First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol 1, No. 4, June, 1969
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The national question is a part of the general question of the proletarian revolution, a part of the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Stalin, p. 146, Works, Vol. 6
For some time the Friday Night Group (in Vancouver) has been discussing the nature of Canada. The Engler-Rands Trotskyite faction claim that Canada is an imperialist country in its own right – no different from France, Germany and Britain. They go to great lengths in ’selecting appropriate data’ to prove that the majority and even decisive sections of the Canadian economy are ’Canadian owned’. They completely deny the significance of the dominance of the Canadian bourgeois state by US imperialism and claim that it acts independently of Washington and New York. They talk in terms of a simplistic ’international finance capital’ without recognizing the specifics of capitalism in Canada and the struggle against it.
However, the Progressive Workers Movement and their entourage have completely adopted petty bourgeois nationalism as their latest gimmick, putting forth the thesis that Canada is a colony with the main task being to free the nation. They also gather ’facts’ to refute Engler-Rands and try to prove that Canadians are no more than hewers of wood and drawers of water. Therefore, all who claim to ’oppose the US’ are to be corralled into the broadest possible pro-Canadian organization. Some have even gone so far as to raise the demand “kick American university teachers out of Canada”. This means deporting geniune left-wing Americans and replacing them with the likes of Hayakawa (SF State) and company.
The Canadian Party of Labour maintains that both views are dangerously wrong. Canada is neither an imperialist power nor a colony but rather a dependent capitalist state. We are concerned with this question only in relation to the broader and most important question of seizure of power by working class. All else is secondary. Emphasis on an independent Canadian imperialism that does not exist is diverting the struggle into a dead end. Even more diverting (because it is difficult to discern) is the muskeg of nationalism.
In the document called ’A statement defining the Canadian condition and some of the objective demands of the Canadian people towards independence’ it is stated that “It is necessary for our survival as a state that we develop our culture.” First of all, Marxist-Leninists don’t see culture in the abstract. All culture is class culture. As for the culture of the rulers of the Canadian state – destroy it all! We do not wish to ’develop’ it. Secondly, as revolutionaries we do not wish for the ’survival’ of the Canadian capitalist state. It is a question of ABC Marxism – the present bourgeois state must be smashed. The only class capable of leading this struggle is the working class of Canada. The motivating force of revolution is not ’love of country’ but class struggle. Canadian workers will not die to defend the CBC. The kind of state that Canadian workers demand is a proletarian state. The kind of culture we want is proletarian culture – national in form and socialist in content.
As Mao Tsetung says, “The national question in the final analysis is a class question.”