NB: The following notes are only elements (rudiments). Numerous points remain to be clarified, from the principles which must guide communists to their application to the present conjuncture. We believe these notes to be politically correct, but at the same time, summary and incomplete.
Stalin wrote that “tactics are a part of strategy”. More precisely, here is how he establishes the relationship between these two fundamental elements of the political line:
“Strategy deals with the main forces of the revolution and their reserves. It changes with the passing of the revolution from one stage to another, but remains basically unchanged throughout a given stage. (...) While the object of strategy is to win the war against tsarism, let us say, or against the bourgeoisie, to carry through the struggle against tsarism or against the bourgeoisie to its end, tactics pursue less important objects, for their aim is not the winning of the war as a whole, but the winning of some particular engagements or some particular battles, the carrying through successfully of some particular campaigns or actions corresponding to the concrete circumstances in the given period of rise or decline of the revolution. Tactics are a part of strategy, subordinate to it and serving it.”
Further along Stalin adds:
“Tactics deal with the forms of struggle and the forms of organization of the proletariat, with their changes and combinations. During a given stage of the revolution tactics may change several times, depending on the flow or ebb, the rise or decline, of the revolution.”
Our Albanian comrades define tactics in this manner:
“Tactics of the working class party comprise the forms of struggle and the forms of organization for a given period, the political line, and the positions adopted by the Party in given situations. The Party elaborates its tactics on the basis of its strategic line, taking into account the internal and external, objective and subjective, concrete conditions.”
Tactics, in other words, consist in determining the means to utilize, the forms of organization to adopt and the struggles to undertake in given conditions in order to advance toward the strategic objective.
Le Duan, then First Secretary of the Viet Nam Workers’ Party, explained very well the conditions for correct tactics when he wrote the following in 1970:
“It is a matter of principle that, either in day-to-day policies or in the practice of revolutionary struggle, no matter in what way and under what circumstances, a revolutionary should never lose sight of the final goal. To consider the fight for small day-to-day gains and immediate targets as “everything” while looking upon the final goal as “nothing”, “to sacrifice the future of the movement to the present”, is to display the worst kind of opportunism, which can only result in the popular masses being held in eternal servitude.
“However, it is by no means sufficient to comprehend the final objective while firmly keeping in mind the revolutionary goal. The art of revolutionary leadership lies in knowing how to win step by step, in judicious fashion. Revolution is the work of the millions of people of the popular masses, who stand up to overthrow the ruling classes, these classes commanding a colossal machinery of violence together with other material and spiritual means.
“This is why a revolution is always a long-drawn process. From the initial steps to the final end, a revolution must of necessity go through many stages of struggle beset with difficulties and complexities and full of twists and turns, in order to clear one obstacle after another and gradually change the relation of forces between the revolution and the counter-revolution, until overwhelming superiority is achieved vis-a-vis the ruling classes. To push the enemy back and wrest one success after another for the revolution, and proceed to inflict total defeat on the enemy and secure complete victory for the revolution – such is a law of revolutionary struggle.
“For those reasons, on the long road leading to the final goal, one should never fail to give due consideration to the concrete conditions in which the battle is fought in each given period. On the side of the revolution, when and in what circumstances are the masses going into action? In what way are the various social forces arrayed? On the other side, what are the enemy’s strong and weak points? How is he manoeuvering and with what aims in mind? Lenin used to demand that the Communists should pay unflagging attention to and view with the greatest objectivity not only the situation at home but also all elements of the world’s economy and politics, all class forces both within the country and throughout the world and the relationships between those forces. Failing full notice of all these factors of concrete moving reality, a revolutionary may at best perceive the ultimate objective of the struggle but he will have no command over the means to achieve it; he will not find the ways, methods, and practical measures to reach that goal, and he will be liable to commit serious blunders in his strategic and tactical guidance of the revolution.
“To know how to win step by step in a judicious manner means, in given times and under given circumstances, to know how to set the most appropriate concrete objectives and, on the strength of objective laws, direct the fight in such a way as to achieve the maximum success, paving the way for further advances of the revolution and opening up the surest prospects for the ultimate victory.”
Thus, tactics are the science (the art, says Stalin) which permits the winning of victories leading towards the strategic objective. But how can we determine more precisely the correctness of the tactics of the communist party (or organisation)? Stalin formulated two principal conditions for a “proper use of the forms of struggle and organization of the proletariat”:
“Firstly [...] The point here is not that the vanguard should realize the impossibility of preserving the old regime and the inevitability of its overthrow. The point is that the masses, the millions, should understand this inevitability and display their readiness to support the vanguard. But the masses can understand this only from their own experience. The task is to enable the vast masses to realize from their own experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the old regime, to promote such methods of struggle and forms of organization as will make it easier for the masses to realize from experience the correctness of the revolutionary slogans.”
“Secondly. To locate at any given moment the particular link in the chain of processes which, if grasped, will enable us to keep hold of the whole chain and to prepare the conditions for achieving strategic success.
“The point here is to single out from all the tasks confronting the Party the particular immediate task, the fulfillment of which constitutes the central point, and the accomplishment of which ensures the successful fulfillment of the immediate tasks.”
Stalin gives the following example of this last point:
“In the period of the formation of the Party, when them innumerable circles and organizations had not yet been linked together, when amateurishness and the parochial outlook of the circles were corroding the Party from the top to the bottom, when ideological confusion was the characteristic feature of the internal life of the Party, the main link and the main task in the chain of links and in the chain of tasks then confronting the Party proved to be the establishment of an all-Russian illegal newspaper (Iskra). Why? Because, under the conditions then prevailing, only by means of an all-Russian, illegal newspaper was it possible to create a solid core of the Party capable of uniting the innumerable circles and organizations into one whole, to prepare the conditions for ideological and tactical unity, and thus to build the foundations for the formation of a real party.”
It is for such reasons that, in the fall of 1972, the group of militants which began EN LUTTE! (IN STRUGGLE! formulated the following position: Given the pervasiveness of reformist and nationalist ideology within the worker movement on the one hand, and on the other, the isolated scattered, and politically incoherent emerging Marxist Leninist movement of that period, the principal task was the struggle on the ideological front. The ideological struggle would be directed towards the working class with the aim of directly attacking there the opportunism of the nationalists and social democrats. At the same time, this would provide the opportunity to form and consolidate a seasoned) Marxist-Leninist group. It is within this context that EN LUTTE! was begun ... despite all the weaknesses – both theoretical and organizational – of the group which under took the task.
The real impact of the intervention of EN LUTTE! during the last fifteen months remains to be determined, but it is already clear that the newspaper succeeded in reaching certain groups among the militant strata of the working class. In general, the paper succeeded in spreading its slogans, “link up with the working class” and “struggle for the proletarian party”. It was a definite factor in contributing to greater unity within the Marxist-Leninist movement and it is likely to play a determining role in its unification because it constitutes a pole of attraction for many militants and groups which remain organizationally isolated.
If we can say that In Struggle! has, until now, maintained a fundamentally correct orientation, we must neither forget the mistakes made by our group nor ignore the important developments which must enrich our tactical line if we wish to continue to progress.
For this, it is necessary to return to the first of the two conditions advanced by Stalin for a “proper use of the forms of struggle and organization of the proletariat”:
“To put in the forefront precisely those forms of struggle and organization which are best suited to the conditions prevailing during the flow or ebb of the movement at a given moment, and which therefore can facilitate and ensure the bringing of the masses to the revolutionary positions, the bringing of the millions to the revolutionary front, and their disposition at the revolutionary front”.
One finds the same fundamental idea in the principle: “from the masses, to the masses” developed by Mao Tse-tung:
“In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily ’from the masses, to the masses’. This means: take the ideas of the masses [scattered and unsystematic ideas], then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time.”
So, while Stalin says that the masses must understand the necessity of the overthrow of the old order and must support their vanguard in order to do this, and adds that “the masses can understand this only through their own experience”, Mao specifies that it is through the systematization of their own ideas by the Party that the masses are going to make “their own experience”, or in his own words, make their ideas “more correct, more vital and richer each time”.
In other words, it is by learning from their own struggles that the masses will come to better understand their situation and the necessity and means to change it radically through revolution. This apprenticeship is made possible by the action of a Party constantly trying to draw the most useful lessons from the struggles undertaken by the masses, from their successes and their failures.
The whole dialectical movement which must link the masses and their vanguard is stated there. Correct tactics always rest on the comprehension and rigorous application of the “mass line” that the resolution of the contradiction between “mass work” and “vanguard work”, between “mass organization” and “vanguard organization”, can be found.
If one wishes, for the sake of clarity, to state things in their simplest form, one could say the Communists fulfill their vanguard role when they work, through study, debate, criticism and self-criticism, at clarifying their strategic orientation, determining their tactics, and figuring out the means and methods best suited to carry out any task of propaganda, agitation or organization.
Thus vanguard work concerns all tasks linked to the development of the political line, i.e., from the study of the contradictions at a given historical stage to the finding of the means best suited to mobilize the masses in a specific struggle. In a strict sense, the vanguard organization is the Party or any organization directly engaged in the building of the Party. For the Party is essentially the “bearer” of the political line of the revolution. It is the task of the Party to develop, formulate, propagate and apply the political line both at the level of strategy and of tactics. It is in this manner that the Party can become the instrument, of leadership of the proletariat and the masses in the revolutionary struggle. The Party is the vanguard organization of the proletariat.
But, at the same time, the Party acts among the masses. Essentially, the political action of the Party is its intervention in mass struggles and its active presence in mass organizations – that is, mass work. Otherwise it is not a vanguard but a sect, a grouping of closed circles, jealous of their “pure” and “correct” line, which is in fact nothing more than empty verbiage because it is conceptualized in systems which, however logical they may be, lack the richness of life and the concrete practice of revolutionary struggle.
When a communist workers’ cell analyses the prevailing conditions in a factory or when it systematizes the demands of the mass of workers, it is doing vanguard work. To this task, this cell must bring all its theoretical, historical, and practical knowledge. If this task is going to be properly carried out, the cell must take into consideration the strategy and tactics of the Party in order to apply them correctly. But all this work assumes its meaning only through the intervention of the cell in the struggle of the mass of the workers, whether in the form of propaganda (in order to explain the stakes and the foundations of the struggle, which are to be found in the capitalist relations of production) or in the form of agitation (in order to awaken and strengthen the class consciousness of the mass of workers by involving them in a particular struggle for immediate goals).
To advance the “mass line” slogan is not to reject vanguard work or organization. On the contrary, only a vanguard organization is really capable of applying a “mass line”. It would be a poor use of dialectical materialism to suggest an antagonistic contradiction between these two poles of the same movement. How are we to apply such a “mass line” in the present conditions? This will be done essentially through putting forward and defending a Marxist-Leninist and proletarian point of view in the struggles and organizations of the masses. Will communists find themselves taking part in struggles for reforms? Will communists work within reformist or even reactionary organizations?
“What is the difference between revolutionary tactics and reformist tactics?
“Some think that Leninism is opposed to reforms, opposed to compromises and to agreements in general. This is absolutely wrong. Bolsheviks know as well as everybody else that in a certain sense “each little bit helps,” that under certain conditions reforms in general, and compromises and agreements in particular, are necessary and useful.
“’To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie’, says Lenin, ’a war which is a hundred times more difficult, protracted and complicated than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to refuse beforehand to manovere, to utilize the conflicts of interest [even though temporary] among one’s enemies, to reject agreements and compromises with possible [even though temporary, vacillating and conditional] allies – is not this ridiculous in the extreme? Is it not as though, when making a difficult ascent of an unexplored and hitherto inaccessible mountain, we were to refuse beforehand ever to move in zigzag, ever to retrace our steps, ever to abandon the course once selected and to try others?’ [See Vol. XXV, p. 210] [...] To a reformist, reforms are everything, while revolutionary work is something incidental, something just to talk about, mere eyewash. That is why, with reformist tactics under the conditions of bourgeois rule, reforms are inevitably transformed into an instrument for strengthening that rule, an instrument for disintegrating the revolution.
“To a revolutionary, on the contrary, the main thing is revolutionary work and not reforms; to him reforms are a by-product of the revolution. That is why, with revolutionary tactics under the conditions of bourgeois rule, reforms are naturally transformed into an instrument for disintegrating that rule, into an instrument for strengthening the revolution, into a strongpoint for the further development of the revolutionary movement.
“The revolutionary will accept a reform in order to use it as an aid in combining legal work with illegal work and to intensify, under its cover, the illegal work for the revolutionary preparation of the masses for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie.”
Speaking of the development of the Marxist-Leninist movement in the world over the last few years, our Albanian comrades write that after a phase of theoretical struggle against revisionism,
“...the need was felt to go from the theoretical struggle over general problems to a more concrete political and organizational struggle over the day-to-day problems met with by the working class and the other labouring masses in their fight against capitalist exploitation. Without giving up, of course, the controversy over general theoretical problems and principles. Also, from this first stage, characterized by the struggle against revisionist concepts, they have reached a new stage characterized by the formulation of specific positive programs in order to conduct revolutionary activity, these programs being based on the analysis of the specific conditions and characteristics of each country...” 
In the past, the position taken by In Struggle! on unions has deservedly been the object of much criticism. In Struggle! made the gross mistake of leading people to believe that it was necessary to avoid all political work within the unions because they have become tools in the hands of the bourgeoisie and capital. But this is exactly opposite to the conclusion which follows from a correct understanding of the “mass line”. Precisely because the unions, whose membership forms a large part of the working masses, have generally fallen under bourgeois leadership, Marxist-Leninists must work within them to defend the revolutionary line.
Here is how the comrades of Rruga e Partise, the journal of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, pose the problem:
“The questions concerning communist work within bourgeois reformist and revisionist trade-unions have assumed a special importance due to the fact that a great number of proletarians work in these organizations and because to refuse to work within them means to isolate the Party from the class it is supposed to lead. The struggle against bourgeois, social-democratic and revisionist trade-unionist demagogy must be put on the agenda. The main feature on trade-union development in the present period is the integration of the trade-union apparatus into the bourgeois state apparatus. This is why vast opportunities are open to, Marxist-Leninist parties to work at dispelling trade-union illusions, which are still strong in many developed capitalist countries.
“[...] The Marxist-Leninist parties do not struggle in order to correct or educate the reactionary trade-union leaders, nor to improve or reform the union centrals. Rather they want to enlighten the working class and give its struggle a healthy political and ideological foundation.”
Speaking of the unions, the main organization of the working masses, the Albanian comrades do not hesitate to say that they are characterized at this moment by “the integration of the union apparatus into the bourgeois state apparatus” (which has not always been the case). They add further in the text that the “present union organizations are instruments for the protection of the interests of the monopolitic bourgeoisie, not of the interests of the working class”.
Nonetheless, they affirm that, since the working masses are in the unions and, what is more, are under their pernicious influence, it is the duty of communists to take the struggle into the unions to “enlighten the working class and to give its struggles healthy political and ideological foundations”.
In our country at the present time, this means: undertake ideological struggle against the reformism of the nationalists and social democrats in order to destroy their control over the labour movement. In order to do this it is necessary to be present and active in the struggles and organizations of the working masses, including their unions.
We should mention as well that the international communist movement has always advocated the struggle within the unions and even more forcibly where and when the union leadership proved to be particularly reactionary. The text of Lozovsky, first secretary of the Red International of Labour Unions from 1920 to 1934, called Conquest or Destruction of the Unions shows this. In that text Lozovsky tries to show that it is not by destroying the unions but by conquering their leadership that the communists will penetrate the masses.
According to Stalin’s distinction, while the communists must struggle for reforms, these are in the end nothing more than the opportunity to advance the struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie. This is why the Albanian comrades add in the text cited above:
“Of course, in this struggle [to enlighten the proletariat], the Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries aim a gradually creating and strengthening their own revolutionary organizations in parallel with their work in the trade-unions.”
In fact, it is on the basis of their work of propaganda and agitation in workers’ struggles and organizations that the communists will bit by bit succeed in wresting the militant workers from the grip of bourgeois and reformist ideology. It is these elements of the working class, won over to proletarian ideology through having experienced its practical value in their struggles, in contrast with the fundamentally bourgeois and reactionary nature of reformism in all its forms (“the task is to enable the vast masses to realize from their own experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the old regime”), it is these workers and working people who will join party organizations or create new ones themselves, thus joining the vanguard of the proletariat and putting themselves in the service of the revolution.
IN STRUGGLE! has often been reproached for neglecting organizational work or, even worse, for failing to recognize its importance. However, since the publication of For a Proletarian Party, the centrality of working class organization was affirmed with the qualification that it must be revolutionary organization and not just any organization. A rereading of pages of the second edition of this pamphlet should, in spite of the obvious lack of precision in the language used, convince anyone.
It is precisely because IN STRUGGLE! has always felt that organizational work within the working class with the aim of creating the Party must necessarily be done on a clear political basis that IN STRUGGLE! placed the struggle on the ideological front at the centre of its activities and that it considers that this orientation must still be maintained today.
Why must the immediate tasks of Marxist-Leninists, those of propaganda, agitation and organization, put the priority on ideological struggle? Lenin gave an answer to this question in 1920, an answer which could not be stated more clearly:
“As long as the question was (and insofar as it still is) [IN STRUGGLE!’s emphasis] one of winning over the vanguard of the proletariat to communism, so long, and to that extent, propaganda was in the forefront.”
And Mao Tse-tung:
“In order to overthrow a regime it is first of all necessary to prepare public opinion and do ideological work.”
This is no different from what the Equipe du Journal IN STRUGGLE! said in 1972:
“At the present time priority must go to struggle on the ideological front. In other words, while concrete examples of the will to organise and the desire for unity proliferate within the working class and among working people generally, on the one hand, and while the working class cannot create a revolutionary party until a greater cohesion, a greater ideological unity has been achieved, on the other – the priority has to be the ideological aspects of the class struggle of the proletariat.”
Two years later, even though the conditions of communist work have considerably developed and improved, no one can say that the “vanguard of the proletariat” has “rallied to communism”. No one can say either that the consciousness of the necessity to “overthrow” the bourgeois “regime” has developed among the people to such an extent that we have reached the stage of actually organizing the overthrow. We are just at the stage of developing the ideological conditions without which this overthrow will not occur.
Among these conditions, the consciousness of the necessity of the unity of the proletariat around its vanguard, the proletarian Party, and the consciousness of the necessity of the unity of the whole people around the working class, are the most important. Thus it will be by accomplishing the tasks directly related to the development of these conditions that the Marxist-Leninists will best assume their revolutionary responsibilities.
How will this revolutionary consciousness develop within the working masses? In two dialectically related ways:
1) through their own experience of exploitation and the struggle against this exploitation – through practice;
2) by the acquisition of scientific knowledge of the laws and mechanisms of this exploitation – through theory.
When Marxist-Leninists say that the proletarian revolutionary movement which will overthrow the bourgeois dictatorship is born out of the merging of “scientific socialism” and the “workers’ movement”, they are just summarizing the double process through which the proletariat and with it, all working people, will take the road of revolution, that is to say, of their complete emancipation.
“Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world.”[46a]
In a country where these “correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class” are overshadowed by the ideas of the bourgeoisie – that is ideas characteristic of a reactionary and counter-revolutionary class – it is up to the Marxist-Leninists to create the means of expression of proletarian ideas all the while denouncing the anti-proletarian character of the bourgeois ideology presently dominant even within working class and people’s organizations themselves.
Thus, Marxist-Leninists are faced with a double task. They must:
1) propagate in the working masses the already systematized ideas of their own historical experience and the historical experiences of the international workers movement and the international communist movement, by applying these ideas to the analysis of the concrete conditions of the working people in Quebec and Canada. This is the role of propaganda.
2) participate actively in all struggles which the masses engage in against all the forms of exploitation and domination they experience. This is to say participate in all the spontaneous manifestations of class struggle. This is the role of agitation.
Organization is the systematization of these two types of activities within the appropriate framework. Organizational work only takes on its revolutionary significance to the extent that agitational work and propaganda work complement each other within the same organization.
Here is how Lenin defines propaganda:
“The socialist activities consist in spreading by propaganda the teachings of scientific socialism, in spreading among the workers a proper understanding of the present social and economic system, its basis and its development, and understanding of the various classes in Russian society, of their interrelations, of the struggle between classes, of the role of the working class in this struggle, of its attitude towards the declining and the developing classes, towards the past and the future of capitalism, and understanding of the historical task of international Social-Democracy [today we would say: international communist movement] and of the Russian working class.”
This propaganda is activity aimed at taking up the struggle against bourgeois ideology among the people and arming them with revolutionary theory, with Marxism-Leninism. It thus consists in propagating these ideas among the greatest possible number of workers. In order to attain these goals, propaganda must be based on a profound understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory and its application to the analysis of the concrete situation in the country where we are working.
Here is how Lenin defines agitation:
“Inseparably connected with propaganda is agitation among the workers [...] Agitation among the workers means that the Social-Democrats take part in all the spontaneous manifestations of the working-class struggle, in all the conflicts between the workers and the capitalists over the working day, wages, working conditions, etc., etc. Our task is to merge our activities with the practical, everyday questions of working-class life, to help the workers understand these questions, to draw the workers’ attention to the most important abuses, to help them formulate their demands to the employers more precisely and practically, to develop among the workers consciousness of their solidarity, consciousness of the common interests and common cause of all the Russian workers as a united working class that is part of the international army of the proletariat.”
Organizational work is that which structures these propaganda and agitational activities among the masses according to a precise method and plan. Thus, organization al work concerns, at the same time, the internal activity of Marxist-Leninists as well as their interventions in the spontaneous “day-to-day” and “practical” struggles of the working class.
It is important to emphasize at this point that the forms of organization to favour at a certain stage in a given country within the working class and among the people in general form elements of the Marxist-Leninist tactics in the concrete conditions of that country: “Tactics deal with the forms of the struggle and the forms of organization of the proletariat, with their changes and combinations.”
What is it that determines the nature and forms of the organizations to undertake among the masses? Two things. On the one hand, the forms of organization vary, as Stalin said, “with the flow or ebb of the movement, the rise or decline of the revolution.” [ibid., p. 46] On the other hand organizational forms correspond to the degree of development of the revolutionary consciousness of the masses. Of this aspect of the question, Stalin is very clear:
“The point here is not that the vanguard should realize the impossibility of preserving the old regime and the inevitability of its overthrow. The point is that the masses, the millions, should understand this inevitability and display their readiness to support the vanguard. But the masses can understand this only from their own experience. The task is to enable the vast masses to realize from their own experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the old regime, to promote such methods of struggle and forms of organization as will make it easier for the masses to realize from experience the correctness of the revolutionary slogans.”
In other words, the organizational forms to be advanced the work of communists are those which, in a given country at a given time, best allow the application of the mass line. Today in Quebec, the tactical line in the work among the masses is based on the movement of working-class, a people’s solidarity which has developed over the past few years, and in turn strengthens it. The task is to struggle against divisions within the working class and among people in general by contributing to the development of unity of the proletariat, of a consciousness of “solidarity” among workers, and among workers and other layers of exploited people.
Therefore, the task is to struggle against the bourgeois nationalists, to struggle against the opportunists and profiteers within the union movement who divide the workers among themselves in order to serve their class interests at the same time as they serve their bourgeois masters.
The Marxist-Leninist movement in Quebec does not have in the true sense, an elaborated tactical line. This is understandable since the existence of a true tactical presupposes two essential conditions:
1) a strategic line, because, as Stalin says: “Tactics are a part of strategy, subordinate to it and serving it.” To attempt to elaborate a tactical line without having a strategy would lead to opportunism.
2) sufficiently developed links with the masses. Without this how could one propose forms of struggle and organization which take into account the real state of development of the consciousness of the masses and which allow them to really develop their own experience in struggle?
These two conditions are only partially fulfilled at the present moment. This is why the organizational unification of Marxist-Leninists is such an important task in our eyes. This alone will allow us to assemble the necessary means for developing the general political line and links with the masses, means without which the development of a tactical line will remain impossible. Thus it is very important to take into account the foregoing when we begin to deal with the practical question of what forms of organization to take up in our propaganda and agitational work. More precisely, we must understand that some of the answers to the questions we are asking today about organizational work in the working class will only develop progressively when certain conditions exist within the Marxist-Leninist movement. In this regard, the creation of a true Marxist-Leninist organization is an essential prerequisite.
Organizational work is always a priority for Marxist-Leninists. However, its forms and levels vary according to the conditions of the moment.
As soon as militants get involved in the political struggle, they are confronted with the question of organization. When In Struggle! began to appear, the group had to organize in order to produce and distribute the newspaper. When doing so, our group met other organizations on its way, among others the trade unions, which often fought aggressively against us. This was in itself a good sign: In Struggle! was penetrating into the bourgeois enemy’s field, and its agents, hidden behind their reformist, nationalist and social-democratic disguises, were crying scandal: “leftists” were coming, they had to protect the workers – “their” workers.
Too busy protecting their flock, which it must be added was becoming less and less docile, the union bosses “forgot” all too often that workers’ struggles have to be waged by other means than press conferences and intrigues in the halls of the bourgeois state and courts.
For, while the imperialist crisis affects the relationship between classes in general, it spurs on the militancy and determination of the proletariat and working masses of the advanced capitalist countries.
The upsurge of proletarian and popular struggles in the last 5 years in Quebec as everywhere else throughout the world is the direct result of the deterioration of general living conditions caused by the increased exploitation of labour power within the capitalist and imperialist states, a consequence of the rise of the liberation struggle of the peoples of the Third World.
In Quebec, the most significant aspect of this evolution is without doubt the development of the class consciousness of the workers, i.e., the consciousness of being a distinct entity facing the bourgeoisie and its state. This consciousness is manifesting itself concretely and is developing in more violent forms of struggle, in a tendency to challenge bourgeois legality, and in the rise of the “workers’ solidarity” trend. These are very important aspects, characteristic of the evolution of the class consciousness and of the increased militancy of the Quebec proletariat.
Another important feature of the popular struggles during the last few years is the appearance beside the working class of an increasing number of non-proletarian strata of workers. Though the “salarization” and proletarianization of broad sections of the petit-bourgeoisie are an inevitable and positive aspect of the evolution of society, one should not forget that it causes a greater penetration of petit-bourgeois ideology into the working class organizations.
Thus, the radicalization of the union centrals, to cite but one example, the fact that they pose problems in terms of class struggle, the fact that they recognize the class character of the state power (though in a partial, mainly reformist manner; that is to say, “social-democratically”), all this manifests a real transformation. But this transformation is still dominated by petit-bourgeois radicalism (sometimes in its anarcho-syndicalist form), by social-democratic reformism. Nevertheless, what we must keep in mind is the tendency to radicalization in itself, which provides more favourable ground for communist agitation and propaganda.
It is in this context that In Struggle!, soon after its birth as a propaganda group, closely associated itself with the setting up of the CSLO (Committee of Solidarity with Workers’ Struggles).
It meant for In Struggle! a second form of organization, which met the need for a type of political intervention demanded by the conditions of the time in the workers’ movement. More and more groups of militant workers called for something else other than the verbal (and often verbose) support of their union leaders. Some popular strata, especially the student and working youth, did not find a framework where they could channel their will to support concretely workers in struggle. The CSLO was the kind of organization best suited for these conditions and the one that could best encourage their development. To such an extent indeed, that a “nervous” trade-unionist went so far as saying that the support provided by the CSLO to the working-class struggles was something “abnormal” (sic).
It is doubtless more “normal” to go on supplying Laberge with drink so that he may find enough nerve (one needs a hell of a lot of it when, besides, one regularly licks the boots of the bourgeois ministers) to “overthrow the system” – how cool! – a good dozen times a year.
CSLO is a kind of organization whose doors are open to communists, to progressive people, to all those who want to support the workers’ struggle. It is a form of organization that meets present needs and In Struggle! will go on supporting it as long as these present conditions exist.
At another level, In Struggle!’s propaganda work has had some effect in the working class. In many instances it has become an agitation source which has proven precious in the hands of workers who rapidly recognized its value as a political tool. Agitational work, which is the most immediate outlet for political propaganda aimed at the proletariat and the masses, also entails specific organizational necessities.
Making political interventions in workers’ meetings, writing and distributing leaflets, debating with comrades the struggles to undertake or to support, etc., all this necessitates certain forms of organization. In Struggle! has tried to participate in this work whenever possible and it intends to do so in a much more consistent and systematic way in the coming months.
So that is where ideological struggle (as put forward by In Struggle! two years ago and still today) leads. Even if the conditions have changed in the workers’ movement, even if the contradictions have sharpened between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, even if the workers’ struggles are becoming more and more active, even if the class consciousness of the proletariat has made big steps forward, In spite of all this, strictly speaking, revolutionary consciousness still extends to only a small section of the proletariat. This is why working class revolutionary organization cannot see a big development at this moment. This is why the struggle against bourgeois, reformist, etc. ideologies must not only be carried on, but intensified.
Conditions have changed, as we have said. Our tactics must take this change into account. While we are not at a stage when the communist working-class organization could experience considerable development, nonetheless much more serious efforts must from now on be undertaken in this direction. For, in many places-the rise of workers’ interest in communist propaganda testifies to this, as well as their desire to get involved in political agitation – isolated workers or workers’ “nucleuses” appear, who want to appropriate Marxism-Leninism in the most advanced proletarian strata, of course, but also more and more by offering the workers who want it an organizational framework which makes possible both the systematic acquisition of Marxist-Leninist principles and as many practical interventions as possible on the basis of these principles.
This is precisely the lesson which can be drawn from the Russian communists’ activities in the years preceding and during the setting up of the Party (roughly from 1895 to 1905), when communist workers’ circles set in motion by Marxists – one of whom was Lenin incidentally – multiplied in the main Russian cities. These circles first devoted themselves to study and propaganda but they got gradually involved in mass agitational work. It is in these circles that a great many Russian communist workers got their political, theoretical and practical training. One could say that the communist cell, especially the factory cell, as recommended by the Communist International in the 1920’s is the development of the workers’ circles of 1890 and 1900.
The question of communist organizing in the working class and the working masses, or more exactly, the question of the organizing of communist proletarians and working people, is an immediate one for the Quebec and Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. In this respect, the main task of Marxist-Leninist groups and individual militants does not consist and will never mainly consist in providing the working class with “new workers who are already communist”, but rather in creating the necessary conditions for the more advanced workers to become communists, for the more militant workers to become revolutionaries.
Today, as yesterday, the correct solution to this permanent problem lies in the “concrete analysis of the concrete situation”, on the one hand, and the rigorous application of Marxist-Leninist principles and the historically accumulated knowledge of the international communist movement in matters of organization on the other.
If we recognize that the development of the communist (M-L) workers’ movement is indissolubly linked to that of the general movement of struggle of the working class and people, let’s look at the following question: taking into account the upsurge of working class and popular struggles, which is linked to the present sharpening of the contradictions of capitalism, what is missing, principally, for the working class to turn its struggle for economic reforms into a revolutionary struggle?
Does it need lessons in militancy, from students hardened in debate with their reactionary or “Marxologist” teachers? Most certainly not. Does it lack the ability to organize and conceive the means to advance its struggle? No.
It would be useless to go on with this kind of question. We all know very well, because its struggles prove it everyday, that the working class lacks neither militancy, nor a sense of organization, nor imagination for the right methods. We know very well that these abilities of the working class come from its class situation. But we can’t ignore, on the other hand, that the workers’ movement and the toiling masses chiefly lack class consciousness, the correct orientation of their struggle, the revolutionary line. This is why it is of the utmost importance that Marxist-Leninist principles be made accessible to workers, on the one hand, and that a fierce and merciless struggle be waged against all the varieties of bourgeois ideology within the proletariat, chiefly the reformist ones, which are more liable to delude the progressive strata of the working class and people, on the other.
Thus, as far as our current objective of bringing together the workers’ movement and Marxism-Leninism is concerned, the tactical question remains that formulated by Stalin: what forms of struggle and organization are to be promoted if we want Marxism-Leninism to penetrate into the workers’ movement and dislodge from there the still dominant bourgeois ideologies?
Our main concern in the foregoing was to examine the general principles which must guide our debates on “What is to be done?” at the present time. This was no accident. Without clear and firm principles, we would run the risk of drifting into opportunism or leftism in political line, and into activity-ism, wait-and-see policy or spontaneism in political activities.
We mentioned certain tactical elements, but they were rather at the organizational level: propagation of Marxism-Leninism among the masses, support to the workers’ and anti-imperialist struggles, links with the working class, strengthening of the Marxist-Leninist movement and organizational unity.
It is no accident that we do not have at the present time a tactical line in the strict sense of the term, that is, a line which once propagated among the masses would be for them a sure guide for developing their struggles and their organizations in an objectively revolutionary perspective.
This can be explained by the weakness of the Marxist-Leninist movement, of its organization and links to the masses.
Insofar as we agree with the principle “from the masses, to the masses”, we must recognize as well that the formulation of a true tactical line implies a real and concrete knowledge of the will of the masses. And this knowledge (“take the ideas of the masses”) can only result from a close and prolonged contact with the masses and their struggles. On the basis of this knowledge, acquired through prolonged and active contacts (“vital investigations”), we will be able to
“... concentrate the ideas of the masses [through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas], then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action”.
In this manner and only in this manner will we be able to correctly develop our tactical line, i.e., by rigorously taking into account the concrete situation and firmly basing ourselves on the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and the international revolutionary movement.
As far as the teachings of Marxism-Leninism are concerned let us go back to two passages cited above:
“To know how to win step by step in judicious manner means, in given times and under given circumstances, to know how to set the most appropriate concrete objectives and, on the strength of objective laws, direct the fight in such a way as to achieve the maximum success, paving the way for further advances of the revolution and opening up the surest prospects for ultimate victory.” [Le Duan op. cit., p. 45]
“The point here is to single out from all the tasks confronting the party the particular immediate task, the fulfilment of which constitutes the central point, and the accomplishment of which ensures the successful fulfilment of the other immediate tasks. ” [Stalin op. at., pp. 95-6]
The immediate tasks before the Quebec and Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement are multiple: from formulation, clarification and propagation of the political line to establishment of a deep and broad relationship with the labouring masses, especially the working class. There is plenty of work for hundreds and thousands of communist activists for the coming years.
But among all these tasks, is there one, “the accomplishment of which would ensure the successful fulfillment of the other ones”, one which would “pave the way for further advances of the revolution”? In other words, which “particular link in the chain” should be grasped?
At the present time any significant development of Marxist-Leninist work towards the proletariat and the labouring masses depends on organizational unification of Marxist-Leninists. The “particular link in the chain” which should be grasped now is the unity of Marxist-Leninists. For it is an essential condition for the development of a real and deep relationship between the communists and the labouring masses and their struggles, as well as for the formulation and application of a political line that will advance the revolutionary struggle.
 Foundations of Leninism, Peking, FLP, 1970, p. 86.
 ibid., p. 87.
 Albania Today, (French edition), No. 3 (10), May-June, 1973, p. 13.
 The Vietnamese Revolution – Fundamental Problems, Essential Tasks, FLPH, Hanoi, 1970, pp. 43 45.
 Stalin, op. cit., pp. 93-94.
 ibid., pp. 95-96.
 ibid., p. 96.
 ibid., p. 93.
 Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership, in Selected Readings, Peking, FLP, 1971, p. 290.
 op. cit., pp. 97-98.
 Rruga e Parise, No. 11, 1973.
 “Left-wing” Communism, an Infantile Disorder, FLP, Peking, 1970, p. 98.
 Quoted in M.-A. Macchiochi, Pour Gramsci, Paris, Seuil, 1974, p. 238.
 Charles Gagnon, For the Proletarian Party, present edition, p. 22.
[46a] Where Do Correct Ideas Come From? in Selected Readings, FLP, Peking, 1971, p. 502.
 The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats, Collected Works, Moscow, 1972, Vol. 2, p. 329.
 Stalin, op. cit., p. 87.
 op. cit., pp. 93-94.
 Cf. the remarks made by Marcel Perrault (Postal Worker’s Union), Chairman of the Montreal Council of Labour (Q.F.L.), as reported by Quebec-Presse, No. 34, 13-19 October, 1974, p. 20.
 About the activities and organizational forms of the Russian Marxists (Social-Democrats) before and immediately after the founding of the Bolshevik Party, one should read and study History of the CPSU[B], Moscow, 1939, reprinted by Proletarian Publishers, San Francisco, 1975, especially the first and second chapters. As far as the organizational proposals of the Communist International are concerned, see Jane Degras, The Communist International, 1919-1943 – Documents, London, Oxford University Press, 3 volumes, 1956, especially the Extracts from the Theses on the Structure of Communist Parties. Vol. 1, pp. 256-271.
 Cf. (40).