The Western Socialist
Vol. 31 - No. 239
No. 3, 1964
A correspondent in Saskatchewan asks us about our claim that we are the only Socialist Party in Canada. He also asks about our views on the CCF-NDP. We have written to him as follows:
To begin with, the claim we make of being the only Socialist Party in this country arises from our view that only a party advocating socialism can properly claim to be a socialist party. No party in Canada other than the Socialist Party of Canada measures up to this view.
When the CCF was first formed some of its spokesmen claimed socialism as its objective, and its earliest manifesto, known as the "Regina Manifesto," was widely hailed as a socialist document. In fact the Manifesto advocated measures which, had they all been enacted, would have left capitalism intact. The early CCF "socialists" mistook for socialism the improvements they hoped to bring to capitalism.
In recent years the CCF became replaced by the NDP, except in Saskatchewan where both names are in use and the party is known as the CCF-NDP*. Socialism as a term is less used now than formerly and, if anything, less understood. NDP MP Stanley Knowles, for example, who rarely uses the word, did so a few months ago, addressing a Winnipeg meeting on the subject of what he called socialism. His address could not have been farther from the subject had he never heard of it.
The thought has been expressed that even though the NDP does not advocate socialism, it does good work in trying to make life bearable for the mass of people. To this it may be added that the same has been claimed for every party in Ottawa. Even now the Liberal government is making what are considered to be trojan efforts, approved by all the parties in parliament, including the NDP, to bring in a new and improved pension plan, and the Conservative government that preceded it brought in two increases in the existing pension plan, also supported by all the parties in parliament; so that, if support is conceded because of efforts to make life bearable for the mass of people, the chorus of claims for that support must clearly be deafening.
And this of course is the case, for none of the parties in parliament overlooks the value in votes of convincing the electorate that none but itself can properly care for their needs. But when they come before the electorate brimming with words for the things they have done and are doing for everyone, there remain two matters of importance skimmed over lightly or not even mentioned -- other matters could be noted but let us touch only on these: the cure for poverty and the ending of war. Where in Regina or Ottawa is there someone who has said something that makes sense on these subjects? The new pension plan, hailed lavishly on all sides, promises a pension equal at most to a quarter of the worker's wage. Is the worker of today so remote from the poverty level that a quarter of his wage adds up to a pension meriting enthusiasm? The fact is that none of the parties in parliament, including the NDP, can conceive of a condition in which there is no poverty; they can only conceive of poverty being eased.
The same can be said of their attitude towards war. They cannot picture a world without war. They can at best picture a condition in which war is lessened in destructive results. During the federal election campaign of last year NDP leader Douglas lectured extensively in opposition to the adoption of nuclear arms by Canada's armed forces. This attitude was supported by Conservatives and Communists. There was no suggestion from any of them that arms of any kind are undesirable.
The Socialist Party proposes that poverty and war be ended. This is not an impossible dream. It is not a dream at all. It is the most urgent and reasonable task facing humanity today and can be achieved almost overnight by simply transforming the means for producing and distributing wealth from capitalist ownership to common ownership and conducting their operations for the benefit of all. This task is not known to the NDP. You will perhaps recall that Mr. Douglas and other NDP spokesmen in last year's campaigning fought strenuously against "foreign" ownership of industry in favor of "Canadian" ownership. Of importance to them was not the fact of capitalist ownership but the nationality of the owners.
There is no better reason for workers to support the NDP than for them to support the Liberals or Conservatives. It is in fact ridiculous for them to support any party proposing to keep the collars rivetted to their necks, even though it is promised that the collars will be fur lined.
* "Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, Saskatchewan section of the New Democratic Party."