Thursday, October 29, 2015

Just forget about a Canadian Corbyn -- How a lackluster left in Canada gets the Mulcair it deserves

What happens within the power structure of the NDP after the party runs the worst campaign in its history, in that it squandered its shot at power and, for the first time ever in Canadian politics, allowed a "third party" to catapult and leap frog itself to a majority government?

Not only does the former Liberal cabinet minister Tom Mulcair that the NDP imported to lead them to government and who then blew it say  "he nonetheless intends to stay on as party leader and lead the NDP into the next federal election in four years"  but he also says he intends to appoint a committee to tell him what "went wrong."

Seriously.

One can assume that this "committee", beholden to him, will be unlikely to point to what without any doubt was the largest thing that "went wrong" -- that being his leadership and the inept and incompetent strategy developed by him and his staff.

The farce shows every sign of continuing.

In doing this Mulcair takes a page from the successful effort of the ONDP's Andrea Horwath to keep her job after she ran a disastrous campaign in 2014. After all, why not? He imitated in a totally suicidal way the tone of her fiasco in the playing out of his. But Horwath, who in  any party serious about holding its leadership to account and about actually achieving results would have been shown the door, also brought in defeated caucus members to whitewash her decisions and not only survived a leadership review but saw her approval rating increase!

A striking testament to the grotesquely delusional and insular political culture of the NDP.

There is no reason to think the same gambit will not work for Mulcair.

Perhaps worse, now that it no longer matters, up arise the folks who are predictably calling for a new direction for the social democratic left in Canada in the wake of the NDP catastrophe.

Congratulations. Your prescient hindsight is tremendously underwhelming.

For years absolute and abject hypocrisy have ruled the day among an important part of the talking heads and institutional leaders of the "mainstream" left and labour movement.

While they frequently claim and pretend to support radical ideas and policies -- especially if they are happening in other countries that they can spread useless internet memes about -- in the day-to-day reality of today in Canada they support do-nothing NDP politicians and actually attack and undermine those who call them out.

Which makes sense. The powerful and "big fish", even if powerful and "big fish" within a relatively small pond, want to remain as such. Challenging or changing anything would be a threat to themselves.

Now that the NDP campaign -- a campaign that many, myself included,  predicted would collapse -- has tanked we on the left must endure either inane and offensive attempts to pretend the campaign actually went well or an onslaught of those who two weeks ago supported Mulcair wholeheartedly now going on wondering about "why is there no Corbyn?" in Canada.

Why is there no radical movement to remake the NDP or Canadian left on a federal level of any consequence?

That is actually rather simple. It is because of them and them alone that there is no Corbyn like leader or the possibility of a Corbyn like left wing movement within the NDP.

For literally decades the vast bulk of the party and labour leadership, New Democrat party organizers, members, partisans and apparatchiks and many of the accepted or "acceptable" left commentators, have actively worked to prevent the emergence of any left wing vision or any leftist and grassroots driven challenge to their power and dominance.

There is no Corbyn because they have done everything they can to prevent one.

There is no Corbyn because they line up and support the NDP, nepotistic nobodies who are given nominations or supported for party positions solely due to their last names, liberal municipal politicians and whatever "strategy" and platform is handed to them to pretend to be enthusiastic and thrilled about election-after-election-after-election-after-election.

And if anyone tries to do something about this in any meaningful way these folks attack, undermine and slap them down.

Meanwhile tokenism and sloganeering substitute for action  as everyone pretends to support manifestos they have no intention of doing anything in the real world politically to make happen, rendering these flamboyant celebrity studded press conference versions of activism every bit as useless as all the other previous such grandiose much ado about nothing statements.

The reason that it is impossible to envision a Canadian Corbyn is that there is absolutely no one anywhere in any authority or with any power in the "left" in  Canada that actually either wants one, or, far more importantly, will actually do anything, at all, to help to back or create one -- including taking the first and essential step of condemning Mulcair's leadership and the party's strategy in recent elections and calling for the decisive shift.

No one.

It is also very difficult to see how there is the remotest possibility of significant change within the party's profoundly undemocratic reality that they helped to foster and create by always inevitably circling the wagons around the party when push came to shove.

If any of these people really want a new left -- a real, active, demonstrably, obviously anti-capitalist left -- they need to get off their asses and actually try to do something to create this other than twitter shares and Facebook statuses about exciting initiatives in other countries or Quebec.

They need to actually try to build a new movement or party or at least be willing to entertain the idea in a way that threatens the NDP establishment.

Otherwise, give it up and admit the obvious.

The limitations of the pathetic, neo-austerity, neo-liberal, opportunist and capitalist NDP are where their supposed radicalism lives and dies and the claims about wanting any kind of  party that will actually challenge the dominant political narratives and consensus in this country are simply a pretense and farce, which we all know they are.

Mulcair and one-or-two of his advisers may be sacrificed, though even that, as we have seen, seems increasingly unlikely.

But either way you can rest assured nothing of any meaning will change. And far from a Canadian Corbyn, in four years, yet again, we will get another repeat of this shallow sham followed by another week or two of hand-wringing wondering why the left can never present an exciting or compelling left vision by many of the very same people intent on ensuring that it does not.

See also: Delusion continues to rule the day in Mulcair NDP

See also: Doubling down on disaster

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