First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol 3, No 2, March 1971
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Hardly a day goes by that Claude Ryan doesn’t do his bit to build the Parti-Quebecois – NDP alliance. On January 19, his newspaper, Le Devoir, printed James Laxer’s “Resolution on the Quebec question” which the “waffle” faction of the NDP will present at the “national” leadership convention in April. To conceal his anti-worker politics, Laxer waves the flag of national self-determination, but this isn’t his only lie.
To start with, Laxer pretends that he and his friends in the NDP and PQ are socialists. But to be a socialist is to fight for workers rule – just what Laxer and his buddies don’t want. They claim “socialism” means the nationalization of a few big companies and central state planning. But they never tell us what class does the planning. These “socialists” would be in a spot if they had to answer. They’re not at all interested in destroying the capitalist system – far from it. They want to make it “civilized”, all to the profit of the “national” capitalists and their well fed sergeants in the unions, public administration and universities. Nationalization and state planning carried out by a state apparatus still in the hands of the bosses’ class means bigger profits for the “national” parasites and in essence are not incompatible with the interests of U.S. imperialism.
The nationalization of electrical power in Quebec, master-minded by Rene Levesque, was a bargain for the bosses: on the one hand because of big compensations paid them out of the worker’s taxes, and on the other hand because the state itself could assume the cost of exploration and development of energy resources they need so badly. What do workers in Chile have to show for the nationalization of the copper mines, which our “socialists” so admire, carried out by Allende, the “Marxist” with an alliance of nationalist profiteers who mislead the work-class with “left” sounding talk. This alliance includes Christian Democrats (a capitalist party) “Socialists” (mostly fat-cat professors like Allende,) and the fake “Communist” party of Chile (front man for Russian Imperialism, which has already hooked Cuba and wants to gobble up more Latin American countries) plus a heavy admixture of union hacks. But where are the workers? This is the kind of setup that Laxer and his pals in the NDP and PQ dream about.
The only kind of nationalization that means anything to workers is the take over without compensation of all industry by the workers, along with the out and out destruction of the capitalist financial apparatus, all carried out by a state in the hands of the working class. Socialism is not a question of nationalization – it’s a question of which class holds power.
Laxer’s second big lie is his anti-imperialism. These days, it seems like even a minor conflict of interest with U.S. Imperialism is enough to make you “anti-Imperialist” and “revolutionary”. Laxer may get some applause from the Trotskyites, and get an interested look or two from the “Communist” Party, vanguard of Soviet Imperialism in Canada, but does that make him a revolutionary? There is only one way to smash imperialism: by fighting for Socialism. History has shown that the working class is the only class that is capable of carrying this fight through to the end.
Laxer and Co. push nationalism (Canadian and Quebec varieties) to protect the interests of our national capitalists, to build up the illusion that by fighting against “foreign” capitalists in order to put “our” economy in the hands of “our own” bosses workers can solve their problems. But Mr. Laxer forgets that no national bourgeoisie today is strong enough to stand up to U.S. Imperialism without jumping into the arms of another imperialism. The PQ grasps this in its own way: to win independence (that is, to deprive the Anglo-Canadian bosses of the privilege of running U.S. interests in Quebec), Parizeau and his gang, led by their honorary president, the democrat Rene Levesque, leaps right into the waiting arms of U.S. Imperialism. This eagerness on the part of his Quebec friends worries Laxer, but he’ll have to make up his mind (if power is what really interests him) as to which embrace will be the warmest.
Jim Laxer’s third and most recent lie is that he claims to recognize the Quebec nation’s right to self-determination. What interests do these fine democratic phrases hide? Faced with the necessity of making an alliance with the PQ, Laxer and his “Waffle” group push the right of self-determination in order to successfully ally at the top with the Quebec “Socialists” of the PQ, FRAP and the union bigwigs, all the while keeping the working class and the laboring masses divided by Quebec and Canadian Nationalism – ideas spread by the PQ and the NDP. This is an alliance of thieves who want to increase their part of the profits – always at the expense of the workers.
What are the terms of the agreement?
1) In time of actual crisis, where the strain on big Capital, led by Trudeau gets tougher and tougher, the leaders of the PQ and the NDP, equally menaced, need to put up a front against their common enemy.
2) The success of an alliance with the PQ allows the NDP to ride high in Quebec, assuring them the vote of at least part of the Pequiste electorate. In exchange, the NDP would withdraw from the provincial scene(!!!) and would publicize the PQ in the rest of Canada (point 3 of the resolution). Most likely Laxer and his group hope to reinforce their position in the NDP in this way.
3) The PQ’s interest in the deal is well expressed by Gabriel Gagnon (formerly of Parti-Pris, now Pequiste) in Le Devoir of January 5. “...the Quebecois still depends on a strong Federal Parliament(!)...wouldn’t it be better then, in anticipation of the crises which are bound to happen in these next few years, to send there men who will at least accept all the dimensions of the Quebec reality. In the absence of a federal venture by the Parti Quebecois, which would probably be an error, the NDP can by itself discharge this task with the support of the “realistic independentists”. Pierre Bourgeault concludes in Point de Mire (January) “The Parti Quebecois would then doubtlessly take interest in studying more closely M. Laxer’s suggestion”.
To sum up, for Laxer the right of self-determination is a leftist phrase that means nothing except to give a free hand to the PQ. For communists, there’s no question of accepting the whims of the national bosses of Quebec. CPL recognizes the right of the Quebec nation to separate but says that Quebec independence right now is good for only the national bosses. We don’t want to fight for the independence of bosses, but for the freedom of all workers. The question of national independence is not the most important question for Quebec workers. As for workers in the rest of Canada, the basic question is capitalist oppression and the fight for socialism. For this reason, CPL puts above all else unity of the working class of Canada in one pan-Canadian party, as well as international unity, particularly with workers in the United States. For CPL, the right to separation is not an invitation to separate, it’s the necessary antidote to the poison pushed by bosses – nationalism : the brand pushed by Levesque-Parizeau, by Laxer, as well as by Trudeau.
It is also the basis of the free union of Canadian workers to attack together on all fronts their common enemy, the ruling class in Canada.