First Published: World Revolution Vol. 2, No. 3, January 1970
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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World Revolution Introduction: This is a translation of a leaflet passed out by the Canadian Party of Labour in Quebec City to demonstrators, construction workers and others, at the recent Union Nationale convention in Quebec. Reprinted from the Canadian Worker, organ of the Canadian Party of Labour, August, 1969.
To attack the convention of the “Union Nationale” is like fighting against a shadow. Who really holds the power? The Canadian capitalists (French and English) and especially the American monopolies.
In a plant or big company, there is always an owner or many shareholders that live off the work of others: these are the ones who really hold the power! The foremen and superintendents are only their watchdogs; they apply the rules the capitalist owners dictate; they “direct” the workers in such a way as to insure as much profit as possible, and when the industry is facing difficulties, they are charged with the laying-off, or they do the “pushing” to raise production; they also try to create division among the workers as they fight against their union or try to buy off their representatives.
That is but one aspect of the capitalists’ power. As masters of production and of the economy, they control the state and the mass media. All the big newspapers, radio and television defend the outlook of those who invest in them, and they try to turn the people away from the true problems.
The Liberal, or conservative (Union Nationale), or nationalist (Parti Qubecoise) parties, and all the parties that are not under the direction of the working class are but the watchdogs and U.S. imperialism. They may show and consistent facades, but what interests do they defend?
If a party does not want to abolish capitalist exploitation, it can only serve capitalism – its role is that of the foreman in the plant. All the things that are tied to the state, the army, the laws, the injunctions, the taxation systems, are according to the needs of the capitalist class, not according to the will of the parties.
U.S. imperialism is being shaken by all sorts of difficulties, and the workers in Canada are paying for this. The role of Jean-Jacques Bertrand is to insure U.S. imperialism of a convenient climate for its domination.
To pretend that the Union Nation is the cause of all the problems is to deliberately fool the people.
In spite of the circuses (conventions) and the disputes among politicians (all on the backs of workers), one must see that the capitalists and imperialists are nevertheless united. The disputes among politicians are only disputes among foremen; the owners are one.
The Confederation of National Trade Unions bureaucrats, who are either liberals under camouflage or pro-imperialist Parti Quebecoise partisans, are trying to fool the workers. They cry out loudly against exploitation and shout: “Down with the Union Nationale,” but that is only done the better to manipulate the workers and to favor the bourgeois parties. If they truly take at heart the interests of the workers, why don’t they denounce the very essence of exploitation, the capitalists system? They call themselves “socialists,” but that doesn’t mean anything – these are hollow words. One is not truly a socialist who does not want to abolish the private ownership of the means of production, who does not want to expropriate the capitalists and the U.S. companies, who does not want to establish workers’ power. And that is not really what the syndicalists wish.
These bureaucrats (well paid by the union members) hide the truth and enter the game of the bourgeoisie: they fight each other for their own interests instead of attacking the system itself.
Raymond Lemieux and his chauvinists are pretending to be revolutionaries. They want to rally the working class behind the nationalist cause. But nationalism disarms the workers. Shall we fight only to have French-speaking bosses instead of English-speaking ones? Shall we unite with these small French-Canadian exploiters in order to defend “their” nation against the bad, bad Englishmen? That is pure folly and very dangerous!
According to Lemieux the Union Nationale was better when Danny Boy Johnson was there because he was far more nationalist. Nationalism is a vain attempt to rally the working class behind the cause of our petty bourgeoisie, seeking a better place in the sun. Nationalism does not oppose capitalism.
Furthermore it is used to divide the workers among themselves so they can ignore their real enemy. In order to overthrow capitalism and U.S. imperialism, the workers (French and English) of all Canada need to unite – their main interests lie in such unity. That does not mean that we should not struggle for our rights and for the equality of our nation within Canada – on the contrary! But the struggle against imperialism and the struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeois state both require a greater unity among the workers in Canada. The separation of Quebec would divide the workers of Canada in two and draw the Quebec workers nearer to the bourgeoisie (the one that speaks French.) We must fight nationalism!
The national/socialists are but the appendices of the petty bourgeoisie’s nationalist movement, and their acts serve the interests of “our” rising bourgeoisie. Is it through a miraculous “putsch” that they hope to take the lead of a movement that has nothing to do with ascending to the leadership of the organized working class?
There are no shortcuts to the socialist revolution, and those who enter the nationalist paths retard the coming of a popular revolutionary movement by chasing fake enemies.
The social revolution is an immense task and should not be dreamt of if one cannot first install workers’ power within the trade unions. The workers must have their own organizations.
It is common knowledge that the syndicalists and the bosses are acquainted and that the bourgeois parties have got a firm hold over the trade unions. Who has not heard of the fact that the Quebec Federation of Labor is serving the interests of the Union Nationale and that the Confederation of National Trade Unions is the stronghold of the Liberals? Is it not true to say that most trade union leaders fight for their own interest or for the prestige of their union, or to prepare themselves to serve the aims of the old line parties? How many union leaders have gone on the other side, and how many of them today are looking forward to doing so?
All of that is a roadblock to a workers’ movement that should be revolutionary. To fight for economic gains, yes! But to fight for the emancipation and victory of the working class and to sustain a revolutionary political struggle, the better! In order to achieve this we must kick out of the workers’ movement all the representatives of big Capital; that is a long and straining struggle to the finish. Only workers with a solid organization at the base and with a consistent political formation can transform syndicalism into a firm instrument for class struggle.
All the struggles, the strikes and the present discontent sharpen the questioning of the whole system. To achieve victory over capitalism and imperialism the working class must organize itself on a solid base arid have a political party under its own direction!