The Bloody Feet of the RCP Canada – Part 2

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger work currently under production detailing the reactionary nature of the PRC-RCP and the damage it does to revolution, Third World people, and Marxism as a science. This is just a large sample of what will be produced for a final work to be completed at an undetermined time.

Part 1 can be found here

Who Really is the Proletariat?

In the First World there is the severe problem of the revisionist line of what constitutes a proletariat. Marx defined it according to his time: having nothing to lose but their chains, nothing but their labour power to sell, being the wretched of the earth. This certainly does not describe the First World “worker”. Even those workers of the lowest income, even the unemployed enjoy a living standard that is far above the living conditions of a Third World person. They are absolutely incomparable. Even those on Ontario Works (social assistance a.k.a. welfare) live many, many times better off than any Third Worlder who is productive 12 to 14 hours a day. We have access to something as simple as clean water which they do not.[1]

First World “workers” have more than their labour power to sell in order to survive. Firstly, we have employment insurance, after that we have social assistance programs like Ontario Works. So very clearly even if you’re not employed you still have something providing you with an income. This is also significant when we consider that these benefits are made possible by the plunder and murder of the Third World.(Yes, First World people benefit from imperialism despite denial by many, not necessarily the RCP.) Another benefit we have is the Canada Pension Plan[2]. This program takes a small percentage of wages and are invested in the hopes of a return to pay for a retirement. In addition many Canadians also have a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). For those unaware of this, a worker takes an amount of money they earned from the working year and places it into an RRSP which is used to invest in industry. Later it turns a profit that the RRSP holder receives. (This is very comparable to a 401k in the United States.) What this does is give the “working class” access to financial capital. In essence, it allows the worker to become an exploiter themselves by actively engaging in financial parasitism. These investments do in the end come from Third World exploitation. First World “workers” are actively engaging in the exploitation of other workers, mainly the super-exploited Third World workers.

Finally, many people in Canada have homes they can sell, something that was virtually unheard of in Marx’s time. Worker’s didn’t own, they almost exclusively rented. Statics show 38% are owned with a mortgage, while 29.6% are owned without a mortgage.[3] These represent not only property ownership, but also investment. The entire housing market runs on the principal of increasing home values. In fact almost never have home prices dropped by any significant degree. The two rare exceptions are the Great Depression and the Great Recession. This is far more than simply having only their labour to sell, a home can be a tremendously profitable investment. I don’t think I need to even speak about “house flippers”. People whose sole income is their purchase of homes, renovating them, and then selling them for a profit.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, self-employment has vastly increased among First World countries. As the formal economy has begun to fail to provide even a reasonable amount of employment, increasing numbers of First Worlders are obtaining self-employment. As the ability to sell their labour power decreases, many have been able to begin their own petite bourgeois position. In Canada self-employment has increased tremendously.[4] In the Third World such a notion is laughable. Self-employment is a tremendous luxury while the vast majority are left unemployed risking starvation and death. In fact global capitalism has forced tremendous amounts of Third World people out of self-employment, particularly with regards to peasant farmers which used to own their own land. Self-employment has actually decreased among Third World people creating greater impoverishment as they are thrown off their land. Having only their labour power to sell certainly does not describe the Canadian public.

If one were dishonest enough to ignore these facts, we’d still have the issue of the degree of exploitation to face. Sure, some very small segments of First World “workers” are still exploited. But the living standards alone would show how meaningless this exploitation really is. If you think a textile worker in Bangladesh earning 20₵ an hour is the same level of exploitation as the Ontario minimum wage of $11 an hour[5], you would truly be delusional. We live at a higher standard due to their exploitation. We have greater access and cheaper access to commodities (including luxuries) because of that super-exploitation.

Many people dogmatically hold onto the definition of class by the relationship to the means of production. Certainly during Marx’s time a wage earning employee was what he described as having nothing to lose but their chains. Today in the First World this poverty stricken, nothing-to-lose position, does not describe a wage earning employee. To assume what constitutes class cannot and has not changed is to be dogmatic. Any claims there has not been a change is to fly in the face of Lenin’s own writings where he described the labour aristocracy in his time which was different than Marx’s time. If you think the world, class relations and imperialist relations haven’t changed in a hundred years, you are sorely dogmatic or detached from reality. Yes, the world has changed in the last century.

We, the lower class of the First World cannot consider ourselves a proletariat. Yet, many dogmatists like the RCP Canada continue to insist that this is the case. When these benefits affect a people’s potential to be revolutionary it certainly does matter. It does not take any serious analysis to see that the Third World is tremendously more revolutionary than the First.

“All types of explanations are made in order to prove that the working class has vanished or is waning. Technological development, automation that replaces people with machinery, the increasing army of workers that gives the impression of being excluded from the working market (and the proletariat itself); the middle-class status of some workers—quite obvious indeed—among the proletariat who gain a bit from the plundering of imperialism. The objective is not only to prove that the proletariat does not exist, or barely, but to invalidate any historical role it may claim to transform society and get to a higher stage of development.”[6]

While this is clearly intended to refute an anti-communist line, it is also false. True, the working class has not disappeared, the relations of production have not disappeared. They have however changed. Society itself has changed, changed immensely since both Adam Smith and Karl Marx wrote their famous works. Just as the right wing is bogged down in its dogmatism not seeing the reality of their false ideals, the RCP Canada does not see their dogmatism which leads them down an anti-revolutionary path. To the right winger the massive increase in wealth and the increased complexity of class relations in the First World means that the working class doesn’t exist. To the RCP Canada this same phenomenon means that nothing has changed. Both of these sides are incorrect. The working class certainly does continue to exist, it however continues in a different form. Both sides are mistaken and both sides are reactionary as they oppose struggle, or oppose the correct method of struggle.

Interestingly the RCP acknowledges that “workers” in the First World do benefit from imperialism. This line sums it up: ” the middle-class status of some workers—quite obvious indeed—among the proletariat who gain a bit from the plundering of imperialism.” They are dead wrong and reactionary on the assertion that First Worlders “gain a bit”. Despite their assertion, there is an astronomical difference between First World “workers” and Third World workers. Since Marx’s time the wealth gap between The First and Third World has increased from 3:1 in 1820 to today at an astonishing 72:1.[7] This must be the bit of gain they are talking about. Quite contrary to their beliefs First World people have benefitted immensely. In Ghana the minimum wage is 13,500 cedis per day[8] (or US $1.48 a day) which translates to ₵19 an hour for an eight hour day. A loaf of fresh white bread in Ghana is on average US $2.00.[9] This means the daily wage of a worker in Ghana is less than the cost of a loaf of bread. In Canada the minimum wage (Ontario) is $11 an hour while on average a loaf of fresh white bread $2.72 CAD.[10] What a worker in Ghana can’t afford in a single day, a Canadian “worker” can purchase 4 times over in a single hour. This is the bit of gain “the middle-class status of some workers—quite obvious indeed—among the proletariat” receive from imperialism. This is even more important when we keep in mind that the minimum wage is the lowest end of employment.

“To believe to such conclusions, one must ignore reality. It reveals a deep lack of understanding about what the proletariat is—i.e. a class whose existence is defined by its role in the relations of production, a state of affairs that has nothing to do with “personal desire” or political will. Did these relations of production change to the extent that the bourgeoisie can exist without the proletariat? Of course not. As a matter of fact, things do change, most certainly. The development of capitalism, the worsening of competition and class struggle are factors that bring constant changes. This includes changes within the proletariat, namely in its composition. However, these changes do not modify its relationship to the ruling class. On the contrary, it is the very nature of this relationship that explains these ongoing changes.”[11]

Astoundingly they debunk themselves without even realising they have. Their line perfectly describes what they themselves are. While writing this work I am continually taken aback by their seeming ignorance of their own position. The proletariat has changed, it has changed in content and it has changed in pure definition. What we traditionally believed was the proletariat, the industrial worker of the developed nations, is no longer the proletariat. They no longer are the wretched of the earth, they no longer are the exploited masses. Their own line telling them they are wrong is staring them right in the face and they don’t even see it. During their investigation they clearly acknowledge that things change, including the proletariat. But this acknowledgement is astoundingly not applied to their theory. It is not correctly or incorrectly applied, it is not applied at all. “This includes changes within the proletariat, namely in its composition. However, these changes do not modify its relationship to the ruling class.” This line is true, the proletariat’s class relationship doesn’t necessarily change. However they correctly note that the composition, or what makes up the proletariat, does change. Despite how accurate these words by them are, they bafflingly fail to actually apply them to their theory.

They continue to describe how wrong their theory is.

“If one casts a look beyond the borders of their “country,” it is more and more obvious that the proletariat is the rising class and that there is a consolidation of the phenomenon of two great classes directly facing each other, just as Marx and Engels put it in the Communist Manifesto. In the past 10 or 20 years, in the oppressed countries, millions upon millions of poor peasants, ruined by the exploitation they were subjected to, leave the countryside to immigrate in the cities. They swelled the ranks of the overexploited proletariat, which is to be mainly found in the maquiladoras—these notorious “free-trade zones” that offer capitalists from abroad access to a local workforce who won’t benefit from any social protection. Many have flocked to the imperialist “mother countries.” This exodus has contributed to and will continue to contribute to changing the quantitative and qualitative nature of the proletariat in these countries and make it stronger.”[12]

Here it is astounding to me that they are telling the reader the correct thing to do in terms of analysing the global situation, yet fail to do so themselves. Yes, beyond the borders of the country you will find “a consolidation of the phenomenon of two great classes directly facing each other. In this day and age removed from the times of Marx and Engels we see the First and Third World. A global rich and a global poor have certainly developed to an extreme degree. The RCP even goes on to describe those conditions which are incomparable to those facing First World people. They correctly note the “millions upon millions of poor peasants, ruined by the exploitation they were subjected to, leave the countryside to immigrate in the cities.” Right afterward the say how these displaced peasants constitute an increasing mass of the proletariat, those shifted from subsistence farming into slums and cities to engage in wage labour exploitation. As described by their own correct words, there has been an alteration in “the quantitative and qualitative nature of the proletariat in these countries and make it stronger.”

Despite their correct view here, they for some reason don’t actually apply this “quantitative and qualitative” change to the First World. Yes, they say things have changed, but they insist that the qualitative essence remains the same. The theory they put forward doesn’t make such an alternation even though they acknowledge it. They acknowledge the increase in the poverty and exploitation of Third World people making them more revolutionary, yet turn around and deny the opposite has happened in the First World decreasing revolutionary potential. In their works we rarely find any facts, figures, or statics for anything they are claiming. Their words seem devoid of any data which would confirm what they are claiming. They’re not necessarily wrong, they just lack the appropriate research to verify what they are claiming. To demonstrate this they give a vague description of what proletarian is.

“In Canada, even though statistics do not allow us to define it with accuracy, the proletariat represents 65% of the population. This figure comprises workers; employees who carry out orders; the unemployed, with or without wages; most Natives; old age pensioners; unpaid spouses of workers or employees.

“Far from being a class on the decline or having “disappeared,” the proletariat constitutes the most numerous class in this country. Not only is it the leading force, but it is also the main force of the revolution.”[13]

This claim of 65% of the population is based on what? Where do they get this number from? What data could be used to confirm or even support this? They don’t provide any. In fact, they openly contradict themselves in defining what proletarian is. Previously they said proletariat was, “a class whose existence is defined by its role in the relations of production”. Since they are clearly holding onto the original meaning so that First World people can remain proletarian, we have to ask why they list certain groups that would not fit that definition. Old age pensioners, the unemployed, and unpaid spouses are not proletarian according to the original definition they are holding onto. They have no relationship to the means of production as they are not employed, thus not even being exploited by capitalism.

Old age pensioners often have private capital investments sustaining their lives, either from company pensions or personal ones in the form of RRSPs. (CPP is not enough to live off of which is why RRSPs have become so popular.) They themselves are actually now exploiters who leach value from its creation via financial capital. If we go by their relationship to the means of production in its original (now dogmatic form) as laid down by Marx, they are exploiters not people with revolutionary potential. Marx identified the proletariat as a class that has revolutionary potential, not just someone who has less than ideal living conditions. Unemployed people are actually classified as lumpen-proletariat by Marx, which he stated didn’t have a revolutionary potential. Beggars, homeless, and organized crime persons were in that classification as well. Was Marx right about this here? I would tend to agree in the First World the unemployed are not revolutionary, in the Third World they are. First World unemployed have access to all kinds of social programs that are deliberately intended to keep them from being revolutionary. In the Third, to be unemployed is almost certain death. Finally, unpaid spouses don’t really have a class position as they are not employed. They simply are attached to the class attributed to their spouse.

The intellectual dishonesty here is palpable: They’re holding onto the original definition of class to claim there is a proletariat in the First World, then they violate it in order to justify adding to that group in order to exaggerate their numbers and revolutionary potential. These same individuals quickly turn around and attack Third Worldists for not adhering to original definition of class, yet they so openly violate it when it suits their interests. When it comes to argumentation against Third Worldism they are very hypocritical. It would seem more likely that what constitutes class, or rather ideology, is really just a prop for the group to give themselves an image to attract people, as opposed to being genuine revolutionaries.

I don’t understand how they can claim their definition of proletariat is the leading force and main force in revolution. They are claiming this. They state who is in the proletariat, then they say: “Not only is it the leading force, but it is also the main force of the revolution.” I find this very puzzling considering Canada, no less these people, are nowhere near an objectively revolutionary situation, nor are they anywhere close to having a revolutionary potential. You can make the claim that there is potential among First Nations people, however they constitute a very small portion of the population. Even as they claim (correctly) not all First Nations people are revolutionary.

“The current trade-union movement, notably—which remains the most important form of organization of the proletariat—does not represent its fundamental interests. It is unable to articulate anything more than a dull class collaborationist orientation. As a matter of fact, these trade unions have become a tool in the hands of capitalists to control and subdue the working class. It is not only a matter of changing the union’s orientation that would change its nature. Its orientation does reflect its class character. The non-proletarian component in the trade unions counts for more than 40% of the membership.”[14]

I would disagree that unions today do not support the “working class” in Canada. I think they very well do. Unions both in the U.S. and Canada (though a lesser degree in Canada) have a bit of a history being racist. By this I mean its history of opposing minorities from taking certain jobs and for being anti-immigrant. The unions are not class collaborationist, they are protecting their position as global labour aristocracy. The influx of immigrants into Canada and the U.S. has most certainly been a source of cheap labour for capitalists. The goal of unions has been to discourage voting for pro-immigration policies in order to protect the wages of the global aristocracy, the First World “worker”. The influx of cheap immigrant labour is directly opposed to the class interests of Canadian “workers”, because it allows for a lowering of wages via the simple labour market mechanism. Unions were designed to protect the interests of a certain section of the population in Canada. They certainly still do that to this day. They actively attempt to suppress efforts to lower wages, which include immigrant labour.

Doing this has one particularly important effect on the global capitalist order of exploitation: It preserves it. Unions have spent time and energy trying to keep new immigrants out of the country in order to protect the wages of its members. Their efforts are an attempt to block Third World workers from getting a slice of the imperialist plunder pie. It is a deliberate attempt to keep those workers in the lower strata of the global labour order. Third World workers can’t be super-exploited if they no longer live in the Third World can they? This is an act of the preservation of imperialist hegemony for the benefit and privilege of the global labour aristocracy.

A common sight we see is unions “selling out” to large companies, accepting concessions that directly affect the incomes of First World “workers”. Union heads will agree to a freezing of wages, a reduction of benefits, a concession over certain perks. Commonly in political circles this is seen as class collaborationist as the RCP Canada has. In fact these are really methods of preserving the privilege and wealth of First World “workers”. It is common knowledge by now that manufacturing can simply be sent overseas if companies feel the cost of labour has reached too great a height. These concessions are made to incentivise companies to keep manufacturing domestic. Without it, these privileged First World “workers” will end up with lower wages like many others in Canada.

Already the high wages of the global labour aristocracy are paid for by the super-exploitation of Third World workers. When unions make these concessions they are taking steps to preserve that global hierarchy that keeps Third World people in such desperate poverty. The goal of unions, which has been thus far successful, has been to preserve the imperialist wages that these workers receive. If making small concession over a dental plan will keep a $25 an hour job in the hands of its member, then the concession was well worth it.

The unions of today are far from committing acts of treason. They in fact are preserving the benefits of imperialist plunder that keep the First World “workers” from achieving a revolutionary consciousness and the necessary material conditions for revolution. The RCP Canada is wrong, unions today are preserving the interests of the First World “working class”. They just don’t know what those interests are.

Ironically, the RCP Canada acknowledges a domestic labour aristocracy exists with its own class interest, but not a global one.

“The trade-union movement as a whole, the bourgeois political parties who claim to speak on behalf of the workers and of the oppressed masses (the English Canadian NDP, the Québec Solidaire Party in Québec), the reformist and revisionist Left that claim it can improve the lives of the workers without abolishing capitalism, represent, each in their own way, the interests of the workers aristocracy and the petty bourgeoisie in whom they take root.

“Because it represents the fundamental interests of the working class, the revolutionary communist party takes into account this social fracture existing within the proletariat, the gap between the privileged workers and the poorest strata for whom exploitation is the rule. We do not seek to hide this reality or to make believe it does not exist. We do not wish to build the unity of the whole working class independently of this fracture; this would lead to the reinforcement of the most privileged ones and the betrayal of the interests of the most exploited.”[15]

It is puzzling to me to see what they’ve wrote here. They do rightfully acknowledge that the unions in Canada protect a privileged group of workers over less privileged workers. Because of this they are reactionary as they oppose the “real” class interests of all workers in Canada. They use the bureaucratic power of the union to suppress other groups to ensure their superior class position. Some are so privileged that they are inherently reactionary causing a definite real fracture among the “working class” of First World Canada. What is interesting is that they acknowledge a divide between workers in Canada based on a moderate superior position in wages over a lesser group, but they don’t recognise a global one with an astronomical wealth divide. How can they claim a divide between $11 an hour and $27 places them in class opposition, but a difference of $11 an hour and ₵19 an hour doesn’t? They state very clearly “…the revolutionary communist party takes into account this social fracture existing within the proletariat, the gap between the privileged workers and the poorest strata for whom exploitation is the rule.” So they acknowledge a significant divide there, but when it’s First World “workers” and Third World workers, it’s merely that they “gain a bit” and that provides no significant divide. Now add on top of this that they say 40% of Canadian union membership isn’t proletarian in their eyes, we really have to wonder what they’re doing.

The ridiculousness is palpable: They wield the use of the traditional definition of class to say some “workers” are more privileged than others in the First World. It’s significant enough of a divide to be acknowledged as problematic. But, they violate that definition in order to reinforce it by essentially claiming there is no significant difference between First and Third World working people. Yet a global difference in wealth which is a monumental one somehow doesn’t mean anything… What? Their line on what is proletarian is so convoluted they’re saying there is no divide between two particular groups, but then give a theory on how they are divided at the same time.

The RCP Canada is theoretically weak, they don’t even know what they’re saying.

“In our opinion, the Third International led by Lenin dealt appropriately with this contradiction within the proletariat. With specific reference to the “increasing army of unemployed,” the Theses On Tactics[16] adopted in 1921 by its Third Congress stated: “By actively defending this layer of the working class, by supporting the most oppressed section of the proletariat, the Communist Parties are not championing one layer of the workers at the expense of others, but are furthering the interests of the working class as a whole. This the counter-revolutionary leaders have failed to do, preferring to advance the temporary interests of the labour aristocracy. The more unemployed or short-term workers there are, the more important it is that their interests become the interests of the working class as a whole, and the more important it is that they are not subordinated to the interests of the labour aristocracy. Those who promote the interests of the labour aristocracy, either counterpoising or simply ignoring the interests of the unemployed, destroy the unity of the working classes and are pursuing a policy that has counter-revolutionary consequences. The Communist Party, as the representative of the interests of the working class as a whole, cannot merely recognize these common interests verbally and argue for them in its propaganda. It can only effectively represent these interests if it disregards the opposition of the labour aristocracy and, when opportunities arise, leads the most oppressed and downtrodden workers into action.” We deem that today, where unemployment is persistent, job insecurity and slave labour are prevailing over good working conditions, this tactic is even more accurate.”[17]

The RCP seems to be able to quote Lenin very well. Unfortunately they do not seem to be able to understand the context and the material conditions which Lenin was referring to. The reserve army of labour in Lenin’s day is not the same as it is in our modern Western liberal democracy day. We don’t live in Lenin’s time, we don’t have Lenin’s material conditions. In his day those unemployed workers were definitely on the margin, they risked all sorts of maladies by not being employed. Unemployed in those days meant hunger, possibly starvation. It meant a near guarantee of being homeless. It meant real destitution and possible severe displacement. It meant condemning a person’s heath to the dust bin. This is not what the unemployed face today in modern Canada. In our day we have Ontario Works (welfare), disability support programs, (barely any) emergency mental health services, emergency dental services, NGO’s that provide for emergency needs, rent subsidies not living in shacks, homeless shelters, food banks, and a universal health care system. We the unemployed of Canada do not live anywhere close to what the unemployed in Lenin’s time lived.

Why is this significant? Because there is a class divide there. Between the labour aristocracy and the lower section of workers in Lenin’s day there wasn’t much of a class difference. Today in our global capitalism which is different than it was in Lenin’s time; the unemployed in the First World live off the suffering of the super-exploitation that pays for their social welfare. The super exploitation is what brings the super-profits of companies to tax. The super exploitation is what provides the high wages of “workers” in the First World to tax to pay for those benefits. When we support the Third World workers over the First World “workers” we are supporting one class over another. What is significant here is that we need to support one over the other. First World people lack the necessary material conditions because of the super-exploitation carried out on Third World workers. The lack of action on the part of First World people is paid for by that exploitation. The inaction of First World people is an act of oppression against Third World workers. Just as the capitalist class refuses to surrender, or even acknowledge their superior class position; First World workers also cannot be expected to do so.

The RCP Canada talks about understanding material conditions. Clearly they acknowledge them from Marx’s time of the mid-1800s to Lenin’s in 1921. Yet for some reason they see no difference from 1921 to 2015. Their program is saying that the world order of class and imperialism hasn’t changed in nearly 100 years. We know this is false. They acknowledge correctly themselves: ” The development of capitalism, the worsening of competition and class struggle are factors that bring constant changes. This includes changes within the proletariat, namely in its composition.”[18] Dialectical materialism tells us that this change is going to take place. The wealth gap between First World “workers” and Third World workers increased as we have seen previously (3:1 in 1820 to 72:1 today). As this gap increased it constituted a quantitative change. Eventually that gap was going to grow until it broke out into a qualitative change ushering in something qualitatively new.[19] That new development was the creation of a class distinction between First World “workers” and Third World workers. Regardless, their official theory sees no significant change in the past 100 years.

Their fundamental error here is that they are trying to make First World “workers” fit an obsolete definition of what proletarian is. They are again cutting the toes to fit the shoes. An honest look at themselves should tell them that their feet are bleeding.

* * *


[1] Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2014 update, UNICEF Publications

[2] The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a contributory, earnings-related social insurance program. It forms one of the two major components of Canada’s public retirement income system, the other component being Old Age Security (OAS). Other parts of Canada’s retirement system are private pensions, either employer-sponsored or from tax-deferred individual savings (known in Canada as a Registered Retirement Savings Plan)., Wikipedia

[3] Statistics Canada Publications, Housing, Table 13: Home ownership, 2013

[4] Industry Canada, SME Research and Statistics

[5] Ontario Ministry of Labour, Minimum Wage (April 2015)

[6] Revolutionary Communist Party Programme, 6. The exploited proletariat, spearhead of the socialist revolution

[7] How Was Life? Global Well-being since 1820, Income inequality since 1820, OECD iLibrary

[8] There is no need for wahala demo, Kwesi Pratt-Rejoinder, Ghana Web

[9] Cost of Living in Ghana, Numbeo

[10] Cost of Living in Canada, Numbeo

[11] Revolutionary Communist Party Programme, 6. The exploited proletariat, spearhead of the socialist revolution

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Third Congress of the Communist International, On Tactics, V. Single-Issue Struggles and Single-Issue Demands, 12 July 1921

[17] Revolutionary Communist Party Programme, 6. The exploited proletariat, spearhead of the socialist revolution.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Frederick Engels, Anti-Dühring, Part I: Philosophy, XII. Dialectics Quantity and Quality