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Marxist Theory & Discussion.

Edition Twenty y Four

spark!

Violence against Aboriginal women in Canada today

$7.00

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The rise and demise of the Western welfare state. Housewives’ associations take on food prices and red baiting. Plus: tales of 1 champagne, meatballs and the adventures of a Canadian Red.
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The Spark! Index 258
The number on the ship which carried Michael Ukas from Algeria to Sicily as part of the Allied war effort to liberate Italy from the Nazi’s. Page 44

The Spark! is the theoretical and discussion journal of the Communist Party of Canada.
Editor: Danny Goldstick Edition Twenty-four, Winter 2013 Subscription rates: Three issues (including postage) is $20.00 CND $25.00 US for international subscriptions. Individual copies are $7.00 each. To subscribe, or to contact The Spark! please write: Editor, The Spark! 290A Danforth Ave. Toronto, Ontario M4K 1N6. Phone: 416-469-2446 Email: info@cpc-pcc.ca Attn: Danny Goldstick www.thesparkjournal.blogspot.com Copy editing by W. Brooker Design by J. Boyden Printed in Montréal, Québec by Union Labour

10% to 30%
Percentage of wage increases in the industrial belts of China due to pesant and worker protest in the early 2000s according to James Petras. Page 32

709,583
Canadians who signed the Housewives Consumer Association’s petition 1948, reported to be the biggest petition ever presented to the federal government. Page 22

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Total number of short theses presented by Marx in the spring of 1845 about a German philosopher and early anthropologist. Page 17

582
Number of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada in the last three decades. Page 8

Surprise! Surprise!
I looked at lots of survey data that indicated what people at different income levels wanted the government to do, and then I looked at what the government did. For people at the top 10 per cent, you could predict what the government would do based on their preferences. But when the preferences of people at lower income levels diverged from the affluent, they had no impact at all on the policies that were adopted. Chrystia Freeland in the Globe and Mail Report on Business for March 1, 2013, reporting on the Demos report “Stacked Deck” and quoting Professor Martin Gilens of Princeton University, author of Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America.

60%
Percentage of Aboriginal women with jobs working part-time and/or part-year. Page 8
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INSIDE ISSUE 24

spark!
Editorial Comment 4
Detail of a flyer from the late 1940s by the Saskatoon Housewives Consumer Association calling a "public protest meeting" over the price of milk. "When the price of milk goes up the health of our children goes down," it reads. Annie G. Ross Collection, Provincial Archives of Manitoba, P5941, file 6. Find out more about this organization in Julie Guard’s article on page 22.

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ISSUE 24 - WINTER 2013

“Murder is injustice if anything is. But, up to now, that hasn’t bestirred Canadian police forces to go after their killers with anything like the drive which Ottawa devotes to going after alleged-without-evidence “terrorists” (with nonwhite skins),” writes editor Dan Goldstick, introducing this edition of The Spark!

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Sisters in spirit: Canadian state violence continues against Aboriginal women

Idle No More 6
A short essay by Kimball Cariou explains some of the politics behind the struggles depicted on our front and back covers.

Barb Moore reviews and presents compelling facts and statistics gathered by the Native Women’s Association of Canada about the legacy of colonialism in creating today’s emergency crisi of hundreds of murdered and missing Aborignial women.

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The Housewives Consumers Association, Cold War anti-communism, and the Canadian left

Champaign and Meatballs 54
This concise review by Chevy Philips makes the case why readers of The Spark! should read this new book by a long-time cadre of the Communist Party of Canada.

Julie Guard writes about the Housewives Consumers Association which mobilized thousands of women and men across Canada in campaigns for fair prices, a managed economy, and state ownership of essential foods from the late 1930s upto the 1950s.

The Western welfare state, its rise and demise, and the Soviet Bloc.

Explain the world, Chante the world 17
Réne Simon looks at a classic quote by Marx and addresses some criticism it has recieved over time by some philosophers.

James Petras looks at the influence of East European socialism in forming the welfare state, how it has been undermined and the role of social democracy and the so-called ‘anti-Stalinist’ left.
About our contributors
Barb Moore is past President of CUPE 3912 and teaches at St Mary’s University and Acadia University in Nova Scotia. Réne Simon is a philosophy student at the Université de Montréal in Québec. Julie Guard teaches labour studies at the University of Manitoba where she specializes in social movement, left and women’s history, left history, women’s history. NUMBER 24 James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York. Chevy Philips is a writer and activist with the Young Communist League of Canada and Rebel Youth magazine. Dan Goldstick is a professor at the University of Toronto and a member of the CPC’s educational commission.
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Life in the struggle Michael’s story 44
The Spark! sits down with Michael Ukas to talk about his life story as a member of the Communist Party of Canada.

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Editorial Comment
by Dan Goldstick Everyone knows that Aboriginal peoples have by and large the worst shakes of anybody in Canada. Though, from the standpoint of justice – yes, even bourgeois justice – their case is really open-and-shut. The whole continent was theirs – and then it wasn’t – a take-over managed by force, threat of force, and outright fraud. (What is the case on the other side? “Right of conquest.”) The Constitution and the courts do acknowledge, to some extent, Aboriginal peoples’ unsurrendered “existing rights” – though how much substantive recognition of those rights can be expected from a Harper-appointed judiciary will have to be seen as the struggle continues. For Aboriginal peoples too, especially the younger ones, are realizing more and more now that without struggle they can’t expect to get anything. The Idle No More movement has won support from large sections of Canadians, who may have themselves had to experience (though to a lesser degree) the brunt of a government of big business, by big business and for big business. Aboriginal women have often found themselves doubly out in the cold when it comes to getting justice. Murder is injustice if anything is. But, up to now, that hasn’t bestirred Canadian police forces to
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go after their killers with anything like the drive which Ottawa devotes to going after alleged-without-evidence “terrorists” (with nonwhite skins). Barbara Moore’s article in this issue, “Sisters in the Spirit”, on violence against Aboriginal women, was actually written for the last Spark!, but was squeezed out as that issue got filled with pieces marking the ninetieth anniversary of the Communist Party and press in Canada. Even so, there were articles on the Communist movement’s history in this country that there was no room for in Spark! no. 23, and there will be more historical material in future issues as well as this. Here in no. 24 we have some oral history from Michael Ukas, whose experiences as a Ukrainian-Canadian party member on the prairies in the late nineteen-thirties, as a soldier liberating southern Italy in World War II, and, after the war, as a student and then University of Toronto professor of Italian language and literature, can give the reader some picture of what it was like to be there. The same goes for Bert Whyte’s wonderful book Champagne and Meatballs, a personal memoir of working class life and Communist activism from the thirties to the sixties, reviewed here by Chevy Phillips. Those who knew Bert will be very sorry he died before continuing his recollections any further than that. Bert had known such figures as Leslie Morris, Harry Rankin and (in Moscow) Kim Philby, and he was never short of good anecdotes about them and their times. We are especially grateful in this issue to historian Julie Guard for her account of the Communist-led Housewives Consumers Association, active from the late thirties to the early fifties. In Spark! no. 23 we had an article “From Pariahs to Patriots”, about how Communist activists were vilified and driven underground in the first years of the Second World War, then publicly hailed and applauded in the Forces as well as on the Home Front, when the democratic anti-fascist character of the war effort came to the fore, especially because of public gratitude for Soviet military successes in Europe. Professor Guard’s article gives an example of the post-War re-stigmatization of the Communists as part of putting Canada on a Cold War footing. The two turn-arounds were markedly sudden and unsubtle. Guard refutes the charge that the Consumers Housewives Association was “simply a tool of the Communist Party” rather than a genuine people’s movement fighting for working people’s interests; but of course the Party backed the movement because it saw organizing working-class women to fight for the interests of their families as part of its general class struggle mission. Guard appears to suppose that

Margin notes * * * Idle No More and the national question in Canada:

The brilliant achievement of the grassroots Idle No More has been to expose the Potemkin village that is the “one nation“ of Canada, says Kimball Cariou. Page 53 Graphic left and above: A protestor in Ottawa holds Grandmother Moon, a symbol of the Sisters in Spirit campaign. Photo from the Native Women’s Association.

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EDITORIAL COMMENT

the Communists in the Association somehow could not be both democratically leading a people’s struggle and doing so as a Party assignment, so she feels the need to defend the comrades against the charge of “taking direction” from the Party collective centrally. For instance, aware that the Association was an alliance of women who had a variety of ideological viewpoints, she marvels that this was “long after the party abandoned the popular front” (citing ex-Communist Norman Penner). In fact, though, Canadian Communists have always sought alliances with others, especially “from below”, but most of the time with non-Communist leaders too, where feasible. So this was no departure. In the post-War period it took a great effort from world capitalism to “save” Western Europe and to keep the world’s underdeveloped lands – despite their legal independence – as far as possible under continued imperial sway. That, above all, was what the Cold War was for. It was sold to First World workers as part of a “social contract”: prosperity and a much expanded welfare state in return for firm anticommunism both at home and abroad. But it is a great exaggeration to think of First World capitalists as having agreed to all this without a fight. The fierce battles in Canada, for example, to build the Steelworkers’ and Autoworkers’ unions (struggles in which Communists played a proud part before being dumped) is evidence that even that rotten deal cost a lot of blood and tears. So the gratefully reprinted contribution by James Petras in this issue, “The Western Welfare State: Its Rise and Demise and the Soviet Bloc”, arguably has overstated the case on that; just as Petras has arguably understated how much democracy there was in the USSR and its allies – though the Communist Party of Canada for its part takes the view that a grave shortfall in democracy there has a lot to do with explaining how the socialist orientation of those states was so easily overthrown. And have we really heard the last of the forces for socialism in the People’ Republic of China? Petras is surely right, though, to stress how enthusiastically post-War social democracy went for the “social contract”, and how removal of the anticapitalist example of Eastern Europe has made the First World capitalist class that much less in need of the “welfare” part of the “welfare-warfare state”. But Petras in his article makes no mention of the current economic crisis. The capitalists are darn sure it isn’t they who will bear the burden of it, and they’re willing to put up with the risk of some social turmoil in forcing it on to the workers’ backs. So, arguably, if the disappearance of the anticapitalist social order in the East has made an all-out drive against workers’ gains all the more possible, especially in Western
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SPARK!

Europe, that is only part of the story. But the issue is certainly debatable, and Professor Petras’ contribution is very welcome indeed. In the spring of 1845 the twenty-six- or twenty-seven-year-old Karl Marx wrote in a notebook he kept, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” Some readers may be surprised to find an article here (by René Simon) that is prepared to take seriously – even if only to rebut it – a criticism of this remark of Marx’s coming from the rightist German philosopher Martin Heidegger (who was indeed a signedup Nazi during the Third Reich). But Heidegger is far from being the only one to take this remark as placing Marx in support of mindless activism unguided by a theoretical interpretation of things. Some of the left-inclined academics who are most prone to read Marx’s statement in that sense are the furthest people from actual activism that you could meet. As for Marx himself, his whole life work certainly speaks of a concern to interpret the world. But the point of that, for him, was to change it. Collective Power

the

Margin notes * * * Test your Marxist IQ on political economy, page 43.

We dream that when we work hard, we’ll be able to clothe our children decently, and still have a little time and money left for ourselves. And we dream that when we do as good as other people, we get treated the same, and that nobody puts us down because we are not like them... Then we ask ourselves, ‘How could we make these things come true?’ And so far we’ve come up with only two possible answers: win the lottery, or organize. What can I say, except that I have never been lucky with numbers.
Irma, a Filipina worker in the Silicon Valley, California, quoted in Briarpatch magazine, November/December 2011.

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REPORT

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ANALYSIS

Sisters in Spirit: Canadian state violence continues against Aboriginal women
by Barbara Moore On October 14th, 2010, there was an important presentation to the CUPE Women’s Committee meeting in Ottawa by two women, Rashida Collins and Michelle McGuire, who worked for the Strategic Policy Liaisons – Sisters in Spirit Research directed by the Native Women’s Association of Canada. These two women were soliciting support from trade union women across Canada in their quest for social justice and an end to discrimination against Aboriginal women. The Native Women’s Association of Canada was formed in 1974, shortly before the beginning, in 1975, of the United Nations Decade on Women, which began a series of international conferences and conventions to determine the status of women throughout the globe, and the overall treatment of women in their respective nations. The aim of the NWAC was to “achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.” The organization is founded on the collective goal of enhancing,
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Explain the world, change the world
by René Simon

After Marx died in 1883, it was up to Engels to carry on his work, not only in the German and European politics of the day, but in political economy and other fields. In preparing his 1886 Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy for publication as a pamphlet, he was looking through an early notebook of Marx’s (from 1845), where he found eleven jottings under the heading “On Feuerbach”. In publishing these “Theses on Feuerbach” with the pamphlet, he described them as “notes hurriedly scribbled down for later elaboration, absolutely not intended for publication, but invaluable as the first document in which is deposited the brilliant germ of the new world outlook”.1 [Thesis 11 reads: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”2 The word “however” was added editorially by Engels.]

Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach has been the subject of numerous commentaries. I’d like to put forward an interpretation here by criticizing two features in the commentary by Martin Heidegger on the occasion of an interview in 1969. I’ll begin with this quotation, translated from the German: “In quoting and following this statement, it’s overlooked that making a change in the world presupposes a change in the conception which is held about the world, and that it’s only possible to get a conception of the world by arriving at an adequate interpretation of it. This means that Marx based himself on a certain conception of the world to do with the “changes” he demanded, and by that this statement shows that it is not a well-founded statement. He gives the impression
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NINTEY

YEARS

Clockwise from upper right: ‘‘Housewives Deny Press Allegations Of Red Domination Of Organization’’, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Apr 24, 1947; ‘‘Housewives To March’’ Saskatoon Star-Phoenix - Apr 15, 1948; ‘‘Milk Inquiry. A Sarcastic Witness. ‘Waste Of Time And Money’’’ Sydney Morning Herald, Nov 25, 1930; ‘‘Only His Speed On Foot Saves Him As Irate Housewives Storm Abbott’’, Montreal Gazette, Jun 26, 1947

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Report & Analysis

The Western
its RISE...

and the SOVIET BLOC
by James Petras
Introduction

One of the most striking socio-economic features of the past two decades is the reversal of the previous half-century of welfare legislation in Europe and North America. Unprecedented cuts in social services, severance pay, public employment, pensions, health programs, educational stipends, vacation time, and job security are matched by increases in tuition, regressive taxation, and the age of retirement as well as increased inequalities, job insecurity and workplace speed-up.

This article was first published online on July 4, 2012 by Global Research, http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-western-welfare-state-itsrise-and-demise-and-the-soviet-bloc/31753, and is republished here by kind permission of the author. Image: Soviet Poster c. 1970. PG 32 SPARK!
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The demise of the ‘welfare state’ demolishes the idea put forth by orthodox economists, who argued that the ‘maturation’ of capitalism, its ‘advanced state’, high technology and sophisticated services, would be accompanied by greater welfare and higher income/standard of living. While it is true that ‘services and technology’ have multiplied, the economic sector has become even more polarized, between low paid retail clerks and super rich stock brokers and financiers. The computerization of the economy has led to electronic bookkeeping, cost controls and the rapid movements of speculative funds in search of maximum profit while at the same time ushering in brutal

Welfare State
& demise

budgetary reductions for social programs. The ‘Great Reversal’ appears to be a long-term, large-scale process centered in the dominant capitalist countries of Western Europe and North America and in the former Communist states of Eastern Europe. It behooves us to examine the systemic causes that transcend the particular idiosyncrasies of each nation.
The Origins of the Great Reversal

the demise of the welfare state and the massive decline of living standards. One line of analysis examines the profound change in the international environment: We have moved from a competitive bi-polar system, based on a rivalry between the collectivist – welfare states of the Eastern bloc and the capitalist states of Europe and North America to an international system monopolized by competing capitalist states.

A second line of inquiry directs us to examine the changes in the internal social relations of the There are two lines of inquiry which need to capitalist states: namely the shift from intense be elucidated in order to come to terms with class struggles to long-term class collaboration,
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Test your Marxist I.Q.
Questions on work, property and other aspects of political economy.

Mural by GDR artist Walter Womacka, Haus des Lehrers (House of teachers) c. 1970 1. The worker sells to the capitalist her or his: a) toil or work b) living labour c) labour power d) soul 2. Capitalist private property is based on: a) exploitation b) inheritance c) force d) land theft 3. The Marxist attitude to property can be summarized as: a) control it through a socialist market economy b) "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" c) seeking to replace capitalist with social property d) seeking to abolish property in all its forms 4. Marxist understand production in general as: a) alienating b) anti-social c) individualized d) social a) Hegel and Feuerbach b) British political economists c) Arab scholars like Moses Maimonides e) The Kama Sutra Answers: 1c; 2a; 3c; 4d; 5d; 6 c; 7b 5. Marxists argue that each social system has an economic basis, which ultimately determines other social relations which rise above it in the form of a superstructure. Which of the following is NOT part of the superstructure? a) political parties b) music c) the state d) productive forces 6. What term do Marxists use to describe the phenomenon of disorder and chaos in a private-property commodity economy? a) competitive exchange economy b) financialization c) anarchy of production d) all of the above 7. Marx primarily synthesized and developed Capital and his economic theories from:

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Michael’s story

I had to sign a promissory note. They had me sign -- I promise to pay so-and-so – but, of course, I couldn’t pay. And having completed one year of pre-medicine I had to stop and try to earn some money. But those were very tough times. How old would you have been? Let’s see, I guess about twenty. So then it would have been around 1936. The Great Depression was coming on. We couldn’t get anything anywhere. So I had to stop and I got a job at the University on their experimental farms - they were trying to develop new kinds of wheat and things like that. It was quite skilful work in that you had to select, as you moved along in the rows, and be very careful, you picked the right kind of grain. And they did produce some new varieties. I got a job on the experimental farms. There were only a few of us – I think there were only four of us. So you were lucky. About twenty or more applied for that job – which wasn’t easy. A lot of bending – row after row all day. We were paid 30 cents an hour for that – which was welcome. We worked, let me see, four hours in the morning and another, I think it was five, in the afternoon. They let us off earlier on Saturday so we could do a little shopping – to buy food or something, Because stores closed at six o’clock. But once that job was done there was no further work. We got paid there all right for that,

Michael Ukas grew up in the Canadian Prairies in a Ukrainian family, joining the Communist Party of Canada in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan during the Depression. In the winter of 2010-2011, at age 94, Michael sat down with The Spark! and shared part of his life story as part of our continued series celebrating the 90th anniversary of the CPC. The following transcript has been edited and abridged.

What year were you born? 1916. In Bonne Madone, Saskatchewan. And so you lived on the farm throughout your early life? Well, a good part of it, yes. But there was no future there, so I went away. Went to Saskatoon and enrolled at the university there. Well, I should have said that I had to complete my highschool. I couldn’t do that in Wakaw which is fifteen miles away from Bonne Madone. They
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only had grade eleven. To get grade twelve I had to go another about twenty-five miles to Cudworth. My people, my parents – or my Mother and my step-father – I’ll explain this later – my father died in the epidemic, the Spanish Flu. Anyway my people and I too thought that I should study and go on to the University of Saskatchewan and become a doctor. And so I did – I put in one year. Where did you get the money for the fees?
SPARK!
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BOOK REVIEWS & REFLECTIONS

Champaign and Meatballs
Review by Chevy Philips
here (which some readers will no doubt appreciate, and some will regret). What certainly is very successfully communicated is what life was like for someone born just before the First World War, who grows up in an era of profound mass politicization, and embarks on a broadly left and eventually Communist trajectory that is grounded in and inspired by the condition of ordinary people’s working lives. Early influences on Whyte are clear from detailed and extensive reflections on his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Bert joined the Party in the mid-1930s (by which time he was in his mid to late twenties, having been born in 1909) only after having some significant experience of the travails and struggles of working people in an extraordinary period of Canadian history. Early on in Champagne and Meatballs he briefly discusses his encounter with the Ku Klux Klan, which he quickly recognized as a “nut organization” in his early teens, and he describes the context in which he came to consciously turn against religion (perhaps, along with his reaction to the KKK, his first well-defined political positions in a life which never lost its political content). The condemnation of a man for simply teaching the science of human evolution, combined with an adolescent encounter with Thomas Paine’s anti-Christian Age of Reason are recognized by Whyte as

Champagne and Meatballs: Adventures of a Canadian Communist. By Bert Whyte, Introduction by Larry Hannant. Edmonton, 2011
The Canadian Committee on Labour History, an organization concerned with the study of working class life and struggle in Canada, has presented Champagne and Meatballs as the first in a series. It is a book based on the manuscript-memoir left by Bert Whyte, long-time member of the Communist Party of Canada, after his death in Moscow in 1984. Larry Hannant, who has provided an introduction to the book, came into contact with Monica Whyte, Bert’s widow, in 2006 and was introduced to the manuscript. The series is intended to have a “popular bent ... accessible to labour
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audiences rather than simply ... [for] scholarly studies”. Certainly this is the most distinctive feature of Bert Whyte’s story, which covers his childhood up to his posting to the People’s Republic of China in 1960, as it follows the “adventures of a Canadian Communist” across Depression-era Canada, in the Second World War, and in the post-war years in Toronto and on the west coast. Champagne and Meatballs is grounded in mundane experiences, dealing with everyday life rather than grand political narratives or metaphysical reflections. Whyte could have chosen to pepper his story with expositions of ideological positions, justifications for stands taken, or internal Communist Party politics, but there is very little of that sort to be found

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