Monday, May 16, 2011

The Human Alternative. . . .

I find it fairly interesting the way Liberals and Conservatives in this country are desperately trying to portray the NDP as a wacky socialist throw-back to the 1960s. Acceptance of this characterization is based itself on an old idea - the idea that the NDP has not changed its policies in forty years or so. However, despite the fact that there are some on the far left in the NDP, overall it is now a party more or less of the centre. Their primary political goals nowadays are a strengthening of the CPP, a more solid commitment to universal health-care, a tax system that doesn't let corporations get away with murder, and some effort to control what is gradually shaping up to be an environmental disaster. It is all pretty tame really and anyone who attempts to characterize them differently is just intentionally feeding on stereotypes for the sake of partisan gain.

But even if the NDP was a throw-back to a more genuine socialist effort, I say bring it on. Far from being wacky or dangerous, socialism is the only thing that will save us from environmental destruction, oppressive economic inequalities, corporations that have gone completely out of control, and a slowly degrading state of democracy. There is no doubt that the process of globalization has made any socialist effort significantly more difficult. Corporations have fairly effectively created a atmosphere in which states have a limited independence to control their own economies. But there is also a growing international awareness of the power of corporations to control people's lives and the need for real reforms before it is too late. The economy belongs to the people, not to multinationals, and if the people want to take control of the system, then they can and will. One needn't be a radical who believes in no market process whatsoever to believe that economies can be run in the interests of average people and that corporations should not be controlling all of the social, political, and economic aspects of our lives.

The only reason that people perceive the NDP agenda to be radical or whacky is that they have bought into the spin of neo-conservatives who have created an ideology which convinces people that they are entirely at the behest of corporations and that there is no alternative. Well there is an alternative, and it means limiting the power of corporations to set the agenda and to create an economy in which people matter. It is not a radical alternative, it is a human alternative.

5 comments:

janfromthebruce said...

And they voted by giving the NDP the largest opposition in a majority govt ever - so yeah, there is an alternative to the same old, same old!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the NDP is not the radical group some of the more shrill commentators would have people believe.

I'm curious about your assertion that "socialism is the only thing that will save us from environmental destruction..."

When I think upon the truly nationalized states (China, USSR), I can't help but think that their stewardship was no better than in the Western world. In some cases worse.

~Leo

kirbycairo said...

Thanks for the comment Leo. Absolutely no argument with you on the record of the USSR and China. But I would make several points. One is that the USSR and China have little or nothing to do with socialism. If they were indeed really socialist countries then indeed I would have no faith in socialism's promise for environmentalism or anything else for that matter. Stalinism and Maoism (which morphed quite seamlessly into a state heavy capitalism) are products of 19th century ideologies which were born of industrialism - it is not surprising that they would grow into what they did.

My contention is that capitalism is essentially a cancerous ideology that must, by its very nature, drive toward growth and exploitation. And as such, efforts toward environmental protection (even in capitalist nations) have consistently been social efforts rather than market efforts. I think that socialism is defined by cooperative effort and only cooperative efforts will save us from environmental disaster.

This claim begs the questions, of course, 'what is a cooperative effort' and doesn't capitalism involve 'cooperative' efforts. These questions are obviously too large to answer adequately here. But suffice to say that capitalism survives and prospers to the degree that it runs against its own stated principles of individual self interests. Only in the areas where it embraces cooperative and social efforts will we be able protect the environment.

Richard Carroll Sheehan said...

What's NDP?

Owen Gray said...

I've missed reading your posts, Kirby.