Class Analysis and Class Structure in Canada (Second Version)

A Framework for Developing a Program of Revolutionary Multinational Struggle

by Comrade Stella B (With contributions from Comrade Pierce and insights from comrades of the KM unit of R.I.)

This is a second, substantially revised version of the document we published in March 2015. It has been revised after additional internal study and discussion, and in preparation for the release of Volume #7 of Uprising.

 Introduction by Comrade Amil K.

Advancing our analysis of class, national oppression, and the overall structure of Canadian society has been a long-time coming for Revolutionary Initiative. It’s safe to say that elements of our preliminary “Theses…” document concerning the class structure of Canadian society and RI’s early reflections upon how these classes could be united for socialist revolution (see “On the United Front in Canada”) have been superseded by the combination of practical experiences, historical developments and perspectives brought forth by new waves of comrades.

The following document establishes a proposed framework for analyzing class and national oppression that RI will be using to develop a draft Party Program. The ideas in this document, while not a strict line document, are informed by exchange and discussion within the organization and represent ideological struggle and unity achieved within the Central Committee of RI. This is a guide to the development of our Party Program. Class analysis is a process, therefore further theoretical consideration and empirical social investigation will sharpen our class analysis. However, it should be emphasized that this framework is informed by decades of collective experience of our comrades.

While this framework positively advances our categories of class analysis in a number of ways, we should highlight in particular where we are making significant points of departure from previous public documents or internal positions within RI:

  • We are scrapping the concept of the “lumpen-proletariat” as a meaningless if not value-laden term. It confuses more than it clarifies. Though we have no public documents utilizing the “lumpen” concept as a class category, the lack of clarity on its meaning (or lack thereof) for us has left many comrades routinely deploying the concept as an element of their class analysis in the course of their mass work. In lieu of this ill-defined term, we must replace it with a class analysis of:
  1. Criminalized industries;
  2. Indigenous communities and the variegated ways that these communities are experiencing distinctly colonial forms of oppression, marginalization, and ongoing land dispossession and resource plunder that amounts to genocide; and
  3. Those remaining in the reserve army of labour who are not counted in the first two categories.
  • We propose theorizing the labour aristocracy as a section of the petty-bourgeoisie and distinct from the worker elite (see notes below on the role of the buffer strata). The role of the labour aristocracy, which includes the leadership structure within and functionaries of unions, the NDP, and the various institutions they control, is to negotiate the worker elite’s inclusion into imperialist society, while containing, controlling and diverting proletarian struggles from developing into in a revolutionary direction. There is a growing contradiction between what we are calling the labour aristocracy and the worker elite, based on the inability of the labour aristocracy to renegotiate even the status quo – let alone make gains – for the worker elite. We believe that it is dangerous and politically juvenile to not distinguish between those workers who receive back a large portion of their surplus value by virtue of living within imperialist society and being situated in the upper stratum of an imperialist center’s working class – what we call the worker elite – versus the officialdom and functionaries of social democracy within the bourgeosified “labour movement” and the New Democratic Party.
  • We must differentiate the non-exploited strata of the working-class (the worker elite) from the exploited and super-exploited strata of the proletariat, as well as Indigenous semi-proletarians who still have some access to independent production (hunting, fishing, land rights). We must analyze the methods and means by which the worker elite is won over to support imperialist policies, wars, colonialism and generalized Canadian chauvinism, and why and how or if these methods equally apply to or exercise hegemony over the rest of the working class. What proportion of the working-class is covered by pension funds, and to what extent? What proportion of the working-class is invested in the inflated real estate markets in and around Canada’s major urban centers? What are the demographics and geographical spread of the growing non-unionized proletariat, which is more exploited, has fewer benefits, and is living far more precariously? Just a few questions among many more that we will have to answer in trying to sketch out the stratification of the working-class in Canada. If we are to prioritize the organization of the proletariat, then Revolutionary Initiative and the Party form that will follow from it must be able to define it.
  • We refute the notion that the petty-bourgeoisie in an imperialist country like Canada can be “vacillating” class, or that it can be seen as a “swing-class.” This was an erroneous position previously held by our organization. Rather, the petty-bourgeoisie should be seen as a class whose bourgeois aspirations are to be neutralized in a revolutionary situation. Revolutionaries from petty-bourgeois class backgrounds can only be brought into revolutionary struggle as individuals and only through a process of committing class suicide. Instead of the petty-bourgeoisie being seen as “vacillating”, we believe that we must rather analyze the potential for the downwardly mobile worker elite to be a “swing class.” That is, in a revolutionary situation, can the organization of the proletariat “swing” the worker elite in a revolutionary direction? This will not happen out of sheer spontaneity. Ultimately, the proletariat must be able to build organizational forms both inside and outside the structure of existing unions, build red unions and turn yellow unions red, so that the worker elite’s allegiance, however waning, can be decisively won over to a socialist and anti-colonial vision of society through revolution.

It should also be mentioned that an analysis of national oppression and genocide in Canada, while aided by components of the above framework, still requires significant work on our part.

Part One: Why do revolutionary organizers need to know how to engage in the practice of class analysis?

There are three major reasons why RI members must engage in an active practice of class analysis:

  1. Leadership development

The first step in building RI as a revolutionary fighting force is our cadre development. But the process we go through in developing new cadre requires that we as cadre understand the class structure of our society. Class analysis isn’t some dry intellectual exercise for armchair Marxists or academics sitting in wide-windowed offices. Only through cadre-led social investigation will we be able to promote a living, active engaged-in-struggle revolutionary Marxist class analysis.[1] Our class analysis must provide an analytical framework to reflect and then explain in plain proletarian language how our experiences in the hood and on the rez are a result of the exploitation and national oppression in Canadian society and in the imperialist world system. Class analysis should allow us to see our shared stake in common class experiences and figure out how to best fight back. Class analysis is a weapon in the class war, and we need to learn how best to wield this weapon.

We must not use vague words or speak in generalizations to cover up our lack of basic understanding. It takes practice to push people along a trajectory of class consciousness through organizing conversations, but we need to learn these skills to effectively do our mass organizing. Can all of our Cadre all explain how they’re exploited and oppressed? Can they explain the difference between exploitation and oppression? Can we speak to proletarian people and help them identify the answers to these questions in their own lives? These are major challenges we face. We must struggle for unity in our own understanding and not assume we all know and agree on shit or that we have some heroic leader who’s got all the answers. It’s up to us.

  1. Mass Organizing

The basic building block of a mass movement[2] are people’s organizations that move proletarians into mass democratic practice to envision a classless society, and struggle against the bourgeoisie and their hegemonic institutions.

Who we fight with, what we fight for, and how we fight is shaped by our understanding of society. Literally. To deny this is to side with the petty-bourgeoisie who would try to convince us of the neutrality of organizational structures and methods. Class analysis can only be tested through mass democratic practices. Dry ideas do not a revolution make. We need active social investigation to test and concretize and substantiate our overall class analysis. What does the evidence on the streets, in our workplaces, in our homes, and on the reserve, tell us?

The concept of buffer strata is strategically significant at the mass level. We are advancing the super-important concept of a buffer strata – super-important because exposing the buffering of class tensions helps us identify contradictions, correct methods of class struggle, and who our principle alliances are within our context. To describe a particular strata as a buffer strata is an attempt to analyze the role of that strata, or central elements of that strata, in maintaining bourgeois hegemony in the superstructure and lay bare that both the use-function (things that appear to help us) and the control-function (things that police us) of this strata serve the upper classes and not the working class [3]. Does a professional role actually dampen or derail proletarian class struggle? And can adopting strategies, such as legal strategies, that put people of the buffer strata in the leadership actually lead us astray?

Regarding petty-bourgeois professionals, they play a critical role in maintaining the bourgeois ideological superstructure. They function as a buffer or protective layer between the bourgeoisie and the working class. They are what Marx called the “surplus class” who “perform functions that make sense only in within the structure of capitalism.”[4] Lawyers, doctors, police, academics… who do they ultimately serve? We must accept that they play important control functions in state and government apparatuses (as well as our lives) but ultimately their role is to reproduce the bourgeois superstructure.[5] The petty-bourgeois professional is in charge of “planning, managing, and rationalizing capitalist institutions and ideologies.”[6] The skills they learn and the institutions they work within don’t ultimately serve working class needs and purposes. We must not adopt petty-bourgeois methods of work.

Regarding the distinction between the labour aristocracy and the worker elite, these are two discreet groups. I diverge from bromma and propose that the ideological and political role of the labour aristocracy, as well as the knowledge and skills they employ, place them in the petty-bourgeois professional buffer strata. They play a pivotal role in “planning, managing, and rationalizing capitalist institutions and ideologies” in state-sanctioned unions which have become major investors in imperialism.[7] Overall upper union brass do not represent proletarian interests. How do we define the labour aristocracy? Just look at what they’re doing on the ground. The material basis for the labour aristocracy is not their role in production, but rather  the money they live off of that flows through unions from dues automatically deducted from workers’ wages. “As long as the bourgeoisie and the workers are tangled in the government legislated labour-relations process (are in a kind of stalemate) money will continue to flow to the union”[8] and the use-function of the labour aristocracy continues – they are petty-bourgeois in essence. Further, there exists an important punitive control-function of the labour aristocracy that warrants examination. The worker elite, however, are working class – they experience class conflict at the point of production (and reproduction). They are not a revolutionary strata of the working class, but they can swing, as Amil begins to suggest above in the Introduction.

Paul Moist of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (left) and Jerry Dias (right) of UNIFOR together preside over almost a million union members in Canada in their respective unions. While they pose as defenders of “working people”, the political program of the labour aristocracy really only bargains for the “middle-class” status of the upper stratum of union members - the worker elite - while younger workers, women, and industries occupied by people from oppressed nations and national minorities, find themselves getting paid between half or a quarter of what the worker elite takes home. By projecting worker elite aspirations onto the whole working class -- directly through their unions, indirectly through their campaigning and political wing, the NDP -- they misguide the proletariat as a whole. They also maintain labour peace by keeping the working class within the boundaries of bourgeois labour law. In 2013 revealed that Paul Moist got paid $160,000 in 2012, not including benefits and a travel budget for his office of $370,000. Jerry Dias has been estimated by the Toronto Star to make about $140,000 annually. So they’re paid like petty-bourgeois and they manage the lives of proletarians in the interests of the bourgeoisie like petty-bourgeois, which is why we advocate for viewing the labour aristoracy as part of the petty-bourgeoisie.
Paul Moist of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (left) and Jerry Dias (right) of UNIFOR together preside over almost a million union members in Canada in their respective unions. While they pose as defenders of “working people”, the political program of the labour aristocracy really only bargains for the “middle-class” status of the upper stratum of union members – the worker elite – while younger workers, women, and industries occupied by people from oppressed nations and national minorities, find themselves getting paid between half or a quarter of what the worker elite takes home. By projecting worker elite aspirations onto the whole working class — directly through their unions, indirectly through their campaigning and political wing, the NDP — they misguide the proletariat as a whole and serve as a critical prop for Canadian imperialism. They also maintain labour peace by keeping the working class within the boundaries of bourgeois labour law. In 2013, revealed that Paul Moist got paid $160,000 in 2012, not including benefits and a travel budget for his office of $370,000. Jerry Dias has been estimated by the Toronto Star to make about $140,000 annually. But not only are they paid like the petty-bourgeoisie, they manage the lives of proletarians in the interests of the bourgeoisie just like other petty-bourgeois, which is why we advocate for viewing the labour aristoracy as part of the petty-bourgeoisie.


  1. Revolutionary strategy

What binds the mass movement as a whole is a revolutionary strategy.[9] If we don’t have revolutionary strategy, at least a beginner-level plan of how we think we can achieve advance a revolutionary struggle towards communism, then we’re sunk before we’ve started. This is not to say that we need to have a final plan – that would be un-dialectical and idealist! But if we’re unable to articulate the framework for a plan, we’re not serious revolutionaries. The following proposed class structure has significant implications for a mass movement strategy, for revolutionary strategy and for a principled and transparent revolutionary united front with the forces of Indigenous national liberation.

Part Two: Outline of the Proposed Class Structure


  • Monopoly
  • Lieutenants


  • Professionals (buffer strata, includes the labour aristocracy)
  • Business
  • Management

Working Class

  • Worker elite (buffer strata)
  • Exploited proletariat
  • Super exploited proletariat


We must take the following into account when analyzing class relations under imperialism:

  • Those with property in the means of production: legal ownership or even access to and control of
  • Those with state-legislated professional designations and a significant role in the political-ideological superstructure
  • Those who can purchase versus those who sell their labour power
  • Those living on capital, those living on wages, and those living on supplemental government income
  • Those exploited at the point of production or reproduction
  • Those who do not even control their own labour

Part Three: Commentary on our Proposed Class Structure

The Bourgeoisie and Lieutenants of Capital                                               

It is essential we know who the bourgeoisie are and to put names and faces to our enemies at a national, regional, and local level. It also means that we know who the lieutenants of capital are, and that we analyze bourgeois democratic formations and engagement in bourgeois political and organizational forms correctly. This analysis is critical to counter the claims of social democratic forces that there is potential for social justice in struggles to expand the state provision of services and for state-led wealth redistribution under capitalism when we, as revolutionary communists, know that this is not the case.

Having a material analysis of the bourgeoisie in Canada also means having an analysis of class stratification within all sectors of the people that we identify as having significance for a mass revolutionary united front: Indigenous nations, women, historically-oppressed nations or national minorities, etc.

Know your enemy, especially the biggest among them. From top left to right and top to bottom, the ruling families among Canada's monopoly capitalists (their personal wealth shouldn't be confused with the capital controlled by their corporations): David Thompson of Thompson Reuters ($20 billion net worth); Galen and Hilary Weston of Weston/Loblaws/Holt Renfrew etc (net worth $8.2 billion); James, Arthur, and John Irving of Irving Oil ($8+ billion net worth); Edward Rogers III (net worth $6.41 billion net worth); Jimmy Pattison of Pattison Group ($6.14 billion net worth); and the Paul Demarais to left with sons Paul Jr. and Andre.
Know your enemy, especially the biggest among them. From top left to right and top to bottom, the ruling families among Canada’s monopoly capitalists (their personal wealth shouldn’t be confused with the capital controlled by their corporations): David Thompson of Thompson Reuters ($20 billion net worth); Galen and Hilary Weston of Weston/Loblaws/Holt Renfrew etc (net worth $8.2 billion); James, Arthur, and John Irving of Irving Oil ($8+ billion net worth); Edward Rogers III (net worth $6.41 billion net worth); Jimmy Pattison of Pattison Group ($6.14 billion net worth); and the Paul Demarais to left with sons Paul Jr. and Andre.

The Petty-bourgeoisie: not a swing class!

Working class people have class conflict at the point of production, but increasingly people’s class conflict within the imperialist countries becomes engagement with the state and the bourgeois ideological superstructure. Class conflicts are appearing as: police violence and harassment, unjust immigration policies and practices, rising housing prices and the lack of cost controls, the lack of state-funded childcare and inequitable tax systems, failing public transit systems, failing education systems. Poor people are fighting against the petty-bourgeois professional buffer strata. We cannot ask for the return of the welfare state, nor look to the petty-bourgeoisie to guide or fund class struggle.

We need to strengthen our analysis of the petty-bourgeoisie and their role in reproducing the bourgeois superstructure and maintaining conditions of bourgeois hegemony. The petty-bourgeoisie work within the system “designed to maintain the culture and reproduce the ideas that legitimate capitalism and help it survive” and with the purpose of “perform[ing] functions that make sense only within the structure of capitalism”[10]. Thus they become a target other than the bourgeoisie for unorganized expressions of class anger. This includes state-legislated self-regulating professionals such as physicians and lawyers, the police,[11] tenured academics, elite private school teachers, upper management of the welfare state who engage in “planning, managing, and rationalizing capitalist institutions and ideologies”[12] and so on.

An important strategic implication is that when we’re talking about building institutions of working class power, we don’t look to petty-bourgeois knowledge or forms of organization as our model.[13] This means, for example, that bourgeois-dominated legal struggles, bourgeois-dominated academic work, bourgeois-dominated union movements, bourgeois-dominated health movements are seen for what they are: expressions of a particular form of class power which is not rooted in the working class. This is not to say we don’t engage these bourgeois political expressions and their work, but this is definitely not our starting place. We recognize the class character of these professional roles and look beyond these ideological and political class expressions and forms of organization for how we can do things differently. We look to examples from revolutionary movements for how they have built popular power, people’s organizations, and people’s institutions which strive to generate new knowledge and expertise in an ongoing processes of transfer of power and control to the exploited masses, and what organizational forms these struggles have taken.

A final strategic implication is that we don’t view the petty-bourgeoisie as a vacillating class to be brought into the united front since they overwhelmingly adopt and adhere to their professional standards, values, ideals, practices, and class privileges. We can organize petty-bourgeois individuals but not the petty-bourgeoisie as a class.

The Working-Class: worker elite, the exploited proletariat, and the super-exploited proletariat

We propose new analytical categories to analyze the stratification of the working class in Canada, namely: the worker elite, the exploited proletariat, and the super-exploited proletariat. We find bromma’s substantiation of the worker elite compelling, and draw heavily on this analysis.[14] However, to simply group the remainder of the proletariat together as an amorphous category of the “hard core” that the PCR-RCP uses in its program and other documents lacks explanatory power.

The Worker Elite: Not Proletarian! As a revolutionary pre-party formation whose strategy rests on the development of a mass movement and a revolutionary united front, our focus is the development of mass line organizing and institutions of proletarian power amongst the exploited and super-exploited strata of the working class. While we propose that the worker elite may be at some juncture a swing strata that will be required to win the proletarian revolution, at this point we do not view the worker elite to be a revolutionary force. The worker elite are invested in imperialism, quite literally, through home ownership, pension funds and other investments. The worker elite are bound to the stability of capitalism by housing prices, oil prices, and the value of the Canadian dollar on the international market. This is of particular salience for military production. Jobs for this strata are tied to oil and other extractive industries, military occupation, and imperialist wars of aggression. Even while the worker elite may be coming under fire in some industries and in the public sector unions, new groupings of worker elites are growing in the resource extraction industries, especially in the Prairies.

Fort McMurray’s worker elites gets to buy homes like this with the money they earn in one of the world’s most destructive industries. Just as all sections of the worker elite serve as a social base for bourgeois rule, Alberta’s worker elite serves as a critical social base for Canada’s extractive industries -- uniquely, without social democracy as a mediating force.
Fort McMurray’s worker elites gets to buy homes like this with the money they earn in one of the world’s most destructive industries. Just as all sections of the worker elite serve as a social base for bourgeois rule, Alberta’s worker elite serves as a critical social base for Canada’s extractive industries — uniquely, without social democracy as a mediating force.

The Proletariat. The proletariat can be divided into the exploited and super-exploited sections. The conditions of being proletarian rest on the dispossession of people from any form of self-sufficient and independent production (namely the land as the primary force of pre-capitalist production) and the freedom of workers to sell their labour power for a wage (i.e. not be slaves). But the question of freedom needs much deeper exploration and consideration.

We have witnessed in the development of capitalism in the imperialist countries a continuum of unfreedom [typified by antebellum slavery, but also including the use of Chinese indentured migrant labour in Canada] to freedom [typified by the worker elite]. Freedom is relative, not neat and tidy.[15] The dividing line between the exploited proletariat and the super-exploited proletariat rests not only on economic rates of exploitation over and above costs of reproduction, but also on a) very real constraints on the ability of workers to “freely” sell their labour power (varying forms of bondage on the continuum of freedom), and b) how much unpaid labour one is providing to capitalism. I personally believe a deeper examination of the role of this continuum of unfreedom -> freedom has far greater potential for explanatory power than any simple financial or functional demarcation. We must also understand the economics and dynamics of national oppression and patriarchy in this analysis.

But for now we are using costs of reproduction [16] versus rates of wage remuneration as our delineation noting the following:

Understanding the super-exploited proletariat

Super-profits are an economic marker. It is important to state that rates of exploitation are a proxy for a deeper process, but they are a place to begin our organizing work. From looking at rates of exploitation in contrast with costs of economic survival, we can begin to organize those whose basic rate of reproduction is higher than their remuneration in the form of wages i.e. the super-exploited.

In my experiences of organizing women, linking the provision of unpaid and paid labour is a critical component of our struggle. The abandonment of proletarian women by the bourgeois state in the era of neoliberalism has led to the increase of unpaid use values, which is indirectly increasing the total expropriated surplus from proletarian women and reducing the variable labour costs of this section of the proletariat. Naming women’s unpaid labour to the capitalist-imperialist system is of particular salience for raising the class consciousness of women and finding critical strategic battle-ground unity between, say for example, proletarian women who are unable to find childcare and super-exploited migrant women from oppressed nations who provide childcare for privileged majority-white petty-bourgeois and worker elite women. In the words of my sister comrades “you cannot buy liberation on the backs of other women.” [17]

Understanding mechanisms of power and control. From economic proxies we start to delve deeper into the social processes that perpetuate the divisions across the proletariat and start to move from economic equations into examining the social relations of exploitation as complex processes.[18] There is an important power differential at play in the process of super-exploitation that strikes at the material intersections of national oppression and patriarchy. Super-exploited workers are bound to employers, work places, or contractual or legal obligations in ways that deny certain “freedoms” available to the remainder of the proletariat.[19] And in the case of the sex industry, the topic many fear to analyze through a Marxist materialist [20] analysis is that national oppression and patriarchy intersect in the form of a modern day sexual slavery, with the extreme taking the form of human trafficking that disproportionally impacts Indigenous women.[21] Because of the central roles of national oppression and patriarchy in the generation of surplus value and capital, super-exploited proletarians experience greatly limited relations of production so that their labour isn’t free to be just exploited at the average rate or at a rate above the cost of reproduction. This is not an aberration of capitalism but a financial imperative of imperialism, and a reality for much of the global proletariat.[22]

Informal workers, criminalized workers, and the reserve army of labour. These are not strata but conditions of the exploited proletariat. Workers move in and out of these categories in a fluid and dialectical dance between law and economics, between state-legitimated employment and often rapidly changing economic needs.[23] In fact, we need much “lower and deeper” social investigation and class analysis into the intermingling of criminalized workers (formerly called “lumpenproletarians”) and the reserve army of labour. When workers are unemployed, how do they survive? Who is profiting from these methods of survival? Where is our class analysis of informal and criminalized economies? This is not to deny the important function of the reserve army of labour within the capitalist mode of production, for a ready source of workers is integral to imperialism and many have theorized the importance of the global reserve army. Furthermore, the downward pressure that the reserve army exerts on formally employed workers is also central to maximal surplus value.

Comrades know from our own lives and communities that the neoliberal containment state wreaks havoc on the lives of women forced into the margins of proletarian existence. There is a downward spiral of abandonment by the state, super-exploitation, and criminalization that positions proletarian women in the neoliberal economy at the crux of national oppression and patriarchy.[24] It is imperative we hone our class analysis of the lived experiences of these women or we will never achieve revolutionary proletarian unity!

The Semi-proletariat

We are advancing the concept of the semi-proletariat in Canada in recognition that colonialism is a central question for revolutionaries and the national/land struggle predominates in Indigenous communities. Indigenous people may not view or even in some instances experience the capitalist mode of production as predominant or class struggle within capitalism as the strategic point of entry into revolutionary struggles. This is not to say that what is happening on the ground in Indigenous communities isn’t because of capitalism and ongoing imperialist economic expansion and land dispossession. What I am saying is that the debates taking shape around decolonization don’t necessarily revolve around economic questions of mode of production or fighting capitalist exploitation either off reserve or on reserve, but rather revolve around ownership and control of the land. We must conduct significant principled social investigation and class analysis, and listen to these perceptions and experiences.

It is worth exploring the concept of semi-proletariat in regards to segments of Indigenous society. This makes conceptual sense, in that Indigenous dispossession from the lands is not complete, and the collective ability for independent production exists where the land remains as a force of pre-capitalist production. To some degree the semi-proletariat is a suspended reserve army of labour, where the bulk of the costs of social reproduction fall back on the colonized nation in a context of a land base too small to adequately support the size of the population allocated to that land-base. Subsequently this creates the conditions for partial or majority integration into the capitalist economy due to suppressed economic conditions and for comprador political representation within the bourgeois state. This creates two major contradictions: a) struggles against colonial land theft, national genocide and extinguishment, and to develop Indigenous productive forces (which does not preclude exploitative social relations nor integration into capitalism), and b) working class struggles against capitalist exploitation and oppression. Revolutionary formations which unite these two struggles are imperative for any revolutionary struggle to significantly advance on Turtle Island.[25]

What is required is an accurate material analysis of the stages of transformation from the traditional modes of production into forced dependence on the capitalist economy through the process of colonization, land theft, dependence on the money economy, and repressive and racist state legislation. What are traditional modes of production (hierarchal clan systems, original communistic societies) and how are these modes of production still practiced or forming the basis of Indigenous social organization today? Or do we analyze that class stratification in Indigenous nations is complete and divided into the above strata?

Re-theorizing the location of Indigenous nations and communities in the class stratification in Canada is recognition of the historical relationship to colonial Canadian state and the colonial bourgeoisie, and an acknowledgement of the revolutionary position of Indigenous communities and nations outside of the capitalist mode of production: i.e. the centrality of national liberation and the imperative of the multinational united front for revolution.


The concept of lumpenproletariat is archaic and in practice plays out as an avoidance of a more accurate and relevant, and yet challenging, class analysis of both criminalized industries and chronically unemployed and underemployed workers. The concept of the lumpenproletariat as a parasitical class (differentiated from the bourgeoisie) is un-reflexive, moralistic, and analytically limiting.

Workers are not in fixed positions within capitalist production. Some workers move, often rapidly between or simultaneously within, legal and criminalized industries and formal and informal employment. Unemployed workers participate in the peripheral or informal economy. Do we not consider this productive work? To say it isn’t is to hive off a great deal of capital accumulation from our analysis. Further we need to strategize on organizing criminalized workers, for there are serious and usually violent consequences for workers and their communities for enforcing exploitation outside of the parameters of bourgeois law. How do we understand this situation? Who is this situation benefiting? How do we analyze the prison-industrial complex and the neoliberal mass incarceration agenda in relation to criminalized industries?

Finally, we need to engage in an analysis of the class stratification of criminalized industries. It will be revealing to dig into the overlap between the bourgeoisie and profit extraction from illegal (by bourgeois law) trade and industry. We must expose the thin line between the legal and the illegal within bourgeois legality, and also seriously question the whole framework of using bourgeois law to determine who is considered parasitical on workers. Parasitism is more accurately applied to the bourgeoisie as a whole. It is likely if we were to take stock of the sum total of work people are actually doing, a lot of workers’ labour bleeds the working class of physical, social, and economic resources. Much within capitalist production is detrimental to human health and well-being. This is a direct result of the bourgeois need to extract surplus value (i.e. to be parasites). We must avoid moralistic arguments. Is slinging dope as a low level dealer worse than selling legal psychotropic pharmaceuticals? Or fitting oil pipes? Or working in a factory that produces poisonous baby toys that leak VOCs and causes cancer in our children?

In light of the above arguments, we will be:

  1. Eliminating the “lumpen-proletariat” as a category of analysis: and
  2. Rethinking the people who operate in criminalized industries based on their relationship to production: drug industry, sex industry, human trafficking, racketeering, gambling, etc.

Part Four: Class Analysis Framework

Now to put it all together.

Notes of explanation: the green main boxes in the chart below delineate the class and the breakdown underneath each green box are the strata of that class.

The yellow boxes signify what elements of this class are critical for developing and maintaining hegemony. For the bourgeoisie it is the ruling elite. For the petty-bourgeoisie it is the professional strata. For the working class it is the labour aristocracy – and for sure I believe that the labour aristocracy can no longer be accurately considered as either materially or ideologically falling within the working class, but I understand this needs to be further debated.

A few words on readings by way of a conclusion

How much book study do you need to be an authority or an expert on a topic? What is the role of lived experience and revolutionary praxis in this expertise? Who do we look to to advance our theory? What constitutes breakthrough revolutionary theoretical advancements in our conjuncture? These are interesting questions. We should be challenged for where we draw our analysis and our theory. But I think the more relevant question for our cadre is, “why are you reading?”

We read to change the world, and this requires reading relevant to our work. Read -> practice -> theorize -> test -> read more to answer relevant questions on primary contradictions in your work. Read with a purpose in mind, not just for the sake of reading.[26] This way we will grow stronger.

What is the reference list for this article?

I can’t answer that question. Central texts I’m drawing on and responding to are:

  1. Veltmeyer, H. (1986). The Canadian Class Structure. Toronto: Garamond Press.
  2. bromma. (2014). The Worker Elite: Notes on the “Labour Aristocracy”. Montreal: Kersplebedeb.
  1. ——, Exodus and Reconstruction: Working Class Women at the Heart of Globalization.
  2. Lee, B. & Rover, R. (1993). Night-Vision: Illuminating War & Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain. New York, NY: Vagabond Press.

Other stuff I’ve looked at recently which informs this work which isn’t in the reference list for my Revolutionary Feminism article:

  • Amil K. (2013). “Toward the War of Position: Gramsci in Continuity and Rupture with Marxism-Leninism.” Uprising, Volume 4, pp. 19-31.
  • Armelagos, G.J., Brown, P.J, and Turner, B. (2005). “Evolutionary, historical and political economic perspectives on health and disease”. Social Science & Medicine, 61(4), pp. 755–765.
  • Bedford, D. (1994). “Marxism and the Aboriginal Question: The Tragedy of Progress.” Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 14(1), 101-117.
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[1] Social investigation precedes class analysis. Do we learn our class analysis just from theoretical works? Hell no!

[2] The mass movement is just one of the three-four magic weapons of a Maoist revolutionary strategy, along with revolutionary Party, united front, and army. Stay tuned for strategy documents coming in the fall / winter.

[3] See Amil K on Gramsci to grasp the importance of the superstructure and see Stella B on dual power for an explanation of use and control functions of the petty-bourgeoisie and the state.

The concept of buffer attempts to sharpen our understanding of the dialectic between the mode of production and the superstructure. For “in class societies, state forms will be both involved in the coercion of the majority and appear (phenomenally, i.e. in the immediate experience) as separate from day-to-day production, but we shall generate both partial history and distorted socialism if we take one set of activities and their immediate appearance as total explanation.” Corrigan et al, 1980 (see reading list).

[4] As quoted in Henry Veltmeyer, Canadian Class Structure, Garamond Press, 1986.

[5] This includes analysing the social relations shaped and enforced by the bourgeois nation-state, neoliberal containment policies and practices, philanthrocapitalism, the institutions of organized Zionism, major religious institutions such as the Christian Church establishment, and hetero-patriarchal social norms including the social organization of work deemed valueless by capitalism. This point is of particular salience when analyzing the historical process of bourgeois capital formation and the imposition of capitalist class relations onto Indigenous nations and modes of production. It is also equally crucial for a material analysis of hetero-patriarchy and gender as the basis for production, reproduction and total material social organization.

[6] I would argue this is a great way to look at many medical/legal/scientific/educational professions – under a Maoist commune system how would we organize: healthcare, education, science, justice? And advertising, insurance and all that bullshit would be gone. COPS!! And social workers, welfare state upper management, teachers, and those who function to manage poor people. Fuck that.

[7] Union pension management are literally major financial investors in imperialism. I’m not speaking purely ideologically. For example: there are many, many more examples which are outside the scope of this framing document.

[8] To quote Comrade Pierce in a conversation we had.

[9] Revolutionary strategy can only be synthesized by an organization that is consciously committed to and acts out its plans for revolution. Some comrades outside RI have misinterpreted our strong emphasis on the role of mass organizations as somehow indicating that we believe that revolutionary strategy or a revolutionary Party will emerge out of mass organizations. RI’s eight years of theoretical advances, organizational unfolding, and the development of cadre, attests to our position that a Party must be independently developed – even if with very close ties to mass work amongst the proletariat.

[10] Veltmeyer

[11] Except those who fit into the bourgeois class as lieutenants of capital such as Chiefs of Police.

[12] Veltmeyer

[13] See Comrade Amil’s essays on Gramsci.

[14] See bromma’s Worker Elite: Notes on the “Labour Aristocracy”. Certainly, a more comprehensive treatment of bromma’s text and the general theory of the labour aristocracy is required of us.

[15] And oppressive conditions which exert binding or limiting conditions on working class people of colour, women, Indigenous folks because of national oppression, colonialism, and patriarchy impact people across classes to varying degrees = oppression defined as “difficulty and hardship”.

[16] There exists historical precedence for this in both Marxist and bourgeois economic traditions. Reproduction is economically and politically significant, and costs of worker reproduction played a major role in the end of slavery.

[17] Revolutionary feminism lies at the core of my analysis, an analysis that is rooted in collaborative praxis.

[18] Kenny Lake’s discussion on imagining social relations of collaboration at the macro-level is important. It isn’t just about ending exploitation! It’s about reimagining the totality of society, including how we determine social value. It’s no joke that my perfect world doesn’t include plastic rubber duckies that poison future generations, let alone children who are forced to live in institutions or on the street because their families are separated from community, individualized, alienated, and shattered by imperialism.

[19] Temporary foreign workers, farm workers, prisoners, etc. We should deeply analyze both the role of financial debt and the role of marriage. Another important way we can learn about this differential power and control is to examine how attempts to build communist societies have failed to address certain forms of exploitative relations, such as reproductive labour.

[20] It appears to me that many fear analyzing the sex industry because it threatens heterosexual male sexuality, male power, petty-bourgeois notions of individual autonomy, and the valorization of individual identity.


[22] Whether we call this sub-structural or superstructural – see my article on Revolutionary Feminism for more discussion of these concepts.

[23] The new “just in time” methods of production have some workers fluctuating from formal employment to reserve army at rapid pace, even within the imperialist countries, Walmart being the most notorious.

[24] This analysis of the differential impacts of neoliberal containment strategies on women’s lives (abandonment on one hand and heightening policing on the other) and the direct connections to the flexibilization, contractualization and the deskilling of (in particular migrant) women’s labour comes from collective analysis of a group of women comrades in my region. Watch these young women tell their stories, though not our context, still insightful: Young women form the basis of a new revolutionary force, and if we can’t harness this anger into skilled leadership and a fighting force we’re not effective at our mass work!

[25] See the Indigenous People’s Liberation Party:

[26] Lovely! “Couldn’t finish a whole book until I discovered my notebook”: exactly! We don’t have to be academics to be revolutionaries:

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