Speech by Comrade Hardial Bains at the rally against state-organized attacks, November 6, 1977, Toronto
Comrades and friends,
I would like to dwell on the basic question of racism at this time and how to combat it. First of all, I would like to point out that the question of racism is not an internal question to Canada. It is not a question which is just confined to Canada or confined to any specific country. Racism is a feature of the whole capitalist-revisionist world. More specifically, it is a feature of all the capitalist countries in the West and the revisionist countries in the East. The champions of racism on the world scale are the Soviet Union on the one hand and the U.S. on the other. So when we look at the question of racism in Canada, we have to look at this question from this understanding – that it is not a question just confined to Canada. It is an international question and has to be dealt with on that basis.
Secondly, the question is very specific one for this period. It is not a general question of racism. Racism has existed for a long period of time. In general terms, one can talk about the racist ideologies of feudal states; when they fought with one another in the medieval times they used all sorts of racist and religious differences. Today this is not the case. Today the people who practise racism actually claim that that they are not racists. The governments, the states, which practise racism vehemently, also try to present themselves as those people who are against racism. So this particular ideology which we find today is an ideology of the twentieth century.
The root, the central point, in this ideology is the exploitation of the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America. At the turn of the century, this ideology came up to justify the brutal annexation of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, to justify colonization, to justify barbaric plunder of the countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. And of course, most of you must be aware of the slogans advanced by these people, by the imperialists, and these slogans are used to date. That is, that the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America cannot look after themselves. They have to be exploited, they have to be taken over, they have to be annexed. And you have in the West, the nefarious theory advanced, (you must have heard), that is, the white man’s burden. And now in the Soviet Union, they also preach that the Soviet Union also has to look after Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is very interesting that all the monsters in the world want to look after those people whom they exploit. So you can see what their looking after means, that is, they must oppress, exploit, dominate, annex the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America. This is not to say that their line toward other countries is different. They also try to annex, dominate, exploit the people of capitalist countries in the West as well as in the East. And a very specific example can be given at this time where the struggle still is very sharp and has been going on for the last eight hundred years.That is the struggle of the Irish people against British domination. Ireland is still a country dominated by British imperialism and all sorts of racism, racist ideology, is used by the British against the Irish people. And of course, when you come to countries like the United States of America and Canada, you find that in the U.S. there are over fifty million people whose origins are either that they are people native to North America or that they originated from Asia, Africa and Latin America, most particularly from Africa and Latin America. And these people constitute a form of, you can say, oppressed people, who are exploited by the American imperialists right at home in the United States.
So now, with this historical background, when one looks at this question of racism in the 1960’s, in the 1970’s, then you find that this specific form of racism is reserved for, first and foremost,the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America, then amongst these people, it is reserved for people who make up the working class, those people who are ordinary people, those people who are poor people. And this sort of thing is not taking place just in Canada. The racism, racist oppression, exploitation is quite rampant in Britain, France, in West Germany and in various other countries in Europe. One of the features of the 1960’s was betrayal of the working class in the West as well as in the East by various revisionists and others. And a climate was created whereby imperialism had a free hand to do whatever it wanted. So during this period which they described as a period of capitalism regaining its “youth”, the theory that capitalism was now “invincible”, capitalism could not be destroyed because it was going through a phase of “prosperity”, that is a consumer type of capitalism and various other things were advanced. So right at this time, in the 1960’s, you have large scale importation of workers from Asia, Africa and Latin America. In Canada, you have the so-called change of the immigration laws. And in 1966, the immigration laws were changed to make sure that this large-scale immigration could take place. And amongst these immigrants. there were two types – ordinary people and educated people. And when one analyzes this, one finds that these educated people were brought in so that the Canadian government and governments in the West do not have to educate their own people and do not have to provide education and skill. So it is cheaper to import a doctor than to train one, than to have your own people trained in various professions.
This large-scale immigration took place right at the height of the national liberation struggles in Indochina, that is in Vietnam, in Laos, in Cambodia, during the upsurge of the Afro-Americans in the United States and other places, as well as during the upsurge of the people in South America; you have for example, the uprisings in the Dominican Republic. You have a general revolutionary situation on the world scale. And within this, you have imperialism ruhning amuck all over the world, so you have the large-scale migration from the countries of Asia, Africa and ,Latin America.
Now the point is, why did they bring these immigrants here? All the capitalist politicians do not stop talking about their responsibility to assist the people who are not as “fortunate”, they say, as we are here. So by using this logic, they are trying to confuse public opinion as to the very reason why the people from Asia, Africa and Latin America came here. Secondly, why would the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America want to immigrate to countries like Canada? Now the reason why the Canadian government brought the people from these countries is straightforward – for the purposes of capitalist profit. And one can go into the details of how maximum capitalist profit can be made by bringing these people here.
One can go into the history of immigration from 1900 to 1906, 1908, and you will find that on the basis of simply bringing immigrants from China and from India to the West Coast, just on the basis of simply bringing them, the government in BC extracted several million dollars from these people, whom they say they are trying to assist, for the purposes of building infrastructure, that is roads, and bridges and railroads – for the purposes of capitalist expansion. And these millions were raised by saying that every Chinese who wants to emigrate to Canada has to pay a head tax. And the same head tax situation was used with the East Indians and others. And furthermore, there were all the other trappings which go with it, like you can be arrested when you arrive at the port and then you have to put a deposit. So you have the Chinese workers, the East Indian workers, financing the building of the infrastructure in BC.
Now just imagine the amount of money that the Immigration Department has collected from various people from 1900 to 1977, or specifically from 1966 to 1977. There has been no estimate in that they do not disclose how many immigrants there are; they talk about a hundred thousand immigrants or half a million immigrants – half a million people who came to Canada and simply went underground. But say a visitor comes from India, and some relative of his or he himself puts $500 as a deposit at the airport, then he goes underground. Now that money will grow into millions, because the Canadian government, if it didn’t want to fleece these people it is quite capable of making sure that no illegal immigrant or illegal visitor exists here. And furthermore, those immigrants who come here and are not given jobs, are most vulnerable in terms of jobs, in terms of actual existence, social life and all this, so they are most of the time most willing to take the most menial lobs. You can talk to some big capitalist farmer in southern Ontario, and he will tell you that before large-scale immigration began in 1966, they were losing large amounts of money because they had to pay higher wages on the farm that it was no longer economical. So with the immigrants coming, the Immigration Department collaborated with the big capitalist farmers that anyone who says he will be a farm worker in southern Ontario or other parts of Canada will be given immigration status. So when you write down in your immigration papers that you will be a farm worker, this means that you will be paid $1.25, $1.30, $1.75 per hour and work twelve hours a day in southern Ontario. And literally thousands of workers face this kind of situation.
So the reason why this immigration was organized the way it was organized, is to make maximum capitalistprofit from these people. Now, was the situation any different before? It was never any different before. They always brought in immigrants. You go back to the early history of Canada when they brought Irish workers to build canals in the Montreal area, as well as to open up mines. The treatment of immigrants, the way they are brought here to be fleeced, that is exactly the same way as workers were brought here before. So the question of immigration has to be dealt with as the question that the capitalists want to make maximum profit on the backs of the immigrants. So now all this claptrap that we give them privileges, we welcome them to our nice country, and all these false patriotic statements which are being made, are to cover up this fact, that all of us were brought here for the purpose of making maximum capitalist profit. That is the main reason, and the only reason, when immigration like this takes place.
To make maximum capitalist profit, it is very good to socially, ideologically, politically debase these people – to say that these people come from a country that we don’t even know; like someone will look at you and say: This is a civilized country, composed of civilized people, they say, and they ask you on a train or a bus, “Where do you come from?” and you say from Puniab. They will say: Is it near Calcutta? They very well know where this place is. But this is a form of denunciation of the immigrants and trying to tell them that the social psychology with which they come, that the culture with which they come, that all that has been absolutely useless and irrelevant and they have to give all that up and adopt the ways of these “civilized” people. And this sort of thing was actually legalized; it was actually a law in the Immigration Act of 1952, as well as before. You could be refused immigration to Canada if you come from a country that has a different concept of holding property. So, say you are an Albanian, you have a different concept of holding property and you cannot be an immigrant. And now they are telling us, it is the same thing, that if you have a different concept of a system where you want to live, that if they ask you what kind of profession you would like to take up and what kind of system you would like to live in, you would say I am a hard-working proletarian or intellectual but I would like to live under a socialist system. So that even if in my country there is no socialist system, I will dedicate my life to build one. These people who talk about human rights and all sorts of rights, do you think that they will say that is very good, that you should be the first immigrant to come to Canada, because you want to advance the society from this stage of barbarism to the higher stage of socialism? You will see all kinds of laws and anyway they will simply look at you and say “Thank you for telling us, and you will hear from us”, and that is the end.
So it is very important to see that a very definite psychological, social, political and ideological pressure is put on the immigrants. They are made to look as if they are coming from such a place which has no history or that was living under barbarism and that now they will be able to live under what they call civilized conditions. And this sort of thing is carried out for the purposes of making sure that this worker lives as a slave and never rises up from that position. And then of course, opposite this you have various people who try to justify that we are as good as the capitalists are. Recently someone has issued a statement that the slogan “Paki” is incorrect because Paki means “pure”. “Paki is pure!” is a slogan of hardened, bigoted Mohammedans and they use this in what is known as Jehad to slaughter other people. Who are you justifying by saying “Paki is pure, so if you call me Paki, this doesn’t mean that you are slandering myself, it means that I am good”; just like these traitors to the Afro-American struggle a few years ago used the slogan “Afro-American is beautiful”. Why do the oppressed people have to justify to the oppressors that their very existence is fine? And this sort of preoccupation is actually carried out by sociologists, others, those people who are financed by the state.
So on the one hand, you have the oppressors using social psychological ideology against the masses of the immigrants. At the same time, within the immigrants arise these characters who give this thesis “Paki is pure” or we have to justify our customs, our norms of living to our oppressors. So the entire issue of racism has to be looked at from this point of view, that is, that first and foremost, immigrants are brought to make maximum capitalist profit, and second, the way maximum capitalist profit can be made is to completely debase the immigrants, do maximum propaganda that they are absolutely no good people, that in their countries, they are incapable of doing anything and that for that reason they are running around and we should attack them wherever they raise their heads. But unfortunately for these imperialists, it is a fact of life that immigrants come from these countries which are most oppressed, countries like Asia, Africa and Latin America, which are dominated by both imperialism and social-imperialism, by reactionary elements there, where the life of the people is such that there is no way out. Now amongst the oppressed, people who are oppressed for centuries, there are basically two kinds of response. One is that you opt for individual salvation. The other is that you work for collective salvation. Now these people carry out propaganda that if you go to Canada, you will have individual salvation, and a lot of stories are told by people who go back and in various other ways. So people come here. Not that people come here for individual salvation in their manner of speaking, but because the Canadian government wants all these immigrants to make maximum capitalist profit. So this issue of racism, immigration and all this cannot be looked at without looking at these things.
The next point I would like to make is this: This kind of racist ideology is no different from the ideology which the capitalists use against the working class. For example, if an immigrant is told that he is lazy, that he doesn’t want to look for a job, and that is why there is unemployment, a worker is told the same thing. Before the Great October Revolution in 1917, history books used to be full of this line – that the capitalists have to rule because the workers were incapable of ruling themselves – and the same thesis was applied to the colonies, that the people were wretched in Asia, Africa and Latin America because they couldn’t look after themselves, so we have to take up the “white man’s burden”. In the same way, in Britain, as well as in other countries, these arrogant capitalists used to give this view that they have to govern because the workers are incapable of governing. So this is their moral duty. And a fantastic thesis was created at the time of the French Revolution – which scared the bourgeoisie – and also afterwards, that the workers should be thankful that there is unemployment and poverty and all this, because unemployment and misery wipe out lots of people, so as a result, the population is kept down, and just imagine, – if misery, poverty and disease were not around, then there would be a population explosion, then everybody would lose their jobs. And furthermore, the thesis was advanced that when a capitalist has his enterprise, he is doing it for the purpose of providing jobs that he has no other interests – he is religious, very humanitarian, a respectable person in the community, and the only reason that he has to hire a worker is that he cannot tolerate a wretched worker on the street without a job.
So, comrades and friends have to look at that propaganda as well – that if racist ideology is used against immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America, then the ideology against the working class in the capitalist countries is not any different. So, another aspect is added. That is, in the capitalist countries, in order to make the workers unsympathetic to the cause of the workers from Asia, Africa and Latin America, they have this added racist ideology so that a worker can feel that, well he is better than an Indian worker, that he is better than some worker from Asia, Africa or Latin America. And it is part of the promotion of national and social chauvinist ideology, which they give to the workers through the opportunist leaders, the trade unions and the like.
The question of the standard of living in the capitalist countries, as well as now in the revisionist countries, is straightforwardly tied up with the exploitation and superexploitation of the peoples of Asia Africa and Latin America. Just imagine having two-thirds of the population which produces for you for literally nothing, and then on that basis, talking about the “standard” of living. And instead of these capitalist politicians talking about this robbery and exploitation of Asia, Africa and Latin America, they are actually talking about how they have been assisting Asia, Africa and Latin America. So, by this factor, that is, the question of standard of living etc., that is, that the workers in Canada are better than the workers in Asia, Africa and Latin America, you should feel fortunate that you were born in Canada, instead of being born in, say, Trinidad, India, Pakistan, Guyana, Venezuela, Brazil or Zimbabwe. So, this kind of propaganda tries to get the Canadian workers mobilized against the workers from Asia, Africa and Latin America and they use these revisionists, opportunists, trade union hacks, clergymen and others for this purpose. You can meet some priest who can tell you how bad he feels that there is poverty in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Then the same person will tell you that if you oppose capitalism, we will have to persecute you, even if it is an un-Christian act, because we cannot let you go against the democratic process as it exists in Canada or as “we know it” in Canada.
The way they know it is you have a small section of big capitalists,and in Canada, the big capitalists ace no more thap forty-five to fifty families. And everybody works for them, and they control the Parliament, army, police, prisons and everything. If you want to become a successful politician, someone has to sponsor you, give you money, have all the propaganda for you; then you can win elections. Of course, these elections are called “democratic” and all this. So, the point is that this second feature is far more difficult to oppose than the first feature, that is, straightforward racist ideology, which is no longer acceptable to anybody. This is why the anti-immigration Bill C-24 has all sorts of phrases that there is no inequality, there is no racial discrimination, and all this. But this other kind, it exists, and is spread widely.
So, the worker faces the attacks from the capitalists, in terms like the workers are incapable, they are lazy and all this, and the immigrant workers face double exploitation. In Canada, which is dominated by U.S. imperialism,, if the Canadian worker suffers from double exploitation, an immigrant worker suffers from triple exploitation, and a coloured immigrant faces quadruple exploitation. So our programme against racist attacks has to zero in on opposing this double, triple and quadruple exploitation.
How are we going to carry on this struggle against this exploitation of the immigrants? Now, various people suggest that racism will be wiped out if socialism is established. So what should be done is that all the immigrants should fight for socialism. So, a very simple question comes to mind – if an immigrant is going to fight for socialism in Canada, why not for his own country? He should have stayed home for in the struggle for socialism in his own country, he would most likely have been more appreciated and had better success, because it is his own country. And we are going through a period when social revolution is on the agenda for the entire world. So to promote this issue of socialism – the fight for socialism and all this – is evading the question. Say that you are attacked in the subway station and you raise your fist and shout “Long live socialism!” – will this assist anyone who is threatened with physical attack? It would not. So, it is a very complicated question, to which answers have to be provided.
The first answer is that immigrants from various countries, it doesn’t matter which country, must be proud of their people, of their heritage, where they came from. Proud, not in the sense that they will start popularizing reactionary culture and all this – for example, Indians will start a Rama Khrishna movement here, etc. Because those that have that Rama Khrishna movement here suffer from racist exploitation so much that they have dachas on the lakes, and they have planes to fly around in. There is a Guru Maharaja in the Laurentian Hills, and there are various others. But the ordinary masses of the people, the legacy which they can bring, and which they should cherish, IS the legacy of their people fighting for liberation, for social and national liberation.
All countries have gone through this, and they are going through this national and social liberation. A culture comes into being on, the basis of struggle which the masses of the people wage against their enemies. Culture is not something which is detached from struggle for national and social liberation. An ideology is the product of a definite historical stage of society, and in this historical stage, there is theldeology of the oppressor, there is the ideology of the oppressed. You have to choose where you stand on these matters. And each nation, each country, has a long history of fighting against foreign enemies, against exploitation,which we call, bringing the best culture of the people here. This ideology is the only thing which can provide a solid foundation for an immigrant to fight every kind of oppressor he meets. For example, for Indians, when they face various people in the Indian community, as well as outside, the ideology is promoted that the reason why India is backward is that the peasants there do not want to work or that they are too illiterate, they are ignorant, they are religious and all this. We have just come from a demonstration – one should have asked the religious leaders – which ones of them were ordinary poor peasants? Which background have they come from and all this? You would find that even though religion is accepted by the masses for the time being, religion is something which is intended to divert the struggle of the masses of the people. Religion is to make peoplebelieve that there is another world that they will inherit after they die. While this world is hell, the other world is going to be heaven. So, the best thing you can do is to worship as many priests as you can, give as much money to the religious fanatics and pamper as many religious parasites as you can and then you will go to heaven after you die.
When I was in Albania this year, I saw an exhibition against god – on atheism. In the exhibition, there is a big painting which they show. This painting is very good because they say that according to Christian religion, workers, peasants, ordinary hard-working intellectuals are all sinners. This painting shows the two roads – one going to heaven, and one going to hell. They have a big horrifying sort of creature and the fires of hell are coming out. The Albanian comrades showed us that in this painting done by these religious people, in heaven you have kings and queens, prime ministers, and their henchmen, the priests, sitting there, while the workers and peasants and others are all marching to hell. So, not only do you have no salvation on earth, you also have no salvation when you go to paradise (laughter). So, all these kinds of ideology are promoted; simplistic answers are given that because peasants are religious, therefore India is backward. Now the issue is that who is responsible for the affairs in India? You can name Mahatma Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Jawaharlal Nehru and others and ask them, if you think that religion is the reason why India is backward, that if the peasants’ being religious means that there is no way out for the country, then these leaders shouldn’t be religious.
Just a few days ago there was a report in the bourgeois press about Morarji Desai. Morarji Desai apparently gave a press conference in which he said that the best thing to take at breakfast is urine. He says that everyday he takes that. Now, which scientific person would suggest this sort of thing? A scientific person could suggest that maybe there are some vitamins which are made through urine. You could collect it, distill it, crystallize it, and then you could eat those vitamins. And Mrs. Gandhi has a priest, a personal priest, who tells her what she should do on an everyday basis. And then if you look into all the religious institutions, you will find that all of them are financed by the state, all of them are protected and financed by the state, at the same time that they advance the balderdash that the peasants are responsible for the backwardness of India.
Any Indian who wants to fight racist attacks has to be very conscious of the fact that the Indian people are oppressed. The Indian people have to win liberation. They must fight for the liberation of India – they should have the ideology of liberation for India.
Do those people who profit from this kind of racism, exploitation and all this, do they have their designs for India? If you look into the anti-immigration bill, Bill C-24, you will find that the Canadian government has said that if an immigrant calls for the national liberation of India. he should be deported. It has outlawed this. This means that they stand for the strengthening and consolidation of the status quo in India, because they profit from that. A successful national liberation struggle in India will be disastrous for the Canadian government as well. We can even forget the Canadian government for the time being – let us just look at these people who call themselves the leaders of the community. Last weekend, they came here to prostrate themselves before the Attorney-General. The thesis they provided was that listen, all of us Indians, we are professionals, technocrats, businessmen, we are just like you! We are not like those ignorant workers who come from rural India. (Usually the propaganda is carried against the Punjabis who are “uncultured”, “rustic” and all this. Those who run the sawmills in BC, they say are uncultured, etc.) So, by giving this thesis that look, we are technocrats, businessmen, professionals and all this, you should not discriminate against us, but, you should incorporate us into the state. Have an education board and put me there, have a job created in immigration aid services, and all this, or as policemen, give us positions. Then we will see that these ordinary workers do not give you any trouble. The mass upsurge which is taking place against the racist attacks here is being used by that section of the society which says “Incorporate us”, for their own anti-people ends. The Canadian government, of course, is looking for its agents to do the dirty job for them and then life will be fine.
In the 1960’s, the main reason for the debacle of the Afro-American struggle was simply this: You had the bourgeoisie amongst the Afro-Americans who signed peace with the American imperialists and sold the struggle of the Afro-Americans down the river. Many of them are in government positions. One of them is the representative of the U.S. imperialist government in the UN and they are hinting that you may even have some Afro-American become president of the United States. Now, how much does it assist the struggle against racism if one of the Afro-Americans goes into the government and becomes the head of state? The situation of the Afro-Americans is much worse than it was in the 1960’s. In the same way, when these people get their positions in Canada, the situation of the Indian workers and ordinary people will be much worse. Our enemy grooms agents who have its thinking. These elements in the Indian community not only speak against their own people, but they aspire to be like imperialists. Right there, you have the alliance. The government wants these kinds of people; these people have the sentiment. So, if we are to oppose these kinds of things, we should have very determined nationalism, progressive, militant nationalism. Not only for India, but also for Indians abroad.
It is only this kind of culture this kind of ideology which can create the foundation for ending racist attacks. For example, who gave the slogan here that Self-Defence Is the Only Way! which these people are now trying to distort? It was the members of the Progressive Indian community. Not only did they give the slogan, but they also actually implemented the slogan. These people have sympathies for the national liberation struggle of India. If they didn’t have that sympathy, they would not give that slogan.
Let me just digress a bit to explain what that slogan is: The ideology of self-defence is that those individuals whose interests are being attacked must defend their interests. And actually the ideology of self-defence doesn’t go any farther than what the bourgeoisie holds for itself. You go and attack a capitalist’s home and he will say that he has the right to defend his property. It is written in the criminal code. In actual fact, self-defences is not much. It is straightforward bourgeois ideology. But when it comes to immigrants, they say “No, you should not practise this”. That really shows what kind of immigrants they want – docile, incapable of doing anything, always at the mercy of this or that government agency, this or that spiritual leader, and all this.
When others saw our slogan – first, in Canada, we fought that all Indians should accept that there are racist attacks, For years, these professionals, intellectuals, technocrats and businessmen never recognized that there is racism in Canada. And then came the slogan of self-defence and every one of these people opposes the slogan of self-defence and promotes some slogan in order to disrupt the unity of the Canadian people and the immigrants. For example for them, self-defence means that the Canadian people are racist. If an individual racist attacks you, you should get together in the community and go and wipe him out in his house. If you haven’t heard them clearly saying it, this is precisely what they are adovocating. The Indian community should spend its time chasing individual racists. Is Self-Defence Is the Only Way! a slogan of chasing individual racists? No. We are suggesting that when you are attacked. you should defend yourself. Otherwise, you should carry out massive ideological propaganda that Indians should not intimidated that the state is racist, that it has such and such views, in order to increase the ideo-political consciousness of the community. But to chase racists to their homes would be very nice for the state because then they will say that racial strife is such that it is uncontrollable, and then they will suppress the progressive elements like they do now. For example, you can have some event taking place, and they use this event to suppress the progressive people in the community. What they are proposing is that first we prostrate in front of the state. You do not say anything about the government, the state, which promotes all this sort of thing. At the same time, you should cause strife amongst individuals. This is not the slogan of Self-Defence is the Only Way! The slogan means that we should defend ourselves, we should unite in the community, we should unite the Canadian people, and that we should educate our people with revolutionary consciousness that this struggle is a long-term struggle. It is going to be successful, but we should not expect that this struggle is going to be successful because of some reform of the Canadian state.
At the same time, we are not suggesting to people that because reform is not possible, we should not do anything. If you examine the content of various opportunist individuals who spoke, you will find that they say to the government: either end racist attacks or we will take up arms, I remember in the late 1960’s, there used to be poor peoples’ organizations. In Vancouver, there used to be an anti-poverty organization, and an organization of unemployed workers. Instead of educating the unemployed workers about the system and mobilizing them to participate in mass struggle against the government, these leaders used to say that either you give us so much in grants, so much money or we will take up arms. So, what happened to this struggle? The leader of this organization in Vancouver – the government gave him a grant and he gave up the work he was doing for the unemployment council; we haven’t heard about him since that time. And the same thing happened with the terrorists in Quebec. Pierre Vallieres – first he was a terrorist; later on, he became an employee of the federal government. If you listen to their talk, they are talking about either this, or this. We cannot tell the government or the people either that we should have all these rights or we will take up arms. It is not a question of “either/or”. We should identify the problem and we should take action on these problems.
The most important problem for the immigrant communities is to defend themselves. Number two is to oppose the racial, national, discriminatory attacks which the state launches against the immigrants in Canada, as well as the people who are becoming immigrants. Furthermore, they should oppose political and social persecution. In that, it is not a question of either take up arms or don’t carry out these activities. It is a matter of immediate action on the part of the community and the slogan Self-Defence Is the Only Way! tells the community what it should do. That is, you should defend yourself individually as well as form organizations like the EIDC. The formation of the EIDC was a great victory for the East Indian community. These people try to fool the masses of the people by saying “Well, what does that statement mean – the formation of the EIDC was a great victory for the East Indian community?” Before the EIDC was formed, the entire ideology, the entire line, presented in the community was one of capitulation to the state, one of slavishness, one of cowardice. Then you had a committee coming up which was brave, courageous, which said we should fight and all this. Is this not a victory for the community? Is this not an advance in the anti-racist struggle? To my estimation, it is a qualitative leap from the old situation to the new. They will have to handle not only all the propaganda which the EIDC carries out on a day-to-day basis, but they will also have to face the product of this propaganda. The product of this propaganda is a self-confident courageous East Indian who walks down the street tall, and if some, racist attacks him, he knows how to deal with the situation. This reflects the fighting spirit of our people and presents the fighting traditions of our community.
I’ll give you an example from Vancouver – around August of 1973, they started doing the propaganda that East Indians are afraid to walk on the streets. EIDC was formed in November 1973. In December, within two or three weeks, they said that the East Indian community is a violent community. Comrades should try to understand that the bourgeoisie, the capitalist governments, would like to do the propaganda that the East Indians, West Indians, Chinese, Japanese and others, they are all slavish, docile characters who can be pushed around. They would like that sort of propaganda. So when a committee comes and simply negates this, not only negates this but it does so both in theory and practice, they do not like it at all.
There is an upsurge taking place against the racist attacks in our community. The reactionary state and the opportunists want to undo this situation. We have these opportunists who say they are also against racist attacks, but that they are a little bit different in their approach. They say they are on the same front, but it is a “little bit different”. Let me just describe to you this difference. The “little bit of difference” is that the problem for the opportunists is not the reactionary state, but the problem is corrupt officials. So, what we should do is just criticize corrupt officials. One of the slogans the opportunists were giving today was to remove the police commissioner. Preserve the reactionary state and criticize the corrupt officials. So, the line the people should take up is not against the state but against the corrupt officials.
The correct view is that the corrupt officials are not the main cause of racist attacks. It is the government – it is the state. And when we talk about the government and the state, in there we have to identify the state more than the government, because a government is subordinate to the state. The state, its civil service, its prisons, its police, its armed forces – they are permanent features. And then, next to the state. we should fight against the ruling class, which controls the state. If we do propaganda about the state and the ruling class every day, can you have then your positions as technocrats, professionals, businessmen, intellectuals, and all this? You cannot have that. Because, you are telling the truth. You are saying that right from the time that East Indians and West Indians have been coming to Canada there have been racist attacks organized against them and they come from the state, from the Canadian capitalist class, and this has nothing to do with some corrupt officials. These people who are “just a little bit different” are bending the basic principles of opposition. A lot of propaganda is carried out that we should have unity against racist attacks. But unity can only be amongst these people who are against racist attacks. In that, the central thing is against the state – against the capitalist ruling class. Against the hysteria it generates against the people. Then we are united. But this difference that they present is not a “little bit”. It is the difference between those who are opposing racist attacks and those who are supporting racist attacks. Otherwise, we would be sitting on the same platform as the Attorney-General and Pitman, whom, of course, they invite; they sit with them. Now, fantastic propaganda is carried out these days. Pitman says, the Attorney-General says that “we” are all racists. Somebody should have gone to the Attorney-General and said: “Well, you speak for yourself. We will not permit you to speak for us. Because people are not racist – it is you who are racist.” They are promoting racism by saying “we” are all racist so that people do not look at the real culprit. Take an ordinary worker, or an ordinary intellectual. If they become racist, who is going to listen to them to put a clause in the immigration bill that the immigration bill should be racist? It makes no difference whatsoever. But when an official, an MP, a Prime Minister, the Minister of Immigration, is a racist, then it makes all the difference. And furthermore, the entire written history of mankind proves that the dominant ideology is the ideology of the dominant class of any time or age. And they are the dominant class. They are forcing the people, through the educational system, through all sorts of methods, to have racist ideology inculcated in their minds.
Can we take up the slogan that everybody is a racist? No, we cannot do this. If we do so, then we will join our enemy exactly as the opportunists are doing. It is very important that people speak up and say that people are not racists, it is these Attorney-Generals and others and they are doing this propaganda to the contrary simply to hoodwink the people.
When the opportunists say that they are “a little bit different” from us, they are actually the opposite. And when these people give these demagogic slogans, like the Attorney-General who says that everyone is a racist, their attempt is to fool the masses of the people. To suggest that is to lead the masses of the people astray, so that they will not fight the real enemy.
Our community, the East Indian community, has been divided right from 1902, between patriots and traitors. Patriots are those who fight against racist attacks. Traitors are those who actively oppose this fight. The issue is that the people stand on this front and the traitors stand opposite to them. This divisiOn exists in the East Indian community, also the same kind of division exists among the West Indians and others, and one can do absolutely nothing to end this division. The only thing that can be done is to unify the masses of the people against our main enemies.
We are just ordinary people. We have ordinary aspirations, and these aspirations are aspirations of liberation – very simple aspirations. There is nothing complicated about it. Some people are trying to suggest that to have this simple sentiment for liberation, social emancipation, is asking too much. I say to you that if we capitulate on this point then we will never be able to carry our struggle against our enemies. We ourselves will capitulate to the aspirations of the enemy. Once we give up that, then we are traitors to our own cause. To give up this spirit simply cannot be accepted. When people come up in a society, they reflect the actual aspirations which exist in the minds of the people and they reflect them in a concentrated form. They are a product of their people, the product of their sentiment, the product of their struggle. Our aspirations are the aspirations of our people.
I would like to say to you, comrades and friends, that EIDC is not just the product of the sentiment and aspirations of the East Indian community in Canada. It is the product of the Canadian working class. There is no other way EIDC could come into being. This is why on November 4, the press was raising this question with myself – how come you are Chairman of CPC(M-L) as well as leader of the East Indian community? for them this is a contradiction. They can have an Attorney-General who is on the one hand, Attorney-General, and on the other hand, a Progressive-Conservative. But they never raise the issue. They never say to him – How can you be Attorney-General when you are a Progressive Conservative? With CPC(M-L) as the firm ally of the national minorities, our struggle cannot be liquidated. Our struggle cannot be finished. Our struggle may go down temporarily, but because of the strength of the Canadian working class, it will come back again. Some people are suggesting that it is a bit “racist”, nationalist, to have the name East Indian Defence Committee. When the East Indian workers are attacked, they are also attacked as East Indian workers. The name is appropriate because the Canadian working class does not want the East Indian workers to take this repression and exploitation lying down. You have a contingent of the Canadian workins class rising up as the EIDC, and the guarantee for its victory is the working class in Canada. Some people try to suggest by various methods, like the press was trying to suggest, that the issue is not political. If it is not political, then what kind of problem is this? If racism is apolitical, then what is politics? The Attorney-General, according to them, is apolitical, and Pitman, who was an NDP candidate for leadership against Lewis and today is a human rights commissioner, is above classes. He is like an angel who falls down and brings the good word from the yonder world unadulterated by politics.
Our community should never forget this point – that it is Marxist-Leninist communists who are vigorous fighters against racism. At the same time, East Indian comrades should not use this point to suggest that in the community, unity can only be built if everyone is a communist. We are not suggesting that. People from all kinds of political backgrounds, religious backgrounds, anyone from the community should fight together against racist attacks. The same is true with the Canadian people at large. They should fight against the racist attacks. The leading comrades should never forget who is our god, who is fighting against these monsters. It is the proletarians and other working people who are fighting the racist attacks.
A cause can win victory if those people who have espoused that cause: 1) believe in the justness of their cause, 2) believe in protracted struggle, and 3) firmly carry it through to the end. The struggle may go up and down, there may be twists and turns in this struggle, but those who believe in the justness of their cause must never stop that struggle. Struggle against racism, its victory will be crowned with the formation of the new society and even in the new society, we will have to carry out struggle against national and social chauvinism, oppression of nationalities and racism. Even there the overthrown classes will try to use these kinds of contradictions, as they have already attempted to do in socialist countries, to bring back the oppression of nationalities, the oppression of the working class.
Comrades and friends, we have with us today the Joint Committee of EIDC, WIPO and CPDC which, number one, believes in the justness of the struggle against state-organized racist attacks and believes in continuing this struggle this struggle on behalf of CPC(M-L) and the East Indian community, firmly welcome this development.
LONG LIVE THE JOINT COMMITTEE!