Thursday, October 22, 2020


There is unhappiness among many Green Party of Canada supporters that the “establishment” candidate won the leadership. This after the GPC “establishment” weighed in against the eco-socialist candidates. There is also the generations-long failed attempts to drag the NDP to the left, an act of masochism, if there ever was. Usually people blame the party leadership for selling out or being undemocratic. This is only a superficial way of looking at the problem.

Parliamentary parties of the left always start out militant and radical. Over time they move increasingly to the right. It happens so often, it is almost like a law of nature. All contemporary social democratic parties started out as socialist parties whose goal was to replace capitalism with socialism the moment they achieved power. Within two decades these parties became purely reformist and socialism was for “Sunday sermons.” By the 1990s they had abandoned even the goal of significant reforms within capitalism and embraced neoliberal ideology. These parties – including the NDP – are now center parties. Many of the Green Parties have had a somewhat similar trajectory, starting in the 1980s as very anarchistic and New Left and then evolving more toward typical parliamentary parties. (The difference with the social democratic parties is the Greens become moderate without abandoning the core of their platform – ecological sanity)

When something happens constantly like this you have to look for systemic and structural causes. The cause for the slide to centrism by radical parties can be found in two areas. 1. The nature of parliamentary politics and the effect it has on parties who are serious about engaging in the such politics. 2. The internal structure of the political party.

A tiny, irrelevant sect can remain pure, but once you are serious about getting elected you are bound to make compromises. First off, your platform has to be broad and inclusive enough to draw in voters. Once elected, you have to get results otherwise you won't get re-elected. This means compromise and trade-offs with groups to your right. Compromise can quickly become a habit. The longer one is reelected the more one begins to think like a parliamentarian and less like the ordinary Janes and Joes who elect you.

You want to run candidates who are electable – this means people who are photogenic, say the right things and become “personalities.” They may not, however, be the most radical or ideological of party members. As the party gains influence the ideological become increasingly seen as a threat to getting MP's elected. When a party gets politically established, the MPs take on an ever greater leadership role. They, and their handlers, begin to take the party away from the ideologues and grass roots militants. The party ends up a “vote-catching machine” and policies are designed to gain votes rather than pursue a coherent social or economic goal.

The internal structure of political parties leads to a dimming of radicalism. This is Robert Michels' “iron law of oligarchy” which he developed from studying the Social Democratic Party of Germany early in the 20th Century. Parties are based around representation, not delegation. Thus, one elects party officials for a set term and it becomes difficult to dislodge them. The party leadership is a hierarchy and the longer one is a member of that group, the more one has the time to develop a loyal band of supporters. Parties typically use simple majority democracy and it is thus easy to stack meetings with one's supporters. Once established, a party hierarchy can control credentialing (who is acceptable as party reps or MPs) and the party media. The party hierarchy can send in organizers to take undermine and takeover recalcitrant party branches. Since party radicals are also the party ultra-democrats, their isolation or purging means there is even less restraining the authoritarianism of the party hierarchy. Bureaucracy tends to grow and the party develops a whole stratum of paid staffers, who quite naturally know who pays their wages.

The “iron law” does not work in every organization. Anarcho-syndicalist unions have largely avoided it. They have done this through radically decentralizing power to the branches, by a bare minimum of paid officials, recallable delegates rather than representatives, and term limits for elected officials. Any member and any branch can propose modifications to union policies and these are voted on by the membership on an annual basis. Delegates to convention are selected by the branches and the number of delegates per branch is dependent upon the number of branch members.

The Green Parties in their original form adopted some of these anarchist concepts and added the modified consensus democracy which grew out of the direct action environmental movements. Radical democracy was soon found in some ways to be incompatible with being a parliamentary party. (says a lot about parliamentary democracy) The Greens, while still keeping a much higher level of internal democracy than other parties, modified and became more like regular parties. As they gained in votes and MPs, the pressure has been ever greater in that direction.



According to the polls John Horgan's BC NDP will experience a crushing victory over its opponents. This victory may, in the end, prove a disaster for that party. As the climate crisis becomes ever more evident, ever more people will become angry at the failure to take serious measures against it. An ever-growing number will be frustrated by four more years of ignoring the most important problem of all as the time clock ticks down. Keep in mind that the Covid crisis has pushed the climate crisis to the back burner for many. Once the Covid crisis is behind us, the climate crisis will once more be important to these people. There can only be negative repercussions for the NDP. This situation will be exacerbated as direct action movements against the climate crisis grow in number and intensity and are repressed by the NDP government. (think Clayoquot 1992.) If, by some miracle, the Horganite-right wing is replaced by a pro-environment left, it will be an up-hill battle winning the trust of the population again, since the Horganites initially opposed Site C, LNG and log exports.

Of course, the NDP could reverse course and get serious about the climate crisis – shut down Site C and LNG as untenable. But I will not hold my breath in anticipation..


Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Polls in Canada – and usually elsewhere - show a significant gender gap when it comes to politics. The latest 338. poll sees the Conservatives getting only 24% of women's vote, but 33% of men's. The NDP gets 17% male support, 24% female. According to MacLeans June 2020, men supported the Greens at 6.2% and women at 7.9%. Thus, women are 37% less likely to vote right wing, 30 % more likely to vote NDP and 22% more likely to vote Green than their male counterparts. This indicates that women are considerably more intelligent than males, by an average of 30% according to the polls. This is a significant difference and if you don't think so consider your reaction to having your income cut by that amount. It would hurt, right?

Now it may seem brutally unjust to claim that men are less intelligent than women because they have a greater propensity to vote for the right than the centre or left. Let us first examine stupidity. Key elements of stupidity are an inability to consider the future, treating all phenomena as if they existed in isolation, a rejection of science, (evidence-based observations), and responding to difficulties with belligerence. Put simply, you cannot make a rational, evidence based case for most right-wing policies.

These aspects of stupidity are either rejected or are manifested in the different political parties. The Liberals, NDP and Greens all claim to be concerned with the climate crisis, i.e. concerned with the long term. (Whether they do anything about it is another issue.) Both the NDP and Greens tend toward an antiwar stance. Both the Greens and the NDP understand that social problems cannot be treated in isolation, nor can they be fixed with repression. Empirical evidence shows that neoliberal austerity does not work to make a better society, indeed makes matters worse. Greens, NDP and Liberals reject austerity. No matter their obvious failings, no matter their hypocrisy, no matter their betrayals, intellectually at least, these parties take a more rational stance on issues than the right wing. Women are more likely than men to support parties which are rational about key issues.

This is not to say that women cannot be attracted by right-wing forces if certain historically justified fears are manipulated. (The re-establishment of misogynist practices being the most important of these fears.) In France there is no gender gap in the support for the Front National. The leaders of this party have been able to whip up fears of Islamic extremism and the sharia law, which seems to have scared a significant number of women. No doubt some of Trump's massive white female support (now largely lost) came from his anti-Muslim fear-mongering in the 2016 campaign. Other than these examples, however, a political gender gap persists in most countries with women tending to prefer the progressive side over the reactionary.

What are the roots of this male stupidity that propels so many of them toward the self-defeating policies of right wing parties? One posibility lies in a false concept of masculinity that effects a large enough proportion of the male population to make a major political impact. For lack of a better term, I call this “Mannism”. For the Mannist anything classifiable somehow as “feminine” is second rate, weak, cowardly, irrational, and overly-emotional. Also classified as feminine are empathy, a consensual rather than a competitive attitude, a desire for peace and an abiding interest in “intellectual” and cultural pursuits.

Social and environmental activists are seen to embody these “feminine” traits and this explains the rage that many males feel toward such movements. Neoliberalism is seen as correct, not because of empirical evidence, but simply because it rejects empathy, and is not an ideology of goody-goody wimps pandering to societies inferior members. The Mannist also uses an irrational form of reason – one that looks at the world with intellectual abstractions and formulas and avoids or denies the empirical. Hence, the persistent belief, contrary to evidence, that “free trade” and privatization work, simply because they function well in theory. So too, climate crisis foot dragging policies, and the continued ignoring or repression of social problems, no matter what the scientific evidence to the contrary. Anything that gets in the way of “natural competition” is to be avoided and should be encouraged to enable “the best” to climb to the top. An authoritarian hierarchy is “natural” and therefore desirable. That science shows the limits of competition as a factor of social development and that authoritarian hierarchies are of comparatively recent origins among humans is ignored.

Mannism lies at the base of much of what is considered masculinity in much of Europe and North America. It is seen by many as “What it means to be a man” and thus puts the Mannist True Believer into conflict with any progressive movement. Women, on the other hand, while not innately so, are at least allowed by the social system to show empathy and to be cooperative and non-violent. Indeed, these traits are expected of them.

Part of the struggle to create a better world must be to encourage men to be intelligent. This means the need to redefine what masculinity means in the contemporary world, if not ultimately eliminate such restricting self-definitions.
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