No War but the Class War: Statement from NWBCW Montreal

We publish here the founding statement of NWBCW Montreal.

The Main Enemy is at Home!

Empty are the capitalists’ slogans of democracy, national self-determination, rule of law, and peace between nations. What do these abstract ideals mean in reality except as an excuse for food shortages in Africa, the coming cold winter in Berlin, cities reduced to rubble in Ukraine, and mass refugees? Empty are all the capitalist slogans of national unity and social peace when it is only the working class at the forefront of this suffering, as we clearly see here in Montreal and is apparent all around the world. Empty are the Russian slogans of “de-nazification,” equal partnership, and sovereignty next to civilian bombings, energy profiteering, and the slaughter of a generation of young Russian and Ukrainian workers.

It is only through our class struggling on its own terrain and taking up its own political perspective that the spiral of the capitalist order into barbarism be undone.

The capitalist class and their states, trying to manage economic collapse, are squeezing the working class and are driven towards imperialist war. Thus, the policy of the Canadian capitalist class becomes clear: to oppose the Russian rival using the last drop of Ukrainian workers’ blood while attacking their “own” working class’s living and working conditions. Across the world, the capitalist class is drumming up war hysteria, calling upon workers to line up behind one side in the conflict or another. The tempo of this tune will quicken as the conflict becomes more and more generalized.

Since the post-war boom ended in the 1970s and through the bursting of the speculative bubble in 2007-8, the capitalist class has been able to stave off economic collapse through the deterioration of the living standards of the working class. The capitalist class today, forecasting an upcoming recession, fears that this is no longer sufficient in itself. Rather, they are increasingly driven into the most fierce imperialist competition, as each national economy seeks to offload its losses onto its rivals.

While Russia seeks conquest as a means to jump-start its struggling economy and to roll back the loss of its strategic depth, the members of NATO want to drag out the war in Ukraine as long as possible to damage Russian industry and its military- not peace, but victory. As U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put it, “we want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” In late June at the NATO summit, Trudeau met with his fellow conspirators to decide how best to pursue this barbarous policy. Gleefully, he committed more battalions to the Baltic countries, more arms to Ukraine, and Canadian ships and jets to the Pacific. In July, he returned to Canada to oversee the ruling class’s war on the Canadian working class as the price of rent, foodstuffs, and energy soar.

Only the working class struggle, on its own, independent economic and political terrain, can combat the dual threat of crisis and imperialism. It is clear that the generalized crisis requires a generalized struggle by the working class. While there has been a noticeable uptick in workers' struggles around the world in the face of declining real wages caused by inflation, in Quebec these struggles have remained sectoral and all too often dominated by the unions. As can be seen with recent strikes such as the CPE workers, SQDC workers and the hotel workers, sectoral isolation gives the capitalist class a distinct fighting advantage. This is not to diminish these struggles, but it is telling that out of the many recent struggles only the Molson workers gained a defensive victory of a contract that keeps up with current inflation. Once workers across workplaces and sectors unite their struggle and struggle as a class, their strength will be multiplied as can be seen at the high points of our class’s struggle in Quebec in 1972 and 2012.

The recent struggles of Quebec workers have shown once again that union domination actively sabotages working class self-initiative, militancy, and prospects of success. In fact, Buzz Hargrove, the former president of the Canadian Auto Workers, boasted in his book Labour of Love that “unions probably prevent more strikes than they precipitate.” Alongside the number of recent strikes, many strike mandates were ignored by the unions in favour of social peace and lawyers’ negotiations. In the Montreal port workers’ strike of 2020-2021, the nineteen-day strike was ended by the union in favor of returning to negotiations. This gave the federal government ample time to prepare for the next round of strikes, enabling it to place an injunction, ending the struggle in the name of national unity during the pandemic. Now, Biden levels injunctions on the American rail workers and the Norwegian state declared the oil rig workers’ strike illegal in the name of preventing disruption of the national economy steeped in imperialist competition with Russia. At the warfront itself, the Ukrainian state has moved to outlaw any semblance of the working class fighting for its own interests, by allowing company management to arbitrarily and unilaterally tear up existing contracts and by mobilizing all available resources for the war.

With these threats facing our class, the Internationalist Communist Tendency has launched the No War but the Class War (NWBCW) initiative, which has been taken up by comrades across the world. The NWBCW initiative serves as an open political reference point for all who see the need for workers’ struggle against both the economic attacks of capital and its descent into imperialist rivalry: those who hold no illusion of pacifism or the possibility of going through capitalist institutions to avert capitalism’s imposition of barbarism. We instead recognize that the only adequate response to this is the independent working class struggle. The defensive struggles of our class against capital’s attacks must be transformed into a political offensive against the system of capitalism.

For us workers of Montreal, the rising cost of living and arms to Ukraine are expressions of the same capitalist crisis. Our struggle against these conditions reveals clearly that the main enemy is at home!

If you agree, we invite you to get in touch at nwbcwmontreal@gmail.com

NWBCW Montreal
October 2022
Wednesday, October 19, 2022