Cracks Opening in the Armour of Bourgeois Democracy in Canada

Statement by Central Committee of R.I. – June 2013

The scandals plaguing bourgeois politicians across Canada signal the opening up of a new phase in the crisis of legitimacy for bourgeois politics in this country, compounding the cynicism of the masses that has been brewing for years. In the past decade, but especially since the declaration of indefinite “austerity” after 2008, bourgeois politicians of all stripes have not even maintained a pretense of a positive vision for society and the people. As bourgeois politicians become increasingly desperate for legitimacy in an era when they can promise little and provide nothing, and as the economic crisis narrows the opportunities of new frontiers of profitable investment for big capital, the veneer is being scraped off of bourgeois politics to reveal just how corrupt and rotten it really is. Posing a better platform than the next Party is a dangerous and risky venture when the ideological, political, social and economic climate is so hostile to any shifting of wealth distribution away from absolute servitude to monopoly-finance capital. The up-and-coming bourgeois politician or the opposition can only promise to be better, more efficient managers of the system. In this context, scandals are becoming the main political weapon of different political factions within the bourgeoisie. But the proliferation of scandals plaguing bourgeois politics is also legitimizing liberal democracy as such, deepening the long-running crisis of bourgeois politics in general. This crisis of legitimacy must be seized upon to build the ranks of revolutionary communists for the battles that the people face on the horizon.

The ruling class projects and perpetuates its dominance in numerous ways. The bourgeois state is the most important instrument of domination at the disposal of the ruling class, but its control is not only achieved through the police, the military, and other repressive institutions. A large part of its dominance – arguably the most important – emanates from those institutions of the state that build consensus for bourgeois rule, such as the public sector and or those political institutions that cultivate the appearance of allowing for genuine democratic participation of the masses in bourgeois society (not to mention institutions of bourgeois ‘civil society’ that serve ideological functions). The more present that the state is through these institutions in the lives of the people, the more difficult it is for people to conceive of a world without the bourgeoisie.

In Canada, this hegemony has been reinforced in the lives of many (but not all) by the mythology of the benevolence of the welfare state and the appearance of neutrality of the Canadian governmental apparatus (certainly not applicable to natives, racialized proletarians, and much of the working poor). The sprawling state, with considerable social programs and services that are deployed at multiple levels of government has since after World War II projected the Canadian state as an instrument for the benefit of the people.

But under the current crisis of capitalism, it is important to recognize that this facade is wearing off, and with it a growing cynicism with Canadian politicians and their political structures is emerging.

This has been assisted by a significant and quite unprecedented confluence of scandals all at once in this country. Among the noteworthy examples include:

  • At least 4 Senators (1 Liberal and 3 Conservatives) – unelected political appointees who make close to $200,000 a year in salary and other expenses – have been caught falsely claiming a housing allowances to claim tens of thousands in tax dollars. While this money is nickel and dime compared to the hundreds of millions being transferred to the biggest capitalists in the form of tax breaks, bailouts, and fat contracts, these instance of corruption are still telling of the utter putrefied state of bourgeois politics. The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Nigel Wright then used a secret party stash of cash to pay Senator Mike Duffy, the reactionary former CTV reporter, to avoid a potentially revealing audit.
  • In Ontario, the Liberal government canceled two power plant projects (one in Burlington and one in Oakville) to ensure that their candidates would win their seats in the last election. The cost for the cancellations was recently revealed to be upwards of $585 Million.
  • While investigations continue into corruption of municipal politicians in Montreal and Laval as well as in London, ON, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford continues to deny having been filmed smoking crack. More disturbing, two of the young men in the published photo were shot recently, one fatally.

These matters should be viewed neither as coincidence, exceptions or happenstance. Indeed, we should understand that these are the norm in bourgeois politics, especially where there is crisis. This is hardly the first series of acts that have demonstrated corruption, nepotism or disregard from Canadian politicians towards the people. At a time when every level of government aggressively pursues an agenda to cuts spending for services to the people, these type of actions demonstrate not only the utter hypocrisy and disdain that bourgeois politicians have for the masses but also how the state is used as a tool for the benefit of a few and thus, is not as neutral and infallible as it projects.

Social democrats are most responsive to such scandals, of course, seeing an easy opportunity to present themselves as the more honest managers of the system. They purport that this mismanagement, corruption and vice are simply the domain of the certain political actors, but certainly do not want to question let alone overhaul the political apparatus. Playing on hollow nationalism of ‘Canadian traditions and values’, the Social Democrats (and by default, their radical cheerleaders on the Trotskyist left that calls upon electors to support them) want to restore the ‘integrity’ of political institutions in Canada. Indeed, even much of the media is also touting this line trying to direct the spontaneous anger and disenchantment of the people in a way that reinforces the political structures rather than questioning them. However, with every passing scandal, it becomes clearer to many that changing the political paint to a liberal red, tory blue or soc-dem orange will not change the austerity agenda or the brazen corruption that is endemic to bourgeois politics.

Not surprisingly, much of what considers itself “the Left” has almost no response for this moment, and rarely uses opportunities like the one present to go beyond the mere personalities. The petty-bourgeois and identity politics “left” is in disarray and has no vision of where to go; and the revolutionary class-struggle segments of the left remain small and disunited on questions of strategy. This is why we urgently require the articulation of a sound strategy around which a Party formation can rally and unite all the just struggles of the people; and this is what RI has been building towards for years.

The revolutionary left should not ignore these issues. We must weigh in on these issues and channel the considerable frustration and disillusion that people feel when they see how they are lied to, cheated, exploited and abused, and how to look at these as problems of structure and not merely reducible to those in the leading political positions. We must remind people that these are not isolated incidents, we must make the connections with the broader crisis of capitalism taking place, how the biggest enemies are the big monopoly capitalists – the imperialists – and call all the political actors and the basis of their institutions into question. These are opportunities to discuss the fundamental problems of bourgeois political structures.

In discrediting bourgeois politics, we have an opportunity to present a socialist road to a communist alternative, and the revolutionary means required to get there. The defenders of the system will continue in vain to look for tweaks that can be implemented to restore faith and trust in their system, but we must look to do the opposite. We cannot propose elections or other superficial changes as solutions.

Our solution is not a quick or easy fix, as it implies is a process of accumulating forces, strength and experience. Through such a process, active, engaged and united people can realize the potential and power that we ultimately have. People’s power and institutions that are created from and for the people are the answer to the corrupt, decrepit and criminal system set up by the capitalist ruling class to keep themselves in charge. Our solution is not to fix bourgeois politics, but to replace it with the revolutionary politics for the people.



Central Committee of RI

June 2013

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