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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

If Not The NDP or Some Other Vanguard Party... Then What?
by Coyote

During a brief phone conversation Peter Dimitrov and I had, one of the points upon which we seemed to reach speedy agreement was, our mutual disdain for virtually all the existing political parties jockeying for power positions within current capitalism-, certainly in this country. The particular essence of our shared position was however, that the issue right now is not really about the importance of electing this or that alternative political party to power, at any level of the political process in Canada. Indeed, it is certainly my view, and I think Peter's as well, though I should be cautious about over claiming an in depth knowledge of his real views, that it is really quite irrelevant which party secures the formal reins of formal power right now.

So, if Peter and I are right, that the most important issue right now is not who The Left backs in the next Federal or Provincial election, what then is the proverbial most important issue right now? Are we not merely advocating that we cut off our nose to spite one's face?

First, I'd let the parties convince who they can on that one and everyone pick their choice of the party likely to do the least amount of harm right now. If you really are persuaded that it is even important to vote at all at this time. And I, for one, am not. All of the most likely current successful contenders right now, in my view, are more alike as peas in the pod than they are substantially different, and about to produce negligible change in the current neoconservative course upon which capitalism world wide and in this country is embarked.

Better, and more likely to produce a positive result in the final analysis, I think, is simply for masses of people to just stay at home on voting day, and vote with their feet, like between 30-40 % of the population already do at election time, against the currently inadequate and failed status quo Big Money, ruling class controlled so-called "democratic" system. Such a behaviour, in fact, is far more likely to lead to this electoral and party representation system's collapse and meaningful reformation than the religious mantra pursuit of voting at all costs for "the lesser evil". (The generally accepted folk wisdom on any given subject is likely, at least, as often not true as true anyway.)

But then, I agree that this in and of itself is likely not enough either, for as well as the negative there must also be the positive to walk hand in hand with it.

And the positive is, in my view, the overwhelming need to re-focus instead on rebuilding and invigorating the mass social movements of the people, including the labour movement, and movements amongst the poor, as the real source of all power, which too many years of social democratic (NDP) reliance and control over the left, joined with their effective control over the leadership of the trade union movement have been allowed to languish and fall into virtual irrelevance. Without such vibrant social movements of "the people", these co-opted NDP and Trade Union leaders have themselves been eunuchized, lost their power base, and been party to their own decline, and possibly impending demise. The very social environment such movements create, and upon which they depended to sustain them, they destroyed with their opportunist insistence upon the overweening importance of "electoral success" within the status quo system of so-called "democracy" itself.

All of which has led, post the collapse of "liberal" postwar "prosperity capitalism" to the sorry state in which the people, society, and the natural environment are increasingly coming to exist. For the NDP, the Trade Unions and the left generally were really functioning all along, once "the people" were disengaged, at the discretion and tolerance of the ruling class system-, which all came to collectively forget, over-believing in their own natural power assumptions.

Which is certainly not a desirable position for any of us on The Left to be in, for sure. Indeed, life would be much simpler at least, if they were right, and all we really had to worry about is, alongside whom to park our X, once every four years, and then just lean back and party hardy thereafter.

Because it means now that we actually have to do something. We have to figure out how we are going to create these social movements again, and then engage them and move them towards some kind of a United Front against "the system", as had to be done by earlier generations. Well fortunately, this is in part being made easier for us by some folks themselves, (who are ahead of the Left very much actually, doing to much yada yada, as we are too often prone), such as those folks right now who are occupying those buildings in downtown Vancouver, demanding increased housing units to be made available to the poor. (Which I think is an outstanding action by these folks which can and needs to lead to the creation of a massive movement of the "engaged poor" everywhere.) "The Left" needs to get in there, work with and assist these folks, and all such movements like it, from whatever social direction they emerge. (Food Banks are much in need of radicalization as well, in my view.)

Likewise, if there is not one currently, inside or outside the trade union movement, there is a need for a major reformation and change of leadership direction within the House of Labour itself. And there needs to emerge there, a social movement as well, to achieve this.

Unorganized workers need to begin to search out ways as well, that they can begin to come together, initially secretly if need be, to organize themselves and build up a power across society that serves their interest as well. And Left folks amongst unorganized workers need to take the lead in that.

And the "social movement need list" goes on, into the environment, the special conditions of women and children, and even students and academics need to be brought to see the commonality of their interests and opportunities, with those of the mass of the citizenry. They have education and leadership roles that they can play in assisting this entire "social movement" creation process.

Not easy. Not formulaic like getting out for this or that party candidate, or even putting your own X on a ballot, but necessary. And more important in the end, in my view. And necessity is the mother of all invention.

And something tells me that Peter may have something additional and cogent to say on this subject as well.


Larry Gambone said...

I think part of the problem is that for so many years people have relied upon the orthodox, or shall I say perhaps more correctly, the establishment left, to if not organize things for them, at least be on side. Many people who would be independent militants are also tied one way or another to this left establishment. This makes both independent action and perhaps more importantly, the notion of independent action more difficult. Hopefully, the dismal failure of the post-1970's NDP and BCFed will begin to change that sitution.

Peter Dimitrov said...

Many excellent thoughts Coyote, indeed, we agree on many points. Coyote, within the British Columbia context I regretably agree that the existing two-party system is a 'two peas in a pod' system. One "pea", the BC Liberals understands how to use the existing politcal power centralized in the legal concept of the CROWN to write 'new rules' to advance corporate capitalism, attack workers & the poor, women, indigenous, seniors, students, the environment, etc, and to 'piratize' the public assets, rivers, hydro, railway lines in a give-away at fireside prices, primarily under a cloak of 'secrecy' facilitated by disgraceful Freedom of Information laws. While I, Peter Dimitrov, 100% disagree with what they are doing and have struggled diligently against this, I must admit they have thusfar been sufficiently 'masterful' in implementing this strategy. That 'neo-liberal 'pea' is very connected to its 'base' of corporate support, getting the corporate donations, getting the corporate media & business comunity on -board, finding the lawyers & intellectuals, to write the 'new rules', and more recently, apparently buying 'labor peace' with various public sector unions.

AS I see it, a result of all of these "new rules", of the BC form of 'neo-liberalism" is both an external and internal dimension of our oppression. The external appearances of that oppression manifest in many forms - virtually all the 'problems' that we speak about, namely, poverty, sell-off of the people's resources, unequal distribution of wealth and power amongst the regions in BC, and 'classes' of people, centralization of political power, the attacks on many sectors of the populations which I, Coyote, Lynn, Larry, BC Mary, and many others have mentioned before and which have been chronicled on the Tyee, bcpolitics.ca,, CPCA, and other sites, etc. etc.

It is however, the internal form of that oppression, which is very difficult to overcome: the apathy, feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness, despair, alienation, insufficient focus, lack of creativity, drug & alcohol misuse, excessive focus on entertainment and the latest techno gagets, the grinding poverty and fatigue of the 'working poor', working & working but not getting ahead, insufficient solidarity, cooperation, between peoples and regions that ought to be making accords and working closely together. All these are energies of internalized oppression, including the introjection into our psyche of the oppressors values, culture, belief-systems, all of which distracts, fascinates, beguiles, confuses us. Indeed we must find those 'liberation voices' within us that are struggling for oxygen, struggling to free itself from the voices and images of oppression that surround us in the media - the cops in the head - that say "No" we can't, we shouldn't, that hold us back disunited. That is the work of all of us, in trying to build a 'social movement', along with focusing on the external manisfestations of oppression, we must awake to the reality that we are each internally oppressed, yet united too, in that we we seek liberation, to create a new type of human, a new type of society--other then this capitalistic-militaristic-consumer society that is gobbling up the planet.

And the other 'pea' within British Columbia, with few exceptions of some fiesty MLA's who deserve applause for their strong opposition, has essentially bought the Maggie Thatcher's TINA argument, and regretably under the leadership of CJ, seems obstenstibly a " nice 'party' - 'contented in Victoria" - with few exceptions as mentioned --mostly cut off from their base of support, and run by elite political cadres.

To put it bluntly, it is a f**k of a mess we are in, and we and the vast majority future generations will suffer immensely due to this BC Liberal piratization and the 'new rules' which 'lock-in' the growing unequal distribution of wealth and poltical power.

But what to do? Certainly, as Coyote states, if you feel inclined to vote for any of the existing party's at least vote for 'harm reduction'. But more then that as I've said before:

... rather then actually forming such a party (The Party of the Regions) at this point in time, at least now and for the next year or so try to genuinely create a 'social movement' with common aspirations around the creation of new rules, 'accords', and some policies, .which at some point in time, could then formally if it wishes, become a registered political party....working the base/creating a base!

There are several themes that can unite us - province-wide - especially the "hydro-power" bill 30 issues, 'human rights versus corporate rights"...Bill 30...whereby the Province trumps local municipalities and regional districts from trying to control independent power producers by 'zoning' - thereby undercutting local power...pisses a lot of people off/ and hydro rates are going up, up, and away..along with our control of our rivers, transmission lines, etc.

As I said to Larry on this blog, ..i noticed the 'flag" on your post ... black & red...but perhaps more meaningfully for this age - "black&red & green & i guess pink too" - eh, ....meaning " anarchist, socialist, environmentalist, gays& lesbians' ---a hell've alliance on the left --along with 'activist labor" --and "feminists" ...to be added ...and 'indigenous peoples"...-as for ----"liberty, equality, fraternity"...reframed as "liberty, equality, co-operation" for the modern age...why not? ..

We need to come together and create a common front that still respects our diversity--- and it will take time, but each step --will get as there...right now..we are quite fragmented, disorganized...but it is possible to build a multi-faceted, yet united social movement in BC.

Can we my friends, discuss between us, what are aspirations are for such a social movement, what its values ought to be, a modest agenda - that might cause others to join in together...consider some of these...and I realize I sometimes am all over the map...but the values of 'libery, equality, cooperation"..

1) ensure that 'human rights' prevail over 'corporate rights';

2) undo the BC Liberals 'rules' that benefit the corporate sector, and which concentrate wealth, and which focus political power in the Premier's office & Victoria; begin the process of ending this stupid (yet powerful) legal fiction that 'corporations are constitutionally entitled to all the rights of a natural person'.

3) stop the piratization - in all its manifestations,

3) ideas for re-invigorate democracy, restore transparency, accountability, governance in the public interest, a fairer voting system, etc.

4) write 'new rules', make 'new accords' (forget the use of the word internal constitution...when people hear that word it sets off alarm bells), that will more equitably distribute political power & wealtth of the province to peoples and regions that are today obstensibly disempowered. (see my previous article on that). This implies to challenge the concept and the power of a centralized Crown and the rights of Premiers and a few powerful ministers to govern like 'dictators' under our executive form of federalism.

5) tackle this problem of media concentration..

6)...find the activist workers who wish to join such a social movement...who are fed up, if you get my drift.

Perhaps to start in our own region, to build that social movement, region by region, then make accords between regions, geographically based, but also, too communities of common interest too.

g west said...

It's hard to disagree with anything posted above here - so I won't.

Except I guess to ask a couple of basic questions.

If, as seems the case, the post 1970s NDP has been (in Anarcho's words) a dismal failure, what can we learn about that failure?

Clearly, if the last provincial election is any lesson, there is a majority of voters in this province who would have preferred another alternative to the one currently in power.

This is not to say that a Carole James Government would be a panacea, it wouldn't. But, it would be - I'd suggest - a damn site better than the one we've got now.

In the absence of any indication that there is hidden support out there for a new party and a new provincial constitution, what can the few of us who meet and talk here and at other places like Peter has mentioned actually do to advance the cause?

Clearly Peter and Coyote have described the need:
"to create a new type of human, a new type of society--other then this capitalistic-militaristic-consumer society that is gobbling up the planet." - as Peter writes.

Anarcho has described the 'problem' of relying on the left establishment to address the issue in concise terms as well.

So, we know what's needed and we know why conventional politics has not really addressed the question.

But, forgive me if I suggest that we need to take another step. Somehow or other we have to find a way of bringing this knowledge to a wider audience.

Clearly Tyee and/or the conventional media is an ineffective approach. If things were worse economically for a wide range of the population it might be possible to do more local organizing along the lines of what M J Coldwell and Tommy Douglas did in Saskatchewan in the Thirties. But it's not, not yet at least. And even if it were, I'm not at all convinced the results would be the same in the present.

The levers of fiscal and monetary policy are so firmly in control of corporate capitalism that I wonder if we don't have to find another way to reach out.

Some way of making people recognize that community need not suffer and human relations regress to the point of commercial transactions.

Surely there must be a way to make people begin to ask these questions of themselves.

But, in the meantime, don’t we need to demonstrate the compromised nature of the current government, and, in some way work to get rid of them – no matter how imperfect the current alternative? Shouldn’t pushing for some kind of coalition between the NDP and the Greens be at least a thought in the back of our minds? Another 4 years of Campbell/Taylor after 2009 would be even worse than what we have now.

Anonymous said...

on this topic, of what we can realistically do, i think we need to converse with each other, identify various options, and decide which ones are do-able. I regretably don't see any future in an NDP-Green merging, neither the NDP or Greens, or the majority of people within each party are in favour of that, doubtful too that the leaders are. At this time, for me, this idea of building a social movement is key. A movement that not only "opposes"...but also 'proposes' a few things too. My initial article on BC Hydro outlined some ideas in particular - and my clear intention is to stay away from the topic of an "inner constitution" for now, as well as 'forming a new political party'. A social movement to: oppose & to propose, that will include whom, whose values/preferences are, whose simple agenda is??

Peter Dimitrov said...

that last post was mine, Peter Dimitrov.

g west said...

Agreed Peter, the 'merging' idea is definitely verboten, but, I actually didn't say merge. I was suggesting a 'coalition'.

That kind of thing, cooperating to make progress and 'share' power has a long and houourable tradition in Europe.

I think, properly prepared for, discussed and carefully planned there are enough points of common purpose between the two parties to actually make a coalition, and power in the next election, a real possibility.

I'd say that the first thing the two groups would have to agree on in precisely the kind of electoral changes in the system that would mean some of these other worthy objectives are (farther along the road of course) at least a possibility.

The re-integration of the citizenry with community and the re-establishment of some common purpose - which is at the core of everything we both aspire to - hasn't much chance until there is a government in power that isn't totally in the hands of the manipulators.

I'm not excusing the NDP, or the Greens for that matter - I'm just saying they are better (and more fundamentally progressive in terms of a willingness to engage in real radical change) than the current bunch.

Four more years of Campbell-Taylor and think of the costs and the further damage done. Your point about BC Hydro is a good one and may well be an issue around which some wider public support could be marshaled. I heard an interesting discussion on the subject on Co-op Radio last Friday I think it was.

So while I'm certainly not against the discussion/meeting and moving out of these kinds of efforts (here and elsewhere); I think we also have to think about how wider engagement and involvement in the existing institutions can be an effective lever for change and progress too.

I have no recipe of course, but I'd hate to think that three years from now we were still just a small handful of groups talking to each other.

I'm not a member of either party, having torn my NDP membership up years ago, so I clearly have no access to the inside. But, remembering how quickly Carole James backtracked on the golden handshake with Gordon Campbell over MLA remuneration makes me think that, properly applied, she might bend to pressure and start actually 'doing' something.

You're much closer to the party than I am, Peter, perhaps you'll disbuse me of these ideas pretty quickly - so be it.

I'll await your response.

Larry Gambone said...

I agree Peter. I see the movement as like a stew. You take half a cup of anarchism, half a cup of socialism, a lot of greens, finely chopped, a big dollop of feminism, a teaspoon of honest conservatives, a big dollop of gay liberation, etc. As with a stew the result of the combination is tastier than the parts taken individually. But also like a stew, you can still pick out the individual chunks of meat, carrots, spuds etc. In this manner, diversity becomes a strength rather than a weakness – as long as all the parts see themselves as being in in the common stew pot. I call this stew “left populism”, or perhaps even better, “libertarian populism” , and it seems to be the dish that folks are cooking up in lots of places, especially our Latino brothers and sisters. As for my anarchism or libertarian socialism-anarcho-syndicalism, well, obviously from the preceding, it is not a dogma with me. I like the idea of being grounded in some sort of tradition, which does not mean it has all the answers. I am also intrigued by the thought that maybe the working class movements that lost out historically to Fabian social democracy and Leninism are worth researching for clues to deal with todays situation. Most serious anarchists today are of these opinions and the model being followed is like that of the Zapatistas in Chiapas or the Magonistas of Oaxaca, rather than that of a carping sect telling the world what it ought to do.

Coyote said...

"Clearly Tyee and/or the conventional media is an ineffective approach. If things were worse economically for a wide range of the population it might be possible to do more local organizing along the lines of what M J Coldwell and Tommy Douglas did in Saskatchewan in the Thirties. But it's not, not yet at least. And even if it were, I'm not at all convinced the results would be the same in the present." wrote GWest.

And I do understand where G. is coming from, even sympathize with his view somewhat. It seems to be the instinctual direction in which one wants to move with the emergence of social consciousness. But I don't know about the rest of you though, but been there and done that, as is said.

The experience of my life is, that it is not enough to have the "do gooder" instinct, which I do have, but if one's actual ambition is, and is convinced of the need to actually, in fact, transform society, that alone, in and of itself is not enough. One can stand before all the groups and parties one wants, form all the coalitions and make all the compromises one wants, preach to the leaders and the led, BUT, and this is the real depressing kicker, if the certain, particular objective conditions are not there, in a socio-ecmomic situation that has people "sufficiently prepared" by way of receptivity and willingness to act, there are but two courses open to the do-gooder. 1. Submit to the status quo system, join one of the "system tolerated" status quo parties, get elected to parliament and beat your head against that wall. Maybe even get elected Prime Minister and forget about your ideals, make all the necessary compromises, and find a self delusional niche for yourself in the ruling class controlled arrangement of society.

And lots, including the leadership of the current trade union movement and many a "social democrat" has done and are doing precisely that. And now "The Greens" are getting set up to join in the Grand Game of so-called "expediency" themselves.

And I think those that want to do that, to walk that route attempt, should do so. My experience is though, that it leads nowhere but co-optation, compromise and, in the end, submission to the status quo. And I'm sorry. Because I really do wish sometimes that I could even self-delusionally convince myself otherwise. But I can't.(And again, lots do, apparently quite successfully, like that totally fucking useless Carol James et al.)

On the other hand, going back to my starting point here, if one's ambition really is to actually "transform" society, then one is doomed to await and assist how e'er modestly one can, the creation of those very particular socio-economic and poltical conditions which must be pre-existing as the foundation upon which such a possibility is conditionally dependent. A point which has brutally been driven home to me, time, time and again.

For without, like I point to with that movement of poor folks and their allies actually physically occupying and fighting for buildings and housing for the poor such as we are currently seeing in Vancouver, and like social movements of ordinary people around many major issues, who have finally had enough, are looking for alternatives, even radical ones, and are finally prepared to take the system on, who is or is not in The House, is basically irrelevant. For it is "people", not politicians or trade union leaders, in motion and making demands, who are the real drivers of change.

Without them, or if they are unorganized and still relying on rugged individualism alone, one might as well stick one's erect phallus out the window and attempt to fuck the world, for all you are really going to do or accomplish.

I think there really are things we can do, but the fucking NDP, or even the Greens is not it, or any other of the current crop of "vanguardists". And what we can do, for as little and humble as that may seem sometimes, is involve ourselves with "ordinary" people where e'er we can find them and around whatever issues are of concern to them.

It's them, even though they don't realize their own "power" potential, in motion and taking "the system" on we need, not all the so-called enlightened and progressive "politicians" and trade union "leaders" in the world.

Which is the direction I'd rather put my attention and remaining energy to.

Instead, we need a quite different directional re-focus, away from the "professional politicos" and towards the concerns of Joe and Jane Blow, and their deteriorating, changing circumstances.

Peter Dimitrov said...

hey G'West - as you said:

You're much closer to the party than I am, Peter, perhaps you'll disbuse me of these ideas pretty quickly - so be it.

..considered yourself disbused of the idea that i close at all to the NDP these days...not active at al.

I like you idea of 'stew" Larry, while I prefer the idea of a 'tapestry' of colours overlaid on a background of red&black...Indeed, BC Hydro could be a rallying point, but with Christmas around the corner, and hockey season ...politics will be likely be a no-show until 2007 - that is my take anyway...but this is a good time to dialogue. I note in the Province today - only read because i was waiting at some government office for an hour plus and someone left it around --that while Corky Evans says the NDP ought to talk to the Greens, CJ said definitively it was not on her agenda. They don't get it...to defeat the BC Liberals is going to take forming - at the least, some electoral alliances--as I see it anyways.

Peter Dimitrov said...

the other day i was at a public event on BC Hydro, it seems BC Hydro has signed many long -term contracts with those various 'independent power producers" (private companies), and while BC Hydro now pays about $6.00/ per Gigiwatt (thats a million watts), come the year 2009 they will be paying $84.80 per gigiwatt, rising to $92.10/gigwatt by 2010, all of which costs are going to be passed on us residential consumers,...maybe by then, "the objective conditions' which Coyote speaks about will arise...and something can be done..However, if a small group of people could, starting soon, begin to help get these facts out to the various 'communities' , the formatiive steps towards creating a social movement around this issue might occur. Then --and it is coming, is the issue of uranium mining - once again- which spawned quite a social movement in the early 70's. Plus, the poverty issues, homelessness, and issues such as Bill 30 --which does piss off a lot of municipal politicians -especially outside the coast. Given that these power companies will essentially 'own' the water in they river systems for renewable 40 years licences, and likely will be flipping ownership of them to US companies --me thinks, humbly, that more then a few people could get pretty pissed at this sell-out- and rate -increases.

g west said...

After your last comment, Peter, I wandered over to Tyee and encountered Skookum1 (another of our Free Columbians - you must know of the Yahoo Group and should join too Peter) who'd posted a couple of provocative pieces on the Garth Turner thread.

I'd suggest to all that it's worth a moment to hear him out as well.

While I'm in agreement with the long term vision, I'm also pretty damn anxious - as Peter seems to be at the end of his post too - to find a way to knock this bloody Campbell off his high horse come the next election.

Check out Skoomkum1 - he puts it better than I do brothers and sisters.

lynn said...

"Given that these power companies will essentially 'own' the water in they river systems for renewable 40 years licences, and likely will be flipping ownership of them to US companies --me thinks, humbly, that more then a few people could get pretty pissed at this sell-out- and rate -increases."

I think You're quite right about the BC Hydro issue being a strong rallying point, Peter. Who won't this travesty affect other than the favoured few? I think a lot of people are not aware that these so-called green power companies intend to eventually flip ownership to US companies. In our area GE Electric is already investing millions of dollars in one of these independent power producers. (Too few people are asking themselves why would GE do this?) Certainly not for altruistic reasons. They ( the independent power producers)also seem to have our local newspaper editor, a strong Green supporter, totally enthralled as well...and they have placed huge two page ads in the local paper trumpeting their so-called green power corridors. They are trying oh-so-hard to present themselves as "at the service" of the public...so much image control and manipulation being used under the green label of late.

I've really just about given up on the NDP...and my parents were strong Tommy Douglas supporters so I hung in there for a long time, hating to betray what my parents fought for. But the NDP seem to have no awareness of the valuable time being lost, of what has now become irretrievable by not acting or opposing effectively...nor even a sense of urgency of the losses yet to come. I mean, when do they think "would" be a good time to act? Things can hardly get much worse when it comes to the relentless attacks on our human rights and sovereignty.

And to me the Green party is mostly about packaging and image as well...if a very honest and simple (in the best sense of the word) man or woman headed the party, I may take them seriously. To me they are totally a party of compromise and co-option. They try to look and sound good but candidate wise they have never impressed me...I'll be honest...I don't sense the necessary depth in the Greens that struggle often instills.

So I guess count me as paddling my own canoe right now...if Mel Hurtig or Shirley Douglas decided to run, I'd support them...and I'd definitely work towards the changes embodied in the social movement you and Coyote write so eloquently of...the rest right now, I'm not so sure of.

Coyote said...

And I don't want to say either, that I think that "politics", even in the sence the NDP and Greens tend to speak of it, in mere terms of "electoral politics", has or need have no absolute role to play in educating the public, and assisting the process which needs to occur, of stimulating peoples to organize and act in their own interests. It certainly can and could. And if I saw someone or group out there I was really convinced would actually do that, I'd be there like a shot.

I just don't see it there, in any of the current crop-, and regrettably. And I'm finished voting for opportunists and chickenshits anymore, or playing their dance around the maypole "electoral success" games.

Been to that well one too many times, only to find it dry.

Still, I am waiting to be inspired and motivated into life by something I can convince myself is really genuine again.

I just don't see it, or even its glimmer. For sure the NDP, like the trade unions, and I'll still support any group of workers on strike, have shown us all their cards by now, and all I see is a loosing hand-, even if they win the next election with Carol.

And I think that is really what it has to finally come to; everyone just so fed up with all the games and bullshit that, they just don't buy it anymore. And having got to there, coming to the realization that if we don't all act together and do it, there ain't no one else going to.

Right now, the role the "politically conscious and principled left" has to play is, in a word, education. Agitprop, we used to call it in the "old days". :-) Which is the starting point, followed eventually, hopefully, by organizing those all important "social movements".

Peter Dimitrov said...

G'West, - i don't know of the Yahoo group you mentioned in your post...would like to check into it...and Skookum's piece that you mentioned.

Hey, it seems this little blog is off to a good start--I'm sure good things will come of it in time.

g west said...

Hi Peter,
It's called Free_Columbians.

I'm sure Coyote will pick up your query and send you an invitation to join - such as it is. Be glad to have your participation.

Coyote said...

Why folks actually still get "up" for supporting a party and a candidate at election time, I think, is that it is actually something one can do. It's the one thing "the system" allows, even encourages us to do as a kind of safety valve "release". They know its a harmless enough thing to their interests, so long as they control the process and its outcomes.

The real good it actually does or achieves thereafter, is quite another more debatable matter.

What made the thirties and the immediate postwar period different, and made Douglas, Coldwell and company today "seem" so effective and great was not so much they themselves or "the party" they represented, though they will certainly take the credit, but a mood and a feisty "social atmosphere and agitation" at the time, and movements of people organizing and challenging the system, making "demands".

These "great men" were no doubt useful as voices, but the real muscle and power that forced the system to take their counsel in the end, was what was occurring on the streets, in the schools nd jobsites of the time, and with the return of thousands of men from Europe, familiar with arms and war. There was a widespread "expectation" of change after the war and the dirty thirties, which it would have been extremely dangerous for the ruling class and its elites to have ignored.

That's what drove Douglas and Co., and brought citizen and working class power to bear, producing the social changes now being undone in our Neoconservative time-, when all that is now but a distant memory, and folks are all just focussed upon themselves and their individual lives.

It's that punishment thing for forgetting "real" not "propaganda" history again, which I suggest, our citizenry are going to have to re-learn, all over again.

It's going to, maybe even has to get worse, before it gets better. How e'er unfortunate that is.

g west said...

I should also have pointed out that the comment from Skookum1 (who is another member of Free_Columbians) was posted at Tyee on the Garth Turner thread. You can find it there.

I have a question about the Hydro issue.

People quote Bill 30 as the enabling legislation. Wasn't that the Miscellaneous Statues Amendment Act in the last sitting?

Are they making these changes through legislation or adminstratively through the Regs?

Peter Dimitrov said...

Hi G'West,

yes, it was the Miscellaneous Statues Amendment --as to Regs or Legislation I haven't checked so can't tell you on that...but Bill 30 really pisses a lot of municipal/ regional district politicians off...increasingly, with this, the Project Sreamlining Act, the off-loading of costs & cuting back to school districts, etc. the fact that some municipalities are on the hook via property owners to pay into the Olympic Legacy funds (Vancouver must pony up $5 million), etc.....municipal/regional politicians can see the writing on the wall...just how 'junior' a governance municipalities are...indeed, complete creatures of the province - which is all fine back in the 1800's ---but now, in my estimation there is a great 'political power & fiscal imbalance' between cities/municipalities & the provincial government...a movement needs to happen to redress that imbalance...and 'localize' more power in the regions..that what I think anyways..Gotta go.

lynn said...

Bill 30, Section 56 (Utilities Commission Act, Section 121) provides that an authorization under the Act, including a certificate of public convenience and necessity and an exemption from the requirement to obtain that certificate, is not to be superseded or impaired by anything in or done under The Community Charter or The Local Government Act.

Bill 30 effectively exempts electricity generator projects from public reviews by local governments. This, along with The Projects Streamlining Act that Peter mentions, is a lethal combination, indeed.

Prior to Bill 30, local governments would conduct public reviews to ensure such projects would not compromise local public values.

My husband was reading this morning that this would involve over 500 rivers. Absolutely shocking! ( And remember this is being advanced as green power!).

In one very fine article by Robin Mathews called "The Seditious Actions of the Gordon Campbell BC Government", Mathews submits this is "A Reason for Revolution". I agree.

g west said...

Thanks Peter, and Lynn. I may get back to you later - once I have followed up on this a little more.

Behind a screen ( I think you know where I'm coming from Lynn ) if necessary.


Peter Dimitrov said...

Indeed, Lynn, G'West, Coyote, the implications of Bill 30 together with the Project Streamlining Act (I'll call it Project Piratization)...does indeed potentially affect all the river/creek systems in British Columbia. As it stands now, I believe the government has sold water licences for 'green ' hydro power production on 38 sites...for a mere pittance to so called 'independent power producers" (IPP's). For a small hydro site an IPP company would pay $10,000 for a water licence - granted for 40 years, but renewal in perpetuity, often they get land on the site too - so as to build the hydro-generating facility. The province's royalty structure on these 'water licence contracts' denies virtually all economic benefits from our water resources. The fess our 'government' gets back are (a) the water licence - $10,000, (b) the annual water licence fee - around $200- $300 per year, (c) a volume based water rental charge, but unlike oil & gas royalties which are linked to the price of oil & gas, the province will not receive any additional royalities. It is estimated that from a $10,000 water licence the IPP could generate $10-$15 million/per year in revenues, of which our 'government' will get 4-5%. Think of all the money foreclosed, gone to the private sector companies that could remain in the community for all sorts of real human needs. Then, the scenario strongly exists, that some if not all these IPP's will 'flip' the ownership of their water licence and the hydro site to large energy companies, likely American...and voila we have lost control of our electrical energy supply, and the water in that river which is legally 'reserved' for hydro generation. With the new Transmission Company set up by Campbell soup & company, there is no doubt in my mind that market forces will carry the day, and while BC Hydro has signed contracts to purchase this 'green' energy from these IPPs at $84/gigwatt versus what BC Hydro now pays for electricity, namely, on the average $6/gigwatt, the consumer is going to be hit hard. So we lose control of the water in our rivers, the IPP flips 'ownership' to an larger energy giant, likely, a US company, whose priority, will be to export that 'green power' over our once 'public transmission lines', not owned by a Transmission Company in the process of completely linking up with the US grid...and that is it---and we consumers have to either pay a higher price then what US consumers would be willing to pay (In US dollars), or sit in the dark like f**king mushrooms. I could go on, you bit I'm pissed- then you couple that with Bill 30..British Columbian's ought to f**king livid....loss of contol of the water resources, loss of control of the hydro resource, the $84/gigwatt 'energy purchase agreements' already signed by BC Hydro - which must be passed on to us BC consumers...and barely a peep, if any, from our Loyal opposition who presumably are away at a tea party. This is the second gold rush in British Columbia...and the people are getting screwed royally on this...As you say Lynn, and anyone else who wakes up to this, indeed, 'cause for a revolution' - at least in thinking.

It is around this 'topic' that we must organize post haste ...otherwise we are goners. In which communities do we each live, can we not do something. I can get a power point presentation & handouts together with some people I know.

lynn said...

Yes, and the pirates are intentionally misleading the public on this one once again, manufacturing lies to convince the public that the "piratization" (thanks for that aptly descriptive word, Peter) of our power via private run of river projects is doing us all a great service, when in fact a great robbery is actually taking place.

"(Vancouver) There is misunderstanding about BC Hydro’s electricity imports and exports. BC Cabinet Ministers and other officials are misinterpreting Hydro figures in order to rationalize the sell off of our rivers and streams. The result is a push for new privately owned electricity projects including more than 500 ‘run of the river’ projects.In defending Section 59 of Bill 30 that removes local government authority over land use decisions , the head of the Independent Power Producers association was quoted “BC imports 14% of its electricity from the US and local governments are a potential deterrent to reducing BC's dependence on imports.’

Over a12-year period, BC Hydro had a surplus of firm electricity generation capability over demand [2].

BC Hydro has had a surplus of firm electricity supply over demand continually since it was established in 1964, through fiscal year 2005 (April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005)[3].

The average capability of the hydroelectric system is 4,000 GWh/y greater than the firm capability; therefore Hydro will not need to import electricity for several more year s..

The BC government owns 4,200 GWh/y of energy and 1,200 MW of capacity under the Columbia River Treaty (the downstream benefits, from power generated in the US). The BC government has traditionally sold most of this power to the US, because it hasn't been needed in BC. With domestic demand now catching up to firm supply, this power could be utilized in BC. This power is fully available to BC; none has been pre-sold and transmission capacity is available.

“It is absolutely pointless to sell off our rivers and streams for power we won’t need for many years and for profits that will NOT accrue to the public. The ONLY way BC can maintain its standard of living is with a combination of power smart conservation and an energy system that generates both power and profit for the citizens of BC.” Rankin says.Rankin expects the BC Government will continue to misinterpret BC Hydro’s capacity to meet demand. A review of electricity plans is scheduled to start at the BCUC on May 19, 2006. He predicts a rash of articles from government and industry, designed to scare the public into letting the government continue to the sell off our assets to private interests, a policy that started years ago with the breakup of BC Hydro."

Coyote said...

The BC government owns 4,200 GWh/y of energy and 1,200 MW of capacity under the Columbia River Treaty (the downstream benefits, from power generated in the US). The BC government has traditionally sold most of this power to the US, because it hasn't been needed in BC. With domestic demand now catching up to firm supply, this power could be utilized in BC. This power is fully available to BC; none has been pre-sold and transmission capacity is available."

And therein is the REAL potential of BCs power potential; instead of shipping all our raw resource product to the US, while focusing on sustainability and the husbanding of resources, hydro and otherwise, using what power potential we can prudently utilize, to develop those secondary manufacturing industries that would, for example, process our own timber and other ground resources into finish product, for incomes for our communities, for firstly our own needs, and where we decide we have still "prudent" surplus, then and only then, trade.

It is the piece missing, for example, in Revelstokes own "community forest". It is still largely winding up by train and truckload in the US, where, with a relatively cheap underlying power base, it could better be serving community job needs developing product for locally, provincially and nationally, and reducing our dependence on imported US and other manufactured product. (Likewise our coal coming out of near here, (Elkford, BC??) and its petro-chemical potential as opposed to simply stoking the smelter furnaces of Japan and elsewhere. We could still, as was the popular movement demand at the time of the dam construction on the Columbia, be more roundly and completely developing our own secondary economic potential-, using our coal and iron as additional example, to produce steel plate for our languishing ship building yards on the coast.

As is, its great bulk leaves the country, with all its potential for good jobs and our own national well-being, bound for the US and other off-shore destinations. While we pay them the dividend for buying back what we shipped, only as finished product.

It is still the really greatest tragedy and waste of what is occurring under the current capitalist development model.

And which is really, the hydro issue and this, all a part of the great national development concern and movement, and environmental waste and degradation issue, that is the eventual tragedy out there that awaits this country, if we don't smarten up and stop being so chickenshit. And it is the soft underbelly side of of the gathering storm around "deep integration" with the US Empire and the NAU, just waiting and begging to be discovered and taken up in a mass way by our citizenry.

This is all, in an integrated way, in my view, in this time, the centre piece social movement, a national independence and all round progressive national development movement, still waiting to be discovered, realized and fought for in this country-, parallel and integral alongside the need to constitutionally restructure power, politics, the economy and how democracy should and needs to work within out society.

It's there, hanging on the lip edge still just beyond our reach, waiting for us to see it, understand it, and not be afraid to seize it and make it happen.

Peter Dimitrov said...

great comments Lynn & Coyote, far better then I've seen on the Tyee. Slowly we are starting to acticulate the reason d'etre for a social movement, for surely privilege & private accumulation of super profits is the cause of the flip side of the coin, impoverishment, environmental degradation, loss of sovereignty & human rights, inequality, and fascism...or the complete demise of democracy.

Indeed as you say Coyote...

It's there, hanging on the lip edge still just beyond our reach, waiting for us to see it, understand it, and not be afraid to seize it and make it happen.

Look for some major writing of mine coming your way soon ...together lets blow the cover off this IPP scandal, lets find a way to get it out & around the net, and to host live and web-based community meetings of this subject pdq.

lynn said...

"This is all, in an integrated way, in my view, in this time, the centre piece social movement, a national independence and all round progressive national development movement, still waiting to be discovered, realized and fought for in this country-, parallel and integral alongside the need to constitutionally restructure power, politics, the economy and how democracy should and needs to work within out society.

It's there, hanging on the lip edge still just beyond our reach, waiting for us to see it, understand it, and not be afraid to seize it and make it happen," wrote Coyote.

Now that is quite the gem, Coyote...and so powerfully expressed.

bear said...

Really great read Coyote,G,lynn, Peter,and larry... Thanks.

Coyote said: Without such vibrant social movements of "the people", these co-opted NDP and Trade Union leaders have themselves been eunuchized, lost their power base, and been party to their own decline, and possibly impending demise".

I feel the same way about the decline in the voices of the people. The credibility of those willing to use their voice has stratigically been quick to be categorized as the voice of the insane. The fear of this persecution people feel today encourages a mute effect in society, and therefore a certain amount of what appears to be visual conformity. An example of this would be enviromental, or animals rights groups. What I have noticed is the groups that voice their opinions on environmental destruction and the exploitation of animals are referred to as "eco-terrorists". This is the word introduced by those who oppose them, and serves to encourage MORE opposition against these groups. This credibility bruising is quite effective as a way to oppress and control people in order that the oppositions own agendas can be filled...

We have democratic roots, but to get our system healthy and working again, we have to hear more from the people. The voice of the people which can sometimes include demonstrations, have always been a part of a healthy democracy…

This indeed imo, is a spiritual battle. As you mentioned Peter, Apathy and the list so well presented in your first post on this thread, are some of the "weapons" of the oppressor. They have taken us away from the sanity of the people’s voice to corporate\ industrial insanity, and we need to get back to the health of an Earths Conscience. I am encouraged, as for the most part, I believe in the humans ability to change…

I think these parties have to CLEARLY hear what the people are demanding, and THEN perhaps we will get the political structure and therefore our Earth back on track...



Anonymous said...

Some interesting stuff here but the problem, as I see it anyway, is the "left" in BC keeps preaching to the choir while the Socred-Libreals manange to get their message across to enough voters to stay in power most of the time. You do not win elections preaching to the people who support you. You win them by swaying people who do not support you. You can have all the wonderful ideas in the world but if you don't hold power, they don't mean much.

Coyote said...

"...the problem, as I see it anyway, is the "left" in BC keeps preaching to the choir..." wrote anonymous.

Which is, from my viewpoint, the classic mistaken interpretation of the evidence made by near all ndpers-, that it's all about winning elections.

Fuck man/woman, the ndp has won major and significant elections over the years, and save for their one true triumph of winning Medicare in Saskatchewan, most of their victories have really only served to shore up status quo capitalism. They have achieved so precious little for all of their past electoral success, in my view, as to be near laughable.

And of recent years since the rise of the Neocons, which have scared them sufficiently shitless that they are really just wannabe Liberals, waiting to be brought into the fold like Bob Rae and Dosanjh et al. Though some of this school don't know this yet, while others who have been the leadership of the NDP for years, like the pathetic Carol James, continue to cling to the illusion that they are "different".

It's not so much that they are "different" as it is that most of them are not rich or influential enough to secure the nomination for a Liberal Party position in the Legislature or the House, so it's the NDP or nothing.

So if the NDP is the example of what one has to become to reach out to the "average" voter, I'll abstain from politics altogether, thank you very much.

Besides, I think "transforming society" is really a more long term and not so simplistic proposition as you attempt to reduce it to here; a mere matter of "electoral success."

And I really don't think we are speaking only to the "converted" here-, just expecting a little more out of those "great unwashed", whom the NDP and the others view as mere Xs on ballots, in order to at some historical point make clear the inadequacy of the NDP view of the world, and maybe/hopefully achieve something more, in good time and when the time is right, with our own view of the world and politics.

I don't see the NDP as anything either particularly effective or desirable to emulate, frankly. And I've observed them and even voted for them over a very long time.

No more though. They just can't seem to measure up. They have been too full of themselves, and failed to understand the real sources and purposes of real, not co-opted political power. I'd rather not vote, than attend one more of their comic opera "electoral successes".