First Published: In Struggle! No. 99, October 12, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The Canadian proletariat has been deprived of the revolutionary leadership provided by its communist Party for more than thirty years now. Thus, its struggles, instead of being channelled into the formation of a powerful mass movement to overthrowing the bourgeoisie, have remained quite isolated and often with little hope of being sustained. That is why the reconstruction of the Party of the revolution is not a vague perspective for the future, but an immediate objective for growing numbers of the most conscious elements of the proletariat.
Many of these are workers who have joined the circles, groups and organizations which have sprung up across the country since the 1960’s with the aim of working to rebuild the revolutionary proletarian vanguard. In spite of numerous errors and failures even in spite of betrayals, the Marxist-Leninist movement here in Canada has not stopped growing since then, and this has been especially true in the last three years. Today the Marxist-Leninist movement constitutes a real force within the working-class movement itself in several important cities and towns across the country.
Compare this to what prevailed during the 50’s and 60’s and it is clear that this most encouraging situation is not accidental. It is the result of an arduous and continual struggle that started in the 60’s and intensified considerably at the beginning of the 70’s.
Numerous groups, organizations and even “Parties” were born, in some cases developed, and in most cases degenerated and died. The Progressive Workers’ Movement (PWM), the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) (CPC-ML), the Canadian liberation Movement (CLM), the Canadian Party of Labour (CPL), the Political Action Committee of St-Jacques (CAP-St-Jacques), the Regroupement des ComitÚs des Travallleurs (the Workers Committees-RCT), the Quebec Workers’ Party (PTQ) are representative of the form the struggle against modern revisionism has taken in our country to date. This struggle is still underway both on the world-wide scale and, in a particular way, here in Canada.
From its beginnings, which go back to the publication of For the Proletarian Party and the creation of the Equipe du Journal (the Newspaper Board) in October 1972, our group has taken an active part in this struggle, resolutely fighting the opportunist lines of organizations that were much more developed and well-known than we were, like the Work Sector of CAP-St-Jacques, the Noyau de Petites Entreprises (NPE), the Agence de Presse Libre du Quebec (APLQ) and the Libralrie Progressiste, all of which have now rallied to the League; as well as the CPC(M-L), the Canadian Party of Labour and others.
The Canadian Marxist-Leninist group IN STRUGGLE! has always had one sole and constant guiding line: applying Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of Canadian society and thereby serving the cause of proletarian revolution in our country. Throughout its history IN STRUGGLE! has firmly maintained its political autonomy and has never yielded to the temptation to try to make up for the weak support that it enjoyed from the Canadian masses by seeking out relations with whomever it may be overseas. For the Canadian revolution will be the work of the Canadian masses.
At the same time our group has understood how to put up a firm resistance, a resistance not accompanied by a loud fanfare, to the various manoeuvres aimed at stopping its actions and its continuing growth. And this induced everything from the sovereign contempt of the RCT and the “Family of Five” to the pressures, intimidation and threats of the CPC(M-L).
These facts about the recent history of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement are worth bearing in mind because today we are once again entering a period of intense struggle within the movement not only here in Canada but in the international movement as well. For the facts we speak of also have the advantage of bringing to mind a constant in the development of the international communist movement: the line struggle. “Marxism develops in the struggle against that which is anti-Marxist”, said Mao and that has been borne out as much during the time of Marx and Engels as during the era of Lenin and Stalin and the epoch of the struggle against modern revisionism led by Mao and Hoxha. In addition, and this applies in particular when we consider the ridiculous declaration of the League which was published in the September 30 issue of The Forge to the effect that “IN STRUGGLE! is no longer part of the Marxist-Leninist movement”, it is worth reaffirming that the line struggle has nothing in common with threats, divisive manoeuvrings, lies and slander which have become commonplace with the League in the last several months.
This latest gesture on the part of the League has already had initial results: it has covered its authors with ridicule, on one hand; and on the other, it has blown a wind of even greater political unity within IN STRUGGLE! itself. And if it stops the sorcerer’s apprentices of the League from putting their feet in their mouths again, they should recall that already in the past at least two groups, groups which the League resembles more and more, that is the CPC(M-L) and Bolshevik Union (BU), have also tried to destroy IN STRUGGLE! by attempting to discredit its “corrupt leadership”. Even more, these two groups used the same methods as the League: intimidation, pressure on individuals, impromptu visits to people’s homes, lies about this person and that person, threats, insinuations.
Unfortunately for the CPC(M-L), BU and the League, the members, probationers, and sympathizers of IN STRUGGLE! have always been encouraged to read the publications of other groups, to discuss with their members and to judge their words in the light of Marxism-Leninism and the line of our group, just as they have been encouraged to do with the international communist literature from different countries and parties. For IN STRUGGLE!, revolutionary discipline has nothing in common with the type of discipline imposed by the priests in Sunday school, or by the Jesuits who, like the League, censure the books and relationships of their flock.
Taken by itself, the League’s declaration that IN STRUGGLE! is no longer in the movement and that this opportunist group must be destroyed, or more precisely, that its poor honest. members must be rescued from the hegemony of their corrupt, revisionist and counter-revolutionary leadership, has all the trappings of a rather macabre and when you come right down to it, a rather boring little joke. But if you take into account the timing of this gesture, the circumstances surrounding it and its obvious objectives, it becomes worthwhile to to stop and consider certain aspects of this whole affair, with the intention of going back to some of the other aspects at a future date.
1. The League’s statement comes at a point when the struggle for unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists has witnessed very important developments. On one hand, in the place of the dozens of small circles and groups that existed barely two years ago, there now exist only two organizations that are national in character, the League and IN STRUGGLE!, and a small number of local and regional groups like Red Star Collective in Vancouver... On the other hand, and this is even more important, the nature of the divergencies that still divide the movement have become clearer, to the point where what is involved in the struggle has become more and more easily identifiable for anyone who is really interested in following its development. Finally, IN STRUGGLE will be publishing its draft program in the coming weeks and this will be another instrument of demarcation. It will be an instrument forming the basis for allowing the struggle for unity which don’t forget also means the demarcation from opportunism to take qualitative steps forward.
In such a context, the League’s gestures are essentially splittist and completely contrary to the interests of the revolution in our country. Among other things, this action reveals the profound contempt the League harbours for the proletariat, the masses and the communists across the country and around the world. Only contempt can lead the League to really believe that people are going to buy its story.
2. The decision of the League to exclude IN STRUGGLE! from the movement and to undertake to destroy it is not an isolated incident. In the last few months and more particularly in the last few weeks, the League has undertaken a death-struggle with our group. It has opposed the distribution of our newspaper in all imaginable ways, certain of them characteristic of extreme-right organizations. It has systematically used lies and slander to discredit our group in the eyes of all those it is in contact with, and it is constantly hatching plots to try to get militants to leave our group. In short, in three years the League has not come up with nothing better than [MIA note: smudged text] the fascist methods of the “Bains clique” of the “CPC(M-L)” to the hypocritical tactics of the RCT.
3. The arguments underlying the League’s position don’t go beyond the level of its well known and worn out litany, which it has been trumpeting in past months. IN STRUGGLE! said this – IN STRUGGLE! is opportunist – IN STRUGGLE! did that – IN STRUGGLE! is revisionist... What the League doesn’t tell its readers, the majority of whom unfortunately seem to have only The Forge for their intellectual nourishment... oh yes, and Red Dawn from time to time, is that it has been completely powerless to present the least bit of serious criticism, the least bit of criticism resulting from a Marxist analysis rather than from the paraphrasing of foreign newspapers, the least criticism dealing with any one of IN STRUGGLE!’s main political writings from Against Economism (1975) right up to For the Unity of the Canadian Proletariat (1977), not to mention the six issues of Proletarian Unity which have appeared to date (since September 1976),Against Sectarianism (1976), etc. It’s on the basis of these inexistent principles that the League means to convince its readers that it has demonstrated IN STRUGGLE!’s revisionism. It’s pure insanity!
And furthermore, the League is aware of the extreme weakness of its positions, of its powerlessness to produce a scientific analysis. So it doesn’t hesitate resorting to the grossest lies in an attempt to make it seem that there is some basis to its stories.
Thus on the question of unity, the League has the nerve to say that we organized the Conferences “with the goal of avoiding line struggle with the League”. First, for each one of our Conferences, in Montreal, as elsewhere, we multiplied our invitations to the League so that it would come and present its positions. Second, we went to every conference or meeting organized by the League anywhere in Canada, when we knew about it, except when, as was the case in Rouyn, the League refused to let us into the hall. Or like the case in Vancouver where it didn’t tell us about them. We presented our positions each time. it was possible and we distributed our literature whenever the League didn’t stop us. Third, barely a month ago, we agreed to meet with the League’s leadership, with the goal of organizing joint public debates. In the end, the League didn’t follow up on our answer... until September 30, when a few hours before its newspaper came out, it informed us that we were no longer part of the movement. Those are the facts. And in the near future we will further illustrate our point by publishing the correspondence that we had with the League on this question. Everyone will then be able to see who refused whom, and who has been covering up line struggle.
The League’s objective throughout this whole affair – our exclusion being only the foreseeable conclusion – can no longer escape anyone. Since its creation, the League has been in a frenzy to create the Party as quickly as possible. Just imagine – it’s been recognized by the Communist Party of China, and it has links with a few other parties and organizations in the world. There remained only one obstacle to overcome before it could reach its cherished goal: IN STRUGGLE, which was to difficult to swallow. The means were simple. You Just had to think about it, prepare the ground a little and IN STRUGGLE! was going to wallow in revisionism so now who’s a part of the Communist movement in Canada? Why the League and the League alone. So the historic task of uniting all Canadian communists thus falls to itself, the League. So it is now obviously the time to create the Party, and once again, there is only the League to fulfill this other historic task. We can’t really say that the League’s principles when it comes to unity are particularly subtile, but until proof to the contrary, they seem to satisfy a certain number of people at least the leadership and the members of the League.
It should be clear to the League that its base manoeuvre will lead nobody other than its own faithful into its phoney party, the fourth to have been created in Canada since 1970, after the “CPC(M-L)” and the CPL, without forgetting the PTQ in Quebec. Communists and the Canadian proletariat for their part know how to draw lessons from the past. They know how to apply the viewpoint expressed by Lenin at the 2nd Congress of the Communist International – that it is not enough to call yourself a party, to be the party of the proletariat.
Furthermore, who could really have confidence in a party created by an organization which has so much contempt for the masses that it physically prevents workers from buying IN STRUGGLE! at its meetings? Who could have complete confidence in a party born of an organization which is so lacking in self-confidence about itself and its line that it has to prevent its members and sympathizers from reading the criticisms addressed to it by IN STRUGGLE!, as well as the writings of other parties and organizations which do not share all the points of its line?
Despite the delays which will result from the opportunist actions of the League, actions which reflect the opportunism of its line. In many cases, the path for Canadian communists remains the same: to serve the proletariat and the masses by applying Marxism-Leninism, working at unity and not division, and combatting opportunism and revisionism in whatever forms they present themselves and no matter where they come from. Their immediate goal also remains unchanged: Intensify the struggle for the creation of the party on the basis of a communist programme capable of uniting communists and rallying conscious workers.
And so we will not let ourselves be distracted from our tasks by the strutting and cackling of the League. But, at the same time, we’re not going to let it step all over us indefinitely without offering the necessary reply.
But if often “the path is torturous”, “the future is radiant” for the Canadian proletariat and masses. The struggle for the party has made enormous steps forward in past years. More significant ones will soon be possible.