On the 2015 Canadian General Elections: Bourgeois Legality and the NDP’s Proposed Reforms

In the next two posts, I want to return to the five questions that underpin the use of the boycott tactic: a) whether or not boycotting elections actually constitutes a break from bourgeois legality; b) whether or not the reforms being proposed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) are as inconsequential as suggested by boycott advocates; c) what are the conditions necessary for an effective boycott campaign; d) whether a boycott campaign should be used as an organising tactic for organising unaffiliated radicalised workers, feminists and students; and e) whether demarcating oneself from the rest of the Left is an effective tactic in building a revolutionary movement. I had hoped that this all would be one post, but have realised that to evaluate the proposed NDP reforms and evaluate boycott advocates’ claims requires a great more space and time then I had initially intended. Thus, I will dedicate two posts to these questions. In this post I will argue that the Revolutionary Communist Party (Canada)’s (PCR-RCP) claim that the electoral boycott is a break from bourgeois legality is ill-founded. Furthermore, I will argue that some of the reforms being proposed by the NDP, whilst far from sufficient as correctly noted by the PCR-RCP, especially in the context of the larger struggle for socialism, are indeed progressive for many sections of the working-class. Finally, it will be suggested that a fundamental weakness in the PCR-RCP’s propaganda is its lack of any proposed policy alternatives, which could win people to a positive vision. I will discuss the question of whether the necessary conditions for a boycott campaign do exist in Canada, whether a boycott campaign can be successfully and usefully deployed in a subsequent post.

I intend to do this as a response to a series of articles that were recently produced and distributed in The Red Flag, published by the PCR-RCP, on the recent general elections. The PCR-RCP is perhaps the best known far left organisation to advocate for an ‘active boycotting’ of the elections, although other far left formations from the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements have similarly run such campaigns, albeit without the same kind of vigour. Indeed, the PCR-RCP has consistently used the electoral boycott tactic as a means by which to bring attention to their political programme and ideas. Furthermore, they have used the spread of the boycott campaign as a means to demonstrate the scope of their political organisation across Canada, and to attract new people – especially youth – to the revolutionary movement. As they note in their Editorial Introduction to the second issue of The Red Flag, “Moreover, whereas the first boycott took place only in Québec when the PCR-RCP was predominantly limited to that province, and the second with only a few supporters in Ottawa and Toronto, we now have a boycott movement that, while still small, will for the first time be in numerous major cities across Canada from coast to coast.” It is interesting to note that the PCR-RCP does not dedicate any serious space in their materials to an analysis of the Liberals and the Conservatives, and is solely focused on attacking the NDP. Some more conspiratorially-minded NDP supporters have suggested that this is because the PCR-RCP is a fifth column for them. This is of course not true. The PCR-RCP’s focus on the NDP demonstrates two goals: 1) to win over, besides the odd individual NDP activist, Left activists who critically supports the NDP; and 2) to organise sections of the working-class, especially the hardcore of the proletariat, who are already not voting. As part of this propaganda effort the PCR-RCP have consistently argued that the NDP’s proposed reforms are insubstantial when it comes to more progressive elements of the NDP program and that the true face of the NDP is that it is a bourgeois party like all of the others. They have also consistently emphasised that revolution and socialism will not come from the ballot box, and that voting just reaffirms bourgeois ideology. I will not address every point that the PCR-RCP raise, but will stick to the main points. I would also like to note that I have a deep respect for many comrades and supporters of the PCR-RCP and think that they have made numerous important interventions into the political life of the Canadian Left, and hope that they will take these comments and criticisms in a comradely fashion.

Bourgeois Legality

The PCR-RCP has consistently argued that voting in elections is demonstrative of an endorsement of the bourgeois state and have argued that the only way to break from the bourgeois state is through a break with bourgeois legality in the form of an electoral boycott. Admittedly this plank of their argument is more muted in their propaganda this time around, but can still be found in their materials. The bourgeois legality argument pivots on two arguments. The first is that elections are a circus through which the bourgeois state offers the semblance of choice to the electorate who are simply being asked to pick the new managers of the bourgeois state without offering any real options for serious structural changes. The second, and perhaps the more important, argument is that elections play an ideological role through which the state is able to reproduce itself through the limiting of options to the working-class as a whole. As the PCR-RCP write in their Call to “Boycott the Capitalist Election! Fight for People’s Power!“:

So what’s the use of the elections? Sometimes, they serve to renew the staff who’ll manage the state, following the interests of whichever sectors of the ruling class happen to be dominant. Beyond that, they serve to mobilize and re-mobilize the masses according to the dominant ideology: that the world should continue as before and that there is no alternative, even the system will makes minor changes here and there while leaving its essential features intact.

The PCR-RCP thus calls for a boycott of the elections. Indeed, they argue that a boycott, passive or active, is a sign that a growing section of the population is becoming aware of the true nature of the state. As the PCR-RCP state, “People who boycott the elections do so for many reasons, some good and others less so. But one thing is clear: most of us do not care any more about this circus and think that the politicians and parties are liars or, at best, pushing sad pipe dreams. And this perception is perfectly justified.” This dovetails with their political strategic argument that any serious changes to the Canadian state cannot be effected through bourgeois elections, but through revolution. The PCR-RCP correctly notes, “This state, which itself is part of a whole system, has always and continues to serve the interests of those who hold the real power—the big capitalists. This will continue, no matter what politicians say when they seek our support and try to convince us that everything will be decided at the polls.” Now, while I do agree with the PCR-RCP that serious changes are not possible through the ballot box and that there is no democratic ‘gradualist’ road to socialism; I disagree that not voting is an exercise in breaking from this bourgeois legality and ideology.

The first thing that should be noted is that not voting in Canada is not a substantive break from bourgeois legality because Canada does not legally require people to vote. The right to not vote is legally permissible, and regarded poorly-considered -but admissible – political expression i.e. the PCR-RCP’s supporters and sympathisers are simply exercising their right to not vote. In effect, they remain formally within the orbit of bourgeois legality. Now a supporter of the PCR-RCP would likely argue that the boycott is unlike the militant protests that the PCR-RCP organises/participates in, which often exceed the limits of bourgeois legality, and that their conception of an electoral boycott is a break from bourgeois legality on an ideological plane. However, this argument similarly is weak. The PCR-RCP themselves admit that sections of the masses do not vote for less than good reasons. It is impossible to know how many do it for the purported good reasons of the PCR-RCP and how many do it for less than good reasons. It ought to be noted that there is a third group of people are being overlooked here i.e. those people who do not vote for perfectly understandable reasons like they could not make it to the polls because of work or childcare responsibilities, or are indigenous and refuse to recognise Canadian sovereignty over their lives. I would suggest that the largest section of people do not vote for less than good reasons or because of perfectly understandable reasons. Many Canadians undoubtedly would agree with the PCR-RCP that politicians are liars and are regularly corrupt, but that does not mean that they have broken from any bourgeois ideology. Rather, they accept that the bourgeois elections will happen, new or old bourgeois and corrupt parties will be elected, and in the main their lives will remain relatively the same i.e. they have come to so deeply believe in the dominant ideology (“that there is no alternative”) that they no longer need to vote because all of the parties will maintain the “free” capitalist system. Indeed, there is little evidence to show that those who do not vote are doing so because of a sympathy for left-wing anti-capitalist radicalism and revolutionary politics. Furthermore, the failure of the Communist Party of Canada or Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) electorally to win seats should not be read as a repudiation of “revisionism”, which most Canadians do not understand, but actually reflects a rejection of left-of-the-NDP-alternatives. Finally, I fear that many who do not vote for political reasons would prefer to simply replace the current electoral system with a wide-variety of technocratic or technological solutions that would deliver supposedly better capitalist outcomes than is possible under bourgeois democracy. Thus, I think that the explanations that the PCR-RCP has given for why a large section of the people do not vote are rather weak, and that their argument that they have broken from bourgeois legality is ill-founded.

The Nature of the Proposed Reforms

The PCR-RCP are consistent throughout their propaganda that the reforms being proposed by the NDP are simply “red herrings” or “deceptions.” To articulate their differences with the NDP, comrades and supports of the PCR-RCP point to four significant issues to make their case: 1) the proposed job-creation and environmental policies; 2) the $15/day childcare proposal; 3) the $15/hour minimum-wage proposal and 4) the NDP’s promise to repeal Bill C-51. Let us be clear, no set of reforms is going to gradually lead to socialism, especially in the context of an election. Having said that, let’s not act like some of the proposed reforms will not benefit the working-class. In this section, I will largely focus on two articles written by individual comrades of the PCR-RCP: “The True Nature of the NDP Program” and “Electoral Red Herrings: Bill C-51.”

The PCR-RCP comrades get some things wrong in their propaganda, but this is understandable because they could not predict the NDP’s recent rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, their error in part lies on their reliance on Liberal speaking points, which similarly overlook the caveat that the NDP introduced in their support for the TPP regarding supply management. Given Harper’s scuttling of said supply management the NDP now opposes the deal. They are correct however, to highlight the NDP’s reactionary position on Israel-Palestine and on law and order. The latter boils down to a promise to hire thousands of additional police officers. However, the major weakness in their propaganda is that the PCR-RCP dooes not offer any policy alternatives, even if these proposals are only possible in a post-revolutionary scenario.

1. Unemployment and environment: The comrade of PCR-RCP who wrote about “the true nature of the NDP program” claims that while the NDP is “correct to point out that employment, both in quantity and quality, has deteriorated since the financial crisis of 2008, their limits of their political outlook prevent them from seeing the only real solution to this problem: revolution against capitalism and the establishment of socialism, a state and economy under the control of the working class.” I do not wish to sound harsh, but this statement sounds like revolutionary boilerplate. Communists since the 1920’s and 30’s have made the same argument to only find that the problem of mass unemployment was at least temporarily solved within the framework of capitalism. Indeed, even Karl Marx pointed out capitalism’s capacity to revolutionise itself. This is not to suggest that capitalism is the answer to our problems, but rather to simply note that this statement overlooks capitalism’s capacity to deal with unemployment. This of course overlooks the communist movement’s own historical record that demonstrates that communist states have similarly struggled with unemployment or precarious employment, economic stagnation etc. The comrade does not even hint at what would be the alternative economic program should be implemented instead to solve the problem. What is the PCR-RCP’s 5-year plan for unemployment under worker’s rule? What does this comrade think about the problems of economic development and production in pre-Khrushchev USSR and Mao’s China? These are vital questions that must be answered in PCR-RCP propaganda to make a convincing case for the weakness of the NDP’s proposed economic policies, and the need for communism. However, lets look at the comrade’s analysis of the causes for unemployment in capitalist Canada.

The comrade argues that the real cause of unemployment is the over-accumulation of capital. The comrade writes, “As capital accumulates and becomes more concentrated, it requires less labour to set it to motion as value-producing. This lies at the heart of the chronic unemployment created by the capitalist system, and tax schemes for capital only accelerate that accumulation and concentration.” Now I do not want to get into a theoretical argument about whether the economic crisis and unemployment is simply caused by over-accumulation, but will note in passing that numerous Marxist political economists disagree with this perspective. The comrade believes that the lowering of taxes on small businesses will result in greater capital accumulation and concentration, which will in turn result in continued unemployment because the petit-bourgeoisie will simply buy labour-saving machinery with this accumulated capital, thus causing additional long-term unemployment. The comrade writes,

On the one hand they plan to support the petty bourgeoisie with a small business tax cut—from 11% to 9% —and on the other they intend to “invest in innovation and clean technologies”. Specifically, the party plans to extend the “accelerated capital cost allowance”—a tax break given to companies buying machinery and manufacturing equipment introduced by the Conservatives — and to create a new tax break for companies to buy machinery, equipment and property “used in research and development. So, they hope that by freeing up capital to buy more means of production, they can entice capital to spend more on labour.

Now, I hate to sound like a shill for the NDP and their Blairite neo-liberal economic reasoning, but the comrade’s argument actually confuses two very different sections of the economy and conflates them. I do not wish to suggest that the proposed NDP policies will indeed work, but do believe that its important to be fair to the other side of the argument. I think that this kind of honesty is vital for effective and convincing propaganda. The argument for a petit-bourgeois/small business tax credit is actually separate from the investment incentives for innovation and clean technologies. Few petit-bourgeois businesses are actually involved in the development of clean technologies, which largely is a sector that relies on the confluence of finance and industrial capitals i.e. it benefits the industrial bourgeoisie. The argument for a small business tax credit is that a petit-bourgeois business owner, or “small business,” (we need to distinguish between real small businesses and large corporations that some parties like the Conservatives regard as “small businesses”) will actually use what they save in taxes as capital to grow their business. So taking formula M-C-M’, the NDP is assuming that by increasing the tax credit the petit-bourgeois shop owner will have more money to buy more commodities in the hope of selling them and making even greater profits. To sell the increased amounts of commodities will require additional staff, which will decrease unemployment. This economic plan also assumes that in order for the petit-bourgeois shopkeeper to buy more commodities, more commodities will actually have to be produced, and more people will need to be hired to produce those commodities in the manufacturing sector (even labour-saving devices needs supervision and suffer wear and tear, which will increase from increased use). It would also have been more beneficial if the comrade had emphasised a communist policy towards small businesses and how they would operate and benefit under socialism, and if they had argued – as some economists do – that these marginal tax credits actually do little in the way of stimulating growth as most small businesses do not do expand their businesses on the basis of these minor tax credit. In effect, in this case, the comrade would have strengthened their argument by emphasising the insubstantial nature of the economic reform being proposed, rather than emphasise over-accumulation.

Now lets move to the “accelerated capital cost allowance”, which in effect is a tax credit for the industrial bourgeoisie. The NDP plan is intended to re-start the industrial manufacturing sector on the basis of two assumptions: 1) a recognition that the manufacturing jobs that have left are not going to come back due to the lack of comparative advantage in those sectors, like auto-manufacturing, which means that new capital-intensive high-skill sectors in industrial manufacture need to be found and developed (green technologies is one such sector); and 2) a recognition that existing manufacturers, but also the new ones that the NDP hopes to encourage, because of the high costs of entry into the market and to maintain comparative advantage need up-to-date manufacturing equipment and support in purchasing it. Now it is true that up-to-date manufacturing technology often is less labor-intensive than previous technologies, however, given the collapse of the entire sector any growth is preferential inasmuch that it stops the collapse and encourages marginal increases in employment in the sector. Thus, it is not completely accurate to say that, “This plan will, in the long run, put more workers out of jobs. The “research and development” made possible by these tax breaks will inevitably produce new technologies, which will themselves replace workers.” Again an alternative industrial policy needs to be articulated.

Finally, I completely agree with the comrade that the NDP’s proposal to invest in the tar sands and advocacy for pipeline construction is naive, and that “the real nature of the NDP’s approach to the environment: use it to leverage subsidies for capital, support unsustainable and dangerous projects and then, when people are paying attention, pay lip-service to “regulation” and “assessment.”” However, it does not explain why Left-leaning environmentally-conscious people should not vote Green, or vote for candidates like Linda McQuaig, a NDP member running in Toronto Centre, who they cite and whose election would strengthen the left-wing of the NDP.

2. $15/day Childcare: The comrade’s argument about the proposed childcare subsidy is contradictory: on the one hand they say that because it is difficult to do and will take a long time to implement that it is bound to fail, but simultaneously argue that we should make a revolution in Canada. It ought to be noted that this policy already exists in Quebec and that the NDP seeks to simply adopt the plan nationally. But let us look more carefully at the reasons why the comrade from the PCR-RCP believes that this is an empty promise. The comrade argues, “Billed as a plan to “create 1 million new childcare spaces at a cost of no more than $15/day”, the plan is in fact to have 1 million childcare spaces, so to add a half million new spaces in addition to the half million which already exist, and to ensure that these million cost no more than $15/day.” Fair enough, the NDP is trying to big up a more modest proposal, however, a half million families per year will agree with me that $15 would be amazing, especially given the ridiculous cost of childcare (which rivals rent in a city like Toronto). $15 daycare would disproportionately benefit working-class families who often cannot afford childcare and results in one family member, most commonly the mother, not working (unless they are lucky enough to have brought a grandparent to Canada before the Conservatives stopped family reunification). This forced unemployment in turn causes more working-class poverty. Thus, the first point that the comrade raises is rather weak, although they do catch the NDP in a rhetorical slip.

The second part of the argument is: “While the party claims that this “quality, affordable childcare” is “just one election away”, the proposal will in fact take eight years to implement and is to be funded on a “60-40” basis with the provinces.” Let us return to the 60-40 basis with the provinces when discussing point 3. The comrade’s second point is that the NDP suggests that daycare spots will be created days after a NDP victory, whereas in fact it will take much longer to implement. Again, while the comrade is correct to catch the NDP in a rhetorical slight-of-hand, do they mean to suggest that revolution is around the corner and that the socialist transition will deliver free collectively-run daycare in the next 8 years? If not, then parents in 8 years will still benefit from this policy, while the struggle for socialism continues. Also, I am not surprised that it will take 8 years to implement given the training that is required, the building of facilities etc.

The third part of the comrade’s argument against the NDP’s childcare policy is that, “To date, the funding for this from the provinces has not been promised, much less budgeted for.” This goes back to the aforementioned 60-40 cost division. It is true that provinces have not promised this, nor have they budgeted for it, but this begs the question why should they unless of course the NDP wins? No province or politician makes unnecessary promises or budgets that do not reflect political realities. If the NDP wins then the situation changes in which provinces will have to fight it or approve it, and whether they promise/budget it will depend on the strength of working-class movements. Thus, this argument is similarly weak.

Finally, the comrade concludes thusly,

And so this is the issue: the plan will be rolled out between now and 2023, and is contingent on money that might not exist. In this light, it looks like a plan that is designed to sound very appealing, but is ultimately designed to fail. In the space of eight years, any number of crises—political or economic—can (and will) provide a pretext to delay, distort, or even scrap the programme. Whether because of a “crushing deficit” inherited from the Conservatives, another major recession (or a worsening of the one we’re already in!), or some other major upset, this plan will not be implemented. It is, in effect, a deception.

It is very true that this plan may never come to be. However, the same thing can be said for communism. Should we not struggle for communism because in the space of the last nearly 100 years the communist project did not deliver or was unable to be implemented? The fact that every communist state became a state-capitalist authoritarian regimes proves that communism, in effect, is also a deception? Of course, not. The entire structure of this argument is flawed.

3. $15 Federal minimum wage: I find the comrade’s argument to be relatively accurate in the main. They argue,

The same goes for the “$15/hour National minimum wage”. Clearly designed to sound like a promise to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour for workers across the country, this policy will apply only to workers in federally-regulated industries, and will impact only the 12% of those who make less than $15/hour. Leaving aside the fact that the NDP supported scrapping the federal minimum wage back in 1996, this plan will be implemented gradually between now and 2019, by which time its already-minimal effect will be further muted by inflation and by the scheduled raises many employees—say those making $13/hour currently—will receive.

Although again I cannot but wonder why its so insignificant that the 12% of workers who do not already earn $15 should not receive it. Indeed, given that it is only 12% this in fact seems like a very winnable reform that will benefits hundreds, if not thousands of families. It also should be noted that NDP-governed provinces governed have in fact started to implement this policy to raise their province-wide wages to $15 (see this article from Liberal-leaning Global News), and thus the article’s claims otherwise is not accurate.

4. Bill C-51: I admit that I find the comrade’s and sympathiser’s respective positions on this issue to be perplexing and disconcerting, especially given their emphasis on armed revolution. I have to say it: at some points the comrades simply copy Conservative party speaking points, and overlook the vast amount of research that has been produced to demonstrate that Bill C-51 is in fact qualitatively distinct from existing laws. I strongly recommend people check out the work of two Canadian law professors, who are experts on this issue and have done a wonderful job exposing this: https://cdnantiterrorismlawaudit.wordpress.com. Thus, it is shocking to read the supporter write in their article, “Electoral Red Herrings: Bill C-51” that, Bill C-51

is simply a rejigging of already existing security legislation by continuing down the path of securitization that is part and parcel of the War on Terror … and creating a problematic of “oversight” where private information can be legally shared with governmental bodies (which, it also must be noted, is the NDP’s only problem with the Bill—its vagueness on the threat to individual privacy).”

Indeed, both articles state that given that Canada is a capitalist country there is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, thus it does not matter if this bill is in effect or not, because “all this means for the working class and oppressed people in Canada is that the same repression will have more review and approval. These proposed changes are superficial, and if the NDP were serious about “protecting privacy” or “ensuring our rights are respected” they’d repeal the bill entirely.” This argument is shocking not only because of it’s cavalier attitude, but also due to its apparent incapacity to see how even the limited bourgeois rights and freedoms granted under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie are vital and can be used by revolutionaries. Indeed, review and approval is not as good as not having the bill, but is preferable to no oversight at all.

The comrades who wrote both articles inaccurately argue that the NDP is not actually against the bill, but simply wants to amend it. Admittedly, the editorial board has added an update on their website that notes that the NDP has changed their perspective on this issue, but deem it to be a superficial change given that the promise is thin on details. What is important here is why both two articles make the same error and how they both incorrectly arrived at their initial analysis. The reason is because they both rely on the text of a single Global News article that says that the NDP will not scrap the bill. This of course, is not corroborated in the video that accompanies said piece, which is an interview with Thomas Mulcair, and does not reflect the public debate since that article was posted in which the NDP took an increasingly strident position against the bill. However, besides this error what is even more strange is the argument by the supporter of the PCR-RCP who wrote “Electoral Red Herrings”: “In this sense, it might be the case that the NDP’s opposition to the bill, far from being a support of anti-systemic movements, is instead closer to the opposition evinced by free market liberals and survivalist libertarians.” This argument is odd because I do not think any Leftist should care about the intentions of politicians when doing something, but look at the effects of what they do. Thus, whether or not the NDP is against the bill on the grounds that it impedes capitalist profits, or because of some support for anti-systemic movements, matters little. What matters is the actual repeal of the bill for whatever reason because it will benefit the working-class and revolutionary movements.

Finally, the supporter of the PCR-RCP argues,

The comprehensive measures of Bill C-51 do not change the lived experience of the most exploited and oppressed layers of Canadian society. These are people who are surveilled, ghettoized, profiled, and controlled as part of their daily existence. Bill C-51 was not required to roll the tanks into Kahnesatake 25 years ago to put down an Indigenous uprising. Nor was it required to render Arab Canadians, over-police Black Canadian neighbourhoods, or protect abandoned property from homeless squatting.

These facts do not mean we should not oppose it, or pretend that it does not possess key distinctions from previous security legislation, only that we should recognize that those who have nothing to lose in the event of a revolution are most often those for whom this “nothing to lose” is proven by the fact that they are already living under intense securitization that Bill C-51 would not make better or worse. These are people who, on the whole, do not care if the NDP is in power because the NDP makes no difference in their daily existence—which is why they are also the people, when we look at the demographic breakdowns, who usually do not vote.

Besides the fact that the article regularly slips between its own pretensions at times that key distinctions do not exist and its recognition that they do in fact exist at other points, the supporter of the PCR-RCP here speaks to an element of truth. Today, many of the most marginalised in our societies are already under significant state surveillance. However, what the supporter seems not to note here is precisely that the key distinctions that they tell us not pretend do not exist actually are operative here. Indeed, Bill C-51 will be used by CSIS to further deepen their surveillance of these marginalised communities as it will expand the toolkit available to them. The security services have already told us that they will use Bill C-51 to better monitor First Nations’ movements and peoples. Thus, while the supporter claims that they already are peoples with nothing left to lose, First Nations’ peoples and movements have lost actually something more because of this bill. Thus, it was not surprising that a lot of the initial opposition to this bill actually came from First Nations communities and leaders, especially from Idle No More, because this bill in fact made their lives worse. Now, I am not going to say that First Nations people should vote because of this issue because, as I noted in the previous post, for them other issues like sovereignty further complicate the picture. However, I do not think it is accurate to state that they had nothing to lose, when in fact they have lost something and they themselves recognise it.

In summation, the arguments made by boycott advocates, like the PCR-RCP and their supporters, while containing numerous elements of truth are often too quick to rush to judgement and indictment. One cannot but feel that the arguments are teleological inasmuch that the authors did not seriously consider the reforms being proposed, but simply moved as quickly as possible to rubbish them, so that they could make their final point i.e. boycott the elections because they are useless as no meaningful gains can be won for the working class through them. I agree with the PCR-RCP supporters and comrades that these proposed reforms are not structural, nor are they as progressive as they could/should be, but do not think that within our current political climate we should just dismiss them. Furthermore, I do not think that the PCR-RCP comrades and supporters arguments that boycotting elections is a break from bourgeois legality, whether formally or ideologically, is actually tenable. Additionally, I think that the PCR-RCP comrades and sympathisers do not strengthen their argument by the complete lack of a set of alternative revolutionary proposals. However, does this mean that I think that the boycott tactic should be scrapped altogether? No. I think that under a very specific set of delimited sets of assumptions, tactics and goals, the boycott tactic can be useful, but it needs to first rely on a sober and convincing analysis of the discussion being had around the elections. Otherwise, they will fail in using the tactic effectively and will not achieve their goals i.e. winning over forces and creating nascent working-class organisations absolutely vital to the much-needed revolutionary process.


3 thoughts on “On the 2015 Canadian General Elections: Bourgeois Legality and the NDP’s Proposed Reforms

  1. Hi,

    interesting article. Curious if you’ve had responses from the PCR-RCP.
    I don’t know much about Canada, a country i’ve never been to, but there is much that you say that is correct regarding various left groupings in other parts of the first world. that is, as you say:

    ” Furthermore, I do not think that the PCR-RCP comrades and supporters arguments that boycotting elections is a break from bourgeois legality, whether formally or ideologically, is actually tenable. Additionally, I think that the PCR-RCP comrades and sympathisers do not strengthen their argument by the complete lack of a set of alternative revolutionary proposals.”

    the key terms, in my opinion, that are relevant to many other groups and parties around the world is ‘ actually tenable’ and ‘ lack of a set of alternative revolutionary proposals’.

    without these, serious tenable and alternative proposals, there is in fact nothing apart from slogans that are convincing to those already convinced, but not at all convincing for the great majority of people. Hell, even i’m not convinced by slogans that have been put out by various groups i’ve been involved with, as i can see it is not reality at some level, but merely wishful thinking.

    1. Hi Roshan,
      Sorry the tardiness of my reply. Your comment had for whatever reason gone to the spam folder and I didn’t catch it till now. I have not seen any response from the PCR-RCP, nor do I expect one. I mean I am just running a blog, whereas they are trying to run a national organisation. I completely agree with you that the biggest problem with most groups and parties around the world is their lack of tenable arguments and tactics, and their lack of clearly articulated alternative revolutionary proposals. However, I think that this often flows from using a series of rhetorical arguments, tactics and strategies that are not organic to their own situation, but rather are a series of abstracted principles/dividing lines that are simply imposed onto their own situation.

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