First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol 2, No. 1, February, 1970
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
A new political formation has recently surfaced on the campus of the University of Toronto calling itself the Canadian Liberation Movement. Several public meetings have been held at which the featured speaker was Danny Drache, a graduate student who passes himself off as a Marxist (of the academic, pipe-smoking variety).
Danny Drache and his Canadian Liberation Movement claim to be both nationalist and socialist at the same time. Is this possible? Or does their socialist rhetoric mask a group of die-hard nationalists? According to the CLM the key to victory in the “struggle for liberation” is the economic and political strength of the working class. The question is ’Liberation for whom ?’ Will the power of the working class be used to liberate Danny Drache and Co. from ’American control’, or will that power lead the struggle against the system of capitalism that is the root of all oppression and exploitation in this society?
Nationalism is an ideology that puts national differences first. Socialism is an ideology that sees class differences as the most important. Which of these obviously antagonistic positions is really held by the Canadian Liberation Movement?
One of the CLM’s biggest complaints is the number of U.S. professors at Canadian universities. But what it is that makes Canadian professors more desirable than American ones is not explained. If a professor is an apologist for liberal capitalism then the content of his lectures should be attacked, not his nationality. Canadians can, and do, teach status-quo, bourgeois ideology as much as Americans. And radical professors, both American and Canadian, are discriminated against in hiring and firing practises (witness the firing of Norman Strax at the University of New Brunswick and numerous faculty members at Simon Faser). A true socialist would attack both Canadian and American professors that are pro-capitalist and defend the present exploitative system, and welcome any professors (Canadian or American) who challenge it. A nationalist attacks Americans and praises Canadians for no logical reason at all. He might even go as far as the CLM and claim that objectionable Canadian professors are “Americanized”. The problem with our universities, says the CLM, is that the immense majority of teachers, “if not American by nationality, are American by mentality”. This is utter nonsense.
The virulent nationalism of the CLM leads them into proposing ridiculous, dead end remedies. Because they identify the problem as “Americanization” and not as the capitalist social structure which puts profits for the few ahead of the needs of the many, they end up espousing the inane policy of a ’quota’. “A quota system must be implemented to insure that 85% of faculty will in all departments of Canadian universities be Canadian.” There is no direct link between a professor’s nationality and his ideas; there is no such thing as American ideas. In fact, to call an analysis socialist that doesn’t distinguish between the American ruling class and the American working class is laughable.
However, the metaphysical concept of Canadian nationality is raised to even more ludicrous levels: all foreign professors over the quota level “will be asked to sign a declaration that they will apply for Canadian citizenship”! Applying for citizenship miraculously cleanses American professors of ’colonial ideology’ and imperial scholarship! Professors who Drache and Co. once called “undercover occupation troops of the U.S. Imperialist Army invading our country” would magically become patriots.
The Canadian Liberation Movement’s hysterical xenophobia is also evident in a leaflet they handed out to workers protesting against OHSIP (see Canadian Worker, Vol. 1, No. 7). In a lengthy tirade they blamed “US union leaders”, “American unions” and “American unionism” for consistently misleading Canadian union members and keeping a lid on militant struggles in Canada. But again, the determining factor isn’t really nationality. An American-based union that fought in the interests of the working class, that truly represented its members interests, would be far better than a sell-out Canadian union. Because almost all unions (and therefore almost all American unions) are dominated by a fink leadership is no reason to arbitrarily support Canadian unions over American ones. The CLM is really strong on independent Canadian unions; this results in their support of Bruno Zanini’s fake Concrete Form Union. But, Zanini is one of the worst misleaders in town and his organization, or what’s left of it, is closely tied to DiLorenzo Construction Company!
Who would benefit from the CLM’s paranoic quota system? Not the students – they would get the same mystifiying ideology packaged as ’value-free science’ that they get now. Nor the majority of Canadians – the workers who will continue to be exploited by the capitalist system that will continue to be butressed by its universities. The only benefits will go to that tiny minority of privileged Canadian doctorate-holders, like Danny Drache, who will be guaranteed more secure, higher-paid teaching positions. (A quota means “hiring more young scholars” .)
Who would benefit from turning American unions into Canadian unions instead of fighting sell-out leadership? Not the union members, for they need good working class leadership, not a bureaucrat of a different nationality. The only group to benefit for sure would be the tiny minority of Canadian big-shots who want to be paid even more than now.
The Canadian Liberation Movement complains, “In Europe where most universities require all full-time professors to be citizens, the governments which set these policies are representative of an indigenous ruling class. In Canada, the governments which set these policies so as to facilitate the American takeover of our universities, represent a foreign ruling class.” Are they bemoaning the lack of a truly Canadian ruling class to oppress Canadians? In fact this very thing is what inevitably lies behind a nationalist movement. Such movements are the expression of the class interests of the petty bourgeoisie, intellectuals and small owners, who want to be part of the ruling class but are prevented from their success because of U.S. capitalist control. Their frustration is evident in their bitter attacks on the US, but their aims are often very well hidden, Saying, however, that “The biggest obstacle to turning Canada into a truly free and just society is the American ownership of our resources and industry and the American control of our trade unions, education system, press, etc.”, betrays the desire to convert it into Canadian ownership and control by a Canadian capitalist class.
We have to beware of people like Drache who hide self interest in socialist clothing. In order to improve the lives of the majority of students and workers we must struggle against the system itself – from both places.