Spark 22 Released

     Issue 22 of The Spark!, the Marxist theoretical and discussion journal of the Communist Party of Canada, is now on sale.

     This issue features a timely article by Toronto communist activist Catherine Holliday, on "Race and Class Bias in Law-Enforcement Agencies in Late Capitalist States." As Holliday says, "the persistent phenomenon of race and class bias in the capitalist legal system can be witnessed by anyone who attends the courts for a few days and watches the process in action."

     But the author goes beyond anecdotal observation, providing a fascinating overview of the many reports and inquiries into police use of force in Canada, with particular focus on the situation in Ontario. The data she presents include figures on "deaths occurring at initial encounter with law enforcement officers."

     This topic is highly relevant, considering that such deaths averaged about five per year in Ontario between 1988 and 2003, but then tripled to sixteen per year during 2004-2007. While Aboriginal people form just 2% of the population of Ontario, they accounted for a shocking 11% of such deaths at the hands of police during the thirty years ending in 2008. Similarly, 30% of such deaths were among the Black population of Ontario, who account for 21% of residents in the Greater Toronto Area, and much less in the rest of the province.

     Holliday analyses the root causes of such discrepancies, especially the myth of white supremacy which is linked to the capitalist drive to expand profits and spheres of influence. She urges "active support (for) groups and communities who challenge the armed repressive forces of the state" as well as "honest efforts" to implement civilian oversight of the police, "while remaining aware that only social revolution will bring complete justice."

     Another important feature of Spark #22 is the document "For a Québec Solidaire people's government." Readers in English-speaking Canada will find this piece a welcome insight into the debate over policy directions within Québec's left party, which is represented in the National Assembly by Amir Khadir and polls about 6-7% in recent opinion surveys.

     This contribution was originally submitted to a QS policy review by members of the Communist Party of Québec, the section of the Communist Party of Canada based in that nation. The Québec Communists, who have been active in QS since its origins, argue that the party must prioritize "the interests of the great majority of the people and break the domination of finance capital" by adopting an openly anti-capitalist programme. This approach differentiates the Communists from some left forces in Québec which place the struggle for independence ahead of class and social issues.

     "Trade Unions Under Socialism: Perestroika Revisited", by British Communist John Foster, looks back at discussions which took place during a visit by a UK trade union delegation to the USSR in 1987. As Foster concludes, in hindsight the discussions reveal a couple of important points, starting with the fact that "at the outset of perestroika the economy was not itself in crisis." While the economy was seen to be "underperforming," the Soviet Union provided a vast range of free social services and other advantages to working people.

     Second, the Soviet participants in these discussions did not see any social base for capitalist counter-revolution in their country. As the author says, when leading figures within the CPSU initiated policies that were objectively anti-socialist, these were accepted by many as an antidote for apathy and passivity. Events quickly moved beyond the ability of pro-socialist forces to control, with disastrous results.

     Other items in this issue include an editorial by Dan Goldstick, recalling the Stockholm Peace Appeal of the 1950s; a reprint of Annie Buller's 1945 article "Women in Canada at war"; several excellent book reviews; and a "Marxist IQ" test.

     The Spark! is available for $5 per copy (or $12 for a three-issue subscription), from 290A Danforth Ave.TorontoONM4K 1N6, tel. 416-469-2446.