First Published: Progressive Worker, Vol. 2. No. 3, January 1966.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Nearly two months have elapsed since the federal elections were held to determine which political party would fOrm the next capitalist government. This recurrent tragi-comedy is performed to bamboozle the people into thinking that they rule, when all they are doing is choosing which political gang will act as agents for the ruling class. And from the results one cannot believe in the correctness of the old Latin saying, “Vox populi, Vox Dei” (the voice of the people is the voice of God). Rather when the majority of the voters supported the capitalist Liberal and Tory twins, one would conclude that as yet the voice of the people is the braying of an ass.
Some weeks before the official call for federal elections, Prime Minister Pearson travelled across the country on a pre-election campaign. In B.C., for instance, he promised grants for this, that and the other project amounting to some $48,000,000. But fortunately, the campaign which was a caricature of democracy, ended, and the mummers and the clowns departed from the campaign stage together with their retinue of political prune pedlars and other camp followers.
If one didn’t know who the speaker in the campaign was, one could scarcely tell to what party he belonged, for the speeches of all four parties were alike ’ a few more crumbs from the ruling class table, the same support of U.S. imperialist policy, the same pledges to make capitalism work by reforming it and the Douglas talk about “national purpose,”, as well as pledges about “planning” for capitalism in order to make capitalism work.
In B.C. the NDP held their own, but no more. In Saskatchewan, where the CCF had held power for nearly two decades, the NDP did not elect a single member. In the East (Ontario) there was a slight gain, and that largely a protest vote against the corrupt Liberal regime. The biggest gain was made by the Tory party and can be partly accounted for by the great campaigning ability of Diefenbaker, as the slight NDP gain was due in part to the persuasive eloquence of Douglas, of whom it can be said that his talents should not be wasted on such abstractions as “national purpose” and the trivialities of petty reform. Verily a Michael Angelo painting billboards.
In the campaign several organizations were tested. In Vancouver East, a self-exposed strikebreaker was the NDP candidate, one who made two long speeches in parliament in support of the Tory government’s strikebreaking bill to crush the West Coast ferries strike with compulsory binding arbitration (see Hansard, July 1958). Yet some trade union officials supported him when they well knew that compulsory arbitration is a deadly weapon against the organized workers.
And what of the so-called Communist Party leaders, just what could be expected of them? In the 1945 federal elections they bespattered themselves with infamy by openly, publicly, supporting MacKenzie King and his reactionary Liberal party, They clamoured for a coalition government with the slogan “Make labor a partner in government.” During that campaign, they of the Labor Progressive Party – as they then called themselves – were babbling about the “Teheran Accord” and their campaign speeches in support of the Liberal party had as their theme song “a brave new world” to be brought into being by collaboration with Churchill, Roosevelt and Trueman.
In supporting Winch they were buttressing the Liberal party, for they well knew that Winch in parliament consistently voted for both the foreign and domestic policies of the Liberal government and to keep them in office, for none of the MPs of the NDP wanted to bring the government down, for their $18,000 seats were too comfortable to risk losing.
And what of the League for Socialist Action whose leaders proclaim themselves to be revolutionary socialists? The most charitable thing that can be said that the role they played was an ignoble one, for they knew the record of the NDP candidate in Vancouver East, that he was a strikebreaker, a darling of the ruling class, and yet they supported EVERY candidate of the NDP Without exception.
And this despite there being a worker in the field, a worker candidate in the person of Jerry Le BourdaiS, a militant trade unionist, a socialist with an unblemished record. In vain will they try to exculpate themselves by saying that they did not openly or directly support Winch as against the workers’ candidate Le Bourdaia. But supporting the entire NDP without making an exception of Winch was indirectly supporting the latter, for silence meant consent.
Putting a strikebreaker up as a candidate was an anti-working class act, a political crime, and he who remains silent when a crime is being committed becomes by his silence an accomplice. One cannot be neutral in the class struggle. By not specifically and by name publicly opposing Le Bourdais and only indirectly supporting Winch does not absolve them from codemnation. Theirs is another case of Pilate “washing his hands,” or a Levite “passing by on the other side.”
Political support of an anti-working class candidate as against a bona fide worker candidate cannot be ascribed to conscious betrayal when the test came; but rather to cultism, a case of the blind leading the blind, to the parking away of their thinking machinery and uncritical rubber stamp acceptance of opinions handed down from the infallible “tops.”