With the Tories having now fully reversed themselves on their attempt to scrap the public financing of political parties, progressives are faced with the question: “What are we to do now?”
Many true progressives like myself — socialists, left liberals, Marxists, anarchists, left libertarians et cetera — are critical of the NDP’s rightward shift even at the best of times let alone in a coalition situation with the neo-liberal party of Stéphane Dion. Thus true progressives might be tempted to rescind any support for the idea of a coalition now that Harper is no longer promising to emaciate and eviscerate the opposition parties like a would-be third world dictator.
Frankly, from a purely subjective standpoint, there is good reason for true progressives to remain deeply ambivalent about a proposed coalition; to neither oppose it per se nor support it per se.
But on the other hand progressives need to realize that from a purely objective and academic standpoint, the coalition attempt must go forth despite the fact that the immediate threat of one-party rule seems to have subsided (for the time being) and despite the fact that progressives may remain ambivalent about such a project.
The reason for this is not because of the overriding need for an economic stimulus package — although the country does badly need an economic stimulus package. In all likelihood, Harper will roll out a small élite-friendly economic stimulus package sometime this week in a last ditch attempt to hold on to power and further dissuade the creation of a coalition. However, the project of creating a coalition must go forward for the simple objective fact that, were the opposition parties to back down now, any future threats and bargaining attempts would loose the bulk of their credibility. Such a scenario would result in virtually the same kind of de facto Conservative one-party rule that Harper was originally threatening to impose just 36 hours ago.
Thus, while true progressives may rightly be concerned about the consequences of a quasi-labour New Democratic Party joining forces with a right-wing neo-liberal Liberal Party, I for one will understand if this project needs to go forth without my comrades’ or my full throated support.
Sometimes it is necessary to follow through on certain threats, unpleasant though it may be, in order to make future ones hold more weight.