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

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genstrike

keglerdave wrote:

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.

I live in one of those provinces, and it is incredibly frustrating.  Despite what they use as a slogan, "Today's NDP" isn't moving forward at all.  They've cut corporate taxes, have welfare policies to the right of the Chamber of Commerce, raised tuition, kept the threshold for card-check certification at the level Filmon set it to, and a whole laundry list of things which show they either aren't moving or are moving the wrong way.  They know how to "appeal to the electorate", though, but that doesn't make them right and all the radicals who are pissed at them (such as myself) wrong.

 

You can talk about some sort of incrementalist approach, but when we're not even moving (or worse, moving in the wrong direction), I really don't have that kind of patience.

genstrike

Aside from my criticisms of some people for treating certain dead white guys as some sort of prophets...

peterjcassidy wrote:

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

Okay, but what does "work with" and "advance the struggle" mean?

Surely you're not suggesting that Marxists should drop everything and focus on electing someone like Roy Romanow, Gary Doer, Bob Rae, Tony Blair, David Lange, Bob Hawke, etc.  I live in Manitoba, and electing Gary Doer has probably done just as much to turn down the struggle (due to people being reluctant to criticize a "friendly government") as it has to advance it.

Does "work with" mean join?  Because quite frankly, I am not willing to join the NDP.

And what do we mean by "the NDP"?  Do we mean the party, or with individual members?  And to what extent does "the party" even work with extraparliamentary social movements (especially when they govern)?  If it's individual members, I have no problems working with individual members of any party on any issue.

I'm not going to up and join the NDP and work to elect assholes like Pat Martin and Gary Doer for the sake of unity with social democrats in the hope that it somehow "advances the struggle"

Doug

keglerdave wrote:

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.

Not necessarily. Some of the Western European communist parties came to terms with democracy (see Eurocommunism) so it isn't a foregone conclusion that if such a party takes office it installs itself as a dictatorship.

Quote:
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.

Now that I can't agree enough with - to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you fight an election with the electorate you've got, not the electorate you'd want to have.

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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.

Also between the representatives and parties of organized labour and the wider working class.

Quote:
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 $*%&"

It's not so much the occasional odd tangent that concerns people, it's the perceived inability to "mind the store", if you will. Conservatives love to stoke this fear, but that doesn't mean it's entirely without basis. Good management is important.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

All of the opposition parties both in and outside of parliament had "electoral failure"...some parties more than others.     And yet, they were able to get a very right-wing government to back down on a large number of their policies.

Why?   New tactics.   For a brief period of time the opposition parties agreed to work together in a way that was quite unprecidented in Canadian political culture.

The "crisis" came very close to bringing the government down.  On top of that, a critically important thing was the pressure from the mass social movements.

The parties did not organize the "pro coalition" rallies held across Canada, the social movements did.

If you looked at who was at the Toronto rally, it was predominantly folks from the labour, peace, solidarity, womens and environmental movements.   I'm sure it was similar in other parts of Canada.

No matter what party holds power, it's important to have powerful grassroots social movements working on all manner of issues in all manner of ways.

Obviously it's going to be easier to "push" a government of "the left" than a government of "the right" but no matter what you maintain and build your movements.

Governments led by "left" parties are always going to have a tendency to backslide once in power.   They might have control over the state but they don't have power.   Power is always in the hands of the corporate elites.

In the Central America of the 1980's you had governments in places like Guatemala and El Salvador that didn't even control the state!   The death squads and the military controlled the state...they were the "death squad democracies".   That's still true in Colombia today...also the same in the Phillipines.

The Communist Party of Canada, which pre-dates the CCF/NDP, had little success electorally...only ever winning one seat federally and a few seats here and there in provincial legislatures.    It's main contribution (yes despite it's flaws) was in the labour and social movements...particularly during the 1930's and 1940's.   Many workers would never have been organized into unions without the efforts of CPC activists.

This idea of creating some kind of new political party/movement "to the left of the NDP" has been around for a very long time.   I recall participating in a conference on this very topic over twenty years ago...and that wasn't a "first" by any means.

I honestly don't think that this is the most important project to spend time on.   Building sustainable grass roots social movements is much more important IMHO.   It's also very long term hard work.   There are no "shortcuts".

Movements (and economic/political circumstances) can shift an entire political culture to the left...and the existing parties have no choice other than to shift with them.

In Quebec, large segments of the social movements have come to the conclusion that the Parti Quebecois no longer serves them.   So, Quebec Solidaire has emerged.

The QS has done what they've needed to do in our FPTP electoral system to win a seat, and to be "in the game" in a few other seats...namely...build some strong local constituency organizations.

Outside of Quebec, I don't think that the  bulk of labour and social organizations have come to the  conclusion that the NDP is no longer their "champion".    Until or unless that happens, don't expect any new "left" political party/movement to be viable.

 

Jacob Richter

Forgive me for not clarifying much earlier, but my definition of "party" is much different from the traditional definition.  My definition comes straight from the Communist Manifesto itself and from IWMA literature, which referred to the class as a whole "organizing itself into a political party distinct from, and opposed to, all other parties."

 

This "party" isn't a mere "grassroots social movement," which can never pose the question of political power in the medium term (not to mention the excessive decentralization presented by the existence of multiple "grassroots social movements" and their single issues, even if such single-issue emphasis is much more effective in the short term).

 

This "party" I'm advocating would most likely have a dedicated section of the membership registering with the electoral authorities to form an "electoral party" (traditional parties).  This would be the complete opposite of organizational frontism (wherein a smaller ideological group has control over a larger, more public group).

skarredmunkey

Doug wrote:
keglerdave wrote:

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.

Not necessarily. Some of the Western European communist parties came to terms with democracy (see Eurocommunism) so it isn't a foregone conclusion that if such a party takes office it installs itself as a dictatorship.

Agreed, Doug. I made the exact same point earlier to counter something JR said about "official" communist parties. Anti-capitalist parties on the left that: (a) compete in elections, (b) have roots in the union movement, and (c) are NOT social democrats, are relatively successful in Europe, but in different ways. In a way, I brought this up to ask "Why can't this happen in, or, why wouldn't this work in Canada?"

But tread carefully here: RosaL thinks you shouldn't comment about such things unless your PhD thesis was on comparative communist parties.

Jacob Richter

What I meant by "official" Communist reformism is that their immediate/action/minimum programs generally coincide with social-democratic sloganeering (contrast that with my Babble thread on the credit crunch), including identity politics (First Nations, Quebec, LGBT, etc.).

 

I apologize if my remarks were interpreted as being overly anti-parliamentary (though, as I said above, demarchy is the way to go and not parliamentarism or even the radical republicanism of Marx, Engels, pre-war Kautsky, and Lenin).

Unionist

Jacob Richter wrote:

Forgive me for not clarifying much earlier, but my definition of "party" is much different from the traditional definition.  My definition comes straight from the Communist Manifesto itself and from IWMA literature, which referred to the class as a whole "organizing itself into a political party distinct from, and opposed to, all other parties."

Well, that's kind of what I said before. One big organization (not a "federation"), no rival little (or big) parties. Although I don't think I'd necessarily restrict it to the working class, but that would be a possible start: a constituent assembly of workers, deciding their own structure, their aims, etc. Everyone welcome.

I think leftists and progressives parcelling themselves out into different rival parties, with slightly different beliefs, and holding separate meetings, etc., resembles nothing so much as good people parcelling themselves out into different rival religions.

It's a bad thing.

Jacob Richter

It should be restricted to the "working class," just not the "industrial proletariat" stereotype that has resulted from bourgeois distortions and even errors on the part of key Marxists.  The modern proletariat is comprised of manual, clerical, and many "middle-income" professional workers (non-coordinating and excludes lawyers, cops, and judges).

Once your suggested group of workers at least recognizes class struggle and the need to continuously organize independently, they will have filtered out 90% of reformists (stuck in identity politics, Green politics, and collective bargainism and disavowing class struggle or downplaying it like Quebec's Solidaire Money mouth ) and 10-20% of revolutionaries (the conspiratorial, minoritarian "revolutionists").

[I get the feeling that you're one of those 10% of reformists who emphasize class struggle, but that's a good thing. Smile ]

keglerdave

at the end of the day, as I said previously, you have to convince the electorate that your way is the best way. Splitting the left even more is not a wise concept. Much like the entire spectrum, you can fit the citizens of Canada into one mold. There are hard lefties, marxist leninists, CPC'ers, "labour" party types, labour lite, NDP, Red Liberals, Red Torys, Green anything, blue liberals, reformers, neo cons and neo libs. And anything and everything in between.

Currently the organs of society are controlled by the hard right Conservatives. The media makes huge $$$$ off of the Cons and all their mass advertising. Same with the Libs. Until the left puts its money where its mouth is, we'll all be in effect just pissing in the wind.  In BC all the Fiberals are talking about now, is the 90s. Again. A decade after the 90s ended, and 2 terms of Campbell's fiberals, and all the crap going on in BC all the bad shit is the 90s Clark Dosanjh's fault. When you have nothing at all to run on, run on fear.

Fidel

Stockholm wrote:
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.

But Anglo countries have all been test labs for neoliberal capitalism for the last three decades. And now Gordon Brown, the very face of neoliberal-third way in Britain under Blair, is swerving left somewhat in an attempt to save his political future.

wage zombie

genstrike wrote:

Okay, but what does "work with" and "advance the struggle" mean?

The way i see it is that there are a few ways to work politically.  There's a lot of work that can be done locally, organizing people, creating local infrastructure, actually doing things.  This kind of work can be very gratifying because near-immediate results can be achieved and appreciated.  Also it's much easier to work with a smaller number of people with much more local common interests.  And there's certainly no shortage of work to be done at the local level.

Beyond the local level most decisions are made by government composed of parties.  And if you want to have certain changes made, they need to be promoted through the party system.

So in order to push your interests, there are a few different options.

1. Join a party.

2. Start your own party.

3. Try to have influence on the political system be being non-partisan and pushing issues or interests as opposed to a particular party.

For #1 we have a few different options for parties.  When joining a party there are a few factors to consider and everyone needs to find their own balance.  Parties that currently have a lot of power are generally harder to influence, however their large membership and infrastructure and electoral prowess can actually allow the party to make some changes.

In my opinion the Liberals and Conservatives are both owned by the corporate elite.  I don't live in Quebec so i can't vote for the Bloc.  That means for me the NDP is the only major party that's not bought.  Perhaps you would argue that they are bought or at least partially.  In any case when evaluating the NDP (or any party) the question is, "Does this party have enough electoral prowess to justify the compromises i'll have to make in what issues will be put forward?"

I did not include the Green Party as one of the major parties since they have no seat--but when considering the GP i asked the same question.  For me the GP does not stack up to the NDP.  Possibly i would be able to more easily have influence as a member--but i'm not so sure.  The NDP today, already is closer to my political orientation than the GP.  And when trying to compare their level of leadership, the Green Party, with Jim Harris and Elizabeth May seem much more co-opted than Layton, certainly, and likely Doer or Romanow.  Plus the Green Party can't really deliver, and don't really have any relevance.

The smaller parties have even less relevance IMO.

As far as starting a new party goes, with new branding, new name, with a great agenda, it's certainly something to dream about.  But i don't think we can wait 10-20 years for a  new party to have influence.  And the Green Party has certainly not made it look easy.

So then beyond joining or creating a party, the other option is a non-partisan org looking to influence the pther parties' policies.  This might work in the USA a bit better than here, where there are few whipped votes and legislation can be passed by exerting pressure on individual politicians.

But here almost every vote is whipped and most politicians will vote with their parties.  Despite what credentials Briony Penn may have, she would be voting for Liberal legislation across the board.  So it seems to me that a non-partisan org can really only exert pressure on parties, not individual politicians.

And now we're again back to where the NDP is the only party not bought.  I simply can't imagine working in a non partisan org and recommending that people vote other than NDP.  While i may have serious issues with some aspects of the NDP, they are clearly the least bad of the options.

So given that, if i want to work above the local level, i'm going to work to make the NDP better.

Quote:
 

Does "work with" mean join?  Because quite frankly, I am not willing to join the NDP.

 

OK, here it is--it's unrealistic to think you will ever have much influence in the direction that the party takes if you are not willing to join.  So if you are not willing to join the NDP you will have to accept that you don't have any influence on it.  You don't like Gary Doer?  Well it's not your call on what policies he and the NDP put forth.  You don't want to be part of that discussion.

Quote:
 

I'm not going to up and join the NDP and work to elect assholes like Pat Martin and Gary Doer for the sake of unity with social democrats in the hope that it somehow "advances the struggle"

No of course not.  Join the NDP and work to elect radical nominees.  Join the party and try to promote more radical stances on issues.  Join the party and go to the convention and slag Gary Doer AND Pat Martin.  If your MP is NDP and not to your liking then find a better candidate and try to get them the NDP nomination.  Join the party and work to elect people you believe in.

It's all pretty hard work and it will take a long time. 

RosaL

skarredmunkey wrote:
Doug wrote:
keglerdave wrote:

Just a few thoughts in general:Agreed, Doug. I made the exact same point earlier to counter something JR said about "official" communist parties. Anti-capitalist parties on the left that: (a) compete in elections, (b) have roots in the union movement, and (c) are NOT social democrats, are relatively successful in Europe, but in different ways. In a way, I brought this up to ask "Why can't this happen in, or, why wouldn't this work in Canada?"

But tread carefully here: RosaL thinks you shouldn't comment about such things unless your PhD thesis was on comparative communist parties.

You keep using these same examples of parties that have much less support than formerly - whose support is in fact declining rapidly - and which, in my opinion, have few if any radical principles left and are very close to being social democratic parties, as models for us to follow. That's part of what bothers me. 

But if you are saying that a truly democratic, "anti-capitalist" (and socialist) party can succeed at some point, I agree. (Mind you, I don't define "democratic" as "competing in elections", though I do think there should be democratic elections, along with other forms of democratic decision-making.)

JKR

wage zombie wrote:

In any case when evaluating the NDP (or any party) the question is, "Does this party have enough electoral prowess to justify the compromises i'll have to make in what issues will be put forward?"

Under our current electoral system, the NDP does not have enough "electoral prowess." As long as Canada has the Single-member Plurality (SMP) voting system, the NDP will continue to be shut out of power at the federal level. Sadly, if current attempts at electoral reform fail, the left's best course of action will be to hitch its cart to the Liberal horse. Under SMP, creating a northern version of the Democratic Party is the best the left can hope for. In Canada we could then end up electing our own version of Obama instead of being stuck with a version of George W. Bush.

The fact is that SMP is a two-party electoral system. That's why the Reform/Alliance/PC parties became the Conservative Party.

The left in Canada makes up roughly 20% of the electorate. Under proportional representation, that would give the left a lot of power within governments.

skarredmunkey

Quote:
You keep using these same examples of parties that have much less support than formerly - whose support is in fact declining rapidly...

That all depends on whether you're willing to look beyond France and Italy, if you're willing to look at why the rapid decline is taking place in those two countries, and of course how you define "support" but also influence and power. In most other countries support - in elections - for the so-called Eurocommunist and democratic socialist parties is either modestly increasing or at a plateau.

Die Linke, the Dutch Socialist Party (not to be confused with the Dutch Labour Party), Sinn Fein in the 6 counties, and the Red/Green alliance parties in all Scandinavian countries are growing.

The two main radical-left parties in each of Greece and Italy, most Eastern European communist and "ex-communist" parties, and the Portuguese Communist Party, are stagnating.

The PCF is in major decline electorally, and I would argue it's due to the sort of factionalism that happens when people on the left become more interested in talking about theory, egos, and dead Russians rather than real world issues and policy in an accessable discourse.  The same can be witnessed in Scotland where the SSP made a promising but brief debut and then largely fell apart due to internal silliness.

You can also thank the crowding of the left. Unlike in Canada, Europe's Green Parties (and even some of their Liberal parties, such as D'66 or the radicals in Italy) are actually progressive, for instance.

Quote:
" and which, in my opinion, have few if any radical principles left and are very close to being social democratic parties, as models for us to follow. That's part of what bothers me. "

I'm thinking broadly of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left and the parties that fall under the umbrella of that grouping. This is a group that expresses solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela and the Palestinians, and is adamently opposed to NATO and militarism more broadly. It has organic and formal links with organized labour and social movements and is opposed to capitalism. It is not on the wishy-washy left.  And its members say most if not all the right things. I don't think they are doing anything wrong, and they would be a fine model to follow in Canada if their modest success could be replicated and if it could tilt the spectrum back to the left.

Quote:
But if you are saying that a truly democratic, "anti-capitalist" (and socialist) party can succeed at some point, I agree. (Mind you, I don't define "democratic" as "competing in elections", though I do think there should be democratic elections, along with other forms of democratic decision-making.)

And that's exactly why I cited the PCF and Rifondazione as examples of parties that have little electoral appeal (anymore) but a LOT of democratic power. One reason is that they have most of the leadership in the union movement. When the French demonstrate, the PCF are not sitting on the sidelines, they're leading the march. They are intricately connected to the struggle of workers and disenfranchised groups and have an enviable ability to mobilize. Something neither the NDP nor any Canadian union or  leftwing group or movement seems able or willing to do anymore.

Which brings us back to the original topic. What would be the benefit of the left splitting from the NDP? Electorally, it might be none. But tactically it could work if power could be found elsewhere. Ideally, the left could split from the NDP, form a new party or bloc, and succeed both at the street level and at the electoral level. I don't think it can, but then, I also think Canada is a rightwing and imperialistic society.

RosaL

skarredmunkey wrote:

The PCF is in major decline electorally, and I would argue it's due to the sort of factionalism that happens when people on the left become more interested in talking about theory, egos, and dead Russians rather than real world issues and policy in an accessable discourse.  .

Well, that doesn't seem to be hurting other elements in the French far-left! And I don't think it's the reason for the deline (electorally and in other respects) of the PCF (which I am not defending, by the way). [note: prior to editing, I had typed 'PDF'. heh.]

This is a very short response to a very long post. I'll try to come back to it tomorrow. Essentially, though, I think your argument is that where parties exhibit features of which you approve, they succeed; where they show characteristics of which you disapprove, they fail. I find that kind of argument rather suspicious a priori. (Some parties of which I approve are doing badly and some are doing very well. Some parties of which I disapprove are spectacularly successful!)

However, I don't know if there's much point. You and I disagree over what is happening in various parties and why. It might be fun to talk about over a beer but it's rather tedious and frustrating to discuss here! Moreover, it's kind of off-topic.Undecided

As to the original topic, what part of the socialist (as opposed to social democratic) left is actually in the ndp?  It seems to me there's something wrong with the original question.

Jacob Richter

^^^ The so-called "Socialist Caucus," if we take its word to be accurate.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Can't we all get along?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

RosaL wrote:

As to the original topic, what part of the socialist (as opposed to social democratic) left is actually in the ndp?  It seems to me there's something wrong with the original question.

Which takes us back to the question I asked in the previous thread: "Is there a truly left left left in the NDP?"

wage zombie

What would you say is the current population of the left left in Canada?  How many people are we talking here?

 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Invariably, one of the main challenges facing us when we attempt to create a mass organization based on the principles of class struggle, whether it be a coalition, or a party, is how to achieve sufficient mass. Regardless of the politics of such an organization, if it does not achieve sufficient mass, it becomes just another small, far left group that provides in-services for the left.

To use an example, the IS has, for a while now, devoted most of its energies to the war resisters campaign. I would argue that much of this effort has been wasted. However, it has been wasted not because asylum for war resisters is in any way an undesirable or irrelevant goal (quite the opposite, it is an important cause, and would be a desirable victory). Rather, much of  the effort has been wasted because there have not been large enough mass mobilisations on this issue to actually force the Conservatives to implement the parliamentary resolution calling on the government to grant asylum for US war resisters.

 

RosaL wrote:
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. 

 

To take a recent example, the CPC supported the NDP-Liberal coalition (they have supported a coalition with the Liberals since 1935, when Stalin mandated that all official Communist parties adopt a "common front" policy). The IS opposed the coalition, their primary stated reason being that they opposed the NDP dropping any opposition to the Afghanistan war. Big Difference.

Another substantive difference is that the CPC supports the FARC in Columbia, while the IS does not. As far as I know, the CPC is the only Communist/Marxist group in Canada that supports the FARC.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Left Turn wrote:

Invariably, one of the main challenges facing us when we attempt to create a mass organization based on the principles of class struggle, whether it be a coalition, or a party, is how to achieve sufficient mass. Regardless of the politics of such an organization, if it does not achieve sufficient mass, it becomes just another small, far left group that provides in-services for the left.

To use an example, the IS has, for a while now, devoted most of its energies to the war resisters campaign. I would argue that much of this effort has been wasted. However, it has been wasted not because asylum for war resisters is in any way an undesirable or irrelevant goal (quite the opposite, it is an important cause, and would be a desirable victory). Rather, much of  the effort has been wasted because there have not been large enough mass mobilisations on this issue to actually force the Conservatives to implement the parliamentary resolution calling on the government to grant asylum for US war resisters.

On the other hand, the IS may have found working in the war resisters campaign to be a fruitful area for attracting new members to the IS (I have no idea if that is so; I'm just supposing). If that is the case, it would help them towards achieving the "sufficient mass" of which you speak.

Unionist

Left Turn wrote:

To take a recent example, the CPC supported the NDP-Liberal coalition (they have supported a coalition with the Liberals since 1935, when Stalin mandated that all official Communist parties adopt a "common front" policy). The IS opposed the coalition, their primary stated reason being that they opposed the NDP dropping any opposition to the Afghanistan war. Big Difference.

Another substantive difference is that the CPC supports the FARC in Columbia, while the IS does not. As far as I know, the CPC is the only Communist/Marxist group in Canada that supports the FARC.

These are "big" reasons to have two separate organizations - separate meetings, separate structures, separate discussion, everything? Do they even get together to talk through these two issues above?

Can leftists legitimately have different opinions about whether a particular coalition is a good or bad idea; where Afghanistan fits into that; or whether to support FARC???

If they have different opinions, are they doomed to inhabit separate rooms in the Left hotel?

You've just encapsulated nicely for me foolish sectarian spirit which plagued the left when I was young (long long ago), and, if you are correct, is just as bad today.

They should start planning a constituent assembly right away, with the following criteria:

1. Anyone who considers themselves vaguely left or progressive is welcome to attend, or send delegates.

2. Everyone leaves their other "affiliations" at home. No one is allowed to get up and say, "As a lifelong supporter of CPC, IS, FLQ, ACROKAOS..." or whatever. They just say what they have to say and give their arguments.

3. No "federations" or "united fronts". Just one organization. People can carry on with their tiny sects and theological disputations as much as they please - but here, they are all together without labels. But the truly committed ones will disband their groupuscules, now or later.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

unionist: "Anyone who considers themselves vaguely left or progressive is welcome to attend, or send delegates."

 

Good grief. We've already got one Liberal party, and another in waiting. Why form a third? Genuinely left groups already work together locally on specific issues.

My experience teaches me that what is most important is NOT to demoralize the young people that have the energy and time and idealism for politics. I think it is not just provocateurs and the police that do this demoralizing. OTOH, I like what I see when I see what look like non-sectarian workshops for young activists. 

In the last Great Depression, there were plenty of genuine leftists (anarchists, socialists, communists, etc.) who did a huge amount of organizing those affected by the roller coaster of the boom and bust of capitalism. Many of the same people organized the large industries in the following decades.  We don't seem to have the same numbers today. But it is also true that the "soma" and distractions and manufacture of consent for social injustice is much larger and sophisticated today. The "mis-consciousness" industry is big business. 

Successful organizing is worth studying no matter what time period or what country it takes place in. My 2 bits. 

Unionist

Thanks, N.Beltov. But I didn't understand your answer:

Why would my suggestion be bad? I never suggested a "party". And whom would you like to exclude from such an assembly?

Your dismissal of the idea reflects the same sectarian spirit I pointed to earlier. Why not let everyone come? Trust the people to sort out right from wrong (or left).

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

OK, I apologize for not having read both threads in their entirety. I'm just noting that pulling together an organization without more clearly defined goals or purposes is unnecessary.

Doug

wage zombie wrote:

What would you say is the current population of the left left in Canada?  How many people are we talking here?

More than a telephone booth, less than a movie theatre. Smile

Jacob Richter

Unionist wrote:

Thanks, N.Beltov. But I didn't understand your answer:

Why would my suggestion be bad? I never suggested a "party". And whom would you like to exclude from such an assembly?

Your dismissal of the idea reflects the same sectarian spirit I pointed to earlier. Why not let everyone come? Trust the people to sort out right from wrong (or left).

 

Although your question isn't directed at me, I would say that an independent class organization, socialist or otherwise, goes against the idea of members who downplay class politics in favour of identity politics, Green politics, etc.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

N.Beltov wrote:

In the last Great Depression, there were plenty of genuine leftists (anarchists, socialists, communists, etc.) who did a huge amount of organizing those affected by the roller coaster of the boom and bust of capitalism. Many of the same people organized the large industries in the following decades.  We don't seem to have the same numbers today.

It seems to me that a vast swath of the middle class is ripening for radicalization. Who is mobilizing the laid-off workers across the country?

...unfortunately, no one. Without such focus by the left, the "mis-consciousness industry" is free to hold sway. 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

BTW, Corvin Russell's latest blog is a good fit for this thread: Imagine if we had a left-wing party...

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

M. Spector wrote:
On the other hand, the IS may have found working in the war resisters campaign to be a fruitful area for attracting new members to the IS (I have no idea if that is so; I'm just supposing). If that is the case, it would help them towards achieving the "sufficient mass" of which you speak.

Not as faras I can tell. At least not in Vancouver, where the IS still only has one member. The fact that this guy has no real organizing ability (all he does when he meets people is try to sell them the IS newspaper). This guy is also a member of Stopwar, and would try recruit people to that organization rather than to the IS. 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Unionist wrote:
Left Turn wrote:

To take a recent example, the CPC supported the NDP-Liberal coalition (they have supported a coalition with the Liberals since 1935, when Stalin mandated that all official Communist parties adopt a "common front" policy). The IS opposed the coalition, their primary stated reason being that they opposed the NDP dropping any opposition to the Afghanistan war. Big Difference.

Another substantive difference is that the CPC supports the FARC in Columbia, while the IS does not. As far as I know, the CPC is the only Communist/Marxist group in Canada that supports the FARC.

These are "big" reasons to have two separate organizations - separate meetings, separate structures, separate discussion, everything? Do they even get together to talk through these two issues above?

The one member of the IS in Vancouver, and one of the members the CPC in Vancouver, do work together in Stopwar. Stopwar discussed whether or not the Canadian Peace alliance should endorse the Coalition. Fortunately, Stopwar, and the Canadian Peace Alliance, decided against endorsing the coalition, although they did not take a public position against the coalition either.

Socrates Socrates's picture

Interesting thread. I didn't get through all of it as it is quite long but had a few cents to throw in.

 As a former member of the IS for several years as a teenager  I think that the IS is a fine organization which includes a lot of great activists. The IS, and IS alum, have been important members of the anti-war movement and strong community organizers.

Some of the IS membership are quite doctrinaire  but I always found the IS to be frustrated with sectarian differences. For the most part they present themselves as a large tent movement, so long as people agree on certain basics of Socialism and anti-capitalism. 

In fact, Several years ago at the annual Marxism conference in Toronto I remember that the UFP (Precursor to Quebec Solidaire) had just been formed and many of its representatives (including Amir Khadir) were present and lauded for their efforts. To this day the IS has strong representation in QS. 

 The bottom line is that even Marx talked extensively about the need for an intermediate, transitional phase. You have to have a plan for how to get there (a rejection of capitalism and a truly just society) from here. 

Unfortunately, here is a pretty right wing, MSM brainwashed place.  Opposition to the current order needs to be focused, at least insofar as electoral politics goes, into a united alternative.

In Quebec that is QS. Any other party or grouping that presents itself for election is doing more harm than good. 

Nationally, that alternative is the NDP. As someone said above, you can only lead from a few steps in front of the population, otherwise you lose them. The NDP needs to be built and strengthened. Activists need to stop kvetching about how lousy the NDP is and indulging in pipe dreams of forming a new party and instead join the NDP, help it gain power and influence and promote their ideas from within it. 

The NDP is the best choice we have. Where it is weak, it is imeasurably easier and more effective to strengthen it than to  start from scratch.

Once we have an NDP government then the time will be ripe for a more radical party of class consciousness. Right now there is no class consciousness. You can hardly have a class based party when people aren't even aware of their class.

Oh, and by the way, the IS support the NDP and argue that a strengthened NDP is the best way to acheive their goals. 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Left Turn wrote:

M. Spector wrote:
On the other hand, the IS may have found working in the war resisters campaign to be a fruitful area for attracting new members to the IS (I have no idea if that is so; I'm just supposing). If that is the case, it would help them towards achieving the "sufficient mass" of which you speak.

Not as faras I can tell. At least not in Vancouver, where the IS still only has one member. The fact that this guy has no real organizing ability (all he does when he meets people is try to sell them the IS newspaper). This guy is also a member of Stopwar, and would try recruit people to that organization rather than to the IS.

If it's just one guy, then isn't it a bit unfair to use him as an [url=example">http://rabble.ca/comment/992063/Invariably-one-main][u]example of the failure of the left to mobilize masses of Canadians in support of war resisters, sufficient to get the Harper government to change its policy?[/url] 

Unionist

Socrates wrote:

Once we have an NDP government then the time will be ripe for a more radical party of class consciousness.

We should sink our efforts into electing the NDP so that we can replace them?

Quote:
Oh, and by the way, the IS support the NDP and argue that a strengthened NDP is the best way to acheive their goals. 

Then the IS should disband.

This is way too subtle for me.

genstrike

Socrates wrote:
Unfortunately, here is a pretty right wing, MSM brainwashed place.  Opposition to the current order needs to be focused, at least insofar as electoral politics goes, into a united alternative.

...

Nationally, that alternative is the NDP. As someone said above, you can only lead from a few steps in front of the population, otherwise you lose them. The NDP needs to be built and strengthened. Activists need to stop kvetching about how lousy the NDP is and indulging in pipe dreams of forming a new party and instead join the NDP, help it gain power and influence and promote their ideas from within it. 

The NDP is the best choice we have. Where it is weak, it is imeasurably easier and more effective to strengthen it than to  start from scratch.

You're talking about a "united alternative", but where I live the NDP isn't an alternative to anything.  They're the governing party!

And the NDP is plenty strong here.  They don't need strengthening.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that their electoral success in recent years has only made the right of the party more powerful, and the NDP leftists are nearly completely disarmed.  I would also say that 10 years of an NDP government have done nothing to raise class consciousness.  How the heck does the election of a particular capitalist party raise class consciousness?  In fact, in some ways it has contributed to a reduction in class consciousness, because there is no opposition to their Blairite policies.

Furthermore, how do we promote new ideas in a party which ignores convention resolutions?

Quote:
Once we have an NDP government then the time will be ripe for a more radical party of class consciousness.

Or are you suggesting that now that we've elected Gary Doer, it's time to join the CP?

Quote:
Right now there is no class consciousness. You can hardly have a class based party when people aren't even aware of their class.

Since when has the NDP done anything to raise class consciousness?  They seem to avoid the issue whenever possible (ie: "working families" instead of "working class") or somehow try to distinguish between working class and middle class, as if people are afraid to be associated with the working class.

Fidel

N.Beltov wrote:

Good grief. We've already got one Liberal party,

And which party would that be?

The Liberals stopped being a liberal party at the start of the 1980s. They flipped and flopped on campaign promises and were awarded the phoniest majority ever in 1997. And their reward for shifting to the political right in 2008 elections was their lowest voter support in several decades. Big money-big business parties are supposed to be able to buy phony majorities in Canada. So what's happening?

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Very interesting genstrike how hard it is for me, outside Manitoba at least, to understand how different the NDP can really be to some.  I don't know which is better.  I think the left should focus on developing the most innovative online prescence.  Tap into their youth, it's most powerful demographic.

skarredmunkey

Quote:
I think your argument is that where parties exhibit features of which you approve, they succeed; where they show characteristics of which you disapprove, they fail. I find that kind of argument rather suspicious a priori.

If I was making that argument, these parties would get a parliamentary or congressional majority once in a while in countries other than Cyprus and Venezuela. :)

Quote:
As to the original topic, what part of the socialist (as opposed to social democratic) left is actually in the ndp?  It seems to me there's something wrong with the original question.

I was originally going to ask "Who is this 'left'?" or more specifically "Who, or what is this unitary left that can be found within the NDP and yet are nevertheless distinct from the NDP that are so monolithic that they, or it, can split en masse?"

I agree with most of the other posters that we'd probably find out the answer to that question if Canada had a democratic electoral system, or, at least a political culture that tolerated dissent and a diversity of views.

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

The Liberals stopped being a liberal party at the start of the 1980s. They flipped and flopped on campaign promises and were awarded the phoniest majority ever in 1997. And their reward for shifting to the political right in 2008 elections was their lowest voter support in several decades. Big money-big business parties are supposed to be able to buy phony majorities in Canada. So what's happening?

Actually, "big money" and "big business" is a cornerstone of liberalism, at least in the classic sense.

bush is gone ha...

"Very interesting genstrike how hard it is for me, outside Manitoba at least, to understand how different the NDP can really be to some.  I don't know which is better.  I think the left should focus on developing the most innovative online prescence.  Tap into their youth, it's most powerful demographic."

I should point out that few years ago a leading member of the NDP Youth here in Manitoba joined the CPC. And students are getting screwed over by the MB NDP.  I can't see North End kids joining the NDP or any elctoral  politcs for that matter.  The Communist parties, are not solely based on elections (knowing that fpp is a sham) and is half the story.  THey do plenty of organizing, and that it not "don't do it yourselves, vote for us".  POlicy based on votes makes for psychotic policies down the road how can a Leftist party not raise welfare rates, raise tuition and support the war in afghanistan?.  

Fidel

genstrike wrote:
Fidel wrote:

The Liberals stopped being a liberal party at the start of the 1980s. They flipped and flopped on campaign promises and were awarded the phoniest majority ever in 1997. And their reward for shifting to the political right in 2008 elections was their lowest voter support in several decades. Big money-big business parties are supposed to be able to buy phony majorities in Canada. So what's happening?

Actually, "big money" and "big business" is a cornerstone of liberalism, at least in the classic sense.

Canada's Liberals began handing off control of our energy and other resources to rich Americans during St Laurent's time. But sometimes they were Liberal when in government and prodded by the CCF-NDP.

Canada's federal Liberals became virtually indistinguishable from political conservatives though since the start of the 1980s. Second-hand neoliberal ideology spread into Canada, and rightwing think tanks that were once considered extreme rightwing special interest groups were suddenly bending the ears of red chamberers and federal governments alike.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I couldn't follow 100% bush is gone ha.  I'm now paying more attention to provincial NDP parties as I naively assumed they would lean to the left.  babble's opened my eyes.  Hopefully it will open others.

Fidel

bush is gone happy happy happy wrote:

 POlicy based on votes makes for psychotic policies down the road how can a Leftist party not raise welfare rates, raise tuition and support the war in afghanistan?.  

This the result of 30 years of Liberal-Tory federal government in Ottawa. Canada is 25th out of 30 OECD capitalist countries when it comes to social spending. The Chretien Liberals through to Paulie Pockets' Libranos pared tens of billions of dollars in social transfers from the provinces since 1993, and stole $48 billion from the workers' UI-EI-O fund. 

ReeferMadness

I've come to think of the NDP as the party that waters down traditional, regressive ideas and presents them as "bold policy initiatives".  It seems that in its eagerness to become acceptable, they've become a kinder, gentler version of Liberals.

Take for example, the recent gang wars in Vancouver.  They've provided Harper the perfect opportunity to implement his 'law and order' agenda.   While former judges, former cops and criminologists point out that you could deflate the gangs by legalizing drugs and removing their number one source of income, politicians all across the spectrum surrender to the knee-jerk reaction of increasing police and calling for tougher sentencing.  Sadly, this includes NDP politicians.

Once, the NDP brought fresh ideas.  Now, they're just another voice in the crowd.  

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

M. Spector wrote:
Left Turn wrote:

M. Spector wrote:
On the other hand, the IS may have found working in the war resisters campaign to be a fruitful area for attracting new members to the IS (I have no idea if that is so; I'm just supposing). If that is the case, it would help them towards achieving the "sufficient mass" of which you speak.

Not as faras I can tell. At least not in Vancouver, where the IS still only has one member. The fact that this guy has no real organizing ability (all he does when he meets people is try to sell them the IS newspaper). This guy is also a member of Stopwar, and would try recruit people to that organization rather than to the IS.

If it's just one guy, then isn't it a bit unfair to use him as an [url=example">http://rabble.ca/comment/992063/Invariably-one-main][u]example of the failure of the left to mobilize masses of Canadians in support of war resisters, sufficient to get the Harper government to change its policy?[/url] 

The IS nationally has been narrowly focused on the War Resisters Campaign, not just in Vancouver. Plus, The IS has other members in other parts of Canada, and members from other groups are also working on the War Resisters campaign, notably the Catholic Worker organization (at least in Vancouver). So it's more than just one guy failing to mobilize the masses of Canadians in support of war resisters, sufficient to get the Harper govenment to change it's policy. It the entire War Resisters campaign that's failing to mobilize the masses in support of war resisters, sufficient to get the Harper government to change it's policy. As such, some of the effort devoted to the War Resisters Campaign might have been better spent elsewhere (though some of the effort has been well placed, since the War Resisters do need a place to stay when they come here).

bush is gone ha...

 

Fidel wrote:
This the result of 30 years of Liberal-Tory federal government in Ottawa. Canada is 25th out of 30 OECD capitalist countries when it comes to social spending. The Chretien Liberals through to Paulie Pockets' Libranos pared tens of billions of dollars in social transfers from the provinces since 1993, and stole $48 billion from the workers' UI-EI-O fund.

So why is the NDP following Liberal-Tory example?

also...

My apologies for the previous post as babble really screws up my computer. 5 sec delay on typing.

Here is a reference for post #91.

http://web.archive.org/web/20040614144759/www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimateb...

"Former NDP Exec member running as a Commie"

There must be plenty of disgruntled NDPers if one actually (if briefly) joined the CPC. 

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

why is it that polling booths look like cattle chutes?

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

bush is gone happy happy happy wrote:
POlicy based on votes makes for psychotic policies down the road how can a Leftist party not raise welfare rates, raise tuition and support the war in afghanistan?.
 

This the result of 30 years of Liberal-Tory federal government in Ottawa. Canada is 25th out of 30 OECD capitalist countries when it comes to social spending. The Chretien Liberals through to Paulie Pockets' Libranos pared tens of billions of dollars in social transfers from the provinces since 1993, and stole $48 billion from the workers' UI-EI-O fund. 

So, how do you plan on blaming the yellow ribbon garden outside the Manitoba legislature, the NDP government's support for Red Friday rallies, or the government partnering with Sears, Rona and Wal-Mart to poison young minds with yellow ribbon bullshit on the federal Liberals?

This is going to be good...

Fidel

genstrike wrote:

Fidel wrote:

bush is gone happy happy happy wrote:
POlicy based on votes makes for psychotic policies down the road how can a Leftist party not raise welfare rates, raise tuition and support the war in afghanistan?.
 

This the result of 30 years of Liberal-Tory federal government in Ottawa. Canada is 25th out of 30 OECD capitalist countries when it comes to social spending. The Chretien Liberals through to Paulie Pockets' Libranos pared tens of billions of dollars in social transfers from the provinces since 1993, and stole $48 billion from the workers' UI-EI-O fund. 

So, how do you plan on blaming the yellow ribbon garden outside the Manitoba legislature, the NDP government's support for Red Friday rallies, or the government partnering with Sears, Rona and Wal-Mart to poison young minds with yellow ribbon bullshit on the federal Liberals?

This is going to be good...

Quote:
It is now five years since Canadian troops were first deployed to Afghanistan, entering from the outset into a combat position. Canada moved into a war in Afghanistan without any Parliamentary sanction or debate. [url=The">http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=4880][b... Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien[/url] engineered both an endorsement and accommodation to the American 'war on terror' by moving into Afghanistan without directly supporting the American invasion and occupation of Iraq

[url=Canada">http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8023][b]Canada's Conservative Government Gets Advice on Prolonging the Afghanistan War Manley Report[/url]

genstrike

I didn't ask how you would blame them for the war itself, I asked how you would blame the federal Liberals for the yellow ribbon garden outside the Manitoba legislature, the NDP government's support for Red Friday rallies, or the NDP government partnering with Sears, Rona and Wal-Mart to poison young minds with yellow ribbon bullshit.

So, how do you blame the federal Liberals for the Manitoba NDP's support for war and militarism?

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