Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

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

Section II: The Transformation of Canada into an Imperialist Country

At the very beginning of this section there are two points with which it is essential to deal.

IS! states that, “This domination of Britain did not, however, reduce Canada to the ranks of a colony”. (p 21) This conforms to the non-dialectical view IS! holds, that either a country is independent or it is completely dependent. Canada was not “reduced” to a colony because it had never successfully broken the colonial ties. Canada was essentially politically independent of Britain, but it still remained an economic colony of Britain. It was precisely this dual characteristic of some nations that Lenin was referring to when he wrote: “Not only are there two main groups of countries, those owning colonies, and the colonies themselves, but also the diverse forms of dependent countries which, politically, are formally independent, but in fact are enmeshed in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence, are typical of this epoch.” (LCW, Vol. 22 p 263); and

Finance capital is such a great, such a decisive, you might say, force in all economic and in all international relations that it is capable of subjecting, and actually does subject, to itself, even states enjoying the fullest political independence... (Ibid, p 259)

Throughout their analysis IS! refuses to acknowledge the existence of what Lenin called “transitional forms of state dependence”.[1]

Secondly we would like to mention IS!’s remark that Canada entered “among the first ranks of commercial and industrial nations”. They state that Canada “... was also the fifth largest exporter of capital and in first place for the importation of capital”. They neglect the fact that the export and import of capital are two different phenomena. Importation of capital is a manifestation of colonial status, not evidence of an independent economy on the verge of becoming imperialist.

IS! next shows (and this time we agree that they have actually produced concrete evidence to attest to their position) the increasing monopolization which occurred in Canada in the first four decades of the twentieth century. With this the RSC has no dispute.

Unfortunately, it is their attempt to reconcile concentration in Canada with US imperialism that we must take issue with. They state: “... we cannot understand the creation of Canadian financial capital without considering the important role played by American capital in Canada. More precisely, Canadian financial capital was formed both in opposition to the American monopolies and in association with them. In opposition, because the massive arrival of American capital forced the rapid monopolization of Canadian capital if it wished to avoid being completely wiped off the map; in association, because once it had attained a certain level of strength which made it competitive, the Canadian capitalists quickly understood that they had no other choice but to share their part of the loot” (p 22-24)

This is an example of where a concrete analysis would have been of great assistance in figuring out what IS! is saying.

By monopolization in order to avoid being “wiped off the map” we can only assume that they mean Canadian capital formed monopolies in order to compete with US monopolies. If this is what IS! means then it is incumbent upon them to prove: a) that there were Canadian monopolies in direct competition with American monopolies, and b) that these Canadian monopolies were formed expressly in opposition to US monopolies. IS! demonstrates neither of these points.

The statement that Canadian capitalists “had no other choice but to share their part of the loot” with American capitalists is given no substantiation by IS! And yet, the assertion that they had “no other choice” but to ally with, US capital is extremely significant. It can only mean that forces were in operation that were not strictly within the control of Canadian ’policy’. That is, the alliance between the Canadian bourgeoisie and US imperialism is not merely one of policy as IS! likes to consider it – one which the Canadian bourgeoisie can opt out of at will – but one founded on US intervention and control of certain sectors of the Canadian economy. IS! cannot expand on this point without rejecting their own position.

But we must applaud IS! for refusing to completely ignore reality. Unlike CCL-ML, In Struggle! recognizes that the fact that more than one-half of Canadian capital exports are directed to the US is important as a reflection of Canada-US relations. It remains the strong point of IS!’s position that they realize the necessity of coming to grips with US imperialism’s role in Canada.

However, after this brief flirtation with reality, IS! goes on to place two sentences side by side with the implicit assumption that the second one proves the validity of the first. They say, “However, this should in no way lead us to deny the existence of a veritable Canadian financial capital, the product of the fusion of Canadian bank and industrial capital. The following data (reproduced charts – RSC) which englobes the entire period of 1900-1948 should cause those who continue to talk about the ’comprador’ completely sold-out to foreign imperialist powers nature of our bourgeoisie to think again.” p 24

We are prepared to be convinced by a concrete analysis that such a thing as Canadian finance capital does exist. But IS! offers no such analysis. The fact that industry exists in Canada and that some of it is Canadian owned is not proof of finance capital. IS! must show that generally in the Canadian economy banking capital is an integral and controlling part of industry, in order to prove that Canadian capital is predominately finance capital.[2]

Next, do the charts IS! refers us to prove that the Canadian bourgeoisie in general is not comprador? Table 3 is “Number and volume of consolidations and number of businesses absorbed 1900-1948” and shows only that, with no reference to type of industry or country of control. Therefore, while it shows the historical development of monopolies, it does not say anything about the Canadian bourgeoisie – finance, comprador or whatever.

The other chart on p 24 has no date but it does list companies and the “Number of businesses absorbed”. However it doesn’t indicate the importance of these particular companies in terms of the overall economy, nor does it account for the arrival of already concentrated industries via branch plants. As IS! itself says,

For example, General Motors Corporation (not included in the chart – RSC) realized only two consolidations, but this didn’t prevent it from being the most powerful monopoly in the Canadian automobile industry.

Thus, all that both of these charts demonstrate is that consolidations occurred, something it is difficult to imagine that even those “who continue to talk about the ’comprador’” (Canadian bourgeoisie) would deny.

We must at this point clearly state that we do not hold that the Canadian bourgeoisie is comprador. We are merely pointing out that with these charts IS! has shown neither “the existence of a veritable Canadian financial capital” nor that the Canadian bourgeoisie is not comprador. They say in reference to one chart that “these corporations are, for the large majority, Canadian”. But as they do not indicate what portion of the entire manufacturing sector these industries hold, they have not shown that the Canadian bourgeoisie is not, in general, comprador. Our assertion that the Canadian bourgeoisie is not comprador is not based on Canadian ownership of primary and secondary industry, but on the dominance of Canadian capital in banks and the commercial and transportation sectors.

IS! does deal with the question of interlocking directorships between industry and banks. We assume that this is with the intention of demonstrating the creation of finance capital, although they do not explicitly state this. The point is worth taking up, however, because of the erroneous understanding of interlocking directorships that exists in the movement.

On this question, Lenin said, “At the same time a personal link-up, so to speak, is established between the banks and the biggest industrial and commercial enterprises, the merging of one with another through the acquisition of shares, through the appointment of bank directors to the Supervisory Boards (or Boards of Directors) of industrial and commercial enterprises, and vice versa”. (LCW, Vol. 22, pg 220)

Lenin talks of both interlocking directorships and control by acquisition of shares. While the former represents the mutual interests of enterprises, it does not represent merger unless it is accompanied by capital control via ownership of shares.

IS! goes on to present four points on the relationship between American and Canadian capital. As we do not disagree with the first two we will only take up numbers three and four.

“3) American capital occupies an important place in all sectors where it is invested.” (p 25) This is false. US imperialism represents the dominant force in resource extraction and manufacturing, but it remains relatively insignificant in, for example, banking. This is a reflection of the fact that quantity becomes quality at a certain point. US investment in industry is significant not only because of the importance of industry in the overall economy, but because the quantity of US investment gives it domination over the entire sector. On the other hand, US investment in banking is quantitatively limited (for reasons that we have elaborated in our pamphlet #1), and qualitatively, US capital in this sector is under the domination of Canadian capital.

“4) (As well, Canadian banks are linked) to the principal American monopolies, particularly by the presence of American directors on the boards of all Canadian banks without exception”. (p 25)[3]

The word “linked” is ambiguous and doesn’t clarify the specific nature of the relationship between the two. We would once again point out that interlocking directorships do not necessarily represent mergers and would ask IS! to clarify exactly what “link” the directorships represent.

Slightly further on we find the paragraph, ”But Canadian financial capital was mostly exported to Great Britain and the USA. Since Canada did not possess any colonies itself, Canadian financial capital had to principally count on its association with financial capital of the great imperialist powers to participate in the division of the world.” (p 25)

On the one hand there is the positive aspect that IS! recognizes that capital was mostly exports to two large powers. On the other hand, the only conclusion which can be drawn from the paragraph is that Canada’s share in the division of the world was Great Britain and the United States! This is a travesty of the Leninist concept of the division of the world. They do not even bother to inquire as to why Canada had no colonies. Nor do they deal with the fact that much of the “capital exports” from Canada were returns on British and American investments in Canada. Canada has historically formed a base for British and American imperialism. Britain, and later the US, accumulated profit, much of which was returned to the home country and used to fund investment both at home and abroad. Later, with US direct investment and the creation of branch plants, subsidiaries were created in third countries from Canada, while parent control remained in the United States. Sherwin-Williams is an example of this.

The Canadian State: Reactionary Politics Right Down the Line

The material presented under this heading is some of the most incomprehensible that IS! musters. In their second paragraph they state: “More precisely, the control of the Canadian State was a necessary condition for the formation of Canadian financial capital. This elementary fact was quickly understood by the Canadian bourgeoisie”.

This conjures up the image of the Canadian banking and industrial capital before the beginning of the century, getting together and plotting a coup to gain control of the state and effect their own merger. This is part of IS!’s view of the state as something separate from the economic base. In ISís view the state is a tool of a faction of the bourgeoisie to be related to the economic base only to the extent they desire. That IS! splits politics from economics is evident in their understanding of the alliance between the Canadian bourgeoisie and American imperialism. To IS! the alliance is not based on the economic dependency of the Canadian bourgeoisie on the penetration of US capital into Canadian industry, but is rather a policy chosen by the Canadian bourgeoisie. See IS!’s section “The Alliance Between the Canadian Bourgeoisie and American Imperialism” (PU #3, p 27) and our critique, below.

As for the remainder of the page, we are tempted to simply reprint it and let it speak for itself. Unfortunately, some comrades are so caught up in the illusion that IS! has produced a concrete analysis that it appears necessary to point out the obvious.

IS! uses three quotes from the “Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Relations Between the Dominion and the Provinces”. The first quote tells us that mobilization for the first world war required that the federal government adopt ”certain elements of a totalitarian method”. The second quote tells us that loans made from the state as a result of the war created prosperity and produced a class of rentiers, while at the same time “class spirit began to be manifested among the growing industrial population”. The third quote states that the war loans contributed to a reduction of the real income of one “group” and to the “considerable surpluses” in the hands of another “group” None of this is astonishing. What is astonishing is that sandwiched in between quotes two and three is the statement by IS! that “this is how the bourgeoisie itself admits that Canada has become an imperialist country”. Please tell us, comrades from IS!, just how do these quotes demonstrate any such thing?

There are two conceivable ’proofs’ of Canadian imperialism that IS! may feel they have exposed. It is possible that they consider that the bourgeoisie admitting to “certain elements of totalitarian method” is proof of imperialism’s “striving towards violence and reaction” (LCW, Vol. 22, p 268) What Lenin said was that imperialism “introduce(s) everywhere the striving for domination, not for freedom. Whatever the political system the result of these tendencies is everywhere reaction and an extreme intensification of antagonisms in this field. Particularly intensified become the yoke of national oppression ...” (LCW, Vol. 22, p 297) He also said that, “Political reaction all along the line is a characteristic feature of imperialism. Corruption, bribery on a huge scale and all kinds of fraud.” (LCW, Vol. 23, p 106)

Lenin did not say that everywhere there is reaction, there also is imperialism. If IS! is using the “totalitarian methods” imposed during the war as proof of imperialism, they are saying that political reaction equals imperialism. One need only to point to political reaction in various third world countries to show the fallacy of this equation.

The second possible proof of Canadian imperialism that IS! could think these quotes represent is the statement “... enormous loans made by the state ... recreated a class of rentiers.” IS! must consider this particularly significant because they italicize it. But what does Lenin say about rentier capital? He says,

It is characteristic of capitalism in general that the ownership of capital is separated from the application of capital to production, that money capital is separated from industrial or productive capital, and that the rentier who lives entirely on income obtained from money capital, is separated from the entrepreneur and from all who are directly concerned in the management of capital. Imperialism, or the domination of finance capital, is that highest stage of capitalism in which this separation reaches vast proportions. (LCW, Vol. 22, p 238)

Thus, according to Lenin, rentier capital exists prior to imperialism, and only increases during imperialism. It therefore cannot be considered to hail its advent.

Undaunted, In Struggle! goes on to say, “Yes, Canada attained at that time the stage of imperialism, as defined by Lenin ...”. And then they quote the characteristics of imperialism Lenin described and claim that, “in the first years of the twentieth century, Canada began to take on these characteristics as we have shown in the preceeding pages...”

Let us review what IS! has shown in regards to these characteristics.

1) “the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established”. Although they have not demonstrated their domination in relation to the entire economy, IS! has definitely shown a quantitative growth in monopolies. Their only proof of finance capital is interlocking directorships, not shares ownership.

2) “... in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance ...” Lenin was not simply saying that export of capital exists under imperialism. He said, ”... the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance”. (RSC’s emphasis)

IS! has not addressed the question of capital exports from the point of its importance in relation to the entire economy. They thereby reduce the question of capital exports from a question of its “pronounced importance” to a purely quantitative one of whether there was any capital exported at all. They limit themselves to reference to the export of Canadian capital at the beginning of the twentieth century to the British West Indies and Latin America.

3) “... in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been complete.” On Canada’s role in the “division of the world among the international trusts” IS! has offered not a word. On the division of the globe, they have offered us only the dubious statement that “Canadian financial capital had to principally count on its association with financial capital of the great imperialist powers to participate in the division of the world, (p 25) IS!’s concept of imperialist powers helping other countries to be imperialist (in relation to themselves, no less!) is not a Leninist understanding of imperialism. IS! has changed the fundamental nature of imperialist struggle for the redivision of the world from rivalry to assistance. With this ’logic’ they are able to brush aside the question of economic spheres of influence and the might necessary to acquire them.

Those who began reading the article with the conviction that a) Canada was an imperialist power, and b) everything IS! says is correct, will doubtless feel that IS! has done a concrete analysis. More critical readers will be wondering when the concrete analysis of concrete conditions is about to begin.

We will next pass on to IS!’s description of Canadian participation in World War One. They say, ”... Canada’s participation in the imperialist war of 1914-1918 cannot be simply reduced to the consequences of the maintenance of certain forms of dependence of our country with regard to Great Britain. This policy of the Canadian state was equally commanded by the very interests of finance capital. Thus, Canada participated in the war as an imperialist power”, (p 26)

IS! does not go on to explain exactly what these interests are, however. But, we can assume that in an imperialist war, a war for the redivision of the territories of the globe, Canada too participated in the struggle for its share of the world.

Lenin says that, “To the numerous ’old’ motives of colonial policy, finance capital has added the struggle for the sources of raw materials, for the export of capital, for spheres of influence, i.e. for spheres for profitable deals, concessions, monopoly profits and so on, economic territory in general”. (LCW, Vol. 22, p 299)

Canadian “imperialism” in WW1, then, should be manifested in a struggle for 1) the sources of raw materials; 2) the export of capital; and 3) spheres of influence.

It is well known that not only was Canada not struggling for sources of raw materials, but that throughout the war it served as a key source of raw materials for Britain. It is also well known that Canada did not enter the war with the expectation of, or finish the war having acquired, economic territory. Point 2 is the only one to which IS! makes reference. They state that, “... at the end of WW1, Canada became for the first time, a net exporter of capital”, (p 26)

What does this export of capital say about Canadian “imperialism”? The war severely weakened Britain and caused a cut-off of the flow of British capital to Canada. Canada had to lend money to Britain to finance British war purchases in Canada. It was primarily the drying up of British capital that resulted in the 1921 net export of capital.

The US situation was just the opposite of Britain’s. The war had created enormous surpluses which enabled them to considerably increase investment in Canada. When the switch from British to US capital imports was firmly established, Canada also ceased to be a net exporter of capital.

This is not to say that the Canadian ruling class did not benefit from the war, or that the war was not a boon to the entire economy. Industry developed around resource extraction and the manufacturing of war products. But this does not make Canada an imperialist country any more than similar developments in India made that country imperialist. India also served as a base for British imperialist expansion both by supplying men and serving as a source of raw materials and war manufacture.

IS! claims that after the war “... markets conquered by the Canadian monopolies by means of the war had to be maintained and even enlarged”. They do not go on to tell us what markets or what means were used to enlarge them. Perhaps more importantly, they do not recognize the continued importance of the export of commodities and that commodities exported were still overwhelmingly raw materials and agricultural products.

We will not deal with the paragraph which claims that “the imperialist policy of the Canadian state was achieved ... by its participation in the British Empire.” This is not because we do not think this paragraph is significant, but because we have been unable to find material which would either substantiate or deny this claim. We are presently awaiting information from IS! on the sources they used. We encourage them to supply the source when they make such statements in the future.

The Question of State Power: Of Decisive Importance for the Canadian Communist Movement

Under this title IS! claims that they, “... have just demonstrated how since the time that Canada was transformed into a veritable imperialist country, the state has been entirely devoted to the interests of big Canadian financial capital”. (We assume here as we have assumed elsewhere that where IS! has used the term “financial” they in fact mean “finance”. ” RSC)

All that IS! has done is to give us some examples of the state’s intervention in the economy (the nationalization of the CNR, etc). They have not even shown in what way these actions specifically served the Canadian bourgeoisie. Now they tell us that they have demonstrated how the state serves only Canadian finance capital. To state this means that they feel they have proven a) the state doesn’t represent any sector of Canadian capital not included in finance capital; and b) that the state at no time acts in the interests of externally based capital.

Once again we have to ask where was this “demonstrated”?

IS! continues, taking up the question of the debate in the Communist Party of Canada in the 30’s on the tasks of the revolution in Canada. They characterize the debate as being between one line which saw Canada in a colonial relationship to Britain and therefore having to complete the bourgeois revolution and the other, correct, line as being one which recognized Canada as a completely independent, imperialist country.

Because we take up this question in more detail in our pamphlet #1 (p 54) and in our follow up pamphlet “On the Path of the Revolution: Response to Questions ...”, we will only state here that the struggle in the CP at that time was one between two bourgeois lines, neither serving the interests of the proletariat. The first line failed to realize the existence of a Canadian bourgeoisie and the break with Britain. The second one was a parroting of the Comintern line, which erroneously saw Canada as an imperialist country and ignored US imperialism’s role in Canada.

However, we would like to take a look at two particular statements IS! makes in this section. The first one is their claim that the Canadian bourgeoisie was aided in gaining decisive control over state power by “... the sharpening of rivalry between Great Britain and the USA”. They have not given one iota of proof either in what way this rivalry took place or what its effects in Canada were. Are we to assume that the giant imperialist powers, in contention for areas of the globe, somehow got so carried away that they ’forgot’ about Canada? It doesn’t seem likely.

The second statement is that the CP “... had an incomplete understanding of Canadian imperialism. This led it first of all to secondarize, and later, when it had completely fallen into revisionism, to totally lose sight of the strategic objective of the revolutionary struggle, the overthrow of the Canadian bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat”. (p 27)

With this assertion IS! is advancing the idea that the source of the CP’s revisionism was its failure to “completely” understand Canadian imperialism, for it was supposedly this which led them to abandon the revolutionary struggle.

Specifically speaking of the question of Canadian “imperialism”, IS! says in their paper of April 28, 1977 (p 13) that “... all hesitation on this most vital question, can only lead, and have always led, to bourgeois nationalism, revisionism and neo-revisionism, to putting into second place and finally liquidating the proletarian revolution”. So we see that we are not reading too much into IS!’s statements in PU #3.

But, however many times they repeat it, IS! has yet to show that Canada is an imperialist country, much less that to hold that it is not imperialist will always lead to revisionism. They have not given any demonstration of in what way this was the source of the CP’s revisionism – why it was more important, for example, than the fact that non-Communists were allowed into the Party, or that the Party consistently flirted with social democracy and its organizational representations. We might also add that the degeneration into revisionism was a phenomenon of the world communist movement in general. Did this all stem from a denial of their country’s imperialist nature, or were there other factors such as uncritically tailing behind the Soviet Union? This was in fact a factor and there were many others. In the case of the Canadian CP none of these was its “failure” to recognize Canada as an imperialist country!

The Alliance Between the Canadian Bourgeoisie and American Imperialism

This section of IS!’s article is fraught with contradictions and ambiguities. The basic contradiction lies in IS!’s understanding of the alliance between the Canadian bourgeoisie and US imperialism, and the evidence which they themselves provide.

On the one hand the alliance is characterized as a temporary policy of the Canadian bourgeoisie, which developed since the Second World War. This view is apparent in a number of places. After briefly summarizing the international situation following WW II, IS! says, “Thus the path of the Canadian bourgeoisie was completely mapped out; it was to become the most faithful ally of American imperialism in its struggle for world hegemony”. (IS! emphasis) (Incidentally we are curious as to the “Thus” since there was no previous analysis which indicated that this was the direction the Canadian bourgeoisie would have to go.)

Following a quote from L. B. Pearson, they speak of “... the fundamental interests of Canadian imperialism to develop a policy of unconditional alliance with American imperialism ...”

On page 29 they state that collaboration is the principal form of the relations “since the end of the Second WW” and that “it is collaboration which is presently the principal form of the relations ...”

All of this indicates that for In Struggle! the alliance was chosen by the Canadian bourgeoisie as a policy, and as such the alliance can be broken when the Canadian bourgeoisie chooses another policy.

Both the late date at which IS! sets the alliance beginning and the fact that they see it as a decision of policy rather than a necessity of political economy, is an indication of the fact that they do not understand the historic development of US capital in Canada. We will not go into this at length here as it is dealt with in our pamphlet #1. Rather we will go on to look at the evidence which IS! provides to contradict themselves.

On page 30 we have, “When we indicate that the relations which unite the Canadian bourgeoisie and American imperialism are relations of alliance we must never lose sight of the principal basis of these relations which resides in the considerable domination of our country by American imperialism. The Canadian bourgeoisie is allied to the latter only in so far as it accepts the other’s supremacy”, (emphasis – RSC) On the one hand IS! recognizes that the basis of the alliance is the “considerable domination” (economic we presume) of Canada by American imperialism. On the other hand, the alliance exists only if the Canadian bourgeoisie “accepts” US supremacy. Presumably it could choose not to accept it as well.

This is followed by examples and data which indicates US imperialism’s domination in important sectors of the economy, the military, culture and the trade unions.

And, on page 31 they say that, “... our country is still submitted to the economic grip of American imperialism and to its continual meddling in all domains of our social life”.

Thus, with some statements and information IS! correctly presents that the alliance is not a free association between bourgeoisies which can be ended at any time, but an unequal alliance based on US imperialism being an internal force in Canada.

Another point IS! raises is that of the independent interests of the Canadian bourgeoisie. They speak of “... the timid national tentatives of the Trudeau government”. This is an important point in IS!ís position because it is on the independent interests of the bourgeoisie that they base their conclusion that “... all the contradictions which divide the two most important enemies of the proletarian revolution in Canada (must be used)” (p 31) But the Canadian bourgeoisie does not have any fundamental interest in opposing US imperialism. The alliance between the two bourgeoisies is essential to the maintenance of the present nature of Canadian capital and minor differences aside, “national tentatives”, timid or otherwise, are not in their interests. (IS! has taken up this question in other places. We deal with their analysis of Canada and the European Economic Community on page 50 of our Pamphlet #1)

The Canadian bourgeoisie will not abandon US imperialism and therefore the Canadian people will not face only US imperialism as those who formulate the secondary contradiction of “US imperialism vs the Canadian people” suggest.

Despite the weaknesses of IS!’s position and the fact that they formulate the principal contradiction in the same way as does CCL-ML, IS! must be supported to the extent that they refuse to ignore the US role in Canada. Their criticism of CCL-ML’s one-sided, dogmatic line is correct as far as it goes. We hope IS! will build on this strength and eradicate the incorrect lines they are presently putting forward.

There are a number of other issues IS! raises in this section that we would like to deal with. On page 31 IS! states, “We must thus criticize those, such as the PWM who reduced the Canadian bourgeoisie to a comprador bourgeoisie and didn’t see that the different betrayals of our national rights were simply the result of its own imperialist interests”.

In Struggle! is correct in recognizing that the ’sell-out’ of Canada was supported by the Canadian bourgeoisie precisely because it was in their own interests. But they are incorrect in their characterization of PWM’s position. Despite the fact that PWM erroneously saw the Canadian bourgeoisie as only comprador, they nevertheless saw the “American takeover” as being in the interests of the comprador class. (This is not surprising since a comprador class always serves its imperialist master for the resulting benefits.) This position is expressed under the heading “Canadian Politicians: Serving the US Master” in Independence and Socialism for example, PWM says:

The fact is that the party and class Winters represented have always owed their ruling position to their unquestioning willingness to serve their foreign masters in return for a share of the profit.” (p 33) (emphasis – RSC)

So PWM’s error was not in ignoring the benefits accruing to the Canadian bourgeoisie, but in failing to recognize that not all of the Canadian economy was dominated by US imperialism. In other words they failed to see an alliance based on the interests of Canadian capital sectors and US capital sectors.

Another question IS! takes up is that of the labour aristocracy. They say, “Thanks to its imperialist activities, Canadian financial capital has also been able to corrupt the upper stratum of the proletariat, the labour aristocracy”. (p 31)

Just as we have challenged IS!s claim that they have ’proved’ that Canada is an imperialist country, we also challenge the conclusions drawn in the above quote. As we state in “On the Path of the Revolution: Response to Questions” “...there’s no reason for imperialism to restrict the doling out of crumbs to a handful of workers within particular national borders. It is in the interests of the capitalists to ’buy off elements of the working class in countries with various different relations to imperialism – outright colonies, neo-colonies, economic colonies, etc.”

We can easily find examples of a labour aristocracy in many countries which are definitely not imperialist. Oil workers in Malaysia or the Middle East, white workers in Rhodesia, a section of the copper workers in Chile, etc. all are labour aristocrats in countries which no one could claim are imperialist.” (p 11-12)

Lastly, we would direct your attention to a quote from Lenin used by IS! As found in PU #3 the quote reads:

The imperialist tendency towards big empires is fully achievable, and in practice is often achieved, in the form of an imperialist alliance of sovereign and independent – politically independent – states. Such an alliance is possible and is encountered not only in the form of an economic merger of the finance capital of two countries, but also in the form of military ’co-operation’ in an imperialist war. To overlook the peculiarity of political and strategic relationships and to repeat indiscriminately a word learned by rote, ’imperialism’, is anything but Marxism. (LCW, Vo. 23, p. 50-51) (PU #3, p 29)

There is no indication that IS! has left out any part of the quote, but in fact half a page is left out between what appears to be two complete paragraphs. IS! has tailored the quote to leave out all ’inconvenient’ sections. Part of what is left out reads as follows:

It is only from the point of view of imperialist Economism, i.e., caricaturised Marxism, that one can ignore, for instance, this specific aspect of imperialist policy: on the one hand, the present imperialist war offers examples of how the force of financial ties and economic interests draws a small, politically independent state into the struggle of the Great Powers (Britain and Portugal). On the other hand, the violation of democracy with regard to small nations, much weaker (both economically and politically) than their imperialist ’patrons’, leads either to revolt (Ireland) or to defection of whole regiments to the enemy (the Czechs). In this situation it is not only ’achievable’, from the point of view of finance capital, but sometimes even profitable for the trusts, for their imperialist policy, for their imperialist war, to allow individual small nations as much democratic freedom as they can, right down to political independence, so as not to risk damaging their ’own’ military operations ...(emphasis in original)

The bracketed note mentioning Britain and Portugal refers to Lenin’s analysis of the relationship between these two countries. On this he said,

A somewhat different form of financial and diplomatic dependence, accompanied by political independence, is presented by Portugal. Portugal is an independent sovereign state, but actually, for more than two hundred years, since the war of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), it has been a British protectorate. Great Britain has protected Portugal and her colonies in order to fortify her own positions in the fight against her rivals, Spain and France. In return Great Britain has received commercial privileges, preferential conditions for importing goods and especially capital into ports and islands of Portugal, ...Relations of this kind have always existed between big and little states, but in the epoch of capitalism imperialism they become a general system ... (LCW, Vol. 22, p 263-4)

We do not quote at length because we are enamoured with our own familiarity with Lenin or because we believe that all truth lies between the covers of Lenin’s Collected Works. But we think it is worthwhile to point out that IS! ignores any reference to relationships between countries which are neither completely independent nor completely dependent. This is not an academic argument because it is precisely this politically dependent but economically colonial relationship that exists between Canada and the US. Not content with mutilating Canadian history, IS! also mutilates Lenin.


[1] At the April 9th conference those supporting IS!’s line constantly criticized us for having the audacity to “invent” such a thing as an economic colony. While we would have felt free to “invent” such a category if Lenin hadn’t already talked about politically independent but economically dependent countries, it is ironic that those who suggest anti-Leninism are themselves unaware of his analysis.

[2] Our original concern for this question arose with CCL-ML’s and Workers Unity (Toronto)’s conception of Canadian industry as predominately Canadian owned and having merged with Canadian banks. This formed the basis (or stemmed from?) their support of revisionist Tim Buck’s line in which Canadian banking capital had merged with US industrial capital. As a Leninist analysis sees the banks as dominant in the merger between bank and industrial capital, this amounted to claiming that Canadian banks dominated Ford Motors! Aside from the generally ludicrous nature of the proposition that Canadian banks control US industry, this line ignores the fact that US industry in Canada is already par of US finance capital. See the RSC Pamphlet #1, p 54-58 on this subject.

[3] Bracketed part is our translation from the French edition. The English edition reads, “Canadian banks are equally linked to ....”.