The degree of partisanship in Canadian politics continues to amaze me. And this partisanship is increasingly coming from the Liberals directed at the NDP. And I am not talking about genuine political discourse here, I am referring to sophomoric, offensive, personal abuse as one recent relatively high-profile blogger making remarks about the size of Jack Layton’s penis. Of course, not everyone is engaging in such effrontery but it is becoming disturbingly common, and sadly widespread from a party that has, in recent years, seen the political atmosphere poisoned by the ultra-partisan Harper government. And even when the more rabid partisans are not making ridiculous criticisms of Layton, or some other NDP Member of Parliament, I find it amazing that so many Liberals are continuing to belittle the NDP as a party of crazy left-wing quacks. This really is getting wearisome, particularly in light of recent global events.
First of all, the NDP is not really very left-wing: Oh that it were! Second of all, how much more evidence do we need that Western Capitalism is not, in its present model, anywhere near as effective as its adherents would have us believe? Most members of NDP are actually pretty middle of the road social democrats who just believe that a regulated market economy can be fairly effective in various ways but that so-called market forces are not effective and don’t belong in certain other areas such as healthcare and education. Many NDP supporters also understand that there is a pretty strong, hardly secretive, coalition of banks, big-business, arms manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies etc, who have for a long time now and continue to promote a certain ideology in their interests and continually attempt to undermine the promotion of social solutions, as they are at present in the US debate over healthcare. Now, given the fact that Capitalism has demonstrated its feet of clay so spectacularly in recent years, many of the policies of the NDP have never been so relevant and important. It is very amusing that so many of the social policies that most people find essential to our society were promoted by parties like the NDP but people continue to berate such policies when they are perceived as new ideas. The vast majority of the Canadians today support a universal medical system, universal basic education, the right to collective bargaining, legislation to ensure safe working conditions, etc etc. Yet there was a time not that long ago when all of these policies were berated by many as crazy left-wing ideas that were communistic in nature and not practical.
The continual attack by many Liberals on the NDP portraying them as a bunch of wing-nuts who have no idea about realistic politics just make the Liberals look more like the self-righteous, bullying, hyper-partisan Conservatives. And the funniest part of the whole thing is that where the NDP now stands on the political spectrum is very close to where the Liberals stood 35 years ago. So when the Liberals criticism the NDP of today they are, in a very real sense, insulting the former generation of Liberals. Now don’t get me wrong, the NDP continue themselves to be far too partisan for my tastes. It is remarkable that during this weekend’s convention the NDP has talked a lot about the need to build on the political strategies of Obama. Yet many of them don’t seem to understand that Obama’s primary strength is that he almost never sounds partisan, even when he is pushing a partisan agenda. Jack Layton, on the other hand, sounds partisan almost every time he opens his mouth.
In the early 19th century Percy Shelley laid out what was at the time considered a dangerously radical agenda. He called for universal suffrage (including women), the elimination of hereditary privilege, the right for people to form trade unions, a just and fair legal system, etc. Today almost everything Shelley fought for is considered to be essential to a modern democracy. But in his day Shelley was berated as a crazy radical who was evil and dangerous. So it goes.
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many they are few.
Thank you Shelley! We vow to continue your struggle and pass it on to our children! And we will never abandon our future to the petty, little soulless people who seek to enchain the human spirit and reduce our lives to nothing but money and profit.