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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Analysis of membership education : a study of the CCF Party in B.C., 1933-1961 Carle, Judith Jane


A new Canadian political party arose out of the depression years as a protest to the economic, social and psychological conditions of that period. In 1932 the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was established, and the founders of this new political movement believed that their ideology of democratic socialism was the solution for the problems facing Canada. The CCF, later renamed the New Democratic Party (NDP); was a movement that offered a critique of the prevailing society, and was committed to the principles of democratic socialism. The CCF was a reform movement and a political party that challenged the prevailing Canadian ideology of capitalism, and as a result, needed to educate people to its cause. The CCF devoted a great deal of energy and volunteer time to education of party members. It was the only political party that organized correspondence courses, established study groups, provided lengthy and detailed reading lists, published study guides for recognized political books and had six separate party newspapers in simultaneous publication. In addition, the CCF encouraged book clubs, education clubs and ran summer schools and held educational conferences. Political scientists and historians have acknowledged for some time that the CCF in its early years held a strong belief in the necessity to educate its membership (Avakumovic, 1978; Robin, 1973; Young, 1969b; Zakuta, 1964). However, there has never been an attempt by adult educationists to study the CCF and its educational programs. The present study is an examination of the educational programs conducted by the CCF in British Columbia from 1933 to 1961. In addition, the study is an analysis of' a shift in educational emphasis as a reform-political movement evolved into a competitive political party. The CCF movement was avowedly educational in its early years, recognizing the need to explain democratic socialism to its new membership. Major political successes and advances during the war years swayed the CCF towards education for the general public. The post-war years were a time when the CCF evaluated its political goals and direction, as well as its commitment to education. With the "Cold-War" and the affluent fifties, the CCF swayed once again from its original ideological and educational emphasis. In the late fifties and early sixties an effort was directed to forming a new political party, which emerged in 1961 as the New Democratic Party. This study on CCF membership education in British Columbia divides the evolution of the work into five periods. Economic and political concerns, a world war and national and provincial elections had a discernable effect on educational emphasis and programming, The research concluded that in British Columbia the content and extent of various educational programs, activities and the literature changed during the CCF's 28 year history. The early movement years were marked by a great deal of creative activity occurring in numerous educational projects. The later years saw a political party replacing its educational emphasis with an organizational and campaign emphasis. The educational program of the CCF was very much influenced by the political concerns of the CCF as it met its political obligations, and as it responded to a changing world.

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