinguished.

The goal of creating an actual workers' party (not "left-wing" in terms of obsessions with identity politics and "Green politics") is to foster more open class struggle around both more radical reforms (going beyond even "Swedish socialism" in its heyday) and the ultimate objectives of social labour and transnational emancipation.

This open class struggle may use the tactic of the liberal "ballot box" (but keep in mind that the radical-democratic models outlined above can be conceived as different types of "ballot boxes"), but it can also use the tactics associated with wildcat strikes and mass protests.

RosaL

skarredmunkey wrote:

Quote:
And that is the problem with every official "Communist" party in the world today, combining an authoritarian leftover from the old Comintern with reformist opportunism (thereby continuously vulgarizing the "minimum progam").

The French and Italian Communists don't have a chance in hell of winning a national election , but boy can they tap into the democratic spirit of the people by getting them out on the streets for one helluva general strike! And AKEL just won the presidency of Cyprus. Those parties are a lot more responsive and democratic than any pissant little merry band of Marxists in the U.S. or Canada. They've dropped the foolish rhetoric but kept the values.

In the past, before they dropped the 'foolish rhetoric', the French and Italian parties' electoral chances were extremely good. The Americans had to pull out all the stops - and implement PR - to keep the Italian party from getting elected as the governing party.  

European communist parties differ greatly: some have become essentially social democratic; a few could fairly be called "stalinist". Quite a few have done a pretty fair job of returning to their roots and have a good claim to be called authentic marxist, working class parties. To say that they combine authoritarianism with opportunism is inaccurate and unfair.

Unless you spend a significant amount of time keeping up with the programs, literature, and activities of  parties likes this, you probably shouldn't be commenting on them. That applies to just about everybody in this thread. 

RosaL

Coyote wrote:
There are - as has been said already - a number of communist groupings in Canada. i do think they should put the past behind them and move on to present an explicitly anti-capitalist view to the voting public. I think it would be a good thing for Canada, and a good thing for the NDP - which is a proudly, and staunchly, social democratic party.

Agreed. But as far as I know, they have been doing that, i.e., they are explicitly anti-capitalist.

Of course, as someone mentioned, there's the issue of "how do you get from here to there". You can't just be anti-capitalist. You can't just preach socialism (though you should do both). You also need to propose some 'intermediate steps'. 

I suppose accusations of both a) opportunism (on account of the intermediate steps) and b) having no idea how to get from here to there (on account of the anti-capitalism and socialism) might suggest that you are doing both! It might also suggest that no matter what you do, you are going to be dismissed in certain circles.  

Unionist

RosaL wrote:

Unless you spend a significant amount of time keeping up with the programs, literature, and activities of  parties likes this, you probably shouldn't be commenting on them.

I spend no time keeping up with any of these parties' programs, literature, or activities, so this question is addressed to those here that do:

Is there one of these groups that says:

Quote:
"It makes no sense that generally leftwing progressive people should be split up into rival little formations. This is the goddamned 21st century, after all. Anyone who thinks 'my party is right and the others are wrong' is wrong.

All these parties, groups, etc. should dissolve on a set date and hold a constituent assembly to build one new organization. Differences of opinion, approach, etc. will be accommodated within the one new single organization. To lead by example, we will dissolve on May 1. We hope others will too, but our own decision is irrevocable."

Send me the contact info and a membership application form, please.

 

RosaL

Unionist wrote:

I spend no time keeping up with any of these parties' programs, literature, or activities, so this question is addressed to those here that do:

Is there one of these groups that says:

Quote:
"It makes no sense that generally leftwing progressive people should be split up into rival little formations. This is the goddamned 21st century, after all. Anyone who thinks 'my party is right and the others are wrong' is wrong.

All these parties, groups, etc. should dissolve on a set date and hold a constituent assembly to build one new organization. Differences of opinion, approach, etc. will be accommodated within the one new single organization. To lead by example, we will dissolve on May 1. We hope others will too, but our own decision is irrevocable."

Send me the contact info and a membership application form, please.

I don't think so. I think people are working on it. For example, members of the IS and members of the CPC have appeared on joint panels and things like that. And in Quebec, especially, people have been working together. But it's a ridiculously slow process. I'm not sure organizational unity is essential, as long as people can respect each other and work together. I agree that the situation is appalling. 

Unionist

Ok, RosaL, I'll bite. Take the IS and the CPC. Can you give me one, or two, or three big reasons why they are separate organizations? Be patient with me, because I know nothing about them.

Big reasons. Reasons that ordinary people can understand.

 

RosaL

Unionist wrote:

Ok, RosaL, I'll bite. Take the IS and the CPC. Can you give me one, or two, or three big reasons why they are separate organizations? Be patient with me, because I know nothing about them.

Big reasons. Reasons that ordinary people can understand.

The only reason I know of is this: past history. (People in the Trotskyist tradition still use the word "stalinist" pretty freely!) As far as I'm concerned, there is no good reason. 

Olly

As a smart person I know once said, why worry about what the right will do to you when the left will kill itself every time.

genstrike

Do these parties even have to dissolve and reform into one big thing?  It might be a lot easier to get them to all group into a left anti-capitalist somewhat decentralized federation which preserves their autonomy and then go from there.

I think a lot of these parties have a lot of past history, and a few major differences (communist or anarchist, regular or "anti-revisionist"), and they would all be worried about having their specific and unique agendas being subordinated to that of the larger federation.  It would be a legitimate concern, especially given some of the "democratic centralist" (sometimes undemocratic) attributes of some of the parties.  For example, it would be pretty hard to get all the anarchists to toe the party line...

Also, I would be concerned with what exactly this federation plans to do, and how it would avoid going down the path of the NDP, which is a long way from the Regina Manifesto.

But back to the original question, I wonder if there are enough actual anti-capitalists (not tame social democrats) in the NDP for there to be a significant split.  I can imagine such a party might pick of a few, but (in my experiance) for the most part, actual anti-capitalists realize how bullshit the NDP is. 

Richter, the vanguard isn't going to come from a split off the NDP.  What are ya, some kind of IMTer? Laughing 

Or maybe I'm just a crazy sectarian ultra-leftist... Laughing

Unionist

Genstrike, I don't like the "original question". I'd like to see leftists unite, not split. Back in my day (long ago), they were badly fractured, and it hasn't changed much, except that the left seems less vocal than we were then.

And I didn't suggest a "federation", nor do I care about infinitesimal groups that want to retain their "autonomy". Let every tiny sect or individual do whatever they please in life. But let them all sit down in a constituent assembly, no preconditons, no holds barred, and develop a structure and a program. It doesn't have to be a political party (in fact, better if it isn't). Everyone should be welcome.

I think you're just a crazy sectarian ultra-leftist. Laughing

ETA: You know, I've spent my life in the union, where everyone belongs irrespective of their political or ideological beliefs or their "history" or their "agenda" or any of the other bullshit that's raised above by way of "explaining" why leftists like to do battle with each other (and kill each other - check the history books). We all sit together and work out our structure and fight the good fight together. It's based on having some actual real-life interests to defend, together. Bizarre notion, eh? 

 

genstrike

Unionist wrote:

Genstrike, I don't like the "original question". I'd like to see leftists unite, not split. Back in my day (long ago), they were badly fractured, and it hasn't changed much, except that the left seems less vocal than we were then.

And I didn't suggest a "federation", nor do I care about infinitesimal groups that want to retain their "autonomy". Let every tiny sect or individual do whatever they please in life. But let them all sit down in a constituent assembly, no preconditons, no holds barred, and develop a structure and a program. It doesn't have to be a political party (in fact, better if it isn't). Everyone should be welcome.

I'm sorry if I misinterpreted, I thought you were saying that all the little groups should dissolve into one big organization (say, merge the CPC, CPC-ML and all the Trot sects into one big Communist Party).  Quite frankly, that isn't going to happen.  But I agree that it is possible (and necessary) for us to all work together, and there have been recent actions in Winnipeg that were a result of a lot of groups and people from a lot of groups working together.

It would be nice to see this assembly you're talking about, but I wouldn't want it to be a one time only thing and have everyone go back to the way it was before two days later.  Whether you want to call it a federation or not, I would like to see some sort of round table where all these groups and any interested individuals can get together on a semi-regular basis and work together on day to day issues as well.

I think for the most part we are on the same page here, we're just quibbling over a few small details (hey, just like the left Laughing)

But one other thing to worry about is how do you put out the call, and who do you address it to?  Do you address it to people of a specific ideology, to anti-capitalists, to social democrats, to everyone to the left of Jack Layton, or to everyone to the left of Micheal Ignatieff, or to everyone in general?  And how do you word it to get that target audience on board.

Regarding the original question, I think it is kind of an awkward question for me to confront because I'm not a member of the NDP.  I can't see the benefits of a split, but I have problems with radical anti-capitalists subordinating themselves to the party of Gary Doer.  Organizing against the provincial government's policies one day and promoting them the next isn't going to build a movement.  And even if they do have a split (unlikely), and the new waffle is more successful than the oringial NDP (even more unlikely), what's to stop them from turning into another Blairite party in 20 years?

I don't really have an answer to the question, and as a non-NDPer, I don't really have much grounds to answer it because it isn't my party.  And on a lot of the stuff I work on, I would be happy to work with NDPers (and do whenever I can), but it's not like they're trying to bang down the door to be let in.  The door is open, they just aren't walking in.

Although admittedly sometimes I have problems with my frustrations with my provincial government, I try to put that aside (unless it's the provincial government I'm organizing against).  But sometimes I have concerns over whether someone might be trying to get us to pull our punches because it's a "friendly government"

Unionist wrote:
I think you're just a crazy sectarian ultra-leftist.

Thanks, I don't know if that is an insult or a compliment Laughing

Unionist

So Jacob, give us your take. What issue of principle keeps IS and CPC from merging with each other tomorrow?

PS: You can pick any other acronyms if you like and address the same question. My experience tells me that when two rival groups of leftists accuse each other of being wrong, they are both correct.

Jacob Richter

genstrike wrote:
I think a lot of these parties have a lot of past history, and a few major differences (communist or anarchist, regular or "anti-revisionist"), and they would all be worried about having their specific and unique agendas being subordinated to that of the larger federation.  It would be a legitimate concern, especially given some of the "democratic centralist" (sometimes undemocratic) attributes of some of the parties.  For example, it would be pretty hard to get all the anarchists to toe the party line...

Also, I would be concerned with what exactly this federation plans to do, and how it would avoid going down the path of the NDP, which is a long way from the Regina Manifesto.

 

I don't want a "federation," because the historical precedent for a no-no on such is the fragmented politics leading to the formation of the UK Labour Party (as commented upon by Kautsky in his Sects or Class Parties).  The SPD model was that of a centralized party with democratic rights accorded to each member.

 

Quote:
But back to the original question, I wonder if there are enough actual anti-capitalists (not tame social democrats) in the NDP for there to be a significant split.  I can imagine such a party might pick of a few, but (in my experiance) for the most part, actual anti-capitalists realize how bullshit the NDP is. 

Richter, the vanguard isn't going to come from a split off the NDP.  What are ya, some kind of IMTer? Laughing

 

You of all people should know about my RevLeft rants on the Grantites. Tongue out

The primary call is for the class-strugglist left (no, not even the "Marxist" opportunists covering the left flank of Solidaire's green politics and identity politics) to come together, on a class basis, to take the first steps in achieving politico-ideological indepedence for the class of manual, clerical, and professional workers.

 

If they are numerically sufficient in the NDP, they should split.  If not, they should leave individually.

 

Quote:
Or maybe I'm just a crazy sectarian ultra-leftist... Laughing

 

I don't think the resident Babblers know what "ultra-leftist" means. Sealed

Jacob Richter

None, really (re. differences).  You have to differentiate between actual principles and so-called "principles."  The latter is based on historical pissing contests, philosophies, and non-programmatic "theories" developed by certain gurus (Cliff's state capitalism).  Lenin said the wrong words when he said "without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement."  He should've said "programme" instead of "theory" (read: philosophy and non-programmatic positions).

 

As for basic principles:

 

http://z11.invisionfree.com/Kasama_Threads/index.php?showtopic=241

 

Quote:
I'd like to see leftists unite, not split. Back in my day (long ago), they were badly fractured, and it hasn't changed much, except that the left seems less vocal than we were then.

 

But "social-democrats" and any other group that doesn't base its politics on class struggle (as opposed to "revolutionism") can only be approached on the basis of a united front.  It isn't just a matter of "social reform"[ism] vs. "socialist revolution"[ism], because as I said above, the former relies more on identity politics and now also on "green politics" - and whatever is left of the unions' narrow trade-unions-only-ism is mere collective bargainism:

 

http://z11.invisionfree.com/Kasama_Threads/index.php?showtopic=438

 

As far as being vocal goes, blame that on "social-democratic" dumbing down of reforms.  I can give you a list of links to historic rev-socialist/worker programmes whose reforms are more radical than even those of "Swedish socialism."

 

[Genstrike, I really need your help elaborating on the reform-vs-class-struggle divide and on my draft reform stuff, since you have my work and since we're dealing with sympathetic left-reformists here. Tongue out Laughing]

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

A  Marxist Communist would work with social democrat like the NDP,  as well as with radicals, bourgeois, peasants, nationalist, whatever advances the  struggle .

 

MIA: Marxists: Marx & Engels: Library: 1848: Manifesto of the Communist Party: Chapter 4:       [German Original]

Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties


Section II has made clear the relations of the Communists to the existing working-class parties, such as the Chartists in England and the Agrarian Reformers in America.

The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement. In France, the Communists ally with the Social-Democrats(1) against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie, reserving, however, the right to take up a critical position in regard to phases and illusions traditionally handed down from the great Revolution.

In Switzerland, they support the Radicals, without losing sight of the fact that this party consists of antagonistic elements, partly of Democratic Socialists, in the French sense, partly of radical bourgeois.

In Poland, they support the party that insists on an agrarian revolution as the prime condition for national emancipation, that party which fomented the insurrection of Cracow in 1846.

In Germany, they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squirearchy, and the petty bourgeoisie.

But they never cease, for a single instant, to instill into the working class the clearest possible recognition of the hostile antagonism between bourgeoisie and proletariat, in order that the German workers may straightway use, as so many weapons against the bourgeoisie, the social and political conditions that the bourgeoisie must necessarily introduce along with its supremacy, and in order that, after the fall of the reactionary classes in Germany, the fight against the bourgeoisie itself may immediately begin.

The Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany, because that country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is bound to be carried out under more advanced conditions of European civilisation and with a much more developed proletariat than that of England was in the seventeenth, and France in the eighteenth century, and because the bourgeois revolution in Germany will be but the prelude to an immediately following proletarian revolution.

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.

In all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.

Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Working Men of All Countries, Unite!


(1) The party then represented in Parliament by Ledru-Rollin, in literature by Louis Blanc, in the daily press by the Réforme. The name of Social-Democracy signifies, with these its inventors, a section of the Democratic or Republican Party more or less tinged with socialism. [Engels, English Edition 1888]

* * *

The famous final phrase of the Manifesto, “Working Men of All Countries, Unite!”, in the original German is: “Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!” Thus, a more correct translation would be “Proletarians of all countries, Unite!”

“Workers of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!” is a popularisation of the last three sentences, and is not found in any official translation. Since this English translation was approved by Engels, we have kept the original intact.


Coyote

Hey, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool reformist, and will take any and all cracks which that entails. Your "class-based" struggle resonates not at all with the class on which you claim to base your politics. The fact is that - despite massive failings both in and out of power - social democratic parties have provided the best impetus for, and implementation of, progressive change that has made real differences in the lives of working people, "working-class" or no.

 I would love for the radical, ultra, communist, anti-capitialist, etc. left to get together and actually agree on an agenda, parliamentary or not, to put before the people. Once you actually worry about whether or not your ideas are relevant, or have any resonance whatsoever to the people you claim to represent, then we will see exactly where the ideological rubber meets the road.

 And I don't say this as one who attacks the radical Left. I think my posting history here is pretty respectful of that discourse - hey, when my posting started here, I considered myself a part of the radical Left.

genstrike

Personally, I don't think that a lot of mergers between this alphabet soup of left organizations is possible (for a lot of reasons, some of them good, most of them bad).  But we do need to work together.  Maybe I'm not going to join the NDP or the CPC or the NSG, but I've been part of groups which had NDPers, CPCers, NSGers and whatever working together for a common cause.

The way I see it, there's a couple big divides on the left that would be just too hard to bridge in the same organization. The first is between social democrats and Marxists/anarchists (or "class-strugglists" as Jacob says).  The social democrats want to tame capitalism and try to make a mixed economy, and can accomplish that by reformism.  The Marxists and anarchists want to destroy capitalism and can only accomplish that by revolution.  The social democratic ideology has more to do with meeting people's immediate needs and making the system suck a little less, while Marxist/anarchist ideologies are more based on class struggle and building a new system.  And then there's another big divide between anarchists and Marxists over the role of the state...

But compared to these big ideological divides, the differences within these categories are pretty tiny.  For example, I can't tell the difference between all the different Trot groups in Canada, and I find it silly that they all seem to be pissed at each other.

Of course, this doesn't mean we should hide in our little sects and shun everyone who isn't a Groucho-Marxist-Lennonist-Meowist-whatever.  Obviously, we have to go out and interact with people and work together in our common struggles in whatever way we see fit, and recognize that we are a minority and not a lot of people agree wiht us, and some of them come with some pretty nasty baggage.  And that handing someone a copy of Das Kapital and saying "read this and get back to me" isn't going to work.

Jacob, I'm just not sold on democratic centralism.  If you have a party that spans these broad ideologies (from social democracy (?) to Marxism to anarchism) and the members are bound by the results of some sort of resolution, you're going to wind up with factions breaking off.  I mean, look at the CPC.  I think cooperation between leftist groups is a lot more realistic goal than merging an alphabet soup of far left organizations which for the most part hate each other (although not always for good reasons).  Maybe it could take the form of a federation, a coalition, a whatever, but I just don't think it is possible to make a frankenparty out of the CPC, CPC-ML, IS, NSG, and various anarchist groups, especially not one in which the majority rules and factions aren't allowed (like the CPC).  Basically, on the radical left I think we need to strike the right balance between working together and being able to do our own thing.  Hating on each other isn't going to work, but I don't think getting together into one big "democratic centralist" part will work either, and probably isn't even possible.

Unionist

Jacob Richter wrote:

Hypothetically speaking, one can be a worker-class-strugglist and not be an all-out anti-capitalist, but these kinds of radical left-reformists are really rare.

Jacob, have you ever tried writing without hyphens? It's challenging but uplifting.

Jacob Richter

genstrike wrote:
The first is between social democrats and Marxists/anarchists (or "class-strugglists" as Jacob says).  The social democrats want to tame capitalism and try to make a mixed economy, and can accomplish that by reformism.  The Marxists and anarchists want to destroy capitalism and can only accomplish that by revolution.  The social democratic ideology has more to do with meeting people's immediate needs and making the system suck a little less, while Marxist/anarchist ideologies are more based on class struggle and building a new system.

 

"Taming capitalism" is also part of the Marxist minimum program.  It's just that this part is more radical than the maximum demands of those like the "Swedish socialists."  Remember that "credit crunch" thread of mine?  Also, I've double-posted a RevLeft article on GDP per capita and wages in the Labour and Consumption forum.

 

Quote:
Jacob, I'm just not sold on democratic centralism.  If you have a party that spans these broad ideologies (from social democracy (?) to Marxism to anarchism) and the members are bound by the results of some sort of resolution, you're going to wind up with factions breaking off.

 

I wasn't advocating a party that would include class collaborationists, though. Surprised The reason why I cited the SPD was that it was the party model of Lenin himself, in spite of class collaborationists and their factions being in that party (unlike Comintern-esque DC, "Kautskyan" DC doesn't mean a ban on factions).

 

Hypothetically speaking, one can be a worker-class-strugglist and not be an all-out anti-capitalist, but these kinds of radical left-reformists are really rare.

Jacob Richter

I love my hyphens! Tongue outWinkLaughing

Unionist

Where's my homework? Oh dash it all, my hyphenated!

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

The question of the left splitting from the NDP assumes there are a significant number of  left individuals now in the NDP who would leave en masse and en masse would  form a ledt party or political organization of  some significance. .  Even  if  a  few  thousand New Democrats sprinkled acroos Canada bought that idea , quit  the party  and  could get it together to form some new organizationt it probably y would be of  little signifcance  because there would have little resources or base to build upon  (see Waffle M ISConception)   Howver If  say, a large number of  e unions affilaiited to the NDP decided to "split" and form a labour or socialst party. there would be something to work with in terms of  resoruces and base and we could see such a new formation having soem impact. .  Fortunaltely or unfortunately the closest to such a split we have had has been,  the CAW  and  NDP split, with the CAW  seen as moving to supportiing t he Liberals. So long as the NDp remaisn the aprty of  labour and the working class, the left shold stay within it and help build it as a socialsti party.And we should contieune to work outside  the NDP in the various woring clas and community struggles .

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Weird that the left seems so fractured.  Must be a conspiracy.

keglerdave

Just a few thoughts in general:

1. Has anyone not found it hilarious that the Communist Party of Canada runs in every democratic election. Hypothetically, if they got into power, that would be the last election ever held.

2. Various factions of the NDP across Canada have been successful in getting elected, like in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It's great to have great policy and ideas like "nationalize this, nationalize that..." but if you don't have an appeal to the electorate, you can never get into power to be able to move forward your platform.

3. Seriously though, has anyone taken the time to talk to the rank and file workers in the various unions in Canada to find out what they think or stand for? I'll tell you its more likely than not completely all over the map. What I believe and stand for and fight for, isn't necessarily my "brothers and sisters" cup of tea. At my place of work, while I'm "NDP" there's a tonne of guys who aren't, who are more conservative / reform than anything else. Most of it is because somewhere along the line there's been a huge disconnect between the leaders of the labour movement and the working people they represent.

Most people in Canada today are in unions because they have to be to work where they are working (in a union job.)  Some look at their union dues as a fee for getting better benefits and better pay. Or an insurance fee for protection against an obnoxious employer. I would state that the majority of union members don't link governmental politics to their everyday lives.  Its a generalization I know, but if it were true that union people support the NDP, they would be alot more successful in elections then they are now. As Canada is (I believe) close to 38% unionized.

4. People sometimes look at the NDP both provincially and federally with rolling eyes, historically. The party stands for alot of good things, but once in awhile goes off on tangents that make you go "what the $*%&"

What percentage of the population is hard left in their political leanings? And even on the hard left, you have the "socialists" the "marxists" the "Shining Path" the "anarchists" and on and on and on. If the hard left split from the NDP, I don't think the NDP would change their tactics, platform and philosophy. But I do think that the "left coalition" or "left turn" as what was tried after Carole James was elected leader in 2003, to combat a move to the centre left, would be forever and a day unsuccessful electorally.

Without electoral success, you have no way at all to bring your policies to reality.  Nothing short of a coup d'etat, which no doubt there are those on the hard left would advocate. But let's be real, this is Canada afterall.  And look at how the electorate reacted to a legitimate parliamentary coalition.

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