Bringing in the New Against the Old
Is a Necessity, Not a Choice
— Normand Chouinard —
A lot is said about “choices” in this election: choice of candidates, choice of parties, choice of promises and so on. As workers we are told to make the choice which best accords with our own beliefs. This is said to be what democracy is all about. Economically, we are reduced to a category called consumers who have freedom of choice about what, where, when and how they consume. As citizens, we are said to be free because we are entitled to chose who will represent us. We have no say over the direction of the economy or what is produced or who is chosen by parties which form a cartel party system and vie to form the next government or what they do and for whom, but we are free to chose.
In fact, the only choice for the workers is to speak about their concerns and reject the nonsense about choices that fills the air waves. Canada’s working people do not need a privileged strata to govern over them and deprive them of any control over the decisions which affect their lives.
The political space reserved for workers by the cartel parties is one of helplessness, hopelessness and humiliation. Workers are supposed to place their hopes and fate in someone who claims she or he will represent them once in power. Once in power, the party that forms the government does whatever the narrow private interests they serve tell them. Workers are then supposed to feel disappointed or even betrayed because “commitments” are broken. They are told that after the election their role will be to hold this or that government’s “feet to the fire.” Agreeing with these “choices” renders the working people passive or bitter or frustrated observers because they exercise no control over any of it.
What conclusion can workers draw from all of this? Are they to believe they have all these choices when in fact the choice imposed on them is a dictate to permit others to speak in their name? How this dictate prevails when nobody agrees with it is a serious issue facing all of us. It bears looking into. How does a privileged minority remain in power when the majority does not support its rule? What role do elections play in maintaining that rule?
Working people do not agree with the direction of the economy, with the sell-out of our resources, with the way the natural environment is endangered, with how the national interest is defined and betrayed or that we are engaged in killing other peoples through sanctions and wars of aggression and occupation or with how decisions are taken. How then does this carry on and on and on? How can things be done differently so that we break with the past and no longer cohabit with the dictate that our duty is to chose one of the parties which form a cartel party system to keep the people out of power.
We can start changing things in a manner which favours our interests and those of Quebec and Canada itself by discussing things from a perspective which favours us, not the rich. We can intervene in these elections by finding ways and means to speak about our own concerns, in our own name. This will be a democratic thing to do.
Normand Chouinard is the MLPC candidate in La Prairie.