Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nice n' slow see. That's the way to do it. Nice and slow.

So, you know, I'm 48 years old. I've been advocating for the parliamentary implementation of workplace democracy in every place of employment in Canada since the late-1990s. I've never believed that this would happen in one year's time. Or five year's time. But somewhere between five and ten years, I thought something like this would have a chance at being achieved.

You know, as opposed to tiny bands of anarchist fuckwads throwing rocks through windows at gatherings of world leaders or at other groups' demonstrations. Or as opposed to those other groups' afternoon rallies of boring or deluded speeches and pointless marches. Or as opposed to voting Liberal or Green or NDP and thinking that mitigating the myriad symptoms of the disease of capitalism is the best that one can hope for. Or writing cogent critiques of capitalism and imperialism to the already converted in the hopes of converting more people to sanity.

Back in the day, there was an international MOVEMENT of people for socialism. And, however fractious, deluded, whatever, they were, one thing they shared was a desire to TAKE POWER and thereby change the world. Nowadays, we shrink from power and this is a good thing because power corrupts. Yes, power corrupts. Very true. But somehow, leaving power in the hands of people who were corrupt to begin with, in a system that is corrupt to begin with, seems to me to be a greater danger than the corruptions of power on people motivated by higher principles to create a system that is not founded on corrupt principles (as, for example, putting profit over people) and which seeks to disperse concentrations of power.

Accompanying these blinkered notions of avoiding power and leaving it in the hands of the psychopaths, appears to be a vague delusion that by demonstrating, talking, writing, voting for lesser-evils, etc., ... we will create a groundswell of resistance to the system, and that all the people currently filling the parking lots of IKEA and Costco and Wal-Mart and etc., and all the people around the world, will, as one, arrive at the courage and the decision to say "NO!" to the system and shut it down in some glorious transformative moment.

I have no faith in that vision. Instead, I believed that we have a nominal representative democracy where every adult has the vote. Our system is corrupted by money. Wealthy individuals and corporations have much more money than does the majority. They use that money to influence parties, elections and governments. In the workplace they control our rights and freedoms, our incomes our access to incomes (and through their manipulation of politics) our access to livelihoods outside of their system of wage slavery. It's their way or the highway, so far as dissent goes.

But what if we realized that with one-person, one-vote, we could use our greater numbers to break that power? And not through any methods requiring authoritarian governments to dominate the corporations and expropriate the wealthy on our behalf. But through expanding the rights and the freedoms of the majority within their workplaces. There would be no wholesale plundering of the wealthy and destruction of the corporate entities that control our economies and our societies. But with democracy flowering within workplaces, the subsequent distribution of the rewards of work would be altered. The policies of the corporations would be changed. The use of collective resources to fund parasites and ideological whores such as the Fraser Institute and Ezra Levant and their ilk, would be, if not ended, then ameliorated by the collective decisions to fund other think-tanks and advocacy groups. People in their workplaces would have a say about shutting down their plants and relocating to some anti-union, exploitative country. They'd have a say as to whether some extra profit is more important than poisoning their communities.

This expansion of liberal values of human rights and freedoms does not require fostering a totally different  set of values in people. It does not ask people to take a leap of faith in the instant, sweeping transformation of our political-economic system into something, we can't describe for them. It takes the world as it is and asks of people that they only think about how greater power in their hands would transform it.

And, as I said, I did not see this happening overnight. But if a sizable group of leftists got behind it, and it, being the ONLY goddamned strategy for the proportionately necessary transformation of our society that I've seen in DECADES of searching, attracted widespread support among the Canadian left in general, then we would have an outside chance of influencing a political party like the NDP to support it. Say, after two years of widespread support, it would become as influential as the ideas of the Waffle within the NDP from the 1970s. That leftist group was crushed by "moderate" or "conservative" social democrats. But (and you wouldn't know it from the current, totally deluded NDP leadership) that form of social democracy has been completely discredited by their constant failures and retreats since 1980. Today, as the world begins to burn while the fossil-fuels industry prevaricates and corrupts, as the middle-class erodes under the forces of globalization, financialization and austerity, ... as the idiot-fringe of the right-wing becomes the norm in the sickness of late-capitalism, ... I think another year or two of rising awareness of the necessity for major change and the absence of alternatives will make the NDP and a dying labour movement realize that this plan is their last, best hope.

In the battle for the political realization of this project, it will be sure to come under attack. But that will only make it stronger. The basis of the attack will essentially be that the people are unfit to govern themselves. That workers at gas stations are incapable of scheduling their shifts and setting their wages when in the possession of their workplaces' financial numbers. That textile workers don't know how to make their products efficiently. That retail workers can't manage their own labour. That scientists can't manage their own labs. In fighting back against these criticisms, we would be amassing a body of knowledge and theory that would make the successful implementation of this policy all the more assured.

And, while this struggle had gotten to the level of frightening the elites in Canada, it would gain notice by progressive movements in other countries. We would then be able to think about a world where global capitalism in its race to the bottom of working conditions and wages and environmental regulations, becomes faced with people filled with the knowledge that stopping their inhuman, anti-environmental madness can be achieved (technically) through non-violent means. (Obviously, in many countries, the elites can and do crush far milder forms of popular revolt. Even in Canada, the right to peaceful protest is becoming null and void. But we are fighting for the possibilities of our system, not challenging the system itself. There is no legitimate argument within liberal representative democracy against this idea.)

I mean, what are we talking about here? A world where civilization is threatened by human-caused global warming and where power and wealth is skewed to the extent that the richest 100 people collectively have more wealth than the poorest three billion. The international law against aggressive war has been broken with impunity. Our governments claim the right to spy on us, to hold us without charges, to torture us, and, in the case of the great Hope n' Change bringer, Barack Obama, to assassinate us. Our problems are big. And big problems require big solutions. One of the left's problems is fear of imagination. Fear of thinking big. Fear of attempting a meta-narrative. Fear of acknowledging the enormity of the task in front of us. All these fears produce the ridiculously small, incremental, token "solutions" that "progressives" put forward (when they get around to putting anything forward).

My solution involves a campaign lasting a minimum of five years and anticipating ten years. What did Lead Now propose to counter the harpercons' election deformation act? Remember: Pierre Poilievre spent months and months crafting this piece-of-shit legislation and its roll-out to the Canadian public. Backbench harpercons were picked to humiliate themselves with bullshit stories of voter fraud. What does Lead Now respond with? A couple of weeks of gathering signatures on a petition and then organizing a day (in the afternoon, in the middle of the work week for fuck's sake!) to deliver them to a small number of Conservative MP's offices.

The election deformation act is much smaller than the problems I've been talking about. But it's a big problem and it's going to require a big effort to kill it. But aside from Lead Now's token protest, what else is out there? Alison at Creekside mentions the brave retiree Ted Musson, who is walking from Victoria BC to Ottawa (Ontario) to protest the 2011 election fraud. Which is inspiring and a much bigger investment than the whole delivering the petition thing. But, as she mentions, he's gotten little in the way of media attention.

The thing is, you have to think big to achieve big things. And you have to plan big. And you have to be able to implement big. In my post-mortem on my failed attempt to stir a mass-movement to defend the fundamentals of Canadian parliamentary democracy against harper's serial abuses against it,  that it would take months and months of large-scale, grassroots, door-to-door effort to even hope to build a citizens' movement big enough to take on the harpercons in any meaningful way.

Some things to consider:

1. Big problems require big efforts to build big solutions.
2. It takes time and extended campaigns to change entrenched realities.
3. The burn-out of organizers is a real problem, but one reason for the burn-out is their insistence on organizing pointless rallies and marches that don't accomplish anything.
4. The passionate people have to take the lead and actually promote SOMETHING TANGIBLE that will make people notice what they're doing and cause them to think about taking part in it. You can't just expect people to come out in the streets to wander around aimlessly while you tell them how shitty things are.

Is it the case that when people have heard my big ideas ("Workers as Citizens" "Redeeming Canadian Democracy") that they imagine I'm talking about something big happening in a month or two, and they reject that for being as unrealistic as it sounds? Or do they instead imagine that these big things will take some unimaginably long period of time to accomplish and their brains just shut down? Or, are they instead so wedded to the status-quo of a pointless parade and petitioning psychopaths that they simply can't process what I'm saying? Or am I just a deluded crank?

If I am a deluded crank, that doesn't change the fact that the rest of the left in Canada is demonstrably useless and impotent.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried anything else since that "Win A Date With Tad Hamilton" project, Thwap?
Riots don't just go starting themselves, ya' know! ;)

thwap said...

As I say in my next post, .... I've been drinking.

Anonymous said...

I know. I read it.
Do you find it helpful-
the drinking?
I did, 'til it turned on me.

thwap said...

Anh, it passes the time. It's more starting to bore me and make me unproductive the next morning.

I stopped for a few days, but I think I'll imbibe this weekend.

Anonymous said...

hope you have a good one.

jus' be careful about terms like
"depressed" and "dispirited" k?

we always want to try and help.

thwap said...

What? Are "depressed" and "dispirited" magic words or something?

Anonymous said...

omg. do you ever read what you've written? (i did after drunkhistorytyping, then i'd 'leave the www be, for awhile.)
they're magic alright.
you said them.
i offered a couple of ideas and
you said i was "trying to
prove something". Bells?

thwap said...


No bells are ringing.

Sometimes I read what I wrote and find all sorts of spelling and other mistakes.

But I don't put too much work into polishing these gems.

Anonymous said...

That's IT! Gems they fucking well are! And that is why I read you.
I can only imagine what it would
be like, to write one iota as well as you.
But, i'm thinking i may have to stop.
We don't need any misunderstandings about my
It's not prosletyzing, k?
But, I do know of the depression and dispirited sense, I had
a'plenty, while drinking.
So, your call Thwap-
should I stay
or should I go?

thwap said...


Thanks for the compliment.

I have no recollection of you advising me about how to deal with depression and being dispirited.

I recall at one time you telling me to trust in a higher power and my telling you that I refuse to do so on principle.

I thought then we agreed not to try to convert the other; you to getting me to believe in higher powers that I could trust would steer everything right and me to get you to believe that there is nothing but ourselves and that believing that there are imaginary forces on our side is a sure way to defeat.

If we can avoid that, perhaps there's hope for these interactions.

Anonymous said...

I'm all about hope
so here goes that!
It is kid of ironical, though.
Do you find it funny Thwap?

What if I say- Grace be upon you or something?