First Published: Progressive Worker Vol 2. No. 5, March 1966
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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On Sunday night, January 23, the local cast for the Communist Party of Canada arrayed itself at Exhibition Gardens in Vancouver. The chairman, Mr. Stewart, described the occasion as a reporting session on Vietnam – although many of the attendant two thousand must have wondered what answer should appear to that grave and urgent question under which this assembly had been publicized, the question of how we might act to end the war now destroying South-East Asia. Those of us who regard seriously the present tendencies of American imperialism, an imperialism entering its most perilous and crucial phase, had been sceptical that any “socialist rally” in Vancouver could state a valid policy for the triumphant conclusion of the National Liberation War in Vietnam. Nevertheless, we did hope – however faintly, that the “reporters,” Mr. Rush and Mr. Buck, might seek to interpret the Vietnamese conflict, i.e., to relate it to the current process of socialist growth and capitalist militarism. We were disappointed; our sincere wish for the effect of this assembly was quite in vain. We are now angry.
The very fact that a couple of thousand citizens would care to attend a purportedly communistic meeting in Vancouver serves, to suggest how intense for them has become the need to understand and remove the force’s now evident within U.S. neo-fascism. Our Sunday audience was altogether attentive and receptive – there were no disrupters, and few who were not actually eager to consider, perhaps to adopt, a direct line of action. Many students among that throng were notably curious and keen. All such, ardent and potent representatives of the Canadian people were sadly betrayed by the men who supposedly embody some part of the progressive movement in this country.
Mr. Buck, Mr. Rush, and the other platform revolutionaries all sat beneath a printed slogan which “advised” American forces to leave Vietnam. Or maybe the bravely displayed words were a threat! Yes, it could be so, that the Canadian comrades are so far removed from a correct appraisal and utilization of mass forces that they believe the U.S. government will shiver to hear their mild squeaks and soft groans of protest. May I inform such delicate comrades that the blowing of humanitarian trumpets in Vancouver will never make the Pentagon walls tumble! Of course, it may well be that certain esteemed spokesmen for “socialism” derive a sweet comfort from repeating empty, misty phrases and almost embracing each other in a frenzy of exhibitionist outrage. Such men are so quick to show us how sensitive, how aware they are. There is no platform too low for them to crawl across, if they are merely allowed space to waggle their sad heads and pound their puny fists upon some hollow word.
The practical content of this silly Sabbath was the collection of nearly $2,500 for medical aid to Vietnam. Let us notice the proper, comfortable attitude in such a program: “We may not, O Vietnamese heroes, work to hinder and halt U.S. aggression – but allow us to be the first to lick the wounds we permit you to suffer. O let us redeem ourselves by this fraternal act, the rare taste of our superiority shown in your charred flesh. Have mercy on us, dear comrades, and never ask too much ... Do not presume on our force and efficacy, but struggle, bleed, break for us!”
Two thousand five hundred dollars is the current market price on the conscience of the Communist Party of Canada.
And what of the real concern that had to brought this meeting so many of our young citizenry? How should they regard the contemptible antics occurring on that infamous stage? Those who cared for analysis, who required facts and terms, were thoroughly rejected. That absurd slogan about removing American forces from Vietnam could please no one except those using it to conceal their own dullness and cowardice. Is this high point of present radical thought in Canada – that a war will end if one side will be kind enough to quit ? How true! How brave! And is that to be our only phrase, the futile utterance of childish simplicities? Have the Communists forgotten why the U.S. is in South-East Asia? Have they forgotten the ravenous and Violent nature of decadent capitalist society? Do they ignore the relevant comments of Lenin? Indeed, have the “communists” forgotten communism?
It is not enough for Mr. Buck and Mr. Rush to exult in fond memories of their “old friend,” Ho Chi Minh. It is totally inadequate for them to indulge in righteous out cries against war atrocities. It is for too little to let ourselves off with a few cash offers, the waving of yellow silk tokens and a gentle farewell to revolutionary action may it be forever prosperous and faraway!
We must finally inquire why the Communist Party of Canada will not advocate critical analysis and effective deeds in relation to the Vietnam affair. Why will they seldom confront issues, and never challenge them?
My answer is that the CPC is no longer a revolutionary proletarian movement. Generally, its members will prefer any graceless and shameless pose to the acceptance of this dangerous and accurate notion: Action that can help the Vietnamese people is action against American imperialism, and action against American imperialism is popular revolution in this Canadian land. For anyone who has denied socialistic progress among our people, it will be impossible to favour and support such progress anywhere in this world. Most Canadian Communists seem to accept security and ease inside our vile social order in return for their implicit agreement not to prevent brutal oppressions and horrors of the world-wide capital front and U.S. militarism.
The only result is that, as a result of their tacit admittance here of the financial and social establishment, Canadian Communists can nowhere proceed effectively and sincerely in relation to any radical body on earth. In fact, for these sorry revisionists to comprehend the international schemes of imperialism would be to see their own subservience, their personal failure to free themselves for revolutionary conquests. Consequently, they must be content to repeat trite pacifist themes, mutter about educating the masses and shrewdly pass their coin-plates.
Our position should be to recognize the unity of all popular victories. It is hateful and foolish to act as if Communism is a remote variety of social reform, applicable to Asian peasants, yet impossible for ourselves. Surely events now occurring impel us to identify more and more rapidly various pre-revolutionary signs as a guide to meaningful conduct.
And quite as surely, anyone who feels convinced of the justice and sanity evinced by our society will never be able to discern and present a relevant Marxist program for any other segment of humanity! How could our party revisionists act honestly and vigorously toward peoples who are, in effect, suppressed by the very qualities of our socio-economic structure, the structure which they, the pseudo-radicals, seek to preserve?
In factors of individual achievement. the “backward’ peoples now engaged in liberation battles against U.S. imperialism have surpassed us, for they have suffered and known the world impulse of impending fascist assaults. Those who sense directly the inhumane onslaught of our society are more and more to assess our masters and their agents than we, we who are every day in the most ruinous peril of entire dispiritment in mortal and final peril just as long as we fear the narrow, dark, but proud road to justice, progress and peace for Mankind.