First Published: The Forge, Vol. 4, No. 7, February 23, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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According to a pamphlet being circulated in Halifax, there is no real communist movement in Canada, just a few “petty bourgeois pseudo intellectuals” who have met with “nothing but repeated failure with the working class.”
The New Infatilism is written by a small group of Halifax intellectuals called the Halifax Study Group (HSG). It takes up the familiar refrain of the “C”PC revisionists that “left” opportunism is the main block in developing a revolutionary movement in Canada. But the pamphlet is important because it proves just the opposite – that right opportunism remains the key obstacle to party building.
The HSG can paint such a bleak picture of communist forces only by lying and ignoring reality. For the fact is genuine Marxist-Leninists are making headway: the League has gone from bringing out 400 people in one city in 1975 to today mobilizing many times that number in nation-wide activities. Just before it went weekly, our paper had a distribution of over 16,000. And an ever growing number of workers are rallying to the League’s ranks.
But the HSG cannot accept this, because of its total contempt for working people. It devotes two entire pages (pp. 56-7) telling us how workers are too “dormant” to even take up economic struggles, let alone political ones. “Militant strikes are rare” in Nova Scotia where there is even “an absence of a real labour movement”!
Not only is “The New Infantilism” blind to the many struggles working people wage – two recent Nova Scotia examples being the strikes by Dalhousie workers and Devco railworkers, but by pretending workers are incapable of “realizing” their own “potential” militancy, the HSG concludes that the main task of communists is “to build militant trade union consciousness and to lead and support economic struggles.” (p. 59) The HSG totally disagrees that “the first order of business (to build the party) is to do communist agitation and propaganda.” (p. 22)
Economic work is certainly an important element of communist work, as Lenin himself points out (in a passage eagerly quoted by HSG). But NOT ONCE In their 80-page brochure do our modern-day economists stress the MAIN point that Lenin made: that “comprehensive political exposures and political struggles” is THE key task of communists in developing CLASS consciousness.
The working class on its own, through waging its battles, develops trade union consciousness. It is the main duty of communists to develop the workers’ political awareness of their leading role in the struggle to overthrow the bourgeois state and build socialism.
We communists put most of our energies into widespread political campaigns, like getting involved in the postal workers’ struggle to expose the state’s nature, or building class unity in struggles against national oppression. And we use our active participation in economic struggles to carry out communist education, breaking workers away from the reformists and revisionists. In the Maritimes, the League is involved in the fishermens’ unionization battles and the recent New Brunswick unemployed marches.
This is how the partyis being built.
To do otherwise and reduce communist activity to “solid trade union work” is to tail behind the reformists and revisionists who dominate the workers’ movement. This is exactly what the HSG does in its pamphlet and its practice. It draws workers’ vigilance away from the dangers of reformism and revisionism by not even admitting that they are dominant in the workers’ movement (p. 55-56). “Straight bourgeois” ideas dominate, HSG says, which presumably makes reformism and revisionism better.
Only the “most stultified intellectuals” would deny that labour organizations, from the CLC to the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour (NSFL) back the NDP to the hilt. As for HSG’s “non-existent” revisionists, in its own backyard we see NSFL secretary-treasurer J.K. Bell consistently putting forward the “C”P’s line and the NSFL routinely supporting revisionist-sponsored resolutions at its conventions.
The HSG denies the need to fight these traitors, because in the final analysis it has the same line. HSG members have spent years maintaining the Nova Scotia Labor Research and Support Centre, lending a hand to the worst NSFL bureacrats. They cozied up to a sellout bureaucrat in the Dalhousie Strike Support Committee.
The HSG also lends the revisionists a hand internationally. It accuses the League of “flunkeyism” because we consistently defend socialist China. But these opportunists join the anti-China chorus, even using their influence in the Halifax Canada-China Friendship Association to get this group to not even talk about developments in China since Chairman Mao’s death. A fine lot of “socialists” they are!
The task of communists is to fuse the Marxist-Leninist movement with the working class movement. By denying this, the HSG condemns Canadian working people to limiting themselves to economic struggles, when it is the task of the working class to liberate itself from capitalism’s chains and build socialism.
The HSG’s “New Infantilism” and its practice show that it is not the supposed “ultra-leftists” of the League, but the HSG right opportunists who meet with “repeated failures”. It is they who sabotage union work, who are the intellectuals cut off from the working class whom they have nothing but contempt for.
Right opportunist groups like the HSG must be smashed politically, ideologically and organizationally. Honest militants should join with the League to defend Marxism-Leninism and move forward to the creation of the new communist party.