Can the NDP make a difference?
The grand malady of our times is that values, however revered and indispensable, are being sacrificed to the market place.
No small country can depend for its existence on the loyalty of its capitalists. International interests may require the sacrifice of the lesser loyalty of patriotism.
George Grant, Canadian Philosopher
Like any good philosopher George Grant delivers astute and thought provoking insights; including on a country called Canada.
He was quite correct when he states no small country can count on the loyalty of its capitalists. But it is also true that no big country can either. As we see in the US, its capitalists have spent decades shipping America’s industrial base off shore at great expense to the country in terms of lost jobs, increased poverty and a declining middle class.
He is being very polite when he says International interests may require the sacrifice of the lesser loyalty of patriotism. He might more accurately have stated that capitalism’s only loyalty is a pathological addiction to the bottom line, and be damned with every other value or concern that might interfere. This is especially true in our times as the goal of Neo-liberals is the utter destruction of nation states –big and small- in favor of their ravenous greed.
While the loyalty of capitalist elites must be questioned so too must the loyalty of political elites as these two elites work hand in glove in both countries. Where political elites are supposed to have some loyalty to the populations that elect them, their first loyalty has become, almost solely, to the capitalists. Governments have quite simply retreated from genuine governance and allowed too many of their powers to be usurped. They are practicing the politics of abandonment.
The abject failure of the Liberals and Conservatives, and the essence of their betrayal of Canada, is their complete and unwarranted submissiveness. Being on the door step of the Empire does not preclude exercising some semblance of sovereignty or the assertion of uniquely Canadian values and priorities. It merely requires some political will; or as Grant suggests a “thrust of intention.” Where there is no intention, no assertion of values, there is no country, just a drifter, open to every tyranny that happens along.
Grant points out America’s control over Canada doesn’t come so much from American pressure as it does from our politicians being ever so accommodating. Canada’s Liberals and Conservatives have been all too accommodating. With Harper’s Conservatives and now the Trudeau Liberals we get to witness the final capitulation as these parties are no more that agents for the Empire, and servants to Neo-liberal values. Both parties are pale imitations of their American counterparts. The Liberals are Democrat/Clintonian clones and have internalized too many of their corruptions. The Conservatives are a hapless cabal of has-been Harperites trying to out Trump-Trump.
Having been abandoned by these wretched and soulless nobodies our last great hope for real change and something resembling progressive values lies with the NDP, a party of professed good intentions that has never held power; but served the country well from Opposition benches.
As their leadership race proceeds the party has four credible candidates. This party has a date with destiny if it is ballsy enough to pursue it. It can continue to drone on from the Opposition benches or it can make a “ thrust of intention.”
The new leader of the NDP must be the one who is capable and willing to transition the party to being a major contender in the 2019 election. The party must be a truly social democratic party, willing to speak truth to power, and willing to take political risks.
Most importantly, it must cure insouciant Liberals of their knee-jerk support for a party that has betrayed them, and is in fact destroying the middle class.
Where the Liberals promised real change and progressive government they lied to Canadians. Now it becomes incumbent on the NDP to take up the challenge.