In Venezuela, the CRBZ is struggling autonomously, in a context made more favourable to anti-capitalist forces by former President Hugo Chávez. It has organized dozens of communes where the people are learning to govern themselves while being at the frontlines of the resistance against fascist paramilitary forces. Meanwhile, in India and the Philippines, revolutionary Maoist groups have been involved for decades in a protracted armed struggle against their respective states. In so doing, they have sown the seeds of people’s power among the most marginalized groups in their society and accumulated invaluable practical experience. All anti-capitalists are invited to come learn more from and discuss the experiences of these major revolutionary organizations and struggles.
1) To continue to build the RSM by
a. Forming new groups where they don’t exist;
b. Working with existing organisations, where they exist;
c. Rallying new groups to the next conference.
2) To work towards a new movement in theory and practice in serving the people with the revolutionary principles of:
e. Independence from the state;
f. Against reformism;
g. And struggling for a broad based education which is scientific and proletarian in nature.
3) To develop a proletarian line on feminism, anti-racism and struggles against other forms of oppression.
4) To hold a 3rd conference in early 2014 in Montreal.
5) To hold a speaking tour in late 2013, visiting various locales, to promote the RSM and the 3rd conference.
6) To hold an event in the fall in Vancouver to promote the RSM.
7) Each city/campus/organisation will name someone responsible for maintaining links with the RSM and to mobilise for the next conference.
8) Each city/campus/organisation will, in the spirit of anti-imperialism:
a. Mobilise for the July 1st day of action in support of the people’s war in India;
b. Stand in solidarity with the people of Syria against imperialist aggression;
c. Oppose Canadian imperialism in all of its manifestations.
9) To integrate new traditions of revolutionary struggle.
To form a revolutionary core among students.
To lead the attack against the bourgeoisie and the capitalist state.
To make every struggle a problem for public order, a political problem that will trigger the struggle for socialism and proletarian power.
Political Document from the Second Pan-Canadian Conference of Revolutionary Youth and Students, August 2013
For many, politics are essentially grasped in terms of the following categories: “left” or “right,” “radical” or “moderate.” Certainly useful categories, but they paint too broad a portrait, and merely approximate reality. These categories are essentially relative, lacking both content and precise political orientations; they change according to the ebb and flow of the class struggle. Does being on the “left” in Canada in 2013 mean the same thing as being on the “left” in Russia in 1917? Or in Spain in 1936? Or in France in 1968? Moreover, to be on the “left” of what?
In fleshing out a revolutionary project, we must equip ourselves with an infinitely more precise understanding of the social and political reality. In fact, we must ground ourselves in a scientific understanding of the world. To this end, the absence or weakness of a class analysis within the student movement is a serious obstacle to a more advanced, more ambitious political practice. If we fail to understand the “multi-class” character of the student movement, and continue to think of the student community in terms of a political subject, we will neither clearly define our objectives nor realize the class we must rely on in order to advance; in sum, it will thus be impossible to formulate a coherent revolutionary strategy. Otherwise, this existing confusion in matters of social transformation will always be recouped by the bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie that knows very well what it wants to do with society.
A class analysis involves finding out how the different stakes in society, in the educational sphere just as in any other, contain the competing interests of the conflicting social classes; how their different struggles testify to a global problem: the emancipation of one class over another. To identify as a “leftist” and to plead for social justice will not suffice. What matters is to recognize the lines of demarcation of this contradiction and to clearly choose which side to stand on. Only on these grounds could we hope to grasp reality and to overcome the vain pursuit of an illusory “common good,” to use a term from the social democrats that is as prevalent as it is pernicious. We state plainly: Between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat there is no common good; there is only an irreducible relationship of domination and exploitation. To pretend otherwise is to maintain the confusion, and to hinder the proletariat in its class consciousness. For society to realize the common good, it will first be necessary to overthrow the bourgeoisie, to eradicate the bourgeoisie as the dominant class.
To think of struggles in terms of specific class interests, to rely first and foremost on this specific class, is to avoid useless appeals to the conscience of so-called “civil society,” yet another muddled concept of contemporary reformism. Civil society, a term referring to all classes in civil life, i.e. life outside the state, serves, more often than not, those organizations of the bourgeoisie that claim to speak of behalf of society as a whole. To reiterate, against this façade of unity, we must separate the camps in order to build a political project around the only class whose real interest is to abolish capitalism, the only class that is “revolutionary to the end.”
For militants in the student movement, it is precisely to go beyond the idea of building unity around “student interests.” Such a thing does not exist. We must choose between the interests of the proletariat and those of the bourgeoisie in matters of education. And we must defend proletarian interests as such. Whether we like it or not, to think about the balance of power in winning a demand as strategy is to raise an obvious necessity to the level of strategy; to create a sufficiently strong movement to attain established goals, this is the “abc” of struggle. However, this is also a convenient way of dismissing the necessity of developing long term strategy for attaining specific goals and for accumulating new forces across the struggles. Instead, we rest content sailing from one strike to the next, with the occasional successes and too often, failures. Rarely do we seek to understand the reasons which make our decisions, our means of struggle correct decisions.
The Student Movement and the Trade Union Movement
The theoretical weakness of the student movement can equally be seen in the relationship many activists hope to build with the workers and trade union movement. This hope betrays a poor understanding of the role played by the trade unions at this point in the history of capitalism. We must fully grasp the following conclusion: trade unions today are strong factors of adhesion to the capitalist order: they bind workers to capitalism and repress the combativity of the rank in file in the class struggle. This mistake takes the form of fetishizing the trade unions and conflating the workers movement to its union form.
How many times have we religiously declared our will to agitate in solidarity with the workers movement/trade union movement and social movements? It is a staple of all action plans, at least among the left. We hope to high heaven that the unions will struggle, and that they’ll vote for the social strike. We must in turn assess and evaluate this “solidarity.” When has this solidarity been expressed? Sometimes very timid statements of support by officials are made at the end of press releases; participation in fruitless coalitions where it’s necessary for us to make all the compromises; expressions of sympathy for the student struggle as individuals, but rarely voicing that sympathy loudly at a demonstration from the organization; often a simple public disavowal reeking of paternalism.
There has never been even a shadow of real struggle that was fought side by side with the workers. All the good intentions are dampened by the bureacratic buffer of the trade union organizations. Is it necessary to provide some examples? The impressive numbers of union cadres, from top to bottom, are the political vassals of the bosses’ parties: the Partis Québécois and the New Democratic Party, who bury the social question beneath the national question, whether Quebecois or Canadian. The integration of the unions to finance capital through intermediary investment funds, where workers interests are more than ever tied to the profitability of capital under the pretext of saving jobs. Cumulative examples of labour conflicts in which unionists force workers to take a bad deal.
To connect the student movement and the workers movement is certainly laudable, even imperative. But this connection can’t be purely formal, a part of protocol. This connection must be grounded on correct politics, in other words, proletarian and revolutionary politics that do not transpire via the intermediary of trade unions.
We must go directly to the workers and build the organizations that allow us to make this connection to a true workers movement.
Breaking Down the Barriers
Among the heaviest ideological barriers weighing down the revolutionary potential of students and youth is a series of erroneous and limited concepts of tactics. At the strategic level–that is to say the fundamental objectives at a global level–many militants take the position of the vanguard, with revolutionary and anti-capitalist demands. However, the path leading to these objectives, which materialize the strategy day after day, is made of tactical choices, stages, methods and detours.
The main tactical problems of the far and revolutionary left, and the anti-capitalists, are economism and opportunism. Opportunism, according to our purposes, is neither strictly nor essentially the dishonesty of the careerist or bureaucrat pursuing their personal interests above all else. Even if this kind of opportunism exists, it’s not the most problematic one. Opportunism refers to the erroneous political analysis shared by even the most sincere and honest militants: the substitution of immediate interests for the fundamental interests of the working class, the pursuit of immediate gains against the struggle for proletarian revolution and for socialism, giving up revolutionary strategy by focusing only on the short term tactics. We owe this concept of opportunism to the revolutionaries of the early 20th centurty, such as V.I. Lenin and Rosa Luxembourg. Objectively, opportunism is the betrayal of the revolutionary goal made in the name of immediate necessities of the revolutionary process.
The most widespread form of opportunism in the student movement is currently the theory of radical stageism, with sometimes libertarian, sometimes Marxist, and sometimes simply unionist characteristics. It is essentially a process of radicalizing the masses through struggles up until the outbreak of a revolutionary situation. Stoke the fire, but above all, don’t let it blow out! Don’t run ahead of the actual degree of consciousness of the masses, of radicalizing the masses!
We clearly see what is underlying this radical stageism: the reconciliation of reformist and economist practice and a commitment, in principle, to a revolutionary horizon. This is the cheap way of being on the “far-left:” revolutionary practice becomes less and less political and more and more subcultural, as evident in the songs, the micro-polemics, and very drunken evenings.
For now, we’ll completely absorb ourselves in the immediate struggles, we’ll immerse ourselves in spontaneity and movementism as a way to develop consciousness “step-by-step,” here and now, without really worrying too much about the final destination. We never clarify the political questions that have to do with strategy and tactics in relation to the revolution, for these perspectives are far too ahead of where we are now and are too abstract to deal with now! Often, this way of organizing as described above takes the form of disdaining theoretical debate and reflections for the sake of dealing with the concrete realities here and now. This explains, to a large extent, the current student movement’s stagnation and political fallouts.
The materialization of this tactical idea is the containment of militantancy within the frame of student unionism, the instrument of radicalizing campus. Student associations and General Assemblies are thus the only horizon: the next proposal for action, the next demonstration, the next congress. The task at hand is to gather as many votes while the long term political perspectives are lost. Worse yet is that we adopt the vocabulary of the bourgeoisie, that which already constitutes the dominant discourse, without being too preoccupied with the serious ideological limitation the predominant discourse represents in the (re)construction of class consciousness. In regard to this problem, we often choose the path of least resistance, a trait characteristic of opportunism. We operate without the tools that would help us develop a scientific understanding of the world, a world which we seek to transform.
Without independent revolutionary politics– by this we mean freeing ourselves from the multi-class associations that ignore the reality of social classes–and developing explicitly revolutionary bases for our practice, i.e. not merely practicing student unionism, even “combative” student unionism, we will hit a ceiling in the process of radicalization. For its part, the student movement is marked by cycles, by ebbs and flows of mobilization and combativeness, by the renewal of the student movement membership. This is because student status is by definition a transitory status. On the one hand, those who pin their hopes on the trade union movement or in the grass-roots community movements realize it’s a little more complicated to be “radical” here in these milieus than in the bastions of the student left. On the other hand, others cede under pressure and join the ranks of ‘militant’ bureaucracy and class collaboration. Others eventually resign themselves to supporting the oppressed groups to the best of their capacities, resting content to dress the gaping wounds inflicted by capitalist society without real hope of eliminating the damages inflicted by this kind of social intervention. When we contain the struggle within the structure and discourse of student unionism, whether combative or not, we are wasting the great potential that is held back by the current movement. We fail to reap the fruits of radicalizing the student masses in accumulating the necessary forces for revolution.
However, the struggle for immediate reforms is rooted in the same struggle for socialism. The struggle for reforms or for immediate demands and the struggle for revolution and for socialism are not mutually exclusive. There are ways of articulating the two struggles, of addressing the pressing needs of the masses without sliding into opportunism, without compromising on fundamental objectives. Otherwise, the predominant tactical ideas in the student movement will not come to fruition. Let’s approach the problem with a bit more dialectics and reverse the premises on which the theory and practice of radical stageism rests.
For too long, we pretend that if the struggle for immediate demands already has enough challenges–for example, the recent struggle against rising tuition fees–it’s because we haven’t sufficiently hit the nail on the head in preserving the gains, and that we haven’t sufficiently built a movement in its unionist and reformist forms, i.e. to band together in a large united front. We’ve even scared off burgeoning consciousness by “extremist” proposals, like free tuition!
We in the MER-PCR believe, rather, that if the front of struggle for preserving social gains retreats, if the struggle for new reforms is weakened, the main factor for these problems is the lack of a significant revolutionary movement. What interest does the government have in satisfying, even partially, the current demands of the “radical reformist” wing of the student movement? Not a single one. For the government to take seriously these claims, they would have to see if satisfying them is the lesser of two evils, a way of escaping the worst. The bourgeoisie will engage social reforms out of fear of revolution. Over the past three decades, the offensives of the bourgeoisie on a global scale–often referred to as neo-liberalism–correspond to the ebb of revolution. There is the equation, and the tendency to reverse it.
The day there is a significant fringe of militants capable of deploying a revolutionary agitational propaganda inside the student movement, to build a radical opposition to the interests of the bourgeoisie, that is when the need for isolating this radical fringe presents itself to the bourgeois government, along with the need to cut off their support. And to the extent that repression alone is not enough, the government will have to offer a political response: The state will then turn to the reformist movement and will find support from this movement. And it is thus that new social gains will once again be snatched away.
Towards a New Movement
In advancing the idea that it is possible to transform the student movement, we believe it is very possible–and necessary–to deploy a revolutionary political activity at the heart of the student movement. To achieve this, we must overcome several obstacles at the ideological level. Student activism, even in it’s strictly unionist form, politicizes those who are involved. It acts like a wake-up call for social consciousness. Very soon, however, the ideological weapons (concepts, principles, strategies and tactical notions, etc) deployed by this militancy will turn up insufficient, lacking the ability to confront broader political tasks that are required to advance the path of revolution.
We must therefore address the relative poverty of the political and theoretical benchmarks spontaneously transmitted by student activism. Indeed, there is a rich revolutionary tradition, where we’ve accumulated hard fought lessons acquired over the past two centuries of non-stop class struggles against capitalist domination, and which synthesizes from that tradition the most advanced revolutionary experiences. To make an abstraction of this historical heritage is to make a spectacular retreat in the struggle against bourgeois domination as well as to liquidate the costly lessons paid by the exploited and oppressed the world over. It is imperative that we evaluate the student movement in light of these lessons.
Struggling to transform the social system also requires that we organize differently. To have a qualitatively different movement than the currently existing one, the question is not really about building a new organization, but rather to consciously unite on the bases of common principles and objectives from a revolutionary perspective and aspiration for revolution. For far too long, this movement has been trapped in the overwhelming ideological tendency of the current student movement, i.e. reformism (whether radical or not), and class reconciliation.
The aim of the revolutionary students is not to do away with student associations, etc. The aim of revolutionary students is to struggle against reformist currents that imprison the student movement and frankly, to organize and develop a vast movement engaged in ideological struggle within the student movement. It is from this starting point that we hope students develop a new way of understanding their involvement in student activism, in their manner of organizing, in their manner of struggling.
The traditional or “combative” unions that others wish to be large and democratic bring nothing if their foundations are based on reformism. In the name of strictly student interests, this ideological barrier of isolated practices and ideas particularizes students and confer on them a specificity of a group apart from others. There follows two movements in oppostion, two movement that do not wage the same struggle. The first, a reformist one, fixes as the objective more improvements for those already in a privileged position. The other, a revolutionary movement, fixes as its objective to lead the student movement into the most general struggle to abolish capitalism, which means abolishing the very privileges confered by this system. Briefly, we must resolutely deploy the spirit of revolt that animates the exploited masses, specifically among the youth, as already demonstrated in several historical moments, in uniting with the general struggle of the proletariat to advance the revolutionary struggle. In organizing youth, we need to unite them around a revolutionary program, to ensure this movement bases itself on the conscious mobilization of the youth and students, to establish why we need to fight and how to fight.
The movement we want will be built in places where we find young proletarians: at the technical schools, high-schools, the CEGEPS and colleges, as well as universities; in the popular neighbourhoods; and in solidarity with the people. We affirm the necessary of working for a student movement that unites a diverse range of the existing student democratic and anti-imperialist organizations; not to unite hypocritically and without principles, but through discussion and practice in the determination of what is correct and what is wrong; to firmly place revolutionary politics in command. Ultimately, this will help build a student movement with correct politics that serves the people in its fight against the capitalist system.
We know very well that our stubborn commitment to revolution, our critique of the system will displease those who are used to accommodating the bourgeoisie. Only those politics that wage the class struggle will do. This is a basic idea that revolutionary students defend tooth and nail.
Against the the insufficient tactics of radicalization, we uphold the necessity of independent communist work. We uphold that it is not only about “heating up” the masses, radicalizing the struggles that will always be generated because of the contradictions of capitalism, but moreover, to concretely build the camp of revolution in the same breath. W must not only win militants over to the idea of revolution, but to encourage them to organize on this basis.
To revive the motive force that proletarian students need, it will first be necessary to find a direction, a rallying centre that opens the way for collective action. This rallying centre is the collection of practices, the Party, and its political line. Revolution is an organized political struggle where the objective is to destroy the existing society at its foundations and to build a new world. The first stage is to seize state power, which would give the proletariat the means to carry out this transformation. Revolution is of necessity an orientation, a program, a line of march toward communism in all its different stages.
Revolution can’t be achieved without the vanguard party
While the spontaneous, generalised and eventually radical movement could view the transformation in a spontaneous way; not so for the revolutionaries. According to the former, this is because the overwhelming majority of exploited people could only imagine their future under capitalism. Hence their struggles are more oriented towards better distribution of wealth, better social organisation, without questioning exploitation and the role producers play in this society; They are spontaneously reformist.
The rage that exploitation provokes, the loss of jobs and unemployment, high rents and increasing poverty, these form the bases for developing revolutionary politics. From these movements, communists, by their activity, could lead workers to surpass limits, to break out from the rigid and narrow confines the immediate relations, to bring to consciousness the need for total social transformation, to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. The revolutionary and the reformist orientations clash in all of these battles.
In order to make our political and practical action more effective, we need strategy and appropriate tactics. A strategy is more than simply having an organizational philosophy. For example, we divide the student movement into two. The first, and the most imposing at the moment, is led by the reformist currents in which the principal course of action is collaboration with the state. The other, which is smaller, claims to be the militant unionist movement and keeps some distance from the state. At first glance these two groups seem rather distinct, but upon closely examination we realise both movements have a similar function: preventing young people from developing a strong practice that breaks with bourgeois legality.
“Combative” or militant unionism is meaningless if we do not ask the question for what are we fighting? How are we leading this fight? How do we put our plans into action? Who are we defending? Whose interests are we placing at the forefront? To label ourselves leftists by simply adding the word militant in front of unionism is to forget that 9 times out of 10, it’s reformist unionism that prevails. While it is certainly positive to not want to engage in collaboration with the state, it also brings with it an obligation to develop a strategy to enforce this choice.
Revolutionary students set themselves the essential task of educating a large number of students in their schools, neighbourhoods or workplaces, regardless of their class background and on their revolutionary positions. The first step towards this movement is the effective participation of a significant portion of the student struggle and a long term struggle for the rebuilding of the student movement on proletarian and revolutionary bases.
For us, the construction of a new student movement or the deconstruction of the old movement must start with a more profound political and ideological reorganization of the movement and this reconstruction is itself subject to the construction of the Party. Without a strong party it is unrealistic to expect to create a movement different than the current one.
We must build a vast movement that, in theory and practice, relies on the oppressed masses and those who are exploited by the imperialist system, a movement that highlights and attacks the causes of exploitation and oppression, not only its symptoms. We need a movement that strengthens the existing trend among the youth who see that it is only through the complete elimination, here and elsewhere, of the capitalist system that it is thus possible to resolve the people’s problems. In short, we must resolutely deploy the spirit of revolt that leads the exploited masses, especially the youth as demonstrated by several important moments in history, uniting in the general struggle of the proletariat to advance the revolutionary struggle.
To arrive there, we must modify our approach to student militancy and activism in placing revolutionary principles at the forefront, which would enliven the student movement.
Each victory earned within the current order is nothing more than a temporary and partial gain, and while we must fight to for our demands, rights and freedoms, we must keep in mind that the goal is the overthrow of the capitalist system currently dominating our country. And we must fight against the bourgeois state in order to build a completely new society, where many of the current problems of the people can begin to be solved in a permanent and profound way.
We must seek to solve problems at their roots and this requires us to strengthen the level of organisation of students in opposition to the current economic and political system, as well as its apparatuses of repression and propaganda. We need to raise the economic and partial struggles to political struggles, that is to say, the struggle against the system which aims to restructure the society and the state in a radically new way. In other words, we should not seek to make small reforms to the current system, but to fight in order to build a completely new society led by workers for the benefit of the people.
Combat the System
It is not by integrating into capitalist system or by collaborating with it that we will acquire our rights and freedom, regardless of the good intentions held by some people, regardless of the government. This is a system that ensures that thousands of young people will be kept out of schools, that we all must work to enrich a minority. It is a system that appeals to the armed forces and the police to suppress the people when they rise up. The real revolutionary changes take place only with the struggle of millions of people against the oppressive minority who will defend their system by any means. To accommodate the flaws of capitalism will only result in illusions.
Workers in different countries – who are the pillars of society in all four corners of the world – have many similarities and near equal living conditions. Although there are features associated with imperialist domination and oppression in various parts of the world, they are minimal in comparison to common problems, as the oppressed have great differences with the exploiters of each country. In this sense, the oppressed of the world must unite their struggles against their common enemy, in alliance with the working masses and peasants in other parts of the world, regardless of whether they speak Spanish, English or Arabic. The aspirations of people around the world are already similar, but they must still unite to create the true function of the international proletariat: to be the gravediggers of the old order and the creators of a new society.
Independent from the State and Anti-Reformist
The state is a repressive machine of the ruling class that is used against the people. To move forward, we must be clear on this issue. We must clearly reject all proposals for dialogue and reconciliation between classes that the current state seeks to push down our throats, to force us to be participants in our own oppression. Similarly, reformism must be fought because it aims to convert student organizations into an appendage of the State and to make them totally useless for fighting and defending rights – in short, to render them useless for the people, but very useful for the exploiting class.
Fighting for a Mass Scientific and Proletarian Education
Education must serve the vast majority of people in order to build a society independent of imperialism and to unite with the people of the entire world. Scientific, in the sense that it enables people to find the facts through research of society and nature, and allows for their transformation to benefit the majority of the population. Mass, in the sense that the masses have access to it and take ownership of this new type of education. This means fighting for a free education at all levels, but it also involves fighting for new content of education that is in line with the people’s liberation, and being aware that education that truly serves the people and the masses can only be achieved under a new society for which we must fight.
The Current Tasks of Communists in the Student Movement:
For communists in the student movement, there are two main areas of intervention:
1) The revolutionary struggle to ensure the organisation of revolutionary students, to prepare the conditions for students to connect with the masses, lead the class struggle and make revolution;
2) The struggle for immediate gains, based on the current demands of students
These two groups of tasks are inextricably linked, and neither should be neglected.
In their practical task, revolutionary student militants advance the necessity of revolution; explain to other students the current economic and social system; expose the foundations of capitalism and development in Canada; reveal the existence of social classes and class struggle; expose the role of the state, its institutions and its relationship with the bourgeoisie and imperialism, while demonstrating that improvements to the conditions of the masses are never given by our “generous leaders” but must instead be taken by force. In this same task, we must also raise the consciousness of students in higher education and ensure that the student struggles are linked to the interests of the proletariat and of the people; explain the historical role of the proletariat, the successes and failures of revolutionary movements around the world, the need for a revolutionary party, and conducting the ideological struggle against reformism, revisionism and opportunism in all its form in defence of the scientific ideology of the proletariat: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
The tasks set for the struggle for immediate demands include agitation around economic issues; those are at the forefront at the moment due to the level of development of the masses. Agitation between students consists of militant students participating in demonstrations, in confrontations between students and the state, which tries to slow down student movements, in struggles for deficient infrastructure or quality education and in denunciation of rising debt loads, etc. Militant students must learn to position themselves on these issues, direct attention to the most important abuses and formulate their demands concretely.
Many important struggles were put into motion with very little organisation or tools. We must now integrate new traditions of revolutionary struggle. The student movement demonstrated, under certain conditions, its capacity to fight hard for their democratic and economic demands. For these struggles, the student movement used one weapon in particular to demand improvements in the financial aid system, for free education: the strike weapon.
In general, the struggles of the students are spontaneous, i.e. the practical movement of the masses advances while the consciousness, organisation and direction of the student movement are set back and do meet the tasks at hand. One of the challenges of the present period is precisely for students to take into their own hands the ideological, political, practical struggles which would enable the emergence of a revolutionary political and proletarian orientation among the students. This struggle is now powered by militant revolutionaries, which will advance further by the emergence of a vast revolutionary student movement able to fight capitalism and lead the revolutionary struggle for communism. In any form under and under any circumstances, situations, etc..in everyday political decisions, as well as in the struggle, it is a matter of principle for all revolutionaries to never lose sight of the ultimate goal.
At the moment, the MER-PCR/ RSM-RCP intends to form a revolutionary core in the student movement. This core will promote a genuine class struggle among students. We consider ourselves to be, according to our current strength and conditions, at the very beginnings of a lengthy process. Our obligation for now is to distribute a large amount of revolutionary propaganda in the wider student movement.
Of course, there are reformist or anarchist organizations all claiming to lead the fight against capitalism. Some among them are older, more established in the student movement, and possibly more influential as well. But none have so far shown a real will to form and organize the student movement qualitatively different from what already exists. Our task for the moment is fighting tendencies, groups, ideas and concepts related to the bourgeoisie and reformism by putting forward a revolutionary perspective. The means to accomplish this task are communist agitation, propaganda and independent communist intervention in just struggles.
We intervene in these struggles in underlining the importance of clear ideological direction and clear perspectives. In our participation in the student struggle, we will preserve our autonomy above all, vis a vis the various student associations, with the aim of going deeper and wider among the broader masses in the CEGEPS, technical high-schools, colleges and universities.
We systematically encourage students to organize and struggle on the basis of a communist and revolutionary point of view in the student movement while seeking to always demarcate the proletarian interest from the interest of the bourgeoisie. And, no matter what level of mobilisation we’re at, to always ensure the long term collective interest of the proletariat prevails over all short term sectoral interest by waging struggles that correspond to the interests of the proletariat and the popular masses; that unify the revolutionary camp and to divide the camp of the bourgeoisie. We intend to struggle in the student movement against all ideas and tendencies which are based on the liberties granted to us by the bourgeoisie. The accumulation of revolutionary forces cannot be consolidated on the procedures and liberties inscribed in the bourgeois constitution. These keep their worth according to the measure of their usefulness to the bourgeoisie in their aims of preserving its power, and of keeping the proletariat and popular masses in submission.
We seek to lead the attack against the bourgeoisie and the capitalist state, to make every struggle a problem for public order, a political problem that will trigger the struggle for socialism and for proletarian power.
We favour the widest diversity of struggles that rest on the widest mobilization. In general, aside from national demonstrations, student struggles remain too often limited to institutions on strike, which creates a situation whereby the movement ends up cutting itself off from the wider society. We oppose that it is necessary to aim for the most massive participation and work to expand and orient struggles externally, rather than to simply dwell in the confines of our CEGEPs, universities, and technical schools.
Here are reasons why the MER-RSM invites all students and youth activists who are in general agreement with these perspectives to help us build a revolutionary student movement, the answer of proletarian youth to the dominant reformism of the current student movement.
Seize the Time! It’s right to rebel!
Ottawa, June 15-16, 2013
Just over a year ago, in February 2012, students in Quebec walked out of their classrooms and began their mass student strike, which raged throughout the province for over six months. The strike against tuition fee hikes, an austerity measure proposed by the former Liberal government, ushered in the so-called “Maple Spring.” A whole generation of students radicalized, spurring mass economic and social disruption. The strike against tuition fee hikes became a radical questioning of the current social order, and perhaps even a questioning of capitalism itself.There is no doubt that the students in Quebec inspired radical activists across Canada: the students of Quebec were able to bring the government to its knees not only by winning victories in classrooms and boardrooms, but in the streets as well. An evaluation of the victory of the strike, of the tactics and forms of struggle which pushed the bounds of bourgeois legality, is a task that radicals and revolutionaries must grapple with in the coming years. Fearing the worst, the government responded with draconian enforcement of the law, even making new special laws to clamp down on political dissent. The ruling classes know that they can throw a carrot to the masses by calling for an election. Unfortunately, a lot of good intentions and militancy was lost in the trap of electoral politics.
Not even a year has passed since the Parti Quebecois rode into power on the backs of the student struggle, promising the students they would reverse the fees increase if voted in. Today, Marois is intent on squeezing money out of students through incremental tuition fees increases. And indeed, the draconian laws are still in place: on March 22, an anniversary march for the strike was kettled and its participants arrested before the march even began. Liberal or Parti Quebecois, the Quebec bourgeoisie is still afraid of the militancy shown by the students during the long strike of 2012.
Students in English Canada face problems similar to those faced by students in Quebec. Throughout the rest of Canada tuition fees climb, and class sizes grow. Ontario students now have the highest tuition fees in the country, and are simultaneously burdened with the lowest per-capita government funding for education in Canada. Students finish their undergraduate degrees with an average of $28,000 in debt. Corporate investments in universities increase, undermining what meager democracy previously existed on campuses. Education continues to be entirely in the service of the Canadian bourgeoisie, and is used to produce obedient workers and loyal managers rather than being at the service of the liberation of the working class. And yet, despite the dire situation faced by all Canadian students, students in the rest of Canada did not engage in mass actions like the students of Quebec did. In part, this was due to the misdirection of organizations like the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, who while eager to play a solidarity role to the strike in Quebec, were totally unwilling to bring that militancy to their home provinces.
Everywhere, austerity is still being pursued and forcibly implemented by the agents of the big bourgeoisie and their government stooges. The economic and social conditions of the most exploited masses continue to deteriorate. In Canada 1.4 million people continue to be unemployed. Youth unemployment remains a flashpoint at over 14% (a conservative estimate of the real number). And while even the chief economist of the IMF now refers to austerity as a “brake” on economic recovery and growth, the Conservative government under Stephen Harper is as determined as ever to cut social spending and provide more tax cuts to the wealthy corporations and rich people, who hoard their riches and watch the people go desperate and hungry. Capital expands at the expense of the working class.
With all this in mind, the questions for us are: How can students in Quebec turn the massive student strike of 2012 into a revolutionary situation? How can students elsewhere mobilize their own struggles against reactionary student associations, the bourgeoisie, and their state? How can students put themselves in the service of the broader working class?
The student and youth activists are not going to sit idly by as capitalists continue on their path of destruction for the benefit of a small minority. We call on all radical activists in high schools, colleges, and university campuses to make their school a site of anti-capitalist agitation. We call on all radical left and far-left activists to work with the PCR-RCP in building an independent and combative revolutionary student movement, to make a break with tired old student unionism, at this second national conference to be held June 15-16, 2013 in Ottawa. Here, we will consolidate the gains achieved since the first “Seize the Time! Blaze a Revolutionary Path” conference of the revolutionary student and youth activists. Here we will reaffirm our resolve to fight for Communism.
If you’re interested in helping us build this movement, get in touch with your local revolutionary student movement chapter, whether it is the Marxist Students’ Association, or a campus anti-capitalist committee. Contact email@example.com for more information.
ATTENTION PLEASE! The National Conference of Revolutionary Students and Youth of the PCR-RCP Canada will take place in December (more details available on the “Seize the time! Blaze a revolutionary path” Page ).
You’re interested? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
1. The RSM officially supports the Spring 2015 movement and will dedicate itself to building the movement.
The RSM will bring forward an anti-capitalist line into the mobilization committees for the spring 2015 Strike.
-comrades should openly throw themselves into mobilization committees and the Spring 2015 committees.
-they should aspire to be the best and most active militants on these committees.
In the rest of Canada:
-where GAs don’t exist, GA campaigns should be launched.
-where GAs do exist, democratization campaigns should be launched.
-across Canada we should launch mobilization committees, broader than the RSM, with the goal of either spreading the strike across Canada or organizing a pan-Canadian day of action in solidarity with the strike in Spring 2015.
2. Wherever possible, the RSM will mobilize the least-often mobilized students, notably in:
3. The MER-RSM should support the IWW Montreal’s call for a strike on May 1st 2015. This could be related to, but not limited to, Spring 2015 mobilization. Some visibility actions should be organized everywhere it is possible.
4. Be it resolved that an open Transformative Justice Committee be struck
Be it resolved that the Coordinating Committee organize a first meeting of this committee
Be it resolved that this committee be tasked with investigating the accumulated experience of the RSM and of other organizations in handling sexual assaults, and all other forms of oppression as outlined in the preamble. This committee will create a praxis guide for local RSM chapters as well as the pan-Canadian organization.
Be it resolved that this committee work with the Proletarian Feminist Front on the committee’s mandate.
Be it resolved that this committee contact any groups with relevant experience to their mandate.
Be it resolved that this committee submit a proposal of a praxis guide to all members at least two weeks prior to next Congress.
Be it resolved that this committee present a follow-up of their work at the next Congress.
5. The RSM should actively support the creation of a youth branch of the Revolutionary Worker’s Movement, and use our contacts and experience to do so.
6. The next congress should be held in Ottawa.
7. The RSM calls for the destruction of the CFS, CASA, the FEUQ, and the FECQ.