Enthusiasm and inspiration at largest Canadian Marxist congress in recent memory

On the weekend of May 21, 2022, the Canadian Marxists who are organized in Fightback/La Riposte socialiste held their largest congress ever. Over 280 people came to Toronto from dozens of cities showing the impressive expansion of the organization over the past couple of years. While the Canadian left is despondent, the mood of this congress contrasted sharply, dominated by enthusiasm and optimism. The Marxists are advancing!

Not only was this our largest Congress ever, but we also had participants from more cities than ever: Edmonton, Calgary, Grand Prairie, Regina, Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Chicoutimi, Rimouski, Halifax, Thunder Bay, Kingston, Hamilton, Guelph, Windsor, Barrie, Peterborough, Ottawa and of course Toronto.

The first session of the congress began with a presentation on world perspectives by In Defense of Marxism editor Fred Weston. Weston explained that capitalism on a global scale has entered into a deep crisis for which the ruling class has no solution. The sharpening competition between the world powers forms part of this crisis, which explains the war in Ukraine. The war, which has already cost thousands of lives, is a reflection of the competition between NATO on the one hand, and Russia on the other: the result of years of this process. The clash in Ukraine is ultimately an imperialist conflict that sacrifices the lives of the working class for markets, profits and spheres of influence. This war is threatening many developing countries, like Lebanon and Egypt, with famine as they import much of their grain from Ukraine and Russia.

wp Image Fightback"Capitalism on a global scale has entered into a deep crisis for which the ruling class has no solution" / Image: Fightback

Weston explained the key contradiction of our time is that the situation is ripe for socialist revolution but the working class lacks the far sighted leadership necessary to accomplish this task. On the one hand, capitalism has developed the productive forces to unseen heights. But as the system has entered its senile decay, the enormous amount of wealth produced by the working class is hoarded by a small minority of capitalists. Meanwhile, the working class has never been larger, having increased by hundreds of millions in the past couple of decades. However, the leadership of the workers movement has largely accepted the capitalist system. Fred explained that it is up to us to rectify this situation and build the revolutionary leadership necessary to lead the workers to victory.

For the next session, the congress discussed Canadian perspectives. The presentation was given by Alex Grant, editor of Fightback Magazine. Alex explained that despite Canada’s seemingly calm exterior, there is a deep anger in Canadian society. With inflation increasing, the living expenses of workers in Canada are growing week by week. This is in contrast to the over $400 billion in extra profit made in the last year by Canadian corporations. While the government is forced to raise interest rates to combat inflation, this situation is a double-edged sword, since it only increases debt or mortgage payments for many workers and will eventually cause a debt repayment crisis, leading to public sector austerity. Alex’s takeaway was that you cannot avoid the crisis of capitalism. It is a situation of “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

At the same time, there has been no real outlet for this anger in the working class movement. Labour leadership actively holds it back, while the NDP is propping up the Trudeau government. This is allowing figures like Pierre Poilievre to come forward from the right-wing and masquerade as a man of the people, hoping to channel this anger opportunistically. Alex Grant made clear that in the long run there is no solution to this crisis under capitalism, and what is needed is a revolutionary transformation of society on socialist lines.

a speaking Image FightbackDiscussion on Canadian perpsectives / Image: Fightback

Flowing from this discussion, the following sessions dealt with building the revolutionary organization in Canada. Joel Bergman, of the Fightback editorial board, gave a presentation going over many lessons and guidelines for activists on how to build the Marxist organization. He explained that there has never been a better time to build such an organization, with young people in particular having a natural hatred of capitalism and a broad layer open to a Marxist perspective. Fightback has grown massively in the past few years, spreading across Canada and now has a presence from coast to coast. The presentation was followed by a vibrant discussion with Marxists from across the country sharing lessons and giving reports from various areas of the work in the youth movement, labour movement, and neighbourhood organizing.

Following this, Donovan Ritch gave a presentation on Bolshevik financial traditions. He explained that for Marxists, finances are inherently a political question. We do not have any big business backers but rely on the small contributions from our members and supporters within the movement. This cannot be done administratively but only with profound ideas and correct perspectives. This was demonstrated with a financial appeal that was more than double the previous year. This places our work on a solid footing for the year to come.

To finish off the conference, Fred Weston gave a presentation on the work of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) which Fightback is a part of. The comrades listened intently as Weston explained the development of the IMT across the globe with explosive growth since the beginning of the pandemic and new sections developing in many countries. Fred explained that the strength of the IMT rests in our serious attitude towards Marxist theory. This has allowed us to be a poll of attraction for thousands of people globally who are looking for ideas to help them make sense of the current situation.

closeup Image Fightback"There has never been a better time to build a revolutionary organization, with young people in particular having a natural hatred of capitalism and a broad layer open to a Marxist perspective" / Image: Fightback

With that in mind, Fred explained that this year’s International Marxist University has already attracted over 1,000 registrants from several dozen countries. This is already well in advance of the event which will be online from July 23-26. The task is now for Marxists all over the world to mobilize in full force to make this the biggest and best international online Marxist event that has ever occurred.

This congress was not just any old congress. The last couple of years have turned the world upside down and the Marxists are rising to the challenge. The depth of the crisis has proven that a revolutionary socialist perspective is the only realistic position to take. This is shown by the fact that while the crisis is deeper than ever before, the reformists have rallied around the government and the state. There is a mood of despondency and depression on the left, which is seeping into the wider movement because of this lack of clear ideas.

But this congress shows that the Marxists are not despondent or depressed in the slightest. We are planting the flag and showing that there is another way. We are confident, enthusiastic and we are advancing. With the revolutionary Marxist ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky, there is no need to feel depressed about the future. We appeal to those who want to fight back and win against the capitalist system to join our growing movement. Together, we can organize and build a new world, a socialist world.

full room Image FightbackWhile the Canadian left is despondent, the mood of this congress contrasted sharply, dominated by enthusiasm and optimism – the Marxists are advancing! / Image: Fightback