Monday, March 2, 2020

Avoiding factions

One of the things that makes it difficult for parties to succeed is political infighting. I think it comes from taking too many contentious things as fundamentals for a political party. This is not at all necessary, especially when the status quo is so far removed from anything that most want. I think it also stems from a failure to recognize and protect against it in the first place.

Things I would suggest to avoid infighting:

  1. Recognize it as genuine problem that needs a solution
  2. Make fundamentals truly fundamental
  3. Work against cults of personality

Below is a very long quote from the doctoral dissertation of David G. Blocker from Western University titled "'To Waffle to the Left:' The Waffle, the New Democratic Party, and Canada's New Left during the Long Sixties". It demonstrates how fractious, mean spirited, and personal intra-party disputes can become. It also gives an idea of just how difficult things still were for women, even in a party that championed feminists first:
An early indication of the convention’s polarization was the debate on gender parity for the party’s federal council. On the first day of the convention, Krista Maeots presented a resolution requiring twelve of the twenty-four federal council positions elected at the convention be held by women. Maeots argued "discrimination does exist in the politics of this country and in the politics of this party," a view that would be reinforced for women’s liberationists over the coming days.

The debate on Maeots’s resolution, chaired by former Ontario MLA and longtime USWA and NDP official Marc Zwelling, was cut off before the time allotted had expired, bringing cries of "Seig heil" from frustrated feminists.
Although Harney spoke in favour of gender parity, the remaining four speakers opposed the resolution. Mary Eady, the party treasurer, insisted the resolution represented "an unwise step backward by replacing discrimination with tokenism." After the convention, Varda Burstyn described the result: "the parity resolution was not merely defeated or rejected – it was railroaded."

On the final day of the convention, the Resolutions Committee introduced its policy statement on women’s issues, which called for legislation to eliminate discrimination in employment opportunities, provide for equal pay and paid maternity leave, and eliminating abortion from the Criminal Code. The document’s conservatism appalled women’s liberationists who decried it as totally inadequate. Waffler Kelly Crichton attacked it as an insult to women that would leave the NDP far behind the Liberals on support for women’s equality. An attempt to refer the document back to committee for revision including a commitment to hold a national conference of NDP women was defeated.

Policy defeats were not the only source of frustration for women’s liberationists at the convention. Many delegates were visibly uninterested during the debate on women’s issues; union delegates and male Wafflers alike read newspapers and chatted amongst themselves throughout.
Varda Burstyn recalled being heckled and insulted as she waited in line for a microphone, being told "go back to the kitchen where you belong," "you have to get married to join the union," and "what you really need is a good fuck."

The referral motion on the women’s resolution was defeated to the tune of "Solidarity Forever" sung by satisfied union delegates.

Despite the party prominently advertising its daycare provisions for the children of delegates, the facilities were only open from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Women’s liberationists were disgusted by an advertisement for a topless nightclub in the convention brochure.

Yvonne Trower summarized the feelings of many when she lamented, "this party is prepared to see women, not as policy makers, but as playmates."

Quote above is from this link:

Avoiding factions

One of the things that makes it difficult for parties to succeed is political infighting. I think it comes from taking too many contentious ...