Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Red Star Collective

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

Section III: The Path of the Revolution in Canada

It is in this section that IS! explains its change in line on the principal contradiction in Canada. They state that their former position “confused two qualitatively different contradictions”. It “... didn’t recognize the specific character of the contradiction which exists between American imperialism and the Canadian people. This specific character resides in the fact that the American imperialist state and bourgeoisie continually limit the independence of Canada and interfere in our internal affairs”.

We disagree that the formulation of the principal contradiction as being between the Canadian bourgeoisie and its ally US imperialism on the one hand and the Canadian proletariat on the other hand, doesn’t recognize the “specific character of American imperialism in Canada. In what way does it not? It clearly establishes that American imperialism is a force effecting all aspects of Canadian life; that it is allied to the Canadian bourgeoisie; that it must be overthrown in Canada in order for the dictatorship of the proletariat to be established.

What IS! means becomes clear in their next sentence: “The major effect of this was to lead us to considerably underestimate the struggle for the safeguard of our national independence.” Thus we see that for IS! there now exists a struggle for Canadian independence, separate from the struggle for socialism!

In the next column IS! talks of the “link” which “unites the struggle for the safeguard of national independence and the struggle for socialism”, but they never clarify what this “link” is. We can only assume that for IS!, as for CCL-ML, a military invasion by US imperialism changes the principal contradiction from being the Canadian bourgeoisie vs. the Canadian proletariat to US imperialism vs. the Canadian people.

Having failed to recognize that US imperialism is already an internal aspect of the contradiction, they are forced to see a change in the entire nature of US intervention with the use of the military. In this way the Canadian bourgeoisie is relegated to a subordinate role. But in Canada, because the Canadian bourgeoisie will not sever its alliance with US imperialism, the “corrected” IS! position opens the door to bourgeois nationalism.

For IS!, that the Canadian bourgeoisie holds control of state power, it automatically follows that US imperialism can not be part of the principal contradiction. And yet, despite the centrality of the question of state power to the IS! line, nowhere do we find an explanation of what they consider “control over state power” to mean or why this control by the Canadian bourgeoisie ipso facto excludes US imperialism from the principal contradiction.

On the former IS! has said that during the 30’s and 40’s “political power was thus increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small handful of powerful technocrats serving financial capital”, (p 26) Later, according to IS!, Canadian finance capital enters into an alliance with US finance capital. This alliance exists to the extent that the Canadian bourgeoisie “accepts the other’s supremacy”, (p 30) Also, US imperialism “continually obliges the Canadian state to pass laws which favor it, it monopolizes our natural resources...”, etc., etc.

So what does it mean in IS!’s view to say that the Canadian bourgeoisie holds state power? If they are forced to serve US imperialism in the manner IS! describes, why does it follow that US imperialism cannot be part of the principal contradiction?

On their former ’error’, IS! says that they, “had not clearly established a correct relationship between economics and politics. More specifically, we had a tendency to over-evaluate the importance of economics. This is what led us to include American imperialism in the formulation of the principal contradiction because of its grip on our economy”. (P 33)

To us the above is a poor excuse for Marxism. You can either formulate your understanding of the superstructure – of which the state is a part – on your understanding of the economic base, or you can formulate it out of thin air. IS! has chosen to do the latter.

On page 35 In Struggle! deals with the questions of the Quebec nation, the native people and women in Canada. These are taken up in general terms, and generally, the RSC is in agreement with IS! on these issues. We would point out, however, that the statement “... it is none other than the Canadian capitalist bourgeoisie that has oppressed the Quebec nation for over 200 years ...” is untrue. Before 1760 Quebec was under the domination of feudal France. After that date it was exploited by imperial Britain. Even today, the Canadian bourgeoisie is not the only bourgeoisie interested in exploiting and oppressing Quebec, as US imperialism well knows.

Under the heading of “The Enemies of the Revolution in Canada”, In Struggle!’s erroneous conception of the role of US imperialism in Canada is a-gain put forward. For example:

Within the Canadian society, the only force whose interest it is to maintain capitalism to the very end is the Canadian bourgeoisie. (emphasis – RSC)

This is obviously not true. US imperialism is very much a force ”within the Canadian society” and it is interested in maintaining capitalism in Canada “to the very end”. This is even more true of Canada than other places that US imperialism has gone to war over, since Canada is of vital importance as a resource supplier and market as well as being strategically located.

IS! also says that, “In order to maintain itself as a monopoly and imperialist bourgeoisie, and to widen its base of accumulation, the Canadian monopoly bourgeoisie had to conclude an alliance with American imperialism”, (p 35)

Thus they are saying that in order for the Canadian bourgeoisie to exist (“maintain itself”), it must be in alliance with US imperialism. This is a correct position, but why doesn’t this lead IS! to understand that US imperialism is an internal force, and part of the principal contradiction?

In relation to the part, “The Revolutionary Camp”, we have questions to ask. We acknowledge that no group in the movement has yet done a thorough, scientific class analysis and we ask these without ourselves having put forward a position.

1) To define the proletariat as all those who don’t have a “function of control in the organization of work” and “who don’t participate in the extortion of surplus labour” (value? – RSC) does not seem like a complete scientific criteria. What specifically does “function of control” mean? Many white collar workers and even lead hands and charge hands have some input into the organization of work and yet we would consider them proletarians.

2) IS! states that “at the moment of the final struggle, a large part of the labour aristocracy will inevitably line up with the reaction”. However, they do not give a very clear idea of how large the labour aristocracy is to begin with. This question is an important one with strategic implications.