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A Call for Revolutionary Unity

Main Document for the 3rd Canadian Revolutionary Congress

Updated version of the document submitted by the Political Information Bureau on the occasion of the Third Canadian Revolutionary Congress:

The global context

Global capitalism has now entered a period of chronic instability, a long-term crisis. The devastating effects of this crisis are visible everywhere, and the old equilibriums on which capitalism previously rested are being eroded day by day. In this sense, the widespread instability seems to suggest that the wall of illusions surrounding the unlimited expansion of capitalism is breaking down, that this new situation makes it very unlikely that things will return to normal. In fact, though it varies in intensity, the long-term crisis of capitalism extends beyond the strictly economic sphere to produce new crises everywhere in the form of political, cultural and social crises.

The current period of capitalism is characterized fundamentally by instability, and this fact is demonstrated with each new day. Indeed, the national and international situation is marked by upheavals and crises. A major crisis affects the general capacity of capitalism to re-start new cycles of accumulation. Given how long this crisis has lasted, normal conditions of capitalist exploitation appear to be permanently disrupted. It is clear that any attempts to revive capitalism or, inversely, to oppose it will shed light on the fundamental problem of knowing whether capitalism’s chronic instability will result in an inter-imperialist conflict (or conflicts) or in class confrontations. Today more than ever, the words of Engels resound dramatically: “Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.”

While the crisis affects the whole capitalist world, it manifests itself differently and produces different effects from one country to another depending on their particular realities. At a more general level, we can say that the crisis of capitalism exposes the most important internal contradictions of this exploitative and oppressive system. But the crisis reveals much more than is seen at first glance: it also reveals the new forms of the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

For their part, capitalists will not hesitate to implement whatever measures are necessary in order to launch a new period of capital accumulation. The capitalism of the future, much like that of the past, will produce nothing other than wealth for a minority and poverty for the majority. ‘Flexibility,’ ‘productivity,’ and ‘tackling the deficit:’ these are the expressions of bourgeois policies that conceal a far more revealing reality. The capitalist world of tomorrow will be a combination of intensified exploitation, increasing unemployment, relocations and displacements, austerity measures, and more repression for the proletariat and masses. Altogether, these “policies” constitute the general battle plan of the bourgeoisie and are facets of bourgeois politics currently at work. This is why it is not incorrect to consider their call for austerity measures as the rallying cry of the bourgeoisie to safeguard an exploitative system that has hitherto served them well. However, if austerity measures serve as the rallying cry for the forces of the bourgeoisie, they are simultaneously a battle cry against the proletariat and popular masses: “Submit to these new conditions of exploitation, or perish!”

Faced with the all-out offensive of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat and popular masses manage to resist. But more importantly, within these resistance movements the masses develop and introduce, albeit unevenly and not necessarily in a conscious manner, new forms of struggle.

To be clear, not all forms of struggle have the same historical importance. For example, it is undeniable that in an advanced capitalist country that parliamentarism—a real instrument of bourgeois domination—as a method of struggle at this given stage of capitalist development is damaging to proletarian struggles that could and certainly will be waged in the coming period. The entire collection of older and newer means of struggle must be evaluated in light of the current tasks facing the revolutionary struggle.

The masses have a general tendency to break with the limits imposed on protest movements by the bourgeois order. This can be seen in the fact that the masses increasingly are abandoning the ‘traditional organizations’ of the proletariat, i.e. the unions, community associations, and grassroots organizations as these organizations have shown themselves unable to effectively oppose the bourgeoisie. Indeed, most of the new struggles waged by the masses locate themselves at the margins of these organizations, if not separate from them entirely, by going beyond what is legally permitted by the bourgeoisie. In other words, the masses spontaneously searched for ways to escape the legal framework imposed on their protests by the bourgeoisie, while the old trade unions and popular reformist forces seek to maintain the crumbs they won by way of the democratic rights conferred on them by corrupt and oppressive regimes.

Furthermore, we can confidently assert that the struggles of the proletarian and popular masses in recent years reveal the new conditions in which the class struggle must now be led. On the one hand, the bourgeoisie has increased its regime of exploitation. It has encroached as much as it can on the very existence of proletarians, on their lives, on their health, on their liberties and political rights. Entire populations have been subjugated; imperialism continues to increase the misery of the masses to varying degrees and in dizzying proportions. On the other hand, while still largely unorganized, the proletarian masses are increasingly developing struggles, which sometimes push back against the bourgeoisie (for instance, the 2012 student struggle in Quebec) or even threaten it (for instance, the revolutionary movements in India and the Philippines). There are many examples that show it’s possible to fight and make gains. However, this possibility of fighting to win requires that we adapt to the new reality of class struggle and consequently, to a fighting movement. In fact, the current capitalist crisis illustrates this truth: that the serious crises of the global imperialist system do not directly lead to revolutionary struggle against capitalism.

The concrete conditions in Canada

Canada is a powerful imperialist country, although this power may seem small when compared to other imperialist countries like the United States. From an external perspective, Canada appears to have escaped the brunt of the crisis. But the crisis in fact forced on the Canadian bourgeoisie a major restructuring of the economy. On the one hand, the development of the oil industry has replaced manufacturing as the dominant force in the Canadian economy, resulting in hundreds of thousands of job losses for workers, particularly in Ontario. On the other hand, large development projects to exploit the natural resources in northern Canada have been initiated, particularly on Native territories.

Given the increasingly strong interdependence of imperialist countries in the world market, any economic, political or social instability of the largest imperialist powers (like the United States, the European Union and even China) necessarily spreads to other imperialist countries, and Canada is no exception to this situation. Deeply integrated into the world capitalist market, the Canadian bourgeoisie had to adapt to this new environment. Out of necessity, the bourgeoisie abandoned the policies it pursued since the end of World War II, clearly demonstrating both its adaptability and its imperialist character—if this was ever in doubt.

Throughout the post-war period, in which capitalism developed and experienced a continuous cycle of accumulation, Canadian imperialist policy in the context of the Cold War was characterized by the self-assigned ‘mediator’ role played by the Canadian bourgeoisie in service of the imperialist powers. This was facilitated by the fact that Canada, a second order or junior imperialist country, presented itself on the world stage as a “friend” to the peoples of the Third World.

With the economic reversal and decline of capitalism in the mid-1970s, Canada gradually abandoned its mediator role and policy of stabilizing international relations, and following the collapse of the Eastern bloc, the Canadian bourgeoisie, backed by the strength of its banking system, began reorienting its policy to play a greater role in the international financial system. By doing so, Canadian imperialism occupied a far more important position politically than its real economic weight would suggest.

In fact, Canada actively participated in all initiatives that aimed to strengthen global imperialism. Promoting market liberalisation, Canada fully supported “globalization” by signing various economic agreements, notably NAFTA and the free trade agreement with the European Union. This process has matured in our times as the economic policy of the Canadian bourgeoisie carries over into Canada’s foreign policy, which militarized in order to serve the interests of Canadian capitalism.

In 2010, the Canadian economy ranked tenth place in the world—a drop in one place when compared to 2007. Characteristic of developed imperialist countries, the structure of Canadian capitalism is divided between industries producing goods (31% of GDP) and services (69% of GDP). Therefore, like other advanced capitalist countries, Canada has a large services sector dominated by financial activities and a goods producing sector dominated by processing activities. More specifically, the country relies on an advanced economic structure, which includes high value-added and capital-intensive activities, especially in mining, energy, construction and processing. Moreover, the two largest contributions to the GDP come from industries related to processing and to finance.

Given this economic structure, it makes sense that Canadian imperialism is a major exporter of capital (finance) and raw materials (extraction and processing). Despite persistent problems, including chronic overproduction, fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar, etc., Canada still ranked 9th largest exporter of goods in 2007, and 12th in volume of exports in 2012. However, it should be noted that trade relations with the United States alone produced 75 % of Canadian exports. (François Roy, “Canada’s Place in World Trade 1990-2005”, Canadian Economic Observer, March 2006, p.5-6.)

With the 2008 crisis, the benefits of integration with the United States became less obvious, especially since the latter took a protectionist turn (the Buy American Act, for instance). This is why the poor performance of the U.S. economy, linked with certain difficulties for major pipeline projects (Keystone XL), led Canada to expand its economic activities by signing free trade agreements with South America and the European Union.

Stimulated by the high price of natural resources and the demands of the international market, which explain in part Canada’s performance on a global scale, the Harper government along with various provincial governments, including Quebec with its Plan Nord, adopted strategies to increase the exploitation of natural resources as a vector of economic growth.

Regarding the natural resources sector, which has experienced significant development in recent years, the economic crisis of the late 2000s led to a 20% drop in exports between the first quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2009. Despite these figures, the rise in importance of the extractive industries accompanies the shift away from the manufacturing industry and a relative decline in the manufacturing sector, especially in Ontario and Quebec. Moreover, to facilitate greater exploitation of natural resources, governments adopted amendments to environmental legislation which, for the most part, consisted of lowering requirements imposed on resource extraction corporations. At the national level, the changes which led to the development of the natural resources sector (a fivefold increase in the price of oil, for example) simultaneously prevented the development of the manufacturing sector when the latter was already weakened considerably by global competition and significant regional disparities. The OECD, which is certainly no proponent of balanced development, noted in one of its reports that the growing disparities between regions “…mirror these divergences in sectoral activity: the resource-rich provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador have enjoyed the largest per capita income gains during the past decade, whereas growth has been more sluggish in the manufacturing centre of Ontario.” (OECD, Economic Surveys: Canada, June 2012)

While hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in the wake of the “subprime” crisis (432,000 jobs were lost between October 2008 and July 2009, including 411,000 in the private sector), the capacity of unions to oppose the policies of the bourgeoisie proved nonexistent. Realistically, unions have been unable to defend the interests of workers during the crisis. In practice, most of the work carried out by trade unions has been, at best, playing the role of guidance counselor supporting forced career changes for hundreds of thousands of working people.

If the strength or weakness of a movement can be gauged during a period of crisis, then obviously, the organized labor movement in Canada is at an absolute point of weakness. The relative force of the trade union movement (30.8% of unionized workers in 2010, in decline since 1980 when the unionization rate was 38%) obscures the fact that only 17% of workers in the private sector are in fact unionized. In other words, public sector employees, notably healthcare professionals and teachers, constitute the bulk of union members. In contrast, the proletariat is for all intents and purposes excluded from the unions.

The overrepresentation of the labor aristocracy and petty-bourgeoisie in the unions explains their evolution after the outbursts of the proletarian and popular masses in the 1960s and 1970s. During the crisis of the 1980s, the bourgeoisie regained control over the labor movement through disciplinary special laws that domesticated and eventually integrated the trade unions into the normal operations of capitalism. Policies of class collaboration, active participation of trade unions in maintaining social peace, economic tools developed on the model of capitalist investment companies, all these complete the transformation of the trade unions into a servant of capital. This transformation of trade unionism is so significant that it has lost all the necessary features—whether it be a fighting spirit or deep concern for the proletariat’s conditions of existence—that would enable it, even within the limits of capitalism, to fight against the bosses’ demands (as is recently demonstrated by bourgeoisie’s attack on pensions), let alone make gains for workers.

The relative decline of manufacturing and the emphasis on natural resources has immediate consequences. Firstly, the working and living conditions of workers have deteriorated. Secondly, the development of projects enabling the extraction of raw materials affects more and more territories claimed by First Nations.

To develop the Canadian north, the bourgeoisie, ever since the early days of Confederation, has pursued a policy of accumulation by dispossession of the Native peoples. The success of the bourgeoisie has been largely dependent on the increased penetration of Canadian capitalism into lands belonging to the indigenous peoples and the commodification of their labour.

Indigenous peoples have suffered and still suffer from systematic discrimination that clearly reveals the deeply rooted racism of Canadian imperialism. Moreover, the proletarianization of Native peoples, and conversely, their resistance are a major concern for the government and informs the government’s policy towards them. In fact, the reserves were organized in order to accomplish this forced integration of First Nations peoples and indigenous peoples are still regarded by the government as a reserve army of cheap labour.

The integration of Native peoples into the market is an important matter for the Canadian government, for it is through this integration that will enable it to develop new resources to serve capitalist industry. While the government presents these efforts in terms of “economic development” promoting the “autonomy” of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, the fact is that this so-called “economic development” of indigenous communities is based on an outright negation of indigenous self-determination.

Naturally, the exploitation and degradation of natural resources is essential for the social, cultural and economic sustainability of Canadian capitalism and will, like the forced integration of indigenous communities into capitalist relations of production and exploitation, be met with resistance. Large sections of the Native population continue to resist their full absorption into capitalist relations. Their continued resistance against market relations and capitalist development on indigenous territories inextricably link the struggle for autonomy and self-determination to the struggle against capitalism, a struggle which marks the limits of capitalist expansion in Canada.

The current situation offers many examples of the tensions between ambitious capitalist development and the will to self-determination among Native peoples. For example, mining, a very important sector of the Canadian economy representing about 4% of the GDP, aptly illustrates the conflict between Canadian capitalism and First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. Mining, though, is only one sector where these conflicts exist; one could just as easily provide examples in other sectors, e.g. lumber, fisheries, etc.

Over the course of the last decade, mining companies have expanded their operations to regions of the country where capitalist development is still weak. The explorations of such regions have increased in the north, in British Columbia, in the northern part of the Prairie provinces, in Ontario, in Quebec, in the Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territories.

At the global level, Canada is now one of the most popular destinations for capitalist resource exploration. For example, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut have attracted a great deal of investment in resource exploration over recent years. In fact, Canada has the largest concentration of mining companies in the world, with interests in more than 3,700 companies.

The extractive industries are geographically developed in Canada, which is why indigenous land and indigenous labor-power have become absolutely essential to the success of the mining industry. Moreover, the Mining Association of Canada noted in 1998 that mining activities are carried out in northern and other remote areas of the country where the main population is indigenous. In 2004, Natural Resources Canada reported that approximately 1,200 indigenous communities are located within 200 kilometers of an operating mine.

Where the majority of these mining operations are located becomes an important problem, for the conflict between capitalism and the Native peoples stems from the question of control over the land. Capitalism reaffirms its need to dispossess indigenous nations in order to control the land, while the indigenous people oppose these mining projects which cause ecological damage to their traditional territories and hence, to the livelihoods of their communities. In order to accumulate profit, control over land is at stake for the Canadian bourgeoisie. But the location of the mines is also very important in a context where the mining industry is facing a shortage of labor and consequently, an indigenous workforce becomes a necessity not only for mining but for other branches of industry as well.

The mining industry and the Canadian government developed a strategy to sell the ‘benefits’ of mining and wage-labor to the Native peoples, presenting these as opportunities to develop a stronger economic base in their communities, thus feigning concern for their interests. Predictably, this strategy was met with limited success, forcing the mining industry, capital, and the state to take more concerted measures to ensure the expansion of capitalist relations in the North.

Additionally, over the past 15 years, ideologues for the bourgeoisie and governments fret over the erosion of Canadian sovereignty over the “Far North” (i.e., the Arctic territories). It is estimated that 40% of Canada’s natural gas and oil reserves are located there. Given that the polar ice caps are melting and declining at an alarming rate, the Northwest Passage is destined to become a privileged and economically viable maritime shipping channel. In fact, since 2007 this passage has already become temporarily operational. Since being elected in 2006, the Harper government continues to deploy the strategy set in motion by its predecessor: to assert Canadian sovereignty over Arctic territories. In August 2007, Harper announced the creation of a deepwater port at Nanisivik, a former mining site located 20 km east of the Arctic Bay community on Baffin Island, as well as reinforced military presence in the area.

It is clear that for the bourgeoisie, the development of Canadian imperialism is dependent on the success of two policies: maximum exploitation of the working class and dispossessing the Native peoples of their lands. The dynamics of Canadian imperialism is at the heart of many contradictions, which can only resolve in a concerted struggle against the bourgeoisie. This necessarily brings us to the question of revolutionary strategy. Canada as an imperialist country is conditioned by its own development, its articulations, and by the class struggle. On the one hand, the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie stems from the capitalist economy of Canada, a contradiction that can only be resolved by a socialist revolution. On the other hand, struggles that are conducted by the indigenous nations against Canadian imperialism will invariably lead to something taking the form of a broad national liberation struggle.

To see, to understand, and to act are subjective activities. To avoid leading a revolution blindly, it is thus necessary for the revolutionary forces to acquire a scientific understanding of the situation they face. Under the specific conditions of Canada where socialist revolution and national liberation struggle must enter into relationships with one another, scientific mastery of the situation will manifest itself as a revolutionary strategy that can at once reflect the particular characteristics of these two forms of struggle, strengthen and unify them to the fullest extent possible. In this context, the land question plays an important role. To liberate the territory from capitalist exploiters and from their system: this is the connection of the anti-capitalist and indigenous self-determination movements.

In the Canadian situation, U.S. imperialism with its military-police machine, its financial power, and its ideological influence is, without a doubt, a close enemy of a People’s War. It is clear that U.S. imperialism will seek to protect and defend the sovereignty of the Canadian bourgeoisie on the territory of Canada, along with its market and accumulated capital, against the popular forces that fight from below to overthrow this system. That being said, we understand that only the People’s War and the establishment of a multinational united front will enable the revolutionary forces to defend, better than any other force, the advances made by the revolution against the imperialist counter-revolution.

The strategy of protracted people’s war, by its design, articulates the socialist revolution and the just struggles of indigenous nations. It is waged over a long period of time through offensive and defensive stages. By actually fighting capitalism and state power, protracted people’s war allows the forces of the revolution to integrate all the different movements against capitalism, even when these movements are limited geographically or temporally. It is mainly through experience that the strategy of protracted people’s war will subsume the older forms of struggle. Moreover, the experience that is gained ensures the revolutionary party and the masses develop a scientific mastery of the struggle; and as a corollary, all assorted strategies and the random conceptions associated with them, which could have been put into motion throughout the history of the Communist movement—we are thinking in particular here about the concept of “revolutionary crisis” and the strategy of insurrection—lose much of their strategic relevance insofar as these conceptions only lead to general conclusions, like “better attack the bourgeoisie when it is at its weakest than when it is strong.” Seeing, understanding, and acting like a revolutionary is not to repeat mere platitudes but to understand how we—in the here and now, and from reality—will weaken and overthrow the Canadian bourgeoisie.

Before we can articulate a strategy of people’s war that is perfectly adapted to the concrete conditions in Canada, we must first of all build a movement that can bring a people’s war to life. Building the movement of people’s war means taking advantage of the opportunities that constantly present themselves (struggles, strikes, etc.). While it’s necessary to be present wherever struggles are being waged in order to be continuously linked with the proletariat, we must not forget that task of building a movement of people’s war cannot be left to the hazards of external conditions; on the contrary, this movement will be mainly built on our own activity as revolutionaries, on our ability to unite our words with our actions, the subjective and the objective, the short term and the long term. In short, to develop the concrete out of the concrete.

The current conditions of the struggles of the masses

Unless you believe that the masses have accepted their suffering under capitalism or that they have been bought off by “American dream” propaganda, one cannot explain why the masses are not able to react against or oppose the bourgeoisie without noting the weak presence of revolutionary theory in the masses, and therefore the weakness of their revolutionary organizational strength. It is clear that to change this situation it is necessary that the forces of the revolution base themselves deep into the masses and the proletariat. These forces must be active in fighting alongside the masses wherever there is opportunity to transform reality, while conducting the important work of communist propaganda around actions which seek to end the exploitation and oppression of capitalism.

The camp of the revolution must always oppose electoral and parliamentary forces, such as the NDP and Québec Solidaire. In truth, these parties are the reserve forces of the bourgeoisie, which it uses when a social crisis threatens the stability of the system. Around the world, it is these “left” social democratic parties which are charged by the bourgeoisie with implementing austerity measures and ensuring the continuation of capitalism.

Revolutionary forces must also stand firm against the revisionists (the Communist Party of Canada, for example), who have abandoned the struggle for revolution and instead seek to implement reforms that would “humanize” capitalism. The struggle against revisionism is made easier by the decline of these forces over recent years. However, the struggle against revisionist ideas remains important because, indirectly, these ideas still have an influence over the revolutionary movement.

The revolutionary movement must also demarcate itself from a numerically larger and mainstream political movement that is composed of a variety of different organizations, which have in common the rejection of political parties, but who also reject any attempt to unify the disparate mass movements. Certainly, we must reject bourgeois political parties and seek to develop alternatives to capitalism; but without a powerful unifying movement, establishing links between the different struggles, without an overall strategy and organization to manage it all, these initiatives are doomed to maintain the contradictions among the people and ultimately undermine the synergies that have the potential to exist between different struggles.

Moreover, through these initiatives, this ‘movement’ of ‘autonomy’ develops a spontaneous avoidance strategy rather than a strategy of revolution. This is to say for the most part, that its rejection of capitalism does not lead to the revolutionary struggle to abolish capitalism, but instead leads to a goal within the limits tolerated by capitalism: small lifestyle changes that help the individual but not the whole of society.

It is not difficult to see that to truly emerge as a leading force the revolutionary movement in Canada must first be distinguished from the confused movement that exists. The confusion emerges when the masses cannot distinguish trends in the anti-capitalist movement, taken in its broad definition (from the Trotskyites practicing electoralism and entryism, to the revolutionary militant). To them it is all the same. If the masses are not able to distinguish between reformists and revolutionaries, it amounts to the simple fact that the revolutionary forces and the initiatives they support are invisible.

–> A general movement on the defensive

For the time being, the masses remain on the defensive. The bourgeoisie remains a powerful class and maintains a clear advantage in the class struggle. It keeps these advantages because our struggles are segmented, not unified—in short, because we do not play as a team! To have a chance to score goals, we must take on initiatives that will cause certain things. However, the proliferation of uncoordinated initiatives can also cause reversals. Not being able to define a solid team play, we cannot impose our way of playing and in this context, we cannot win.

Since WWII, the Canadian proletariat, like that of other imperialist countries, has ceased to have political initiative. We have reached a point where one can even say that it no longer plays a significant political role. Through the introduction of labor legislation which indeed provides certain rights, the bourgeoisie has domesticated the class struggle. Major unions have played the game and are only willing to call strikes when it is prescribed by the labor laws. Wildcat strikes are no longer an accepted tactic.

One layer of the working class was able to take advantage of this domestication of class struggle. Until the early 1980s, the majority of companies profited and were able to produce surpluses that some of the workers could earn while simultaneously leading some struggle within the boundaries of regulated unionism. Thereafter, the crisis of capitalism (beginning in the mid-1970s) and the gradual rise of new competitors on the international economic scene have contributed to weakening these Canadian and North American companies; companies which are less and less able to distribute surplus. Many of these companies have even had to merge and automate to compete internationally. This has resulted in massive layoffs and thus opportunities for smaller companies to procure a low cost workforce. Also emerging from this, the development of subcontracts has been used by the capitalists to encourage more disunity among workers.

Unions have lost the combative orientation of the pre-war period and limited their combativeness only to the expectation of surplus gains of economic growth. This new situation makes it difficult to organize a militant response. The dominant line of the labor movement is to defend these gains, limit job losses and demand government action to replace affected workers. Ultimately, the labor movement has invested in these measures to justify its existence despite its capitulation. It has increased its involvement in pension funds and explains this away by calling it a way to support the economy and job creation; instead of defending workers against capitalism, unionism has entered fully into capitalism.

Faced with this new situation, two positions have emerged on the far-left. One encouraged the union movement to become combative while the other encouraged the activists to get involved in other social movements (environmentalism, the anti-war movement, urban struggles, etc.). The first position was mostly about desires and was difficult to put into action. Certainly, in some areas, there were collective movements against corporate closures, which have saved some jobs. Very often, these movements have been exploited to support bastardized solutions (pseudo worker participation in companies, massive public investments to support capitalist charlatans, etc.).

Repeated defeats of the unions did not make the labor movement very appealing to leftists. When the labor movement was radical, a fraction of the petty bourgeoisie could believe that the proletariat would play its historic role as a vanguard class. We can say that the historical role of the proletariat is political and is not limited to simple conflict between employers and workers in workplaces, but a certain vision, inherited from anarcho-syndicalism, has tended to show a vision of the class struggle confined to the horizons of the general strike.

A deformation of a criticism of workerism and economism—fair though that criticism may be—has led some activists to abandon workers’ struggles altogether. It is true that the life of a worker is not confined to the workplace. There are other concerns such as living conditions, environment, etc. Women workers also have distinct interests as women. Urban struggles, ecological struggles and feminist struggles in particular have mobilized many activists.

A fraction of these activists attempted to create living environments related to their aspirations. Some used drastic tactics, like squatting, or more conciliatory tactics while demanding social housing. There appears here a junction between radical activists and the ordinary people, the fact that both were victims of police repression, contributed to raising the question of bourgeois authority and opposition to its instruments of repression.

The 2008 crisis, the major anti-globalization protests, the anti-war protests, and the rise of new modes of communication led many activists to realize that they were not alone. This helped concretize the Occupy movement, Idle No More, and “student spring of 2012” in Quebec.

The idea that there is a large camp (99%) who opposes a small minority (the famous “1%”) has within it the notion that it is possible to identify a common crucible of mobilization against a propertied minority. Unfortunately, this movement has underestimated the real strength of the bourgeoisie and refused to provide political leadership and a mobilization strategy.

A positive aspect of this movement was the desire to create a form of democracy closer to the people. Bourgeois parliamentarism does not elicit strong interest from the population. People vote for lesser evils, usually the candidate or party that was able to address some of the personal concerns of voters.

For part of the radical left, the electoral process is still considered a forum to “advance ideas.” However, there is no one who campaigns on the basis of an openly communist or socialist program. Elections are not the best medium to develop a class consciousness. The speaking time during election periods is always dedicated to the proper management of the money collected from the public. The worker with a miniscule income who pays a few taxes has his interest confused with an employee who leads a bourgeois lifestyle but also struggles to make ends meet. The Social Democrats present taxation as a preferred mode of redistribution of wealth, but this argument is unconvincing for the worker who cannot live on their wages. Under socialism, the collective ownership of the means of production will obviate the necessity to collect individual taxes. In itself, the concept of redistribution of wealth is a trap. It exists to recognize to give the bourgeoisie a right to wealth, and the profit created by workers. We want no part in this trap because we seek to abolish the relationship it upholds.

In the 1950s, companies had to assume a large share of the paid taxes to the state. In that time, the elections could, to some extent, give space to talk about the rights of workers, collective projects, etc. Implementations of social programs were struggled for as positive developments, whereas today they are presented as threats to the wallets of taxpayers. Yet the use of the electoral system failed to bring about a peaceful transition into socialism. Instead, it has legitimized a space for debate that hinders the development of class consciousness; it legitimizes the function of the bourgeois state.

The truth is that the State is a dead-end for our aspirations; therefore workers must rely primarily on themselves to liberate themselves from exploitation.

–> Armed Resistance among Native People in Canada

In recent decades, indigenous nations have used the most radical forms of resistance to bourgeois power. The confrontation that happened in Oka’s pine forest in the summer of 1990 was certainly one of the highlights of this radicalization. The bourgeois state was forced to deploy its army to break the resistance, which defended its right the control the territory.

The Mohawk nation is seen as one of the most “privileged” indigenous nations. At the same time, the fact that it has always maintained a certain independence from colonial and European influences has allowed it to maintain the necessary benchmarks it needs to continue to function as a nation. However, the Mohawk nation did not seek to live in complete autarky. It negotiated between nations with other national entities. It sought to develop alliances with other indigenous nations.

Still, the Mohawk nation has the same problems as other indigenous nations. The Euro-Canadian powers prevent the development of an independent and self-sufficient economy. Expedients develop, like the traffic of tobacco, and to a lesser extent alcohol. At the same time, measures are taken to ensure that members of the community do not develop too strong addictions to drugs and alcohol, as is the case in many indigenous communities.

Indigenous nations are still largely dependent on subsidies from the bourgeois state. Band councils manage the money and from this gain some power. A market and subsidies dependent bureaucratic and comprador bourgeoisie has developed, which constantly renegotiates its relations of dependence with the state.

In the current economic situation, there is really no possibility for the indigenous comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie to become a national bourgeoisie. At best, band councils whose members remain concerned about the fate of their communities will demand more subsidies and social programs. However the bourgeoisie can only negotiate the bondage of their nations, never their liberation.

To a large extent, it is the almost feudal land tenure on reservations that explains this impossibility. At the same time, if the tenure became private, it could lead to the disappearance of the communities living on these territories, given that the land could fall into the hands of Euro-Canadian businesses and used for private interest.

Getting rid of the band councils would not be sufficient to abolish national oppression and build a new economy that meets the needs and aspirations of indigenous communities. Furthermore it is necessary that indigenous nations control their territories, natural resources, means of production and their institutions. Part of the solution lies in an alliance of all indigenous nations and the development of a national liberation project that encompasses all these issues.

The forces of change are not to be found in the band councils. Increasingly numerous and militant indigenous youth will play a key role in the preparation and implementation of the next stage of this struggle. The indigenous proletariat also has an objective interest in creating a new economy which includes all indigenous nations. The radicalization of the indigenous youth and proletariat throughout the territory of Canada participates in the more general radicalization of indigenous nations.

With the uprising at Kanehsatake (Oka), indigenous people were able to assert themselves politically. The confrontation—including the military confrontation—with the Canadian state has largely served to delineate the camps within indigenous populations and open a new path to liberation. Many activists of various indigenous communities have no illusions about the role of the bourgeois colonizer state and promote a strategy of fighting tactics based on their own strengths.

Developing the concrete

Without the liquidation of the bourgeoisie as the ruling class we cannot achieve a reorganization of Canadian society, nor can we enact significant change. However, we cannot achieve this goal as long as the working class continues to have faith in the forms of political action that currently dominate and serve mainly to protect bourgeois society and guarantee its deepest inequities. The working class must instead fight against this type of action.

The masses must reject forms of political action that are integrated into the power structure of the bourgeoisie, reject bourgeois parliamentarism, but also refuse to remain within the limits of protest set by the bourgeoisie, that is to say refuse the discipline of bourgeois rights.

It is necessary to make a break with all practices that immobilize the revolutionary struggle, and therefore fight in order that new struggles may be waged and new practices emerge. These are the first steps we need to make to become the real movement which abolishes the present state of things and arrive at a new society free of all forms of exploitation. Refusing the bourgeois order and fighting for socialism, this is the first dialectical unity; two poles of a single strategy, which is the attack against Canadian capitalism.

Attacking Canadian capitalism must become the guiding motif of the revolutionary movement in Canada; making this objective a reality will take more than fine words. We will largely have to begin gaining experience. Experience is a material thing; it translates into activists, in organizations, struggles, etc. It is experience that we gain in the actual struggle, when controlled, which ensures the continuity of the struggle movement for the abolition of capitalism.

Rupture and continuity thus constitute a second dialectical unity. Rupture, of course, is to break with the illusions fostered by the bourgeois world. However, it is also to break with some of the ideas that the communist movement continues to uphold, especially with regard to revolutionary strategy in the imperialist countries. These ideas do not serve the revolutionary struggle insofar as they reflect the same limitations of the communist movement in these countries; it is the admission that the communists in the advanced capitalist countries have made little progress on strategic issues of the revolution.

We are therefore faced with a number of obvious tasks that are essential for revolutionary communists, regardless of the level they think they’ve reached. We can summarize these tasks by talking about political-ideological initiative. Political-ideological initiative is the seeing, understanding and action of the forces of revolution. It is the scientific mastery of the conditions of the struggle through the real and autonomous activity of the party and of the revolutionary activists among the masses, and by the masses against capital and its forces.

Communism seeks to represent, through the different phases of the struggles, the interests of the movement as a whole. A revolutionary party aspires to lead a revolution against the forces of the Canadian bourgeoisie, it is a party who intends to fight while unifying the proletarian masses and segments of the population who have an objective interest in destroying capitalism, despite their diversity, and must therefore have a scientific understanding of the “conditions, road and general results of the proletarian movement.”

In the current situation, where the points of friction between the bourgeoisie and the proletarian masses are multiplying, there exists in Canada a strong tendency towards subjectivism. This in turn tends to fragment the general struggle against capital into a multitude of specific struggles that tend spontaneously towards non-unity and accentuate differences. Seeing only the individual, the localized and the specific, this type of movement rejects by the same token the existing links between struggles, it neglects their meeting points and by doing so, it isolates each struggle.

A truly revolutionary party will fight in a very different way and for very different purposes. What is now the most useful, given the situation of the Canadian proletariat, is to build a movement capable of sustained opposition to the bourgeoisie. Building a revolutionary movement capable of sustaining the struggle means, above all, designing our strategy, methods, and practices in terms of totality and unity. We talk about a totality because the vast majority of people in Canada have an objective interest in doing away with capitalism. We talk about unity, because our goal—socialism and communism—our strategy—the people’s war—and our means—the revolutionary Party and the multinational united front—enable us to build a powerful movement amidst the revolutionary struggle.

Having the desire to unify the revolutionary movement on a revolutionary basis based on Maoism is an important starting point that stands apart from strategic and tactical alignments that are offered by other or older political currents. But in the long run, it may quickly reach its limits without a proper strategy for revolution. In this sense, the accumulation of forces does not occur outside the influence of the revolutionary organization. It is not just a simple addition of forces, although many more forces are needed; ultimately accumulating forces also means assimilating new political, ideological and practical capacities. All this work of accumulation can be summed up in a slogan: accumulating experience in the revolutionary struggle.

The PCR-RCP believes that honest revolutionary forces cannot succeed in building the militant organization that the proletariat and the masses need today simply on the basis of general principles. Rather, a true revolutionary party develops through the living application of its political line; assuming consciously its conversion between a party with limited capacities and a fully transformed and complete party that has accumulated experience, membership and a strong link with the masses. In developing, the revolutionary party converts its political strength: its activists, its fronts, its organizations, its link with the masses, etc., into political power: initiatives, campaigns and struggles. Becoming a political power and having a scientific understanding of the conditions of the struggle requires above all not just mastery of a specific form of struggle, but mastery of all objective forms of revolutionary struggle.

In this sense, we must invest not only in political education and propaganda, but also in revolutionary action among the masses. We should not only be interested in the immediate struggles; but from these struggles prepare the revolutionary struggle. It is by controlling the objective forms of revolutionary struggle and organizing the most numerous masses that the very activity of the revolutionary party allows it to complete itself. Also, this process of transition from an incomplete party to a complete one can only be done through revolutionary struggle with the masses against the bourgeois order.

Too often in the communist movement there is the unfortunate habit to accumulate forces for the revolution as if it were our primary task to collect members that we will later, much later, put into the service of the revolution. We can do this once the crisis of capitalism has reached an even deeper level, but not before. The activists who defend this perspective do not realize that class consciousness—the type that allows the proletariat in its majority to realize its own interests and act accordingly in leading the revolutionary struggle—is born of repeated experience of open confrontation against the class enemy. In other words, the revolutionary proletariat is not defined by the fact that it’s formed by the exploited; it recognizes itself in and through the struggle against the bourgeoisie and it is in these struggles that it becomes aware of its own interests.

The revolutionary experience is not a trivial thing. Moreover, the rapid growth of the former Marxist-Leninist movement in the 1970s and its equally rapid disintegration clearly demonstrate how unassimilated Maoist experience, combined with a lack of revolutionary initiative (in the sense of a developed revolutionary practice) left nothing that is useful for our current movement. At best it provided some revolutionary continuity and enabled the opportunists of its core to ensure a future for themselves as elements of the bourgeois state apparatus.

It is the political line which, through its various manifestations and developments, seeks to guide truly revolutionary activity that is capable of building links with all groups who uphold communism as well as the masses. Simply put, the political line and programme are much more than just written words that we consult as needed. More specifically, the political line and the revolutionary programme embody a worldview, while also being tools that rally members and sympathizers and bind us to the masses. Those members and sympathizers who rally around a common political line in turn will form organizations or intervene in existing organizations, and these interventions will initiate or support struggles. This allows the expansion of valuable experience; it allows our politics to withstand the test of time and furthers the development of the political line and the party. In this sense, the political line is physically manifested through demonstrations, proposals, discussions, plans, style, etc.

These findings, although incomplete, are our starting points. Anyone who claims to lead the revolution must be able to properly respond to issues raised by new developments in the class struggle.

Uniting revolutionary communist activity in the whole country!

The first two conferences held respectively in 2006 and 2010 resulted in bold decisions: the first was the formal foundation of the PCR-RCP in January 2007; second, the setting up of organized communist activity outside Quebec, primarily in Ontario. The second CRC established party organizations in Toronto and Ottawa (the latter resulting from the conclusion of a unity process with the comrades of the Social Revolution Party); initiated political mass work by the Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committees (PRACs); unified campaigns, such as the boycott of the election in May 2011 and the organization of revolutionary May Day demonstrations; the building and deployment of the Revolutionary Student Movement and eventually the Proletarian Feminist Front, etc.

We say that they were bold decisions, for it would have been easy to make excuses, to say that conditions are not right, that our forces were too weak, or that too many programmatic and strategic imprecision remains, forcing us to push the process of building a party further back into the future. Postponing the formation of a party; postponing the difficult work of building; of accumulating forces; of internal political debate and discussions on strategic issues that are supposed to be at the center of the revolutionary project: This is the attitude—the programme, we would say—adopted for far too long by a part of the so-called revolutionary left, which never ceased to be interested in everything… except the revolution.

Today in 2014, what is the main issue facing the revolutionary communists of this country? It remains that of the accumulation of forces, of building organs of the revolution, and the strategic progression towards People’s War. Our goal at the third CRC is to make an important breakthrough in the organization and deployment of this work in western Canada, a task that would enable us to leap forward in defining and possibly realizing the strategic alliance that is necessary between the revolutionary proletariat and Native nations.

We believe that the strategic option sketched at the second CRC continues to correctly define the framework in which communist revolutionaries must identify and undertake the key tasks of our movement:

Whether in the immediate struggles or the struggle for revolution and social transformation, we need to build proletarian political action and break with bourgeois political action.

In this sense, every gesture, every action waged by those who struggle together with the proletariat and in solidarity with the Native nations, must break with all forces that reinforce the ruling class. Our role as revolutionaries and activists on the side of the proletariat is to support, organize and develop slogans and actions that can weaken the bourgeoisie and build unity with all sections of the proletariat and the First Nations. The essential starting point is to break with the bourgeoisie and its apparatus of domination. This is the first thing we must do to make revolution and to put an end to capitalism.

Based on these key breaking points, we must wage a new class struggle in Canada. The bourgeoisie has already started this new fight against us! It has waged this fight against us for a long time, with its capitalists, its politicians and parliamentarians, its senior officials, its judiciary, its police and its army. Powerful and dominant, it is they who today control and manage the whole capitalist system.

We need to revive the Canadian proletariat in the class struggle, by uniting exploited young people, the unemployed, poor students, women, and workers, immigrants of all nationalities, refugees, the undocumented, the farm workers, the unemployed, poor students, poor women, workers, immigrants of all nationalities, refugees, the undocumented, and Native peoples. This unity is necessary in order to fight against the bourgeoisie and its system. It allows the proletariat to exist as a conscious and active political force, which can truly threaten the capitalist order, undermine bourgeois power and replace it with a new power, one that is proletarian, revolutionary, and communist.

We must restart a new class struggle in Canada in order to develop revolutionary proletarian actions:

By uniting proletarians all across the country on the basis of breaking with bourgeois politics, on the basis of the revolutionary struggle against capitalism and for the goal of communism;

By supporting the struggles of the Native nations against the Canadian state and by recognizing their unconditional right to self-determination;

By denouncing Canadian imperialism and its companies, which loot and destroy the peoples and resources of the oppressed countries through economic exploitation and war.

By calling for the defeat of the imperialists all over the world and by defending and supporting people’s wars.

Essentially, this work and this activity involves:

1. A commitment to support Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the strategic path of people’s war.

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the synthesis of the experience of the revolutionary communist movement since its inception to the present moment. It is an indispensable guide to making revolution and to lead us to communism. The contributions of Mao and the Chinese revolution constitute the touchstone distinguishing Marxism from revisionism.

The strategic path of people’s war recognizes that overthrowing capitalism and building a new socialist society involves a prolonged historical process inevitably marked by the most significant possible expression of the absolute contradiction between the camp of revolution and the camp of reaction: the armed struggle.

2. Formation of PCR-RCP’s organizing committees.

The formation of an organizing committee is usually the first step in the process of unifying and rallying to the PCR-RCP in places where a party organization is not yet in existence. Objectives and working methods of organizing committees are explained in the brochure entitled, “Getting Started with PCR” (available on the PCR-RCP website).

The organizing committee does not require that each of its participants join the party; participation is based on being sympathetic towards the PCR-RCP’s political line and a willingness to work closely with it. However, the objective remains to rally as many members in a region or place to form a cell.

The organizing committee participates to the best of its abilities in the political life of the party; it is nevertheless responsible for itself and its own decisions. In terms of integration with the PCR-RCP, the committee is an instance of revolutionary political organization.

The organizing committee should begin its activity by preparing a comprehensive survey of the class struggle in their city or region. This survey should result in a document produced for the PCR-RCP, and should serve to orient actions and political interventions in the lead up to May Day 2015 and the federal election boycott.

3. Struggle to unify the Communist propaganda across Canada.

While leaving plenty of room for independent and decentralized production of propaganda, we must also ensure that the influence of central propaganda is addressed generally to the proletariat and the indigenous nations and that presents the views and activity of revolutionary communists in a unified way with respect to the main issues of the class struggle.

The launch of our newspaper, Partisan, in the spring of 2011 was part of this goal. The form of communist propaganda and the means of its dissemination must constantly be reassessed, but the goal remains valid and its implementation is the responsibility of all organizations and groups dedicated to communism and revolution.

4. Deploying mass work based on the mass line and Maoist style of work.

Mass work of revolutionary communists differs from that of the revisionists and opportunists. It focuses on the confrontation with the bourgeoisie and its state. It aims to reveal the class contradictions and to outline the major clashes to come between the camp of the revolution and the camp of reaction.

By their mass work, communists seek to generate new activists and build authentically proletarian organizations that will defend the general interests of the working class, and only those interests, and to mobilize and rely on the workers themselves, particularly the on most exploited among them.

5. The continued construction, consolidation and expansion of movements generated by the party.

During the three years that have elapsed since the second CRC, important steps were taken with the establishment of the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM), and more recently with the Proletarian Revolutionary Feminist Front. In the first case, the RSM has managed to build grassroots organizations in three provinces and began to centralize its operations across Canada. Held in December 2013, the first proletarian feminist conference sparked the formation of grassroots organizations in at least four cities. In Montreal, a first group of the Revolutionary Workers’ Movement was also established.

This firmly initiated work must continue with the support of all revolutionary forces organized in the country.

6. Seizing opportunities to build the embryos of a great revolutionary alliance with the indigenous nations.

The liberation struggle of indigenous peoples is at the heart of the struggle against capitalism and the imperialist bourgeoisie in Canada. For any organization or militant activist that aims to abolish capitalism, this question should occupy a central place in the strategy and practice of the class struggle. The struggle for the right to self-determination and total liberation of the indigenous people from any chauvinistic and colonial domination must be 100% unconditionally supported by all revolutionary forces in Canada.

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.” The alliance that we are referring to is neither a submission of one group to the other, and much less a disguised condescension under some humanist crap, but a real revolutionary alliance to end a system that commits horrendous crimes. Such an alliance, based on the absolute equality of peoples and nations, will be embodied in the strategy of protracted people’s war and the establishment of “red power” throughout the territory of what is known as Canada.

Beyond the basic elementary solidarity that they must at all times display with the struggles of indigenous peoples, revolutionary communists must seize opportunities to build the foundations of this great alliance. This can be done, although not exclusively, through the establishment of committees for the national liberation struggles of indigenous peoples, which would unite activists, communists, and Native militants.

7. Making 2015 a turning point in the influence of communist propaganda and the extension of revolutionary mass action.

May 1st presents an opportunity for revolutionary communists to launch initiatives that promote a rupture with the bourgeois system and thus, to spready communism as a viable option. This includes “red contingents” in trade union demonstrations, a sequence of anti-capitalist and revolutionary demonstrations in Montreal, targeted propaganda activities in different cities and regions, etc. May 1st 2015 will be an opportunity to generalize these initiatives on a scale never seen before, geographically and politically.

The year 2015 anticipates a new general election on the federal scene, in a context marked by the crisis and the “hardening,” on all levels, of the policies of the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie. In the wake of the revolutionary May Day of 2015, the revolutionary communists will lead a unified campaign for the boycott of the federal election. This campaign will be built to discredit even further the electoral circus in the eyes of general masses; to widely spread the non-recognition of the colonial system’s legitimacy by indigenous peoples; and it will propose targeted actions to disrupt its functioning.

8. Additional motion on the fight to defend revolutionary and political prisoners.

That the 3rd Canadian Revolutionary Congress condemns the abduction of Dr. G.N. Saibaba and demands his immediate and unconditional release.

That the Congress calls for the expansion of the International Campaign Against the War on the People of India across the whole country.

That the 3rd Canadian Revolutionary Congress expresses its revolutionary greetings and solidarity to all the political prisoners, democratic, progressive and revolutionaries who are facing the attacks of the imperialists and the bourgeoisie because they courageously stood up in defense of the people’s struggles and the people’s revolutions. We encourage the efforts that begun to establish the Red Aid as a mass organization in defense of the right to rebel and the right to make revolution and of those who carry those struggles.

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