Statement of Revolutionary Initiative.
The proletariat of Canada needs a genuine Communist Party. For more than half a century, the proletariat has been without a real vanguard Party. Instead, they have been disarmed, pacified and misled by revisionism, social democracy, Trotskyism, Anarchism and other counter-revolutionary trends that have sabotaged the development of a genuine revolutionary movement for the overthrow of monopoly capitalism. To build that movement and the fighting capacity of the proletariat, we need a Party, one that is rooted in struggle and guided by the most advanced form of proletarian ideology, namely Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
Such a Party will not spontaneously spring out of the ground, nor be proclaimed from on high. It must be built through painstaking ideological and political struggle. Revolutionary Initiative seeks to encourage that process by putting forward our understanding of the international and domestic situation, the strategy and tactics to make revolution in Canada, and the correct methods of work to build a genuine Communist Party in Canada. We do this in the hope of building unity with all proletarian revolutionaries in Canada and advancing the Party building movement.
Theses on the International Context of the Canadian Revolution
Revolutions do not take place in a vacuum. While every revolution is ultimately a product of the internal contradictions of a given society, international contradictions can have a profound effect on the dynamics of that revolution. Each phase of history has its own unique characteristics that must be taken into account with respect to our strategy and tactics. The lessons drawn from previous revolutionary movements, both at home and abroad, are especially important.
While capitalism is incapable of moving to any higher stage of development than imperialism, the current phase of imperialism has distinct characteristics that set it apart from the imperialism studied by Lenin. The imperialist powers of Lenin’s era were in their ascendancy, having carved up the entire world into dominated colonies and semi-colonies. While their rates of profit were lower than during the era of competitive capitalism, they were comparatively easy to come by, with rapid technological innovation and super-profits extracted from the dominated Third World colonies. the imperialists were able to corrupt the upper stratum of the working class at home, buying themselves class peace and diverting working class struggle into opportunist reformism and social chauvinism.
Since then, imperialism has moved into a new phase, one of strategic decline. The oppressed nations have been brought into the world historical process of capitalist imperialism, with more sophisticated organized resistance, access to modern means of warfare, and national consciousness that refuses subjugation. Formal decolonization has created a handful of secondary capitalist countries with remaining countries in some form of semi-colonialism/semi-feudalism. This implies both the relative and absolute increase in the size of the proletariat internationally and of increasing unity between the non-proletarian working-classes and the proletariat. The spread of national liberation movements and formal decolonization since the second inter-imperialist war has made it extremely difficult for the imperialists to hold formal colonies except perhaps in the smallest countries. Once able to subjugate entire continents, today the imperialist powers have proven incapable of holding even the few miles of highway in Iraq between the so-called Green Zone and the main airport or hold back advancing national liberation movements in Nepal, the Philippines, or India. Breakthroughs by these and other second wave national liberation movements will further weaken imperialism, as whole sections of the world will be cut off from imperialist exploitation and the international division of labour.
Having run out of room to expand after the completion of reconstruction from the devastation of World War II, imperialism has been stagnant since the 1970s. They have been forced to adopt new measures to maintain even fairly low rates of profit and to stabilize the system. Contrary to the free-market, anti-government rhetoric of neoliberalism, this phase has seen the fusion of the state and finance capital, with the extensive use of state planning and systematic intervention in all significant areas of the economy to displace or mitigate crisis. They have sought to intensify their exploitation of the proletariat through the perfection of the use of science in production, with “post-Fordism”, “just-in-time” delivery systems, and the like, as well as launching an assault on the “Great Compromise” and contraction of the social wage. To prevent a crisis of over-production they have created a new form of mass market in the imperialist homelands, with increasing emphasis of individualized consumption, and identity-based niche marketing playing a crucial place in the economy. At the same time, the economy has been heavily financialized through the stock and bond markets, increasing the control of finance capital over the entire economy while undermining the productive capacity of the “real” economy. This has lead to the increase in highly unstable speculative bubble economies, most recently in real estate and before that the dotcom start-up markets, as well as wild swings in commodities and currency values as financial speculation distorts the capitalist system as a whole. These bubble economies, once fairly rare phenomena, are now deliberately encouraged by the state as the only means for the monopoly bourgeoisie to recoup their losses from the collapse of the previous bubble.
This fourth stage of imperialism – which may be transitioning to a fifth stage – is characterized by the heightening of contradictions on multiple levels, including between the various imperialist powers. The unity of the Triad (USA, EU, and Japan) is increasingly strained, as is their unity with the second tier imperialists in their camp. The contradictions between the Triad and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are also increasing, with Russia and China increasingly resistant to NATO expansionism. China especially is increasing its imperial reach, quickly expanding its influence and exploitation of Africa and Latin America, putting it at odds with American and European imperialism. The changing fortunes of the various imperialist powers are leading to an inevitable redivision of the world, which can only take place either through proxy wars and/or a direct inter-imperialist war.
The offensive launched by the imperialists against the proletariat, both at home and abroad, has begun to reach its limits. While this stage has been dominated by a single imperialist power, the United States, we are starting to see the beginning of its imperial overstretch, with unexpected hardships in its military adventures and growing economic crisis at home. The assault on the “Great Compromise” in the imperialist countries has undermined the labour aristocracy and is beginning to reach its limits. The forced integration of “Third World” and “Second World” countries into the imperialist world market under the slogans of “trade and investment liberalization, deregulation and privatization” is also beginning to reach its limits, with an increasing number of formally oppressed nations turning away from the dictates of the IMF and World Bank and asserting their national sovereignty.
This shift in the objective conditions has encouraged the reinvigoration of the working class movement in the imperialist countries and the national liberation movements in “Third World” and “Second World” countries. Party building movements are gaining ground in the belly of the beast for the first time in many decades. Maoist movements are advancing to higher stages, such as in Nepal, the Philippines, India, and other countries, and will eventually break the chains of imperialism at their weakest links.
Theses on the Domestic Context of the Canadian Revolution
While Canada is a part of the imperialist world order, our society has its own internal dynamics. It is critical that the Party building movement begin from a correct understanding of what constitutes our particular objective conditions and the primary contradictions of Canadian society.
The most fundamental point of unity must be based on the recognition that Canada is an imperialist country and the Canadian state is an imperialist state. While a second tier imperialist power and often working in league with other imperialist powers, Canada is currently a bourgeois democracy ruled by its own imperialist ruling class, and is independent of the United States or any other imperialist power. As such, there is no need for a “democratic” stage to our revolution. The bourgeois line of “Canadian independence” or defence of our “national interests” must be combated and driven form the proletarian movement. As long as Canada is an imperialist state, our “national interests” are imperialist interests and must be defeated rather than defended.
The current stage of our revolution is the socialist revolution, directed against state monopoly capitalism with the proletariat as the leading and main force. Upon the seizure of power, the proletariat must establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and proceed immediately to the construction of the socialist order that will wage a continuing revolution that will dig out all remaining capitalist social relations until communism is reached.
To make revolution under imperialist conditions, it is also necessary to recognize that the proletariat itself is not homogeneous. Imperialism has created a split in the proletariat, between the main body of the proletariat and the labour aristocracy. The labour aristocracy includes the heads of the trade unions and their bureaucracy, workers in the armaments industry, the imperialist-funded NGOs, and forms the social base of the NDP. It is this labour aristocracy that currently controls almost the entire working class movement and infects the working class with imperialist ideology. It will be an absolute necessity to repudiate the labour aristocracy, expose them as agents of the imperialist bourgeoisie in the labour movement, and win back the proletariat to the cause of revolution.
Imperialism has also stratified the proletariat. The lower stratum consists of proletarians that frequently endure long term unemployment or precarious employment, low wages, low rates of unionisation, and high rates of injuries and mental illness. They are the disposable workers most exploited by the imperialist system. This lower stratum is disproportionally made up of the youth, women, minority nationalities, and the First Nations. The upper stratum is composed the section of the working class whom the imperialist bourgeoisie has provided relatively high wages, stable employment, and high rates of unionisation. It is this stratum that is most prone to falling victim to petite-bourgeois aspirations, racial and national chauvinism and other forms of bourgeois ideology.
The second fundamental factor in the Canadian revolution is the national question. Canada is a multinational country within which there are oppressor and oppressed nations. These oppressed nations will never be liberated until the imperialist bourgeoisie is overthrown and a new society is established, one that is dedicated to the eradication of all forms of national chauvinism. In Canada, the main oppressor nation is the English Canadian nation and secondarily the French Canadian nation. While the French nation historically was an oppressed nation, this is no longer the case. It no longer endures colonial or semi-colonial relations with English Canada, having developed a strong state, bourgeois democratic rights, and a ruling class that over time has been transformed from a comprador into an imperialist bourgeoisie. As such, an independent Quebec would achieve nothing for the proletariat of any nation in Canada. Instead it would only serve as a tool to extract concessions from the proletariat, both inside and outside Quebec, and unleash a new imperialist state on the world stage.
Much of Canada’s Aboriginal population make up the oppressed nations of Canada. They endure the genocidal violence, exploitation, and policies of assimilation of European colonialism and great nation chauvinism that to this day continues to violate the basic human and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples. The Aboriginal peoples that are ethnic groups rather than nations must be granted equal political, social, and cultural rights and liberated from the forces ethnic chauvinism. Those that are oppressed nations have the right to national self-determination, up to and including succession. This struggle should not be viewed as separate from the overall revolutionary movement, but rather as an integral component of that movement with its own special characteristics and particular stages to its development. While the proletariat of the English and French nations and minority ethnic groups are engaged in a struggle for socialism, the Aboriginal nations are also engaged in a struggle for national liberation. Every advance in the Aboriginal national liberation struggles will weaken and dismember the Canadian imperialist state, while the growing strength of the proletariat’s struggle for socialism will create the objective conditions required for ultimate destruction of national chauvinism and the end to the internal colonialism of Canadian society. The proletariat must develop the strongest possible unity with the Aboriginal liberation movements, win over Aboriginal revolutionaries to the communist vanguard, and join forces in a powerful United Front against our common enemy, the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie. This will be an absolute requirement for the social transformation of Canada, for so long as there are oppressed nations within Canadian territory, socialism cannot be reached.
In addition to these basic problems in Canadian society, there are a variety of sectoral struggles. A sector is composed of any group with a common interest. Struggles based on gender, sexual minority status, ethnicity, disability, education – to name just a few – are not class neutral and effect each class differently. They are key points of struggle and will play an important role in the organization of the masses. These are struggles that the proletariat must lead.
Theses on Strategy and Tactics
In order to make revolution, it is necessary to adopt the correct strategy and tactics appropriate to our objective conditions and to each stage of development of our revolutionary movement. In the current period, the principal form of struggle is revolutionary mass struggle and the building of a revolutionary mass movement. The masses must be organized, mobilized, and trained for political action independent of the parties and organizations of the bourgeoisie and labour aristocracy and won over to the leadership of the proletarian revolutionary organization. This will involve extensive and intensive mass work by proletarian revolutionaries among the masses and the development of the transmission belts between the proletarian revolutionary organization and the masses. New mass organizations must be created and multiplied around any appropriate struggle that will serve to link the proletarian revolutionary organization to the working class masses. Existing spontaneous mass organizations must be won over to the leadership of the vanguard through the creation of proletarian cores within those organizations as a step towards winning over the entire membership. Within the field of culture, revolutionary struggle must also take place through the development of a genuine proletarian culture. The mass struggle struggle must win over vast bulk of the proletariat to the leadership of the proletarian vanguard, constantly exposing, undermining and eventually displacing the forces of social democracy within the working class movement. The exact form that the various forms of revolutionary mass struggle will take cannot be predicted ahead of time and the proletarian revolutionary organization must make use of whatever form of struggle is effective.
The secondary form of struggle at this stage is the electoral struggle. It is a secondary form because it will be a product of – and subordinate to – the interests of the revolutionary mass struggle. While under the current conditions the Communist Party should not run directly in elections, it is critical that the vanguard make use of the parliamentary fronts as another arena of struggle, to use the parliament as a tribune to denounce the system, to put forward the peoples just demands, to both win concessions from the monopoly bourgeoisie and to prove to the masses the limitations inherent to bourgeoisie legality.
Currently, there are two erroneous lines within the working class movement regarding the use of the parliament. The first is the Rightist line of the revisionists that views the parliamentary struggle as the primary arena and downplays or negates the role of extra-parliamentary struggle. This position upholds the line of Khrushchevite revisionism, that it is possible to peacefully transition to socialism by winning a majority in the parliament, without the revolutionary struggle of the masses and the violent overthrow of the bourgeois state. At best, this opportunist line can only lead to the disarming of the proletariat and their subordination to bourgeois legality and the transformation of the revolutionary Party into a mere electoral block, begging for scraps from the table of the bourgeoisie. At worst, it leaves the proletarian movement vulnerable to massacre, as in the cases of Chile and Indonesia.
The second erroneous line is ultra-left and rejects as a matter of principal any participation by the revolutionary movement in the parliamentary struggle. While correctly breaking with the opportunism of the revisionists, this ultra-left line makes a caricature of parliamentary struggle and runs ahead of the masses by calling for a total boycott of the parliament. While many proletarians may not vote, this does not signify a complete rejection of bourgeois legality, or even parliamentary struggle. Ultimately, this line (left in form but right in essence) can only benefit the bourgeoisie, as it would deprive the proletariat of a vital tribune and arena of struggle and leave that arena open to the revisionists and social democrats to reap the rewards of the growing revolutionary mass movement.
Powerful though they are, these forms of struggle alone will not be able to overthrow monopoly capitalism. They make up only the preparatory stage while the proletariat gathers its strength for the decisive form of struggle – the armed struggle. The revolutionary mass movement will increase in size and radicalism, passing from an economic struggle to a political struggle for state power, most likely after a ruinous inter-imperialist war has exposed the masses to the harsh realities of the imperialist system. In the context of an advanced capitalist country, this will mean an armed mass uprising of the people followed by a period of civil war. This insurrection will not happen spontaneously, nor without advanced preparation. It will not happen in a single grand day. As the movement grows and becomes increasingly radicalised it will be necessary for the workers to defend themselves against attacks by the state and its agents with force of arms. Workers must be organized into underground armed mass organizations and trained in the art of armed struggle. Combined with revolutionary work within the bourgeois military leading to the defection of professional soldiers to the side of the proletariat, these units will play a key role in the destruction of bourgeois state power. The mass movement must be won over to armed struggle, to the launching of insurrection against the state, the seizure of political power in as much of the territory of Canada as possible, and the prosecution of revolutionary civil war and war against any foreign intervention until the final victory of the new proletarian state.
While a powerful class, the proletariat cannot afford to go it alone. In order to build the movement for revolution in Canada, the revolutionary proletariat must rally all of its potential allies and isolate the monopoly bourgeoisie as much as possible. To do this, the proletarian revolutionary organization must wield the weapon of the United Front – uniting with other classes without falling into the trap of liquidationism. This should be distinguished from coalitions between mass organizations and the like. The United Front must always be organized along revolutionary class lines with the proletariat as the main and basic force. The proletariat must always keep its independent initiative, never surrendering leadership of the United Front or blurring the line between proletarian and non proletarian organizations. After it has been won over to the leadership of the proletariat the non-imperialist middle bourgeoisie will contribute to the United Front as a positive force. This United Front will then use all contradictions to split the imperialist bourgeoisie, weakening and isolating the enemy class as a whole by targeting that faction currently wielding state power.
As proletarian revolutionaries operating in an imperialist country, we have an absolute duty to practice proletarian internationalism. The most fundamental interest of the international proletariat is the destruction of it’s greatest enemy – imperialism. As such, our primary duty is to remove Canadian imperialism from the world stage by breaking its power at home by waging revolution. In its place we must create a revolutionary state that will come to the aid of other revolutionary movements, make reparations for the sufferings inflicted on the world by the old social order, and act as a break on the remaining imperialist powers.
However, it is unlikely that the first break in imperialism will be at its centre where it is strongest. Rather, the imperialist chain will be broken at it’s weakest links where the global contradictions are the fiercest: in the dominated nations of the Third World. Any revolutionary breakthrough will weaken our common enemy – the imperialist bourgeoisie – and further shift the world balance of forces in favour of the proletariat. Therefore, our secondary duty is to build anti-imperialist solidarity with national liberation struggles around the world, especially those led by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties. This especially includes forging bilateral and multilateral links with all Marxist-Leninist, especially Maoist parties and organizations. We must also extend all possible political and material support to national liberation struggles abroad, and especially promote exemplary movements led by Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties. This building of proletarian internationalism must happen at all levels, including at the mass level through the building of links between the mass movements.
As we build the revolutionary movement, we must not fall into the petite-bourgeois methods of growth of attempting to uncritically rally all so-called “progressive” forces into a single movement. It will be absolutely necessary to wage resolute ideological struggle against all forms of opportunism, especially social democracy, modern revisionism, Trotskyism, Anarchism and Canadian nationalism. These lines run counter to the interests of the proletariat, are inherently counter-revolutionary, and must be exposed to the masses as such through painstaking ideological and organizational work.
Part of ideological struggle will also be in the identification and building of unity with all other Marxist-Leninist-Maoist forces in Canada. Given the geographical size of the country and backwardness of our revolutionary movement, it is likely that there will be multiple pre-Party formations at varying stages of development in different parts of Canada. To make revolution it will be necessary for these forces to come together into a single genuine Communist Party in Canada. This unity must be forged through a systematic and step-by-step approach, always on the basis of the scientific application of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist to Canadian conditions. We must compare our programs, documents, and methods of work and work towards the highest form of unity possible. Should differences manifest that would make unity unprincipled, it is the masses that will judge which line is correct and remove the barriers to unity.
Methods of Work
Waging revolution in Canada will require more than correct ideology. It will also require correct methods of work, both within the proletarian revolutionary organization and amongst the masses.
To ensure both the freedom of discussion and unity of action that will lead to correct methods of work, the organizational form of the proletarian revolutionary organization can only be democratic centralism – the combination of democratic decision making with conscious iron discipline. The minority must submit to the decisions of the majority. Lower organs are subordinate to higher organs. All leading bodies must be subject to elections and periodic renewal. Without this form of democracy and discipline, the proletarian revolutionary organization cannot fulfil its role as the systematic and organized leadership the working class needs to make revolution.
To win over the masses to the side of revolution, our methods of work must always be guided by the principles of the mass line and mass perspective. The proletarian revolutionary organization must gather the scattered and unsystematic ideas of the masses, study them through the lens of proletarian ideology, and then return to the masses with these ideas in the form of a political line that will advance the interests of the masses and the revolutionary project as a whole. We do this because the masses are the true movers of history – it is they who will build the new society once they recognize, through their own lived experience, that revolution is necessary. The proletarian revolutionary organization must join with the struggles of the masses, bringing with them scientific ideology, and lead these struggles on the path to revolution.
For our methods of work to improve, it is vital that proletarian revolutionaries practice criticism and self-criticism. No matter how advanced we are in our political development, we are all still human. We must maintain revolutionary humility and comradeship. We all make errors in our work and have room for improvement. We must not fear recognizing our own mistakes, pointing out the mistakes of our comrades, or admitting our mistakes to the masses. Our criticism and self-criticism must always remain objective, comradely, and in the spirit of improving work. It is only in this way that we will develop – both as individuals and collectively.
Our Immediate Tasks
The above document summarizes our view of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as applied to Canadian conditions. The building of a genuine Communist Party in Canada will be a step by step process, of which this is only a very humble beginning. We must proceed with a clear understanding of our immediate tasks, the ones that will create the solid foundation upon which to build our revolutionary Party and mass movement.
While there has not been a genuine Communist Party in Canada for more than half a century, we still have a revolutionary tradition that must be understood. While the histories of the Bolsheviks, the Communist Party of China and others are important, it is likely that a Canadian Party-building movement will repeat Canadian mistakes rather than Russian or Chinese mistakes. It is critical that the past experience of the Canadian revolutionary movement be summarized in order to draw lessons and overcome weaknesses. This would include the rise and fall into revisionism of the first Communist Party of Canada as well as the experience of other Party building movements that failed to reach the stage of becoming a vanguard Party.
We must also develop a correct understanding of the objective conditions in which the Canadian revolution will take place. We must develop an analysis of Canadian class forces in order to develop a program for the Canadian revolution. This would include the development of the Canadian mode of production, the history of the development of contradictions in Canadian society, as well as the current class structure of Canadian society. It is this knowledge that will be the signpost guiding us on the correct path for revolution in Canada and enable us to objectively identify our friends and enemies.
Proletarian revolutionaries cannot wait for the formation of a genuine Communist Party in Canada to begin the process of integration into the struggles of the masses. We must plant the seeds of mass work amongst the masses using correct proletarian methods of work immediately. At every stage, we must be grounded in the masses. There will be a dialectical relationship between the building of mass struggles and the development of the vanguard. Indeed, neither will develop without the other.
While at this stage there are likely multiple pre-Party formations or individual proletarian revolutionaries committed to building towards such formations, eventually there must be a single genuine Communist Party in Canada. All Marxist-Leninist-Maoist forces in Canada must come together to engage in discussions towards the systematic building of unity on a step-by-step basis. We must do this under the principle of equality and mutual respect regardless of the size of the organizations as numerical size does not guarantee correctness on any given question.
On with the Party-building movement in Canada!
Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!