My Expulsion from Socialist Caucus
xxxxxxx at xxxxxx.xx
Mon Jun 19 13:03:02 MDT 2000
Following [Sunday]'s Socialist Caucus meeting at the ONDP convention,
ONDP Socialist Caucus co-chair Joe Flexer informed me that I've been
expelled from the Socialist Caucus, or as he put it "where do you want
us to post your resignation from the Socialist Caucus?"
What is the process by which one is expelled from the Socialist Caucus
you ask? Well, apparantly pissing off Joe seems to be sufficient.
Once upon a time I ran the Socialist Caucus website and the SC listserv.
In fact, I build the site from scratch putting at least 40 hours of work
into it. I decided it would be a good idea to put links on the site to
various articles from the left press about the NDP. I was very
non-sectarian in doing this, I included links to articles from Socialist
Action (I even listed them first) as well as the Freedom Socialist,
Socialist Worker, the NDP Left Opposition website and the Socialist
which is the newspaper of my group Socialist Alternative. Joe insisted
that I remove the link to the Socialist Alternative articles because
Socialist Alternative calls for the creation of a new workers' party. A
demand with which Joe disagrees (at least publicly).
I refused. I asked on what authority could he demand this. He then got
Barry and Marcel to join in the demand. I argued since the co-chairs of
socialist caucus are only supposed to be spokespeople and that since
it's the federal SC steering committee that is supposed to deal with
matters of policy that I would only agree to remove the link after a
democratic debate and vote by the Steering Committee. They insisted this
wasn't necessary. Now, I had volunteered to be on the federal NDP SC
Steering Committee at the last federal election and was somewhat
dismayed that it had never been consulted.
Since the federal steering committee consisted of people from all over
the country I could understand why meetings could not be held but I
didn't understand why there had been no email list established for
committee members and why there had been no consultation whatsoever at
any time with the steering committee.
After endless arguing with Joe, Barry and Marcel I finally decided I'd
had enough and resigned as webmaster and listserv operator.
Rather than sabotage the website or simply erase it I sent Marcel the
passwords and detailed instructions on how the site is operated. Same
with the email listserv. The next day I found myself banned from the
listserv. I was told that this was because of my advocacy of a "new
I posted emails on the zoo (predecessor of trillum and mouseland) about
the situation. Rather gentle emails actually which avoided criticism as
much as possible but which suggested that perhaps this was not really
very respectful of free speech or democracy.
Other people on the Zoo started a half tongue in cheek, half serious
"Justice for the Socialist Caucus One" campaign. Barry, Joe and Marcel
were forced to try to defend their position. They didn't put forward a
very convincing argument (how could they?) and their statement on the
matter was torn to shreds by all and sundry.
After a few days of this Joe called me and suggested that we meet. I
agreed and we met at a coffee shop. Joe told me that I would be allowed
back on to the Socialist Caucus listserv if I signed a letter that
stated that I would resign from the Socialist Caucus if I posted any
emails to the Socialist Caucus listserv advocating the creation of a new
workers' party or if I posted any such emails to any other ndp lists
advocating the creation of a new workers' party without also making
clear that I was speaking for myself and not the Socialist Caucus. I
have a copy of the letter in my files but haven't looked at it since.
Anyway, at the time, I looked at the letter and thought that it was
completely ridiculous and nothing more but a facile attempt to bully me.
But, since I was tired of the whole dispute and thought it was all a
waste of time I signed it. Another reason I signed it was since the
Socialist Caucus has no "membership" as such (remember, groups can get
expelled from the NDP for being a "party within a party") a letter
stating that I was resigning from the Socialist Caucus was absolutely
meaningless. You can no more "resign" from the Socialist Caucus than you
can resign from the human race. (Ok, a bit of an exaggerated comparison
but you get the picture.)
More recently I've had disputes, heated disputes, with the co-chairs on
other issues. My relationship has deteriorated profoundly since I
started expressing interest in the Rebuidling the Left conference.
When I argued that there should be a Socialist Caucus newspaper, even
something as modest as a photocopied magazine in the same format as the
ONDY paper, published once or twice a year as a voice of the Socialist
Caucus and a forum for debate. Rather than respond to my arguments the
co-chairs responded with viscious personal attacks over email.
More recently, I asked whether or not the co-chairs were being
hypocritical, or opportunistic, by inviting John Clarke to speak. The
co-chairs attacked me repeatedly for my views on Rebuilding the Left and
then they invite Clarke, an endorser of the conference who is listed as
a member of the conference organising committee, to speak. Again, rather
than give me an explanation for their reasoning they again replied with
viscious personal attack.
Fortunately I've saved every email I've received from Marcel, Barry and
Joe over the past year so I can prove everything I'm saying just in
case they respond by calling me a liar.
Anyway at today's Socialist Caucus meeting I quoted declining attendance
figures from various key SC events over the past 2 and a half years and
(60 at the meeting at the end of the 1998 ONDP convention, 70 at the
founding SC conference, 40 at the second SC conference, 28 at [Sunday]'s
meeting [I counted the numbers there just before I first spoke which was
a few minutes after John Clarke left, there had been a few more people
who were there just to hear the Clarke speech]) the failure of SC to
accomplish anything at convention (no motions or referrals passed or
even voted upon, poor election results with the excpetion of Barry who
gave a speech based on his resume without even mention the Socialist
Caucus or the word socialist) in order to argue that it was clear that
the left was in decline in the NDP and that the Socialist Caucus had
limited options if it restricted itself purely to NDP work.
I argued that Socialist Caucus should participate in the Rebuilding the
Left conference and project in order to be able to pressure the NDP to
turn left from both inside *and* outside the NDP as it was clear that
the SC tactic of only pressuring the NDP from within was a failure. [I
also argued, as I had at the Socialist Caucus meeting during the federal
convention in Ottawa that the SC should run for NDP nominations against
right wing NDP candidates and even run as SC candidates in general
elections in ridings where right wing NDPers have been nominated].
I also moved a motion that co-chairs of the SC should be directly elected.
The motion passed. The meeting was adjourned before we could have an
election. It was after the meeting that Joe informed me of my "resignation."
Last summer during the first of my disputes I ran into Joe at Allan
Gardens (during the Safe Park). I accused Joe, in person, of making up
the rules for Socialist Caucus arbitrarily as he goes along and changing
them as the situation suits him. Rather than dispute this he replied
"that's right, the rules are what I say they are." And so goes democracy
within the Socialist Caucus.
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