(NB: This article was written during the NPI debacle, lost and recovered. Rereading it now is pretty painful, but I’m proud of “the New Party would be closer to a leaderless movement than a traditional political party – more of a collection of parts and instruction manuals than a machine. It wouldn’t need to beg for gas, it could be packed up and carried on the bus.”)
If you want to, you can look at the Canadian Left as an island dotted with forts. The largest fort belongs to the NDP and the CLC, with a number of others scattered around, increasing in number as they decrease in size. It’s been like that for a while, but lately some people have been noticing there’s quite a kefuffle going on just over the river, where the heathen live. And they’ve noticed that the river is rising and that the people running the forts are getting on in years and can’t really keep up with the times.
So, the cry has gone up that the left needs to build bridges rather than forts. An attempt was even made to convince the commanders of Fort NPD to tear down enough of the fort to build bridges, but it ended with the would be bridge builders being roundly chanted off into the Outer Darkness (TM).
Ok, they said, we’ll just build our own bridge.
So far, there’s been a lot of talk about the value of bridges over walls, a lot of cheap shots about why THEY prefer walls over bridges and some walls have been stamped, “This Is A Bridge”, but all in all the river is still rising and, I, at least, don’t see any bridges.
This question is summed up for me in this quote (link & attribution lost)
“an exchange that took place in 1979 between Lula and Brizola.Brizola, most important inheritor of the populist legacy in Brazil, was attempting to convince Lula to join his effort to reestablish the traditional PTB. Brizola argued, “We are reaching the river and it is necessary that we, as leaders, show the people where to cross it.” Lula replied, “I think it is time that the people should learn where and how to swim by themselves.”
People do learn to swim on their own, but it’s easier when you have an instructor, or at least someone to pull you out. So, I conclude the role of a New Party is to organize swimming lessons, to start talking about how and to let people decide where and when.
This means the New Party would be closer to a leaderless movement than a traditional political party – more of a collection of parts and instruction manuals than a machine. It wouldn’t need to beg for gas, it could be packed up and carried on the bus.
This sounds like more fun than yelling up at the walls.