Left blogger a Class Act bemoans the state of the Canadian left on his blog. He says; "When is the left going to quit trying to be like its opponents,and begin to define itself by it's own actions and ideology?Give the people a real choice,a choice that stands for something,but above all principaled."
Exactomundo. When the Reform party was created it based itself not on the neo-conservatism of the Reaganites but on Western Canadian populism, a populism based on the Left. Recall, referendum, the attack on taxation, were all antebellum left wing causes at the begining of the 20th Century.
Socialism as Class Act calls it. It included the ideology of the producer republic, Georgism in the United States, the Cooperative Commonweal in Canada and the UK. It included syndicalism for the working class, and producer cooperatives for farmers and small producers. It was anti-monopoly and anti-rentier, pro land ownership. See Rothbard’s Reds Redux
Socialism at the begining of last century was not yet tainted with Bolshevism. And I use that term deliberately to distinguish it from communism. For within the anarchist and statist socialist movements were movements of communism, which went farther and further in their critique of capitalism than the anti-state socialists did.
Unfortunately the socialist dream, or vision, was lost in the coming forth of the social democratic movement and its statist ideal of the welfare state. Far from dying at the end of WWI in Canada the CCF called for social revolution, as did many of the socialists of the day. They still had only had a small taste of government, in this case the Socialist Party of Canada had been crucial to maintaince of power for the provincial Liberals in B.C, in the last days of fin de sicle 19th century.
The Socialist movement in Canada coalesced around the CCF, the Communist party and the OBU. With the destruction of the later and the success of the former in gaining political power provincially and representation federally came the end of the extra parlimentary left in Canada.
By the 1960's the CCF and the labour movement had purged the radicals and were now liberal social democratics just like their German predecesors of the century before.
The extra-parliamentary left was centred around the anti-Nuclear Bomb movement, Our Generation magazine, and what could be loosely called an anarchist left. One that was sceptical that state power could change anything.
Today the NDP and its social democratic ilk are really liberals in a hurry. And thus the plight that Class Act finds us in. We go back to the orginal debate between State Socialists and Anti-State Socialists. Is socialism a set of principles and and ideal to strive towards or is it the pragmatic logic of gaining state power.
It is of course the former since the latter has been a historic failure.
Since I of course do not believe it is the latter, I hardly consider the NDP or even the Trade Unions on the left. That is they cannot concieve of a program of workers and community control that is a radical challenge to the corporate/financial and state monopoly. They in effect are , as the left communists call them, the left hand of capitalism. They merely wish to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism while maintaining the status quo.
Expect no real answers from them on how to change or challenge the system.
But thank goodness the long march to Ottawa by the neo-conservative right in Canada has finally ended in a minority government. Because they too called for a revolution in politics as usual. And they too have ended up being no such thing, just business as usual.
Where the left failed during the past two decades was to see that what Reform had harnassed was a real grass roots disgruntlement of the working class towards politics as usual. Not always reactionary, it was based on feeling powerless and wanting to feel in power over our own lives.
The Left never got it. Whenever the NDP called for taxing the rich, the guys in the Alberta Gas Plants, unionized, and paid overtime saw it as an attack on their wages. It didn't matter that the NDP meant the Rich, as in the 1% of Canadians that own all the wealth, or the corporations, their message was lost on the working class. And for good reason.
We hate taxes. We love services. And we will pay for services, but we hate taxes. And why shouldn't we, over the past fifty years the federal and provincial tax base has moved from the corporations to picking the pockets of you and me.
The NDP finally realised this simple fact during the 2004 election and during the last sitting of the house. They called for more tax breaks for the working class. But because this runs counter to their state socialism, they were faint hearted in their calls, faint hearted in their attack on the Liberals and Conservatives as parties of the rich and entrenched power. The so called special interests.
The fact is that the Conservative government in Ottawa is about to launch a massive assault on the working class through taxation.
They will fund their 1% GST cut by eliminating tax breaks the Liberals brought in. They will give out a baby bonus that will be taxed. They will fail to transfer funds to day care programs clawing them back.
The Left should be calling for no taxation for anyone who earns $100,000 a year or less. Period. That is the mass of the working class in this country.
No party currently will call for this and for the elimination of user fees and the GST. For these are the little taxes that hurt, the death by a thousand cuts that so irritate each and every wage slave in Canada.
Tax the Corporations NOT the People, should be the watchword of the Left. Want Daycare and Medicare, the corporations should pay, out of pre tax profits. It is social capital that they directly benefit from in their bottom line, its what makes them competitive against the American capitalist model.
Eliminate all corporate tax loopholes. Eliminate offshore investment havens for the Rich. And in the process this will eliminate the Tax Department.
The Left should attack the failure of the Reformers, who are still out there as the recent Fireweed Forum on Democracy showed, and the parliamentary reformers,
to address the real issue of political reform in Canada.
The need for real democracy, directly elected revocable delgates to constiuent assemblies. To the right to referndum, to a renewal of Canada as constitutional confederation of the people not a con job. See my Abolish The Senate
On economic renewal we should be calling for the creation of peoples banks, the deregulation of banking from the hands of the State into the hands of the people as pools of capital for usage with institutional pension funds and workers investments to build small and medium sized worker/producer cooperatives.
See Michael Alberts Economic Participatory Democracy project; Parecon.
This deregulation would also eliminate large banks as holders of capital in the national interest. That role should be continued by the Bank of Canada, which delegated it to the national banks twenty years ago under the Mulroney Conservatives.
We don't need a state in Canada we need a confederation of peoples and communities in a federal system not of Trudeau's making or Harpers but in the Proudhonist model of self government.
And this cannot be done through electoral means, it takes a social revolution. The Reform party tried to do this from the Right and the NPI and other attempts to reform the NDP did it on the left and the result is Jack Layton and Stephen Harper. Nothing changed.
So Class Act I agree with you that the Left needs renewal. And the Left needs first to divorce itself from the existing liberal social democratic parliamentary mileu.
Then and only then will it become an authentic voice for Canadians who are frustrated and pissed off with the system as it is. We have been told to embrace change for twenty years by the neo-cons as they privatized public services. That change for change sake ideology is deeply embedded in all of capitalism corporate and managerial structures now. It gives us a window to challenge the very system of capitalism with a real Left agenda of People Power.
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