First Published: In Struggle No. 135, November 28, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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We accept neither the Maple Leaf nor the Fleurdelyse,
For the buds of lasting unity grow stronger day by day.
One weapon that we need is the workers’ unity,
And we’ll build socialism from the East out to BC.
1,900 people enthusiastically sang this song at the celebration of IN STRUGGLED Fifth Anniversary in Montreal on November 25. They were celebrating five years of struggles and victories over the exploiters. Two people read out the history of these past five years of struggle during a slide show on the landmarks of the struggle for the reconstruction of the party, from the publication of For the Proletarian Party in the fall of 1972 to the publication of the Draft Program in December 1977. During these five years, the question of unity has been central: the rectification of the Group’s political line on the Quebec national question and the development of forces across the country; conferences to unite all communists of the country on the basis of a revolutionary program; the call for the unity of ail workers in the struggle against the Wage Control Act in 1975, and against political repression and the rise of reactionary and even fascist ideology today.
During the second part of the evening, the myth of “our great and prosperous country” was denounced in a series of songs, monologues, and poems which brought to light the fact that it is only through struggle that workers have won victory.
Beyond prejudices, learn to see
the exploited people’s side of reality,
the steps forward of the workers’ movement.
Bled dry by the bosses, Through cold, hunger and sickness,
The worker knows that in his country,
Democracy stands for oppression.
This “democracy” was presented to us through a series of scenes of the history of the two Canadas – that of the bourgeoisie and that of the workers. For the Fathers of Confederation, “democracy” meant building the railway at the expense of the Native people who lost their land and were murdered. A sketch presented Louis Riel, the leader of the Metis population accused of “resisting the plunder of the big Canadian corporations and of having spoken up against the extermination of the Metis”, in the address he gave to the court at his trial.
“Democracy” has also been synonymous with the importation of cheap labour power from other countries. One song, to the tune of a well-known folk song, described the bourgeoisie’s invitation to immigrants as follows:
Who wants to work,
And work hard at that,
Not lie around like in the old countries;
Someone who’s not afraid of the unknown,
Of hunger, loneliness and uncertainty,
Come this way, ladies and gentlemen!
In reply to this democracy, a poem, “My brother the immigrant” presented the unity of the struggle of all the workers of the country.
The bourgeoisie also reminds us daily that “democracy” is synonymous with the repression of union rights. One act from the play, “Le progres” illustrated with humour and sarcasm how the workers of a fast-food chain have to fight for the right to unionize, a supposedly legal right.
Finally, the Secretary-General of IN STRUGGLE! brought light on another aspect of this democracy: the anti-communism of the mass media, and the agents of the bourgeoisie within the working class movement and among those who claim to be Marxist-Leninists. He explained that communists have nothing to do with terrorism, or with the mysticism of religious sects like that of Jones in Guyana, and that attempts to associate the two aim at discrediting the communist movement.
At one point, towards the end of the evening, the meeting took on the air of a union meeting. A speaker from the floor proposed that the participants sign the declaration of support for the Quebec nation’s right to self-determination and that they pass it around among their friends and in their workplaces. This proposal was a concrete response to those who, like the Trotskyists, claim that unity is impossible since English-Canadian workers are too “underdeveloped”.
Yes, unity is possible. The five years of work of the Group IN STRUGGLE! have shown how this unity can be built if we rely on the workers’ desire for unity, so often reflected in history. “We accept neither the Maple Leaf nor the Fleurdelyse” says the song. The unity of all workers, across national boundaries, was celebrated with the Internationale and later, tunes from Irish, Canadian, Scottish, and Celtic music.
Throughout Canada people enthusiastically celebrated the Fifth Anniversary of the Group IN STRUGGLE! on November 25 and 26.
In Vancouver, 90 people participated in the meeting organized by IN STRUGGLE!. For nearly a third of the participants, many of whom were postal workers and public sector workers, this was their first contact with an activity organized by IN STRUGGLE!. IN STRUGGLED spokesperson stressed the progress made by the Group in Northwestern British Columbia, in Vancouver and in Victoria. He also showed how the struggle to build a revolutionary party in Canada had taken important steps forward and emphasized the importance of demarcating from the NDP’s social-democrat ideas that channel working-class revolt into parliamentary action, leaving the door wide open for the State to smash the workers’ movement.
In Toronto, the evening focused on the struggle against revisionism as a condition to build an authentic revolutionary party. About thirty people actively took part in the discussion that followed the speech by IN STRUGGLE!’s Secretary-General. The debate centred mainly on two questions: “Why did the Communist Party of Canada (CP) degenerate? How can we be sure that the same thing won’t happen to the future party?” IN STRUGGLE! members and sympathizers answered these questions by explaining the dangers of a nationalist line like the one defended by the CP. The CP collaborated with the Canadian bourgeoisie on the pretext of the struggle against the more powerful U.S. imperialism.
The IN STRUGGLE! members and sympathizers also explained that socialism is a transition period towards communism during which class struggle still exists and is sometimes as intense as today. This is why it is necessary to reinforce the proletariat’s power, its dictatorship, in order to avoid a return to capitalism.
In Halifax, IN STRUGGLE!’s spokesperson drew the major lessons of the past 5 years while pointing out the success of the weekly, the fund-raising campaign – that more than doubled its initial objective – and the publication of the Draft Program. He encouraged the twenty people present to immediately take up the struggle to build the proletarian party.
Another speech summed up the students’ struggle against cutbacks in education. It showed how, once again, the revisionist line is leading the struggle down the garden path of voting NDP instead of building a strong movement of resistance uniting students and workers.
In all regions, the participants sang revolutionary songs.