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In 1848, Karl Marx and Frederich Engels published The Communist Manifesto, in which they foresaw the overthrow of the bourgeois, or middle class, by the proletariat, or working class. This treatise and their six-volume Das Kapital: A Critique of Political Economy never became popular reading during Marx's lifetime. They did, however, greatly influence the course of history in Russia starting in 1917 and abroad after World War II. Even in Canada, Marx and Engels' theories had a profound if short-lived influence. After World War I, a number of labour groups adopted communism into their platforms. They staged demonstrations and incited fear among their employers and supervisors. Fears of Communism came to a head with the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Lasting from May 15 to June 25, it was the largest strike of a series in Canada, and pitted the largely middle-class Anglo-Saxon management against the largely eastern European working-class - which, ironically, was lead by many Anglo-Saxon trade and union representatives. Nor was it necessarily a Communist movement, possibly having closer ties to the British tradition of trade unionism and political radicalism. Nevertheless, it played on public fears of Communism, and management blamed the workers' strike on Bolsheviks.

The General Strike left a legacy of bitterness and controversy, and sympathetic strikes broke out across the country, but were soon quashed. The One Big Union, which sought to unite all working-class people in North America, soon fell apart and was replaced by less militant socialist labour unions and political parties. The socialist Cooperative Commonwealth Federation was formed in Calgary in 1932, but it did not become a significant contender for political power in the province.

Winnipeg Strike

Winnipeg Strike