Anarchists, Social Democrats and Greens
"People before ideology." is the adage I have lived by for the last 30 years. This does not mean "anything goes." What it does mean is that people's true needs – for a better life, for greater freedom etc., are more important than any ideological construct, party line or theory. Not to take this approach, is in my opinion, the first step in the direction of the killing fields.
In practice, if a party or government proposes or enacts legislation, say, that increases the minimum wage, makes it easier to join a trade union, or increases public transit, I would admit that these were positive steps and demand their implementation. I would do this without going rah-rah for the party and plainly separate this positive element from the other aspects which I think worthy of criticism.
I would like to see a lot of these genuine reforms. Trouble is, social democrats today don't seem to have much imagination in that regard, many of them having bought into neo-liberalism. In BC the forces of reform are divided between the NDP and the Greens making any hope for even minimal positive changes through government impossible. Thus, even though an outsider, I encourage social democrats and Greens to get their act together. Simple really – reformists work together = more reforms = better life for working people = better life for me.
Is not such an approach at variance with anarchism's revolutionary nature? Not in the least. A beaten down people rarely revolt. It is when the situation begins to improve that such sentiments arise. Workers in BC have been subjected to an unending series of defeats beginning with the failed general strike of 1983. While the activist core certainly exists, the population as a whole seems demoralized. We need some victories. Had the so-called Liberals been defeated and the NDP backed by the Greens, reversed the give-away of our rivers, scrapped TILMA, took back BC Ferries and BC Hydro from the piratizers, the cycle of defeat would have been broken and would have created demands for further progressive action.
While some parts of the world are in a revolutionary situation, Canada is plainly not. In a such non-revolutionary situation, progressive change develops in a pattern. (1) Each progressive ideology, whether reformist or revolutionary, parliamentary or anti-parliamentary, has its function within that process. Change starts from below, engenders forms of public protest and direct action. A mass movement emerges which then influences reformist parties. These parties then enact legislation which generalizes the reform. The function of anarchists and other visionaries is to initiate change and build the mass movement. The function of the reformists is to come on stage in the last act. The problem today is that the reformists do such a poor job of being reformists, and thus needed reforms are blocked.
Admittedly, the system may well be broken beyond repair and reform a product whose selling date has expired. Working people may will continue to be battered from pillar to post until they cannot take any more, finally in desperation rising against their tormentors. But until we have proof the system is incapable of reform, NDP, Greens, get your shit together! In the meantime, we anarchists will continue to implant ourselves within the communities and work places, encouraging the the idea of popular power and self-management.
1. See my article on the function of ideologies at