Communism in Canada

An exposé of organized Communistic activity in Canada which has as its avowed object the over-throw of the existing social order

MITCHELL THOMAS May 15 1931

Communism in Canada

An exposé of organized Communistic activity in Canada which has as its avowed object the over-throw of the existing social order

MITCHELL THOMAS May 15 1931

Communism in Canada

An exposé of organized Communistic activity in Canada which has as its avowed object the over-throw of the existing social order

MITCHELL THOMAS

ACCORDING to a press dispatch from Moscow of February 5 of this year:

“Joseph Stalin, making one of his infrequent speeches, today told the National Industrial Congress that the five-year plan of industrialization certainly will be completed in four years, and that if Russia’s technicians could take advantage of all the national resources it could be completed in three.

“ ‘The Soviet Union soon will be the greatest agricultural nation on earth,’ he said. ‘The Communist system has been demonstrated before the world as the only one in which an economic crisis such as has laid low the capitalist nations is impossible.

“ ‘We have still important obligations—those to the world proletariat. We have won, not only through our own workers but with the support of the workers of the world, without which we should have been crushed long ago. Now we must march

on so that the world proletariat will say:

“ ‘There is an advance guard, our government, our fatherland. Let us support them against the capitalists in bringing out the world revolution.’ ”

In other words, Russia, in Stalin’s opinion, has progressed to the point where it can divert some of its energies to making the rest of the world a replica of itself.

How will this policy affect Canada? What hope has it of success?

The world’s attitudes toward Russia today are a reflection of these questions. Surprise, derision and neglect have suddenly changed into fear, even consternation in certain quarters. What is the sensible attitude?

Stalin’s pronouncement is not an indication of a new policy. From the moment that Lenin became the instrument of Russia’s destiny, world revolution has been Moscow’s guiding star. Lenin had a consuming hatred for the capitalist inequalities of simultaneous wealth and poverty. His greatest desire was to level off the lump of capitalist excess and give it to the proletariat to stand on. As a corollary he saw that it was necessary to reduce the world to a Soviet province, either by a grand universal revolution or by piecemeal revolutions, until all the empires, kingdoms and re-

publics of the planet were under orders from Moscow.

I hat, in briefest terms, is the goal elimination of any power but the state’s, and that state to be the man at the head of the Soviet Union.

C an this be doubted, with the testimony which is, daily being offered? We read that Ghandi was jeered by the Indian Communists; that Ghandi was dazed at this inexplicable revulsion of feeling on the part of his previously almost idolatrous followers.

The explanation is simple. While Ghandi remained a force which threatened to unloose all the horrors of mass rebellion in India, he had the support of the Communists. When he made his peace with the British Crown he became another force to be crushed. Had Indian independence been granted, the result would have been the same. The Soviet Union must be supreme. If the Communist International has its way, it will be.

The Communist Internationalthat fountainhead of world-wide Communist propaganda—introduced itself to Canada in 1919. That was the year when Lenin felt strong enough to throw down the gauntlet to the rest of the world. In unequivocal language Communism declared that it stood for the forcible seizure of government powers and the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship. Workers, that is peasants and soldiers, were to constitute the authority. The Red Guard was to replace police and army. The law courts were to give way to revolutionary tribunals; private property to be confiscated, without compensation, for the workers’ benefit; banking accounts to be taken by the state; the land to be distributed.

Continued on page 50

Continued from page 7

Efficient Organization

CANADA had experienced a revolution along these lines at Winnipeg. The result of that fiasco, which caused much uneasiness behind the scenes, is history, and history is soon forgotten. It is regrettable that the memory of that effort should have been swallowed up in the glare of the next decade’s prosperity.

The blow to Communist hopes at Winnipeg retarded the growth of the Communist Party of Canada, which did not become really active until two years later. Even today its membership is somewhat under 6,000. The figure, however, tells little. The active membership of Grits and Tories is but a fraction of the voters who awake at the time of party struggle. It is the silent sympathizers who count.

In the last Federal elections, Communist candidates contested nine constituencies, polling 7,600 votes, while opposing candidates received 157,000. There is nothing alarming in that showing, nor in the 3,000 votes obtained by the Communist candidate for controller at the recent Toronto civic election. But had Communists contested each of Canada’s 245 constituencies, the total might have been revealing. It may surprise Eastern readers to learn that a Communist sat as a member of the last Winnipeg City Council.

‘‘But the foreign vote did that,” the reader may exclaim.

Precisely.

In a recent United States dispatch it was stated that the total membership of the Communist party in that country was not more than 10,000, or a little over Canada’s. It would be hard to imagine a more absurd statistic. The parades and demonstrations in the larger industrial centres, armed with Communist slogans, belie it; and refusing to recognize what everyone sees is an ostrichlike tactic.

The pattern of organization in Canada is one that has worked for all ages, from the Roman conquest through the feudal age till today—the pattern of a tree. The roots of the Communist Party of Canada, needless to say, are embedded in the soil of the Communist International at Moscow. There the bitter sap of. revolution is sucked up. The tree itself is planted at the Canadian headquarters in Toronto, where the Central Committee sits and directs the Party’s agitation throughout the country. Its newspapers, The Worker, The Young Worker, The Young Comrade, pour propaganda east and west.

The tree has branches, known as district bureaus, in Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, composed of delegates from all the "Groups” in those districts. The groups are the smallest division, each with its set of officers. According to the Canadian Annual Review for 1929-30, there were 215 such units. But 1929 was a year of little discontent.

Communism thrives best in an alien air, and most of these groups are racial or lingual. In a large centre there will be a Ukrainian group, a Finnish, a Jewish, a Russian, perhaps an English group. In addition there will be groups, as the party members have been able to penetrate, in the various industries. The arrangement is logically designed to cover Canada with the rank foliage of this tree’s shade.

The same rigid discipline which makes

the Toronto headquarters subservient to Moscow’s dictation is practised between Toronto and the district bureaus, between the district bureaus and the groups. The Moscow policies must be followed out. The slightest deviation from instructions on the part of the highest or lowest in the party will precipitate an investigation, ending usually in reprimand or expulsion, or, in Russia, death. This unbending spirit sent Trotzky and Zinoviev from the Moscow fold. There is no room in the Communist philosophy for differing parties or opinions. In Canada, Jack Macdonald was ousted when his allegiance and reasoning seemed to incline away from the left. Tim Buck gives orders now in place of the man who did most to put Communism on its feet in Canada. Communist factions have the same sort of gratitude that they once attributed to great corporations.

Utilizing Unrest

TF THE structure of the Communist

Party of Canada is simple, its purpose is simpler: to bring revolution in Canada, and by destroying existing institutions to clear the way of the Soviet regime. Bolshevism, say Communists, does not need the institutions of capitalism for the emancipation of the workers. It must level all to the ground in order to begin anew. To the waverers, the men not quite fanatics, who advocate a slower change instead of so radical an overturn, the Communists say that Socialism, as for instance represented by the British Labor Party, is powerless, a delusion, a soporific more insidious than capitalism itself. Emancipation by parliamentary action holds no hope. There must come a purging, bloody and complete; then, from the depths of its misery and suffering, Canada will reach up for the boon of Communism.

The fruits of these beliefs are manifold. They consist in taking advantage of the slightest unrest — industrial, economic, social, religious or racial. The aim is to undermine, to lessen the resistance for the planned-for civil strife when it shall come.

If trouble arises in an industry, fertile ground for propaganda at once offers. The workers affected will find strangers suddenly in their midst, strangers more resentful of the workers’ grievances than the workers themselves. Inflammatory circulars and provocative speeches will be heard. Prospects for agreement or compromise vanish. Tension grows. At the crisis—and this is the history of Communist interference in labor troubles— there is violence. Arrests follow.

By now, common sense usually returns; the trouble is patched up; the workers return to their posts—and to the payroll —except those spurred on by Communist agitation to too headlong a part. They are out of a job, discontented, possibly converts to Communism, perhaps even the nucleus of a new group. Meanwhile the strangers who fomented them out of a job have quietly vanished.

Better yet, for the Communist purpose, is unemployment. A man who is hungry and cold and without hope is apt to grasp at any logic, no matter how perverse, if it promises relief. Nothing in the Communist argument points out the constant and increasing socialization of the present scheme. Utopia is described, and the short cut to it is revolution, looting. Of the wrongs that riots bring, of the shopkeepers who are to be looted, nothing is said.

This is why depression and hardship in capitalist countries are meat and drink to the roving Communist, to whom the tempering of argument with logic is anathema. Witness Rykoff, president of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars in the Soviet Union, suggesting that it might be more sensible for Russia to feed its own people before thinking about exporting foodstuffs. Rykoff was removed from his post. Lenin alone survived the broaching of strategic retreat. For all others it has been treason.

Continued on page 53

Continued from page 50

At this date it is unnecessary to enlarge on the reason for those exports to which Rykoff objected—the Five Year Plan. To modernize Russia, to make her not only sdf-sufficient but also able to proceed with her work of world revolution—this is the gist of the great objective. And in Canada the Communist Party, starting under the alias of the Workers’ Party, undertook its work of establishing cells in the body politic and industrial. At first it worked very secretly, but soon realized that the democracy of the Western world is a fact as well as a name, and that its members could actually expound their views freely without being clapped into a dungeon or shot.

Then they came into the open. They made an effort to control Canadian labor, centring especially on miners, only to fail completely after a certain flash of success. Their method is always the same—to stand on the side of the restless minority, striving to obtain control of a local, then the executive of an organization. Soon they set up a new union when the majority wake to the growing menace, and if their efforts to infiltrate fail, they try to form a counter organization.

Their latest attempt on these lines bears the name of the Workers’ Unity League. In conception it bears the usual grandiose Communist stamp. It is to be the parent organization, a One Big Union embracing all phases of industry, taking into its arms all forms of unorganized labor from laundress to farmer, and giving in return that high-sounding nomenclature which the Communist loves. The more divisions the more dues, but this Joseph’s coat of revolutionary labor is cut to fit only one figure—the Soviet robot.

100 Per Cent Destruction

AT THE moment, the most ambitious project in the history of Communism in Canada is under way—the attempt to capitalize the distress of the Western farmers, particularly those of foreign origin. Organizers and agitators have penetrated into remote districts where the foreign farmers predominate. Their paths have been strewn with howling crowds and disturbances when opposing factions clashed. Should this attempt succeed, the Communist Party will have been transformed overnight into the real menace which it aims to be. Its members have not had much to hearten them, for until the past year the disciples of Lenin’s doctrines had nothing but the leafless branches of its organization to show for eight years of activity among Englishand French-speaking Canadian labor. Even the Trades and Labor Congress expelled the Communist delegates at Windsor in 1929. A few months later, individual unions followed suit. Recently Tom Moore, workers’ friend, again emphatically disavowed Communism and all its works. In normal times, or even those only partly subnormal, the worker is too fond of his home, too ambitious for his own bank account, too individual, to be moved by the sort of fanatic who pleads for the importation of semi-Asiatic principles into our Western life.

But today we are enduring the greatest world depression of modern times, and the Communists, who are good at waiting, are heartened. Unemployment has turned thousands of normally sober-thinking workingmen into involuntary idlers. The injustice of it has made them naturally resentful of their unexpected state. This is, for the Communist, the red dawn at last.

This writer cannot go into the merits and faults of an economic system which is admittedly far from perfect but which seems to have grown out of the inherent desire of man to be a person and to own

things. It is a system, moreover, which is being perpetually molded to the uses of civilization and social justice. This system the Communist wishes to raze and start over again as in the times of Cain and Abel, and this paper must confine itself to showing just how far the Communist Party of Canada has got with its programme of 100 per cent destruction.

It has got far enough for the authorities to become alarmed, sporadically alarmed. They forbid demonstrations. The unemployed, having absorbed some of their eloquent leaders’ indignation, grow angry. The leaders rejoice and stage a further demonstration. The police intervene to prevent disturbance. Invariably the spark is supplied. Violence, broken heads, arrests, newspaper headlines result. Thousands of potentialrecruits to the cause have been earmarked. This is not an imaginary or isolated happening. Conflicts between Communists and the authorities in Toronto have had most publicity, but similar conflicts have occurred in Montreal, Sudbury, Port Arthur, Winnipeg, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. At each place there have been arrests, perhaps more arrests of participating non-Communists than the real stagers of the affair, the actual Communists. For once the hostilities begin, Communist leaders vacate the foreground and hasten to the citadel. Not from fear, but to preserve themselves from jail that they may be free to lead the bewildered workers to fresh demonstrations on the morrow.

Meanwhile the arrests of their satellites make red-letter days for the Communist party. Publicity is essential. Every published photograph is a help. A second line of women agitators is rushed to the front if the first line falls, for they reason that a woman can plead ill-treatment by the police and so develop sympathy. If she can be photographed with hair and clothing mauled, it is a triumph.

Then there are the court scenes, opportunities to shine in self-imposed rôles of champions to the oppressed. Under another alias—the Canadian Labor Defense League—they take up the cause of the arrested men, defend them, put up bail, and seize every filament of the affair as a thread of the noose they hope to wind around the capitalist neck.

Curiously enough, in this rôle they achieve the greatest measure of success. All the world, including that part which ordinarily shouts the loudest against the Communist ideals, develops an inexplicable tenderness for the Communist himself when the forces of order act to protect the public from actual injury to person or property. What these sentimentalists would do if Communism succeeded is hard to imagine; certainly they would get no sentimental handling in return. Much of the pother centres around “free speech.” Paradoxically, in Russia where Communism has had thirteen years to establish its institutions, free speech does not exist. Why, then, do Communists demand it here? And for the purpose of wrecking the institutions which gave it birth? This is irony indeed. And as such, it is unintelligible to, or hated by, revolutionists. The leaders of the Communist Party of Canada themselves are remarkably skilful in avoiding the actual syllables of sedition. If pressed, they go verbally underground.

During the recent months, not a week has passed without incidents of this nature occurring in the principal Canadian centres. Whirlwinds of sound were uttered from every stump, always in the stereotyped hatred for the capitalist. Yet when relief work made its appearance it was bitterly criticized. There was not enough of it, it was too hard, it was unnecessary. If unemployment should suddenly disappear, the Communist would be tragically fixed. There would be little tangible left to agitate for. It would be impossible to win new recruits.

If this seems overstated, consider the situation at Winnipeg when unemployment relief was undertaken. One project gave immediate employment to many men. The attendance at Communist meetings dwindled almost to nothing. What happened? Protests began to be heard at once to the effect that hand labor was being used when, if machinery were substituted, the cost would be a tenth. The Communist Party felt tricked. A contradiction must not be allowed to interfere with the stream of virulent declamation. It denounced unemployment, denounced the method of employment. Anything that exists under capital is wrong.

Atheism Taught to Children

'T'HE foregoing activities—the slow un-*• derground pressure, against the present system at its weakest points, coupled with overt acts and the rescue of the unfortunates arrested for such acts—would seem to be sufficiently far-reaching to satisfy the Communist zeal. Not so! And this brings us to the Young Communist League.

The Young Communist League is another offshoot from Moscow. Now, to ensure the success of the Plan, certain bourgeois obstacles had to be eliminated. One was the Church. The doctrines of Karl Marx were materialistic, the Church was spiritual—in theory anyway—and its members had their heads full of unwieldy doctrines such as Love Thy Neighbor, Thou Shalt Not Murder, and other softening precepts. The Church was an obstacle to the wholesale obliteration of the intelligentsia. It must go. And, with it, God.

So atheism became the state religion. Missionaries were set to work everywhere. But they preached Antichrist. They gathered children—being more impressionable than peasants—and taught them it was wicked to take religion, the “opium of the people.” They offered movies instead of the church. They abolished Sunday. It seems monstrous to take a defenseless child and train him to hate the spiritual origin of all things, but the Bolshevik knows no sensitiveness, and he has organized the blasphemous into a Society of the Godless. In Russia alone the Young Communist League has 12,000 branches, working in factory and town, proselytizing for Antichrist’s sake.. And this condition is on the slate for Soviet Canada. In Russia, thanks to “drives” and “mobilizations” and “weeks”, the natural enthusiasm of youth for revolt has been successfully harnessed; the new generation has been well grounded in the creed and works of Communism.

The question is, Shall we in Canada allow the Young Communist League here to achieve comparative success? For it is a growing concern, and from the long view a greater menace to our institutions than merely converted elders. It is organized and directed in the same way as the Communist Party, with membership in each district and an energy and daring that only youth can supply, ready to distribute pamphlets in the schools— as in Toronto—or fit into any plan or programme set for them by the invisible but active Third Internationale. Even the youngest children are not neglected They have their atheistic lessons and their games representing Moscow’s special attempt to counteract the influence of the Boy Scouts, the “subsidized” churches, and the “baneful militarizing influence” of the capitalistic world. This last is rather funny from Russia, where the transition from the cradle to the Red Army is pathetically brief.

Such, briefly considered, is the Communist Party of Canada. And if you are the average man you are saying “What oí it?” That is the attitude generally taken, the feeling that it will be time to worry when the names of the participants have an English sound. It is an attitude pleasing to Communists. They don’t mind being called “long-haired foreigners” if they are allowed to work subversively upon our institutions while we doze in a

warm and pleasant sense of security. But it is time to turn to see what influence they are actually exerting.

Communist Meeting Places

CCORDING to the 1921 census there were in Canada, other than British and French stock, about 1,500,000 people. Of this number the majority were good hard-working citizens, appreciating the

advantages and privileges which obtain under the laws of this country. But there were not far from half a million, many of whom had little or no appreciation of their Canadian citizenship, actual or potential, and these were and are peculiarly susceptible to the Soviet doctrines. Let us see how this works out:

Of the 6,000 members of the Communist Party of Canada probably not more than ten per cent are English speaking. Forty per cent are Ukrainians and Russians, forty per cent Finns, and ten per cent foreign-language Jews. A sprinkling of other nationalities merges with these parties. It is clear that if the support of these foreigners, this unassimilated lump in the body politic, were to be withdrawn from the Communists tomorrow, the Communist Party of Canada would automatically collapse.

Many of these foreigners enjoy two different rôles. They are members of the Communist Party and also members of their national associations. Although all foreigners, quite reasonably, have their clubs and societies, there are two of these nationality organizations which cannot be dismissed so lightly. I refer to the radical branches of the Ukrainians and Finns.

By the census of ten years ago there were 21,494 Finns in Canada. This number has greatly increased owing to the troubles which tore Finland into the two opposing factions, Reds and Whites. There are enough Red Finns in Canada to have exerted a deep influence on their countrymen already here.

The Finns are a hardy, virile, and aggressive people. In any community where the Red Finns predominate, the Whites have a sorry time of it. There have been boycotts, persecutions, even killings, as a result. The fact that these people engage principally in lumbering or other pursuits in remote districts renders their activities less easy to observe. But the activities proceed. Their national organization, known as the Finnish Organization, is the connecting link with official Communism. Its membership Í3 said to be in the neighborhood of 3,000, a large percentage of the whole nationality group.

Their newspaper, Vapaus, “Liberty”, published at Sudbury, is a daily with a circulation of 4,000. It was the editor of Vapaus who was prosecuted and convicted a few years ago for his seditious utterances about King George. But the editor deviated into less extreme views on cer-

tain policies, and was rewarded by expulsion a year later. Vapaus, like all the Communist press, prints matter that is surprisingly uniform with the emanations from Moscow.

In the larger centres the Finns have their own halte; in the frontier districts each farmhouse is a meeting-place. There the usual activities are in evidence. The men meet and speak of the great day to come when the capitalists and the bourgeoisie will be ground under the heels of the workers—meaning themselves. A grandeur complex is built up. Fervor grows. When the meeting breaks up, the members feel a step closer to its goal — universal wealth via universal loot.

The Red Finns’ womenfolk are also active, and the younger element become stalwarts in the Young CommunistLeague or Young Pioneers. They attend exciting melodramas in which the wicked capitalist succumbs to his fate in the shape of a lusty young Communist. The Red flag and the hammer and sickle are common decorations; the Internationale is a more satisfactory anthem to them than “God Save the King” or “0 Canada.”

Training Future Leaders

MUCH of this is Canada’s fault. These immigrants arrive. They cannot speak English. They flock together, unite in the business struggle, are outwitted by quicker minds, grow sullen, and become receptive to the nearest soviet “group.” Had these Finns been made to feel less the foreigner and more the Canadian— which, I admit, would have required time and bother and even self-sacrifice on the part of Canadians who had not asked them to come to Canada, anyway—then they would have been a less easy prey to Communist agitation. As it is, they are now a deep Red, and if Moscow orders actual revolution the backbone of the Red rioters will be the Red Finns.

And so with the radical element of the Ukrainians. If they lack the vigor of the Finns, they make up for it in numbers. As much as ten years ago there were 107,000 Ukrainians in Canada. This year’s census will show a large increase in this number, not a small percentage of the population in the provinces where they abound. Persecuted in the old land, they swarmed here and found liberty beyond their dreams. Some let it go to their heads, and now throw themselves into the revolutionary movement.

The Ukrainians are held together by an organization which, from the point of view of strength and activities, could give lessons to almost any other in Canada, the Ukrainian Labor Farmer Temple. The “Farmer” inset is an addition to the title within recent years, and represents the spread of the movement to purely agricultural districts. The headquarters are at Winnipeg, where the property assets are large. As with the Communist Party and the Finns, there are locals extending from Nova Scotia to British Columbia known as temples—in large centres an imposing building, in the less settled districts a modest frame house identified by the Russian inscription over the door. The total membership approaches 10,000, a part of whom are paid-up members of the Communist Party.

The activities are widely diversified. The Ukrainian feels most at home when off at a picnic. He must be dancing. He loves the old folk songs. His instinct for the drama is remarkable. But now these gatherings are a background for Communist propaganda, much of which comes from the old human habit of thinking that far hills are greenest. Russia is far; the daily chore is near. It is good to listen to promises of the millennium. Then they put their money in the plate. In fact, there is a widespread willingness to contribute to the Cause. Has there been a flood in Galicia? Brothers, kindly aid. Is there a temple to be erected? Communists, assist or be called faint-hearted. Finally, many mickles make a muckle.

As the Winnipeg headquarters control the assets mentioned, so do they control the activities of the temples. An institute at Winnipeg trains students to become organizers, disorganizers, speakers, and teachers in the temples throughout the country. I was amazed to discover the subterranean thoroughness which characterizes these activities. Even mandolin orchestras are organized, trained, and sent on tour to act as one more reason for gathering for the mid-concert address and the plate.

But as a means of propaganda these beacons pale into insignificance compared with the influence of the press of the association. It is composed of five periodicals. The principal one is the Ukrainian Labor News—ask for Ukrainsky Robitnichy — a general newspaper issued three times a week and with a circulation estimated at nearly 12,000. The Farmersky Joomia, with half this circulation, takes the place of the “Country Gentleman.” RobitnUzia, the “Working Woman,” goes out twice a month to the woman’s section of the U. L. F. T. Association, while the Boyova Molod, "Militant Youth,” serves the younger Ukrainians. When the flock is scattered, it can he seen how close a contact so thorough a press achieves. It is obvious, to judge by any known rules of circulation, that many outsiders must depend on these press channels for their news.

To read one page of Ukrainsky Robilnichy is to discover that the opinions and hopes of Moscow are driven home in every column. The editorial policy is built on two aims; to demolish current institutions,

; to erect Soviet policies in their place. No good word for the country in which they earn their living is permitted; no chance is neglected to estrange new arrivals from Canadians. The entire tone is subversive, arrogant, and an incitement to revolution.

Some years ago the U. L. F. T. Association decided that it was neglecting another source of income and created The Workers’ Benevolent Association, a sick and death benefit, society, which reaches out and attracts non-Communists or lukewarm sympathizers. The fees are low but they are many, and the annual statements show items which exceed the aims of the society as stated under “sick and death benefit,” being substantial donations to the Communist press.

A co-operative business concludes the current ventures of the U. L. F. T. A.

The Association would be a poor mirror of its Russian idol if it did not strike at the root of things by way of schools. “As the twig is bent” is their long-sighted motto, and this is put into effect by having a school after school hours wherever a temple has sufficient membership to hire a teacher. In this extra schooling the Ukrainian boys and girls study their native language, music, dancing, and Communist ideology. The texts from Russia, while now banned by our Government, get into the country and are spread by the native press. The course of instruction, being modelled on that of Soviet Russia, has no place for Christianity except as the butt for ridicule and blasphemy. Atheism rules, and while there is no law against atheism, a race of the godless, of children especially trained to revile their Creator, does not seem the happiest direction for Canadian youth to he tending. The teachers are comparatively able and are in an excellent position to select the more precocious of their charges as future instruments of the association’s aims. They are the foundations, continually broadening and deepening, of Communist work in Canada.

Advanced Training In Russia

'“PHIS, then, is a sketch of the two 4 pillars holding up the edifice of Communism throughout the Dominion. There are other nationalities engaged in the work of converting the Canadian proletariat to the Moscow model. The Jewish Communists rank next to the Finns and Ukrainians in ability, and they have a burning zeal. It is chiefly at Montreal,

Winnipeg and Toronto that they make themselves felt. Der Kamvf, “The Fight,” a Yiddish newspaper, is their medium of expression. It is intensely bitter toward the existing order.

No one can accuse these factions of insincerity. There is too little that is rosy in being a Communist in Canada to warrant the fanaticism displayed if it did not come from conviction, backed by Moscow sympathy and aid. Their leaders must see that they would be materially more comfortable and farther ahead if they were to devote to their occupations the same energy that is lavished daily upon the effort to bring about a Soviet Canada.

As is almost necessary in an Englishspeaking country, the real leaders of the Communist Party must be Englishspeaking. They are, in fact, either natives of the British Isles or men of foreign racial origin hailing from there. It is rare to encounter native-born Canadians—Englishor French-speaking—occupying high positions in the movement.

Perhaps half a dozen leaders direct affairs from Toronto headquarters; another dozen carry out these headquarters’ instructions in the various districts. In this number, if their public utterances are any criterion, there are few with any real ability, although most of them have a fervor which is compelling.

These men are better educated than most of their listeners, and have the advantage of direct inspiration from Russia. One of the clever policies has been to send the leaders to Russia, where at least one or two Canadian Communists5 have been stationed to interpret Canadian Communist progress and difficulties, acting as a link between the Party at home and the mother Communist International. One can imagine the potency in the words of one who has come from Lenin’s shrine and possibly Stalin’s presence. No wonder the ideology—their favorite word — is illuminated and strengthened.

In addition to this revitalizing of the leaders, constantly increasing numbers of Canadian Communists are being sent to Russia for training. These advanced recruits, the future leaders of the movement in Canada, spend from six months to a year or so in Moscow, receiving instructions to fit them for their Party tasks. Dozens of the leading spirits among the Finns and Ukrainians have lately had this advantage, and the enthusiasm they show, on returning, for the conditions and the plans of Russia is strongly reminiscent of a Canadian immigration prospectus.

Nor must it be thought that people who might be ranked with the intelligentsia are devoid of this enthusiasm. It grows, it spreads. And just at present, when conditions are ripest for discouragement in other countries, it seems that Russia is increasing its efforts. Does Russia believe that the capitalist world will not endure another year of the current depression without the workers rebelling? Does it mean that the Soviet Union is willing to continue its programme of forced labor— male, female, and child—without proper food, shoes or suitable clothing, in order

to accelerate Russian development so as to make sharp the contrast between their success and capital’s failure? It would seem so. Hence these mock trials over the radio to bolster up the slackening zeal at home; hence the flood of statements as to the success of the Five Year Plan; hence Stalin’s words to the Russian workers with which we began this article.

And what is the result of all this effort in Canada? What should be our attitude?

The result, it must seem, cannot be as disastrous as Moscow hopes. There is something too repugnant in the idea of a sinisterly aloof semi-Asiatic force sitting back in Moscow and pulling the strings. The British element is too strongly settled in its ideas of personal initiative, of personal freedom, and of possession. The French-Canadian element is even more opposed, temperamentally and religiously, to communist doctrines.

There remains the large foreign bloc; that is the danger. For Canada cannot prosper with its house divided against itself, or even separated into thirds. Strikes, riots, even civil war are not inconceivable by one who watches the spread of sovietism under the disturbed surfaces of our civilization. Taxes increase; unemployment flourishes.

Our attitude, it seems to me, should be a clear-eyed and reasonable one, firm, but sympathetic and explanatory. After all, there is nothing sacred about capitalism. It is a living and changeable system, and if it cannot iron out the contemporary tragedy of acute poverty—not inequality, which will never be ironed out, as the latest Soviet edict for a graduated wage has just admitted—then the system must be changed. But the point seems to be that capitalism is changing, that opportunity is broadening, that the trend is right. I think this Soviet scare is beneficial, barking at the heels of the capitalist and speeding up urgent reforms. Real progress is being made in the matter of wages, insurance, profit-sharing, of the socialization of this earth and the fullness thereof.

But I am unalterably opposed to the ideals of the Soviets and their terrible methods of realization. That is why I think a little more publicity as to the dangerous hidden currents is salutary. If we can understand what is being done under our noses, the better for the country. If the misguided pseudo-economists who are trying to undermine our institutions could understand what is being don«5 in the way of substantial progress, they might drop this enthusiasm for the ways of the Slav, the Cossack, and the Tartar, which are not our way. And if they will not drop it, then let us send them back to the paradise they crave which is alreadv well under way in Russia. If they are not yet naturalized, they can go at once. If they are naturalized, they can be denaturalized and sent in short order. For this country is too fair, our prospects are too inspiring, to have them set back a decade or a generation by these agents of the Soviet despotism in our midst.