While the war of aggression launched in 2001 by the United States and NATO against Afghanistan recently ended with the evacuation of their armed forces and the collapsing of their puppet regime, the 5th Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada hails the courage and the tenacity of the Afghan masses during those 20 years of occupation of their country by the Western imperialist armies.
Since the beginning, our Party has condemned the unjust war waged by the US imperialists and their allies against the Afghan people. We especially opposed the notorious involvement of Canadian imperialism and their Armed Forces in the occupation and devastation of Afghanistan. Starting from now, we will fight without respite for the monstrous crimes committed by the Canadian bourgeoisie and their soldiers not to stay unpunished.
Today, Western bourgeois politicians and media claims to be moved by the crisis that rages in Afghanistan since the evacuation of the US armed forces. They inveigh against the collapsing of the compradore and corrupted regime that was set in place by imperialism and financed with billions of dollars by the USA since 20 years. But contrary to what they lead us to believe, chaos in Afghanistan is not new: in fact, the imperialists are the ones that created it for decades. USA and NATO are the ones that spread chaos in the 20 last years in Afghanistan by deploying their soldiers and bombarding the population. Contrary to bourgeois media and politicians, we are delighted of the rout of the United States and their allies. Their defeat shows once more that the imperialists are nothing else than paper tigers and that the inevitable fate of any bourgeois occupying forces is to be drive out from the countries they vainly want to submit!
Unfortunately, despite the long awaited end of the occupation, the Afghan masses have not been freed yet and they are not at the end of their troubles. With the coming back in power of the Taliban, the Afghan people will be submitted to a new reactionary regime that will serve the feudal and bourgeois-comprador class. The imperialist domination of the country will continue—be it from US, Russian or Chinese imperialists. But the anti-people character of the new theocratic regime from the Taliban will inevitably conduct the masses and progressive forces in the country to fight. The proletariat from the whole world must be fully confident in the capacity of the Afghan masses and their Communist Party to find the way that will lead them to their genuine liberation.
The imperialist armies can never win!
Long live the Afghan people and its struggle for liberation!
Fight for the world proletarian revolution!
The International Workers' Day is usually an occasion for proletarians of all countries to gather together, storm the city centres of the metropolises and carry out combative actions against the exploiting classes. This year, in Quebec and Canada – as in many other places in the world – conditions do not allow the working masses to gather and take to the streets. As everyone knows, a monstrous pandemic is raging. Proletarians are confined to their homes to limit the spread of the virus. As a result, the flags and banners of the workers' movement and socialist revolution have not been unfurled. But the class struggle has not stopped. Above all, the aspiration of the proletariat for a new society, free from the exploitation and chaos created by bourgeois private property did not vanish, quite the contrary.
Capitalism is chaos!
The devastation caused by the uncontrolled spread of the new coronavirus throughout the world reveals the inability of the imperialist bourgeoisie to meet the needs of the majority of humanity and to organize the production and distribution of goods in a rational manner. The pandemic has only just begun, but already the contradictions of capitalism have worsened to the point of significantly altering the functioning of the bourgeois states and leading to a profound degradation of the living conditions of the popular masses. Everywhere, the ruling classes have shown themselves incapable of implementing preventive measures, controlling the spread of the virus and providing the population with what it needs. In the heart of the imperialist citadels of Europe and North America, where the virus has hit hard in recent weeks, health systems are saturated and corpses are piling up – a situation which would have been absolutely unthinkable just a few months ago. In these countries, everything is missing: screening kits, masks and protective equipment, artificial respirators, medicines, medical staff. Health workers are sent to the front lines without equipment and in insufficient numbers. In addition, the cessation of a large part of productive activity, ordered by the bourgeoisie in several countries to limit the spread of the virus, has plunged millions of proletarians into a catastrophic economic situation. In several countries, the number of unemployed is reaching proportions that have not been seen for decades. In Canada, more than 7 million people have had to turn to government emergency assistance, more than one-third of the "working population". Workers everywhere are becoming brutally impoverished. And this is only the beginning. It can already be foreseen that the coming months and years will be marked by violent attacks on the working masses as the bourgeois states seek to pay back to their extremely wealthy creditors the hundreds of billions of dollars they have spent to deal with the pandemic. As it has always done, the bourgeoisie will shift the entire burden of the crisis onto the backs of the proletarians and workers.
In the countries dominated by imperialism, where health infrastructures are much less developed than in rich countries – in some cases practically non-existent – the pandemic is likely to cause a hecatomb. Notably, in the countries of the African continent, where 56% of the urban population live in slums and only 34% of households have access to simple means of washing their hands (according to figures made public by the imperialists themselves), the spread of the virus could lead to millions of deaths. Moreover, while imperialism is already officially leading 21,000 people in the world to starve to death every day in normal times, the economic crisis accompanying the pandemic – which once again reveals the inability of capitalism to rationally distribute resources and the products of human labour – could expose even more people to starvation in the most vulnerable countries. According to the UN, the number of "severely hungry" people in the world could even double as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The completely deficient response of the ruling classes to the pandemic shows, in the eyes of proletarians of all countries, the historical limits of capitalism – a form of social organisation based on private ownership of the means of production, on competition and on the search for maximum profit. Inter-imperialist competition between the bourgeoisies of the great world powers has prevented the adoption of preventive measures to deal with the virus (massive production and purchase of medical equipment, large-scale screening operations, investment in health networks, training of medical personnel, etc.) and has dangerously delayed the implementation of the measures needed to limit its spread (closing of schools, halting a large part of economic activity, limiting non-essential gatherings and movements, confinement, etc.). This same competition is now pushing the various capitalist governments to loosen the confinement measures and to relaunch the exploitation of workers and proletarians, and this at a time when the virus is still there, when it is still dangerous, when the vast majority of the population is not yet immunized and when no vaccine is yet available. Furthermore, the race between the big capitalist companies to produce and sell masks and medical protection equipment at the highest price, as well as the irrational and anarchic competition between the various bourgeois states to obtain supplies from these private companies, constitute overwhelming proof of the absurdity of the laws of capitalism. This large-scale robbery is nothing less than a crime against humanity. While the world's resources should be distributed according to people's needs, it is the richest (or most rapacious) states that monopolize them and deprive others of them. As a result, the race for profit that characterises the capitalist mode of production is delaying the process of developing a vaccine against the virus – the only way to end the pandemic without a large proportion of the world's population being infected and without countless people dying. Since the pursuit of profit is the driving force behind bourgeois production, capitalists only invest in areas that promise to be profitable. For example, research to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-1 was abandoned when the epidemic outbreak of 2002 to 2004 subsided, since there was no more money to be made. Yet, if this scientific work had continued, research to produce a vaccine against the new coronavirus (which is similar in some ways to SARS-CoV-1) would not have had to start so far away. Moreover, the current confrontation between the large pharmaceutical monopolies and between the various capitalist nations to develop the vaccine before the others is complete nonsense. This absurd confrontation makes the process much less effective than it could be if the resources and knowledge available to humanity were pooled and if production was rationally planned on a global scale to serve the entire world population. In sum, bourgeois private property and the division of humanity into competing nations limit the ability of human beings to solve the problems they face and prevent the satisfaction of the needs of the broad masses. Capitalism will undoubtedly succeed in defeating the pandemic, but it will do so by barbaric methods and at the cost of totally unnecessary human losses.
Let us continue the struggle to rebuild the camp of the proletarian revolution!
In all countries, the current crisis is generating an explosive situation. The contradictions of capitalism are exacerbated. While the living conditions of the working masses are deteriorating dramatically all over the planet, they are becoming aware of the destructive character of capitalism and imperialism. As the impoverishment of the proletariat worsens and attacks on the working class multiply, the anger of the masses will grow and become more and more intense. Despair and frustration over capitalist anarchy will lead the workers to revolt. All over the world – in imperialist countries as well as in dominated countries – the crisis will generate violent popular uprisings against the bourgeois states. The capitalist governments are already preparing to face such revolt movements by putting in place unprecedented repressive measures (police controls, patrols, surveillance, curfews, bans on gatherings, etc.) and by deploying vast propaganda campaigns to convince the masses to support the bourgeois state. Everywhere, the ruling classes blow the horn of patriotism to get the proletarians to rally behind the national flag. But bourgeois propaganda is not all-powerful. Moreover, it has never succeeded in preventing the workers from rising up to fight the exploitation to which the capitalists subject them. Nor has it succeeded in preventing the victory of the great proletarian revolutionary movements of the 20th century – the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Conscious proletarians know that their interest does not lie in supporting "their" national bourgeoisie, but in the unity with the workers of all countries and in the struggle against world imperialism.
The last twelve months had been marked by the development of major popular revolt movements in several places around the world – in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Lebanon, France, etc. In each of these countries, the working masses have taken to the streets in their thousands to protest against the governments, to denounce their miserable living conditions and to fight the ruling classes. These movements have been extremely encouraging because they have proved to everyone the actuality and universality of the class struggle and the fight of the exploited against the bourgeoisie and the reactionary classes. In many parts of the world, May Day 2020 was expected to be a particularly effervescent day. But the objective conditions have changed. Today, nearly half of humanity is in confinement. In many places, working men and women cannot take to the streets. But the same conditions that have hindered the movements of the past few months will soon produce a new global wave of popular revolts, even more widespread and more powerful than the previous one!
This new wave of revolts will be an opportunity to give a new impulse, in all countries, to the work to rebuild the camp of the world proletarian revolution. Communists must prepare themselves to take an active part in the popular movements that will develop everywhere. When the movements will emerge, they must be visible and make their program known to the proletarians by fighting alongside them. They will have to take inspiration from the forms of struggle developed by the people and systematize them. They will have to lead fights and play a vanguard role in the struggle of the masses. They will have to forge, in the heart of the popular revolt, the revolutionary organization in order to arm the proletariat for its struggle against the bourgeoisie. If the people do not have all the necessary tools to defeat the ruling class, future revolt movements will be crushed by reaction or will fade away after a while. This is why it is necessary to continue the battle to strengthen the camp of the people and to rebuild, in every country where it no longer exists, the proletarian vanguard party. In Canada, the struggle to rebuild this party is the struggle to develop the Revolutionary Communist Party. And in the present conditions, the first step to contribute to this struggle is to widely propagate its program as well as the analyses published by its online newspaper, ISKRA!
Let's not sit back and wait for the situation to change by itself. Instead, let us prepare enthusiastically for the coming uprisings. Already, we must arm ourselves theoretically by developing an accurate understanding of recent events. We need to be attentive to what is happening in all countries and to the particular situation in which our class brothers and sisters find themselves all over the world. We must protest right now against the attacks that the bourgeoisie is making on us and fight for our legitimate demands. Above all, we must prepare ourselves for the struggles to come by remaining guided by proletarian internationalism and having as our perspective the complete and definitive overthrow of capitalism on the entire globe!
Let us arm ourselves with revolutionary theory in preparation for the next worldwide wave of popular revolts!
Let us continue the struggle to rebuild the camp of the communist revolution!
Long live the struggle of the international working class and the popular masses all over the world!
Long live International Workers' Day!
A few weeks ago, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) celebrated its twelfth anniversary. This event is, every year, an opportunity for our organization to gather its forces before launching them again into the struggle of the coming months. This year, we have launched the slogan to break the ceilings of the past and climb the historic levels. This motto is of paramount importance to our organization: it sets an objective whose achievement will mark the conclusion of the period of intense activity, reorganization and political clarification in which the RCP inevitably engaged when it split with the Canadian opportunists two years ago.
Indeed, since 2017, we have been engaged in a process we call the reconstruction of our Party. We are talking about the reconstruction of the RCP, because the split with Canadian opportunists has caused the Party to lose manpower and territory. In many ways, the split we have experienced has forced us to take a step aside. It has forced us to accept as an objective fact the political struggle that is now traversing the Canadian Maoist movement, making possible a multitude of transformations that can allow us to bounce back and regain the lost path. This political struggle has opened a path that would otherwise have been inaccessible. Agreeing to lead the struggle came with the obligation, in the long run, to come back stronger than we have been in the past.
The idea of rebuilding a communist party is linked to a true conception based on concrete and valuable experiences in the history of our movement. Recently, this term has gained renewed importance in the international movement. This is normal because the slogan of reconstruction is inspiring: it represents the widely shared objective and hope of seeing a swarm of communist parties overturn the world as we saw in the 20th century. It is a kind of rallying cry for all those who have chosen to continue the struggle despite all the dangers and challenges. Let's rebuild! Let us unite under this slogan by remembering that there is no impassable obstacle, no matter how damaged the camp of the revolution may temporarily be! Let us rally behind this call to go through difficult times with patience and confidence, qualities that only fighting for a just cause can bring!
Reconstruction in history: continuing or abandoning the struggle at decisive moments
The notion of reconstruction is an aspect of theory with varied foundations in the history of the revolutionary proletariat. The experience that has provided the fundamental basis for it is undoubtedly that of the fight against modern revisionism. After the Second World War, large sections of the communist parties, which were set up in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution and the creation of the Communist International, slowly deviated from the revolutionary path. The fight against this revisionist deviation opened a complex period during which many splits and expulsions took place in the various parties. At that moment, the communists had to choose between denying the line struggle with the right of their party or assuming it and bringing it to an end. It was not uncommon for those who had to make this difficult choice to be largely in the minority. Deciding to fight therefore implied losing a considerable amount of manpower and organizational gains to preserve revolutionary forces from the liquidation of the revolution. Sometimes it was a monumental loss. The revolutionaries then had to take the initiative and rebuild the organization. The period following these moments of rupture was then usually referred to as a period of reconstruction or reorganization.
One of the most significant experiences - and from which we draw much inspiration in the reconstruction of our own party - is the process of rebuilding the communist party in Peru. In the case of Peruvian comrades, the break with the revisionist leadership of the party took place in 1964 (the Party was founded in 1927). It was followed by a long period of reconstruction, reorganization, transformation and political preparation. It is this period, with the vitality and political force it produced, that brought the Peruvian revolutionary movement to the outbreak of the People's War in 1980. Breaking with revisionism and methodically rebuilding itself on a revolutionary basis is what allowed the Communist Party of Peru to be the only organization that succeeded, in the period of reflux of the world revolution in the late 1970s, in taking the initiative and opening up by itself a new path for the exploited.
Thus, in the conception we draw from these experiences, the reconstruction of the party involves a stage of difficulties and challenges. It is a period in which the struggle continues, despite the loss of gains and personnel, and which allows a return in strength, with the possibility of reaching a stronger and more important situation than at the beginning if the fight is well conducted. Reconstruction is a kind of consequence of the retreats, difficulties, relative failures and obstacles encountered in the class struggle. Let us think of the comrades who are trying to reorganize the camp of revolution in Nepal. Let us also think of classic historical examples where the term reconstruction has not necessarily been used but where the same process has taken place. Some of the strongest political moments in the history of the communist movement followed the most difficult periods when it was necessary to rebuild what had just been built.
For example, the Bolsheviks, after the great revolutionary rise of 1905-1906 in Russia, had to go through a very difficult period of reflux as the mass movement faded and the bloody Stolypian reaction fell upon them. In the years that followed, a fierce struggle developed within the Bolshevik leadership. Lenin and his supporters had to, among other things, fight against the Bogdanov group and its allies who openly rejected dialectical materialism in favour of idealistic conceptions. They also had to fight against the new liquidating position, dominant among the Mensheviks, according to which the party organization had become cumbersome, dangerous and unnecessary. To give an idea of the consequences of this struggle, there was, in practice, no central committee meeting for almost two years within the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). The Prague Conference in 1912, which marked a definitive break with the Mensheviks and the idealistic currents, brought together delegates from local organizations (city committees) in Russia with pain and misery. Without adopting the term reconstruction, this conference launched a vast reconstruction work of the party (relaunching its basic capacities, replacing its organizational structure, developing new departments, redeploying cells, launching a new daily newspaper - La Pravda -, taking over responsibility for a coordinated revolutionary action among the masses) to embrace the developing mass movement and the new revolutionary flow. However, the Bolsheviks were not at the end of their sentences, since two years later, in 1914, the outbreak of the First World War took place. The party was then greatly weakened in organizational terms (conscription of party members, intensification of repression, difficult general context, almost complete destruction of some committees, preventive arrests of local leaders, etc.) This period was also a time of political isolation for the Bolsheviks, while almost all parties and social democratic organizations sided with their national bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, it is the reconstruction work during all these years of adversity that constituted the precious school that allowed the Bolsheviks to face the storm from February to October 1917 and the first years of Soviet power.
Another important example is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which, while in full expansion, was betrayed by the Kuomintang (KMT) and the national bourgeoisie in 1927. The two organizations had so far allied in the First United Front to liberate China from its semi-colonial state and unite the country through the Northern Expedition and the fight against warlords. After the death of its founder Sun Yat-Sen, the KMT, under the new leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, attacked the CCP while the latter was not at all prepared. The communists then suffered a real massacre. The choices of the CCP leadership, which decided to try to launch insurrections in the cities that had been lost in advance, made the situation worse. The communists under Mao's leadership redeployed to Kiang-si with the Red Army. This allowed them to accumulate a few years of concrete experience of people's war and the construction of base areas, until the fifth campaign of encirclement and annihilation led by the KMT in 1934. The right then forced the CCP to deviate from its usual military practices, resulting in a monumental defeat. The communists were forced to make an eccentric manoeuvre (The Long March) and abandon their position in Kiang-si, with all the gains they had made there (the first steps of the Soviet republic, the experience of social transformation in peasantry and agriculture, etc.) to take refuge in the Yenan. At that moment, they had just lost more than 60% of their strength. It was then through the Anti-Japanese United Front that the communists launched a skilful and bold reconstruction work. Thanks to this work, they manage to climb the slope to launch what would become the greatest assault that the bourgeoisie and the exploitative social classes have ever had to endure.
What is common in these two examples is that in the face of incredible challenges, the communists had the choice to abandon or continue an experience. What was at stake was the continuity or the end of a revolutionary experience. It is this challenge that constitutes the essence of reconstruction. Examples like these can be found throughout history. For example, the unification of the socialists around the political consolidation of Marxism after the defeat of the 1848-1850 revolutions in Europe, the heroic fighting experience of the KPD in Germany during the Second World War after the almost complete destruction of the party by the Nazis, or the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution in China as the right of the CCP tried to stop the progress of the socialist experiment and isolate the revolutionary left. At each of these moments, the revolutionaries chose to continue the struggle. On a larger scale, the same type of process took place after Mao's death and the restoration of capitalism in China. A gathering of small ML groups then began to rebuild the international communist movement. These small groups were uniting by adopting Maoism, opening a new cycle of fighting and clashes.
The essence of party reconstruction: preserving the common thread of the revolutionary experience
To fully understand the challenge of reconstruction (to continue or stop the revolutionary experience), we must look back in history and look at the consequences of stopping, even if only temporarily. One of the closest examples of the RCP is the end of the ML movement in Quebec. Lacking a firm strategic vision and refusing to initiate an attempt to rise to power during a period of reflux of the world revolution, the MLs agreed to liquidate their organizations. When the communist organizations (En lutte, PCO) dissolved, it would have been possible for a group to reorganize itself. It would certainly have been necessary to go through a certain period (1 year, 2 years, 3 years, etc.) with a large number of challenges and no guarantee of success, but by playing its cards well, it would have been possible for this group to preserve a large part of the accumulated political gains. The political work of Action Socialiste (the political ancestor of the RCP) began in 1986. The ML organizations ended in 1982-1983. 1986, it is still only 3-4 years later, but there is a gap between the two. When the experience stops completely, it is no longer possible to return as easily to where you were.
Moreover, what makes the leading force of the avant-gardes is the persistence of their revolutionary action and experience with the transmission of this experience. In our case, it is possible to imagine a world in which the younger comrades of our Party would have been cut off from the experience accumulated by the older comrades during the period of Action Socialiste and during the period of the establishment of the RCP: they would then form a simple committee or even scattered circles on the territory! It would be a completely different political reality. What makes us what we are (a communist party in reconstruction), in a period of adversity, is that we have continued the revolutionary experience and preserved its guiding principle. It is with this common thread that the revolutionary movement is built and it is it that allows us not to keep returning to square one.
Reconstruction must first be used to preserve this common thread. It is not a question of starting all over again, but on the contrary of preserving the political gains of a party and an experience even if they have been reduced in quantity. This quantitative loss is inevitable in many situations. In the case of a split, the amputation of part of the organization is more often than not the only way to preserve the accumulated revolutionary forces. The bet the communists then make is as follows: if they succeed in the operation, by relying on the room for manoeuvre and the political force they have gained by breaking with opportunism, it is possible for them to return even stronger than in the moment before the split. Every time revolutionaries encounter great obstacles and choose to continue the struggle, the same phenomenon occurs and this is historically demonstrated. At the beginning, there is a period of adversity to face and at the end, we find ourselves with incredible political potential because we have managed to preserve and propel even further the fundamental elements of an experience. We only have to look at the example of the Bolsheviks and the Chinese communists to see this for ourselves: history speaks for itself.
In the case of our Party, the RCP, we split with Canadian opportunists to preserve the common thread of our revolutionary experience. It is this same kind of common thread that was preserved by the Prague Bolshevik Conference and the Long March of Chinese Communists. It was also to take up this common thread again that the Peruvian revolutionaries fought hard to return to the shining path of Mariategui, the founder of their party. Each time it was a matter of life and death. Rebuilding the party in Canada means, above all, preserving the common thread of the experience of those who refused the wait-and-see attitude of the period of reflux of the world revolution. Today, in many places, it is this thread that has been broken. This is what makes revolutionary work so difficult. To rebuild, for many comrades, is to rebuild parties that fell long ago. Everywhere, it is a struggle to replace the missing historical links: to rebuild the country's historical party and assimilate the common thread of international experience (Maoism). In the case of Canada, the idea was to return to the fundamental conceptions of the party (the Protracted People's War, the complete communist Party, workers centrality, the four objective forms of revolutionary action, the initiative of the vanguard) and let the actions resulting from the application of these conceptions speak for themselves.
Finally, if we are talking about rebuilding the party to preserve this common thread, it is because it is the party that is the framework for the revolutionary experience. It is the one that allows there to be enough continuity in time and space for us to talk about the same experience. Even if several years pass or if hundreds of kilometres separate the different battles, the party makes it possible to preserve the experience and transmit it. This is what happened in Russia: in this case, the common thread linking the moment of the seizure of power to the earlier period when activists were beginning to learn the ABCs of political unrest was preserved by the Bolshevik Party. By ensuring the continuity and persistence of the experience, the Bolsheviks succeeded in advancing the revolutionary movement from the birth of the first social democratic circles to the founding of the Soviet republic!
The objective of reconstruction: to break the ceilings of the past and climb the historical levels
Where should reconstruction lead? In our case, we consider that it should lead our Party to become a genuine party of professional revolutionaries. This expression should not be taken lightly. On the contrary, its use requires that all its practical implications be assumed. The objective of professionalization is not just one of many, set without much thought. This is a decisive objective for the contemporary vanguards. The awareness of the need, greater than ever, to succeed in this operation (professionalization) is a valuable lesson in the struggle of recent years in Canada. The missing historical links, here as elsewhere, make this objective even more important than in the past. It is therefore in the political struggle to achieve this objective that our Party is engaged.
Although we have just outlined the importance of basing ourselves on the historical experience of the communist movement, the conception we defend is a teaching of recent practice, even more so than a teaching of the past. Indeed, the current revolutionary practice only confirms more clearly what the victories and defeats of the past have taught us about centralism, discipline and the need for a party of professional revolutionaries. The objective of professionalization is what is required by the current, common practice of the various revolutionary vanguards and those of the imperialist countries in particular. The reason for this is that since the 1970s, within the imperialist countries, a historical level has developed that revolutionaries have difficulty climbing, an objective ceiling to break at the risk of never again succeeding in relaunching attempts to rise to power. Communists must be aware of the concrete challenge of crossing this level and their thoughts must be used to overcome this difficulty. This awareness is all the more necessary because it is this difficulty facing all the recent revolutionary waves that produces and encourages opportunistic conceptions proposing strategic liquidator detours, such as those we have encountered in Canada.
Moreover, it is in order to face this great challenge that the different organizations influence each other, emulate each other and hope to see a sister party move forward. Once the ceiling is broken, everyone will have to rush into the breach that has just been opened. Each organization will, in its own way, have to find a way to develop, in the struggle, the political strength and experience necessary to transform itself into an authentic organization of professional revolutionaries, equal to the tasks before it. In view of the difficulty of our times and the relative weakness of the communist movement, we do not need more laissez-faire and softness; on the contrary, we need the highest political and organisational level. The political struggle for professionalization is the struggle against all opportunistic currents, against all confusion and misconceptions that generate and reinforce relaxation, indiscipline and lack of method. This political struggle has only just begun!
Long live the reconstruction of the Revolutionary Communist Party!
Let us fight everywhere to continue, preserve and strengthen the revolutionary experience!
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Protracted People’s War are the common thread of our movement!
Let's break the ceilings of the past and climb the historic levels!
The challenges of the epoch require professional revolutionaries!
The statements of the ISKRA editorial board serve as a point of communication between the Party and the revolutionary proletariat. It is simply a matter of talking without filters, of making the situation understood, of explaining the current stage of work with its challenges, of presenting the objectives of an initiative and the steps that must be taken in the Party's progress. When the RCP leads a movement and launches an offensive, its political perspectives and objectives are presented in these statements.
On this May 1st, 2020, International Workers' Day, we are publishing this text to remind the proletarians of Quebec and Canada that the future of their class does not lie in the current bourgeois society, a society in which their value is not recognized, in which their voice is buried and in which they are constantly trampled underfoot by the ruling class that exploits them. On this May 1st, 2020, let us remember that the fight to come is the fight for proletarian power!
Among all the things that the "COVID-19 crisis" has brought to light is the fact that bourgeois society is based entirely on the physical and concrete work of the proletariat. Yet many intellectuals had been claiming for decades that proletarians and workers no longer existed in countries like Canada. These bourgeois ideologues claimed that the exploitation of one class by another no longer corresponded to contemporary reality and that everyone was now merging into a kind of confused and homogeneous marmalade. They also claimed that manual labor had been replaced by "immaterial" labor and other such nonsense. But here it is: with the containment measures of the last few weeks, all these assertions are clearly refuted by the facts. From the very beginning of the crisis, there has been a tangible division, a very clear division between those who, on the one hand, have been able to continue their usual occupation by "teleworking" and those who, on the other hand, have been deprived of their livelihood or have been forced to continue to physically go to their workplaces (since they were in "essential" employment). What does that mean? It means that the social division of labour is still very real, but it also means that the functioning of society is still and always based on the daily material action of a mass of proletarians. This mass of workers still makes up the majority of the population (which is easily confirmed when we look at the available statistics), despite all the fuss that artists, journalists, university professors and "public figures" of all kinds regularly make to convince us that the heart of society is people like them. The confinement has also highlighted the fundamental contradiction in today's society, that between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. We have seen, in fact, that the real events that occur in society affect people in a radically different way depending on whether they are part of the minority of rich people living on income from their capital and having considerable reserves of money in their possession, or whether they are part of the vast majority of modest or poor people living on wage labor and having little or no savings. For the bourgeois, who have no obligation to work for a living, confinement was not a serious problem. For the proletarians, who depended on their wages for survival and had virtually no room for manoeuvre in case of trouble, confinement meant economic insecurity, anxiety and impoverishment.
The facts are hard to deny (even if the petty-bourgeoisie is an expert at it) and the ideologues who not long ago denied the existence of the proletarian class and the reality of physical and exploited labour will have to be silent for a while. In fact, the media news has been occupied for days - especially at the beginning of the crisis - by the reality of different groups of proletarians and workers, groups occupying various functions within the great social process of work that produces society as it exists. Since the economy is the basis of society, it goes without saying that such an important reorganization of social life as a generalized confinement could not be centered on anything other than the reorganization of the great sectors of production and work: transport, manufacturing, trade, public services and utilities, etc. Within this vast process of work, for example, a distinction had to be made between what was "essential" and what was "non-essential". While some categories of workers have had to stop working altogether, others have been forced to stay on, for example, to produce food, to maintain supply chains, or to run hospitals and the entire health care system. It was clear that without the continuity of the concrete work of these thousands of proletarians, everything would fall apart. In fact, we began to see many petty-bourgeois (who, in normal times, are not the least bit interested in the reality of production and the great work process that allows them to live) affirm on social networks that they were paying attention for the first time to the work of store employees, cashiers, truck drivers, delivery men, etc. Many of these attention-seeking petits-bourgeois began to ostentatiously thank these workers. Of course, it was only to clear their conscience and "redeem" themselves for having ignored them for years - something they will soon start doing again.
Normally, workers do not make headlines or receive praise. Their reality is usually of little or no interest to the media. Indeed, in capitalist society, it is the personalities who have accomplished individual "exploits" that are put on a pedestal. The people who are praised in the media are bourgeois sportsmen like Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, fil-à-papa artists like Xavier Dolan, "entrepreneurs" à la Alexandre Taillefer, star activists à la Dominique Champagne, astronauts like David Saint-Jacques, singers, writers, university researchers, adventurers, etc. If bourgeois society puts these personalities in the spotlight, it is to reinforce the illusion that it is individuals who produce the world and not the masses. Thus, the bourgeoisie seeks to convey the idea that certain particularly intelligent and talented individuals have built everything, when in reality, everything has been produced by the combined work of millions of anonymous proletarians who have never asked for anyone's attention. In fact, the "great personalities" produced almost nothing at all. Their "accomplishments" are nothing more than the product of the activity of the millions of human beings who surround them and who came before them, a product that they appropriate in order to shine, to build a career, to enrich themselves and, above all, not to have to work like everyone else. Often, these people have benefited from extremely favourable material conditions that have allowed them to develop their "talents" and now they use them to parasitize society, which is the only thing they know how to do. In general, these "heroes" of the bourgeoisie look down on the proletarians and consider their lives far too "ordinary" to be worthy of interest. Yet the real heroes are the millions of workers without history who work every day to make their small contribution to social life. The real heroes are the millions of proletarians who take part every day in the vast collective process of transforming the world and improving the well-being of humanity. In reality, the noblest and highest thing that can be achieved is not getting a doctorate, making a work of art, winning the Olympic Games, going into space or anything like that. On the contrary, the most admirable thing it is possible to do is to carry out daily with one's comrades a simple piecemeal task within the great social process of production and work that allows humanity to live. Taken separately, these tasks seem at first glance to be nothing extraordinary. But when we take them as a whole, we grasp their full importance: we understand that each of them is necessary for the reproduction of society, and that if there were no one to carry them out humbly, human civilization would collapse in an instant.
That being said, since the beginning of the crisis, something unusual seems to be happening. While normally it is the "heroes" of the bourgeoisie who occupy all the space in the media, all of a sudden we hear about the proletarians and their indispensable role in society. Premier Legault, for example, from the very beginning of the health emergency, seemed to want to express his deep gratitude to nurses and orderlies by starting to call them "our guardian angels". Moreover, in his unbearable "thanks of the day", he began to praise the daily efforts of all kinds of specific categories of workers. Among the proletarians still at work, almost everyone was there, from hospital staff to store cashiers, delivery men and truck drivers. What happened? Did class relations change in society? Not in the slightest. In fact, the recent "glorification" of certain categories of workers had nothing to do with any real recognition by bourgeois society of their contribution. The bourgeoisie, which exploits the proletarians year-round, did not start last March to care about the lives of the workers. In fact, what must be understood is that the bourgeois government executive, through these hypocritical thanks and praises, was simply seeking to promote the obedience and submission of the proletarians it sent to work despite the risks associated with the virus, a bit like a general singing the honour and glory of the soldiers he sends to be sacrificed like cannon fodder on the battlefield. One thing we can be sure of, is that under the Prime Minister's velvet glove is an iron hand. Moreover, in parallel with his speech "full of gratitude to the proletarians", François Legault accused the popular masses in a barely veiled way of being responsible for the spread of the virus. In particular, he gratuitously accused young proletarians, from the very first days, of not listening to instructions. Later, he implicitly suggested that the chaos in the health care system was partly caused by absenteeism of workers in the system, assuming that many of them had left not because of their health but simply because they were afraid (which would still be perfectly understandable and would in no way be the cause of the problems we are witnessing). But his disregard for the working class was evident when he implied that medical specialists would be able to do the work of nurses and orderlies without any difficulty (and without any training), while adding, in a tone full of condescension towards the proletarians who clean the facilities of the health network, "[that] they [medical specialists] are not asked to wash the floors in the CHSLDs". Let there be no mistake: the bourgeois state's thanks to the workers serve no other purpose than to encourage them to sacrifice themselves to save Capital. Let us be assured that the situation will soon return to normal, that the working masses will once again be ignored by the media and that all the proletarians who have made incredible efforts to defeat the virus will be completely forgotten by the government. As a trucker interviewed on Radio-Canada at the beginning of the crisis summed it up so well: "Before, we were less than nothing. Now we've become heroes. But in a little while, we'll be back to being zeroes again." This is the fate reserved for proletarians under capitalism: while they make up the majority of the population and are the ones who allow society to function, they are despised and their voice is completely stifled by the bourgeoisie.
It is only when the proletariat will hold power that the contempt for the proletariat will come to an end and workers will be appreciated at their true value. Under socialism, the work done by the proletarians and workers will be truly and permanently honoured. This glorification will not only be expressed in words, but will also be translated into the implementation of all kinds of measures to improve the welfare of the working masses and make their lives easier. Measures will also be put in place to encourage the participation of the greatest number of proletarians in political and economic decisions. The institutions that will be set up will all have the function of serving the people. Finally, all decisions will be made according to the interests of the workers rather than according to a minority of parasites as is the case under the bourgeois regime. This socialist society is ahead of us, it is to come. It is up to us, proletarians, to fight for its realization!
This year, May 1st has special significance for the Canadian proletariat. It coincides with the centenary of an event whose recollection remains forever engraved in its memory, an event that, at the time, allowed it to learn fundamental lessons and, above all, to forge essential weapons that are still used today in our struggle against the capitalists: the Winnipeg General Strike.
On May 1st, 1919, Winnipeg construction workers – followed the next day by metallurgy workers – went on strike to obtain better wages, shorter days and union recognition. Two weeks later, following the bosses’ categorical refusal to negotiate with the workers, the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council, after consulting with its members, announced a general strike in support of construction workers and steelworkers. More than 30,000 unionized and non-unionized workers – out of a population of 200,000 – began a strike that would paralyze the capitalist economy in the city for six weeks. A strike committee was set up and took over the administration of essential municipal services, such as food delivery and water distribution. Solidarity strikes have been unleashed in some 20 cities across the country, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. In Montreal, a popular assembly of English-speaking, French-speaking and immigrant proletarians adopted a motion in support of the movement. Under the leadership of Winnipeg workers, the country literally burned down, shaking the bourgeoisie and the foundations of its exploitative regime.
While some will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike in a purely intellectual way, being completely disconnected from the current class struggle, or even denying its existence, the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR-RCP) calls for the political struggle against the capitalists of our time to highlight this anniversary whose symbolic charge can only and must only serve to inspire the workers of today for their future battles and especially to strengthen their will to overthrow bourgeois society once and for all. Our party therefore calls for taking to the streets on May 1st and storming the financial and commercial centre of the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie in Montreal, one of the neighbourhoods in the country where the wealth produced by the working class is concentrated today and from which it continues to be plundered. The rally is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Phillips Square. We call on the masses to go on the offensive, to confront the capitalists and their repressive apparatus in the streets and to target bourgeois interests, putting in the foreground the unity of the proletariat and its desire to take power to transform society and abolish exploitation.
Today, as the need for socialism becomes more and more pressing with the long-term crisis in which world capitalism has been plunged for decades, as the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie sharpens in all countries, including ours – just think of recent attacks on the working masses such as the Trudeau government’s special law to force Canada Post employees back to work –, as people’s living conditions deteriorate and as fires burn throughout society, it is imperative that workers reconnect with their class’ traditions of struggle and regain the means of action it has historically developed during its many struggles against the capitalists.
At the moment, emancipatory perspectives for the whole class are lacking within the Canadian proletariat, while with its powerful productive forces and incredible wealth, the country has long been ripe for the collectivization of the means of production and the empowerment of the masses in the organization of society. It is therefore urgent to seize the forms of action that promote the unity of all the proletarians, that make it possible to put forward the fundamental needs of our class and, above all, that advance the revolutionary struggle to overthrow bourgeois power and replace it with workers power. In short, we must develop our initiative and, using the experience accumulated historically by the working class and the popular masses, build the camp of communist revolution!
Combative proletarian demonstrations are one of those forms of struggle that have long been part of the Canadian and international proletariat’s arsenal of combat, a powerful form of struggle now used by the masses almost everywhere in the world – especially on May 1st – and that must spread here in order to put the bourgeoisie on the defensive and advance the revolutionary movement. It was also one of the forms of struggle that the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 put forward. On June 21, 1919, during a major strike demonstration near Winnipeg City Hall, the demonstrators attacked, overthrew and set on fire a streetcar operated by scabs – an action that was immortalized by a famous photo that now symbolizes this historic strike.
Unfortunately, the strikers were not sufficiently prepared for the harshness of the repression that would follow that day, now known as “Bloody Saturday”; after the city mayor read the Riot Act, the Mounted Police of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (the RCMP’s ancestor) loaded the demonstrators, beat them with batons and shot the crowd, killing two strikers and injuring dozens more. The routed strikers were then chased and beaten through the city streets, before they were finally occupied by the army. Despite the fact that the demonstrators somehow resisted the attack of the repressive forces, succeeding in causing some damage in the opposing camp, they were unable to hold out for long.
Far from signifying, as some pacifists might think, that the strikers should not have used violence, this episode shows on the contrary that greater and better organized violence should have been used to respond to reactionary violence and repel capitalist attacks. It should be noted that repression – including the formation of a bully militia equipped with baseball bats, the deployment of soldiers armed with machine guns, a brutal charge on June 10 against a peaceful crowd gathered to listen to a speech, and the arrest and detention of several strike leaders on June 17 – had begun before the events of Bloody Saturday, showing that the bourgeoisie, whose profits were threatened by the strike, intended from the outset to control the movement by force.
The Winnipeg General Strike – and the strike movement that swept across the country under his leadership – marked a turning point in the class struggle in Canada. It marked the decisive entry of the working class into the political arena as an independent class, based on its legitimate demands and its aspiration for socialism. It was characterized throughout its duration by an intense confrontation between workers on the one hand and capitalists and their State on the other, and that is why it made the class consciousness of the proletariat in the country jump.
It strengthened, as no previous event had done, the unity of the proletariat throughout Canada, leading men and women, Canadians of origin and immigrants, Anglophones and Francophones, to march as a single army and fight side by side against the bourgeoisie, despite the latter’s racist calls to fight “alien scum”, pointed out as the leaders of the movement. It has established essential demands and essential means of struggle as fundamental components of the Canadian labour movement. It was them who put forward the fight for the eight-hour day, the right to union recognition and collective bargaining. It paved the way for the development of industrial trade unionism – as opposed to craft trade unionism – in the following decades, which, at the time, marked a real progress in the organization of the working class. Above all, it has allowed the Canadian proletariat to seize a new form of struggle, the general strike, a weapon that it will have to use again in the years to come.
The Winnipeg Strike has helped to raise awareness among many proletarians that the workers’ economic struggle remains futile if it does not turn into a political struggle to overthrow the power of exploiters and establish socialism. Several workers leaders of the time, including some leaders of the 1919 strike, already shared this point of view before the events.
In March 1919, a few weeks before the strike, a labour convention – the Western Canadian Labour Conference – was held in Calgary, attended by representatives of the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council. During this congress, resolutions were adopted calling for the abolition of capitalism and support for the Bolshevik revolution that had just taken place in Russia two years earlier. One of these resolutions even specified that the goal of the Canadian workers movement should be the dictatorship of the proletariat in Canada: “Congress declares its full acceptance of the principle of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as absolute and effective in transforming private capitalist property into collective wealth and sends its fraternal wishes to the Russian Soviet government.” In a speech to the jury that judged him for his role in the strike, John Queen, one of the movement’s leaders, made a statement demonstrating his radical stance: “Finally, the working class’ struggle could not be limited to improvements from within the structure of the existing economic system; if it wants to free itself permanently, it is obliged to fight capitalism itself. Thus was born modern socialism… and the workers movement merges with socialism…”
It is precisely the meaning of the slogan “Let us fight for socialism and our demands” that our Party puts forward: workers must not be content to fight in isolation from each other for their specific and immediate demands; on the contrary, they must unite and fight for the fundamental and long-term interests of the whole class, that is, seek to extend these struggles for the overthrow of bourgeois society as a whole. For without socialism, the satisfaction of their demands remains partial and ephemeral.
The Winnipeg Strike also allowed the Canadian proletariat to experience the limits of the general strike as a means of overthrowing capitalism if it is not subordinated to the armed struggle to defeat the repressive forces of the bourgeoisie. The events of Bloody Saturday confirmed what Lenin had already foreseen a few years earlier, based on the experience of the revolutionary movement in Russia, namely that the capitalists, during a general strike paralysing the economy, are almost inevitably pushed to resort to violence to revive the production process and the accumulation of profits: “Under these conditions, the strike can become – much more: in most cases, it is inevitable that it becomes – a direct and immediate collision with the armed forces.” This means that without sufficient preparation to face the organized counter-attack of the bourgeoisie, without the arming of the proletariat and the taking over of the military confrontation with the bourgeois state, the general strike, if it does not fade by itself, is doomed to be crushed by the reaction. In the future, in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to overcome the shortcomings of the 1919 experience, the general strikes that the revolutionary movement will bring about will be integrated into a superior form of combat: the Protracted People’s War.
Finally, the Winnipeg General Strike helped to raise awareness among advanced workers of the need to form an independent proletarian political party to lead and bring to an end the struggle against the bourgeoisie and laid the groundwork for the creation of such a party two years later – the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). This party, of which many of the 1919 movement’s strikers were members, formed for two decades, before degenerating and abandoning the revolutionary path in the 1940s, the vanguard organization that the Canadian working class needed and which had been lacking during the Winnipeg Strike.
Today, the communist movement in the country is reborn from its ashes: a new proletarian vanguard party, the PCR-RCP, is being built by taking over the torch of the old CPC to prepare for armed struggle and lead the revolution against the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie. The supporters of the PCR-RCP today represent the true continuators of the Canadian proletariat’s historical struggle for emancipation. It is with the need to preserve the common thread of this long and wonderful experience in mind that they will be demonstrating on May 1st in Montreal and paying a powerful tribute to the workers who participated in the historic strike movement of 1919!
Workers, take part in the movement to abolish capitalism and exploitation!
Join the May 1st demonstration in the city’s financial centre! Let’s get together at 6:30 at Phillips Square!
Let us live up to the past struggles of the proletariat: let us dare to confront the bourgeoisie and its repressive forces in the streets!
We are the Continuators!