First Published: In Struggle! No. 274, December 1, 1981
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The fact that there is wide interest in the crisis in the Marxist-Leninist movement and the crisis of socialism generally was demonstrated last week when more than a hundred people packed into a Vancouver church hall to discuss the forum topic “Political crisis facing revolutionary organizations”/
IN STRUGGLE! secretary-general Charles Gagnon opened the forum with a presentation on the history of IN STRUGGLE!, the situation in the international, communist movement, and the crisis in our Organization.
Gagnon traced the history of IN STRUGGLE! from its creation by a small number of people uniting around the manifesto For a Proletarian Party up to the present crisis. Many people have become demoralized, due in part to the results of the Quebec referendum and the fragmentation of the Marxist-Leninist movement following the death of Mao.
To resolve the crisis “the first thing is to face the social and political reality of the world today”, Gagnon said. The Marxist-Leninist movement has failed to make a concrete analysis of the world situation and has overemphasized the revolutionary character of certain struggles. It has a simplistic view of class relations and a dogmatic way of looking at society, he said.
Gagnon told the meeting that the road communists must take is clear: we must fully support the struggles of the oppressed and exploited in Canada and internationally and we must reassess the history of the communist movement so that it can become a real alternative. “This won’t be done by transposing what has been said and done in the past”, he added.
A lively discussion period followed Gagnon’s presentation with individuals from several different political trends participating in the debate. Questions and comments ranged from the need to reassess the role of Stalin to the question of intermediate organizations (IN STRUGGLE!’s participation in groups like IWDC in Toronto and Bread & Roses in Vancouver), and to working with social-democrats in mass organizations. Several participants took issue with Gagnon’s assertion that the workers’ movement is in decline, citing the large number of militant strikes, especially in B.C., over the past year.
A supporter of IN STRUGGLE! touched off another debate when he said that the solution to the crisis is to be found in re-examining the Organization’s many “rules and regulations”. Several people responded to oppose the view that the main problems are organizational, arguing that political differences are at the root of the crisis.
Gagnon concluded the forum saying that IN STRUGGLE! can face the crisis with confidence and will emerge better able to contribute to those looking for a revolutionary political alternative.
“Alternative ways women organize for their emancipation” is the topic of the next forum to he held in Vancouver on Thursday, December 10. It will begin with a panel discussion between Jackie Larkin, member of Bread and Roses (and ex-member of the RWL); Lee Lakeman, a member of the Vancouver Rape Relief collective; and two IN STRUGGLE! member, Drena McCormack and Gilles Malaarich.