Monday, June 20, 2011

NDP: “democratic socialists” or “social democrats”?

For the first time ever, the federal New Democrats can see the brass ring almost within their grasp, and they’re anxious to grab it and the reins of power in Ottawa that would be their prize. It’ll be fascinating to see how far the Dippers are prepared to go in re-making their party’s image to attract the centre and centre-left voters needed to put them in power—to reposition the party as a government-in-waiting.

At the NDP convention this past weekend, delegates rejected a resolution calling for a ban on any merger talks with the Liberal party. As one delegate reportedly said, “Please don’t lock the door on what could be potential for growth and development.”

A wise, pragmatic sentiment.

According to the Globe and Mail, the preamble to the NDP constitution states:

“The New Democratic Party believes that the social, economic and political progress of Canada can be assured only by the application of democratic socialist principles to government and the administration of public affairs.

“The production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people within a sustainable environment and economy and not to the making of profit.”

Some delegates had sought a revision that would have removed references to “socialism” and substituted paler—some would say “watered down”—and more centrist wording in which “making of profit” is not demonized.

It is also apparent that many in the NDP want to downplay the party’s involvement with and loyalty to the international socialist movement. To that end, they sought to delete wording from their constitution that states the party is “proud to be associated with the democratic socialist parties of the world… .” Proposed new wording would have the party stand “in solidarity with its allies around the world… .”

Delegates were sharply divided on the changes, however. Some saw them as a way of refining and modernizing language to describe NDP values. During debate on the issue, Pat Martin, MP for Winnipeg South, said that the existing language that frames the party’s purpose and objectives was an anchor that is dragging down the party’s electability. “Our anchor is holding us back,” he said. “All we have to do is a few simple things to change the language so we don’t scare people.”

Barry Weisleder, the party’s socialist caucus chair, felt otherwise, however. “Socialism is not an anchor, it’s a rocket,” he said. “You can take socialism out of the preamble but you can’t take socialism out of the NDP.”

At the end of the debate, delegates decided not to vote on the issue, asking the party executive to take another look at it and bring it back to the membership at another time.

So are are the NDP “democratic socialists” or “social democrats?” Or does it even matter?

Libby Davies, deputy leader, believes they are the former and that socialism lies at the core of her party’s principles. “Modernizing language is important but I don’t want to lose the sense of the roots of the party, and who we are,” she said in an interview Saturday in Vancouver. “We are not the Liberal Party, we are the NDP,” Ms. Davies said.

Ms. Davies’s contention that Dippers are not Grits is an admission the NDP is not a centrist party and ought not to pretend it is. Pragmatists among the NDP—and apparently there are many—would like to disguise their true nature and slip in among those of us who see socialism as a failed political and economic system, pretending they are benign “social democrats”—some sort of soft-liberals. I don’t buy this, not for a second.

Socialism, NDP-style, is a sure path to social and economic ruin. Other countries have found it such and we should learn from their folly.


© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.


  1. I think jack knows how strong the Quebec voters are for the word "National" , and if he lets it get inside the the NDP title as a Socialist based Party he may have to live with the moniker of a similar "National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) called for short, Nazi.

    Jack Layton and Olivia Braun would head the NsDaP which the Islamofacists will love because the NDP is already anti-israel and allowed a Pro-Shariah Law Sunni Muslim to run for them in Ottawa.
    This Sunni muslims was a Palestinian and pro-hamas , so don't be fool by these champagne Socialists pretending to speak for the workers of Canada.

  2. Karl Marx as good as admitted that socialism was a failure when Marx ordered his followers to kill in order to "keep the revolution going". Surely folks don't cling to socialism & Karl Marx because Marx admitted his mistake. An awful way to admit a mistake. And an awful reason to cling to Marxism.

    More likely that most folks today don't really know what Marx Karl said. Karl Marx lived in squalor writing prolifically, frittering away inheritance from both his parents and his wife's parents and money from Engels, the textile factory clerk in his father's mill.

    Whatever it was that Lenin read of Marx, Lenin certainly read the part about killing. Lenin did some killing himself and passed that legacy onto his protégé Stalin. Seldom heard that in the name of agricultural reform Stalin killed more than Hitler. Marx's socialist legacy didn't stop at Stalin. The socialist baton was passed to Mao and out did Lenin, Hitler and Stalin put together in terms of dead citizens. Was said that socialism always leads to the killing fields.

    Fair enough, I can believe that most folk don't know what they're getting themselves into or what they're associating themselves with when they believe in socialism. Now the socialist leaders are a different matter. The word "sociopath" comes to mind. Those are the characters portrayed in the television criminal episodes. The ones that seem to plan to kill or swindle for self entertainment.

    Just to be fair, maybe socialist leaders see themselves as a guiding hand that will lead their flock away and around the perils of socialism. Another word comes to mind, "narcissism". The therapist that thinks that the sociopath can be cured is wrong. Sociopaths can't be cured and will only pervert what is learned for sociopathic ends.