Politics of the Future
The 1995 federal NDP leadership campaign
Press commentary
Origins of the campaign  
Policy circulars
The Herschel Hardin Campaign (federal NDP leadership, circa 1995), being a campaign of ideas, was based on an articulation of those ideas in a package of policy circulars. Early in the campaign, I also added a letter addressed directly to members, encapsulating my strategic argument. These circulars were inserted into the fold of a black and white glossy leaflet containing the essentials about the strategy, myself, and how to get in touch with our campaign office.

Also in the package, along with the obligatory biography, was a handful of review excerpts of my books (to give members a better sense of my work and who I was) and, later, a lengthy verbatim interview from Briarpatch magazine which captured what I was trying to get at.

These were days when websites were still a technical novelty and when even opening an email account was a bit of an adventure, so printing and circulating the material was a necessity. A few years later, we would probably have used a website instead.

Here is a list (with links) of the policy circulars and some of the other items:

Accepting the challenge
Circular 1: We are the future
Circular 2: We can and will succeed
Circular 3: Not the same old world
Circular 4: The 10 main points: liberating the imagination
Circular 5: Taking charge of economics
Circular 6: Ecological economics
Circular 7: Fighting waste and excess in the private sector
Circular 8: Community-centred enterprise
Circular 9: The deficit! The deficit! Who wants a deficit?
Circular 10: The Post-Propaganda Society
Circular 11a: Making media an issue
Circular 11b: Making culture an issue
Circular 12: One kind of membership
Circular 13: Public sector: holding heads high
Circular 15: A movement and a party
Circular 17: The new inclusiveness
Briarpatch interview

Note that Circulars 14 and 16 are missing. They and a few others were never written. Once the campaign began in earnest, I didn’t have the time or freedom of mind to sit down and do them. Here are the draft titles:

Circular 14 – Beyond globalization
Circular 16 – Large arguments
Circular 18 – Capturing the upside
Circular 19 – Using history
Circular 20 – Taking on the dogmatists
Circular 21 – Alternative media

One can imagine the content from the titles. “Beyond globalization” would have outlined how agreements among nations should be framed using altogether different assumptions from the “market-über-alles” dogma underlying NAFTA.

“Large arguments” would have made the case for the NDP to take the public into its confidence and engage it in bold, large arguments, rather than being super-cautious. The object: to challenge the right-wing context of political debate. Without this, the NDP would continue to be a minor factor.

The idea behind “Using history” was the value of occasionally referring to, and exploring, history in speaking to the public, in order to free people from the idea that “there [was] no alternative” to the current right-wing framework. This would give our left-wing perspective historical validation and give our image amplitude. Karl Polanyi was much on my mind.

“Taking on the dogmatists” was about the need to debunk economists and otherwise show how dogmatic the right-wing was – turning the tables on their casual, knee-jerk denigration of the political left.

And so on. But, again, those circulars were never written.
Copyright © Herschel Hardin 2005
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