First Published: Alive, No. 66, February 26, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Alive appeared for the first time in December, 1969. In the first issues of the magazine, published over seven years ago, we stated our intentions. These were, in short, to publish a literary magazine which would dare to look beyond present systems to find a way of life which is not abusive of people. We stated that we could not accept “immoral capitalism”, which we saw most graphically manifested, at the time, in the U.S. aggression against the Indo-Chinese people. We also stated that neither could we accept “immoral communism”, which we saw nakedly expressed, at the time, in the aggression by the U.S.S.R. against the Czechoslovakian people. Further, we stated that, along the way to conclusions, we would take the good ideas from where we could find them and reject the bad ideas wherever we could identify them. Alive had risen as a reflection of the fresh outlook and vibrantly inquisitive attitude of rebellious young people; the magazine has always been produced under the guiding hand of people who were literally thrown up from the rebellious ranks as “little” leaders and who were honed to a militant edge by the specific conditions of the youth in Quebec during the vigorous, lively years of 1962 to 1969.
In the Autumn of 1971, after two years of publication, the people actively connected with Alive magazine drafted and unanimously approved the Alive View of Canadian Literature. This document was prepared and published in every issue during the next three years so that the readers would be made aware of the position of Alive as a democratic open forum dealing with literature and its role in society. The Alive View (originally published in Alive 20, January 1972) served as an invitation to debate and present ideas on the nature and role of literature in Canadian society: “We see two basic sides to this issue. There may be more. One states that there is such a thing as ’art for art’s sake’ and one which says ’there is no such thing as art that stands above class’. This, we see as the basic contradiction in Canadian literature.” Consistent with previous Alive policy, the Alive View made definite exclusions from the debate and from the pages of the magazine: “We stand against fascism, racism and imperialism wherever they appear.”
The internal and external contradictions which arose in the course of publishing Alive, especially around production and distribution, were resolved (at least in part) and gave rise to the knowledge in practice that: literature serving the individual and literature serving the collective needs and aspirations of the vast majority of the Canadian people have the same roots as the “two basic sides” identified in the Alive View. This was a simple step forward, at the same time, it was concrete and significant. Through intensive investigation and debate the Alive Production Collective consistently took the line that “there is no such thing as art which stands above class.” This was a result of the equally intensive practical work which step by step brought the members of the Alive Production Collective to a more conscious anti-imperialist stand. Alive magazine continued to encourage those upholding the opposite line to defend their position, if possible, with strong analysis and convincing argument. The application of this democratic forum repeatedly indicated that the very system of capitalism is opposed in essence to the basic principles of democracy. The capitalist system, in its present monopoly and imperialist stage, only maintains an illusion of democracy.
This whole process led to a more sympathetic examination of the force in the world which is in actual contention with imperialism – Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. From that position another enemy was clearly identified: revisionism – bourgeois ideology masquerading as communism. State capitalism as institutionalized by revisionist ruling cliques and the imperialist superpower status of the present day Soviet Union, were also identified as enemies of the world’s peoples.
Thus, in Alive 40, December 1974, the Alive Production Collective’s View of Canadian Literature and Culture was put forward. This document stated “the Production Collective has determined that, in order to serve the interests of the vast majority of the Canadian people and the vast majority of the world’s people, it is necessary to be an anti-imperialist, an anti-capitalist, an anti-revisionist, and an anti-fascist.
“The Alive Production Collective determines, also, that the best and most objective method for Alive to participate in a war of resistance against these anti-people forces, is to re-dedicate itself to the open contention of ideas called for by the Alive View of Canadian Literature. Cast away illusion, prepare for struggle! Let a hundred flowers blossom, a hundred schools of thought contend!”
In the Autumn of 1975, another development was expressed by the Production Collective in Alive 45: ”In the six years that Alive has been published not one single person has stepped forward to present any kind of coherent defense of the line of art for art’s sake’...we do believe that six years is long enough by far to offer the pages of Alive to these servants of imperialist culture. We now, categorically, declare that the line of ’art for art’s sake’ has declared itself indefensible and bankrupt!
“In the most honest and straight-forward fashion possible we call on all progressive writers and artists to develop all of the aspects of a people’s revolutionary culture. In the spirit of letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend – in the anti-imperialist forces – we are setting out on our seventh year of publication!”
ALIVE MAGAZINE has now been published for over seven years and in this eighth year of publication we are again taking up the healthy spirit of making Alive’s readers regularly aware of the position of the magazine. In this regard, the Alive Production Collective has prepared an updated ALIVE VIEW. This VIEW expresses the logical development of the principles which Alive has taken as a foundation since its birth.
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Alive is an anti-imperialist cultural magazine. The pages of Alive are open to writers and artists who express the need for change, providing a necessary outlet for cultural work which is honest, open and democratic in content and has a proven fighting spirit. The range of literature and art presented is not restricted to that containing overt statements of anti-imperialism, rather it is freely representative of the wide spectrum of ideas which directly and indirectly complement the movement to oppose U.S. domination of Canada and all other imperialist aggression.
It is clear that democratic thinking and action is positive, especially in face of the threat of fascism, and that the U.S. dominated culture promoted by the ruling classes in Canada is fascist. Alive also provides a forum for debate on the role of cultural work, to the extent that the content of such debate strengthens the literature and art which serves the majority of the people.
Alive will provide models of classical revolutionary writing from international sources. Scientific analysis of trends in literature and society will be presented to support the interests of the Canadian people. Facts and arguments are expounded so as to win intellectuals, academics, writers, artists and other cultural workers to a position of conscious opposition to imperialism and other reactionary systems.
Regarding form, content and the level of politics, Alive treats contributors, whether they are ’established’ or ’new’, according to the expression “you don’t have to be an expert to make it into print in Alive, we look for honesty.”
Alive must also serve the ranks of anti-imperialists by providing a vigorous, creative culture. “An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.” (Mao Tsetung)
Alive will express united front solidarity by regularly carrying supplements in order to give a concise form to the presentation of material from groupings which rally to the anti-imperialist and cultural work. The supplements will be a manifestation of practical united front activity and will be edited either by self-defined groups friendly to Alive or by the Alive Production Collective itself, on the basis of grouping cohesive ideas, cultural forms or individual writers and artists.
Simply stated, the Alive Production Collective upholds the following general analysis:
Canada’s economic base and cultural superstructure are dominated by U.S. imperialism. The primary class enemy in Canada is the U.S. monopoly capitalist class; this enemy is directly served by the sellout Canadian monopoly capitalist class. The leading force in the revolutionary ranks in Canada is the working class. The revolutionary force itself is composed of all the classes and strata in Canadian society who suffer the murderous oppression of U.S. imperialism – that is, the vast majority of the Canadian people.
We recognise that Soviet social-imperialism and U.S. imperialism are both superpowers, more oppressive than any other representatives of capitalism or imperialism in the world today. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. ruling cliques are spokesmen for the most dangerous of the world’s bourgeoisie and are equally threatening to the Canadian people and equally criminal in their international actions. Further, we recognise that Soviet social-imperialism is a reckless, new superpower, waxing strong to the wane of U.S. imperialism, and as such is the greatest threat for a new world war.
The Alive Production Collective is opposed to imperialism, to capitalism, to revisionism, to fascism, to racism and all reaction.
The Alive Production Collective’s program is anti-imperialist revolution; its strategy is anti-imperialist cultural work; and, its tactics are production of Alive magazine, related anti-imperialist cultural projects, and united front work; both in Canada and internationally.