Anti-SPP Demonstration

Canadian Grantites Discover ‘Mexican Imperialism’

On 19 August supporters of the International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) participated in a demonstration in Ottawa (Canada’s capital) to protest the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) summit between Stephen Harper, George Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. We also sent comrades to Montebello, Quebec, where the three leaders were meeting the following day. Our placards called for the defeat of Canadian, U.S. and British imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq and noted that the SPP amounts to “‘Security & Prosperity’ for Imperialism, Poverty & Repression for Latin America.” Another IBT placard stated, “SPP: Canadian/U.S. Imperialist Project to Dominate Mexico.”

These slogans cut sharply against the Canadian nationalist tilt of many of the demonstrators—including most of the supposed Marxist groups present. The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) declared that “Canadians and Quebeckers never accepted the ‘manifest destiny’ of the U.S. and are opposed to the U.S. imperialist annexationist projects laid out in the SPP.” Their slogan was “Annexation No! Sovereignty Yes!” (TML Daily, 14 August).

The Communist Party of Canada railed against the prospect of “deep integration” with the United States, claiming:

“The Montebello protests will serve to raise awareness of this danger among Canadians. Sooner or later, the Harper Tories will be forced to go to the polls, and their full-scale drive to integrate Canada into the U.S. empire will be the single most critical election issue.”
People’s Voice, August

The International Socialists (IS), who are distinguished by their willingness to bend to whatever is popular, sought to strike the same note while coyly hiding behind the bourgeois Council of Canadians (a group with which prominent ISers have sometimes been identified in the past):

“According to the Council of Canadians, the driving force behind the partnership [SPP] is ‘continental economic integration’ linked to ‘US government security demands’.

“Within this context, the Council of Canadians contends that the governments of Canada and Mexico will integrate their ‘security apparatuses with the US and fully participate in its ‘war on terror’ in return for vague assurances of continued market access for their largest corporations’.”
Socialist Worker, 13 August

The IS motivation for echoing this crude Canadian nationalist line was clear enough—they thought it would be popular with those in attendance.

A special, undated, edition of Fightback, printed for the anti-SPP demonstrations by supporters of the late Ted Grant’s International Marxist Tendency, also showed an inclination to adapt to the prevalent nationalist sentiment:

“George Bush’s patriot act and homeland security may soon be spreading North and South of the border. To put it simply, the SPP is Imperialism.”

In fact, the imperialist Canadian bourgeoisie has already enacted its own versions of the Patriot Act and Homeland Security: the 2001 “Anti-Terrorism Act” and the Department of Public Safety, created in 2003 and currently headed by Stockwell Day. Fightback did at least offer some confused criticism of the left nationalists:

“What the left nationalist perspective lacks is an understanding that the problem is not an erosion of sovereignty; the problem is capitalism, which in the modern era acts as imperialism.”

In the modern, i.e., imperialist, era, there are many countries which are capitalist but not imperialist. This seems to have escaped the editors of Fightback, who absurdly equated the Canadian imperialist state with neo-colonial Mexico:

“...calls to defend Canadian or Mexican sovereignty are counter-productive and play into the hands of capitalist interests.

“Defence of a nation’s sovereignty implies that a country is under foreign domination and that it needs the formation of an indigenous, ‘independent’ capitalist class. Mexico and especially Canada are both developed capitalist and imperialist nations. They are the 13th and 8th biggest economies respectively. The world’s richest man is no longer the American Bill Gates, but the Mexican Carlos Slim.”

Fightback’s claim that Mexico is qualitatively identical to Canada or the U.S. is almost as ridiculous as its assertion that the Chinese deformed workers’ state belongs to the club of “imperialist powers.” Any supposedly “Marxist” organization that cannot make the elementary distinction between imperialist predators and their dependents—or, indeed, deformed workers’ states—has no right to claim any affinity with the political tradition of Lenin and Trotsky.

Posted: 25 August 2007