Thursday, June 17, 2021

Anti-Democracy: Fear and Loathing in the Greens and NDP


Annamie Paul says that she disagrees with the criticism of the illegal Israeli evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and of illegal Israeli bombing in Gaza expressed by her [dwindling] fellow MPs, but that they are nonetheless ‘free to believe those things’ without sanction. Unless, of course, the sanction is being badmouthed and slandered for days by your mouth-frothily Zionist advisor, in which case Ms Paul doesn’t think its the membership of the Green Party’s business if she lets this go on. Is this just a case of a neoliberal bobble-head celebutante accidentally setting fire to her own house? Or does this sudden convulsion within the Greens tell us anything about how politics functions in the present moment. Is it not the case that the entire old-guard of the Greens, including Elizabeth May, flocked to Paul only last year to avoid the election of a socialist? What was the bargain which was secured in that election for Paul, on the one hand, and that party brass, on the other? It was the same thing which Jagmeet Singh secured in 2017 with the old guard party brass of the NDP: the position of ‘leader’ in exchange for a pledge to not fundamentally alter anything about the undemocratic and not at all transparent Party structure. They are entitled to shift the discourse within their respective Parties towards acknowledging the systematically racist nature of Canadian Settler-Colonial society, but if they do so to such an extent as to impinge upon the conservative and liberal politics of their respective Party’s structures, then their positions are imperiled.

The difference between them is that whereas Jagmeet Singh has scrupulously kept to his initial bargain, never made any serious attempt to alter its parameters, simply resigning himself to the role of inert PoC figurehead, and shrinks from any confrontation with ‘his’ Provincial lieutenants in Horgan and Notley, Annamie Paul has now openly proclaimed the abrogation of her bargain in a fit of self-aggrandizement – the Green Party is to be the Annamie Paul Party, and nothing else. Members voted her in and the opportunity for their input has thus come and passed, all cogitation and deliberation has been concentrated in her own person, no one else need opine or intone, divine truth is revealed to her. Singh, for his part, is nothing like this. Singh has never contemplated the democratization of the NDP Party apparatus, and has adopted the paranoia of his surrounding coterie, clique and court, and thus would never say anything in a Tik-Tok which hadn’t been focus tested, freeze-dried, and reheated. 

But where they are the same, however, is overwhelming: victims of this unequal bargain, where they get to be the face on the ads, but only on condition that they subordinate themselves to the political apparati of affluent white liberals, within or without the Liberal Party. Both Singh and Paul are liberals, irrespective of being the ‘leaders’ of the NDP and the Greens, respectively, and they are liberal precisely in their supplicating themselves to the strictures and parameters of the possible dictated by an unelected, affluent, and predominantly white caste of Party familiars, fixers, and deciders. Paul is to be commended, in fact, for arming herself against this structure in the Green Party, for it is as contemptuous towards democracy, really, as she is. But what is she arming herself against it regarding? Is it some point of noble principle integrally connected to her experience and presence in the party, which she alone could give voice to? No, it is the length of time which is appropriate for her dipshit advisor to be trashing sitting MPs. Quel dommage.

The leaked audio of Paul’s discussion with Green Party National Councilors is really incredible for the stark view of the stakes and conditions of this kind of spectacular neoliberal politics: Paul’s position is that she doesn’t have to consult with the membership of the Green Party to determine how long to let deranged Zionists in her own office slag off sitting Green MPs - that, she says, is a matter she is entitled to decide without any input from anyone. The membership of the Green Party, she says, aren’t entitled to even be kept abreast of the existence of disagreement. All is to be conducted in secret, in private, behind closed doors. And this, - this! - is what Annamie Paul and Jagmeet Singh have so singularly in common: their belief in and adherence to anti-democracy.

At the 2018 NDP Convention, a motion was passed which called upon the NDP Executive to, for their very next Convention, solicit and publish resolutions four months in advance of the Convention to allow for their consideration and prioritization by NDP membership. It did not call for a harried prioritization by delegate-fees-paying delegates to the Convention, it called for their publication in advance precisely so that resolutions could be considered and prioritized by NDP membership within their local EDAs. This motion, passed at the 2018 NDP Convention, was called “Modernization and Democratization of Convention Resolution Process (7-45-18)." After years of simply not having a Convention, in contravention of the NDP’s own Constitution, was this resolution passed at the 2018 Convention implemented? Heavens no! The 2021 NDP Convention was, by all accounts – even the sympathetic to sycophantic and apologetic – a harried, undemocratic top down affair in which there was very little time to debate or pass resolutions. This was by design! It was a clause in the bargain made between Singh and the reactionary liberal fragment within the NDP, that democratic intervention into Party Policy be strictly circumscribed, perfunctory and onerous. Jagmeet is fine with this level of contempt for membership and democracy because it limits the amount of things Jagmeet Singh and his wavy-gravy ‘brain trust’ have to cogitate. Having to somehow rationalize the sole passed resolution of consequence, calling on Canada to not sell arms to Israel and to not trade with illegal Israeli settlements such as to enforce compliance with International Law, nearly broke their tiny brains. Whereas in Paul’s case, this antagonism has broken her brain, precisely because she is only capable of interpreting this antagonism as an interpersonal conflict of which she is disinterested. She doesn’t care about MPs being flamed for criticizing Israel when it is illegally evicting Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem or illegally bombing Gaza because she doesn’t care about Palestinians. Where Singh is agnostic on the belief in the existence of the oppressed Palestinian people, Annamie Paul is a true-believer in their non-existence. She is a partisan for the apartheid State of Israel, and in this respect she stands totally opposed to the already passed Green Policy of favouring boycotts, divestment and sanctions to compel compliance by Israel to International Law.

What both Singh and Paul practice is a kind of cynical false politics, anti-politics, non-politics, sub-politics, post-politics, where the material stakes of democratic politics recede behind their own personal Id-Pol markers, personal mythos, and cult of personality, and is superdetermined by them. This is the means by which the liberal party within the New Democratic Party maintains its political hold on the Party, and this is how the liberal party within the Green Party maintains its hold on the Party. It is the means by which liberalism is effected and ensured within these parties. Thus, it is a variant of social chauvinism, one whose means and mechanism is an asymmetrical reltationship between a charistmatic PoC leader who has the requisite Id-Pol markers, personal mythos and cult of personality, on the one hand, and a liberal party fragment working externally to the Liberal Party to ensure that the interests of the owning class are reflected within those other Parties. They are liberals who calculate their self-advantage in political life in being a liberal outside of the Liberal Party, rather than in, just as Jody Wilson-Raybould did upon being subject to “a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion” for SNC-Lavalin, a large Liberal donor. But, taking their show on the road, they replicate the liberalism of the Liberal Party within these third Parties who notionally stand for something other than liberalism.

Without the charismatic PoC ‘leader,’ in each of these other Parties which notionally stand for something other than liberalism the rotten and reactionary liberal Party fragment, working to reproduce liberalism within those Parties other than the Liberal Party, would be unmoored and shipwrecked! Without the reactionary liberal Party fragment within the other Parties’ support, the charismatic PoC leader would flounder and be pilloried in the privately owned presses. They exist in a symbiotic relationship with one another. The charismatic PoC ‘Party leader’ is the iron-lung for reactionary, affluent, white and settler-colonial liberals within the Green Party, and indeed within the NDP.

Whether they want to or not is ultimately beside the point: the position which Jagmeet Singh and Annamie Paul are in is structurally anti-democratic because they are not entitled to offer up democracy to the membership of their respective Parties, insofar as doing so would violate the bargain they made with the forces which put them into the ‘leadership’ of their respective Parties, would bring them into conflict with those forces, and would threaten their position. Insofar as they are structurally incapable of offering up democracy, either notionally or practically, Singh contents himself to exist as a televisual mascot for deeply unimaginative vestigial Blairite politics, whereas Paul indulges in convulsions of messianic neoliberalism and gossipy, catty, self-interested political intrigues like letting her sitting MPs get slandered and blaming the MP who left.

This stagnation and decrepitude of the NDP, and these irrational convulsions within the Green Party, are products of the same cause: the forcible censorship and suppression of ideological and political disagreement, their contemplation and discussion banished to behind closed doors and not subject to democratic intervention by the membership of the respective Parties at all. On the part of the Green Party, contemporary environmental politics must needs be connected to an anti-Capitalist and anti-Imperialist orientation which Ms Paul does not share and does not care for. Her reaction against the Green Party caste is neither revolutionary nor particularly interesting, it is more self-messianic hagiography than anything else. On the part of the NDP, Singh is more and more the face of total impotence with respect to the environmental hypocrisy of the Provincial sections which merely piles up around him while he looks on helplessly. He is allowed, of course, to posture towards and blame Trudeau, but never to heap calumny upon those actually responsible, ie ‘his’ Provincial lieutenants. He is content to ‘lay low’ and keep the job of ‘leader’ for as long as he can, irrespective of whether he ever understands or gives voice to anything of any importance or significant whatsoever – he couldn’t pick significance out of a police line-up. Singh’s political motto is 1000 days as a sheep. Paul’s is 1 day as a lion, but let loose in a petting zoo. Singh participates in the spectacle, Paul reacts against it in a purely self-interested and self-absorbed way, neither of these things is democracy, neither of these things is novel or interesting or revolutionary, they are just two variants of the same anti-democratic neoliberal scam.

The sine-qua-non of liberal politics today is two-facedness: on the one hand you have the pseudo-universalist baffle-gab platitudes rehearsed in public, and behind the scenes a cynical and calculative effort to preserve brand celebrities and interests of the owning class. And that is as much true of today’s Green Party as today’s ‘New Democratic’ Party. It is the way that liberalism is maintained in these Parties. A plague on both their houses. If Jagmeet Singh and Annamie Paul would be revolutionary but are constrained by the structures and systems of their respective Parties, they are to be pitied, and if they would not be, and could only contemplate a philosophical horizon of their own personal brand and vibe, and endless self-interested hagiography of themselves, and aren’t interested in democratizing the NDP or the Green Party, then they are to be loathed.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Love your analysis. Friendly comment: the blog is very hard to read because the type is so small, the page is so wide, and the paragraphs are so long. I say this only to urge a more readable format. To me this is incredibly important analysis that you are offering that more people need to hear and read and discuss. All best to you and your work.