Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

Critique of In Struggle!’s “The Path of the Canadian Revolution”


IS! has used the introduction to its article to demarcate itself from other lines. In order to make our position clear, we will situate ourselves vis-a-vis these lines on the specific points raised by IS!.

Workers Unity Collective – We have fundamentally the same line as Workers Unity on the political economy of Canada. Nevertheless, we do take issue with some of their descriptions of Canada.

Workers Unity state that, “at no point has Canada produced a genuine national bourgeoisie”. They continue to say that the Canadian bourgeoisie has never controlled the Canadian economy. This is true in that the Canadian bourgeoisie has never controlled the entire economy. It has always held control of the economy in association with either Britain or the United States. Because of this it is correct to state, as WUC does, that the bourgeoisie of Canada has never “attempted to develop the country as an independent capitalist power”. The Canadian bourgeoisie has never held, or sought to hold, the domestic market. At present this is manifested both by the high degree of US capital invested in manufacturing and by the role of US imports in supplying the Canadian market.

It is these factors which lead WUC to conclude that Canada has never had “... a genuine national bourgeoisie ...” (RSC emphasis). However, in the sense that a bourgeoisie exists; that this bourgeoisie has interests separate from US imperialism; and that this bourgeoisie is Canadian, Canada does have a ’national’ bourgeoisie. Because of the difference between the Canadian bourgeoisie and that of, for example, France, the RSC does not use the formulation ’national’ bourgeoisie, but instead uses simply ’Canadian bourgeoisie’.

WUC state that Canada is “a type of neo-colony”. The RSC does not agree with the application of the term ’neo-colony’ to Canada because it does not make clear that the Canadian bourgeoisie is not a comprador bourgeoisie, and has never been merely a comprador bourgeoisie. A comprador bourgeoisie is one which is set up by the imperialists, and whose sole role is to serve the imperialists. The Canadian bourgeoisie has specific interests and allies with US imperialism to serve these interests. Also, the term neo-colony indicates that there remain some tasks of the democratic revolution to complete, whereas these tasks have been completed in Canada.

WUC has clarified their statements, and we agree with the analysis presented in their clarification;

By a type of neo-colony, we were referring to the situation in Canada, while having political sovereignty, independence, is economically controlled by and subject to the design of American imperialism. We are not talking here of every economic policy and every investment decision, but of the general pattern of economic development as it affects the strategic interests of the country. Canada occupies a subordinate position in the American empire which is guaranteed by the power of American capital and its state. This is perhaps more accurately called an economic colony. (Documents of the Second Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists on the Path of the Revolution in Canada, P. 54)

IS! quotes WUC that “the national question in Canada can be resolved only by a socialist revolution which can establish a truly independent Canada under the dictatorship of the proletariat”. The ’national question’ refers to that which IS! calls Canada’s ’sovereignity’. WUC is entirely correct in stating that this question will be resolved only by socialist revolution. That is, a contradiction between the Canadian people and US imperialism does not exist independently from the principal contradiction which opposes the Canadian proletariat to the Canadian bourgeoisie and US imperialism. We cannot see a time when the enemy will ever become only American imperialism, because even if they invade militarily, they would be doing so to bolster up the Canadian bourgeoisie in the face of proletarian revolution. (As we point out in our pamphlet “On the Path of the Revolution...” p. 14, in the extraordinary event of US imperialism invading to seize state power in a non-revolutionary situation, the Canadian bourgeoisie would have to fight as their existence would be threatened. However, we cannot conceive of a situation in which it would be in the interests of US imperialism – as a class and not just as individual capitalists – to jeopardize a stable, profitable and vital arrangement.)

It is ironic that IS!, which claims that a secondary contradiction is one between the Canadian people and US imperialism, criticizes the RSC and WUC for bourgeois nationalism. Like CCL, IS!’s analysis must conclude that with a military invasion, the principal contradiction would change from ’the Canadian bourgeoisie vs. the Canadian proletariat’ to ’US imperialism vs. the Canadian people’. In other words the struggle would change from a proletarian one to one of national liberation.

IS! criticizes our line for not separating US imperialism from the principal contradiction, and for being bourgeois nationalist. Yet by creating a national struggle independent from the struggle for socialism, IS! fails to understand the nature of the alliance between the Canadian bourgeoisie and US imperialism. The Canadian bourgeoisie’s existence is dependent on US capital in Canada, and as we have stated above, the US is not interested in jeopardizing the profitable arrangement. Only major changes on an international level could force US imperialism to invade Canada in opposition to the Canadian bourgeoisie.

As we stated in our closing speech at the conference in Montreal, the position which recognizes the principal contradiction as being between the Canadian bourgeoisie and US imperialism on the one hand and the Canadian proletariat on the other, “is the only position which can correctly lay to rest the deviation of bourgeois nationalism, as it is the only one which correctly identifies the role of the dominant Canadian bourgeoisie as having no interest in opposing the system of US imperialism”.

Progressive Workers Movement – In its introduction, IS! makes some valid and some invalid criticisms of PWM and their analysis of the strategy for revolution in Canada. As IS! states, PWM “envisaged a strategy of national liberation struggle in Canada”. Although PWM never clearly states it, their analysis amounted to asserting the need for a two-stage revolution. For example on page 44 of “Independence and Socialism in Canada”: “Only an independent Canada can move unhindered towards socialism...”. This implies that first we have the struggle for national liberation, and then we will have the struggle to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. PWM recognized the need for socialism to defend independence, but didn’t clearly see the need for the seizure of state power by the proletariat in order to get rid of US imperialism.

IS! is correct in pointing out that PWM ignored the importance of opposing the Canadian bourgeoisie and only saw the “number one enemy” as US imperialism. According to IS! this was a “brazenly opportunist line” which “even promoted the alliance of the proletariat with important sectors of the bourgeoisie”. They go on to quote PW but do not prove that PW promoted an alliance with “important sectors of the bourgeoisie”.

This is because PW did not do this. PWM’s error was not in recommending alliance with the bourgeoisie, but in seeing the Canadian bourgeoisie as almost totally comprador. They said that alliance with some bourgeois nationalist elements was possible, but their entire pamphlet makes it clear that they saw all “important” sectors of the bourgeoisie as comprador, not nationalist.

PWM failed to recognize the importance of the Canadian bourgeoisie as an enemy of the Canadian proletariat, not because they saw it as an ally, but because they saw it as comprador, and therefore indistinguishable from US imperialism.

IS! incorrectly criticizes PWM for supposedly seeing “all important events in our history... due primarily to external factors”. This is allegedly based on a method which “reduces the history of our country to a series of facts or declarations of ministers... detached from the concrete history of the development of capitalism here”. Far from reducing history to declarations, etc., PWM attempted (not without error) to examine historic dates and place them within a framework of the contemporary developments. They saw “facts” and “declarations” as indicative of class forces, forces which included imperialist Britain and the US.