Workers Tribune No. 2

Summer/Fall 2019


Internationalist Group: Anglo-Chauvinist Trash

Hate Quebec Independence, Hate the ICL

A lying and defamatory polemic against the République ouvrière article “Down With Racist Attacks on Muslims!” (No. 3, Winter/Spring 2019) was published in June by the U.S. Internationalist Group (IG), an organization well versed in slanders against the International Communist League (ICL), of which we are the section in Quebec and Canada. Written in “English only,” for an audience unfamiliar with Quebec or outright hostile to its national liberation struggle, this screed titled “The ICL Against Asylum for Refugees in Quebec” (Internationalist, May-June 2019) accuses us of being racists who supposedly support deportations of refugees. This is a grotesque accusation, an evident lie for anyone who reads the RO article which affirmed: “Down with the deportations! Full citizenship rights for everyone here!” In fact, the IG’s smear serves to hide (very poorly) their liberal, pro-Trudeau and anti-Québécois positions and to vilify the real communists as racists among leftists and in the workers movement, seeking to provoke censorship and ultimately violence against us.

The IG attacks the following statement in the RO article (published here on page 7):

“Legault’s anti-immigrant measures, including the recent cancellation of 18,000 immigration applications, are an integral part of his racist attacks to divide workers. This poison must be fought in the working class. However, the struggle for Quebec to have its independent state cannot be separated from the struggle to control its borders. Thus, Legault’s current demand that immigration, which is now under federal jurisdiction, be brought back under the jurisdiction of Quebec is legitimate from this standpoint.”

According to the IG, this means that “the ICL openly supports the ‘legitimate’ right of a bourgeois government to turn back refugees in order to control the borders of an independent state, which, moreover, does not even exist!” (in bold in original)—adding that we are “aligning with the most retrograde elements of the bourgeoisie, including fascists and racists” and lumping us together “with the Trumps and Legaults of the world.” What repugnant slanders! It is the IG, driven by their Anglo chauvinism and “fight the right” appetites, which falsely introduces this equation between defending Quebec’s right to control its borders and support for the immigration policies of a bourgeois government.

Border control is one of the essential attributes of sovereignty; so if Quebec can wrest concessions from the federal government in this sense it is indeed legitimate, even if partial and reversible. That’s what enrages the IG: our position flows from our struggle for the national liberation of Quebec, an integral part of the Leninist goal of being a tribune of all the oppressed in the general fight against capitalist exploitation. For their part, the IG opposes the liberation of Quebec, no matter what statements they may occasionally make on paper. (In fact, their odious polemic doesn’t even mention Quebec’s right to self-determination...much less independence.) For the IG, any consistent defense of nations oppressed in multinational states amounts to “bourgeois nationalism.” It is in this same framework that they also oppose independence for Catalonia.

By denying Quebec the right to control its borders, even partially, the IG lines up in the camp of Trudeau and supports the lie that the immigration policies of “united Canada” are fundamentally more humanitarian and less racist. This is shown in their polemic, with its thinly veiled salute to Trudeau and his pretensions to be helping refugees. The IG all but praises him for having temporarily suspended some deportations to Haiti and Syria, only complaining that this was done for “diplomatic” reasons, without mentioning or condemning the fact that he had already deported hundreds of Haitians, among others!

The IG’s abject slanders are simply an echo of the English Canadian bourgeoisie. The latter always seek to use ethnic minorities, who they oppress horribly, to condemn any expression of Quebec sovereignty under the cover of “multiculturalism.” In other words, they peddle the hackneyed lie that the Québécois are just a “tribal” band of backward racists who must be brought into line through anglophone imperialist “fair play,” which is oh-so-“civilized” (and covered with blood).

Such positions aren’t fundamentally new for the IG. Founded by defectors from our organization in the 1990s, and in the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union, this group is mainly characterized by a rejection of the struggle for a Leninist vanguard, and by its capitulations to imperialism and various reformist or populist forces. Regarding the national question, the IG upholds retrograde positions with which we ourselves have broken—and for which Jan Norden, today the IG’s líder maximo, was in large part responsible (see “The Struggle Against the Chauvinist Hydra,” Spartacist [English edition] No. 65, Summer 2017). The IG’s real program is the forced assimilation of small nations and support for “liberal” representatives of imperialism, of which Trudeau is the most honeyed and hypocritical expression, but which also includes the U.S. Democratic Party and imperialists of the European Union (EU) like Macron and Merkel.

The IG likes to give advice to these racist bourgeois imperialists about a more “humane” migration policy, the logic of which is a liberal position of “opening the borders,” a utopian and reactionary program. An example of this is their accusation, repeated in their lying article, that the ICL is indifferent to the fate of refugees in Europe because we do not specifically call for the abolition of Dublin III (an agreement on migratory flows within the EU). In fact, by selecting particular EU regulations to oppose, the IG propagates the imperialist myth that the EU is a “super-state” that transcends the borders of member countries. In the reformist framework of a “social Europe,” the IG gives tacit support to the EU, suggesting that there can be a “more equitable” distribution of refugees under capitalism and that prior to Dublin III the EU was less oppressive! For our part, we oppose the EU as a whole and call for proletarian internationalist struggle to break up this oppressive conglomerate dominated by the German, and secondarily French, imperialists.

Moreover, the imperialists have no problem with “opening the borders” of the countries they oppress, the better to exploit them. The British colonialists, for instance, took care of this from Ireland to India, not to mention French Canada. For their descendants in the Canadian bourgeoisie, “opening the borders” of Quebec has always aimed at drowning the Québécois in a tide of English-speaking immigrants (or those who would integrate in English). Hence the hysteria against Law 101, which the IG also opposes.

Only the independence of Quebec can really solve the language question, but we support Law 101 as a partial expression of self-determination and a defensive measure by the oppressed nation. We support the fact that immigrants who arrive in Quebec integrate through learning French, and demand free, quality bilingual programs as a rational method to help immigrant students make the transition from their mother tongue to French. The IG’s starting point is great-power chauvinism: while they oppose in practice the national rights, including language rights, of the oppressed Québécois nation, they demand the imposition of French…in Algeria, with the same status as Arabic and Tamazight (see Internationalist, May-June 2019)!

The horrible situation faced by millions of refugees around the world flows precisely from imperialist oppression of the colonial and semicolonial countries. To ask these same imperialist bourgeoisies to be more welcoming to desperate refugees only sows illusions in the possibility of reforming the imperialist system. We seek to build a binational, multiethnic workers party, dedicated to world socialist revolution, which would seek to mobilize the social power of the working class to fight against deportations and for full citizenship rights for immigrants.

As we explained in an article published by our comrades of the Spartacist League/U.S. more than 40 years ago, “The Leninist Policy Toward Immigration/Emigration” (Workers Vanguard No. 36, 18 January 1974):

“What communists have to say to the impoverished masses of the backward countries is that the answer to their desperate social conditions does not lie in an individual ticket to the U.S. or Western Europe, but rather in an international socialist revolution which is the necessary precondition to the economic reorganization of human society through freeing the productive forces from the fetter of private ownership.”

As long as the capitalist state exists, it will control the flow of migration according to the interests of the capitalist class. Sowing illusions about this state of affairs, as does the IG, undermines the understanding that the capitalist state—the cops, army, prison and border guards—is the mortal enemy of the proletariat and that it must be overthrown through workers revolution. With their lying slanders that defend the imperialist oppressors, the right-wing centrists of the IG are a particularly repugnant obstacle to this perspective.