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Author Topic: A leaderless party?
Michelle
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posted 18 June 2002 10:18 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I wonder if it IS possible? Why would a party necessarily have to have a leader? Especially in a smaller party where there isn't much chance of winning the whole election? Even if a party were to become the opposition, would it really be necessary for the party to have a leader in our system? Sure, there would be no one to live in Stornaway, but who cares about that?

In order to pick a cabinet, all the elected MPs in the party could have a nomination and vote among themselves and pick who they think would be best.

I guess in order to actually gain power you'd have to have a leader of the party so there would be a Prime Minister. But then again, why do we necessarily need a PM rather than a consensus-building cabinet?

Well, okay, I guess the PM thing isn't going to be easy to get around. But let's take, oh, say, the NDP for example. Why couldn't the party be leaderless? It's not like they're going to actually become the party in power in the next election. They would have a few elections to advance the idea (and show how they practice it) of a consensus building rather than leader-follower model of party politics.

I think that could be neat. I know I'm just pipe dreaming. But I wanted to respond to MJ's claim that a leaderless party wouldn't work within the system we have now. Could it really not work with gradual changes and adjustments as we go along? Maybe it wouldn't. But I thought it might be fun to at least think about.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 18 June 2002 10:33 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I can imagine it working.
Instead of a single, permanent boss, you could have a rotating committee system, where each committee chooses its chair* for a specified time, and all the chairs get together to set policy by consensus.
*Or spokesperson. I've actually served on a committee where nobody wanted to be furniture, and we still got the job done.
Why not?

From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
MJ
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posted 18 June 2002 10:50 PM      Profile for MJ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
To be a bit obsessive-compulsive , Michelle, I didn't say it couldn't work with the system we had now. I said that it wouldn't happen within the NDP, or any other party mainstream enough to have elected members.

I think it people wanted to build a political party without the position of leader as it works now, it would be theoretically possible. But only in the context of a very clear idea of what the party would be, what the expectation were and how it would operate. I don't think it would work if no leader was taken to mean no structure or rules. And expectations for what could be achieved would have to be modest, because success in the conventional sense in politics - i.e. winning elections - would mean fitting into the existing system with all of its demands and assumptions.

But given all of that it certainly could work. In theory.


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nonsuch
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posted 18 June 2002 11:54 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
So, change the effing system!
No leader is not the same as no structure and no rules. It just means no boss.
Still, if we won federally, we'd have to give the international press a face to photograph and we'd have to send a body to the conferences. Howdy-doody?

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Zatamon
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posted 19 June 2002 12:05 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
In Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (fantastic book if you like the kind) the revolution is won, but they have a problem: the leader is 'Mike' the super-computer and they have to give 'him' a face for the people who want to revere him (Richard Bach has a few things to say about that too).

Humans are fine as long as they have their illusions...


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doug
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posted 19 June 2002 12:18 AM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Co-leadership really didn't work very well at all for the German Greens in no small part because the leaders represented different factions of the party and they tended to contradict and work against each other. That sort of thing could very easily happen in the NDP as well...imagine, for example, having Svend Robinson and Bob Rae as co-leaders.
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nonsuch
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posted 19 June 2002 12:24 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yeah, but once the Greens subsume the NDP, no more problem. No more Bob Rae. Cool.
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Zatamon
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posted 19 June 2002 12:32 AM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
NDP as health food? -- Why not, they sure are green (behind the ears) -- at least since Ed (I do miss him, nobody tells me about gold flakes and corn flakes any more!)
From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 19 June 2002 12:38 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
True Doug, but I wasn't thinking co-leaders - I was thinking NO leaders and consensus building rather than factions.

Thanks for the clarification, MJ.


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DrConway
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posted 19 June 2002 12:40 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
A rather interesting and fascinating idea. I'm drawn to this, although not irresistibly. Yet.

(Munches daintily on Meow Mix)


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nonsuch
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posted 19 June 2002 01:27 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wait till you get drafted as cover-pseudofelinoid for the NDG.

Seriously, why not?
What's so great about having a boss? Nobody likes bosses. Lots of good work gets done in spite of them, around them, while they're in a meeting. Give the press a photogenic decoy, and we could pass all kinds of progressive legislation while nobody's looking.

[ June 19, 2002: Message edited by: nonesuch ]


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Sine Ziegler
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posted 19 June 2002 01:04 PM      Profile for Sine Ziegler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
ABSURD

(but of course you would expect to hear that from me)


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spindoctor
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posted 19 June 2002 02:36 PM      Profile for spindoctor   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
ABSURD

I'll second that Signe...'consensus building' really isn't even a lofty-sounding idea. Often the compromises needed to forge a consensus don't achieve the goal of making everybody happy, it just makes nobody happy and doesn't achieve anything.

Besides, doesn't consensus allow even one individual to scuttle a whole idea / policy / initiative? Even if everybody else is behind it?

That's the opposite of democracy in my eyes.

A major part of a leader's role isn't necessarily to bully people into following him or her but in interpreting the majority will of the body he or she leads.

My experiences with consensus-style meetings and processes has been almost entirely negative and ineffectual.


From: Kingston, Jamaica.....oh alright....Kingston, Ontario | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
animal
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posted 19 June 2002 03:41 PM      Profile for animal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Consensus is an inherantly good idea for groups which have a strong basis of unity.

I've seen it work marvelously. At its best consensus solicites the input of all members of the group and helps reach decisions which EVERYONE in the group can support. Think about it . . . if every single person feels that they've had a chance to take ownership in a decision and affect the direction of the group, then all individuals can be clearly focused on a common objective. The collective energy of such a group can be a powerful force!

That said, if not facilitated correctly or if the group cannot reach a compromise, then, yes, as spindoctor so eloquently put it, the result can be that

quote:
it just makes nobody happy and doesn't achieve anything.

My experience with the NDP leads me to believe that this would probably be the case if we tried to implent such a system for such a divided group. I'm all about the happy/positive-energy thing, but I don't think it's a realistic objective for the NDP.

I could rant about how non-democratic and divisive leadership (at its worst) and the yes/no decision making model are, but you've heard it all before. I think now is a time to be practical.

I think we need a leader who will not so much just be ruled by the majority, but who will help find a common ground (I mean, really, we DO want to fight pretty much the same things, but we just disagree on how to do it.) We need a leader who will help unite the left.

Is there anyone out there who is just so-darn-cool that once the leadership race is over that everyone will rally behind her or him? Perhaps not, but isn't that a great thing for the NDP to strive for?


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Amy
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posted 19 June 2002 04:11 PM      Profile for Amy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Yeah, but once the Greens subsume the NDP, no more problem.

From: the whole town erupts and/ bursts into flame | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
spindoctor
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posted 19 June 2002 04:22 PM      Profile for spindoctor   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
think we need a leader who will not so much just be ruled by the majority, but who will help find a common ground (I mean, really, we DO want to fight pretty much the same things, but we just disagree on how to do it.) We need a leader who will help unite the left.

That's a good point animal and I support that. But I would only add that the next leader not only has to focus on the common ground, but also has to do some persuading of people to come along with him or her...

I think on the left we forget about the importance of persuasion, convincing and moving people...we seem to be happy just to state our views and then complain when they're not listened to.

Someone like Martin Luther King didn't just unite civil rights groups or build on common ground he actually convincedhuge amounts of the population to go along with his vision....

Know what I mean?


From: Kingston, Jamaica.....oh alright....Kingston, Ontario | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 19 June 2002 04:39 PM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Whoa, spindoctor, what the heck are you saying? Consensus building is the opposite of democracy? You've got it all backwards!

There are only three basic kinds of social interaction: coersion, compromise, and seamless unity. Discounting the last as increasingly unlikely the larger your group gets, it's clear which of the two remaining choices is the better one.

Like Calvin says (the cartoon character, not the philosopher) "A good compromise leaves everyone unhappy" but this is just a fact of social life. People who refuse to compromise end up living in isolation (and accomplishing very little in a societal sense). People who have social goals to fulfill learn to deal with the fact that "you can't always get what you want".

The only way that thousands (let alone millions) of people can create a unified social action is through compromise. Giving up some goals to accomplish others. Building consensus through careful negotiation. This is true from rock concerts to political parties. It is the very essence of democracy.

The only other model I can see is the "benevolent dictator" one, which only is practical as long as your dictator remains benevolent, and is never democratic no matter what.

I prefer to negotiate my own goals with people, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, rather than have my agenda "interpreted" by some autocrat.


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Sine Ziegler
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posted 19 June 2002 04:56 PM      Profile for Sine Ziegler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Animal - I can't believe it took me a bit to catch onto who you are! Duh.

Probabaly because "Animal" totally does not suit you.


From: Calgary | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
spindoctor
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posted 19 June 2002 05:57 PM      Profile for spindoctor   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Whoa, spindoctor, what the heck are you saying? Consensus building is the opposite of democracy? You've got it all backwards!

Not at all...consensus building can be a huge part of democracy. But it's not the be all and end all of democracy.

As you pointed out, the larger a group gets, the harder it is to achieve a consensus. The problem is that if you try to pursue a consensus too vigorously, certain individuals can end up having more influence over decisions and policies than others...this, in my view, is undemocratic.

It's why I often have a problem with referedums that require super-majorities, like 2/3 to pass and such. In effect, 1/3 of the population has a veto over any change and that's not democratic....


From: Kingston, Jamaica.....oh alright....Kingston, Ontario | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
animal
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posted 19 June 2002 06:38 PM      Profile for animal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I would only add that the next leader not only has to focus on the common ground, but also has to do some persuading of people to come along with him or her...

Spindoctor, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I think convincing people to join the movement is probably 9/10ths of the equation. The great leaders of all time, of every political persuasion, have inspired and impassioned people. That's the essence of a good leader.

STEP ONE: Find common ground and articulate a clear vision that people want to get behind.

STEP TWO: Wrap it up in pretty, shiny packaging and sell the hell out of it. Convince people it's good for them.

---
Signe, yes, I took your advice to start babbling . You're right, it's darn fun! BTW, "Signe Ziegler" totally doesn't suit you either.


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Simon Shields
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posted 19 June 2002 08:53 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Hope this works ...

This should be a link to a piece I wrote for the Ontario Greens last year. It was the result of raising the 'no leaders' debate in the GPO listserv.

Simon's Green Party Leadership Treatise


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Mycroft_
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posted 19 June 2002 08:58 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I wouldn't have that much confidence in the Greens. They have absolutely no class analysis as a party. I don't know if this is indicative of anything but all the Green Party activists I've met in Ontario in the past few months either have business degrees or are Commerce or MBA students. Not exactly the stuff of which anti-capitalist parties are made.

[ June 19, 2002: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


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nonsuch
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posted 19 June 2002 09:05 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Works fine.
I'll read it with attention, on my next visit to Wild Greens.

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Simon Shields
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posted 19 June 2002 09:07 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Mycroft -

I left the Greens because of their ineffectual - and sometimes poisonous - culture, not the "absence of class analysis", which I have heard of a lot from left types (amongst whom I count myself). I joined the NDP, not because of class analysis but because - so far - they're reasonable, sane people.

I feel that history has transcended class analysis. The new dialectic is the earth versus humans, not rich versus poor humans. Pogo was right: we have found the enemy and it is us.

That said, my day to day work is directly in what you might consider the frontlines of the class war: advocating for the poor - every day. That should give my analysis some extra credibility.


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Zatamon
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posted 19 June 2002 09:26 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Simon Shields: we have found the enemy and it is us.
Here is my idea of what could be a “Leaderless Party” (LP for short, or, altenately it could be called "We are Atlas")

In "Atlas Shrugged" Ayn Rand described what she thought would happen if all the creative producers of the world went on strike -- society would collapse in total chaos she claimed.

That gave me the idea: what would happen to the producer corporations if all the consumers of the world went on strike?

The last couple of days more and more posts asked the question: "What to do?"

Most of us seem to be in agreement about the ills of the world and the causes for it. Most of us want social justice, end to exploitation and worse.

How to go about making it change, we ask.

The question is: what are our assets? What is it we have control over?

We have one asset: Truth, and we have control over one thing: our Life-style.

We are already spreading truth every chance we have.

What are we doing with our Life style?

Would it not be a good idea to try to start a movement (similar to "Adbuster", which is actually very popular world wide) aimed at organizing and carrying out a "General Strike" of consumers?

I bet it would scare the daylight out of our friendly corporations if revenues started dropping!

Honestly, that is the only strategy I can see working.

"Consumers of the World, unite! -- you have nothing to lose but your chains (debt, junk, addiction)"


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Simon Shields
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posted 19 June 2002 09:42 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Zatamon --

Consumer boycotts and unity are good. The Daishowa boycott was a great model ...

But you're off topic - start a new thread! ;-)

PS. For an old fart you sure are a keener.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
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posted 19 June 2002 10:00 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think it's good your working as an advocate of the poor. But I think you're wrong when you dismiss the importance of a class analysis. The problems you identify do not transcend class, they are a direct result of capitalism which is why we need a party prepared to take capitalism on.
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Zatamon
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posted 19 June 2002 10:09 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Simon: PS. For an old fart you sure are a keener.
Simon, if you think farts twelve years younger smell any sweeter, you are kidding yourself!!! On the other hand, the number twelve may be magic -- 12 years old scotch is sure 'smoother'

[ June 19, 2002: Message edited by: Zatamon ]


From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 20 June 2002 12:47 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
As Bulworth says, "White people got more in common with black people than both do with rich people."
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 20 June 2002 05:23 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Amen brother.

By the way, I really don't buy the whole "Earth vs. The Humans" analysis at all. The worst thing we're likely to do to the planet is make it uninhabitable for homo sapiens (and a lot of other species). The ecosystem itself would survive and adapt.

Are we likely to do more damage to the Earth than giant meteor showers in the far past that scientists theorize have caused mass extinctions and fundamentally altered it's ecology? The planet got over that and it'll get over us too if we manage to do ourselves in.

All my concerns are human concerns, environmentally, socially, and economically. In all cases, it's the Human vs. the Humans, and class analysis is fundamantal to these questions.


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 20 June 2002 11:03 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Without knowing, I assume that Bulworth is white. White people like to minimize the significance of racism. Racism is different from classism. Race is certainly also a "site" (to use the academic jargon) of class oppression, but it is more than that, too.

I agree with Jacob Two-Two, the planet will do fine without us.

[ June 20, 2002: Message edited by: rasmus_raven ]


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
David Kyle
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posted 20 June 2002 11:20 AM      Profile for David Kyle     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I remember when I earned my sailing license. We had to show that we could sail without a rudder. It is possible, but you wouldn't want to do it.

A political party without a leader is like a sail boat without a rudder.


From: canada | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 20 June 2002 11:22 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I limit this comment strictly to the context of the building of a political party/movement.

I've seen attempts to claim that political organizations have no leader/s, and in my experience they founder on one deep human truth: people are different. Everybody says that he/she knows that, believes that, but (again, in my experience) it is a very hard truth to live, disastrous to ignore but still very hard to come to terms with.

People have different skills and interests by the time they are adult. Some people, for whatever reason, are great "leaders," a notion admittedly requiring some breaking down and disciplining. The problem with pretending that, Hey, we're all equal here; we don't have no leaders, is that some people will still inevitably become influential, and if you have no formal, public structures to hold them accountable, they will become dangerously powerful.

Some formal, public structure is a protection for democrats, not a threat.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 20 June 2002 11:36 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Fully agreed, skdadl. I made the self-same point to a collective of anti-globalization activists last night. Some people are "key players" and pretending this isn't true simply means there is no transparency and accountability. Democracy demands some structure. We should name things for what they are.
From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Simon Shields
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posted 20 June 2002 02:55 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Hmmm ...

Ok, first David Kyle. David, that's kind of cute but not a heck of a lot of content. I could be cute back and talk about broken rudders and wrong directions and shoals. Give me more ...

Skdadl and Raven -

In the article at the link I put a few posts back I addressed what I labelled the 'prophylactic' role of leader, which I suggest is what you are stating. To restate this role: since there is a natural inclination for certain persons to become 'focal', or informal 'leaders' (due to what I called the charisma factor), isn't it better to formally recognize them for accountability purposes.

I criticised this theory of the utility of leadership (there are of course more) as reifying the role of leader and creating a leadership monopoly in one person, thus providing pernicious egoists (and god knows they're out there) with a leg-up in doing their mischief. You could argue that 'what about the 'good' leaders', but I'm only at present addressing the prophylactic role of leadership I believe you stated, which is an essentially defensive one - to constrain pernicious egoism.

As well, does the institution of leadership in fact constrain other charismatic individuals? I would say no - within all conventional parties there are wannabes and 'pretenders to the throne'. Plots and alliances abound. Do I even have to cite present day Cdn examples?

On the class analysis point (which IS mildly off topic):

I emphasize the Marxist alienation of man from nature, not the other three alienations from self, others and product. Product, self and other humans are necessarily anthropocentric concepts, whereas only the rape of nature underpins them all as the ultimate means of production. In the advanced capitalism that we live in today I see this more fundamental alienation blatantly coming to the fore. Not that human/human exploitation has ended, just that a larger problem has loomed ...

I also do animal rights and environmental legal work, which I couldn't have 25 years ago. Isn't the fact that these are now areas of law and public policy alone enough to support my point about the rise of this new dialectic.

Heck, if you must have class analysis - just BE dialectically dynamic (aren't all revolutionaries supposed to be?) - and expand your categories into animals and nature as the new oppressed. To limit class analysis within it's traditional human parameters seem to me inflexible.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 20 June 2002 05:43 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The problem with pretending that, Hey, we're all equal here; we don't have no leaders, is that some people will still inevitably become influential, and if you have no formal, public structures to hold them accountable, they will become dangerously powerful.

That's the best argument I've seen yet; in fact, you've pretty much changed my mind completely. In fact, I can't believe I hadn't thought of it during my first post, since that's usually what stops me from embracing anarchy - it's just not realistic about the dark side of human nature and the desire for power.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Simon Shields
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posted 20 June 2002 05:49 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Michelle -

Ok, so you buy the propylactic role of leader. What about my arguments?

Do you admit that the role of leader then is essentially a negative one? Does it in fact 'prevent' egoism manifesting itself or in fact further it through monopolization? Does it in fact prevent the collateral arising of charismatic sub-leaders? If so, what evidence do you offer?

Excuse me, I'm TRYING to have an argument here ... ;-).


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 20 June 2002 05:54 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I often get disapproving looks from anarchists for this - and a good many are leftists, so I tend to not bust out with this too much, but here goes.

I believe that hierarchialism is a deeply ingrained part of our biological and cultural evolution, and it probably developed in response to the need to coordinate activities in some way that was compatible with the pre-existing instinct to follow the directions of an individual perceived to be worthy of leadership.

Now before you all get on me for a line of thought that seems to reflect a more right-wing characteristic belief that instincts should not be modified, I note that it IS possible to subjugate instincts to reason, and to curb them or weaken them - look how we choose our leaders now as opposed to a few thousand years ago.

But it is still necessary to have hierarchially defined lines of authority, and this, I think, is where people who go too far in the direction of constant development of consensus get bogged down.

A "leaderless" NDP would not be truly leaderless. It would be leadership by committee instead, and while this is still workable, it should be recognized as such.

Finally, I gotta thump Rasmus for shooting his mouth off:

quote:
Without knowing, I assume that Bulworth is white. White people like to minimize the significance of racism.

Watch the movie and then come back and tell me this, buddy. He says that line I quoted right after getting a helluva lecture from a black man about the realities black people face.

And Martin Luther King Jr. himself said that poor whites needed just as much of an advocate as poor blacks did, because both groups of people were victims of an economically unequal society.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 20 June 2002 05:55 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yes, I do buy all of that. But like Skdadl said, there are going to be leaders whether they are defined as such or not. It would be better for the leaders to be defined as leaders, and then have rules and parameters to their power. Otherwise, if nobody admits that the de facto leaders are actually leaders, then they will pretty much be able to do what they like.

quote:
Watch the movie and then come back and tell me this, buddy. He says that line I quoted right after getting a helluva lecture from a black man about the realities black people face.

So...was Bulworth black or white? If he's white, then Rasmus guessed right.

And most of the black feminists I've read have actually gone out of their way to highlight the fact that being black and poor is not the same as being white and poor. If you're white and poor, you have a problem with money. If you're black and poor, you have a problem with money multiplied by race. If you're black, poor, and a woman...well...that's where anti-racist feminism comes in, but I won't get into that whole thing. But there are lots of black people who DO think that racism is still an issue that separates people of similar class backgrounds.

[ June 20, 2002: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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Babbler # 490

posted 20 June 2002 06:24 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Fundamentally, what matters is how much money you got in your ass pocket. The rich guy on top doesn't give a damn whether the bum on the street he yelled at to get away from his brand-new Cadillac was black or white.

I also have to question why leftists are letting race color their perceptions about economic status when it is well-known that right-wingers often use race as an excuse to ignore severe structural issues in the economies of Canada and the USA.

A thought experiment for you people:

Imagine tomorrow that everyone woke up in some intermediate shade of beige, and did not know what his or her skin color had been before.

The unequal distribution of income and wealth would probably become starkly clear in such a world.

Another, more realistic, thought experiment, is to look at disaggregated statistics as regards the change in income levels for people of various races and sexes since 1973 (or 1979 - another pivotal year since that's the year real family income went into a decade-long stall-out).

Then cover up the left side of the chart and look just at the percentage changes.

Conclusion: There is something drastically wrong with an economy that produces such a differential change in incomes over time.

Addendum: Why are you choosing to dismiss the statement that working people the world over have more in common with each other than with the rich people of the world just because the speaker is white?

How shallow of you.

[ June 20, 2002: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Simon Shields
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posted 20 June 2002 06:30 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Michelle -

I don't have much hair left and you're not helping matters ....

Last chance to read and respond or I'm out of here.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 20 June 2002 08:20 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If that's a joke, it's not a good one, IMHO.

[ June 20, 2002: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1394

posted 20 June 2002 08:32 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Dr.C: Imagine tomorrow that everyone woke up in some intermediate shade of beige, and did not know what his or her skin color had been before.
It happened in "The Lathe of Heaven" by Ursula LeGuin

From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Simon Shields
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2771

posted 20 June 2002 10:49 PM      Profile for Simon Shields     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Bye Bye, off to the NDP Convention.
From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
malcontent
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posted 21 June 2002 02:08 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I find it interesting that in my experience, most all of the people who want to minimize the significance of racial oppression as a phenomenon distinct from class oppression have been white. I'm sure that not all of them are, but in my experience they have been. I guess white people understand the experiences of people of colour better than those people themselves.

Personally, I feel I'd rather be rich and black than poor and white, but perhaps many rich black persons and poor black persons would answer differently. I really don't know.

So, DrConway, is homophobia basically just a form of class oppression? Or is it something quite different? Is all oppression just economic oppression? Or are other things going on?


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 21 June 2002 02:16 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm with rasmus on this one, sorry Doc.
From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2230

posted 21 June 2002 03:36 AM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I don't think a class analysis needs to minimise racial oppression. Rather, it provides one explanation for it, or at least a contributing factor, the role that racial oppression plays in capitalism and has played historically. That's not to suggest that there was no such thing as xenophobia before capitalism but certainly the African slave trade and capitalism's relationship with it played a significant role not only in the manufacturing of an ideology of African inferiority but also in the creation and expansion of imperialism which subjegated the continent.

Contrast this to European civilisation during the period of the Roman Empire when it was quite common for Black Africans to be Roman citizens and take quite prominent roles. In the early Christian church there were Black saints and religious leaders, some of whose images remain in ancient churches. Facts of life which would have seemed impossible to Europeans in the 17th or 18th centuries.


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2230

posted 21 June 2002 03:41 AM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I also do animal rights and environmental legal work, which I couldn't have 25 years ago. Isn't the fact that these are now areas of law and public policy alone enough to support my point about the rise of this new dialectic.

Heck, if you must have class analysis - just BE dialectically dynamic (aren't all revolutionaries supposed to be?) - and expand your categories into animals and nature as the new oppressed. To limit class analysis within it's traditional human parameters seem to me inflexible.


I'm simply saying that capitalism has a lot to do with pollution and other environmental sins as well as with treatment of animals and that to understand and combat capitalism you have to have a class analysis.

As for a dialectic that takes into consideration the oppression of animals, I suppose, as a Marxist I could argue that the only force that can truly liberate animals is animal-kind itself. We must raise the consciousness of animals so that they become aware of their own oppression and are able to combat it and lead to animal auto-emancipation.

What would Gramsci say about this, Rasmus?

[ June 21, 2002: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 21 June 2002 05:11 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
So, DrConway, is homophobia basically just a form of class oppression? Or is it something quite different? Is all oppression just economic oppression? Or are other things going on?

Homophobia could be a form of class oppression if it wasn't for the darned fact that us gay people slip under the radar so damned much.

Is it not also true that in general, the black unemployment rate in the USA tends to be at least two percentage points higher than the US national average? There is a racial component, but also a class component, as this higher unemployment rate is a symptom of a de-skilling of the black workforce, coupled with higher poverty rates among the black population.

I also note that none of you bothered to read the part where I quoted no less a luminary than Martin Luther King Jr on the subject of the community of interest that poor people of all colors have.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 21 June 2002 05:12 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
As for a dialectic that takes into consideration the oppression of animals, I suppose, as a Marxist I could argue that the only force that can truly liberate animals is animal-kind itself. We must raise the consciousness of animals so that they become aware of their own oppression and are able to combat it and lead to animal auto-emancipation.

Felinoids of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your annoying kitty tags!

Er... the crowd appears to be more interested in the Meow Mix buffet table. Perhaps next time.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 21 June 2002 09:03 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
None of which has a whole lot to do with elevating one person over a party. Unless we choose a black panther (no, a real one) for leader.

Obviously, there will always be a core group that's more effective than the rank-and-file, just as, in every team effort, there will always be some who work harder, and some who take undeserved credit. In politics, you also have outside influences. Having a leader doesn't mean that one can control manipulation by powers behind the scenes. In fact, the unseen powers would have a harder time, corrupting a whole steering committee than one person.
Having a figurehead or spokesperson is often convenient, but i still can't see any reason why that figurehead can't be different each week.


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2230

posted 21 June 2002 12:09 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Felinoids of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your annoying kitty tags!

Er... the crowd appears to be more interested in the Meow Mix buffet table. Perhaps next time.


Anyone who has cats probably knows the feeling at times that they are plotting against you (or at least plotting to control you)

This reminds me of that line in the movie "chicken run" when the horrified farmer's wife comes to a sudden realisation about the fowl: "they're organised!"


From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 554

posted 21 June 2002 12:10 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
I don't get the feeling that Milhouse is plotting against me, or attempting to control me. Maybe he's just REALLY good at it?
From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mycroft_
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2230

posted 21 June 2002 07:46 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
He's just lulling you into a false sense of confidence.
From: Toronto | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 21 June 2002 08:09 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I did answer you, Simon.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 21 June 2002 09:01 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Bigotry, (such as racism, homphobia, and sexism) and classism are two very different things. They are not mutually exclusive, as there is certainly a class element to bigotry, most often. However, not recognizing the difference between the two seriously undermines the plight of people of colour, women, etc., etc.
From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
frandroid_atreides
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2569

posted 21 June 2002 09:21 PM      Profile for frandroid_atreides   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I suspect that he's one of these people that will not repeat/reposition their argument if they believe that you have not answered it...
From: Toronto, Arrakis | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1402

posted 21 June 2002 10:43 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Bigotry, (such as racism, homphobia, and sexism) and classism are two very different things.

I wonder.
Where is bigotry most evident and violent? Usually among the marginal, the dispossessed, the poor.
They are insecure; constantly worried that even the little that they have will be taken away: everyone is a threat. And that fear can be manipulated. Start with no education, or a very bad one - preferably including lots of superstition. Add rotten housing; overcrowded conditions where people are in each other's face all the time. Then make people compete for too few lousy jobs, too little space, never enough money. Throw in mass entertainments that are all about conflict, hate, fighting. When the frustration level is high enough, they're ready to lash out at anyone. All you have to do is point. (Preachers are handy for this purpose.)

[ June 21, 2002: Message edited by: nonesuch ]


From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
David Kyle
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1530

posted 22 June 2002 01:33 AM      Profile for David Kyle     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Simon Shields: ...but not a heck of a lot of content...

Just trying to match the usual level of discussion on this site.

I still get a kick out of how passionate people are, yet the majority of contributors use false names. It makes it rather hard to take it seriously.


From: canada | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 22 June 2002 02:08 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That says something. Either about your high expectations of "acountability" or more likely the blandness of your personality.

Maybe both...

...but I doubt it...

[ June 22, 2002: Message edited by: meades ]


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 690

posted 22 June 2002 06:26 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I still get a kick out of how passionate people are, yet the majority of contributors use false names. It makes it rather hard to take it seriously.

People using this argument (as it was used before and demonstrated as false) are hard to take seriously. But then, I don't need to know your name to figure that out.


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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