• Michael Laxer

After 60 years those embracing class struggle should move on from the NDP

A The Left Chapter editorial.



Every year for the last 60 years of the rightward arc of the federal New Democratic Party we have been treated to any number of -- mostly well-intentioned -- articles about how the NDP has to "move left", "embrace socialism", "become radical or die away", "embrace class struggle" etc.


They run as a constant thread through the entire party's history. By now there are at least two or three hundred (likely many more) of them whether in Rabble, Canadian Dimension, Jacobin or any number of other left outlets. I have been guilty of penning a couple myself in the 2000s


And they are all an ever greater waste of time.


At what point do we admit the notion is a Quixotic fantasy? When we get to 75 years or a century? The NDP is not going to turn left now, then or ever.


Leftists in Canada should be hoping either for the end to the NDP, for the NDP to finally merge with the Liberal Party it so desperately wants to replace or we should simply admit what it is and leave it to the right wing social democrat careerists who run it and always will.


Trying to shift it left is a proven failure and an obviously disastrous detour that has derailed the Canadian left for decades and belongs in the dustbin of history as a "strategy". It is a decades long strategy of defeat and ultimately just provides left cover to get reactionaries like John Horgan in BC and Rachel Notley in Alberta elected.


There is no greater hinderance to the creation of a real socialist movement in Canada than the NDP and no greater albatross around the necks of Canadian socialists. That every single attempt to shift the party left has failed and failed easily should provide all the proof needed.


None of them came actually close to taking over the party from the Waffle and the expulsion of the Waffle on. One hardly needs a deep analytical mind to see that continuing to advocate for or attempt this shift within the party is futile.


If that is not good enough, every single NDP provincial administration since 1990 should do the trick. They have all been disillusioning, centrist or even reactionary and none of them have delivered anything remotely akin to substantive or meaningful change let alone a pro-worker or socialist agenda.


The NDP continues to railroad or ghost left candidates out of even running for them including folks like Paul Manly, now a Green MP, and even former labour leader Sid Ryan.

If you are planning yet another article on "why the NDP needs to move left" you should reconsider your premises.


The left needs to move on once and for all from the NDP. Ironically, building new grassroots movements and eventually left socialist electoral vehicles outside of the NDP might actually get the party to move left one day, at least defensively.


As I noted in Resolutionary Socialism: Why a leftist agenda within the NDP is futile back in 2013, if:


real left candidates, as in Quebec with Quebec Solidaire, were to even get 3-5% of the vote in, for example, some ridings in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Halifax or Vancouver, (a totally achievable goal, for those who insist on being "realistic") thereby no longer allowing the NDP to take the support of left-wing citizens for granted, then the mainstream "left" party has to take notice. And its positions and policies will change accordingly.

Either way, there is not going to be a new Waffle, almost all the supposed "left" NDP MPs are only left in a performative, twitter way while still showing up to support corporate free trade deals and to back right-wing Conservative anti-China resolutions and the party lacks the basic internal democracy to allow any serious change.


60 years on, clearly the ship has sailed on the idea of a "left" NDP.


Further readings:


Neither Green nor Orange (theleftchapter.com)


The Left Chapter: Fifty years later it is time to acknowledge the Waffle was wrong



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