First Published: People’s Canada Daily News, Vol 6, No. 11, January 30, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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When Literature and Ideology was founded at the annual conference of the Necessity for Change Institute of Ideological Studies (which was held alongside the founding conference of the Canadian Student Movement) in Montreal in 1968, the stage of revolutionary organising in Canada was in a very primitive stage. The betrayal of Marxism-Leninism and the espousal of modern revisionism by the so-called “Communist” Party had left the working class without their own proletarian party, without a leader and commander. Various opportunist forces calling themselves “Marxist-Leninists” and “followers of Chairman Mao” were opposed to taking up the task of rebuilding the Party on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tzetung Thought. As a consequence, all kinds of opportunism ran rampant in the revolutionary mass movement.
But while the state of revolutionary organising was at a low level, and the opportunists were determined that it would remain so. The mass sentiment for revolution was very high. It was a time of great ferment and turmoil. The youth and students, in particular, were building a powerful mass movement against the decadent bourgeois educational system and a movement in support of the national liberation struggle of the Indochinese people and against U.S imperialist war and aggression. Both the revisionists of the old type and the opportunists going by the name of “Marxist-Leninists” opposed taking up the task of providing conscious leadership to this upsurge in the youth and student movement. In fact, they provided active misleadership instead. the Canadian revisionists, loyal to Moscow, fought tooth and nail to prevent the discussion of the real aggressive nature of U.S. imperialism as the cause in Indochina and the danger of world war in general. The opportunists calling themselves “Marxist-Leninists” collaborated with the revisionists by opposing the dissemination of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung thought among the youth and students. The two types of opportunists together gave their support to all kinds of fraudulent opportunist individuals and trends. The responsibility of providing conscious leadership to the youth and student movement, and ultimately, the responsibility for building the proletarian parts, fell on the shoulders of the Internationalists (Marxist-Leninist Youth and Student Movement).
In May 1968, the Internationalists were reorganised in Montreal. One of the first tasks that they immediately began was to work to prepare conditions for the successful organising of the founding conference of the Canadian Student Movement in December of that year.
The Internationalists, under the leadership of Comrade Hardial Bains, were alone among all of those calling themselves Marxist-Leninists to point out the real significance of the upsurge in the youth and student movement. They pointed out that the core of the youth and student movement was deep-going hatred and opposition to U.S. imperialism and the monopoly capitalist class and that the student movement was therefore an integral part of the struggle of the Canadian working class and people against U.S. imperialist domination and the monopoly capitalist system.
At the same time, the Internationalists were the only force that took up the responsibility to point out the sinister significance of the so-called “counter-culture” offensive launched with U.S. imperialism at its centre and with the approval of Soviet social-imperialism and various brands of opportunism encouraging its growth. This so-called “counter-culture” was nothing else than U.S. imperialist culture in its most degenerate form. It was an attempt on the part of U.S. imperialism to confuse and erase the true path of progress for the world’s people that was being brilliantly illuminated by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. The “counter-culture” was really the culture of world counter-revolution and an attempt to divert the revolutionary sentiment and the rebellious feelings of the youth in the capitalist and revisionist countries and to lead them away from adopting the cause of the proletariat and oppressed nations and the genuine culture of world revolution.
In the course of leading many struggles among the youth and students, from being in the thick of the mass movement there, the Internationalists from 1963 onwards, had gradually come to grasp Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought as their guide to action. They were inspired tremendously by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China and enthusiastic to apply Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought as a weapon in overcoming the evil effects of imperialist culture. They pointed out that those who claimed to lead the struggle to change the world should themselves be the representatives of the most advanced and scientific attitudes of the new world led by the proletariat. Their members fought to make the most radical rupture with everything bourgeois, including bourgeois methods of thinking and bourgeois social relations. They correctly saw the so-called “counter-culture” as the opposite of everything progressive in the world, as merely a new form of cultural aggression on an unprecedented scale aimed at reducing youth to passive acceptance of the values and life style of imperialist society.
The history of the Internationalists since 1963 was one of leading and encouraging the students in resistance to the disintegrating effects of imperialist culture and life style. The main form of this resistance was the promotion in student circles of serious discussion of various questions in philosophy, science, social science, society and world affairs. These discussion groups in themselves were a slap in the face to the bourgeois authorities on the part of the students. They provided a core around which all the progressive elements among the students could gravitate and unite. Alongside these activities, the Internationalists also led students to take various political stands, especially in support of the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations and people. In this way, the Internationalists fought to advance the positive elements of the rebellion of the youth and students and to overcome the negative side.
This was all that could be accomplished in the early part of the 1960’s. But the opportunists sneered at this activity, and demanded nothing less than the struggle for ’socialism’ right now. As a consequence, they organised nothing.
During the course of the upsurge in the late 1960’s, one group of opportunists, taking their cue from CIA ’Marxists’ like Herbert Marcuse, ran to the extreme of proclaiming that only the students could bring about a utopia and that they could do so all on their own without coming under the leadership of the working class. Opportunists of another stripe ran to the opposite extreme, downplayed the significance of the youth and student movement and sneered: “What can a bunch of students dot” Between them, the two types of opportunists created as much confusion as possible and tried to make sure that nothing of value would come out of the student movement.
Only the Internationalists dared to organise the students to embrace the world outlook of the proletariat, to adopt Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought as a guide to action and to work actively for the building of the patty of the proletariat. Without the leadership of the Internationalists in that period, the opportunists would have succeeded in preventing the establishment of a permanent contingent of the proletariat in the universities and educational institutions in Canada.
Literature and Ideology was one of the products of the struggle led by the Internationalists to establish just such a contingent of the proletariat in the universities and educational institutions. The anti-imperialist fighters of the Canadian Student Movement and many other progressive intellectuals and teachers embraced Literature and Ideology as a weapon on the cultural front against U.S. imperialism, Soviet social-imperialism and all types of reaction. In six years of publication, Literature and Ideology has fulfilled, and in some ways, overfulfilled its modest aim of encouraging “...progressive intellectuals to participate consciously in the discussion and analysis of the political and social role of literature, art and criticism.” Literature and Ideology has been an active proponent of the Marxist-Leninist line that literature and art should serve the millions upon millions of working people, and has provided valuable exposure of the prevailing metaphysical and idealist theories promoted by the imperialists and social-imperialists in the realm of art, literature, social science, philosophy and literary criticism. It played an invaluable role in explaining three decisive questions:
1. the relationship of the cultural superstructure (ideology, art and literature and social forms) to politics and economics base of the society;
2. the basis of motion, development and change in the society, and:
3. the role consciousness in history.
In performing this role, Literature and Ideology successfully overcame the monopoly of bourgeois ideas in the intellectual community and opposed various opportunist literary, artistic and cultural theories in the service of imperialism and social-imperialism. Literature and Ideology won the respect of many progressive intellectuals and brought them over the side of the proletariat. In all these ways, Literature and Ideology has made a definite contribution in advancing the cause of the proletariat and in the founding and consolidation of the proletarian party, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).
In order to make our new readers aware of the past contributions of Literature and Ideology, we will be reprinting in this and following issues, a selection of some of the articles from past issues, including all the statements of policy issued by Literature and Ideology in the course of the last six year. We believe that the articles we have selected are important because they most clearly and comprehensively sum up various problems of literature, art and philosophy that have been on the minds of the people in the realm of culture and social form. The articles are especially sharp in exposing the extent of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over every aspect of life and every cell of the society. Various opportunists are today spreading the theory that fascist politics and consequently fascist culture are something ’peculiar’ in capitalist society which the bourgeoisie ’chooses’ to apply at some times, while not at others. These articles show that fascism is not just a policy adopted by choice and only sometimes by the bourgeoisie, but is in fact an essential attribute of their class nature, an entire way of life and thinking followed by the bourgeoisie in exercising all-round dictatorship over the working masses. These articles point up the absolute necessity of the proletariat to wage conscious struggles against fascism on the cultural as well as other fronts. We believe that this struggle against fascism has been the biggest contribution of Literature and Ideology.
Literature and Ideology is still alive today after six years of publication. Opportunists who sneered at the necessity for struggle against imperialism and social-imperialism on the cultural front and who laughed loudly and in public when Literature and Ideology began are at a loss ot explain this ’extraordinary’ longevity, especially since so many of their own ’profound’ papers and magazines have collapsed and gone out of existence. The reason for the survival of Literature and Ideology is at bottom quite simple. Literature and Ideology has been supported throughout its life only by the revolutionary masses. It has never been cursed with any support whatsoever from the bourgeoisie. The opportunists, however, are afflicted with this curse of always being supported by the bourgeoisie, and this is why they are always bound to come to no good end.
Opportunists used to laugh and accuse Literature and Ideology of “arrogance” when it published articles opposing the counter-revolutionary ’heroes’ promoted by the bourgeoisie. How dare we offend these gods, they crowed.
But where are all these heroes today? Literature and Ideology dared to criticise Castroism and the opportunists laughed. But where is Castroism today? Doing the dirty work for Soviet social-imperialism in Angola, right in front of everyone. Literature and Ideology dared to criticise the Rubins, the Hoffmans and the Cleavers of the 60’s and the opportunists laughed still louder. But where are all these heroes today? Crawling openly in front of the bourgeoisie and begging for a favour. They went up like rockets in the 60’s but the masses did not support them, so they came down like stones in the 70’s. So while all the ’super-revolutionaries’ of the opportunists have been exposed as plain ordinary cops, Literature and Ideology, the magazine written for and by ’nobodies’ is still alive and can still proudly claim to be the only magazine in North America waging anti-imperialist struggle on the cultural front.
Why? Because Literature and Ideology dared to be arrogant towards the enemies of the people, but was modest in serving the people’s interests. Literature and Ideology followed the lead of the Internationalists and later CPC(M-L), studied Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, took a look at some actual issues and problems confronting the masses in the realm of culture, worked hard to investigate these problems, to do analysis and to become able in a modest way to explain a few things to the masses. Over the long run, then, the masses supported this modest activity which conformed to their actual needs, and was 100 times more revolutionary than all of the manifestoes and pronouncements of the opportunists. So in the long run, it was Literature and Ideology that survived, while all the “culture heroes” of the opportunists crawled more and more openly into the lap of the bourgeoisie. The “nobodies” of Literature and Ideology, who had no careers to protect, and no personal reputations to enhance, were able to make a contribution to the entire revolutionary cause by upholding the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought in the realm of culture. Therefore, the masses encouraged Literature and Ideology and gave it their support.
At bottom, this is a question of motive in life. Opportunists and other bourgeois elements are motivated solely by the bourgeois desire to promote themselves and the advancement of their own small sects. Genuine revolutionaries are motivated only by the desire to serve their nation, their class and the proletarian Party. This is a class question and is the dividing line between proletarian revolutionaries and bourgeois reactionaries. Literature and Ideology advanced because in the main it followed the line of making culture serve the politics of the proletariat and came under the leadership of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).
This does not mean that Literature and Ideology has been without shortcomings. Some comrades have pointed out that there is too much emphasis in Literature and Ideology towards writing criticism of this or that individual bourgeois writer or artist while failing to concentrate on the task of opposing the key and central ideas of the bourgeoisie that are fostered on a mass scale. Literature and Ideology has, up to now, remained a magazine addressed mainly to intellectuals. It has not yet fully taken up the task of developing a mass revolutionary culture to serve the revolutionary mass movement. It has not really solved the question of “Literature and Art for whom...” and has therefore fallen behind the development of the Party and the mass movement.
Sometimes, the contributions to Literature and Ideology have merely reflected the individual interests and pursuits of their writers at the expense of actually serving the needs of the mass movement led by the Party. In order to overcome this spontaneous and individualist tendency, we should pay closer attention to the overall tasks of the revolution, to the line and the policy of the Party.
Intellectuals in the universities who genuinely wish to make a contribution to the revolutionary masses should study the programme of the Party conscientiously and strive to implement it. They should study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and apply it to grasp the actual mass movement among the youth and students and among the working class. They should do deep study and investigation of the practical mass movement and work to provide it with the conscious guidance of the Party. Not to do this is to fall behind the development of the revolution and remain on the sidelines of the revolutionary struggles.
The revolutionary struggles of the Canadian working class have advanced significantly in the past six years since Literature and Ideology was founded. The Party has been gloriously founded and has been consolidated and matured in the course of vigorous and continuous class struggle to the point where it is now capable of producing a national daily working class newspaper. It is waging and winning significant battles against opportunism on the theoretical front, and is increasingly shouldering the task ot providing actual practical leadership to the economic and political struggles of the working class. From a small contingent of a few proletarian revolutionaries, organised in a few cities in Canada, the Party had advanced to become a relatively large force organized in every major city in the country and extending its influence into wider and wider sections of the working class and people. It can said with some justice that Literature and Ideology has not kept pace with these developments.
In his New Year’s speech this year, Comrade Hardial Bains again gave the slogan the party to Prepare to Struggle, and called upon all Party members and supporters to consciously take the task of building the factory committees in the heart of the working class. Literature and Ideology, which owes its existence to CPC(M-L) and support from the revolutionary masses on account of its association with CPC(M-L) should take up its duty and play a part in advancing these practical revolutionary tasks by leading the publication of many revolutionary songs, stories, essays and poems which reflect the struggle of the masses to implement the call and the programme of the Party. If we don’t do so, if we fail to advance along the revolutionary path being broken by the Party, we will lose our claim to being the only magazine in North America waging anti-imperialist struggles on the cultural front and will only sink into the same obscurity as the hundreds of intellectual little journals ignominiously doing the work of the bourgeoisie. We should realise right now that the whole purpose of mobilising intellectuals in the first place is to bring them out of the academies and into the direct service of the working class.
New Literature and Ideology, therefore, will be the first issue in the seventh year of publication of the magazine formerly called Literature and Ideology. Our new title and our new format indicate our determination to change the content and the orientation of our magazine. From now on, Literature and Ideology will not be addressed only to the intellectuals. In subject matter and style, it will be mainly aimed the working class revolutionaries who are actually organizing in the factories and places of work for the anti-imperialist revolution led by the Canadian working class. We are calling on progressive intellectuals to take up this task and to provide us with many new songs and stories and essays to assist the overall aims of the revolutionary movement.
I am not suggesting that we should pay no attention to developing our formal skills as writers and artists. I am merely suggesting that the question of form cannot be divorced from the question of content. Without the revolutionary spirit, no formal skill will save us. It is only by paying close attention to the content of our work, by studying Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, by doing deep investigation and genuine study of the society and by participating actively in the practical mass movement under the leadership of the Party – only by doing all three of the above will we have anything worthwhile in say to the masses. It is all very well for those who have nothing to say to the masses, and who are completely divorced from the masses to prattle on about “form” in the abstract. We should have nothing to do with this “form”, which is really nothing else but the finery, the cellophane and tinsel for shoddy goods.
So our so-called “crude” form is only proof that we are not the slaves and hirelings of the bourgeoisie. No, we are their enemies. and our aim is to hit them whether it is with a club or a scalpel. As long as it hits them, the people will find it beautiful.
Our main criterion in judging any poem, song, story, or essay should be whether or not it serves the practical advance of the mass movement, of the working class led by the Party, whether or not it is consistent with the aspirations of the working and oppressed people of Canada and the entire world. With this attitude, and with the attitude of learning from the experience of the international communist movement and resolutely following the Party we can certainly develop a culture in Canada worthy of taking its place alongside the culture of the Paris Commune, the Great October Revolution, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, and the entire culture of world revolution.
We are determined to be the soldiers of the Party on the cultural front and to take all our orders from the Party.