What is "socialism"? what is "mainstream"? What's the point of trying to sound "safe"?

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Uncle John

Socialism does not have to be Utopian... That is pretty clear by reading at the never-ending marxists.org :)

I think you need to have a pretty libertarian society before you can have real socialism. Individual freedoms and capitalism have to be well-developed before they agree to pool their resources into communes, collectives, co-ops, syndicates, etc., and bring out workers' ownership and democratic control of the economy.

melikesocialism

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Hey Brian,

First of all, congratulations on being elected to serve as President of the Federal NDP.

On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary, especially since the "WHEREAS" sections were never disclosed and since you saw at the Convention how divisive this issue was. Can you speak to that question? Why did the Resolutions Committee choose to divide the energies of the NDP on this issue when we could instead use your talents to build a media and communication infrastructure that is not so hostile to the NDP message?

Good question. I hope Brian responds.

Caissa

The motion to change the preamble should never have been brought forward. Bad politics and bad optics.

Coldwell Coldwell's picture

"On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary, especially since the "WHEREAS" sections were never disclosed and since you saw at the Convention how divisive this issue was. Can you speak to that question? Why did the Resolutions Committee choose to divide the energies of the NDP on this issue when we could instead use your talents to build a media and communication infrastructure that is not so hostile to the NDP message?"

Actually, the whereas clauses were omitted from all of the resolutions, a practice that was also followed at the 2009 Convention--over the objections of many party members I know. Those clauses are intended to set out the rationale for the resolution that follows--a point that is explicitly acknowledged in the NDP's own policy manual which was sent to riding associations this year as a guide to drafting resolutions.

Following the approved format, riding associations, like mine, dutifully submitted resolutions with multiple whereas clauses only to have the preambles deleted by the Party before they were made available to delegates. I'd like to know why and by what authority the Party presumed to suppress the preambles. It seems to me that the Executive of the Party presume a great deal when they ride roughshod over the rules and well-established practices of the Party.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Caissa wrote:

The motion to change the preamble should never have been brought forward. Bad politics and bad optics.

I totally agree, and I believe I (and others) made the same point in the (now closed) NDP convention thread.

Policywonk

Boom Boom wrote:

Indeed - your point about good writing. I was referring to your attitude - fix the problem and get it out of sight by referring it to poets, etc.... rather than deal with it at the convention. That's condescending by taking a superior attitude.

Content is as important as language. There is some recognition that the content needs to be more inclusive, but I doubt there is overwhelming agreement on what our vision, values and principles are (certainly there is a lot of common ground) It was irresponsible to even bring it to Convention without wide, meaningful consultation beforehand and it was obvious that bringing it to a vote would not be advisable regardless of the outcome. Personally I think both democratic socialism and social democracy are outmoded terms and that the Party does and has to stand for more than what either has traditionally meant, but I'm willing to live with either label as long as it is clear what our ultimate vision is, what we stand for, and who we stand with, and that these are sufficient to address the current social and environmental situation (the economic situation is not separate from these).

Policywonk

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Hey Brian,

First of all, congratulations on being elected to serve as President of the Federal NDP.

On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary, especially since the "WHEREAS" sections were never disclosed and since you saw at the Convention how divisive this issue was. Can you speak to that question? Why did the Resolutions Committee choose to divide the energies of the NDP on this issue when we could instead use your talents to build a media and communication infrastructure that is not so hostile to the NDP message?

It was requested by a resolution at the 2009 Convention. Perhaps the wording of that resolution could be posted, if someone has it.

Policywonk

6079_Smith_W wrote:

@ Policywonk

Yes, I know that. THe point I was making had nothing to do with making a list of what all constitutes democracy, so I didn't think I had to make a list.

But there are plenty of cases of healthy democracies (and I do consider the UK and Germany to be fairly healthy democracies) committing oppressive acts and even atrocities.. Committing these acts does not make a state not a democracy any more than it makes it fascist. 

And while I happen to agree with you on the need for an equitable economic system, to say that true democracy is not possible without socialism is both false, and meaningless. It is a perfect example of stretching these technical terms (democracy and socialism) to the point that it is not clear exactly what you mean. 

Socialism cam mean everything from democratic socialism to national socialism. 

And democracy? 

Economic democracy? What does that mean? I am sure some people would think that means a flat tax or only property-owners getting to vote. Or that we make some of our most important decisions by the way we spend our money (I happen to believe that). Or that the more money you have the more influence you should have.

That is my point - that when you start taking technical terms and using them as buzzwords for utopian ideals and complex political systems they always lose their meaning and we end up witn confusion.

Democracy is government or governanance by people, not by money. Hence cooperatives (one member one vote) are democratic, other corporations are not (at best one share, one vote, assuming no non-voting shares). Your examples of economic democracy are not pertinant as it is obvious that that is not what I mean.

Policywonk

Coldwell wrote:

"On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary, especially since the "WHEREAS" sections were never disclosed and since you saw at the Convention how divisive this issue was. Can you speak to that question? Why did the Resolutions Committee choose to divide the energies of the NDP on this issue when we could instead use your talents to build a media and communication infrastructure that is not so hostile to the NDP message?"

Actually, the whereas clauses were omitted from all of the resolutions, a practice that was also followed at the 2009 Convention--over the objections of many party members I know. Those clauses are intended to set out the rationale for the resolution that follows--a point that is explicitly acknowledged in the NDP's own policy manual which was sent to riding associations this year as a guide to drafting resolutions.

Following the approved format, riding associations, like mine, dutifully submitted resolutions with multiple whereas clauses only to have the preambles deleted by the Party before they were made available to delegates. I'd like to know why and by what authority the Party presumed to suppress the preambles. It seems to me that the Executive of the Party presume a great deal when they ride roughshod over the rules and well-established practices of the Party.

I can see two main reasons for eliminating the whereases: Translation costs and paper reduction. The second could be taken care of by including the whereases in the electronic versions only. Whereases could also include incorrect or questionable information.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Indeed - your point about good writing. I was referring to the tactic of getting it out of sight by referring it to poets, etc...  for a later presentation rather than deal with it when it was presented.

 

(edited, because I was uncomfortable with making a personal attack on Brian)

Aristotleded24

Policywonk wrote:
I can see two main reasons for eliminating the whereases: Translation costs and paper reduction. The second could be taken care of by including the whereases in the electronic versions only. Whereases could also include incorrect or questionable information.

The part that I bolded is all the more reason to include the "Whereases," as the policy resolutions come from those sections and it is important to know if the information upon which the resolution is proposed is faulty.

Brian Topp Brian Topp's picture

"I was referring to your attitude": I guess I'll take the roughly (from what I could see from where I was) 1000 to 40 vote in favour of my motion as a reassuringly contrary verdict by the convention on my attitude.

 "On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary": That's a good question. I confess I wasn't involved in this matter up until Saturday night at convention and I'm not sure why this became a priority. As policywonk points out, it arises from a mandate at the 2009 convention. A case can be made that we should always be looking at everything we do and challenging it, to ensure we're making progress towards replacing the Harper government and advancing our principles and proposals. But as this matter has demonstrated, members of our party take their foundational documents very seriously. So a wider discussion is required -- and a much broader concensus in the party than this draft atttracted. That was another of my arguments for referring it for more work. I don't mind giving this another try over the course of the next convention cycle, but I wouldn't recommend that another take be re-submitted if we aren't pretty sure it will command very wide support. The party officers and federal council, the leader and caucus, our riding associations and members, and our strategic partners like the labour movement are stakeholders in this discussion. That said, it is worth repeating that our labour caucus at convention was supportive of the 2011 draft that was referred -- it does make progress on some issues, like the role of labour, and the centrality of equality.

 

Policywonk

Brian Topp wrote:

Good writing is never "condescending". Good writing is powerful, inspiring, and helpful, which is what we should be looking for from the preamble to our constitution. Writers, performers and poets have a lot to contribute -- perhaps "plain weird" to you, brother, but what my union works for every day. Notwithstanding your views (which suggest a contempt for creative people familiar from our opponents), I think that when we are working on a project like this, they're good folks to talk to. Delegates seemed to agree, since they voted to move forward with this project as I proposed (building on the progress made; more to do) in convincing numbers.   

The condescending part was the perception that that all the new preamble needs is better and more inclusive language and perhaps a mention of how markets aren't perfect. There are creative people in many fields, and that includes ideas as well as language and performance.

melikesocialism

Policywonk wrote:

Coldwell wrote:

"On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary, especially since the "WHEREAS" sections were never disclosed and since you saw at the Convention how divisive this issue was. Can you speak to that question? Why did the Resolutions Committee choose to divide the energies of the NDP on this issue when we could instead use your talents to build a media and communication infrastructure that is not so hostile to the NDP message?"

Actually, the whereas clauses were omitted from all of the resolutions, a practice that was also followed at the 2009 Convention--over the objections of many party members I know. Those clauses are intended to set out the rationale for the resolution that follows--a point that is explicitly acknowledged in the NDP's own policy manual which was sent to riding associations this year as a guide to drafting resolutions.

Following the approved format, riding associations, like mine, dutifully submitted resolutions with multiple whereas clauses only to have the preambles deleted by the Party before they were made available to delegates. I'd like to know why and by what authority the Party presumed to suppress the preambles. It seems to me that the Executive of the Party presume a great deal when they ride roughshod over the rules and well-established practices of the Party.

I can see two main reasons for eliminating the whereases: Translation costs and paper reduction. The second could be taken care of by including the whereases in the electronic versions only. Whereases could also include incorrect or questionable information.

Given that the whereas clauses provide the rationale for the resolution, if they contain incorrect or questionable information then wouldn't that make the resolutions also incorrect or questionable? It is the rationale that one debates when considering a resolution - that is what the disagreement about the constitutional preamble is all about. There has to be a reason for a resolution. What is the stated reason for the proposed change to the constitutional preamble?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Brian, I apologise for the personal attack, and I've changed my post accordingly.

6079_Smith_W

Policywonk wrote:

Democracy is government or governanance by people, not by money. Hence cooperatives (one member one vote) are democratic, other corporations are not (at best one share, one vote, assuming no non-voting shares). Your examples of economic democracy are not pertinant as it is obvious that that is not what I mean.

Nor is it exactly how I see it (lest anyone see me as some kind of fascist) . My point, again, is that a lot of these terms are greatly abused - from the right AND from the left.

melikesocialism

Brian Topp wrote:

"I was referring to your attitude": I guess I'll take the roughly (from what I could see from where I was) 1000 to 40 vote in favour of my motion as a reassuringly contrary verdict by the convention on my attitude.

 "On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary": That's a good question. I confess I wasn't involved in this matter up until Saturday night at convention and I'm not sure why this became a priority. As policywonk points out, it arises from a mandate at the 2009 convention. A case can be made that we should always be looking at everything we do and challenging it, to ensure we're making progress towards replacing the Harper government and advancing our principles and proposals. But as this matter has demonstrated, members of our party take their foundational documents very seriously. So a wider discussion is required -- and a much broader concensus in the party than this draft atttracted. That was another of my arguments for referring it for more work. I don't mind giving this another try over the course of the next convention cycle, but I wouldn't recommend that another take be re-submitted if we aren't pretty sure it will command very wide support. The party officers and federal council, the leader and caucus, our riding associations and members, and our strategic partners like the labour movement are stakeholders in this discussion. That said, it is worth repeating that our labour caucus at convention was supportive of the 2011 draft that was referred -- it does make progress on some issues, like the role of labour, and the centrality of equality.

 

Well said, Brian. It is nice to see someone who is open to this type of discussion in the party for a change. It should be a very interesting one.

Policywonk

Brian Topp wrote:

"I was referring to your attitude": I guess I'll take the roughly (from what I could see from where I was) 1000 to 40 vote in favour of my motion as a reassuringly contrary verdict by the convention on my attitude.

 "On to the changing of the preamble, I have not been given a compelling reason why a change was necessary": That's a good question. I confess I wasn't involved in this matter up until Saturday night at convention and I'm not sure why this became a priority. As policywonk points out, it arises from a mandate at the 2009 convention. A case can be made that we should always be looking at everything we do and challenging it, to ensure we're making progress towards replacing the Harper government and advancing our principles and proposals. But as this matter has demonstrated, members of our party take their foundational documents very seriously. So a wider discussion is required -- and a much broader concensus in the party than this draft atttracted. That was another of my arguments for referring it for more work. I don't mind giving this another try over the course of the next convention cycle, but I wouldn't recommend that another take be re-submitted if we aren't pretty sure it will command very wide support. The party officers and federal council, the leader and caucus, our riding associations and members, and our strategic partners like the labour movement are stakeholders in this discussion. That said, it is worth repeating that our labour caucus at convention was supportive of the 2011 draft that was referred -- it does make progress on some issues, like the role of labour, and the centrality of equality.

Well said. Equality should be central, but so must sustainability and democracy. One question is how to be inclusive without downplaying the link to the labour movement.

Brian Topp Brian Topp's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

Brian, I apologise for the personal attack, and I've changed my post accordingly.

No offense taken at all -- it was good vigorous debate, always the best kind. All the best, bt

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Yes, it was, maybe a bit over the top, but that's how it goes sometimes. By the way, I took out an NDP membership while Pierre Ducasse was the candidate because I was quite taken with him as a candidate. I let my membership expire, after getting too many requests for donations. I'm living on disability and it ain't no picnic. I like the new MP here, and I might take out another membership, but I sure wish the donation requests didn't go along with the membership.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Seems like this is a nice conciliatory note to end this on. Long thread!

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