First Published: The Forge, Vol. 1, No. 20, October 21, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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On October 14, all across the land over 1.2 million Canadian workers downed their tools and set up picket lines. They marched in demonstrations and participated in communist meetings. In the industrial heartlands of Quebec and Ontario, in the mines of the north, in hospitals and offices from Newfoundland to British Columbia, workers from both nations, Quebec and English Canada, men and women, immigrant and native-born walked out in a show of class unity to join in Canada’s first general strike against the wage freeze. On this day workers were joined by students, the unemployed, welfare recipients and many others.
The working people of Canada have written another page in their glorious history. They have smashed all the nonsense that the bourgeoisie puts out, like that in Canada the working class is content with its exploitation.
They have shown their political power as a class. And they have gained a new weapon, a new tactic for struggle – the political general strike.
In 1919, the Winnipeg General Strike was limited basically to one region of the country. But on October 14, 1976, the working class achieved a general strike from one end of the country to the other. The October 14 general strike was not only a strike over economic issues, for better salaries and against the crisis. It was also a political strike which hit out a repressive political law and set the whole of the working class against the capitalist ruling class and its state.
For the first time in recent history the Canadian working class has been involved in political struggles as a class. This is an important lesson for the future.
The 14th proved that the working class can organize itself throughout the land to confront a rotten and repressive law. It can bring the capitalist machine to a halt and shake the bosses and their state.
Thus it also showed that once it is armed with a Marxist-Leninist party, a revolutionary leadership, the working class can overthrow the entire capitalist system and establish its own state – the dictatorship of the proletariat. It can build a new socialist society where laws serve our interest and not those of the bosses.
For the past year the reformist union leaders, like Joe Morris, [MIA note: President of the Canadian Labour Congress] sought to bottle up the rising anger of the working people so as not to shake the capitalist system. They tried to channel our discontent into legal court battles so as not to upset their friends the bosses.
October 14 was a day won by the rank-and-file workers who more and more are seeing through the betrayal of these union misleaders who seek to divert our unions from their true purpose – instruments of class struggle. More and more workers across the land are seeing through their politics of class collaboration and tripartism, the big lie that the working class can ever share power with their exploiters!
On October 14 the working class demonstrated its potential for political struggle. The working class proved to itself that, in spite of the lies of the bourgeoisie and its servants like Minister of Industry. Trade and Commerce Jean Chretien, it is capable of organizing a massive united effort. But the working class also learned that one day of struggle is not enough.
The struggle must and will continue against the hated wage freeze, which Trudeau has shown no sign of lifting in his recent Throne Speech. It must continue against the capitalist crisis and against all the cutbacks in social services and price rises which hit at the entire working people.
And the struggle must continue against repression. For October 14 was also a lesson for the bourgeoisie and its state. Even though they tried to downplay the massiveness of the strike – pretending that all was normal when over a million workers had shut down the most important factories in the land – they too saw the power of the working class. And the day after, they hit out at the most militant, the most dedicated trade union militants, at communist workers, at all those who had led and organized for the 14th. At Celanese in Quebec they sent in the riot squad, at Montreal Locomotive they suspended 36 workers and the list goes on.
At the same time as we continue to fight the wage freeze, the crisis and repression, we must not let up our struggle against tripartism, against all the false solutions pumped out by the bourgeoisie’s agents inside the workers’ movement. This struggle must be intensified in the coming months as well.
We must develop our methods of struggle. We must learn from the 14th. We must continue to prepare for an unlimited general strike. But we must let no struggle of our class brothers and sisters – whether it be a strike or a fight against repression – remain isolated; no struggle of the people must remain isolated. Unite our isolated battles together into one powerful movement against our main enemy, the bourgeoisie and its state!
And as we aim our principal blows at our main enemy, the Canadian bourgeoisie, we must not forget the struggle against the two superpowers, particularly against American imperialism in our country and its economic, political and military domination. Don’t forget that these two big oppressors of the world’s people are also preparing for war.
We must unite as a class not only different factories and different industrial sectors, but also the working class of our two nations. In this period of heightened political activity in Quebec it is all the more important that OUR UNITY BE BASED ON A SOLID RECOGNITION OF THE QUEBEC PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION UP TO AND INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO SEPARATE. If we are to effectively fight both the great-nation chauvinism of such bigots as James Richardson as well as narrow nationalism and the false solution of independence our unity can only be built on this basis.
To succeed In our struggle we must realize who is holding it back; not simply our fight to get rid of one rotten law, but our struggle to rid ourselves of the source of crisis and repression: capitalism and the reactionary dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. We must answer the question that Mao Tsetung called the question of first importance for the revolution.
“Who are our enemies and who are our friends?” We must realize that our enemies are not only the bourgeoisie and the two superpowers. We have enemies inside our own movement.
Unions are essential weapons of defence of the working class and we must defend our right to unionize against the increasing attacks by the bourgeoisie. But we want our unions to be weapons which serve our interests. We must rid our unions of all those false friends of the workers’ movement like the CLC leaders. They see their role as managing the labour movement for the bosses and are attempting to divert our struggle against the wage freeze down the blind alley of tripartism. These reformists only want to shore up the decaying edifice of capitalism.
Equally dangerous are the leaders of the trade union centrals in Quebec who camouflage their no-struggle line with radical words. In reality they only want a patched-up capitalism.
We must unite with all those workers and sincere union militants ready to make our unions into weapons which can effectively organize our immediate struggles and which can participate in the great battle for a new, socialist society.
But this is not an easy task – we can only succeed if we have a revolutionary leadership which history shows us must be a Marxist-Leninist communist party.
This party is the proletariat’s party. It has nothing In common with the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the NDP, or the revisionist and Trotskyist variations; all of these are bourgeois parties which can never serve our interests.
It has nothing in common with the Parti Quebecois itself a bourgeois party which seeks to weaken and divide our struggle, to split off English-Canadian workers from their Quebecois class brothers and sisters.
No, this party has yet to be built – and our best energies must be directed to this central task, in the struggle against the wage freeze and on the 14th the young communist movement in our country has begun to show its willingness to engage in class struggle. The meetings on the 14th showed its growing strength. In the factories, workplaces and neighbourhoods where communists are present, they have begun to participate, organize and even lead the struggle.
But this movement is not the party. Our organization the CCL(ML) is a communist organization and like all genuine Marxist-Leninists in Canada it is dedicated to building this party.
This party cannot be set up overnight We must fulfill certain conditions if we are to build a real proletarian party in Canada.
We must develop our political and ideological line – our strategy for revolution in the struggle against opportunism and particularly right opportunism and modern revisionism. We must unite with the greatest possible number of genuine Marxist-Leninists around a correct ideological and political line. And we must sink deep roots into the working class; we must establish factory cells in the most important industrial centers in Canada. We must rally a certain number of the best elements ot the working class to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.
This is why as the bourgeois crisis and its repression continue to rain down blows on the working class, the most devoted sons and daughters must take up their responsibilities and participate In the revolutionary struggle for socialism. Today this struggle must be developed by building up the forces for revolution by creating our party.
Join the League’s study groups and readers’ circles. Take up the revolutionary weapon of Marxism-Leninism. Armed with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought the proletariat is Invincible.!
SCRAP THE WAGE FREEZE!
NO TO TRIPARTISM!
YES TO CLASS STRUGGLE!
AGAINST THE CAPITALIST CRISIS, STRUGGLE FOR SOCIALISM!
TO DEFEAT THE BOURGEOISIE, FORGE OUR PARTY!