RI on Indigenous National Liberation (excerpts)

Below are excerpts from various documents published by Revolutionary Initiative where we describe our current understanding of internal colonialism in Canada, indigenous national liberation, and how these relate to the socialist revolutionary struggle in Canada.

In a nutshell, RI’s position has been that:

  1. internal colonialism is one of the basic problems of Canadian society;
  2. indigenous nations have the right to self determination up to and including succession;
  3. while having distinct characteristics the class struggle and the national struggle must be united into a common project of universal emancipation.

From our original Basis of Unity:

“Recognition that Canada is a multinational country within which are some oppressed nations. This implies recognition of the right of oppressed nations to self-determination including secession.”

From Theses on the Party Building Movement in Canada:

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.

From Proletarian Internationalism: A Duty for all Revolutionaries:

5 – Combat bourgeois nationalism and national chauvinism within the working class and its allies.

There is a strong tendency within the leftist groups in Canada to appeal to nationalism and to paint the Canadian state as essentially good, but misled or dominated by American imperialism.  These elements push for subsidies to the bourgeoisie and react negatively to discussions about sovereignty for the Aboriginal peoples.  In Canada there can be no progressive or revolutionary nationalism as our social and economic system is imperialist and the general political line of the revolution is socialism and communism.

These tendencies are destructive to our goal of creating a revolutionary movement that works with and supports other revolutionary movements around the world.  This form of nationalism serves to separate the interests of workers here with workers elsewhere in the world and objectively strengthens the imperialist bourgeoisie.  We must not only work to support national liberation struggles abroad, but also work to support self-determination for the Aboriginal peoples.  We must also look to promote Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology and organization amongst the ranks of the Aboriginal peoples.

From Six Lines of Demarcation:

(4) Absolute rejection of colonialism in Canada and defense of the right to self-determination.

Briefly stated, the revolutionary movement of the proletariat must work alongside indigenous peoples in their pursuit of their rights to self-determination. These struggles are not separate, especially since many indigenous peoples are proletarian, and since their various modes of subsistence are continuously being destroyed or made nearly impossible to survive by. But the colonial relations between indigenous peoples and the Canadian state can only be destroyed with the destruction of Canada’s capitalist imperialism system. The working-class offensive must align with the anti-colonial struggles of indigenous peoples for the success of both to be assured. Hence, the proletarian revolution in Canada must be multinational, and must be led by the most oppressed and exploited masses under the rule of the Canadian state.


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