First Published: Lines of Demarcation Nos. 3-4, n.d. [early 1977]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The League’s long-awaited position on the subject of the journal, Canadian Revolution, finally appeared in Issue no. 6 of CR. In their position the League does not in any way comment on the split in CR or on the Bolshevik Union’s extensive position on the subject (this comes as no surprise) but they do tell us that:
Produced by a COALITION of different elements LACKING UNITY or even positions on the major questions of political line under debate within the movement and not engaging in its own revolutionary practice in the proletariat, CR’s contributions could only be confined to a very specific period in the development of the Canadian communist movement. (P. 50)
Of course, the League does not bother to mention that its Toronto franchise – Workers’ Unity (Toronto) – voted against describing CR as a coalition. Workers’ Unity pushed that it be recognized as a “group of Marxist-Leninists.” They vigorously opposed the Bolshevik Tendency position that the journal coalition “lacked unity” and did not have positions on the burning questions of our movement. They voted to endorse “building unity around our common practice” of producing the journal. In fact, Workers’ Unity ran in the Editorial Board elections against Bolshevik Tendency “obstructionism” because we struggled for the position that CR should be publicly represented for what it was, a coalition; that it should clearly not be represented as a “Marxist-Leninist group”, and that CR should be seen as a temporary phenomenon for the purpose of promoting debate and in no way seen as a vehicle for unity or as providing leadership in the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity.
The League now tells us that “by its very nature as an ALLIANCE of different views, the journal cannot take a clear line and point the direction forward for the entire Marxist-Leninist movement.” (p. 51, CR no. 6)
The Bolshevik Tendency consistently struggled that the journal be recognized as an alliance. This was systematically ignored by Workers’ Unity and the others in the journal who in fact saw such a position as “obstructionist” and as an indication of our fundamental lack of a “desire for unity.”
Workers’ Unity took the following position:
Canadian Revolution MUST consolidate and demarcate lines in the movement and further educate Canadian communists to the science and principles of Marxism-Leninism.
In fact, Workers’ Unity stressed the necessity of “developing the LEADING ROLE of the journal in consolidating and demarcating lines in the movement.” (“The Whole . . .”, p. 36) This was Workers’ Unity’s position right up to the time of the split. In their election platform, for the election that occurred the day we split from the journal, Workers’ Unity stated:
We feel the Journal should continue to play the role it has in promoting struggle and debate within the movement, and leading as a force in defining and directing the two-line struggle towards the development of a Communist Party, (p. 37. Emphasis theirs!)
Workers’ Unity has told us in their statement on rallying to the League that they have undergone a “fundamental break with right-opportunism” through a “willingness to self-criticize and transform.” But where is Workers’ Unity’s self-criticism for their right-opportunism within Canadian Revolution?
We will probably never get the answers to these questions because the Bolshevik Union, according to the League, is an “opportunist group” – unlike Workers’ Unity, to be sure!
The League is opposed to the continuation of CR not because CR fails to carry on open and genuine debate in Canada, not because it is suppressing the open and wide debate which it was founded to foster (which is our position), but because, by its very nature as a theoretical journal, it is – for the League – irrelevant.
To continue, CR will only be forced to justify the hesitation of militants to actively participate in the struggle to build the party. It would make excuses for those who WISH TO SIT AND DEBATE INDEFINITELY, rather than actively taking up communist agitation and propaganda among the working class, (p. 51)
In fact, the League tells us that the line of the League and In Struggle! aren’t really important anyway.
Nor is it by reading articles from these two groups that CR that militants across the country can decide if they agree with one another.... Most importantly, it is by examining their practice and their revolutionary work that militants can judge In Struggle! and the CCL (ML), (p. 4)
The League is telling us, of course, that there was once a time for debate and struggle in order to develop a principled Marxist-Leninist unity in Canada. But that time of debate is now past! The League has been formed! And, despite their mechanical repetition that “the correctness or incorrectness of political line determines everything”, it is clear that people should not rally to the League because of its line but rather because of its “practice” – i.e., because of its ability to win the most kopeks on to the ruble in the shuffle of the struggle for reforms. If this is the way the League is trying to appeal to people and win recruits, it speaks volumes about the League.
Why doesn’t the League simply withdraw its members from Canadian Revolution, if it considers that CR is now fundamentally right-opportunist? It seems that the League plans to stick around if it cannot convince others to liquidate. The alternative would be to leave CR in the hands of In Struggle!, which apparently has a majority there. It seems that the League has considerations which take precedence over “the break with right-opportunism” – i.e., the mailing list, the assets, fear of control of the journal by In Struggle! – and, of course, the need to “sum up their work and errors.”
The members of the journal coalition have all been struggling since the split to do the Bolshevik Union serious damage on the basis of our practice within CR. We were once able to corner a cadre of the League and ask on what basis we were “outside the Marxist-Leninist movement.” The only reason he was able to put forward was that of our practice within CR. Under the tutelage of these people, others in the movement have now expressed doubts to us that we are in the movement for the same reason.
But we asked this League cadre if this means that the League supported “building unity around our common practice.” The answer to this question appears in CR no. 6. The League says that the journal is a review “ ’independent’ in name only” and that is published on the basis of the “common practice” of In Struggle! and the League – and that this is no way for the two groups to “resolve their differences and develop the struggle for unity”!
The mystery remains: Why don’t the journal members unanimously condemn the League for such uncomradely “obstructionism”!
In Struggle!, whose friends (the TCG) took leadership in transforming the journal from a forum for debate into a forum for opportunism, has told us that we were right; that the journal was a coalition, that the TCG proposal (“Step by Step Unity”) was wrong. But In Struggle! has been too cowardly and too protective of its own to defend us publicly on this question.
And, although both the League and In Struggle! know that Canadian Revolution is and has always been a coalition, and that there should not be and should not have been an attempt build unity around the common practice of producing the journal, neither one has made any effort to defend us from the damage which their cadre have tried to do us on the basis of their opportunism in this struggle.
In the other articles on the League and In Struggle! in this issue we have tried to show why these dishonest and cowardly practices are being engaged in by these groups. They are only one small part of their manipulativeness in their struggle for the hegemony of their right-opportunism in the Marxist-Leninist movement.