Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

In Struggle!

The CPL accuses IN STRUGGLE! of chauvinism

First Published: In Struggle! No. 169, August 28, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In October 1978, the Canadian Party of Labour (CPL) published its twelve “Draft theses on Quebec and the national question”. In its theses, the CPL denounces the “Maoites who insist on attacking Levesque” and who are “a left-wing echo of the Globe and Mail”. Since then, they have taken great pains to denounce IN STRUGGLE! regulariy for “sowing chauvinism in the ranks of workers” (L’Ouvrier, March 3, 1979).

They back up this charge with two main arguments: first, that IN STRUGGLE! refuses to recognize in practice that the English-Canadian nation is an oppressor nation; and second, that IN STRUGGLE! fails to make the necessary distinctions between its agitation in Quebec and in English Canada. In this vein, the CPL’s sixth thesis on the national question reiterates Lenin’s teaching that among workers in the oppressor nation the task is to work for the recognition of the oppressed nation’s right to self-determination, while work among workers in the oppressed nation must be focussed on unity with the workers of the oppressor nation. So far, so good, since this is precisely the way In which we envisage in theory and in practice our work on this matter.

The CPL tails after the nationalist movement in Quebec

In political terms, the CPL publishes two distinct newspapers in French and English. The articles in the two are rarely the same.The English-language newspaper, The Worker, recently began to publish a “Quebec report”, which covers major workers’ struggles. In the French-language version (called L’Ouvrier), however, there are hardly ever articles on workers’ struggles in English Canada. Anyone the least bit acquainted with the working-class movement in Quebec will realize that the effect of this kind of policy can only be to strengthen the influence of the nationalists within the movement, who talk themselves hoarse about how there is nothing to be gained from uniting with English-Canadian workers, since the latter are too docile and too well-off! The CPL is not at all shy about repeating this opportunist line In the pages of its newspaper... its French-language paper, that is: “...workers in Quebec ... are the vanguard of this North American working class” (L’Ouvrier, Oct. 13, 1978). They’re really something!

In one of its rare articles on workers’ struggles in English Canada, L’Ouvrier appeals for support for the INCO strikers in Sudbury. A commendable gesture towards unity, one might think. But this is how the appeal is justified:“More than half the workers in the mines and refineries in the Sudbury region are French Canadians; another 25% are of immigrant descent. National oppression is the order of the day for these gigantic transnational corporations.” [1] The strike at INCO was apparently really a national struggle!

As a matter of fact, the CPL goes so far as to support the leadership of the CNTU, which it considers an “independent federation of labour with a socialist orientation in Quebec”.

In practice, the CPL tails after the nationalist movement in Quebec. This is what it is trying to cover up when it criticizes IN STRUGGLE! for chauvinism.

We would remind the members of the CPL of their own sixth thesis on the national question: “In the oppressed nation, it (communist work – Ed. note) must be focussed on the necessity of unity with the workers of the oppressor nation.Deviation from this means that communists... become the adjunct of their own bourgeoisie, while in the oppressed nation they pander to the nationalism of the local petty-bourgeoisie.”

In a future article, we will show how this is indeed the case with the CPL.?


[1] This is necessarily our translation of the quotation from CPL’s French-language newspaper, because the CPL did not see fit to mention this part of its argumentation in its article on INCO in its English-language paper.