Montreal Marxist
Winter School 2023
Feb 18-19

Montreal Marxist
Winter School 2023

February 18-19, 2023

class needs a
revolutionary party

In 1938, Leon Trotsky said: "The historical crisis of humanity is reduced to the crisis of revolutionary leadership." As the crisis of capitalism deepens, pushes millions of people into misery and threatens the survival of the planet, these words are even more true today. In recent years, we have seen revolutionary movements in many countries, but due to the lack of revolutionary leadership, these movements ultimately ended in defeat. It is therefore urgent to build a revolutionary party that can intervene in the labour movement and among the youth. The revolutionary organization is a vital weapon in the fight to overthrow this rotten system and establish a socialist society, based on the needs of the majority, rather than the profits of a minority.

To guide us in this task, the Montreal Marxist Winter School has become over the years an unparalleled educational event for revolutionary activists from across the country and beyond. Last year, our online edition brought together nearly 1200 participants. For this 13th edition of the event, we hope to gather 400 participants, in person, in Montreal to discuss the methods, ideas and historical lessons which can guide us in the building of the revolutionary party.

As Trotsky once said, ideas without organization are like a knife without a blade. This is why Fightback/La Riposte socialiste, the Canadian section of the International Marxist Tendency, exists and makes the fight for political clarity our number one priority. One socialist activist alone can accomplish nothing. But under a common banner, with a common program and ideas, we can have an immensely greater impact than as isolated activists.

Fight for the socialist revolution!

Build the revolutionary party!

Discussion topics and readings

Discussion topics

This year’s school will feature eight inspiring discussions to choose from. All discussions will be presented in French and English with consecutive translation.

Select a topic from the list below or scroll down to see all topics.

Suggested readings

Here are some suggested readings for those who wish to prepare for the event. You will also find recommended readings for each session. Reading them is optional and the event is friendly to all audiences, regardless of your background! (English and French options are included. Some texts are only available in one language.)

What Is To Be Done? The Bolshevik / Menshevik Split

Saturday, Feb 18th at 9:00am EST

Presented by Alex Grant, editor of Fightback

The history of Bolshevism has many vital lessons for today’s revolutionaries – particularly regarding the origins of the revolutionary party that led the masses to victory in Russia. At the second congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party in 1903, the famous split between the majority (Bolsheviks) and minority (Mensheviks) took place. Many myths and distortion surround this split. It is often wrongly alleged the Mensheviks stood for a ‘democratic’ and ‘decentralized’ party, in opposition to Lenin’s ‘ultra-centralist’ and ‘authoritarian’ tendencies. In reality, this split on organizational questions was an anticipation of future political differences, which will lead the Mensheviks to betray the revolution.

Suggested readings

Marx versus Bakunin: History of the First International

Saturday, Feb 18th at 2:00pm EST

Presented by Julien Arseneau, from the editorial board of La Riposte socialiste

The foundation of the First International by Marx was a gigantic step in the history of the labour movement, paving the way for the growth of working class mobilization and the spread of Marxism throughout the world. Marx and Engels, however, had to carry on a fierce struggle for political clarity, especially against the anarchist ideas of Bakunin and his followers, who maneuvered against the democracy of the International under the guise of fighting against Marx's so-called authoritarianism.

Suggested readings

The Spanish Revolution of 1936

Saturday, Feb 18th at 2:00pm EST

Presented by Erik Demeester, editor of Révolution and Vonk, the newspapers of the Belgian section of the International Marxist Tendency

Franco carried out a coup in Spain in July 1936. The workers rallied to organize and arm themselves to run the economy and effectively confront the fascist rebellion. The Spanish working class fought courageously, but lacked a genuinely revolutionary party and leadership. Their leaders entered the bourgeois Popular Front government and became the main obstacle in the path of the revolution. The deep wounds of the conflict are still keenly felt today as the contradictions remain unresolved in Spanish society. What can we learn from the sacrifices of the Spanish working class to apply to our struggle today?

Suggested readings

Lessons from the Indonesian Revolution

Saturday, Feb 18th at 2:00pm EST

Presented by Ted S, activist with Fightback in Alberta

In the 1950s the Indonesian economy was failing, with the division between rich and poor increasing sharply. At the same time the PKI, the Communist Party of Indonesia, grew to the third largest Communist Party in the world, with three million paid members and the support of ten million trade unionists and organized peasants. Sadly this explosive combination ended in the massacre of 1 million communists in 1965. Indonesia is a graphic example of how mistakes in theory have dire consequences.

Suggested readings

In Defence of a Revolutionary Press

Sunday, Feb 19th, at 9:00am EST

Presented by Benoit Tanguay, from the editorial board of La Riposte socialiste

In his classic, "What is to be Done" Lenin explained the role of the paper in building the revolutionary party. Though the Bolsheviks were built around the press, some on the left today question if Lenin’s advice holds true for the 21st century. Does the digital age make the workers' press irrelevant, or is it more crucial than ever for the working class to have an independent voice?

Suggested readings

The Struggle for a Workers Party in the US

Sunday, Feb 19th, at 9:00am EST

Presented by Tom Trottier, from the editorial board of Socialist Revolution, the newspaper of the American section of the International Marxist Tendency

Millions of workers and young people in the U.S. are fed up with the two parties of the capitalist class: the Republicans and the Democrats. But in the absence of a mass labor party, voters have a limited choice between voting for one of the ruling class parties, voting for a tiny third party or simply to abstain. But why isn't there a mass labor party in the United States? Why have past attempts to create one failed? What lessons can we learn from history to change this in the future?

Suggested readings

Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse?

Sunday, Feb 19th, at 9:00am EST

Presented by Jules Legendre, member of the editorial board of Révolution, the newspaper of the French section of the International Marxist Tendency

The October Revolution was the greatest event in human history. The working class expropriated the exploiters and began the socialist transformation of society. Yet what ended up being built in the USSR was not socialism but a dreadful caricature of socialism. Due to the isolation of the revolution and the underdeveloped economy it inherited from tsardom, an oppressive and corrupt bureaucracy took hold. And still, despite this huge roadblock the planned economy of the USSR achieved great advances in terms of development and social gains. So what happened to the Soviet Union in 1991? Did it fail because socialism simply cannot work? Understanding the Soviet Union and why it collapsed is vital for anyone fighting for socialism today.

Suggested readings

Ted Grant and the Fourth International

Sunday, Feb 19th, at 1:30pm EST

Presented by Fred Weston, editor of In Defence of Marxism, the website of the International Marxist Tendency

The assassination of Trotsky in August 1940 dealt a devastating blow to the young and untested forces of the Fourth International. Unfortunately, the leaders of the Fourth were not up to the level of the tasks posed by history. Deprived of Trotsky's leadership they made a series of fundamental mistakes. Only the leadership of the RCP in Britain was able to readjust to the new situation on a world scale after 1945. This was the result of the theoretical capabilities of Ted Grant. His writings on economics, war, the colonial revolution, and particularly Stalinism, were, and still remain, classics of modern Marxism.

Suggested readings


Please read all of the following information carefully before purchasing your tickets.


For information on affordable accommodations, please click here. Participants are encouraged to book as soon as possible as spots are limited, and there are no hostel books reserved specifically for Winter School participants.

Ticket prices

The base price for the school is $120 for Montrealers and $60 for people from outside Montreal. This price includes lunch and dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday.

The base price is fixed to cover the expenses of the event, which have increased dramatically in comparison to past years. Since we need a larger space to accommodate this many people, the associated rental costs are particularly high. We also need to increase our budget for food to keep up with inflation. We also need to spend money on travel expenses for international presenters, whose participation enriches the political discussion. Finally, because we do not want finances to be a barrier to participation, we are allocating a certain amount to accommodate participants who would not be able to pay the full cost.