The supporters of the International Marxist Tendency in Canada have reached an important milestone. In July 2016, we publish the 100th issue of our English-language magazine, Fightback. To honour this occasion we are re-launching our paper with a new more professional design, full-colour printing on every page, and a move from 12 to 16 pages. And all this for the same $2.00 price that we charged for issue 1! This is just the latest of a series of advances for the forces of Marxism in Canada.
Our movement has come a long way and has overcome many obstacles to get where we are today. We initially started in January 1999, with three students putting together a photocopied magazine with a very limited print run. We had the idea of naming that paper L’Humanité, due to its communist heritage and as a symbolic commitment to the unity of workers in French and English Canada. Despite the odd name it was quite successful, but we subsequently decided to change our banner to Fightback as more reflective of workers’ struggles in Canada. “They say cut-back – we say FIGHT-BACK!”
From the very first issue we included the by-line, “The Marxist Voice of Labour and Youth”. I remember facing a little bit of blow-back and ridicule over this apparent show of hubris by a small group of young revolutionaries. “THE Marxist voice?!? Surely, “A” Marxist voice is more modest?” Perhaps we were a little arrogant at the time, but then we probably wouldn’t have gotten over the difficult first stages without an abundance of youthful confidence. It is notable that over the years, many who criticized our by-line subsequently ceased publishing anything, ceased building anything, and eventually even stopped calling themselves Marxists. Now, Fightback can arguably lay a claim to be the foremost Marxist monthly in Canada – with this new step forward we hope to settle the argument.
Why did we go it alone and launch a paper all those years ago? Because we had something different to say. Ideas are fundamental in order to build anything. With the correct ideas a small group can be a lever for great events. With the wrong ideas, many large groups have been smashed. Trotsky said that being a worker-correspondent, “most of all means having the ability to find your own idea, to ask yourself: well, what do I want to say?”
We have always proudly defended the ideas of the International Marxist Tendency; and Ted Grant, Alan Woods, and the other leading writers of the IMT have been featured regularly in our publications. We also make no apologies for having an editorial line. Everything we print is an idea we can stand by. As they say, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. There is no shortage of other venues for individuals to express themselves, but we wanted to build a collective endeavour, where a young worker could come to find out the opinion of our group, discuss, learn, and hopefully join the movement. The steps forward that we are taking today, and hope to take in the future, primarily rest on these foundational Marxist ideas.
Many on the left believe that the way to grow your forces is to water down your ideas so you do not scare people away. We have found the precise opposite to be true. Workers, the oppressed, and especially the youth, are looking for clear and logically consistent explanations for the crisis in society and they do not care how radical that answer is, as long as it is thoughtfully argued and provides a way forward.
The crisis of society is not a crisis of neo-liberalism, or corporatism, or any other “ism” that implies that there is a better form of capitalism if only the choice was made not to pursue austerity. The crisis is an inevitable product of capitalism working in the only way it knows how. Consequently, the only way out of the crisis is to eradicate capitalism. To expropriate the 1% and place the productive forces in the hands of the working class. To implement a socialist plan of production, via workers’ democracy, and produce for human need instead of private greed. These ideas are becoming more and more popular.
Much has been said about new media and how print is out of date. The Internet is clearly a vital way to get ideas out there, and we are also doing our best to improve our online presence. But – with apologies to our basement-dwelling friends – at the end of the day real politics is done in the real world, with real people, who need something that they can hold in their hands so that they can know those ideas represent something more than a single author. As it says in the labour anthem Solidarity Forever, “Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?” Producing a paper is a fundamental component part of building an organization that actually lasts, that can learn as well as teach.
Lenin called the paper a collective organizer, and his words on this subject are just as powerful today as they were over 100 years ago. We apologize to the reader for the lengthy quote, but it is useful to read it to the end:
“The role of a newspaper, however, is not limited solely to the dissemination of ideas, to political education, and to the enlistment of political allies. A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser. In this last respect it may be likened to the scaffolding round a building under construction, which marks the contours of the structure and facilitates communication between the builders, enabling them to distribute the work and to view the common results achieved by their organised labour. With the aid of the newspaper, and through it, a permanent organisation will naturally take shape that will engage, not only in local activities, but in regular general work, and will train its members to follow political events carefully, appraise their significance and their effect on the various strata of the population, and develop effective means for the revolutionary party to influence these events. The mere technical task of regularly supplying the newspaper with copy and of promoting regular distribution will necessitate a network of local agents of the united party, who will maintain constant contact with one another, know the general state of affairs, get accustomed to performing regularly their detailed functions in the All-Russian work, and test their strength in the organisation of various revolutionary actions. This network of agents will form the skeleton of precisely the kind of organisation we need—one that is sufficiently large to embrace the whole country; sufficiently broad and many-sided to effect a strict and detailed division of labour; sufficiently well tempered to be able to conduct steadily its own work under any circumstances, at all “sudden turns”, and in face of all contingencies; sufficiently flexible to be able, on the one hand, to avoid an open battle against an overwhelming enemy, when the enemy has concentrated all his forces at one spot, and yet, on the other, to take advantage of his unwieldiness and to attack him when and where he least expects it. Today we are faced with the relatively easy task of supporting student demonstrations in the streets of big cities; tomorrow we may, perhaps, have the more difficult task of supporting, for example, the unemployed movement in some particular area, and the day after to be at our posts in order to play a revolutionary part in a peasant uprising. Today we must take advantage of the tense political situation arising out of the government’s campaign against the Zemstvo; tomorrow we may have to support popular indignation against some tsarist bashi-bazouk on the rampage and help, by means of boycott, indictment, demonstrations, etc., to make things so hot for him as to force him into open retreat. Such a degree of combat readiness can be developed only through the constant activity of regular troops. If we join forces to produce a common newspaper, this work will train and bring into the foreground, not only the most skillful propagandists, but the most capable organisers, the most talented political party leaders capable, at the right moment, of releasing the slogan for the decisive struggle and of taking the lead in that struggle." (Lenin, Where to Begin, 1901)
It is not sufficient just to wait for “the movement” to spontaneously build an organization of revolutionaries when the time is right. All history has shown us that it is those who have organized precisely when times are difficult, when nobody wants to hear your ideas, who will earn the right to be heard when it matters. Sadly, those that hold on to the miraculous power of spontaneity find themselves effectively silenced when a movement arises, as they are without an organization or a newspaper through which they can transmit revolutionary ideas. Others, in order to avoid this isolation, find themselves making political compromises and watering down their politics in order to individually take positions in unions or reformist organizations. Such compromises tie their hands and make them incapable of putting forward revolutionary ideas.
Freedom of speech is nothing without the ability to organize. The right wing is organized. The bureaucracy in the labour movement and labour parties are organized. It is utopian to think that the workers can overcome these forces without also being organized, and this will occur far faster with the assistance of organized Marxists. This is the historical justification for Marxist organization and, as a logical extension, Marxist publication.
Fightback marks this important milestone at a very significant moment in world history. The inherent contradictions in capitalism have erupted in global economic crisis. Living standards of the masses are declining everywhere while the spectre of a new slump hangs over the globe. Class struggle and revolution is on the agenda in one country after another, from France and the USA, to Brazil and Spain, to Greece and South Africa.
Since the launch of Fightback, we have consistently highlighted the pressing need to build a revolutionary organization. Today, this task has acquired a burning urgency. In 2016, we find ourselves living in an era of international class struggle and revolution. Sooner or later the movement shaking the status quo around the world will sweep onto Canadian shores.
With this in mind, we need the support of every worker and youth who wants to fight capitalism and oppression. Take out a solidarity subscription so that we can sustain our more professional paper, that educates youth and supports workers in struggle. Get a subscription for your union, student, or community group. Take a bundle and start up a Marxist discussion group in your school or with your co-workers. Above all, join our movement so we can put an end to this rotten capitalist system before we reach Fightback issue 1000.
Fightback's 100th Issue Celebration
Join us as we celebrate an important milestone, the publishing of the 100th issue of Fightback magazine! Our movement has come a long way, from a few students putting out a photocopied paper with a very limited print run to a professional organization of over 100 activists putting out the foremost monthly Marxist paper in Canada.
Fightback reaches this important milestone at a significant juncture in world history. The crisis of capitalism is pushing millions of people around the world to look for an alternative to austerity and falling living standards. Class struggle and revolution are on the agenda in one country after another; we must be prepared for future struggles here in Canada! For that, we need correct ideas and analysis to guide our actions, which is what Fightback is all about.
You can pick up a copy of the 100th issue, now with a new design, in full colour and expanded to 16 pages, at the event. If you want to support our work consider taking out a monthly subscription or get active with us and join the fight against capitalism! Take out a subscription to Fightback here: http://www.marxist.ca/
Join us for the celebration! - Event Details:
Date: Wednesday, July 13th
Time: 7 pm - midnight
Location: the Imperial Pub, 54 Dundas St E, Toronto, Ontario (in the back room, 1st floor)