Young people in Canada and around the world are confronted with a future of dictatorship and a third world war.
Led by the United States, which seeks to offset its economic decline through the use of military power, the Canadian bourgeoisie is dragging the country’s population into an ever-expanding maelstrom of imperialist violence. Over the past quarter-century, the US has launched predatory wars with Canadian participation that have killed millions and reduced entire societies to rubble.
Barbaric war crimes have been committed against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and many other countries. Responsibility for these crimes rests with the governments – including Canada’s – who take their countries to war for resources and territory, as well as the banks and corporations that profit from the trillion-dollar war industry.
The bloodshed of the past quarter century pales in comparison to the slaughter presently being planned by the governments of all the imperialist countries. To secure its hegemonic position against its chief rivals, Russia and China, the American ruling class is rapidly preparing for war against them. The Canadian ruling elite, represented by the Trudeau Liberal government, has fallen in line behind these plans. A war between these nuclear-armed powers would have catastrophic consequences for the entire human race.
War and democratic rights are incompatible. It is no coincidence that the successive governments of Chretien/Martin, Harper, and now Trudeau, while dramatically expanding Canadian militarism, have also laid the foundations for a police state. Having been granted sweeping powers to conduct warrantless arrests and surveillance, government agencies routinely spy on the public, snooping through e-mails and phone calls.
A whole generation of young Canadians have spent their entire lives under a state of constant war. It is the youth and the working class who bear the full cost of war, first through attacks on their democratic rights and living standards, then as cannon fodder on the battlefield.
The election last year of the so-called “progressive” Trudeau Liberal government has not delivered any improvement in the living standards of workers and youth. Unemployment, poverty, and indebtedness are at levels not seen since the Great Depression. Governments at every level, whether led by the Liberals, the Conservatives, or the New Democratic Party, are gutting and privatizing vital social programs and public services, such as health care, education and pensions.
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s has brought the corporate and financial elites record profits. The bourgeoisie has amassed this wealth through mercilessly driving down workers’ wages and engaging in destructive financial swindling, including stock buybacks and bond speculation, which pose the threat of another financial meltdown. Internationally, the quantitative easing policies of the central banks have failed to spur economic growth, while so-called emerging economies such as China, Russia, and Brazil, have experienced a devastating economic downturn.
The unprecedented growth of social inequality, combined with popular disgust with war and police state measures, is fuelling a widespread political radicalization. A growing number of workers and youth oppose capitalism and the political establishment and are seeking a left-wing political alternative.
This found a sharp but distorted political expression in the mass support for the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist”, who ran against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary for the US presidential election. Sanders won the support of 13 million Americans, including a majority of young voters, for his alleged opposition to social inequality and the “billionaire class.” Many were subsequently outraged by the Vermont senator’s disgraceful capitulation to Clinton, a warmonger and representative of Wall Street who is widely reviled by young people and the working class.
Across Canada, workers and youth have repeatedly come into open struggle against the corporations and their government representatives. Despite the explosive and militant character of these struggles, such as the 2012 Quebec Student Strike and the numerous strikes in the private and public sector, they are suppressed and ultimately dispersed by the pro-capitalist trade unions and their allies in the pseudo-left.
The radical and pseudo-left organizations that once protested against war and pushed for social reforms have made their peace with the Canadian bourgeoisie and imperialism. From their support for bloody “humanitarian interventions” to their denunciations of China and Russia as “imperialist,” these groups have gone over entirely to the side of imperialist war.
These fake left organizations, including Fightback, the International Socialists, Socialist Project and Quebec Solidaire, aggressively promote racial and gender politics as part of their efforts to prevent the development of an independent and united movement of the working class and keep workers and young people trapped within the dead end of capitalist politics.
The politics of race and gender obscure the more basic class divisions in society. They serve to divide workers and youth along racial, national and gender lines, and represent the selfish efforts of more privileged layers to carry out a redistribution of wealth among the top 10 percent.
A Socialist Program
War, poverty and attacks on democratic rights are the inevitable outcome of the deepening crisis of the capitalist system. This is a socio-economic system that subordinates all social questions to the expansion of corporate profit and the wealth of the financial elite.
The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) is an organization of students and youth around the world that insists that chronic social problems, including the danger of war, can be solved only through a fight to end capitalism and establish socialism.
Socialism – the rational and democratic control of the economy to meet social need, not private profit – arises as a historical necessity from the breakdown of capitalism. The IYSSE has unshakable confidence in the development of an international socialist movement because socialism corresponds to the objective interests of the working class, the vast majority of humanity.
The IYSSE Demands
End the Wars!
American Imperialism, and its junior partner in Canada, is seeking to conquer the globe and put the world’s colonial people back in chains. Their war machines must be dismantled and the vast sums expended on them used to meet pressing social needs.
Jobs for Everyone Who Wants to Work!
Billions for education and social programs! We demand a reallocation of resources worldwide to provide employment for all those who need it. There is plenty of work to be done, including meeting the basic needs of the population for food and shelter, rebuilding schools, guaranteeing free, high quality healthcare for all, and providing cultural institutions accessible to workers and young people.
Defend Democratic Rights!
The American and Canadian governments’ domestic spying programs must be ended immediately and the spy agencies dismantled. All political prisoners, including Chelsea Manning in the US, must be freed, and the witch-hunts against Edward Snowden and Julian Assange must end. Police killings and brutality must be halted.
For Social Equality!
Nationalize the banks and major corporations! Democracy is incompatible with the immense levels of social inequality that prevail in Canada and throughout the world. To break the financial oligarchy’s stranglehold over the economy, the IYSSE calls for the expropriation of the banks and placing of all large corporations under the democratic control of the population.
Oppose Imperialist War and Dictatorship!
The Canadian bourgeoisie is seeking to offset its economic decline through deepening its long-standing military-strategic partnership with the US, the most aggressive imperialist power on the planet. In addition, it is pursuing an aggressive, militarist foreign policy aimed at asserting its predatory interests.
The Canadian military played a leading role in the imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Libya. It is now engaged in the US-led war for regime change in Syria, which is ultimately aimed at undermining Russian and Iranian influence in the region. Ottawa also plays a major role in Ukraine, where it has fully backed the virulently anti-Russian and pro-Western government in Kiev that was brought to power in a fascist-led coup in February 2014.
The Trudeau Liberals campaigned in 2015 on their alleged opposition to the unabashed militarism of the Harper Conservatives. Since taking office, however, they have hiked military spending and are planning a major military intervention in Africa, conducted under the guise of “peacekeeping.” In addition, the Liberals have given their blessing to a major arms deal to the arch-reactionary monarchy of Saudi Arabia; armed fascist militias in Ukraine; and given their full-throated support to a military build-up against both China and Russia.
The IYSSE places the fight against war at the center of its political work. We insist that this is not separate from, but integral to, the fight for socialism. We warn youth and students that a new world war is not only possible, it is inevitable without the emergence of a mass revolutionary movement based on the working class and dedicated to putting an end to capitalism. A new anti-war movement, which is now a burning necessity, must be based on the working class and guided by a socialist program.
For the Political Independence of the Working Class
The issues students face – including high tuition and living costs, joblessness, debts, and an education system starved of resources – are inseparable from the broader questions confronting the working class. None of these problems can be solved in schools and on campuses alone. Students seeking to oppose social inequality, unemployment and war must reach out to workers throughout the country and internationally.
The fight against war is impossible without the fight for socialism within the working class. The fact that mass latent opposition to war has not yet found organized political expression is due to the transformation of the former leadership of the anti-war movement into supporters of imperialist war. The old anti-war movements were dominated by middle class pseudo-left tendencies that base themselves on nationalism and oppose the political independence of the working class.
Above all, the working class needs its own political party, in opposition to the Liberals, NDP, and the Conservatives, the traditional parties of the ruling class. The IYSSE rejects the position that these parties can be reformed or pressured, whether through the mechanism of a campaign to elect “left-wing” figures into its ranks, or through a formally separate organization such as the Green Party.
A turn to the working class does not mean support for the trade unions. These pro-capitalist organizations are dominated by well-paid executives utterly hostile to the interests of their members. They have collaborated to impose wage cuts and other concessions while seeking to keep workers politically tied to the NDP, Liberals, and Parti Quebecois. During the recent federal election, the unions and pseudo-left organizations led the “Anybody but Harper” campaign, aimed at promoting the Liberals and NDP as “progressive,” even as these parties carried out some of the most right-wing election campaigns in Canadian history.
The 7-month long strike Quebec students mounted in 2012 against university tuition fee increases showed that young people and workers are more than ready to fight for their rights. But the “left” organizations that ostensibly represented them – the unions, Quebec solidaire, the student associations and the NDP – opposed making the strike the spearhead of a broader working class challenge to the austerity agenda of big business and ultimately suppressed the strike.
Against the existing trade unions, the IYSSE calls for the building of independent rank-and-file workplace, education, and neighbourhood committees to organize opposition to job, wage and budget cuts. These committees will be the basis of a political movement of the working class that will fight for power, establish a workers’ government, and reorganize society on a democratic, egalitarian, and rational basis.
An orientation to the working class requires a relentless theoretical struggle against the reactionary philosophical outlooks of irrationalism and subjectivism promoted by the pseudo-left and practitioners of identity politics, which reject the possibility of objective truth and deny the revolutionary role of the working class.
The IYSSE fights for Marxism and materialism. The IYSSE seeks to develop historical consciousness among workers and youth, above all of the history of Marxism and the Trotskyist movement, which in its struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy established itself as the sole continuation of Marxism in the 20th and 21st centuries.
For Socialism and Internationalism
The two basic features of capitalism—private ownership of the means of production and the division of the world economy into competing nation states—block the rational use and development of mankind’s productive forces , leading instead to the pollution of the environment and the squandering of vast resources on war.
The IYSSE opposes Quebec and Canadian nationalism, which have historically been used to divide working people and tie them to their “own” ruling class. Working people have no interest in supporting the drive of a section of the Quebec ruling class to create a capitalist Quebec Republic or in defending a “united” capitalist Canada.
None of the problems humanity confronts can be dealt with on a national level. The problems faced by working people and youth of every country are fundamentally the same. In all countries, the IYSSE opposes nationalism, chauvinism, attacks on immigrants and racism, all of which are means to divide and weaken the working class. Class, not race, gender or other issues of personal identity, is the fundamental dividing line in modern society. Working people of all countries must join together in a common struggle.
For the Rebirth of the Socialist Movement
The International Youth and Students for Social Equality, the student movement of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), fights for the revival of a socialist movement among young people throughout the country, as part of an international socialist movement of the entire working class.
The IYSSE stands in the tradition of revolutionary socialism, from the origins of Marxism in the 1840s, through the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the implacable struggle led by Leon Trotsky against the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Trotsky and the Left Opposition defended the socialist and internationalist perspective which guided the Russian Revolution and resisted the adoption of “socialism in one country” by the Stalinist bureaucracy, which was above all concerned with defending its own privileges against the working class. The Stalinists’ increasingly counter-revolutionary role, including the massacre of hundreds of thousands of communists during the 1930s, culminated in the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the restoration of capitalism.
As the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution approaches, students and young people must assimilate the whole of this history in order to prepare themselves for the coming social struggles.
Join the Fight for Socialism! Join the IYSSE!
We urge all students to study the program of the SEP, the history of the Fourth International, and analysis presented every day on the World Socialist Web Site. Make the decision to join the IYSSE, and help build a chapter of the IYSSE at your school or university.