The past year has been one of great difficulty for our organization. Not only did we suffer the loss of our teacher and comrade LEON TROTSKY but immediately after the outbreak of war, contact with our western groups ceased and while actual defections in the league were few, none the less, our organization, particularly in the top committees, was paralyzed for almost 9 months with no press or directives and but few group meetings. Only through the intense interest of several comrades was the league able to rally together again.
There has been in the past a definite tendency to gloss over many of our more intense interna1 difficulties; to smooth over important issues-this can no longer be tolerated. The past year of inactivity points to the vital necessity of coming to grips with our problems-the most alarming, the most vital to the continued existence and expansion of our group, is our social composition.
The instability of our group, the ebb and flow of its energies, is due by and large to its social composition. The Canadian section of the 4th lnternational in spite of its program has never integrated itself in the working class organizations. This has been due to some extent to persecution by the Stalinists, Social Democrats and Bourgeoisie. None the less little has been done, particularly in the past four years to break away from a study class atmosphere and to proletarianize the league. Today we are paying the price. While the number of strikes and lookouts soars higher, while the Canadian trade unions plunge into new fields, and while capitalism both democratic and fascist reels in agony and the decay of her organisms is laid open to become a foul stench in the nostrils of the world-we who bear the responsibility for the construction of the new world impotently stand by on the side lines.
With the public activities of a study group; street corner meetings, paper distribution, open forums, cut off by the Defence of Canada Regulations we find our hands tied and our discussions on the fine points of social science seem weak stuff as the cost of living rises rapidly, youth is conscripted into the army, and the most elementary democratic rights slide by the board.
How can we break from our isolation? How can we utilize our program-a program hammered out under the fires of the Commune and the Russian Revolution, tested under the flames that consume Germany, China, Spain? How can we bring that program to the Canadian workers? Not by setting ourselves up as advisors or educators of the workers, not as historians or social theorists, but as workers ourselves-as one of them, one who fights in their fights, whose life is their life. The problems of the nature of the Russian state, dialectics, etc. interest ourselves, and the Canadian workers all the more so, only in so far as they are related to our lives, our struggles. We who understand—these problems and the value of the understanding of them must make them live issues to the workers, the only class which can be truly progressive and the class on which we must build our base. Where are the workers? In the factories, organized and unorganized. In the trade unions, craft and industrial. There must we be.
As the war becomes prolonged the pressure of bourgeois propaganda becomes more severe. Those comrades who are not in working class surroundings, those comrades whose socialism is only a small part of their everyday life, an idle intellectual enjoyment, a Sunday evening pastime, are most subject to this intense pressure. Apathy and cynicism are reflections of this pressure in our organization. Some of our groups are already dangerously infected with these germs. In order to defend ourselves, in order to maintain the organization even as it now stands, numerically small, we must take immediate steps to proletarianize our ranks. Small businessmen, office workers, clerks, due to the social atmosphere that they breathe are the groups most subject to this alien class pressure-the workers in the factories the least. To proletarianize the league has, as has been pointed out, two purposes: 1--to enable us to spread our ideas more effectively among the workers, 2--in order to counteract bourgeois propaganda on our membership, but there is also a third-in order to protect our ranks from police terrorism. Empowered by the so-called Defence of Canada Regulations the police can and do intern anyone they see fit. This threat hangs over the heads of nearly all our comrades. Our best defence is to be deep in the Canadian labor movement. Our contacts being workers, with interests parallel to our own, even though they perhaps disagree with our ideas will recognize their solidarity with us, thus the possibility of being informed on becomes less and the police, because of the danger of repercussions will be more hesitant to use their powers. And if we are faced with internment the mask of bourgeois democracy is wrenched off to hundreds of workers.
The fact that our group has remained numerically stable since the outbreak of war is not in many cases a sign of our ideological unity. The sharpening of the world crisis caused in our American movement a split which separated the proletarian core from the talk-fest, do-nothing petit-bourgeois fringe. The Canadian movement is likewise not without petit-bourgeois elements, but every comrade must see to it that this sentiment, that this attitude towards our movement is wiped out-this can be done most effectively by an active program of proletarianization. Comrades can no longer be permitted to retain membership in the league without proving the conviction of their ideas in action. We, the Canadian Section of the 4th International, are standing at the cross roads. Are we going to build the organization that will lead the Canadian workers to power? We have the cadres and possess the program. Let us make it our program. Let us take it to the workers-into the co-operatives, the trade unions-the organizations of the proletariat.
Some of our comrades rationalize their position, their inactivity and the weakness of our league, by recalling the Winnipeg General Strike and other revolutionary upheavals which seemed more or less spontaneous and had no party leadership—“Well perhaps after all a party won’t be necessary or the party will rise out of these situations.” Comrades-history has proven the falsity of these rationalizations. Without the Bolsheviks there would have been no Soviet Union. Without a revolutionary socialist party there will be no successful social revolution. Witness the collapse of Spain. We must build the Canadian bolshevik party now and it must be a party with its roots deep in the working class.
To proletarianize our ranks in some cases difficulties will have to be overcome. But the main difficulty, that of getting jobs in industry has already been overcome by the enormous growth of the war industries. Employment in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia is at its maximum in the twenty years that statistics are available. More and more opportunities to get jobs in factories are opening up particularly since conscription of the twenty-one year old class for home defence has come into effect. The government has even opened up training schools so that we can learn a trade. The future growth of our organization depends on you and you.. Each group must give serious thought to the problem of its social composition and take immediate steps to remedy it. Act now! We are not doomed forever, as (some) comrades (seem to) think, to isolation and an advisory critical capacity to the working class movement. No! We are the Canadian Bolsheviks. We have the program that can bring socialism to Canada. Our program is Lenin’s program and our Transitional demands can rally the Canadian Workers and Farmers to our movement just as “Land, Peace and Bread” rallied the Russian Workers and Peasants to the Bolsheviks. But to utilize our program which has been given to us with such tremendous sacrifice of life, to build a Bolshevik party and to bring socialism to Canada, we members of the Socialist Workers League must plunge into the working class movement.
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