[From the Toronto Star.] OTTAWA—Canadians who don’t vote actually believe in democracy — they just don’t believe politics or politicians … Continue reading Does not voting make you an indifferent citizen — or an idealist?
by Gerald Caplan. Special to The Globe and Mail. When the NDP won government in Ontario exactly 20 years ago, … Continue reading The hidden history of Bob Rae’s government in Ontario
From the Central Committee, Revolutionary Initiative (Canada)
29 March 2011
With the upcoming Federal Elections in Canada, this document offers an assessment by the Central Committee of Revolutionary Initiative on the question of elections in the current international context and given the level of self-organization of the proletariat in Canada. It is organized into five main sections:
- The strategic decline of imperialism
- The crisis of bourgeois democracy
- The role of electoralism in keeping the proletariat demobilized as a class for itself
- The strategic position of the proletariat in Canada today: demobilization and disarray
- Electoral tactics and revolutionary strategy
[More on our series on the various views in ICM on participating in bourgeois elections. This post comes from the Social Revolution Party, a MLM group in Ontario. Their original post can be found here.]
In light of the recent debates within the International Communist Movement1 as to the value of working within the bourgeois parliamentary system, and because of questions posed to the Social Revolution Party as to its position on bourgeois elections, it seemed prudent to write an article on the bourgeois parliamentary system and the attitude that communists should be taking towards parliament. For whatever reasons, it seems that English speaking communists often romanticize the parliamentary experience; indeed, almost all of the “official” Communist Parties within the Anglosphere have been reduced to, in the words of Marx, “parliamentary cretinism”2.
In the interests of a detailed and thorough exposition of the problem at hand, this article will begin by looking at the original debates surrounding communist involvement in bourgeois parliaments dating back to the inception of the Third International. Careful attention will then be paid to Lenin’s critique of both British and German communist involvement in their respective parliaments, with an eye as to whether or not Lenin was being consistent in his critique. We will then step forward 80 years and examine the modern Canadian context and whether or not advocating parliamentary involvement in Canada in 2009 is a Leninist position. Lenin’s position itself will then be the focus of extreme critiques, examining the effects of parliamentary involvement on communist organisations. Finally, after careful investigation, a position for the Social Revolution Party will be put forward. Onwards!
Should we Participate in Bourgeois Parliaments?
It is with the utmost contempt—and the utmost levity—that the German “Left” Communists reply to this question in the negative. Their arguments? In the passage quoted above we read:
“… All reversion to parliamentary forms of struggle, which have become historically and politically obsolete, must be emphatically rejected” [[__ Rjc: Could be incomplete here; check __]]
This is said with ridiculous pretentiousness, and is patently wrong. “Reversion” to parliamentarianism, forsooth! Perhaps there is already a Soviet republic in Germany? It does not look like it! How, then, can one speak of “reversion”? Is this not an empty phrase?
Parliamentarianism has become “historically obsolete”. That is true in the propaganda sense. However, everybody knows that this is still a far cry from overcoming it in practice. Capitalism could have been declared—and with full justice—to be “historically obsolete” many decades ago, but that does not at all remove the need for a very long and very persistent struggle on the basis of capitalism. Parliamentarianism is “historically obsolete” from the standpoint of world history, i.e., the era of bourgeois parliamentarianism is over, and the era of the proletarian dictatorship has begun. That is incontestable. But world history is counted in decades. Ten or twenty years earlier or later makes no difference when measured with the yardstick of world history; from the standpoint of world history it is a trifle that cannot be considered even approximately. But for that very reason, it is a glaring theoretical error to apply the yardstick of world history to practical politics. Continue reading “On Elections: An Excerpt from Lenin’s Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder”
1. A Canada-wide boycott campaign during the next federal elections:
Boycott the Elections! is a slogan that is anything but passive. Driven by the forces of the militant proletariat, led by activists working for revolution and for the destruction of the exploitative capitalist system, this slogan is a call to fight
against apathy and indifference, and against what will be an inevitable defeat otherwise.
This slogan is a call for unity among the proletariat, whether they be young, old, unemployed, immigrant or refugee.
This slogan is a call to unite with the most militant layers among the Native nations who refuse to recognize the Canadian Parliament, except than to be the organizer of their own oppression. This slogan when carried forward by the most conscious forces among the proletariat, can offer the proletariat a real political perspective: the actions of the revolutionary proletariat to transform society. This action must be first and foremost the expression of the rejection of bourgeois politics in a conscious and unified way. By organizing actions, through meetings and protests, through the massive distribution and publication of leaflets and newspapers throughout the country, these revolutionary actions
represent a real threat to the apparatus of domination of the bourgeoisie. They reveal and expose to the eyes of many the deeply unfair nature of this system ruled by a tiny minority.
There will be those that will criticize us who boycott by saying that we are playing the game of the rightists. Some forces on the left often use this argument: “One can try to rebalance bourgeois parliamentarism by calling for proportional representation”. In either case, whether it be twoheaded or three-headed, it remains the party of the bourgeoisie. What really matters is that in all cases, the same interests prevail, both in government and in opposition. Regardless of parliamentary representation, the nature of Parliament itself remains the same.
[Party of the Committees to Support Resistance – for Communism (CARC) is associated with the (new) Italian Communist Party. While upholding what they call Revolutionary Protracted People’s War, their strategy is very different from the Protracted People’s War strategy articulated by the RCP Canada or other pro-PPW Parties in imperialist countries.]
Revolutionary Protracted People’s War and participation in the elections and in the bourgeois political struggle in Italy
Recently we wrote a letter to Alastair Reith, a comrade from New Zealand, in which we talked about the participation of our Party in the bourgeois political struggle, and particularly in the elections, quoting a thesis of the Second Congress of CARC Party (October 2009). Our explanation, anyway, was defective. Here we complete it indicating which is the most important aspect that, here in Italy and in this phase makes the participation in the bourgeois political struggle and particularly in the elections a revolutionary mean.
As the matter regards an issue debated in the international communist movement, we spread this communication widely.
As regards our line to break into the bourgeois political struggle, our position is very different from any other M-L or M-L-M party that agrees in participating in the elections and generally in the bourgeois political struggle, but does not carry out the Revolutionary Protracted People’s War (RPPW) for establishing socialism