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With an early declaration of an election campaign by the Harper government, we find ourselves at the beginning of a 78-day campaign period in the lead-up to the October 19 federal election. In fact, before it was even officially called, the parties vying to administer the capitalist state had already been campaigning for several weeks. Their hope may be that, with such a long campaign, they will convince us that this election is a “special moment in Canadian democracy.” For most of us, though, it’s a waste of time!
One after the other, the competing parties will parade themselves around promising to do something for us—the working class, indigenous, women, youth, etc.; they will have sugary sweets for everyone! Some will even present themselves as a “workers’ party,” one of “everyday Canadians” or “hard-working families!” Above all, they will emphatically remind us that we must do our “civic duty” and that the election is really an opportunity to have our say on public affairs; they will repeat that this time it’s different, that the stakes are exceptional, that our rights and freedoms—and maybe Canada itself!—are at stake, and so on.
But beyond the rhetoric and propaganda, the real objective of this election is no different than the ones that came before it: to decide which team will administer the Canadian state—the state of the capitalists, the rich and the powerful, a colonialist, imperialist and reactionary state. This always has been and always will be the nature of the Canadian state until it’s dismantled and replaced by a new people’s power. In this situation, what’s really changing? For almost 150 years, an endless stream of politicians has sat in the House of Commons without ever changing the nature of this country.
This state, which itself is part of a whole system, has always and continues to serve the interests of those who hold the real power—the big capitalists. This will continue, no matter what politicians say when they seek our support and try to convince us that everything will be decided at the polls.
The true nature of this “democracy,” with its parliament and elections was again tragically exposed a few weeks ago in Greece. The masses elected a government with a clear mandate to end the austerity measures; they forcefully reiterated this mandate in a referendum. But none of this made any difference and the government of the “radical left” shamefully complied with the demands of the real bosses, to the chagrin of those who thought they were the best hope of “surpassing capitalism;” the truth is that those “leftists” who still believe in the possibility of change through parliament were the only ones who were “surpassed.”
So what’s the use of the elections? Sometimes, they serve to renew the staff who’ll manage the state, following the interests of whichever sectors of the ruling class happen to be dominant. Beyond that, they serve to mobilize and re-mobilize the masses according to the dominant ideology: that the world should continue as before and that there is no alternative, even the system will makes minor changes here and there while leaving its essential features intact.
This year’s election takes place in the midst of a crisis that sees the imposition of harsh austerity measures in all the major so-called “advanced” capitalist countries. It happens in a period marked by the intensification of inter-imperialist rivalries, unleashing of wars and threats of war and the systematic repression of the people’s genuine aspirations for liberation.
In Canada, this results in attacks against wages and social protection, continuation of the genocide and dispossession of indigenous peoples, clawing back of the gains made by women, deterioration of the “rights and freedoms” that the capitalists were so proud of in the last century, stigmatization of immigrants and Muslim communities, etc. Though they are certainly more intense, these attacks carried out by the capitalists and their state do not represent a break with what has always been the norm in Canada; rather, they are in perfect continuity with the whole history of this country. Their intensification is not so much result of any special tyranny on the part of Harper and his crew—as detestable they are—but a necessary measure to maintaining the power—and the profits—of the capitalists.
These attacks are breeding resistance: from indigenous nations who continue to struggle with so much courage for their liberation, still inspired by the heroic uprising of Kanehsatake 25 years ago; from workers, women, youth and students, from environmentalists and communities who are fighting against the implementation of projects that threaten their safety; from the African-Canadian communities who are mobilizing in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This resistance, which the bourgeoisie would love to crush, remains dispersed.
In this context it will be tempting for some to “try something else,” hoping that it will be less bad than the Conservatives. This is already being openly suggested by some big names of the ruling class. For 10 years, the capitalists were well served by the Harper government. But it may be the case that they will have to bet on another horse, and maybe try the one—the NDP—who has never formed a federal government, but could serve them well, even if they will have to concede a few more crumbs.
As workers, we have nothing to gain by taking part in these games. Many of us already understand this, as evidenced by the steadily declining rate of participation in the elections, especially among the working class. Those who defend the bourgeois system always complain about our “cynicism,” but the only cynicism is that of the bourgeoisie and of those who are still trying to make us believe that an election can change the world.
For a precarious immigrant worker who can barely survive with her pittance, there is nothing cynical about coming home after her shift on the day of the vote and deciding not to waste her time going to the polls. For an indigenous youth, there is nothing cynical about following the example of the elders of his community and telling the representatives of the state to go away when they come around telling them to participate in this exercise, which is a pillar of the oppressive colonial system.
People who boycott the elections do so for many reasons, some good and others less so. But one thing is clear: most of us do not care any more about this circus and think that the politicians and parties are liars or, at best, pushing sad pipe dreams. And this perception is perfectly justified.
As a Party whose main objective is to fight to end the exploitative and oppressive capitalist system and to bring about a new form of social organization based on people’s power—that is, Socialism—the Revolutionary Communist Party proposes to transform this phenomenon of spontaneous or individual boycott into a conscious and organized movement. This means challenging, throughout the election campaign and even moreso after, the false solutions and hypocrisy of the capitalists and their parties, and reject the illusions promoted by the “left-wing” defenders of the system.
This campaign aims to mobilize and bring together all those who see themselves in this critique of the capitalist system and who aspire to more than simply changing the face of the capitalist system but a revolutionary transformation of the world in which we live. It aims to build and strengthen the organizations—the party and the genuine people’s organizations campaigning and mobilizing the masses for such a transformation—that are needed to achieve this objective. It aims to use the tools—leaflets, posters, newspapers, websites…—that will spread this criticism and these perspectives as far and wide as possible. And it requires that we manifest these aspirations as concrete actions confronting profiteers and the defenders of the system. In short, it is to do what we Maoists call “building the revolution.”
More specifically, the PCR-RCP is calling for a National Day of Action before election day, on Sunday, October 18, bringing together all those who are sick and tired of this rotten system, to affirm our commitment—which is totally different from an election promise!—for the next four years: waging class struggle against the capitalists and their state!
Spread the word: boycott the election!
Fight for socialism and the end of all oppression!
Want to participate in this campaign? Contact the local branch of the PCR-RCP or write at firstname.lastname@example.org.