The only way forward for the NDP-Abolish The Executive Council

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Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture
The only way forward for the NDP-Abolish The Executive Council

(this is an expanded version of a post I originally made on Disqus, fwiw, in a discussion about Libby Davies' book) 

The NDP Executive Council needs to be abolished. The Council plays no useful purpose and there is no justification for the veto it holds over party policy and candidate approval. Every time the Council has said "No!", the party has lost an opportunity.  Every time it has made the choice to distance the party from sources of progressive, transformative energy(expelling the Waffle in the early Seventies, rejecting the NPI in the Nineties, refusing to back the Quebec students and anathemizing the Palestine solidarity community and the social movements, and emphasizing only the right-wing parts of the platform like balancing the budget as Mulcair did), the result has been the hollowing out of the party, the destruction of all enthusiasm, and the loss of the activist vote, with nothing and no one coming in to replace those who were excluded or driven away.

2015 proves caution doesn't work; It proves obsessing with "safety" doesn't work; It proves "respectability" is useless; most importantly at all, 2015 proves, once and for all, that the Left is not the problem or the enemy. The only place where energy exists on the progressive side of the spectrum is at the grassroots level; the only way to give the party a leadership with energy is to have it led from BELOW, with passion, with vision, in the name of making dreams flesh.

The only way forward is not only to try to win elections, but win them in the only way that matters; by making a real effort to WIN THE ARGUMENT.  This will not happen until the Executive Council is abolished and control over policy, internal party organization, and candidate selection are where they should be-in the hands of the rank-and-file alone.

Pondering

Who chooses the executive council? 

cco

I think there are two separate issues here: the organizational one (should the executive exist?) and the general policy direction one (which is more about the people who actually sit on the executive). Note that the federal executive is a subset of the federal council. Since both are elected by convention, an argument could be made that getting rid of one or both would only serve to concentrate more power in the leader's office between conventions.

The NDP's eternal chasing of the mythical median voter is a long-standing problem, but I don't think the concept of the executive is to blame. Of course, we could always go all the way to QS's policy and get rid of the leader altogether. A few years ago, I thought that was a foolish idea, but I have to admit it's looking better to me these days.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

I like having a leader-free party, too.  Why NOT reject personality politics?

Debater

We live in an age of personality politics.  I don't think that's going to change anytime soon.

And at the federal level I don't think parties can go without a leader.  Leaders are very identified with parties in the minds of the voters.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Then have a leader, but tell the leader they have to let the rank-and-file decide the program and run ON the program the rank-and-file choose.

And enough of this running out the clock at convention to prevent resolutions from getting voted on.  There's never been any valid justification for that.

It doesn't do the NDP any good to have a group of all-powerful cowards holding a veto over what the party will stand for.

Badriya

Ken, I totally agree with you.  The NDP can keep the leader, and I would add, keep Federal Council, but make them responsible to the rank and file of the Party.  The NDP used to be a grass-roots party, with policy decided at Convention and selected motions presented as the platform during elections.  It should go back to these roots.

WWWTT

Ok good provocative thread Ken Burch. 

Off the top of my head, the closest political party to what you’re proposing is the Communist Party of China. 

Agreed?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

WWWTT wrote:

Ok good provocative thread Ken Burch. 

Off the top of my head, the closest political party to what you’re proposing is the Communist Party of China. 

Agreed?

No...the OPPOSITE of the Communist Party of China.  China's party is led by an even more centralized, anti-democratic leadership-it accepts billionaires as party members, which pretty much totally takes the "Communist" part out of it.

My view is that the left needs to be utterly free of repression and undemocratic, bureaucratic centralization.  What matters more than anything else is giving working people actual control of the workplace, and, as much as possible, giving people actual control of the collective decisions that affect them outside the workplace.

Why on earth would you think I'd endorse a state that punishes people for the "crime" of pointing out that the current Party leader looks a bit like Winnie The Pooh?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

My view is that the left needs to be utterly free of repression and undemocratic, bureaucratic centralization.  What matters more than anything else is giving working people actual control of the workplace, and, as much as possible, giving people actual control of the collective decisions that affect them outside the workplace.

So Ken you are an anarcho-socialist just like me.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

My view is that the left needs to be utterly free of repression and undemocratic, bureaucratic centralization.  What matters more than anything else is giving working people actual control of the workplace, and, as much as possible, giving people actual control of the collective decisions that affect them outside the workplace.

So Ken you are an anarcho-socialist just like me.

Essentially, yes.  

Every time a "socialist" state chose authoritarianism and censorship and the creation of secret police and Red Guards and the destruction of popular institutions, the result was a disaster and a betrayal of what the Left is about.  The lesson is clear: no good comes of ever repeating any of those choices.

To remain a living, valid concept, socialism must always be about liberation, must always be about breaking chains, not forging them.

Under whatever labels I've given myself-and years ago, saying things like that got me called a Trotskyist on this board, which is ironic given the role Trotsky played in destroying the revolutionary character of the Russian Revolution and converting it into nothing but a regime-this is how I've always see it.  It's why I connect to the Paris Commune, the Krondstadt rising(it was never a mutiny, despite the vanguardist lies), The East Berlin revolt against Stalinism in 1953 the Hungarian revolution of '56, the libertarian-socialist wing of the students in Paris in May of '68, the Prague Spring, and the Allende era in Chile, and why the models I engage with most deeply today are the unrealized transformation embodied in Occupy, the community councils in Chavez' Venezuela-we can assume Maduro will destroy those and have people who were on them arrested for their roles-the rising co-operative movement throughout the world, the models for dialog and education developed by indigenous people in Chiapas and Oaxaca and their allies in the EZLN and the rank-and-file of the teachers' unions, and heroism of those fighting to create a secular, left anti-authoritarian model of social organization in Rojava.

The future of the left lies in making it a place free of fear, free of conspiratorial paranoia, free of frenzied campaigns against "deviationists" and "imperialist running dogs", free of the indefensible spectacle of troops from one "communist" country ever again invading another "communist" country just because some decrepit old "First Secretary" type in the former thought things in the latter were no longer repressive and fear-based enough.

If the Left is not always about liberation, if it is not about freedom from fear as much as freedom from want, it ceases to be the Left.

Pondering

Ken Burch wrote:

The future of the left lies in making it a place free of fear, free of conspiratorial paranoia, free of frenzied campaigns against "deviationists" and "imperialist running dogs", free of the indefensible spectacle of troops from one "communist" country ever again invading another "communist" country just because some decrepit old "First Secretary" type in the former thought things in the latter were no longer repressive and fear-based enough.

If the Left is not always about liberation, if it is not about freedom from fear as much as freedom from want, it ceases to be the Left.

Bears repeating.