Spartacist Canada No. 151

Winter 2006/2007


SC Welcomes New Readers!

This fall comrades and sympathizers of the Trotskyist League/Ligue trotskyste and Spartacus Youth Clubs spent six weeks engaged in our annual subscription drive. With 472 points, we achieved 118 percent of our quota, our best result in a decade. These points represent 205 subscriptions to Spartacist Canada, 114 to Workers Vanguard, newspaper of the Spartacist League/U.S. and 39 to other publications of the International Communist League, chiefly the press of our French and Mexican sections, Le Bolchévik and Espartaco.

We welcome both our new readers and those who renewed their subscriptions. A Marxist, working-class newspaper, SC seeks to propagate our full revolutionary program. To make this program concrete, our press addresses the struggles of workers and the oppressed and our interventions into these struggles. As a fighting propaganda group, our aim is to build a revolutionary vanguard party of the kind that V.I. Lenin and the Bolsheviks forged in order to lead the working class to power in the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia.

We make a special effort to sell subscriptions: our press is our main tool for seeking to influence and lead struggles and for winning workers and youth to our ranks. This work is crucial to maintaining an ongoing readership and reaching out to new layers and to regions where we do not have branches. It also helps give us a picture of current political consciousness and moods, from campuses to workplaces and union halls.

We encountered much opposition to the imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to the bloody Zionist war on the Palestinians. Yet many believe that the imperialist bourgeoisie—which has unleashed unparalleled misery and violence on the peoples of the world—can be pressured to serve the interests of the oppressed. This illusion is nurtured by the reformist left, most of whom peddle the view that Canada has merely deviated from its supposed historic role as a “peacekeeper” and can be induced to adopt a more benevolent stance.

This was an undercurrent at an October 6-8 Toronto conference entitled “Boycotting Israeli Apartheid: The Struggle Continues.” We distributed a recent article, “Defend CUPE Ontario! Defend the Palestinians!” (SC No. 150, Fall 2006) and strongly solidarized with the struggles of the Palestinian people. Intervening at the plenary session, our comrade asked the pointed question: “Do you really think pressuring campus administrations, corporations and Western imperialist governments that back the Zionist rulers to the hilt will do anything to stop the relentless onslaught against the Palestinians?” His remarks, which emphasized the need for class struggle against imperialism, won both applause from the audience and hostility from conference organizers.

The months before our subscription drive had seen a vicious escalation of the imperialists’ racist “war on terror.” Our article “Labour Must Fight ‘Anti-Terror’ Witchhunt” told the story of the 17 Muslim men who were rounded up in early June on frame-up “terror” charges. Soon after, 14 people of Tamil background were rounded up. This followed a government ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Since then Tamil student associations have been targeted for repression and provocation at campuses around Ontario. SC has opposed this vicious crackdown from the start; Tamil students in Toronto welcomed our stance, as well as our defense of the right of Tamil self-determination in Sri Lanka.

We also highlighted the urgent campaign to free U.S. death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and later an award-winning journalist and supporter of the MOVE organization. We took this struggle to workers, selling the Partisan Defense Committee’s new pamphlet, The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, to trade unionists on Labour Day in Toronto and Hamilton. In Toronto, SYC comrades hit the campuses with literature tables and showed the video From Death Row, This Is Mumia Abu-Jamal. At Vancouver’s University of British Columbia, our comrades did “agitprop” soapboxing to publicize Jamal’s case and organized a successful public forum and video showing.

A Polemical and Programmatic Press

In both cities, we kicked off the political season with regular classes on Marxist basics and in Toronto we held a public forum, “For a Socialist Federation of the Near East!” Just as our press is polemical, we also intervene in the political events of the day with our revolutionary Marxist program. Without debate and struggle over political program there can be neither clarity nor understanding about the way forward for working people. Yet as we attended and intervened into meetings throughout the subscription drive, the distance from revolutionary Marxism among what passes for the ostensible left in this country was greater than ever.

The reformist International Socialists (I.S.) are a sorry case in point. Their raison d’être is their anti-Communist hostility to those countries which have overthrown capitalism (the former Soviet Union and East Europe, and China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam today). Going far beyond the necessary solidarity with Muslims under the gun in the racist “war on terror,” the I.S. has pretty much jettisoned even atheism and secularism, stances which should be elementary for leftists. A year ago, they declared their support to Islamic sharia courts in Ontario, a real anti-woman outrage. More recently, the flyer for an October 14 “War, Occupation and Global Resistance” Socialist Worker conference in Toronto promoted a “multi-faith prayer space”! In contrast to the I.S., our opposition to all religious reaction—in the first instance the Christianity peddled by the ruling class—is central to our struggle for the liberating program of Marxism.

Meanwhile, it appears that one of the central founders of the Vancouver group Fire This Time (FTT), Ivan Drury, was won over by the Koranic readings of mullahs that they feature at their rallies and has confirmed his conversion to Islam! At an October 18 meeting of FTT’s UBC campus front group, our SYC comrades attacked FTT’s vapid reformist call for “an independent public inquiry” into the war in Afghanistan. This channels anti-militarist sentiment into pleas for the government to refurbish the image of the racist capitalist state; it is a call for workers to join hands with their exploiters and oppressors. In addressing this meeting, our comrades emphasized that opposition to militarism and war must be based on a fight against the system that breeds it—capitalism.

Forthright Champions of All the Oppressed

We are unabashed reds, and we encountered great curiousity about Marxism among students. Our prominent placards calling for unconditional military defense of China and especially our defense of North Korea in the wake of its successful nuclear test were controversial and sparked much debate. Similarly, our advocacy of Quebec independence served as a political lightning rod, provoking anything from sympathetic curiousity and even agreement, to outright Anglo-chauvinist hostility.

We are forthright champions of the oppressed; our refusal to mince words about the barbarism of this capitalist system attracted interest and helped sell subscriptions. Black youth and workers who were outraged by the racism around the 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans saw the stark headline of our Black History and the Class Struggle pamphlet, “New Orleans: Racist Atrocity,” and grabbed it from comrades. Native students at Hamilton’s McMaster University were drawn by our placards defending Native militants in nearby Caledonia. They told us of the ugly racism they endured, including being refused service at area cafes. We emphasized that the organized working class must be mobilized in defense of Natives and welcomed the fact that the Steelworkers union at the massive Hilton Works in Hamilton organized a contingent to defend the Caledonia protesters.

Subscription Drive Highlights

Congratulations to comrade Arthur of Toronto, who with 48 points sold the most subscriptions. Campus sub selling in Toronto was particularly successful this year, as we sold over 100 points at the University of Toronto and York University. During this intense six-week campaign we did political work in seven cities and on a dozen campuses. Our trip to Hamilton’s McMaster was a great success and comrades easily sold 34 points in a few hours. Our Montreal regional focused on francophone campuses, selling 43 points, mainly to Le Bolchévik. Many students were interested in our French-language pamphlets, Québec: Question nationale et lutte des classes and Marxisme contre Anarchisme. We sold numerous subscriptions to youth of Near Eastern and North African origin, as well as to youth from Montreal’s large Hispanic community who were particularly interested in the ongoing struggles in Mexico.

A tour of Eastern Ontario took us to Carleton and the University of Ottawa, as well as to Trent in Peterborough (55 points total). Vancouver comrades, in addition to working the campuses in their own city, made a successful trip to the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island, selling 25 sub points.

Congratulations to all the comrades, and thanks to our sympathizers who joined us in making the subscription drive a success. We are a small, fighting propaganda group that is serious about building a Leninist party to lead the working class to state power. Let us know what you think of our press, and contact us to discuss its contents and get involved in the activities of the TL and SYCs.