Partisan №50
Towards the 3rd Canadian Revolutionary Congress

The Struggle for National Liberation of Indigenous Peoples is Central to the Revolution

The liberation struggle of indigenous peoples is at the heart of the fight against capitalism and the imperialist bourgeoisie in Canada. For any organization or activist who wants to end capitalism, this question should be central in the theory and practice of class struggle.

Canada was founded on oppression, theft and the genocide of indigenous peoples. This phenomenon played a fundamental role in the process of the accumulation of capital and the development of a Euro-Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie. Indigenous nations must be seen as “internal colonies” in the sense that they serve the same role for the Canadian bourgeoisie that Third World countries serve for imperialism in general.

The fact that the subjugation of indigenous peoples is inseparable from the development of capitalism in Canada not only makes the “indigenous question” one of utmost importance, but it induces strategic considerations and specific tasks for revolutionaries.

Our reflections on revolution and people’s war have led the PCR-RCP to reconsider and break with the approach the Canadian communist movement once possessed in regard to indigenous struggles. For us, indigenous peoples are not a “reserve of the proletarian revolution,” as most Marxist-Leninists were saying in the 1970s. The national liberation of the indigenous peoples is central to the revolution in Canada and the struggle to crush the Canadian state. Their movement has its own characteristics and dynamics; we consider it both possible and necessary to find a way for linking this movement with the movement for proletarian revolution, as part of the people’s war strategy.

The issue of land is at the heart of the historic confrontation that persists and is doomed to deepen between indigenous peoples and the Canadian state. In an article published a few years ago, we summarized our understanding of the fight for the land and its relationship with the proletarian revolution:

“Retaking the territory and liberating it from the obstacles that resulted from capitalist domination and imperialist exploitation of the resources by the large multinational corporations; and on the basis of this revolution, setting up a new democracy (that is the concept of New Democratic Revolution from Mao Zedong). This revolution would establish the sovereignty of the First Nations, would put an end to national oppression, expel the multinationals and all the imperialist interests—Canadian as well as international—and will join the worker’s fight for socialism everywhere in Canada.”

This struggle for self-determination and the total enfranchisement of indigenous peoples from any chauvinistic and colonial domination must be fully and unconditionally supported by all revolutionary forces in Canada. Shamefully, this has not always been the case for the Canadian left, even the most revolutionary. Moreover, this struggle has been ignored by many.

Most of the mainstream left (including Trotskyites and revisionists) never completely abandoned the “state capitalist” model. Their projects for social change have always been hampered by the illusion of taking power within the bourgeois state and then trying to renovate it. Social-chauvinists like the Communist Party of Canada advocated for a strong central government and the strengthening of Canada’s “national independence” while Trotskyists and Québec nationalists fought for the “repatriation of all powers and territorial integrity of Québec.”

In a sense, we can say that the liberation struggle of indigenous peoples has always been and is still a problem for those who wish to maintain the bourgeois state as the center of politics and power, be it in Ottawa or Québec City. The indigenous struggle does not find any place in their scheme of redistributing the super-profits that the Canadian bourgeoisie gleans from its dominant position in the world imperialist system.

The rise of indigenous struggles broke these schemes. The Canadian bourgeoisie failed to eliminate them, despite its policy of genocide. Indigenous peoples are still there and are now more numerous than they were after the Conquest and the massacres that have decimated them. Of course, they are still facing the worst kind of oppression. They are excluded from power and from the ruling society, subject to disastrous conditions… But they are increasingly proud and resisting.

In its programme, the PCR-RCP argues that “the revolutionary proletariat must forge an alliance with the First Nations and unite with them in a great movement of struggle against the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie.” Here we speak of an alliance, not of any kind of submission to each other, and certainly not of condescension; but a revolutionary alliance to end a system that spawned and still commits the worst crimes. Such alliance, based on the absolute equality of all peoples and nations, will be made possible within the strategy of protracted people’s war that aims to establish a “red power” throughout the territory of what is known as “Canada.”

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