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Workers Party Manifesto, December 1921

The "Manifesto of the Workers Party of Canada" was adopted by the preliminary conference held in Toronto, December 11, 1921. It was initially printed in Workers Guard and reprinted in Labor Organization in Canada 1922.

Manifesto of the Workers' Party of Canada

To the Workers of Canada:

FELLOW WORKERS — At a conference held at the Labour Temple, Toronto, on Sunday, December 11, 1921, 51 accredited delegates from points between Winnipeg, Montreal, Guelph, and Timmins, decided unanimously to endorse the call for the formation of the Workers' Party of Canada. The general feeling of the conference was that the need for a party of strength, of action, of feeling, was never more urgent than now.

The Development of American Imperialism—The frantic efforts of Imperialist diplomats at Washington to form alliances strong enough to hold up under the shock of the recent world war, the sparring for position in the world's markets without actually causing open conflict must prove to the workers of the world that another "last" war to end war is inevitable.

The capitalist class of the United States are having it brought home to them forcibly that they cannot maintain the industries created by their peculiar position during the war, while the economic structure of Europe crumbles under their noses. With the menace of bankruptcy facing many of their class, with the added menace of nearly 6,000,000 unemployed, the American capitalists are beginning to question their false sense of economic security, and seek to strengthen their position by imperialist alliances.

Britain's Insecurity—The future position of Britain's vast emporium, which she fondly calls her empire, is more uncertain. However Washington may help to solve the immediate problems, there will remain several serious obstacles to permanent peace. Australia can never regard Japan as an ally, while Canada's possible development as an industrialist capitalist power makes her more and more dependent upon the United States.

The growing influence of Wall Street is making itself felt, at the expense of the "Mother Country", and young Miss Canada is becoming positively ungrateful in this respect by flirting with her powerful neighbour, and already shows signs which indicate that the wooing of Uncle Sam is affecting the economic position of John Bull in this country.

The Weakness of the Workers—Japan, France and Germany all present their problems, and the capitalist form of production prevents a peaceful solution of these problems. In the face of this, whither are we of the working class drifting? Drifting is an expression which covers our position clearly. Betrayed during the war by the false promises of capitalist statesmen, we sacrificed ourselves by the million. Those who stayed at home were accused of riotous living, of bleeding the country in her hour of need by demanding wages which would break the Empire, but which we know never once overtook the mad increase in the cost of living.

Our organizations and parties of working class tendencies succumbed to the atmosphere of looseness, of inactivity, during the period following the armistice. We neglected to avail ourselves of the opportunities for consolidating our forces, and when the after effects of the war began to be felt we were powerless to act. Winnipeg is the one bright spot in our development since the war, and we have failed to follow up this example of what is possible by organized effort, in a most unsatisfactory manner.

The Unemployment Situation—And now we are suffering for our sins by seeing hundreds of thousands of unemployed in Canada and scarcely a whimper coming from them. The unemployed are not alone to be condemned for this, but we also, the advanced, class-conscious section of the working class, must share the blame to no small extent. The time has come for a movement which will link up all forces willing to work for the emancipation of the workers. It is not enough to tell the unemployed the cause of their miserable plight, and then to sit back with our arms folded and feel that our revolutionary fervour has been expressed in the best possible manner.

The Workers' Party of Canada proposes to line up the forces of the unemployed, who will eventually learn the folly of sitting back, waiting for paternal assistance from our governing bodies. We can never obtain assistance without a fight, and the fight must be waged upon the battle cry of "Work or Compensation at Trade Union Rates of Wages." Undoubtedly the capitalist state will raise its ugly head during such agitational struggles, and then, and only then, will the masses realize the full power of the state together with its qualities of oppression and suppression which are the reasons for its existence.

Our Appeal to Trade Unionists—The W.P. of C. appeals to all progressive trade unionists to come into its ranks. The trade union movement must be strengthened preparatory to the coming struggles. The universal campaign by the bosses for the open shop has not been abandoned. The fight has only now commenced and we are but experiencing a lull in the storm of attack, which will only break out with increased fury next spring.

The capitalist class refuse to accept the responsibility for the present crisis, and are vainly hoping for the revival of trade which will bring the sunshine into their lives and profits to their pockets. The international complications touched upon above will not permit a revival of any consequence, and they will turn upon organized labour. They know that organized labour is the last stumbling block in their path, which, once removed, will allow them to ride rough-shod over our fellows and will permit them to grind us down into the depths of poverty, misery, and starvation.

The W.P. of C. seeks to prevent this by strengthening the unions, by striving toward making them fighting organizations, by perfecting the available machinery, and by endeavouring to develop the feeling of militancy which will cause them to fight back when attacked by the wolves of capitalism.

To those industrialists who are as yet but members of industrial organizations, and who, through a desire to ignore political parties, or who are dissatisfied with existing political parties, remain aloof, we direct our appeal for support.

The bitter class struggle now being waged must prove that we shall use every avenue of approach, every possible opportunity, to weaken the capitalist state. The issue was never more clear than now. Class against class is the order of the day, and we who are of the subjected class must learn to fight our battles just as viciously as do our oppressors. The industrial weapon is not enough, we must organize our forces so as to take advantage of every weak point in the armour of our oppressors if we are to progress.

To Members of the Socialist Party of Canada—To members of the S.P. of C. we make special appeal. For over a year now your party has talked on the question of affiliation with the Third International and the referendum is only now being submitted. This method of action, while pleasing, no doubt, to our sense of comfortable discussion, is too comfortable to make for progress. If progress is to be made the workers must be taught to reason from the basis of action, rather than that of academic discussion.

We appeal to you to reconsider your position and to decide whether it is in conformity with the needs of the day. These have been briefly outlined and the Workers' Party of Canada claim that they call for a greater degree of virility than has been shown by your party up to the present.

To Members of Labour Parties—To all members of labour parties throughout the Dominion we point out the weaknesses of your position. The recent elections, fresh in your minds, with the added sting of ignominious defeat, emphasize how poorly equipped you are with the necessary machinery for progress.

Recent events should have the effect of making you reconsider your attitude. The W.P. of C. are satisfied that you are not merely playing with the question of the struggle between capital and labour. We also feel assured that you are open to adopt new methods of action shown to be necessary by reason of changed conditions.

The rank and file of the labour parties have trusted to leaders who are unable to carry on a vigorous fight against the exploiters of labour. For example, the miserable compromise made with the farmers in Ontario only resulted in some "leaders" gaining cabinet rank—as far as the working masses are concerned, nothing tangible has resulted from the fusion. A party with such a record cannot possibly hope to gain the confidence of the workers.

As for the platforms of labour parties, there exists a marked resemblance between that of the I.L.P., for instance, and the Conservative party. They both agree that the principle of "public ownership" is correct, for the Conservatives are now swearing that nothing short of government ownership will satisfy their thirst for progress. Thus, by reason of this agreement of principles, labour parties become mere tails of the capitalist parties, and, as such, have no reason for existence.

Workers of labour parties! leave those leaders who are eagerly trying to squeeze into capitalist politics and come over to the W.P. of C., which is determined to stand up and fight the battle of the workers, shunning the efforts of other parties to patronize us by adopting a few of our leaders.

Is there not evidence enough at hand to prove that "democracy" is at best a miserable sham, and Parliament one of its most miserable expressions? Your present political beliefs only tend to destroy the militancy of the workers, who, under the influence of such beliefs, betray inclinations to trust to leaders to emancipate them from their miserable conditions rather than develop a feeling that the general rank and file themselves must act in order to produce results.

To Unattached Workers—Finally, we appeal to all workers who are unattached. We put the question of a Workers' Party squarely before you. Are you sufficiently blind to your class interests as to be able to ignore our call to action? With the increased determination of the ruling class to grind the workers down, we must offer more keen resistance upon the part of the workers. It is no longer possible to remain outside of the fight. All are concerned and all must prepare to participate.

So we address our manifesto to all workers. We cannot sit down and wait patiently for capitalism to collapse. Conditions call for fight, for action, and with the prospects of further unemployment, a more intensified open shop campaign, and, in the near future, Imperialist war, the Workers' Party of Canada issues this call. If we are to survive we must be free from capitalist domination. If the capitalist class is to dominate we must suffer more bitterly.

The issue is clear, therefore, between Unemployment and Prosperity; Organized Tyranny and Political Freedom; Capitalist State and Workers' Republic.

There is no half-way line, and the W.P. of C., recognizing that unity of action is essential if the workers are to triumph, call upon all to rally to the banner of progressive action.


1. Workers' Republic—Clearly the problems which call for working class action centre about the capitalist system; the alternative to the capitalist system is a working class government. The Workers' Party shall lead the workers in the struggle toward the establishment of the Workers' Republic of Canada.

2. Political Action—The role of the Workers' Party in electoral campaigns shall be to expose the sham democracy, with which we are afflicted. The Workers' Party shall take part, whenever possible, in all such campaigns with this end in view, so that ultimately the real issue will be laid clear, and we, the working class, shall eventually triumph at the expense of the enemies of the working class, their capitalist oppressors.

3. Trade Unionism—To help educate the Trade Unionists to appreciate the possibilities of their organizations as definite factors in carrying on the class battles caused by capitalist oppression, to initiate a movement to expose the tyranny and treachery of the reactionary labour bureaucrats and to definitely create real fighting working class units.

4. Party of Action—The party shall be composed of militant class-conscious workers who shall be subject to the discipline and direction of the national executive committee, which shall be the highest expression of the party between conventions. Democratic centralization shall be the guiding principle of the Workers' Party, and all members will be required to submit to the direction of the party in all struggles affecting the workers, such as unemployment, wage reductions, open shop campaigns, etc., etc.

5. Party Press—The party shall eventually acquire a party press in order to give expression to our needs. This press shall be owned by the party, and under the control and direction of the national executive committee.

Working Men and Working Women! We call upon you to play your parts in the establishment of a real live working class party which shall ultimately produce a fighting machine able to organize and direct the oppressed masses in their struggles for political and economic freedom. Rally to the call for complete emancipation! In answer to the oppression of the capitalist class let our battle cry be:

"Workers of the World, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains; you have a world to gain."

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