Saturday, April 16, 2016

The NDP is dead; Long live the NDP!

See past the dust clouds, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, house NDP is strong, unified, and vibrant, irrespective of what the bourgeois, richy-rich press and their celebutant talking heads would have you believe. The New Democratic Party is strong, unified, and vibrant, moreover, precisely because of the wild, unprecedented, and inspiring events in Edmonton, and not in spite of them. You see, while most Liberals are clueless enough to indulge in MacLeans magazine pablum concerning the demise of Social Democracy in Canada (and enjoy a hearty, if bewildered, guffaw), or nod their heads approvingly, line by line, at billowing low-life Conrad Black's cynical concern trolling and crocodile tears, most Liberals also have no idea what a catastrophic, unstoppable, and unrelenting shitstorm is about to hit them. The hard edges of the NDP family squabbles are over, they took place in Edmonton and were left there, and now the nature of the discussion is rather how we are to comport ourselves with respect to Justin Trudeau's crooked Liberal government, the character, content, and manner of the ferocious criticism that will be directed towards him and his cronies, and the basis of how society ought to be organized differently.

The unifying principle of the Social Democracy Party of Canada is precisely its commitment to Social Democracy, not merely as an option to choose once every few years, but rather as a process and practice. The function of a Social Democratic Party is to be relentlessly critical, to identify, analyze, and liquidate exploitative, oppressive, and undemocratic relations within both society and the party's own processes, practices, and everyday operation, and to be proud of its criticality with respect to both society at large and its own conduct, procedures, principles and convictions. The function of a Social Democratic Party is to subject all of these suspect actors and actions in society to rigorous critique, and, in so doing, articulate, advocate for, and construct together, superior forms of political and economic organization.

The commitment to these processes and practices of Social Democracy, which the NDP so profoundly and unambiguously reaffirmed and evidenced in Edmonton in voting for new leadership and discussions surrounding the LEAP manifesto, will become the touchstone, symbol, and rubric of the renewed and reinvigorated party. The old guard proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it can run a tough bureaucratic show. They didn't get beat by the owners of the means of production and exchange, they got beat by their own grassroots and rank and file, and that is the best kind of getting beaten for a Social Democratic party. If one is a Social Democrat then one ought to relish being outwitted by the grassroots of one's own party! That position ought to inspire one with hope! What the ouster of Tom Mulcair in Edmonton and the adoption of the resolution to debate and discuss the LEAP manifesto means is that the Social Democratic youth and grassroots of Canada are craving a big spot in front of a microphone where they can voice their hopes, fears, and aspirations. What the events in Edmonton signify is pure want and desire for the future.

What has been checked and rebutted in Edmonton is not Tom Mulcair but rather something larger, that is, the tepid professionalization and bureaucratization of the party that characterized the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s under both his and Jack Layton's respective tenures, and the functioning of a party apparatus that is neither substantively oriented by its most vibrant and powerful elements, nor disposed to let those components shine. Now Tom Mulcair will have an opportunity to sing where he shines and to shine where he sings, i.e. in Parliament, holding the Liberals to account. Nobody wanted to impugn his capabilities to do that, nobody wanted to make him look shabby or unwanted either as a man or as a Social Democrat, far from it. Tom Mulcair is a gritty and ferocious parliamentarian, who did, and will continue to do, a very good job as a fierce and unremitting critic. He was good at holding Stephen Harper to account, for which he should be greatly credited, and he won't make Justin Trudeau's life easy, either, for which he should be greatly credited. He inherited the reigns of the party in a period of incredible uncertainty in the wake of Jack Layton's death, and he did a great deal for the party given the circumstances. What was at issue, rather was the functioning of the NDP as a party, and making the point that there was a disconnect between the bureaucratic apparatus and the rank and file and grassroots of the party. The rebuke, or challenge, was precisely in overcoming a party apparatus that expected the service and participation of the grassroots and rank and file, but was nonetheless relatively disinterested in making that rank and file foremost in deciding the objectives and aims of the party.

What Mulcair's ouster and the adoption of the resolution to discuss the LEAP manifesto demonstrates is that the party apparatus is merely one powerful component of a yet more powerful composite assemblage that is, considered as a whole, invincible and indomitable. It is the uncomfortable and necessary obverse of the character of the relationship that will inevitably develop hereafter, that is, a tight and inextricable feedback between a steely and hard-nosed apparatchik core, and a passionate, literate, and savvy sea of supporters who see themselves reflected in the operation and voice of the party. In Edmonton, these forces were briefly, unfortunately, but nonetheless necessarily opposed; and the consequence of Edmonton is that their opposition has been transcended. Social Democracy is not a series of personalities, it is a crowd, a mass, out of which lucid, brilliant, articulate visions of how to orient and operate society differently radiate and emerge, get hashed-out and articulated, and it is the force and practice by which these visions will be realized. Who will lead Social Democracy? Social Democracy will lead Social Democracy. The function of a Social Democratic Party is fractious, contentious, and democratic, and isn't hindered by strenuous disagreement; it's very structure is fostered, strengthened and amplified by disagreement, it's veins are full of disagreement. Such disagreements concern different forms of social and political organization, forms of life, and analysis of and practice oriented toward combating predatory and exploitative interests in society. The function of a Social Democratic Party is to take all those energies which are opposed to exploitation and oppression in society and channel them most effectively against the exploiters and oppressors in society, and, by concerted practical action and the use of the ballot-box, to end such predatory elements and interests in society.

The function of a Social Democratic Party is to rationally process and analyze historical, social, and political events, and make them interpretable to the marginalized and working class in society, with the least degree of mystification, falsification, and obscurity as possible, such that the marginalized and working class in society can act on this information and intervene in historical, social, and political events. Thus, a Social Democratic Party is not merely a representative body but is moreover an environment in which those who are compelled to sell their labour-activity and those who are marginalized in society are able to hone themselves and learn how to oppose those who buy labour-acitivty and those who marginalize in society. Very often Social Democratic parties find that those who own things in society use their power and wealth in such a way as to reproduce political and economic systems which serve their interests and nobody else's, and the function of a Social Democratic Party is to call such people to account and to advocate for a political and economic organization of everyday life in which such people cannot game the system in this way. Just as it's purpose is to call to account haughty aristocrats and toady politicians, the function of a Social Democratic Party is equally well to call to account those who are misusing their wealth in society, abusing their privileges of ownership to grossly malform society, to arrange and engineer institutions of exploitation and oppression over top of and in spite of society. Those who own and exploit in society, and who appear to be so grossly and wantonly abusing the privilege and function of their ownership in society, ought to feel threatened! These owners and exploiters in society should be made to feel as though the framework that serves as the juridical basis of their ownership and exploitation is fundamentally uncertain, in question, under scrutiny, mutable, and the object of working class expropriation and transformation.

The function of a Social Democratic Party is to remember in scales of decades and centuries, precisely to keep a record of exploitations and fixes, mangy deals and cheats that hurt working families, and to not let the exploiters and cheats in society profit from the amnesia that they produce for and in the working class. The function of a Social Democratic Party is to break open and expose the falseness of easy answers, to refuse complacency with rhetorical schemes which fuck around the marginalized and working class, to ruthlessly expose the ways exploiters in society obscure and mystify their malfeasance, and to bring the marginalized and working class in society into a conversation about, and fight for, a fundamentally different kind of society in which exploitation and oppression are abolished.

The Social Democratic Party of Canada has elected to have a conversation about what Social Democracy means for the present moment, socially, politically, economically, and environmentally. The Social Democratic Party has elected to serve as the venue for a discussion on the different interests in Canadian society surrounding oil and gas development, how to develop the productive forces, logistics and infrastructure of Canadian industry in a sustainable way, and how to transition off a dependence on fossil fuels entirely. Instead of capitulating to the false choice of jobs or the environment that the Liberals and Conservatives espouse, Social Democracy asks rather who owns wealth in society, what it is being spent on, and interrogates if their continued ownership of the means of production and exchange is best for society. If a rational defence cannot be made for the particular activities of those who own wealth in society then it has to be seriously asked why they are allowed to exert such a controlling influence over both the industrial development of society, and the discourse surrounding it. These are fundamental social and ecological questions that have been put off for too long, and the function of a Social Democratic Party is to put those questions to the powerful, even and especially if the wealthy and powerful in society find such questions uncomfortable. Who owns what in society, why, and are the things these people are doing with their wealth beneficial or detrimental to society? The function of a Social Democratic Party is to fight, on a daily basis, the interests of the exploiters and plutocrats, whose interests are in every way served by the corrupt political and economic organization of present society. The function of a Social Democratic Party is to expose material relations as they really are, and to explain and advocate for how they could otherwise be. The foundational and aspirational aim of a Social Democratic Party is to say 'this is how things are, this is the basic organization of society with all its exploitations and oppressions right now, and this is how it can be transformed and changed.'

The Social Democratic Party expects Justin Trudeau to live up to his lofty talk about social license, but also expects and is planning that he won't, and is thus preparing as a government in waiting insofar as the Liberals are proving every day that they are socially, politically, and economically incompetent, conceited, arrogant, and aristocratic. The rhetorical functions of the very rich and their political mouthpieces are, in and of themselves, very different from the rhetorical functions of those who don't own the means of production and exchange in society. The failure of social license is tearing Canadian society apart, and the crisis of contemporary capitalism, and the daily reality of austerity, is wholly inseparable from this. Justin Trudeau is shiny and fake in a way basically everyone can see, and his government is already serving the very whim of every two-bit fat-cat plutocrat in Canada. Every cynical and fake word that dribbles out of the side of phoney spoon-fed jackal, Justin Trudeau, is ammunition for the next election, in which a reinvigorated, vibrant, and savvy Social Democratic Party, will soundly trounce hollow-suit, Justin Trudeau, and his gaggle of shabby and vestigial 1990s wonks.

The Liberals should be afraid of a Social Democratic Party that knows the force and determination of its own grassroots. The Liberals should be afraid of a Social Democratic Party whose members will not accept spectacle. The Liberals should be terrified and quaking in their boots of a Social Democratic Party that is going to be making intelligent and rational critiques of forms of ownership society, and the oftentimes exploitative implications of such forms of ownership in society. Whence comes this furious and invincible critique? It stems from the unifying force and function of Social Democracy itself.

Many different voices will come to the fore in the coming months to articulate new visions for Canadian democracy, each with a novel, considered, and principled stand with respect to both the LEAP manifesto and energy and infrastructural development in Canada. In Edmonton the NDP has affirmed that it is a Social Democratic Party, informed by Socialist economics and rational environmental critique, and it will conduct itself in this manner. Hereafter the story will go that Tom Mulcair was a fearless and indestructible opponent of every low and dispicable thing that Justin Trudeau tried to do, the provincial and the federal wings of the NDP unified under a banner of rational discussion and critique, prompted and informed by the LEAP manifesto, and, together, held the government to account, and went on to form the Government of Canada. The NDP is dead! Long live the NDP!

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