THE NEW STAGE IN CANADA-U.S. RELATIONS
Canada and Imperialism
A Colony or Semi-Colony?
The Canadian State
The Internationalism of the New Radicalization
The New Canadian Nationalism
A Relentless Opposition
The Nature of Nationalism
A New Phenomenon
The Essence of the New Nationalism
Nationalism and the Class Forces
INTRODUCTION (1980 edition)
The following is a contribution by some leading socialist activists constituting themselves as the United Tendency in a discussion that took place in the League for Socialist Action/La Ligue Socialiste Ouvrière. Its authors subsequently formed part of the nucleus of the Socialist League (publishers of the journal Forward appearing on this website -ed.)
Much has happened since it was written in the spring of 1973. For instance in the section “Nationalism and the Class Forces", it only touches upon the issue of Canadian trade union autonomy, which proved to be the overriding issue at the 1974 Canadian Labor Congress convention.
Nonetheless, we feel that this contribution has more than stood the test of time. It remains one of the key contributions to the debate on Canadian nationalism and continues to mark out the most important and key guide posts.
As the title suggests, it is itself an elaboration and extension of the document “Canada-U.S. Relations—A Socialist View-point” issued by Vanguard Publications four years earlier in 1968.
—April 3, 1973
Canada, an advanced capitalist and imperialist nation-state, is an integral part of the world imperialist system. As such, it is subject to all the broad general social and economic contradictions which plague that system and which are now being aggravated.
As has been noted elsewhere, the long period of imperialist expansion, generated by accelerated technological renovation in the advanced capitalist countries, has resulted in significant changes. In the United States, France, Italy, Japan, etc., there has been a veritable revolution in the social structures, a more thorough going industrialization of the economy, a rapid decline in the importance of the agricultural sector of the economy, and a sustaining of the boom through the deliberate and systematic institution of permanent credit and monetary inflation. These processes had their parallel in Canada too.
On the basis of this overall analysis, we have reached three conclusions:
that the essential motor forces of this long-term expansion would progressively exhaust themselves, thus setting off a more and more marked intensification of inter-imperialist competition;
the anti-recessionary techniques would step up world wide inflation and constant erosion of the buying power of currencies, finally producing a very grave crisis in the international monetary system; and
that these two factors, in conjunction, would increasingly give rise to limited recessions of the imperialist economy.
However, the growing instability of the world imperialist system and its impact on Canada cannot be understood without, above all, grappling with the specific and particular relationship Canada has with the United States of America. The expansion of the world market, increasing trade, the rise of the multi-national corporation and the process of interpenetration of capital among the major powers have exacerbated competition among them. But this process finds a peculiar expression between the world’s major imperialist power, the United States, and Canada.
The developing imperialist crisis has resulted in the breakdown of old alignments; US capitalism has been confronted by attempts on the part of the bourgeoisies of several European states to work out new protective alliances directed primarily against it—notably, the formation of the European Economic Community. However, in US capitalism’s relations with the ruling class of Canada, the opposite has been the case. The US, with longstanding investments in Canada, has found an open door for an accelerated penetration of the Canadian economy through a massive flood of capital—particularly since the late fifties and sixties.
The international monetary crisis has resulted in increasing conflict among the major capitalist powers, with the US trying to pass the cost of inflation and declining capacity to compete onto Japan and West Germany. In Canada, on the other hand, the monetary crisis has resulted in the Canadian dollar becoming locked into the American dollar. Instead of a heightened trade war between the US and Canada, the collapse of Canada’s preferential trade relations with Britain has driven Canada into ever increasing, if not almost total dependency on the US. Instead of acting to block the influx of US capital into Canada, the Canadian bourgeoisie has opened the doors to a flood so massive that the ownership of the key industries and control of the financial institutions have passed into US hands. Instead of increasing rivalry between US and Canadian capital, we have been witness over the two decades to a process of integration of the advanced capitalist economy of Canada into the economy of the United States.
This development has had profound effects on the dynamics of class relations in Canada and the processes of the class struggle itself.
Since the turn of the century and accelerating during the first and second world wars, and coinciding with Britain’s decline as a world power, the Canadian economy has become increasingly locked into the US economy—not only through trade, but through the structuring of its industry. Branch plants and industries were developed to supply both raw and partially finished material to the US parent plants, and to take advantage of the British preferential tariff system. In the forties and fifties the US capitalist class and its state worked out a series of mutually satisfactory preferential arrangements with the Canadian ruling class and its state, and steadily increased its investments in Canada. Commencing in the early sixties the penetration of US capital into Canada underwent a vast acceleration.
US direct investment in 1946 stood at $2.3 billion. By 1963, It had risen to $12.8 billion and in 1971 it reached $24 billion, with some statisticians estimating the true value to be double that. In the space of eight years, US investment in Canada had increased twofold.
The Canadian economy has become further locked into the US economy through trade. By 1970, almost 70% of Canada’ s imports came from the US and almost 68% of her exports went to the US. While the flow of capital investment has been a two-way process among the world’s major imperialist powers (an interpenetration), it has been almost entirely a one- way process between Canada and the US—from the US into Canada. Through takeovers, amalgamations and corporate fusions, and through the formation of new corporations for the exploitation of the natural resources and workforce of Canada, US investment in established Canadian industries has reached such scope that the key sectors of the economy, almost 60% of all manufacturing assets, are owned, not to speak of those that are controlled by US capital. In addition, the banks and the financial institutions, while possibly even majority-owned by Canadian corporate wealth, are controlled by US corporate interests. Thus between Canadian and US capital and their states, we do not have a situation of inter- imperialist rivalry but a situation where the Canadian capitalist class and its state have facilitated the domination of US capital over the Canadian economy.
The Canadian capitalists are junior partners with US corporate power, both in the world political arena (where they are very junior) and within the borders of the Canadian nation state itself.
Canada and Imperialism
Canada is imperialist, but its international role cannot be said to be the role of an independent imperialist power. In relationship to its wealth and power at home, Canadian capitalism’s foreign holdings are of modest proportions, slightly over two billion dollars, and concentrated in the advanced capitalist sector of the world. Its colonial investments are modest and offer little leverage. Canada is imperialist primarily by the fact that it has an advanced capitalist economy and is structurally an integral part of the world wide imperialist system. Canada is imperialist, not as an independent economic or military power, but through it’s de jure existence—as an independent nation-state—from a political point of view—as a “free” associate member of the US imperialist-dominated military alliances NATO-NORAD, and as mouthpiece, apologist and agent for US imperialism in such counter-revolutionary assaults as the attempt to crush the Vietnamese revolution.
A Colony or Semi-Colony? The fact that the Canadian economy has many features of an under-developed economy (the bulk of its exports are raw and semi-finished goods while its imports are manufactured goods), and the catalogue of facts that show the subservient role of its ruling class to the US capitalist class and its continental and world wide interests—these factors have posed the question whether Canada is actually a colony or semi-colony of the United States. Canada is neither. US investment in Canada has distorted the development of the Canadian economy, but has not blocked its development. On the contrary, it has immeasurably advanced the pace of its industrialization. Canada has an advanced capitalist economy. The weight of agriculture in its economy has declined, and there is no agrarian question such as is typical of colonial or semi-colonial countries.
The urban population is growing and the working class is organized along independent class lines, both economically and politically, against both US and Canadian capital and against the Canadian state. Canada is firmly in the ranks of the advanced capitalist imperialist nation-states.
The Canadian State
US ownership and control of the commanding heights of the Canadian economy and the integration of the Canadian and US economies have posed questions as to the nature of the Canadian state and its role. As US domination and economic integration have increased, the Canadian state has not become stronger as a defender of private Canadian capitalist interests; it has reconciled whatever conflicts there have been with American capital in the overall interests of the whole. This function has been added to the state’s other function of reconciling the conflicting interests of the Canadian capitalist class into a cohesive national policy—both as regards I) the demands pressing in on them by such antagonistic forces as the working class and the oppressed nationalities—the Québécois, Native peoples, etc, and 2) its external interests, determined largely by the domination of US capitalism.
The US capitalist class has no reason to undermine the authority and integrity of the Canadian state as an instrument of class oppression within the nation- state itself. It certainly has no purpose in eliminating the Canada-US border through formal absorption of Canada into the US. On the contrary, both US and Canadian capitalists have common interests in sustaining the state in its role, and have every cause to assure its continued authority.
The central state apparatus of Canada has always been weak, particularly due to the nationalist opposition of the Québécois and to centrifugal regional stresses from one coast to the other. This weakness of the federal state has increased all the more under the impact of the growing domination of Canada by American capital. With little internal dissension, the Canadian capitalist class has acquiesced to its state taking on many of the characteristics of a satellite of the US. With the commanding positions in the Canadian economy being held by US capital and with the interlocking of trade, the Canadian capitalist class has no alternative. So, too, the weakness of its imperialist holdings and its dependency on the US for protection give them no other option.
The Canadian nation-state, as a “fortress-state” and as a power independent of US capitalism and its state, is a dream, not of any important sector of the Canadian capitalist class, but of the Stalinists in their subservience to the diplomatic needs of the Kremlin, and of the social-democratic reformist NDP parliamentarians who aspire to administer it. It has little basis in reality.
As Marxists, we make no moral judgment on Canadian-US economic integration and we do not project a program to either aid or deter this process. We seek to understand if—as an objective fact and to direct the effects it has on the configuration of class relations and on the process of the class struggle itself, to the advantage of the Canadian and international socialist revolution.
The Internationalism of the New Radicalization
The new radicalization that arose across Canada in the early sixties was permeated with the spirit of internationalism. It was inspired by the Black struggle in the US, by the Chinese and the Cuban revolutions, by the revolt of the colonized people of Africa, and by the Vietnamese revolution.
This radicalization among widening layers of the Canadian population, particularly among the student youth, soon came up against the Canadian government, even though this same government had been able for a period to adapt to it with some success. The first big blow to non-class illusions about the Canadian state came with Prime Minister Pearson’s sudden reversal and capitulation to Washington’s pressure to accept US-controlled nuclear arms as part of the expansion of US military sites across the Canadian north at the height of the cold war. This was followed by a whole series of events, among them Ottawa’s compliance with US government regulations forbidding US-owned Canadian based industries from trading with Cuba and China, countries with which the left identified. But the most significant impact on the left was made by Ottawa’s complete underwriting of Washington’s genocidal assault on the Vietnamese revolution.
As part of the US dominated military alliances NATO-NORAD, the Canadian government not only became a major arms supplier to the Pentagon war machine, but a chief apologist for US imperialism, particularly through its role on the International Control Commission. The slogan that we revolutionary socialists raised in the face of considerable opposition from both the Communist Party and the reformist NDP (the Canadian labor-based New Democratic Party-ed.) and trade union leaderships was “ End Canada’s Complicity". This slogan, which was rapidly picked up in all the antiwar actions, accurately expressed both opposition to US imperialism and opposition to the Canadian bourgeoisie’s diplomatic and military support for the American government’s international counter-revolutionary role.
It was during this period that the flood of US capital into Canada took on massive proportions. US corporations bought up innumerable plants, phased out others, displaced thousands of jobs, erected new operations and even whole new communities, and moved in a big scale to exploit the vast and largely untapped natural resources of the country for the profit of US corporate power. At the same time the Quebec nationalist ferment began to take on a new scope. The cross-Canada radicalization solidarized with the Québécois even to the extent of seeing broad parallels (if not complete identity) between the Quebec struggle and the struggle of the colonial peoples. At this time, the view that Canada itself had become a “colony” of the US began to take root and find support among growing numbers on the Canadian left.
The major feature of the new radicalization was and continues to be its internationalism. Its internationalism has been expressed as anti- imperialism, directed primarily against the United States, the world’s major imperialist power. This anti- imperialism has always contained a nationalist element. Moreover, with the rising flood of US capital into Canada more and more directing Canadian development and determining Canadian state policy, this nationalist element has grown tremendously in recent years. The radicalization, however, remains essentially anti-imperialist and continues to move in an anti-capitalist and socialist direction, even in its growing nationalist framework.
Despite some aborted ventures by the Communist Party and an occasional effort by some elements on the student left, anti-imperialism in Canada has not taken on the form of an anti -imperialist movement as such, a movement that directs its fire against the main enemy somewhere else (the US, for instance) rather than the capitalist enemy at home.
The role of the Canadian government and the Canadian capitalist class as junior partners of US imperialist interests has blocked this. Anti-imperialism in Canada has directed its fire at the enemy at home, the Canadian capitalist class and its political representatives, both in its actions and its politics. This anti- imperialist sentiment, we noted in “Canada-U.S. Relations—A Socialist Viewpoint,” was developing towards an anti-capitalist consciousness. Even where the forces organized around this sentiment explicitly called themselves nationalist, as in the case of the Waffle (a large left-wing current in the New Democratic Party -ed.), they rejected any concept of an anti-imperialism that concentrated its fire on a foreign enemy. In its 1968 ``Manifesto,`` the Waffle rejected the concept of “an independence movement based on substituting Canadian capitalists for American capitalists or in public policy to make foreign corporations behave as if they were Canadian corporations.” It went anti-capitalist-—into the NDP.
This anti-imperialism, even where it has explicitly called itself nationalist, has not been anti-US working class. It has seen the American workers, and in particular Blacks and student radicals, as allies against US capitalism. To be sure, there has been a certain impatience and even a superior attitude to the US workers for their toleration of the trade union bureaucracy at the head of the international unions and for supporting the big business American political parties.
In its opposition to the Canadian government, anti-imperialism began very early to turn to the newly formed and relatively open New Democratic Party. The so-called Watkins report on the scope of US investment in Canada, sponsored by the Canadian government, established what the left already sensed, and provided the facts for an objective explanation of the role of the Canadian capitalist class, a rudimentary class analysis, and carried its author and the new radicalization fully into the NDP. The result was the “Manifesto for an Independent and Socialist Canada” and the formation of the Waffle, the largest and broadest left wing formation in the history of Canadian reformist labor politics.
The New Canadian Nationalism
The new Canadian nationalism is not a negation of the anti-US imperialism that we noted in “Canada-U.S. Relations—A Socialist Viewpoint,” but an extension of it. That is what makes it a key element in the unfolding radicalization.
It is false to counter-pose internationalism—proletarian internationalism—to this new nationalism. This nationalism is not chauvinist. It is not against the American workers. It is not federalist, in opposition to Quebec’s right to self-determination. It is anti-imperialist and thus essentially internationalist.
This nationalism is not at all an ideological expression of the interests of Canadian capitalism, of private property and the Canadian state, which vigorously oppose it. The Canadian bourgeoisie counter-poses an internationalism—to be sure, a mystified form of internationalism—to this nationalism. They attack the opposition to energy development in the North as standing in the way of continental progress. They harass the ecologists as conservatives and parochialists standing in the way of human progress. They denounce those concerned about the development of natural resources in the interests of the working people, as lacking vision of a North American economy whose benefits, they allege, all will share.
In their opposition to the status quo, Canadian nationalists are searching for justification in the historic past of Canada—its progressive and revolutionary past. Thus, we have Léandre Bergeron’s “Le Petit Manuel d’Histoire du Québec” not only a best seller in Quebec, but a best- seller in English Canada (over 200,000 copies have been sold). Thus, there are demonstrations in honor of revolutionary heroes like Mackenzie and Papineau. Thus, there are numerous tracts and studies and university theses on the 1837 rebellions, on the martyrdom of Louis Riel, and on the Winnipeg General Strike. There has been a great flourishing of interest in the struggles of the Native peoples, in Canada’s revolutionary-democratic traditions, in the labor and socialist movement, in Canada’s pioneer feminists, etc.
A Relentless Opposition
The LSA/LSO majority leadership—while it recognizes that almost the entire left is nationalist (although they offer no explanation of this phenomenon)—call for a “persistent and relentless campaign ... to resist and turn back” its influence. This led them to reverse their entire attitude to the broad left Waffle formation and to make its supposed reactionary nationalism the crucial determinant in their relations with it as it moved, under the assault of the right wing, out of the NDP.
This policy continues to threaten revolutionary socialist work in the NDP where this new nationalism is a vital factor in a left differentiating itself from the reformist leadership. The left wing, bereft of WaffIe-MlSC (Waffle became known as the Movement for an Independent and Socialist Canada after its expulsion from the NDP -ed.) , is now isolated and under pressures, on the one hand, to adapt to the right, and on the other, to swing out in an ultraleft direction that threatens all the revolutionary socialists’ work in the NDP with disaster. The LSA/LSO campaign against nationalism has also served to blind it to the continued development of the WaffIe-MISC outside of the NDP, and the challenge it poses for the adherence of new forces to Trotskyism.
We oppose such an evaluation of this nationalism and the orientation that flows from it. We see this new nationalism as an integral part of the deepening radicalization. We see it as essentially progressive in its thrust—progressive in that it raises the class question in this country and leads to a heightened internationalist consciousness.
The Nature of Nationalism
How are we to explain this nationalism arising in an advanced capitalist country at this time?
In itself, nationalism has neither a reactionary nor progressive character in the abstract. We are required to make a concrete analysis, within definite historic limits, and to take into account the specific features under which the phenomenon arises.
Classically—that is, in the broad historic sense—nationalism is bourgeois. It first appeared during the rise of capitalism, in the struggle of the nascent capitalist class to establish the nation state as a framework for the expansion of private property, freedom of enterprise and trade. In this early stage in the development of capitalism, nationalism had a fundamentally progressive character. As well as serving the interests of capitalist progress, nationalism contained and expressed a profoundly democratic concept—the concept of popular sovereignty—of a motherland which claims to represent the people as a whole, its vast majority, and which grants and defend their liberties and gives them a conscious stake in shaping its future.
In the imperialist stage of development, in the epoch of capitalist decay, however, nationalism in those countries which have established their national independence and sovereignty takes on a fundamentally reactionary character. It serves as an instrument of the capitalist class to mystify its rule, to delude the workers, to deter them from developing a class consciousness and organizing along independent class lines. It has been used to pit them against one another in inter-imperialist and colonial wars.
A New Phenomenon
Today in Canada, when we live in the imperialist stage of development, one might automatically assume that nationalism is an instrument of bourgeois rule and is reactionary to the core. We are obliged however, to undertake a more concrete, a more specific examination of Canadian reality within the broader historical and international framework.
We can summarize in the following way the specific circumstances and historical conditions that have led to the radicalization expressing national aspirations:
Because of the historic delay of the Canadian- US socialist revolution which will lead to the realization of a Socialist United States of the North American continent, a process of integration or absorption of the economy of Canada with that of the mightiest imperialist power in the world is taking place under capitalism. This has resulted in the widespread and growing development in English Canada over the past several years of a nationalism—a phenomenon which is traditionally part of an earlier bourgeois stage of development.
Due to the distorted and weak development of Canadian capitalist society, the Canadian bourgeoisie and their state acquiesce to this process of integration and by so doing violate these growing national aspirations. Arising as they do at a time of increasing capitalist crisis in Canada and across the world, and at a time of widening radicalization, these national aspirations lead toward conflict with the Canadian state, and toward a linking with the tasks of the Canadian and international socialist revolution.
Thus, Canadian nationalism has arisen today in response to a process of growing economic integration of Canada with the US. To our knowledge, the phenomenon of one advanced capitalist and imperialist nation being economically integrated, in a cold way, with another advanced capitalist and imperialist power is something new and unforeseen by the Marxist movement, except perhaps in an abstract and speculative way. It is the product of a unique set of historical circumstances—namely, the uneven development and evolution of world capitalism as a whole in transition to socialism, in conjunction with the historically uneven development of Canadian capitalism vis-à-vis American capitalism. This historically unique situation has resulted in what can only be described as a new type of nationalism.
The Essence of the New Nationalism
To be sure, this new nationalism finds contradictory expressions; for instance, in the unmistakably bourgeois nationalist Committee for an Independent Canada, designed, according to its chief spokesman Prof. Rotstein, to provide a counter-pole of attraction to the Waffle and NDP. Is this radicalization within its nationalist framework then ambivalent—requiring on the one hand a sympathetic, and on the other a hostile response on our part? Is this then only a matter of tactical orientation?
No! While composed of opposing aspects which take on different appearances or forms of expression, this nationalism contains an essence which is progressive. The necessary conditions for its production and reproduction are objectively present and operative. Nor is the anti-US imperialism, dealt with in “Canada-U.S. Relations—A Socialist Viewpoint", some mere sentiment, only flimsily connected with reality. Both constitute the reflection in the collective consciousness of the radicalizing forces of the increasing domination by US capital over the Canadian economy and the acquiescence of the Canadian capitalist class to it. This has resulted in a heightened understanding in the ranks of the radicalization of the role of the Canadian capitalist class and the relationship of other classes to it. This analysis found vindication in the fact that the youth radicalization, permeated as it was with nationalism, moved into the NDP and found expression in the Waffle, giving an unprecedented breadth and scope to the socialist forces.
What establishes the progressive essence of this nationalism—what gives it its radical thrust—is the process that has led to the integration of the Canadian economy with that of the US under capitalism, and the effect that this process has had on class relations and the dynamics of the class struggle.
Nationalism and the Class Forces
First and foremost, integration has drastically weakened the Canadian state, and not only as an instrument capable of expressing the interests of any private Canadian capital that might find itself opposed to US capitalist interests.
It has also weakened the state, from the point of view of its credibility as an instrument of democratic rule—the illusion that hides its fundamental character as an instrument of class oppression which is its main source of strength. It increasingly appears as an agency of something totally alien to radicalizing Canadians—US corporate power.
Nationalism finds little expression among the Canadian bourgeoisie which is firmly committed to its junior partner relationship with American capitalism. This is not surprising, as the integration of their economic interests has inevitably tended towards what might be described as a social integration of the owners and representatives of Canadian and US capital . Their common outlook is reinforced by an unusual degree of inter-marriage, common club affiliations, common educational background, etc. Hence, it is not unusual for the members of both bourgeoisies to almost intuitively respond and make adjustments so that their relations are not ruptured.
Nationalism, however, has found some response among a few disenchanted high government officials and bourgeois ideologues. Thus, we see ex-Liberal cabinet minister and nationalist Walter Gordon calling for public ownership of the Mackenzie Pipe- line, and ex-Liberal cabinet minister and nationalist Eric Kierans urging public ownership of Manitoba’s mining industry over the next ten years. Kierans’ report has been condemned by the Manitoba Mining Association as a “communist document, foreign to any Canadian thinking on the mining industry.”
Rising Canadian nationalism is very much an expression of the alienation and radicalization of widening sectors of the higher skilled elements in the work force—scientists, technicians in every field, teachers, etc. The US subsidiaries and branch plants develop almost no research in their Canadian operations, but draw on the advanced technology developed by the US parent companies. At the same time, the vast majority of Canadian government grants for research and development (98% in 1968-69), as to be expected, go to the dominant capitalist force in the country—to foreign owned, largely US corporations. Research projects in the universities are designed to meet US corporate need, as was clearly revealed to wide layers of the radicalization during the escalation of war research for the war in Vietnam. This has increasingly posed the issue of Americanization of the universities, widely discussed on Canadian campuses.
Canadian nationalism is growing in the working class, which has only been moderately affected by the radicalization until now. The international unions have provided an increased potential (seldom realized) for united labor action against corporations which span the border. However, the more powerful US trade union bureaucracy has also strengthened the Canadian trade union bureaucracy. In this context, Canadian nationalism is giving impetus and new dimension to the rank-and-file struggle against the bureaucracy and for union democracy.
The new nationalist mood is by no means limited to the Canadian unionism of small service and craft unions, long sufferers of the imposed bureaucracy of international office staff appointees. It is hitting such unions as the United Steelworkers and the Auto workers (the Canadian section of the UAW, predecessor to the Canadian Auto Workers, the CAW -ed.) which already have considerable autonomy within the internationals.
Canadian UAW director Dennis McDermott recently warned that “unless the international unions make some fairly drastic accommodations and adjustments... .to the fervent nationalistic attitudes that pervade this country. .. .their very survival as an effective entity is questionable.” McDermott appears to have drafted a list of proposals designed to give the UAW even greater structural autonomy. In Steel, there have been a whole series of applications which, if granted certification votes, could take the interior B.C. locals outside the internationals, into Canadian unions.
There is no question that this nationalism is profoundly altering the dynamics of class relations within Canada and the processes of the class struggle itself. Our responsibility as Canadian revolutionary socialists is to come to grips with it, to recognize its key role in the radicalization so that we can effectively propagandize our revolutionary socialist views and build the vanguard party.
We are for “identification” with this nationalism, not to achieve “one-ness” with it (as, we have been informed, the Oxford Dictionary defines the word). We are for working within this nationalism which permeates the entire left. While we will oppose any and all adaptations to its backward expressions, we will project our Marxist analysis and present our program of democratic and transitional demands in a way which will link to the essentially anti-capitalist dynamic of this new nationalism. In so doing, we will not become nationalists or some breed of national communists; on the contrary, we will be acting as Trotskyists—as internationalists—which we are to the core.
We have been challenged to produce a program to meet the varied forms of expression that the new nationalism takes on in the areas where we are working to raise the class consciousness and combativity of the workers, feminists, students, etc.
The first responsibility of Marxists is to analyze a phenomenon in order to develop a general orientation to it. We must first answer the following questions: Is there a new nationalism? What is its source? How does it express itself? What are its forms? How does it influence class relations? Only after developing an overall understanding and a line, can we outline or advance a program. And even then, the program can only be an approximation and will continue to grow and develop with our experiences in the unfolding class struggle and in the living process. We will have to project our ideas, to test them and to learn from our mistakes.
Since there are no uncompleted tasks of the classic nationalist type, since there are no broad bourgeois-democratic tasks in Canada, we have said that our programmatic intervention must centre around an amplification of our democratic and transitional demands.
It seemed apparent long ago, when the US-owned Crown Zellerback Corporation began phasing out the plant and entire town of Ocean Falls, that we would have called on the B.C. NDP Government to take the plant over, without compensation, and turn it over to the democratic control of the workers or possibly the Native movement. It would also seem obvious that we would enthusiastically endorse public ownership of Manitoba’s resource industries, particularly the Thompson Lake International Nickel operation, which would be certain to have a radicalizing impact on Sudbury workers. A program along these lines would enable us to intervene in the Mackenzie Pipeline debate, which cannot be done under a banner of anti-nationalism. Our intervention in this debate would express, programmatically, the interests of the Canadian working class and the concept of Native peoples’ and workers’ control.
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