Statement of Revolutionary Initiative
If we are to create a new society, we must ask a fundamental question: who are our friends and who are our enemies?. We must understand which class forces can lead the revolution and which will play a supporting or vacillating role. We must also identify the class forces that are irredeemably opposed to revolution and will fight tooth and nail to defend the current system of exploitation and domination. The former must be rallied into a powerful United Front to struggle against the latter and it is critical that we draw the correct the line between the two camps. Too far to one side would water down the revolutionary movement and create a false unity with forces that are actually opposed to revolution. Too far to the other would alienate class forces that would have otherwise supported the revolution, strengthening the enemy and weakening the forces for revolution.
What is Canadian Society?
Canadian society has reached the highest stage of development under capitalism, the stage of imperialism. Capital has been concentrated in the hands of gigantic monopolies that control nearly the entire economy and dominate the political and cultural superstructure of society. Finance capital is also highly centralized and forms the dominant faction of the monopoly capitalist class and is tightly connected with every other section of the economy. On the world stage, Canadian imperialism uses the export of capital and political and military intervention to exploit and dominate the semi-colonial Third World nations.
While imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, it has its own particular phases of development. Imperialism in Canada has reached the final phase of development and is in strategic decline. This can be seen in the strengthening of the tendency towards stagnation, the growth in the size of the state, the fusion of monopoly capital with the state, and their increasing inability to control the restive the semi-colonies.
For Canadian society to develop to any higher stage, the abolition of capitalism will be an absolute necessity. The revolution in Canada will be socialist, whereby the proletariat will overthrow the bourgeoisie by force and establish its revolutionary dictatorship in order to abolish the class structure and advance towards communism. As Canada is not a dominated or exploited country, there will be no intermediary stage to the revolution, such as an anti-monopoly stage or a national democratic revolution.
The Two Great Classes: Proletariat and Monopoly Bourgeoisie
The primary contradiction in Canada is between the proletariat and the monopoly bourgeoisie. It is this contradiction that sets the ground on which all secondary contradictions play out and determines the form that they take. It is the playing out of this primary contradiction that will advance the development of Canadian society.
The Monopoly Bourgeoisie: The Enemy of the People
While only a small percentage of the population, it is the monopoly bourgeoisie that dominates Canadian society. The resources they control are tremendous. As of 2001, major corporations with assets over $25 million or annual revenues over $100 million owned 80% of all business assets, with the top 25 alone controlling 41.2%. These major corporations expand not through competition on the marketplace, but by concentration of capital through mergers with other corporations. These mergers happen vertically, horizontally, and through conglomeration. In vertical integration, monopoly capital takes control of every stage of production, from extraction of raw resources, to production, to sales, all within a single economic unit. Horizontally, they merge with other monopolies in the same industry, creating still larger monopolies. In creating conglomerates, monopolies merge with companies in different areas of the economy, so that a a mining firm, a telecommunications company and a sports league may fall within a single unit of monopoly capital. These various forms of capital concentration often happen simultaneously, creating smaller and smaller bodies of monopoly capitalists that are able to control ever increasing amounts of the entire economy and society.
Monopoly capital uses not just its overall size but also its strategic position within the economy to increase their control. Through the use of stock holding companies, monopoly capitalists “water” their already massive wealth. Through a pyramid ownership structure, monopoly capitalists own holding companies that own controlling interests in other companies that own controlling interests in still more companies and so on down the line. For each step downwards, the monopoly capitalist directly owns a decreasing percentage of each company, yet their control remains total.
Not only is monopoly capital centralized through economic units, it is also tightly integrated through cross directorships and social relations. Members of this class generally sit on the boards of several different monopoly corporations simultaneously, creating linkages between formally separate economic units. They also frequent the same social clubs and associations and sponsor the same corporate think tanks. As such they have a clear view of their class interests, unencumbered by overly narrow parochial interests, and display a high degree of coordination and unity.
Within this overall unity, there are still contradictions between various sectors of monopoly capital. This may be based on their sector (industrial capital versus finance capital, monopoly capital of one region versus another, etc.), or their political affiliation (Liberals versus Conservatives), or any other question. The proletariat must make use of every possible contradiction within the ruling class to split their ranks, targeting the faction of the monopoly bourgeoisie currently wielding state power while exposing the opportunist opposition.
The Proletariat: Main and Leading Force of the Revolution
The proletariat is the largest class in Canadian society as well as the main and leading force of the revolution. The proletariat is made up of all workers who are exploited by capitalism, as well as any of their spouses and dependants, old age pensioners and the reserve army of labour. It is this class that creates all value and has the most direct interest in the abolition of capitalism. As such, they are the most revolutionary class and the only one capable of leading the movement for socialist revolution in Canada.
The proletariat is not a homogeneous class. It is composed of a variety of sectors based on gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality and other factors that make for particular interests within the overall class framework. It is also stratified between upper and lower sections. The upper stratum are those with high paying jobs, decent benefits and a standard of living that liberals would consider “middle class”. This stratum is shrinking and rapidly finding their security and comfort being undermined by lay-offs, export of jobs, stagnant wages, higher taxes, and other factors related to the decline of imperialism. The lower stratum is made up of workers for whom a hand to mouth desperate existence is the norm. While the lower stratum is more oppressed by capitalism and the upper stratum is susceptible to petty bourgeois aspirations, both strata make up the vast bulk of the proletariat and are objectively revolutionary.
There is a section of the working class that is not revolutionary. Imperialism has created a split in the working class between the great mass of the proletariat and the labour aristocracy. The imperialists use their exploitation of the Third World to extract super-profits, which they then use a portion to buy off a section of the working class at home. This labour aristocracy is composed of the heads of the trade union movement, the higher-up bureaucrats in the trade union bureaucracy and some sections of the rank and file working class that directly benefit from imperialism, such as workers in the munitions industry. They are allied to the bourgeoisie and serve as their agents within the working class movement. They have an objective interest in maintaining imperialism and as such are a counter-revolutionary body within the proletariat. There can be no unity within the working class until this section has been exposed as opportunists and driven from the working class movement.
The United Front
Though it may be the numerical majority in Canadian society, the proletariat cannot “go-it-alone” in the struggle for socialism. Mao recognized that the proletariat has three historic weapons at its disposal in the class struggle against the bourgeoisie: (1) the Vanguard Party; (2) the People’s Army; and (3) the United Front. The proletariat cannot successfully take the stage of history and build socialism without the existence and unity of these three forces. The proletariat must use the United Front to break the unity of the monopoly bourgeoisie with all the classes under its rule and with which it is in contradiction.
The United Front is the alliance between the proletariat and other classes in the movement for revolution. In an imperialist state like Canada, a state where the monopoly bourgeoisie is firmly established and dominates other sections of capital and the classes under it, the United Front will be used to rally all classes and peoples who stand in contradiction with the monopoly bourgeoisie and are willing to fight for its defeat to the side of the proletariat. Therefore, the proletariat and its revolutionary vanguard must have a clear understanding of the various classes in Canadian society, their objective interests, which ones will be allies in the struggle for revolution and on what terms.
The following are the potential allies of the proletariat, arranged from most to least reliable:
The Petty Bourgeoisie: Basic Ally of the Proletariat
The petty bourgeoisie are those that depend on self-employed labour and/or small productive property ownership. They may employ a small number of workers, but they generally work alongside them and the majority of their income does not come from exploitation. They may be minor business people, shopkeepers, independent artisans, farmers, fishermen or professionals. Their standards of living vary greatly, from highly trained specialists whose consumption patterns approach that of the bourgeoisie to local shop keepers barely keeping their heads above water. While they are always under the threat of being proletarianized, at the same time they can identify with or aspire to become bourgeoisie. As such, they are an unstable and hesitant class, torn between the interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
The rise of monopoly capitalism has accelerated the destruction of the petty bourgeoisie and has created a contradiction between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie. During the 19th century, while capitalism was still maturing in Canada, the majority of the population was petty bourgeois. They were the class leading the struggles against the semi-feudal Family Compact and Chateau Clique and launching armed rebellions for bourgeois democracy. With the advance of capitalism and especially monopoly capitalism, this class declined both in income and as a percentage of the total population. Long established craft guilds (such as the shoemakers of the Sons of St. Crispin) were gradually wiped out. Family farms and fisheries were driven out of business or swallowed up by monopoly agribusiness. Formerly independent professions were proletarianized. Even corner stores and coffee shops struggle to compete against franchises. It is this process that drives sections of the petty bourgeoisie to ally with the proletariat.
Having a wide range of skills, education and access to resources, the petty bourgeoisie will make a critical contribution to the United Front. They are generally good at agitational propaganda work and engaging in mass activism. The most advanced elements of the petty bourgeoisie are capable of remoulding themselves into disciplined revolutionaries and become leaders both the above and underground components of the revolutionary movement. When large numbers of petty bourgeoisie come over to the side of revolution, imperialism will be discredited and further isolated from the proletariat.
The Non-Imperialist Middle Bourgeoisie: A Temporary and Vacillating Ally
The non-imperialist middle bourgeoisie are an intermediate group between the two great classes. This section of the bourgeoisie still indirectly benefits from some elements of imperialism, through access to cheap migrant labour and imports of raw materials. However, this section of the bourgeoisie does not have any major stakes in foreign capital investments or the exploitation of the Third World. Unlike the monopoly bourgeoisie, the means of production under their control is entirely nationally based. They are blocked in their attempts to expand their capital by their inability to compete against the power of monopoly capital on the marketplace. The most optimal reforms for this section of capital would be strong anti-monopoly, anti-trust laws, strong protectionist laws that allowed a greater diversity of ownership and lesser concentration of capital within an overall capitalist framework. However, while the monopoly bourgeoisie dominates the state the middle bourgeoisie will be unable to win these concessions and displace the current class of imperialists. This leaves them resentful of the monopoly bourgeoisie and their state and makes them potential allies of the proletariat in their struggle against the imperialists.
While similar to the petty bourgeoisie in that they are in contradiction with the monopoly bourgeoisie, the middle bourgeoisie are an ally of a different type. Despite their contradiction with the monopoly bourgeoisie, the middle bourgeoisie are also in contradiction with the proletariat. The wealth of the middle bourgeoisie depends on the capitalist system and the exploitation of the proletariat. While they frustrated by the power of the monopoly bourgeoisie and their stifling of competition, they are not against imperialism as such and dream of becoming the next group of monopoly bourgeoisie. This makes them distrustful of the proletarian movement and unlikely to ally with it whole heartedly. They can be won over to fight against the current class of imperialists, but their allegiance will only last until it becomes apparent that the proletariat will not allow them to become the new batch of imperialists. Once the proletariat commences to “expropriate the expropriators”, most of the middle bourgeoisie will fall into the enemy camp, while a minority may be bought out and retained to assist in the process of socialist construction. As such, they can be only a temporary and vacillating ally of the proletariat and might only join the United Front on an informal basis.
It will be necessary to conduct further study on the middle bourgeoisie, to identify its right and left wings and who within this class are the friends and enemies of the proletariat, on what basis and for how long.
The United Front and the Proletarian Vanguard
There can be no United Front without the leadership of the proletariat with its most advanced detachment united under a genuine Communist Party. The Party is the General Staff of the working class – the proletariat’s class leadership materialized. It is the body responsible for leading the masses in making revolution and establishing a new society. As such, the Party is the highest form of organization and not just one organization amongst many in the United Front. For the proletariat to maintain its leadership of the United Front, its General Staff must be the leaders of the United Front.
This does not mean that the Party will dictate to its allies the policies of the United Front. This would not lead to genuine unity and would only alienate potential allies. The policies of the United Front must be arrived upon through deep and meaningful consultation with all allied forces, with decisions arrived upon through the consensus of all groups in the United Front. In this way the leading role of the Party will be maintained. Decision making by voting would subordinate the minority to the majority, violate the rights of the participating organizations and bury the leading role of the Party under the numerical dominance of the petty bourgeois organizations. This has been the experience of the International Communist Movement in the liberation fronts of Africa and Central America and led to the liquidation of the leading role of the proletariat within the United Front. The leadership of the Party and the socialist orientation of the United Front must be spelled out clearly and form the basis of unity of the United Front.
The United Front and the Pre-Party Stage of the Party Building Movement
How can proletarian revolutionaries begin practising the united front tactic if there is not yet a vanguard party at the forefront of proletarian mass struggle? The formation of the three weapons of the proletariat will not occur as a linear process with one following the other. Their development will be connected dialectically, each reinforcing the other. It is not necessary to wait for the formation of the Party or for the full organization of the proletariat to begin practising the United Front tactic. In order to understand the nature of the united front tactic at the pre-Party stage of the Party building movement, we must first understand the character of proletarian revolutionary work at the pre-Party stage.
The Character of Work in the Pre-Party Stage of the Party Building Movement
First of all, the whole concept of the United Front as Dimitrov intended it is premised upon the leading role played by the proletariat. However, the proletariat, as the most oppressed and exploited class in an imperialist society, will only be able to wage successful revolutionary struggle when its advanced elements come together and provide leadership to the proletariat. However, in order to provide correct leadership, these advanced elements must be trained in mass organizing, gain an understanding of the history of proletarian revolutionary struggle, both in Canada and internationally, and develop correct proletarian ideology.
A small groups of proletarian revolutionaries, committed to building or joining a vanguard party, can begin the preparatory work necessary for revolution long before a vanguard party is established.
What does this preparatory work consist of?
(a) A study of significant revolutionary movements of the past and advancing revolutionary movements of the present.
(b) A critical summation of the lessons of past struggles in Canada. It is the duty of communists to summarize the struggles they are closest to so that they can struggle with other advanced elements following incorrect and aberrant ideas and tactics, learn from strengths and overcome weaknesses.
(c) To produce a overview of the development of the Canadian mode of production and a history of class forces in Canada from founding to present day. This overview will clarify who are our friends and who are our enemies and the role they play in Canadian society and in the movement for revolution. It will form the general line for the Party and the entire mass movement and must be propagated amongst the masses.
(d) Broad anti-imperialist and socialist agitation among the proletariat alongside mass movement-building around burning questions that concern the proletariat. One without the other will be insufficient, and will not develop the proletariat along revolutionary lines. Socialist propaganda without mass struggle is mere idealism and will not succeed in combating the anti-communist ideas that proletarians have adopted from the bourgeoisie.
Mass struggle around the immediate concerns of the proletariat, and even successfully addressing some of those concerns, without promoting proletarian internationalism and exposing imperialism, is economism, and will only further entrench reformist ideas among the proletariat. Active work among the masses by proletarian revolutionaries is also a process whereby the latter learn from the former.
(e) The development of the spirit of proletarian internationalism amongst the masses and their organizations. This will involve strengthening the linkages between the various sectors of the masses and their revolutionary vanguard in Canada with their equivalents in the Third World that are organized under exemplary movements.
(f) A process of unity-struggle-unity with other revolutionary forces, whereby the lessons of the revolutionary forces are shared and exchanged, and tactical and strategic points of difference are overcome with respect to lessons learned in practice.
In the absence of a vanguard, it is up to proletarian revolutionaries today to congeal themselves into pre-party organizations and begin carrying out the above preparatory work in order to work towards building a genuine Communist Party in Canada. These areas of work occur simultaneously. Once a small group of advanced proletarians has come together and carry out enough summation and study in order to be able to settle on a basis of unity they carry forward with work based on a central plan. Next, these proletarians can begin carrying out mass work and agitating amongst the masses, disciplining themselves for revolutionary struggle and developing the mass line while training the masses in militant mass struggle. With more and more experience in mass struggle under the belt, the lessons of proletariat’s history of struggle will begin to make more and more sense, and a dialectic between study and practice can be developed. Unless the proletariat can be convinced that it can fight as a class for its basic needs, it will not fight as a class for revolutionary social change. This is an area of work that too many incipient and young communists neglect. Many skip this step and try to proceed directly to seeking unity with other revolutionary forces with whom there is little common foundation save for common ideological tendencies.
While a group of proletarian revolutionaries are accumulating more and more experiences in mass organizing they should begin a process of serious unity-struggle-unity with other MLM forces. MLM forces operating in different circumstances or conditions in a country may be able to share valuable lessons and experiences that one MLM grouping may have not been able to experience, and vice-versa. In this way, pre-Party formations that are geographically separated can begin to work towards the creation of a well-rounded common program for the Canadian revolution, without trying to rush towards a program that will only fall short if it is not based on the accumulated experiences of proletarian revolutionaries in concert from across the country.
The United Front Tactic in the Pre-Party Stage of the Party Building Movement
If the petty-bourgeoisie and other progressive allies are going to accept the leadership of the proletariat for revolutionary social change, there is much ideological work and struggle to be waged before this can become a possibility. The imperialist nature of Canadian society must be thoroughly exposed to the allies of the proletariat. The idea that progressive change can be attained through bourgeois legal and electoral means alone must be exposed as an impossibility. The progressive nature of the proletariat in this stage of history must be illustrated, especially by way of illustrating the most exemplary revolutionary movements in the world, which will ultimately make it more difficult for the imperialist bourgeoisie to go on the offensive against these revolutionary movements.
It is during the mass movement building preparatory phase of the party building movement that the united front as a tactic can be practised. During this period, while proletarian revolutionaries are consolidating their ranks and building mass struggles, the proletariat’s allies will already be able to play a role in proletarian struggles. Just as the allied classes that must be won over to the revolution will benefit from the revolution, the proletariat can win over allies who have a stake in short-term mass struggles. Every struggle of the proletariat at every stage of mobilization involves other classes that can be won over in a supporting role. When proletarian neighbourhoods are being bulldozed to make way for condo development, the local coffee shop owner will probably be driven out by Starbucks. If workers can not afford the prices at the big chain grocery stores, the local church, mosque, or synagogue could offer its space for a food coop. When the proletariat works to support the revolutionary movements of the Third World, academics can be organized to provide research data on the role of Canadian imperialism in those countries. Every struggle offers the chance to expose and oppose imperialism and rally the proletariat and its allies towards revolution.
Therefore, we see that the United Front tactic can be practised – in fact, must be practised – long before the coalescence of the vanguard party. A genuine proletarian vanguard is a vanguard whose elements are born of a certain level of proletarian struggle and ideological development and can genuinely lay claim to be able to lead and advance the struggle for revolution. By the time the vanguard is proclaimed, a certain section of the masses – proletarian and petty-bourgeois – will have accepted the basic concepts of communism, proletarian internationalism, correct methods of struggle, and a repugnance with the monopoly bourgeoisie. This is the fertile terrain upon which the vanguard party will be constituted.
Genuine proletarian revolutionaries must take the necessary preparatory steps in order to proceed toward the construction of a genuine Communist Party in Canada. The United Front tactic cannot wait for the constitution of vanguard in order to begin being practised. At at time when the global economic situation is rapidly deteriorating, the proletariat needs to begin allying with its natural allies and intensify the fight for its welfare and rights. With monopoly capitalism entering a period of grave economic crisis not seen since the 1920s and 1930s, the proletariat, with or without a fully-fledged vanguard, must be prepared to beat back the rise of fascism as the monopoly bourgeoisie begins scrambling for means of preventing its economic crisis from transforming into a broader political and social crisis.
The United Front as Practiced by the Communist Party of Canada
In order to understand the correct application of the United Front to Canadian conditions, it is necessary to assess the United Front as practised by the first Communist Party of Canada. The CPC was the first Communist vanguard to be established in Canada and remains the most significant Party building experience in our history. It was also the first Party in Canada to attempt to implement the United Front strategy. However, their policy was far removed from the policy as laid out by Dimitrov. A revisionist current within the Party used their version of the United Front to implement a revisionist line, liquidate the vanguard Party along with its associated mass movement and place the leadership of the proletariat under the imperialist bourgeoisie. It was this perversion of the United Front that was the death knell of the first Party-building movement in Canada.
Over the course of the 1920s and 30s, the CPC built up the first large scale proletarian revolutionary organization in Canadian history. At a height of 16,000 members, the Party was surrounded by many times that in allied mass organizations, including the Canadian Labour Defence League, Women’s Labour League, Young Communist League, Workers’ Sports League, Progressive Farmers Education League, and the Workers Unity League. The Party enjoyed significant influence amongst Jews in Winnipeg, Finns in Northern Ontario, and Ukrainians in Western Canada. The Party also established a variety of cultural associations, such as ethnic choirs and summer camps. This revolutionary movement fought some of the most dramatic battles of the Depression era, including calling 90% of all strikes, coordinating massive demonstrations across the country and staging the On To Ottawa Trek along with other militant actions.
Despite these successes, the Party also had members who were disconnected from the masses and formed a growing revisionist current within the Party. There was insufficient emphasis on developing rank and file members into cadre, with the general level of ideological development in the Party remaining relatively low. Combined with divisions between mental and manual work in the Party this left many of the leadership positions in the hands of Party members with petty bourgeois backgrounds. It was many of these leaders that formed the conservative trend, remaining standoffish from the masses, exhibiting petty bourgeois desires for “respectability” and opposing the militant action of the working class until it was presented to them as a fait accompli.
From the very first report issued by the Canadian delegation on its return from the 7th Congress, the revisionist current was already twisting the United Front into a bourgeois democratic line. From a tactic for revolutionary class struggle, the United Front was transformed into an uncritical defence of bourgeois democracy and the liquidation of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. Gone was Dimitrov’s United Front based on material classes and their interests – the “fighting alliance between the proletariat on the one hand, and the toiling peasantry and basic mass of the urban petty-bourgeoisie.” Substituted was an idealist conception of the United Front as “all people who stand for peace, for democracy, for economic betterment against the reactionary oligarchy” (Toward a Canadian Peoples Front, p.13). This conception was broad enough to include almost anyone, regardless of their class background, including enemies of the working class, as long as they fit the vague qualification of being “progressive”.
The United Front was no longer based on the struggle of the working class and its allies, with factory committees as its backbone, but solely a vehicle for parliamentary struggle. The “central problem” in building this idealism-based United Front was identified as “the question of how the CCF, the trade unions, the farmers organizations and the Communist movement can be brought together into a broad united front party.” (Toward a Canadian Peoples Front, p 21) This amorphous federated Party would be won through electoral agreements, exactly the kind of opportunist maneuvering rejected time and again by Lenin and Dimitrov.
The leadership of the working class over the United Front was also abandoned, with the urban middle stratum taking on the role as the primary force against Fascism. The Party targeted its work on the organizations of the petty bourgeoisie, particularly the CCF, Merchants Associations, Universities, and various professional associations. The League Against Fascism and War, a coalition group of intellectuals devoted to propaganda work was considered to be of decisive importance. This resulted in an influx of petty bourgeois members that joined the Party more out of appreciation for the anti-fascism of the USSR rather than a commitment to proletarian revolution in Canada. This could only bolster the revisionist current within the Party.
Instead of using the United Front against the monopoly bourgeoisie and targeting the faction currently wielding state power, the CPC openly allied with the Liberal Party under Mackenzie King, even while the Liberals held state power. The King government had jailed Communists and striking workers, raised taxes and reduced support for unemployed workers, expanded the labour camps system, clamped down on civil rights, and clearly backed the interests of monopoly capital. Yet the CPC hailed the re-election of Mackenzie King as “a setback for reaction in Canada” and urged the masses not to direct their forces against the government, as this would “open the path for the ultra-reactionary Tories”. (The Road Ahead, p.16-19) By 1938, the United Front was broadened again, this time to even include “progressive” elements of the Conservative Party as “part of the great line-up of democratic forces”. (Carr, A Democratic Front for Canada) While claiming that this move was necessary to prevent the rise of fascism in Canada, the Party placed the leadership of the working class under the parties of the the monopoly bourgeoisie – the very class that was the basis for fascism in the first place.
Having discarded the leading role of the working class and the primacy of the class struggle, the revisionists proceeded to liquidate the revolutionary movement. Instead of fighting against the ban on the CPC and asserting the leading role of the Party, the Party surrendered. The Party leadership declared that “the sinister spectre of Communism… stands in the way of victory” (Canada Needs a Party of Communists, p.30). The Party was liquidated in favour of the above-ground Labour Progressive Party, a propaganda party devoted to electoral struggle in accordance with bourgeois legality. The new LPP explicitly rejecting any means of struggle or winning support other than those used by the parties of the bourgeoisie, abandoning the Leninist principal of dual tactics. References to socialism and revolution were dropped and a no-strike policy was pushed in the factories. Mass organizations, including the Workers Unity League, were dissolved without consultation with the workers. Even after the destruction of the fascist powers, the Party continued its line of class collaboration – calling the reconstruction period “a new era of peace and democracy”.
The LPP entered the post-WWII years on a weak foundation, without a clear ideological line and with a membership based in the hesitant and vacillating petty bourgeoisie. Without a solid basis in the proletariat, the Party was left unprepared for the post-WWII rise in state repression against Communists and many of the petty bourgeois members deserted the movement. Those that remained became disoriented by the rise of Khrushchevite revisionism in the USSR, spy scandals in Canada, and other crises within the ICM, further devastating the ranks of the Party. The Party began its slide into obscurity from which it has never – and likely will never – recover.
Despite the overall negative experience of the United Front as practised by the first Communist Party of Canada, it is important to identify positive lessons from the first Party building movement in Canada for the current generation of proletarian revolutionaries. The error of the Party in this case was not in rallying the petty bourgeoisie, but in abandoning the proletariat. The petty bourgeoisie were key allies in the struggle against fascism and struggled in the mass movement on the side of anti-fascism and for the defence of the Soviet Union. A few, such as the revolutionary hero Norman Bethune, abandoned their class background and joined whole heartedly with the cause of the proletariat. These petty bourgeoisie elements could have been won over to the side of the proletariat without surrendering the leading role of the Party and proletarian class composition of its membership. There is need for further study of how the Party worked with other classes and on what basis they were able to win them over.
Identifying who are our friends and who are our enemies is of the utmost importance for our incipient revolutionary movement. Canada is an imperialist society, divided by the two great classes: the monopoly bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The basic class ally of the proletariat is the petty bourgeoisie, while the non-imperialist middle bourgeoisie is a temporary and vacillating ally. These allies of the proletariat must be rallied by the Party into a United Front to aid the proletariat in its struggle for revolution.
It is a requirement that the building of the United Front be started immediately, even before the formation of a genuine Communist Party in Canada. Pre-Party formations must engage in struggle amongst the masses, advance their ideological work, and begin to rally all potential allies to the side of the proletariat.
The history of the Party building movement in Canada indicates that it is possible to win over the petty bourgeoisie and sections of the non-imperialist middle bourgeoisie to the side of the proletariat. It also shows that it is absolutely critical that this take place under the leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard Party. Any other road will lead to liquidationism and the destruction of the revolutionary movement.
By making use of the United Front, the proletariat may unite the broad majority against imperialists, take advantage of any contradictions in the enemy camp to split the opposition, targeting the faction currently wielding state power while discrediting the bourgeois opposition. In this way, the movement for revolution in Canada will advance until the proletariat is able to seize state power and build a new society.
Long live the United Front against imperialism!
Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!
Long live the revolution!