Canada: Fightback's 2018 perspectives – the need for a militant workers’ movement

In Canada, the revolutionary socialists of Fightback and the International Marxist Tendency are leading the way and giving a Marxist perspective on current politics. More and more youth and workers are adopting a Marxist analysis of the capitalist crisis. We present Fightback's 2018 Perspectives: the need for a militant workers’ movement as a discussion document for all those who aim to link revolutionary theory with the real life movement of workers, youth, and the oppressed.

[Perspectives document on Fightback's website]

The “Great Recession” of 2008-2009 represents a turning point in world history. In the decade since this event capitalism has failed to develop the productive forces and put in place a meaningful recovery. This has led an important layer of workers and youth to look for alternatives. Increasingly, the ideas of socialism, Marxism, and revolution are gaining support in one country after another. 

Real Marxism rejects abstract academic theorizing with no practical application just as much as it rejects mindless activism and small deeds divorced from the wider ideological struggle. Practice must be linked to theory and, in turn, theory must be informed by practice. We hope that this document, which outlines the major themes and processes in Canadian politics, will be discussed by the movement. We encourage feedback, commentary, as well as criticism, so that we can begin to build a revolutionary movement that spans the Canadian state and is united with Marxists across the globe. For the first time in generations the pendulum of history is moving to the left, and our aim is to build socialism within our lifetime. This discussion document lays out a perspective on how this can happen. We look forward to hearing from you.

The lack of a militant workers’ movement is the fact that conditions all developments in Canada. This absence is not due to the material satisfaction of the population. The general tendency since the 1970’s has been for stagnation or decline in living standards. It is not due to the prevalence of right-wing ideas. Opinion polls routinely reveal the preponderance of left-wing sentiments in the population. Neither is it due to an unwillingness to fight by the working class. Strike votes of 80%, 90%, even 100% are a regular occurrence and struggles that occur are well supported by the rank-and-file. The responsibility for the absence of a generalized fight back lies with the leadership of the workers’ organizations.

According to Statistics Canada, average hourly wages have been practically stagnant from 1977 to 2014. A representative of the agency said, “While Canada has undergone important economic, social and technological changes since the 1970s, the minimum wage and the average hourly wage are essentially unchanged.” This is despite the massive increase in labour productivity over that period. From 1981 to 2016 Canadian labour productivity increased by almost 60%, to approximately $50of value added per every hour worked. This increased wealth generated from the labour of the working class has been appropriated by the bosses, while workers struggle to keep their heads above water.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released figures comparing CEO compensation with the pay of real people. Average annual wages in 2016 were $49,738 (a decrease in real terms from 2015), while the top 100 CEOs brought home 209-times that amount. CEOs pocket $10.4 million on average and surpass the annual pay of a normal human being by 11am on the first work day of any given year. Such disparities increase year by year and engender real anger in the population. In 2009 the CEO pay ratio was “only” 155-times average pay. And yet over this period there has been general stagnation. The “captains of industry” have decisively failed to pilot society forward, but they are still profiting massively from their dismal performance.

Income inequality leads to massive wealth inequality. The richest 10% control approximately 50% of wealth in Canada, while the bottom 60% control less than 10%. Or to put it another way, the richest 2 men control as much wealth as the poorest 11-million Canadians. Between 2005 and 2015 the bottom 10% got 10.5% poorer.

The scandal of low pay and inequality was recently highlighted by the miserly actions of Tim Hortons bosses. In order to make sure that no worker benefitted from the increased Ontario minimum wage they clawed back paid breaks, benefits, and even stole from the tip jar! Such petty vindictiveness has enraged public opinion and showed that the counter-revolution in the workplace is reaching its limits. In opposition to the labour leaders who point to so-called reactionary sentiment in the population as an excuse for inaction, there is a large and growing opposition to corporate dogma in society.

It is indicative that an increasing number of people now consider themselves working class. From a Marxist perspective, those who are exploited and rely on selling their labour to survive are objectively working class. However, there are massive ideological barriers to working class people actually seeing themselves as working class and becoming class conscious. The media, the education system, politicians from all major parties, even the union leaders, use the nebulous, atomizing, and unscientific term “middle class” that potentially encompasses all barring the homeless or those who live in palaces. Marx explained that the workers begin as a class “in itself”, as raw material for exploitation, before the reality of their existence and common interest leads them to become a class “for itself” with consciousness and organization.

In 2002 almost 70% of Canadians considered themselves “middle class”. And yet, despite the right-wing ideological offensive and the complete absence of political education by the leaders of the workers’ organizations, only 43% now define themselves in this category. Now, about 50% of the population are self-identified as “working class” or “poor”, an increase of more than 20%. There has been an unprecedented increase in class consciousness in the recent period almost entirely due to the ongoing crisis of capitalism. No prominent figure or organization in Canada has been promoting class consciousness over this period, which begs the question of the latent potential for consciousness if such mass leadership emerged. It also begs the question why union and NDP leaders continue to use the term “middle class” when it no longer even has utility from the perspective of retail politics?

Social class graph Image copyright 2017

Mirroring the rise in class consciousness is a rise in left-wing opinions in the population. A wide-ranging poll conducted by Angus Reid revealed that 64% of Canadians want free education, 61% want affordable childcare, 62% support a $15/hr minimum wage, and 77% think the rich should pay more to fund social programs. There is a real potential for a mass movement over these and other issues if only there was leadership to organize it. But there is no leadership.

Labour movement in crisis

At the time of writing the Canadian Labour Congress is tearing itself apart over the departure of Unifor, which has resorted to raiding the other unions. This crisis is an inevitable outcome of a prolonged period of backsliding and concessions enacted by all of the unions, not just Unifor. Statistics Canada data on union negotiated contracts show that there has been no economic benefit of being a union member since the Great Recession. Union wage settlements over the period 2009-2017 have averaged a 1.56% annual increase. However, 1.57% average inflation over these years means that even these meagre improvements have been eaten up by the cost of living. This contrasts with the previous period 2000-2008 where union members negotiated 2.81% annual improvements vs 2.23% inflation.

Wage stagnation since 2009 likely underestimates the total deterioration. Anecdotal evidence points to the fact that there has been a war on benefits, pensions, and other non-wage collective bargaining items. Extended medical provisions now have increased co-pays or deductibles. Employer pension obligations have been reduced or changed from defined benefit to defined contribution (where the worker now assumes the risk of poor stock-market performance). The most pernicious development is the tendency towards two-tier contracts that sell out the next generation of workers. Taken from a purely “business union” perspective, where union dues paid are an effective investment that is supposed to be returned in improved conditions, union leaders have not justified their existence with regard to the economic position of the rank-and-file. This economic base explains the crisis in the union superstructure.

Reformism without reforms makes no sense, and the labour leadership has accepted the standpoint of capitalism. Ontario Public Service Employees Union leader Smokey Thomas even went so far to say he “could not fault” Premiere Wynne for passing back-to-work legislation against striking college workers, and “If I was the premier and it was down to this particular juncture, I’d do what she’s doing”. Once you accept the system of capitalism then you have to accept everything that flows from it. Restricting yourself to what is “affordable” in a period of crisis means managing the erosion of workers’ conditions. This has led the leaders to advise the workers to “keep their heads down” after the 2008 crash and accept wage and benefit reductions to supposedly protect jobs. Everything has been done from the top of the movement to derail strike action. Healthy strike votes frequently lead to concessionary contracts. This cancer undermines organized labour from within.

The short-sightedness of the labour leaders is astounding. Leon Trotsky once commented that the bureaucrats only see the arse-end of history. They think they are avoiding problems by signing two-tier contracts, when in fact they are merely creating larger problems down the road. They seem oblivious as to what will happen when the new hires form a majority of the workforce. With younger workers justifiably angry at the older layer who sold them out, management can then lean on these younger workers to erode the conditions of the previously "grandfathered" layer. In this way we see how the capitalists are far more class-conscious than the so-called leaders of the labour movement.

Unifor is currently in the vanguard of the movement towards raiding, but they are only following the logic of the inability of the unions to struggle. The steady reduction of union density continues, but it will not be turned around until unions actually struggle to make improvements for the membership. Why would workers pay union dues only to go backward? Obviously there is much more to being a member of a union than the economic return, but hand-in-hand with a lack of industrial militancy is also a moderate reformist politics. Some like Unifor are not even reformist in their politics and advocate a “strategic” vote for the bourgeois Liberals.

Having given up on organizing new workers, given up on making gains for current workers, and given up on fighting for the victory of a labour party with socialist policies, stealing members from other unions is the only option for the survival of a union bureaucracy. The Unifor leadership is merely the first to realize this. Trotsky explained that betrayal is inherent in reformism, and this is a glaring example of where the lack of a socialist goal takes the movement. The tragedy is that the locals that now make up Unifor have a militant and revolutionary history that is instructive to remember.

A little labour history

The foundation of the modern labour movement in North America was forged out of the struggles in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) organized workers in the USA and Canada on the industrial model. Industrial unionism, otherwise known as “wall-to-wall” unionism, organizes every worker in a workplace, from the cleaner to the most skilled engineer. This is in contradistinction to craft unionism that only seeks to organize the more skilled workers. Canadian bosses did everything in their power to resist the “American” and “communist” CIO from gaining a foothold, but could not resist the rising tide of worker militancy on both sides of the border.

The first victory for industrial unionism in Canada was the recognition of the United Auto Workers (UAW) at General Motors in Oshawa in 1937. This was inspired by the historic Flint Michigan “sit-down” strike and occupation of 1936, and was supported by American organizers. In 1945, UAW workers at Ford Windsor struck for 99 days, where their 2000 vehicle blockade repelled a violent assault by the OPP and RCMP. This victorious strike led to the passing of the “Rand formula”, where all workers receiving the benefit of a collective agreement had to pay dues. These and similar struggles eventually led to winning the right to union recognition upon a vote of the workers. Here we see that the rise of organized labour, and improvements for the Canadian working class in the post-war period, were built on a foundation of US-Canadian solidarity and support.

Prior to WW2, it could be said that the USA was the main source of working class militancy and socialism, as opposed to Canada’s relative political and economic backwardness. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Canada made a home for the counter-revolutionary “loyalists” from the American Revolution. However, in the post-war period the Canadian workers’ movement moved ahead of the US. Cold-War McCarthyism led to wholesale purges of communists from the leadership of US unions. Canada was not immune to this right-wing purge, but it was shorter and more limited. The founding of the New Democratic Party in 1961, as a labour party organically linked to the Canadian Labour Congress, gave Canadian workers a political vehicle that US workers have never possessed.

In response to US imperialism, and the apparent weakness of the US labour movement, a tendency towards Canadian left nationalism emerged at the end of the 1960s. The Confederation of Canadian Unions was founded in 1969, organizing independents and split-aways from international unions. The “Waffle” tendency arose in the NDP as a semi-revolutionary left nationalist formation calling for the nationalization of all US-owned industry in Canada. The Waffle’s Manifesto for an independent socialist Canada gained widespread support in the NDP, and its candidate won 37% of the vote in the 1971 federal NDP leadership contest.

Conflicts between the US-based headquarters of international unions and their Canadian sections continued during the 1970s and 80s, and the most important dispute arose in the United Auto Workers. The Canadian wing of the UAW was more militant than the US side of the union. Pattern bargaining led to pressure for the Canadian wing to limit its demands “for the health of the company”. Workers were told that moderation was essential to ensure Canadian production, and threats were made that plants would be moved out of Canada if the workers did not fall in line. But the threat was ignored and the Canadian locals successfully struck and made gains that the US union bureaucracy had given up on. This was an extreme embarrassment to the US leaders, as it revealed their capitulation in the eyes of the rank-and-file.

The Canadian leadership began a process that led to them splitting away and forming the Canadian Auto Workers in 1985. On the face of it this was understandable, and there was wide support within the union for building a more militant independent wing, but this move was opposed by the Marxists at the time. While defending the democratic right of self-determination, the Marxists explained that international unity was an important conquest of a working class facing the same employer on both sides of the border.

Yes, the Canadian UAW was to the left and more militant than the US side of the union, but there was no guarantee that this would continue. Despite threats, the central bureaucracy could not stop the Canadian locals from striking, and the subsequent victory served to expose the top bureaucrats in the eyes of the US rank-and-file. A sustained campaign could have won the entire international union to a more militant approach, but unfortunately the split of the CAW left the worker militants in the US without support from their Canadian comrades. This reinforced the “US first” tendencies in UAW, which were eventually mirrored by a “Canada first” tendency in the CAW, allowing the bosses to divide and conquer.

In 2013, the CAW merged with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers to create Unifor. As predicted, the CAW and then Unifor moved to the right. During the 1990s, CAW leader Buzz Hargrove was at the forefront of the left opposition to the betrayals of the Bob Rae Ontario NDP government. But after coming into conflict with the NDP bureaucracy from the left, Hargrove somersaulted over their heads and proposed a “strategic” vote for the Liberals. He famously hugged Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, and gifted him a CAW jacket, during the 2006 federal election. Ironically, 2006 was also the year that Hargrove’s nemesis, Bob Rae, also joined the federal Liberals!

Martin and Hargrove Image public domain

After the 2008 recession, CAW and then Unifor signed a series of concessionary contracts with two-tier provisions and other reductions. In the last round of negotiations Unifor gave away concessions in return for a supposed production guarantee. Back in the 1980’s the CAW was very clear that such guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on. In another irony, when the Ford local in Oakville opposed a sellout in the fall of 2016, they were accused of breaking solidarity and endangering production - exactly the same accusations the UAW bureaucracy levelled at the Canadian workers over 30 years ago! And now Unifor are complicit in splitting apart the Canadian Labour Congress in order to raid the other unions. How the mighty have fallen!

In hindsight we can see that it would have been better for the Canadian locals to try and radicalize their US comrades rather than splitting. This echos Lenin’s advice in Left-Wing Communism where he counselled against splitting the left minority away, and in favour of staying to fight to win over the majority. A union fighting the bosses on both sides of the border would have been stronger; especially if the UAW had been won to a more radical policy, which was not ruled out. While there would have been no guarantee of victory, it could hardly be worse than the present situation of split, weakness, raiding, and division.

Economic base – political superstructure

Recent economic developments play a significant role in determining the current political balance of forces in Canada. Canada was not as negatively impacted by the 2008-9 recession as other imperialist nations. For example, US GDP contracted 5.1% compared with Canada’s 3.3% decline. Canada did not have the same housing bubble as the US, the big Canadian banks were slower to get in on the subprime market, and the growth of China pushed up oil and mineral prices to the benefit of Canada’s resource sector. This had nothing to do with any sort of foresight by the Canadian ruling class, who were trying their best to be just as overextended as their US compatriots. Canada got lucky in 2008 but, as we shall explain later, that luck is not likely to carry over to the next global downturn.

The general global reaction to the Great Recession was for billions of dollars in bailouts to the capitalists, followed by austerity against the working class to pay for the corporate welfare. This has had the effect of radicalizing and polarizing political opinion in country after country. Syriza, Podemos, the situation in Catalonia, Melenchon and Le Pen, Corbyn and Brexit, Sanders and Trump, are all expressions of this phenomenon. However, while the Canadian government gave GM and Chrysler approximately $14-billion, and the banks $114-billion that they did not need, it was not followed up with the wide-scale austerity seen in other countries. These have not been boom years for Canadian workers, but neither have there been the attacks seen elsewhere. Apart from young people who have few prospects, the majority of the working class has been able to keep their heads above water over the last decade. This explains why Canada has not yet seen the political crisis and polarization afflicting other OECD nations and the Liberal “middle ground” enjoys a degree of stability for now.

The federal Liberals under Justin Trudeau were able to win the 2015 election by stealing the NDP’s image and campaigning on an anti-austerity message. The doctrinaire right-reformist Mulcair NDP leadership was too stupid to recognize these sentiments in the population and campaigned on balanced budgets, allowing the Liberals to rhetorically out-flank them on the left with a message of deficit financed investment. In power, the Liberals have tried to be all things to all people. They have continued with deficit spending while handing out minor giveaways to the electorate. Trudeau enjoyed a lengthy honeymoon, although this has now ended and people are starting to tire of his antics, broken promises, and hypocrisies. Despite this the Liberals still tend to poll in first place. There has been no generalized austerity on a federal level and this, together with the lack of working class leadership, has served to blunt the class struggle.

However, there are signs that the era of apparent calm may be coming to an end. It may even be an improvement of the economy that is a trigger for more economic struggles. Trotsky explained that it is not slumps that cause class war, or booms that cause class peace, but the transition between the two and the effect of the past period. After the defeat of the 1905 Russian revolution an economic downturn had the effect of demoralizing the Russian workers who were too afraid of losing their jobs to fight. Trotsky correctly predicted that it would take an economic recovery for the workers to gain confidence, and this is what occurred in the period 1910-1914.

The Canadian economy is reaching the peak of its boom-bust cycle, which is often accompanied by moderately higher growth and lower unemployment. Traditionally this cycle lasts 8 to 10 years in Canada, and it has been over 8 years since the low point of the last recession. Workers are tired of a decade of wage stagnation and rollbacks, and if the economy seems to be doing well there is an opportunity for more offensive struggles where workers aim to gain back what was lost. This was seen in the Ontario college strike during the fall of 2017, which was essentially an attempt to make gains and push back the employer. Marxists shouldn’t be catastrophists, wishing for a crisis to spur on the class struggle. In the present context a couple of years of modest growth would tend to have a radicalizing effect.

However, as Chaucer said, all good things must come to an end. There have already been rumblings on the stock exchange, with a significant global “correction” in February 2018. A new Canadian and global recession is inevitable sooner or later. But this time Canada will not be so well placed. Crude oil prices fluctuated between $80 and $120 US between 2006 and 2014, and other commodities followed suit. However, since then crude plummeted down to under $30 a barrel, and has only moderately recovered to $60. A new slump would push these prices down again, and the tar-like quality of Alberta oil and their inability to build pipeline capacity pushes the price of Canadian oil even lower. This means the resource sector in the Western provinces would not save the Canadian economy like it did post 2008.

While there was not much of a Canadian housing bubble in 2008, now it has been blown out of all proportions. Cheap credit has encouraged house buying and speculation, so that Toronto is now listed as having the largest housing bubble in the world, and Vancouver is placed in fourth. In addition to the effect on net worth and bankruptcy rates that a sharp reduction of prices would bring, the construction sector would go from a driver of growth to a massive brake. The government has been tightening rules around mortgages and implementing taxes on foreign buyers, but this only resulted in a temporary pause before the feeding frenzy resumed. This bubble makes Canada especially susceptible to a global recession.

Real house pricing Image DFR

Household debt Image statscan

The low interest rates that have fueled the housing bubble have also led to a massive increase in personal debt. Household debt is now over 170% of annual income. This unprecedented level of indebtedness is only sustainable so long as interest rates and unemployment stay low. Even a 1% increase in mortgage rates would increase housing costs by 10%, while 47% of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. Any external shock could push the Canadian economy into a tailspin and upset the delicate pro-Liberal consensus. Unluckily for Justin Trudeau there is one hell of a source of instability lurking just south of the border.

Trump and protectionism

The election of Donald Trump as US President represents a shift towards a policy of US isolationism that has been a significant stream of thought in the history of the Republic. Trump’s call to “make America great again” has an unwritten second line, “at the expense of everyone else”. Initially it was believed that Trump’s protectionism was largely targeted against Mexico, but that has been revealed as wishful thinking. In the NAFTA renegotiations the US representatives have been playing hard ball. This has forced the Canadian delegation to admit that there is a real possibility that the Americans will pull out of NAFTA.

Even before the negotiations have been completed disputes are arising. The US has once again slapped duties against Canadian softwood lumber. They are targeting the Canadian dairy industry’s “supply management” method of managing the domestic market. Boeing has also attempted to get the administration to slap 300% duties on Bombardier jet sales to Delta airlines. And in March Trump slapped 25% import duties against steel and 10% against aluminum.

However, the US doesn’t have to pull out of NAFTA to benefit. The uncertainty of the negotiations leads to investors delaying decisions to fund new projects outside the US, and can eventually lead them to conclude it is not worth taking the risk of being on the wrong side of any new tariff barriers. It has been estimated that there is already a real hit to Canadian GDP by this chilling effect.

Killing NAFTA is estimated to affect 500,000 Canadian jobs in trade dependent sectors. The auto sector is especially dependent on NAFTA with “just-in-time” production of parts and cars crossing the borders. But the bigger threat is that this would be the first skirmish in the beginning of a global trade war. Canada has a higher trade to GDP ratio than most economies and most of that goes to the USA, so they have more to lose in the event of a move towards protectionism.

The left has been quite confused by Trump’s anti-free trade stance. The Canadian left nationalists and trade unions have traditionally been opposed to corporate free trade deals, which is correct. But their inability to go beyond capitalism has put them in the same protectionist camp as Trump. One of the main NAFTA sticking points has been the Chapter 11 “investor-state” dispute resolution mechanism. This mechanism allows a corporation to sue a federal, state, provincial, or even municipal government for any action or regulation that is deemed to negatively impact their investor rights. This provision has been used to overrule environmental regulations and public ownership. Left nationalists have attacked this as a threat to “sovereignty”, which misses the point as these measures are quite capable of defending the sovereignty of Canadian corporations wishing to profit off the back of workers in the three countries. Investor-state provisions are the cornerstone of corporate power in so-called “free trade” agreements and this is why they should be opposed.

Despite the fact that US corporations have more frequently sued Canadian governments under Chapter 11, Trump is trying to repeal this section while Trudeau considers this a red-line that cannot be crossed. For Marxists, the point is that neither capitalist free trade, nor capitalist protectionism, is the solution. Free trade deals have been used to destroy better paid union jobs and outsource them to low-wage, non-union jurisdictions. But protectionism would also threaten jobs, especially in the auto sector, as tariff barriers tie down production. What answer must Marxists give to workers being threatened with unemployment?

The Canadian Labour leaders have been putting forward a nationalist and class-collaborationist policy for decades. Their call to protect “Canadian” jobs merely serves to divide worker against worker. The labour leaders typically call for protectionism or corporate welfare and have allied themselves with the bosses in the vain hope this will stop plant closures. This is short-sighted and has only led to concessions, while not stopping closures and job losses. It has served to reinforce national divisions among workers and weaken the common struggle. UNIFOR president, Jerry Dias, has been brought in by Trudeau onto his NAFTA negotiation team, where he has been quite vocal and has also been sympathetic to the Liberals. He has advocated raising tariffs on Mexican and American imports, while also advocating government assistance to Canadian manufacturers such as Bombardier. Marxists draw a sharp line with these nationalist and reformist policies of the labour leaders. We oppose both free trade and protectionism, which are both policies of the capitalists, and instead advocate for nationalization under workers’ control, the need for a socialist plan of production and call for the unity of workers across borders. With Trump’s aggressive push for tariffs, the labour bureaucracy in Canada may get exactly what it wished for, which would have disastrous consequences for the working class and the labour movement.

Protectionism is the attempt to export unemployment. The problem is that it leads to retaliation and a reduction in the efficiency of global production. Instead of buying a more efficiently produced, and therefore cheaper, foreign product, protectionist measures force you to buy a more expensive and less efficiently produced local product. When this is generalized over the entire world economy it leads to a global reduction in efficiency, increased prices, reduced GDP, and increased unemployment. You get less wealth for more work. This is what happened during the 1930s. There, the different powers resorted to tariff barriers and competitive devaluations to protect their own markets. This spread the 1929 stock market crash throughout the decade and it took WW2 to finally batter down the fetters on production. The capitalists know this and do everything in their power to prevent protectionism. But it only takes one “bad hombre” to spoil the delicate balance. Once one of the powers starts taking advantage the others are forced to respond. Trump is playing a very dangerous game for world capitalism, and whatever the final outcome Canada and Mexico are likely to be losers.

The Marxist position on these questions is that a worker is a worker is a worker. We are internationalists and do not favour Canadian workers over US workers, or US workers over Mexican. We aim to use class-struggle methods to unite the workers of all nations against our common exploiters. If Mexican workers faced factory closures due to protectionism we would support their struggle against job losses and for factory occupations. We wage a united struggle for union rights and decent wages for the Mexican maquiladora workers. We say that a factory closed is a factory occupied. No contracting out of union jobs to low-pay regions. For example, in the Canadian lumber industry we say no to raw-log exports for low-wage processing. If a population is facing an environmental impact due to resource extraction, the people should be compensated and have an economic benefit of local union processing jobs. In the event of factory closures due to protectionism or offshoring, the industry should be nationalized under workers' control to protect the jobs, and retooled if necessary to meet the needs of the population. These revolutionary internationalist, class-struggle methods lead to the movement crossing borders and hits back against the capitalists of all the nations. This prepares the way for a common struggle for a socialist federation of the Americas where the resources, expertise, and creativity of the people will be pooled to create full employment and good working conditions for all. There can be no unity with the boss of the same nationality, the enemy is at home. International workers’ unity is the road to victory.

Class struggle against oppression

The lack of a lead from the mass workers’ organizations means that the pent up anger in society looks for other outlets. In the recent period we have seen a rise in struggles against oppression. In this period of capitalist malaise, long-standing injustices and insults are becoming increasingly intolerable. These movements especially affect the youth.

In January 2018 the Vanier Institute of the Family released figures based on the 2015 Census that detail the character of inequality in Canada:

Demographic: Median Income

Youth age 15-24: $11,600

Adults age 25-64: $42,500

Men: $40,800

Women: $28,900

Aboriginal: $25,500

Non-aboriginal: $34,600

Immigrants: $29,800

Canadian-born: $36,300

Visible Minority: $25,500

Non-Visible Minority: $36,500

Disabled $32,600

Non-Disabled $48,300

Here we see the very clear results of systemic oppression on various sectors of society. This oppression is obviously not just economic, but the economic impacts are plain to see. Movements against oppression often become internationalized and are not necessarily sparked within Canada. This shows the incredible spread of global culture that has potentially revolutionary implications. Black Lives Matter began as a revolt of black people in the USA against police murder and victimization, but has since spread internationally. #Metoo began as a movement against sexual harassment and exploitation in the entertainment industry, but has broadened to encompass all women workers.

In Canada, the oppression of Aboriginal peoples has come to the forefront. “Idle No More” led the way, and now the movement has reached a new level of anger with the acquittals in the Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine murder trials. While aboriginal people face incarceration rates many times higher than their representation in the population, they cannot get justice for crimes committed against them. Colten Boushie was shot in the head while he was unconscious, and yet his killer was found not guilty by an entirely non-Native jury. Fontaine’s murder was just one of thousands of missing and murdered aboriginal women that are not treated seriously or properly investigated by police. This mirrors the half-hearted police investigation of a serial killer in Toronto’s gay village. Rumours were circulating for years of the presence of a killer, but they were downplayed by police who just labelled the victims as “transients”.

Movements against oppression are entirely progressive and even have revolutionary potential. They reveal the nature of the bourgeois state that exists to “serve and protect” the rich and the powerful. But what is notable by its absence is the presence of the organized workers’ movement in these struggles. The working class has a vital role to unite all the oppressed against the common source of oppression and thereby defeat it.

The absence of the leading role of the unions, or working-class parties, has led to the dominance of middle-class, liberal/reformist, identity politics and intersectionality in these anti-oppression movements. This is a tragedy because these academic and individualistic ideas cannot win and cannot defeat oppression. They mess around with linguistic nit-picking, symbolism, trivia and “micro-aggressions” while dividing people into smaller and smaller groups. They leave the oppressed powerless to fight back against the real source of oppression and exploitation. The fact that much of the language and measures of this train of thought can be easily accepted by openly bourgeois politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau, and Kathleen Wynne shows how they are not a threat to the status-quo. We propose a genuine mass fightback against all oppression, using class-struggle methods that can actually win. Mass demonstrations, direct action, strikes and occupations, uniting all sectors of the working class. We struggle to win the movement to these militant ideas and methods, and denounce the inaction of the workers’ leaders, because people can no longer tolerate the capitalist system and the injustices it fosters.

Crisis of political leadership

Mirroring the crisis in the labour leadership is a crisis of working-class political leadership. After blowing the 2015 federal election the New Democratic Party has been in the doldrums. They have lost every by-election in the last 2 years and their popularity has fluctuated between 10-15%, less than half the almost 30% they achieved in 2011.

In an unprecedented revolt, the membership rejected the Tom Mulcair leadership by a 52% vote of no confidence at the 2016 federal convention. But the following leadership race did not lead to a mass insurgent movement analogous to Corbyn in the UK or Sanders in the US. Niki Ashton, the candidate most closely mirroring the politics of Corbyn and Sanders, gained 17.4% of the vote in a 3rd place finish, while the establishment favourite Jagmeet Singh achieved a first-ballot victory with 53.8%. Why did this happen?

Putting personal considerations aside, where Singh’s campaign was clearly far better organized than the other candidates, it is important to look at the broader political situation in Canada. As explained above, Canada has not suffered the same downturn and austerity as other countries. For example, when the British Conservatives gained a surprise win in the 2015 general election, there were spontaneous and angry youth-led demonstrations around the country. There was an incredible pressure from below in Britain and the US that was frustrated due to lack of an outlet, and was channelled into Corbyn and Sanders when those avenues became open. However, in Canada the youth overwhelmingly voted for the “progressive feminist” Trudeau. Liberal broken promises are breaking this support, but it has not reached the level of mass anger seen elsewhere. The only real influx into the NDP during the leadership race was due to the superior organizing of the Singh campaign in immigrant communities.

In addition to the situation in the country, the other candidates and the party bureaucracy had learned from international developments. In Britain and the US the choice was between self-declared socialists on one side, and clear supporters of imperialism and austerity on the other. In the NDP race all the candidates positioned themselves to the left of the old Mulcair leadership. Responding to both the winds of change from abroad, and the pressure of the Ashton campaign, they moved leftwards. While Singh is part of the party establishment, his language and platform of redistributive tax reform was the most left wing seen by an NDP leader in a generation. Therefore, the choice on offer was not so stark and the left-right divide was not so clear. The bureaucracy reformed from above to prevent revolution from below.

The February 2018 federal NDP convention continued in the same vein. A number of left-wing policies were passed on the floor, and Singh gave a Sanders-esque speech railing against the system being rigged by the ultra-rich. The bureaucracy narrowly succeeded in maneuvering a Palestine solidarity resolution off the agenda, but were unable to stop rank-and-file activists from successfully pushing for the adoption of free education and student debt forgiveness.

If the 2018 convention language and policy had been adopted in the period 2011-2015, when people were looking closely at the NDP, there could have been a very different dynamic in Canadian politics. But instead Mulcair removed references to socialism and social ownership from the party constitution, and talked about balanced budgets. This betrayal, combined with the uninspiring campaigns of the Ontario NDP, the Alberta NDP’s public sector austerity and class collaboration, and the BC NDP government moving away from some of its promises, means that currently nobody is listening to the federal NDP. There is also no guarantee that the policy adopted at convention will actually form part of the NDP’s 2019 election manifesto. Singh is already distancing himself from those commitments by saying convention resolutions are “aspirational principles” that will be studied. The Trudeau Liberals are also doing their best to cannibalize NDP support. They apparently plan to campaign left with a so-called pharmacare plan in the 2019 election. In this context, prospects for an influx into the NDP do not look good in the near term.

The need to fight the Ontario Liberals

After 15 years of Liberal rule Ontario is heading into an election June 7, 2018. It is not so much a question of who will win, but who will lose the least. There is no enthusiasm for any of the parties who are all in varying degrees of crisis. The scandal plagued Liberals under Kathleen Wynne have faced disapproval ratings of over 80%, while the Tories have been forced to replace their leader mere months before the election due to sexual harassment allegations against Patrick Brown. NDP leader Andrea Horwath has been accused of being in a witness protection program as she has been practically invisible to the electorate.

In the 2014 Ontario election the Liberals won by rhetorically campaigning to the left of the NDP, in a mirror of the 2015 federal race. Horwath’s 2014 NDP campaign included $600-million in cuts and only a $12 minimum wage. Since then they have taken minor steps to the left, such as the re-nationalization of Hydro One and a pharmacare plan, but the impact of these minor steps has been mitigated by similar proposals by the Ontario Liberals. For example, the NDP pharmacare plan only covers a minority of drugs for all Ontarians, while the Liberal plan covers the majority of drugs to those under 25. Both plans have a similar cost, so who is to say which is better.

After plunging into third place and below 20% in the polls the Liberals have decided to take a desperate lurch to the left to try and save their skins. The chameleon nature of Canada’s “natural governing party” is quite astounding. One day they are cutting taxes and privatizing, the next day they are raising the minimum wage and denouncing greedy Tim Hortons bosses, and the day following that they are removing the right to strike from picketing workers. It is enough to make your head swim. The reality is that the Liberals are the ultimate political opportunists, doing what they need to survive while always ruling in the benefit of the big Bay Street bourgeois. If today’s swing left is successful it is sure to be followed by an even sharper swing right as their paymasters crack the whip.

Following the impetus from the US, a number of rank-and-file activists in Ontario have become active in the fight for a $15 minimum wage. This is a good initiative, which we support, but in light of the leftward swing of the Liberals, and the strategic-voting betrayal of some labour leaders, the campaign has been confused on the political front. The political struggle is just as important as the economic struggle, and Marxists have shown that large numbers of people can be organized over political demands.

The Liberals have given reforms such as an increase in the minimum wage due to an attempt to avert electoral defeat and not due to a mass movement from below. If this turn is successful and they win the next election there is nothing to stop them from taking these reforms back in another form. This observation is not meant to denigrate the efforts of those doing good work on the ground, it is just a realistic appraisal of the class balance of forces. There has been no strike action to force the government to concede these demands and demonstrations over these issues have been fairly typical in terms of size and impact. The labour movement is currently weak and divided over the Unifor split and was not able to take advantage of the backlash against Tim Hortons bosses.

To be successful the necessary fight for economic demands must be united with clear political statements of no support for the Liberals. The Liberals are only giving reforms because they are low in the polls, so to gain more concessions it is necessary to keep them down. It is correct to vigorously oppose right-wing attacks on minimum wage increases, but if an article is silent on the Liberals it will be seen as giving the party passive support. This is doubly important given the pro-Liberal stance of some labour leaders.

This debate echos that between Lenin’s Iskra tendency and the “Economist” faction in the early Russian Marxist movement. Lenin wrote his classic What is to be done? as a reply to the Economists who said that the workers could only be organized over economic demands. In the final analysis the Economists were opposed to the building of a revolutionary political organization. In this work Lenin famously said that “without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement”, and highlighted the importance of a Marxist cadre organization.

It is probably true to state that economism and movementism are the dominant trends on the labour left today. Everything must be sacrificed over this or that movement or over an economic reform. But Lenin pointed out, despite the crass workerism espoused by the Economists, that this is actually an elitist conception that denigrates the political consciousness of working class people. Workers are perfectly capable of understanding and being enthused by political theory. Even the small successes of the IMT in Canada have shown this to be true, with over 120 coming to celebrate the centenary of the Russian Revolution in Toronto, or almost 230 attending the Montreal Marxist Winter School.

If you abandon the hard struggle to build a revolutionary organization in order to prioritize “movement building”, you will eventually find yourself powerless when it really matters. Experience shows that small groups of revolutionaries do not create mass movements, it is the crisis of capitalism itself that triggers such eruptions. Movements come and go, but tend to fail due to the betrayal or inexperience of their leaders. A revolutionary organization can save the best of those politicized by each movement for the next stage of struggle. As the revolutionary organization grows the impact of its ideas and criticism helps the movement to actually win. But movements will never win if we liquidate the revolutionary organization into them. This hard road is the only way to replace the bankrupt leadership of the workers’ organizations and eventually challenge the capitalist system itself. There is no other way for a genuine Marxist to act.

At the time of writing the Ontario Conservatives are far ahead in the polls despite the Patrick Brown scandal. Brown had quite intelligently maneuvered the Tories to the left in order to not provide much of a target for the Wynne Liberals to hit. It is possible that the timing of the sexual assault scandal may have been influenced by internal Conservative factions who did not like where Brown was heading. Now that Doug Ford has won the PC leadership race the party has lurched towards right populism. As seen in the American presidential elections, and the election of Doug Ford’s brother as Toronto mayor, right wing anti-establishment politics cannot be defeated by a pro-establishment message. This makes the need to reject the Liberals even more important. If the Conservatives win the election it seems likely that Ontario will be thrown back to the days of Mike Harris. But if the labour movement cannot reject the Liberals as an option it will be significantly weakened when trying to resist the coming attacks.

Polarization in Quebec

After a period of heightened class struggle the movement in Quebec is looking for answers. From 2012 to 2015 mass strikes and demonstrations were common occurrences. The 2012 student strike mobilized hundreds of thousand of students, and then thousands more during the “casseroles” protests, before being instrumental in bringing down the Charest Liberal government. In 2015, 400,000 struck in the public sector Common Front. Unfortunately, the student movement burned itself out in the spring of 2015 by attempting to embark on a premature and adventurist struggle and without the positive influence of the radical youth it was easier for the labour leaders to capitulate.

ASSÉ, the combative student union which led the 2012 Quebec student movement, is going from crisis to crisis. This is due to the influence of anarchist methods of organization. With the international recognition of the 2012 student strike, many on the left tended to worship the organizational structures of ASSE. But over the past 2 years the student union has been plagued with disaffiliations, expulsions and is in a zombie-like state, teetering on the edge of non-existence. It is an irony of anarchism, which supposedly emphasizes spontaneity and anti-authoritarianism, that it tends to fetishize the perfect structure and rules of order. All of the most perfect constitutional rules have been unable to save what was once such a useful tool of struggle.

Once the mass movement subsided, the constitutional fixation paralyzed the organization. It will be a tragedy if this weapon in the struggle is destroyed in the quest for the anarchist Holy Grail of constitutional perfection. With the prospects of a CAQ government, it is vital to prepare and mobilize the student movement for the attacks that are to come. Marxists believe that instead of obsessing over the perfect rules and structure, we need to focus on the content of the struggle. The form simply needs to facilitate the application of the appropriate program and methods of struggle.

After 40 years since the first Parti Quebecois government, the nationalist movement is in crisis. The Bloc is in a terrible state with 7 of their 10 federal deputies quitting the party and the PQ has also had many high-profile candidates state that they will not be running in the next election. In government, the PQ has shown itself to be not fundamentally different than the Liberals, with austerity and attacks on the working class. This has led to splits to the left and to the right with the formation of QS and the CAQ. During this period, not coincidentally, there has been a decrease in the support for a new referendum on independence. PQ leader Jean-François Lisée has even said that a PQ government would not hold a referendum in their first term. Searching for a raison d'être, the PQ has turned to a racist and Islamophobic identity-based nationalism, using dog-whistle politics to attack Muslims under the guise of protecting the secular nature of the state. This was most clearly seen with the Charter of Quebec values in 2013.

The Liberals and the PQ, the two mainstays of the rule of the capitalists in the province, from sharing over 80% or 90% of the vote in the past, are now polling under 50% combined. The right-populist CAQ has stated that for them the question of independence is off the table, and they have subsequently moved to first in the polls ahead of the October elections. Using right-populist denunciations of the government, claiming that it will be “the government of families,” the CAQ has been able to capture a certain amount of the anti-establishment mood in the province.

Unfortunately, it seems like Quebec Solidaire has lost much of the support it gained last year. After the 2012 student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois joined the party, and QS rejected alliances with the PQ, the party nearly doubled in the polls reaching a high point of 18-19% to be statistically tied with the PQ. But in the following months, the leadership focused on merging with the tiny nationalist party, Option Nationale. The constant focus on the question of independence as an attempt to court nationalist voters has failed. The inability of QS to call out Bill 62 as racist and Islamophobic scuttled a fantastic opportunity for the party to undercut the Liberals in Montreal.

The leaders of QS have tended to moderate their message, making the party seem not all that different from the PQ at times. Typically, when QS focuses on class issues it gains support, but when it focuses on independence it becomes identified with the PQ. This has meant that over the last decade of turbulence, mass movements, workers’ and student strikes, the only left-wing party has so far been unable to capitalize on the situation in a major way. Equally, the trade union leaders are still stating that they will support any “progressive” party; which is simply a sneaky way of saying that they still support the PQ. The PQ is now firmly seen as an establishment party, and you cannot fight the anti-establishment CAQ with establishment politics. With the election just around the corner, it is more important than ever for the unions and QS to unite their resources and begin mobilizing to channel the anger of Quebec workers and youth.

QS recently organized a decent-sized demonstration of healthcare workers to protest the deterioration of services and demand the resignation of the Liberal Health Minister. They also announced their proposal for a universal dental care plan. If the party keeps up these sorts of actions, they could hit a nerve. But In order to channel that anti-establishment mood in society and enthuse workers and youth, they need to mobilize workers on class issues and present a bold socialist alternative to the capitalist establishment. Only in this way can QS cut across the racist nationalist preaching, and unite workers and youth of all backgrounds to stop the CAQ dead in its tracks.

The slow decline of the Quebec economy, which has accelerated since the 2008 crash, is the reason for the social and political turbulence in Quebec over the last period. The “Quebec model”, with sizable social programs, influential unions and some worker protections, is not compatible with capitalism in decline.The capitalists are desperately seeking to push through a brutal program of cuts and privatizations and the CAQ is the latest vehicle that they will try to use to attain this goal. But they are going to have a vicious fight on their hands. The bourgeoisie have been unable to subdue and crush the workers and students who are in the process of discovering the revolutionary traditions from the past. It is our job to help them do this. It is the role of Marxists in this situation to fight for Marxist ideas in the trade unions and student unions, in Quebec solidaire and in the movement at large.

Alberta and BC: social democracy at war

The 2015 victory of the Alberta NDP, and collapse of the 43-year Progressive Conservative dynasty, is a shock that should not be understated. The sudden fall in oil prices was the event that precipitated all the underlying contradictions in the province coming to the fore. Alberta’s whole economy revolves around oil and gas, and this election was the first attempt by the masses to challenge the dictatorship of the oil barons. The Alberta NDP jumped from being the fourth party in the 2012 election with 4 seats, to a ruling party with 54 out of 87 seats in the 2015 election.

However, the victory of the NDP was merely the beginning and not the end of a process. After three years in government, the NDP leadership has done everything that you would expect of moderate social democrats in a failing economy. During the election the NDP campaigned on increasing oil and gas royalties to ensure that Albertans receive their “fair share” of resource revenue. In response, the whole establishment launched a hysterical red-baiting campaign, with oil barons threatening that they would pull out if the NDP ever dared to stick their hands into their cookie jar. The choice was stark - either side with the workers and make the bosses pay, or vice versa. There is no middle ground when capitalism is in crisis.

As expected, the corporate pressure was victorious. The NDP capitulated, and even ended up providing royalty incentives and other gifts to the oil industry. In March 2018, the Alberta government announced plans to give the oil companies up to $1 billion over the next 8 years, in the form of $800 million in loan guarantees and $200 million in grants, to build new bitumen upgrading facilities. This was followed by another announcement of $1 billion in stimulus for the petrochemical industry “to diversify”. The Alberta NDP has now become the biggest booster of the oil and gas corporations. This is seen graphically with their cheerleading of pipeline projects to get Alberta bitumen to tidewater.

The recent trade war with the BC NDP government over the $7.9-billion Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline – which would triple the amount of crude oil transported from Alberta to the port of Burnaby – shows how low the Alberta NDP has bowed its head to the oil barons. The Alberta-BC provincial trade war is unprecedented in the history of Canada, and what is even more galling is that it is between two provincial NDP governments. The Alberta NDP government instituted a boycott on BC wine imports in an effort to pressure the BC NDP government. Alberta imported about $70-million worth of BC wine last year. Harsh words and legal threats have been exchanged between premieres Notley and Horgan, but the latter made it clear that he is far from budging. But in her throne speech Notley doubled down and threatened to turn off the tap and halt the flow of oil to the west.

It is astounding that a trade war between provinces is even possible in the 21st century. The main historical purpose of bourgeois democratic revolutions against feudalism was free trade within the nation! For this to occur in an advanced capitalist country like Canada is incredibly dangerous to the ruling class. But the federal government is paralyzed and has been practically silent on this issue. The reality is that it is highly unlikely that these pipelines will ever be built. Even if Alberta wins in the courts and overturns BC’s environmental regulations, every provocative action by Alberta merely solidifies public opinion in BC. First Nations and coastal communities are in no hurry to face significant environmental risks, and threats to fisheries, for Alberta’s economic gain. Every kilometer of pipeline will have to be guarded by military detachments to stop mass protests. This is not feasible economically or politically.

With the election coming next year, the Alberta NDP has done everything in its power to win over the oil barons. But the bosses will never fully trust the NDP and it is clear that they will support the United Conservative Party. The NDP enacted moderate reforms with social and labour legislation when it first came to power, including a $15 minimum wage, but they are incapable of solving the jobs crisis in Alberta. While giving gifts to the corporations, Notley has called on the workers to tighten their belts “compassionately”. They managed to “convince” the teachers’ and nurses’ unions to take wage freezes, and are putting pressure on the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees to follow suit “to save their jobs”. Unsurprisingly, this betrayal has demoralized the working class base that put the NDP into power. Additionally, the NDP will no longer have the luxury of a divided opposition. Current polls show that the UCP will likely win the next Alberta election.

Despite being on opposing sides of the pipeline dispute, the politics of the BC NDP are the same mild reformism as the Alberta NDP. The NDP was only barely able to replace the hated BC Liberals in the 2017 election. In fact, the Liberals gained more votes and the most seats, forcing the NDP to rely on the BC Greens to form a minority government. Anybody who ever had illusions in the so-called “radicalism” of the Greens should be aware that they seriously considered propping up the right-wing Liberals, and have since tried to block or water down reforms to labour legislation and the minimum wage.

The NDP's platform consisted of minor reforms over a four-year period. It included a rise in the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021, a plan to build affordable housing, and the elimination of many tolls and fees. The platform also included $10-per-day child care, but since the election this promise has quickly been broken and replaced with a cash handout to the sector. The planned rise in the minimum wage are seen by many workers in BC as being too little, too late. The housing plan is not well enough defined to really impact people. The actual plan of building "114,000 affordable rental, non-profit, and co-op housing units" seems a long way off and the way to get there extremely unclear.

The Kinder Morgan pipelines dispute has endeared NDP Premier John Horgan to the people to some degree. This came at a fortuitous time for Premier Horgan, as a few months earlier he had approved the controversial Site-C hydroelectric project, which has been vehemently opposed by environmental activists and some First Nations.

The political situation remains unstable, as the BC NDP government relies heavily on Green support to continue governing. In the event of the minority government falling, neither the BC Liberals nor the NDP currently have a clear lead over the other. A collapse in the world economy would likely burst the housing bubble in BC’s major cities and fundamentally change the balance of forces.

Youth at the forefront

Young people are at the forefront of the global movement against the status quo. Poll after poll show how youth are rejecting capitalism and are looking favourably on socialism, communism, and even revolution. There is a general feeling that the system is not working and that capitalism provides no future for young people. When asked about how they thought the quality of life will be for the next generation, 13% said better while 56% said worse.

Youth unemployment in Canada is consistently twice as high as general unemployment, but what is more telling is the impact of underemployment and failure to find work that matches an individual’s qualifications. More than a quarter of Canadian youth are underemployed and this figure can be even higher for skilled workers. For example, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineersestimates that 33% of engineering graduates in Ontario are underemployed.

Never has a generation been so qualified while also being so underutilized. Average student debt is at $26,000, but this figure goes much higher in professional programs. Capitalism stands condemned in that it can find no productive use for such capable people. Federal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, told young people that they “have to accept” the gig economy, and get used to it, but these comments from a millionaire Bay Street banker merely serve to provoke further anger. Young people are desperately searching for a way out of the crisis.

As bad as things are, they could be worse. Canadian youth unemployment is currently around 11%, while this figure is over 30% in Spain and Italy and over 40% in Greece. The last recession was felt especially hard amongst young workers. A new global recession that impacts a weak Canada would likely make the position of youth far more tenuous. This situation is set up for revolutionary explosions.

Young people have no adult memory of a capitalism that provided improvements, but they also have no adult memory of a workers’ movement that engaged in real struggle. This can make the concept that the working class is central in the struggle to change society seem abstract. It is vitally important that the youth do not abandon a revolutionary class analysis and be sucked into trendy middle-class ideas such as identity politics. This would isolate the youth and prevent them from uniting with the forces that can actually threaten capitalism and all the oppression it brings.

We are seeing the first layers of youth become politicized. Apart from the 2012 Quebec student strike this has not been a mass phenomenon yet. But even the rapid growth of the IMT in Canada is a symptom that a layer of young people are looking for revolutionary solutions. The lack of a future for youth, combined with world events and movements, is a driver in this growing revolutionary consciousness.

It has often been said that the youth are a more sensitive barometer of the crisis in society. They are not as tied down by old habits and routines, and they do not have as many of the obligations that make workers more cautious in entering struggle. But in the final analysis it is the working class that has the power to shut down capitalism and unite all of the oppressed against the system. The power of the youth is as a spark to help bring the workers into the fight.

What is missing in this situation is leadership. The leadership of the workers’ organizations has never been more bankrupt. We must fight to build a new leadership from the best new elements entering the struggle now. A vital part of this struggle is the necessity of building a revolutionary Marxist organization that has the ability to be seen as an option in the eyes of the workers, youth, and oppressed. We will not settle for some petty reform that can be taken away just as easily as it has been given. All history shows that no reform is consistently sustainable without threatening capitalism as a whole. To overthrow capitalism the workers need a revolutionary organization. Capitalism will not just collapse by itself, and the revolutionary organization will not be built spontaneously.

Now is the time to do the necessary hard work to prepare for the inevitable struggles to come. Before the new slump comes there is an opportunity for offensive economic struggles. After a slump millions will have their last illusions in capitalism shattered. A revolutionary organization can give the ideas that help these movements win, and bring out the necessary lessons so the mass can understand the crisis. The International Marxist Tendency has made impressive strides forward in the past few years, and stands poised to unite the best revolutionary elements under its banner. Already groups are coming towards us and joining our movement. We must have a sense of urgency to build and train new Marxist organizers who are integrated in the real living struggle. We are not satisfied to live under this status quo of imperialist war, oppression, environmental disaster, and capitalist exploitation any longer. Join us in the fight for socialism.

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