by J. Cabral, General Secretary of Revolutionary Initiative
On the 125th anniversary of May Day, we have much to celebrate, but much more to struggle for. Originating in the general strike of May 1, 1886 that culminated in Chicago’s Haymarket revolt, May Day went on to become the international day to commemorate and advance the struggles, rebellions, and revolutions of the proletariat.
The workers of Haymarket struggled for the eight-hour workday. 125 years later, even that level of security cannot be assured to the working-class. Wherever we look, the masses are on the defensive and under attack by imperialism (i.e. monopoly capital plus the imperialist state). The proletarian revolution is long overdue for its reorganization and re-offensive. However, to do this, the re-establishment of revolutionary forces is necessary.
On the occasion of May Day, Revolutionary Initiative offers these lines of demarcation for the reconstruction of a revolutionary movement. A line of demarcation is intended to clarify where various forces stand in relation to particular questions. This is not intended to generate quibbling amongst leftist forces, these are points of principle.
We also do not intend to suggest that this list is necessarily exhaustive; and drawing lines in the sand does not suggest that revolutionaries should not relate to, work with, and build the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist united front with the broad masses of people of various political and spiritual persuasions. It is merely our attempt to suggest what lines of approach will develop a revolutionary movement that can actually build the New Power and overthrow capitalism, and which will not.
We publish this statement for discussion amongst the increasing number of forces who recognize that revolution is absolutely necessary to spare the vast majority of humanity the increasing misery, turmoil, and terror caused by capitalist imperialist globalization.
Our 6 Lines of Demarcation for the construction of a revolutionary movement are as follows:
(1) Absolute rejection of the Canadian state
The Canadian state is an instrument of Canada’s monopoly bourgeois ruling class. It is their instrument for war and exploitation of peoples of the neo-colonzed peripheries, for the ongoing colonization of indigenous peoples’ lands, for the domination of the working class in Canada, and for the defense of the interests of Canada’s monopoly capitalist ruling class. The workers can not simply take ahold of this state – enter into Parliament, work in the NGOs and social service sector – and think that we can wield all these for our own interests. This is why we reject Parliamentarism and electoralism.
Rather, we must build a New Power, a multinational proletarian-led revolutionary power right in the midst of our enemies. History shows us that such a power that is able to withstand the repression, infiltration, genocide, and terror of imperialism must be led by a disciplined, centralized, democratic vanguard Party of the exploited masses; it must wield a People’s Army under the strict discipline of the vanguard; and it must develop and be developed through a revolutionary United Front consisting of hundreds and thousands of mass organizations – which will be the foundation of the New Power.
To build these three components of the revolutionary movement – Party, People’s Army, and United Front – we must go where the hegemony of the state is the weakest. Whereas Trotskyites build their organizations where the masses (more often the middle strata) are firmly organized under the hegemony of social democrats, especially in the unions and universities, Marxist-Leninist-Maoists advocate organizing the people and building the Party where the masses are most exploited and oppressed, the least organized, and where the state is the weakest. Of course, unionized workers and students should also be organized, but not as the core of the revolution.
To build this New Power, the proletarian revolution, we must begin our accumulation of forces where the hegemony of the state is the weakest.
(2) Absolute opposition to Canadian imperialism
To recognize Canada as an imperialist power is not only to recognize Canada’s military aggressions against Afghanistan, Haiti, and Libya, or Canada’s support for criminal regimes like Israel, Colombia, the Philippines, or Sri Lanka. It is to expose the Canadian bourgeoisie’s situation in the international division of labour – as parasites of the highest order.
Imperialism is the highest, most mature stage of capitalism, and as Lenin wrote nearly 100 years ago, it is also capitalism at its most parasitic, moribund, and decaying stage. We find all of these attributes expressed in Canadian imperialism: The ecologically catastrophic Alberta Tar Sands and the dominance of Canada’s extractive industries throughout the world demonstrate capitalism’s blind commitment to making profit by any means necessary. Such destructive exploitation of nature not only threatens the future stability of ecosystems and the foundations of life on earth; in the past 15 years, in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, millions have died in imperialist-sponsored conflicts related to extractive industries.
The central crisis of the imperialist world system is the crisis of the overaccumulation of capital. Since the 2008 financial crisis, we are told that the economy has been going through a “jobless recovery”. Monopoly capital is further centralizing through waves of mergers and acquisitions, and this is leading to more and more factory closures throughout the world. Profits are accruing more and more through price increases, not through the expansion of production.
When we say that we must absolutely oppose Canadian imperialism, we must have no illusions about what this system has to offer. It is futile to call for “Good Jobs for All”, especially if we deceive the masses about what this system is capable of providing. Furthermore, we must reject any proposals to improve the lives of workers in Canada at the expense of other sections of the masses: workers and oppressed people throughout the world; migrants in Canada; or indigenous peoples. Genuine anti-imperialism implies that we support all genuine anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces throughout the world in the struggle against monopoly capitalism and imperialism.
(3) Recognition of the strategic decline of the imperialist world system
This point stems from an analysis of the imperialist world system in its current state. Since the 1970s, capitalism in all the imperialist countries has been lagging in its growth and development, stemming from the crisis of overaccumulation of capital. Neoliberal globalization has been the response to this crisis. Globalization, trade liberalization, privatization, so-called deregulation – these are all buzzwords for the increasing domination of international monopoly capital.
Since 2008, neoliberalism has kicked into a higher gear, imposing much harsher austerity measures. The crisis is reinvigorating working-class struggle in the imperialist countries, and in 2011, has unleashed the revolts known as the ‘Arab Spring’.
At the very least, the exploitation, the ecological destruction, and the imperialist wars of plunder and aggression will continue. But the imperialist solution to definitively resolve the current crisis is a massive destruction of capital on a world scale. The ‘Golden Age’ of postwar capitalism was in part provided by the investment opportunities after the devastation of the Second World War, which claimed the lives of some 60 million people and the misery of hundreds of millions more. We don’t need these ‘solutions’.
In brief, this is why imperialism is in a state of strategic decline, and in hindsight we can see that it has been since the 1970s. There’s much, much more to the analysis of this question, but simply put, this means that the objective conditions for revolution are improving day-by-day.
(4) Absolute rejection of colonialism in Canada and defense of the right to self-determination.
Briefly stated, the revolutionary movement of the proletariat must work alongside indigenous peoples in their pursuit of their rights to self-determination. These struggles are not separate, especially since many indigenous peoples are proletarian, and since their various modes of subsistence are continuously being destroyed or made nearly impossible to survive by. But the colonial relations between indigenous peoples and the Canadian state can only be destroyed with the destruction of Canada’s capitalist imperialism system. The working-class offensive must align with the anti-colonial struggles of indigenous peoples for the success of both to be assured. Hence, the proletarian revolution in Canada must be multinational, and must be led by the most oppressed and exploited masses under the rule of the Canadian state.
(5) Develop the mass line
The mass line is a pedagogical principle at the core of a correct method of communist leadership. An abbreviated expression of the mass line from Mao Tse-Tung is to: “Take the ideas of the masses and concentrate them, then go to the masses, persevere in the ideas and carry them through, so as to form correct ideas of leadership – such is the basic method of leadership.”
Whereas the process of democratic centralism outlined by Leninism is the internal method of leadership within a Communist Party, the mass line embodies both the democratic and centralizing relationship between the masses and a genuine Communist Party. It presumes and can only develop on the basis of a Party that is genuinely from the masses, conducts work amongst the masses, and defends the masses.
The mass line is not a method that “you get” once and for all. It is always a work in progress and it must always be assiduously developed. The degeneration of communist parties into revisionism is always signalled, first and foremost, by the abandonment of the mass line.
As a point of demarcation, we uphold the mass line to express that a proletarian revolutionary Communist Party must be constructed from and through the masses.
(6) Build the revolutionary proletarian Party guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism
Finally, as a sixth line of demarcation for the construction of a revolutionary mass movement and the fulfilment of revolution, we must follow the consolidated synthesis of the experiences of 160 years of proletarian revolution. This synthesis is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM). MLM is not dogma or esotericism, but a living science of the revolution, enriched with each new set of experiences of revolution in the world. In fact, the previous five lines of demarcation are merely our application of M-L-M to the conditions of Canada. (For a greater explication of our understanding of M-L-M applied to Canadian conditions, we encourage interested individuals to visit our website (revintcan.wordpress.com), or look to the far more advanced revolutionary forces throughout the world for inspiration and guidance.)
Very briefly put, however, we are Marxists because we uphold Dialectical and Historical Materialism;. we are Leninists because we recognize the necessity for the creation of a vanguard Party and because Lenin’s basic outline of imperialism remains valid; and we are Maoists because of the universal contributions of Maoism to the International Communist Movement, including: (1) The theory of protracted people’s war; (2) the Theory of the New Democratic Revolutions in the oppressed countries and its relationship to the International Communist Movement; (3) the Mass line; (4) the concept of the two-line struggle within the Party; and (5) the recognition that class struggle must continue under socialism until imperialism is defeated on a world scale and humanity approaches a truly classless society.
We are Marxist-Leninist-Maoists because we synthesize the experiences of 160 years of proletarian revolutionary struggle into our theory of revolution, and strive to assiduously develop and adapt Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in relation to the constantly changing concrete conditions of our struggles.
The necessity of applying MLM can also be understood by considering the alternatives:
Social democracy in Canada promotes struggles of redistribution within capitalist society, but on the foundations of imperialism and colonialism. Of course, such redistribution, in the form of higher wages and social benefits for certain sections of the working-class, is only ever aimed at pacifying and securing the allegiance of a privileged strata of the proletariat in the counter-revolution against the rest of the proletariat. This pro-imperialist strategy would be viable for the upper strata of the working-class if imperialism were expanding, but it is not.
Most strands of Trotskyism work strictly within the middle and upper strata of the working class and with the petty-bourgeoisie, almost exclusively working in unions and universities. Groups like the International Socialists, Socialist Action, and Fightback try to command the left-wing of the New Democratic Party and the labour aristocracy. The concentration of all efforts in these sectors of the working class and petty-bourgeoisie is an expression of opportunism, and will only hold back the revolutionary movement.
What about the old Communist Party of Canada? They abandoned revolution over half a century ago when the agreed to play by the rules of the ruling class. They have fundamentally revised the precepts of Marxism-Leninism, and exist as an organization only to conduct some anti-capitalist propaganda within the boundaries of bourgeois legality. They essentially carry a line of peaceful transition to socialism. Such an organization has never played the role of leading the proletariat in its conquest for power and liberation.
There are anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists too, and they are indeed fiercer critics of Canadian imperialism. However, many of these forces consciously reject Maoism as a higher stage of Marxism-Leninism and the genuine expression of revolutionary Marxism in the current era. On a world scale, the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist forces are less influential than the forces of MLM and they have nowhere in decades advanced revolution. In the imperialist countries, they survive mostly by dogmatically reasserting and upholding the experiences of the past revolutions – Stalin, Cuba – without developing, criticizing, adapting and applying revolutionary theory to the current conditions.
As for anarchism, we admire the boldness and courageousness of many class struggle anarchists and anarcho-communists. But the refusal to identify a clear program, strategy, tactics, and methods to make revolution is, in the final analysis, the refusal to make revolution.
We differentiate ourselves from other ideological trends not because we are interested in pro-longed, “sectarian” quibbling with these forces. Let each of our forces retain our independence, apply our respective strategies and tactics, work together on a practical and programmatic basis wherever possible, and see whose ideas are most applicable to developing revolution in Canada, whose are not, and who in the end sides with the forces of the reactionaries and imperialism.
In the past quarter of a century, revolutionary movements in Peru, Turkey, Nepal, the Philippines, and India have advanced Marxism-Leninism-Maoism tremendously, demonstrating to us the universal significance of M-L-M, and how varied are the conditions to which M-L-M can be applied. Everyone interested in truly making revolution should get their hands on first-hand accounts and documents from these incredible modern examples revolutionary struggles. Today’s People’s Wars and revolutionary communist movements provide us rich laboratories to learn about making revolution in the current era. It is precisely for this reason that imperialism and its lackeys have labelled these genuine revolutionary movements as “terrorists” – it is because they pose the greatest threat to imperialism.
MLM is also applicable to imperialist countries. The five lines of demarcation outlined above briefly express some of our points of application of MLM to the conditions of the imperialist state of Canada. For further information, we encourage the study, discussion, and a critical evaluation of our work so far, which can be found on our at revintcan.wordpress.com.