First Published: In Struggle No. 108, February 19, 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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“The only just attitude, is the attitude of struggling for the proletarian revolution”.
I’m ready to take up a rifle, but I don’t want to do it without cause”.
“What I have to do to make revolution and the dictatorship of the people”.
“As long as I have my two hands, my two legs, and my head, I’ll struggle for the revolution.”
“If communists don’t play their role and point out the enemies and how to defeat them, nothing’s going to change.”
Those are a few of the numerous interventions which welfare recipients, and men and women sympathetic to Marxist-Leninist ideas made to a shower of enthusiastic applause from the 1,200 persons per sent at the closing plenary of the Conference on the tasks of communists, held February 4-5. These interventions are a testimony to the high degree of revolutionary consciousness and a good reflection of the spirit which prevailed during this plenary and throughout the entire conference. They also show the determination of men and women workers and women of the people to become more actively involved than ever In the socialist revolution and to work steadily to build the proletarian party, their Party.
Even If the closing plenary was the culminating moment for this conference, the entire two days were the stage for mobilizing speeches and fruitful debates on ail questions which confront communists in their current work. As they did in the plenary, oppressed and exploited women, and workers unceasingly took center stage in the discussion workshops, daring to ask questions, formulate their disagreements or point out their agreements, and defend their points of view. In this way, they really used this conference and in fact made it theirs.
The interventions, all of which put the interests of the entire working class in the forefront, also showed an unprecedented degree of unity among IN STRUGGLE! militants and sympathizers,, and an intense desire to understand and make the political line of the group theirs as well as to struggle with greater determination than ever to apply it.
The Conference opened with a speech from IN STRUGGLE!’s Secretary General, Charles Gagnon, which situated the great importance and stakes of the current context of the ruling class’s offensive against the rights of the Canadian working class and people. In that context, the proletarian revolution is more than ever on the agenda, and as the Secretary-General said: “The struggle for socialism is not going to be resolved after the 3rd or 4th world war. It must be resolved immediately.” He continued by affirming: “We’re going to achieve the socialist revolution through the action of the masses under the leadership of the communist Party. There’s no other path”. But those who have abandoned this path ere many – particularly the Canadian revisionists of the “C”P, who no longer even hide their support for the Canadian bourgeoisie.
There are also many, who on all sorts of pretexts, have abandoned the question of the revolutionary party and were getting ready to create new reformist parties to the left of the NDP or the PQ. In this context, the communist program appears as the central instrument of demarcation and the privileged guide for the revolutionary action of the working class.
Warmly applauded, this speech  helped in the understanding of IN STRUGGLE!’s positions on the tasks of communists and stimulated the debate which continued in the workshops.
Even if no other Canadian Marxist-Leninist group such as the League or the Red Star Collective – both invited – participated In the conference, there were however msny anti-imperialist groups including organizations of Iranian students, the Haitian groups EN AVANTI and ORHAP . the Association Quebec-Palestine, and the MEAM . The majority of these groups set up book tables with information on the revolutionary struggles In their countries of origin. We should also remark on the presence of an American comrade from the RCP-USA  who came aa an observer on the second day of the conference. All these participants contributed to make this conference a conference under the banner of proletarian internationalism.
Mobilized by the atmosphere which prevailed during the two days, numerous workers, women, students and unemployed persons, who in many cases had practically never heard of IN STRUGGLE! before, gave their names to join one of the group’s readers’ circles or related activities.
On the financial level, the conference was also a success. Despite the relatively high costs of such a conference, we had no deficit, and almost $800 was collected to finance the Canada-wide tour on the national question which IN STRUGGLE! is organizing in March and April.
On the technical level, we didn’t have to deal with any complications. The daycare center was better organized and was able to take in more than 80 children of all ages each day. The sound system, which had certain shortcomings in past conferences, did’t break down. The comrades assigned to simultaneous translation, having had more experience, were able to do work of an even better quality. All comrades assigned to infrastructure tasks, – including the service marshals, those in the maintenance service, cloakroom, etc – manifested great-concern to serve the masses and to offer them the best possible conditions so that they be able to fully participate in the conference. That’s why the good work of the comrades at the daycare center, for example, cannot be separated from the presence and active participation of women workers and women of the people during the two days. In short everybody contributed with a communist spirit to ensure that the conference be an out-and-out success.
These are the words of a worker of a IN STRUGGLE! study circle In one of the workshops at the Fourth Conference. This is a testimony In itself of the desire of the men and women workers who were present to take advantage of the conference to educate themselves, to raise their revolutionary consciousness and their determination to struggle for socialism.
They brought up and debated many questions of prime importance in the six workshops, two of which dealt with the question of the program, two of which dealt with the unity of Marxist-Leninists and the last-two dealt with the question of rallying vanguard workers.
in one of the workshops on the program for example, the following question was raised: “I thought that the rallying of workers was most important, I do not understand why the struggle around the program is the best way of rallying people in daily struggles”. A comrade of IN STRUGGLE! immediately answered: “The point is not to rally just anybody to just anything. The point is not to rally workers just to the struggle against industrial accidents, unemployment, etc... That is rallying to specific struggles. Of course it is important. However, If we want a party for socialist revolution, we aren’t going to rally workers to more militant trade-unions. For that, we need to rally them to a communist program. To put an end to exploitation, and not only solve the immediate and partial problems, we must rally on the basis of the communist program as a whole.”
Other questions were brought up and discussed regarding the program: “Why is the program central, while a year ago It was unity?” IN STRUGGLE!’s answer: “The three tasks which we put forward must be accomplished before the party is created. In October 1976, the question of unity was really the key link to struggle against the isolation and the amateurishness which then characterized the Marxist-Leninist movement. For, at that time, the groups who claimed to be Marxist-Leninist were numerous, dispersed, and uninformed of their respective points of view. If was therefore necessary to struggle to demarcate and involve workers in the debates. It is clear that all of this could not be done in closed circles, by private debates between groups. We can say that with the First Conference the Marxist-Leninist movement took form. With the Second and Third Conferences, and the open polemics, the movement began to demarcate and elevated its level of unity to that of a program for the proletarian revolution in Canada. And today, in a new concrete situation. IN STRUGGLE! states that unity cannot move forward without a program. And this program will be the basis on which we will rally workers. Today, we must struggle for the creation of the party on the basis of a communist program. The struggle for its elaboration, its distribution to unite all true Marxist-Leninists and to rally vanguard workers – this is what makes the program the central element.”
The question of the unity of Marxist-Leninists was also at the center of debate, especially in the two workshops on this theme. “The unity of Marxist-Leninists is one of the main tasks. But this leaves me wondering, because it seems to me that as time goes on, the opportunists are demarcating, and there are more and more oppositions. So who are we going to unite? The opportunists?” A comrade answered this question in the following way: “We are right to wonder if certain groups are really Marxist-Leninist. But unity is not just a matter of organization. For the League, for example the struggle against the two superpowers is becoming increasingly principal. The program is what will distinguish clearly who is Marxist-Leninist and who is not. True Marxist-Leninists will rally around the program. In fact, the program will strengthen unity”.
IN STRUGGLE!’s spokesperson added, “The struggle for the widest possible unity is always of utmost importance for communists. Even when the party is created, this will remain an important question. We mustn’t start with the fact that there are still several groups to tackle the question today. And If we are confronted with several programs in the future, we will have to determine which one is more correct, which one really defends the interests of the revolutionary proletariat. There is no longer any question of organizational unity with the League or RSC at the present time – they do not agree with our program. But by waging the struggle, there are perhaps some who will open their eyes.”
The two workshops on rallying were particularly notable for the large number of workers attending them, and the debates there were very lively. Someone asked, “What does rallying the vanguard of the working-class mean?” A communist worker from IN STRUGGLE! answered by giving the example of IN STRUGGLE’s political work during the flourmill workers’s strike. “We know the group’s position on the Wage Control Act, the bourgeoisie’s central attack against the working-class movement. On the basis of this analysis, IN STRUGGLE! proposed that the workers form a struggle committee, and did educational work on this subject. And to break with localism, it suggested that other workers try to have their unions vote to support the flourmill workers. As for the League,created a support committee that collected quarters for the financial support of the struggle and called for a boycott of Robin Hood products. It attacked a big capitalist, but it didn’t take on the Canadian State. Afterwards, it formed a struggle committee against layoffs. For each problem, a separate, isolated struggle committee. This illustrates the importance of figuring out what the main weapon of the bourgeoisie is, doing educational work around this aspect, and involving the proletariat In the struggle against it”. Somebody else added, “To adhere to communism is to adhere to the struggle against the Canadian bourgeoisie: the League and the RMS, however, emphasize the struggle against the PQ. Workers are fed up with the PQ, but they don’t necessarily understand that the enemy they have to defeat is the Canadian State.”
Another worker declared, “Working people, workers and email farmers, are increasingly aware that they are exploited by a minority. Education is the first step. If people voted for the PQ, it’s because they had had enough of the old parties. Our task is to rally them by using communist agitation and propaganda to denounce the State’s real goals, offer solutions and alternatives. This is where the program has something concrete to offer”.
As a further answer to this question, a comrade used the example of the political strike of October 14. “Communists use occasions like that to do educational work. Criticism of reformist positions is necessary to convince workers that our positions are correct. Our task is to rally the most class-conscious workers on the basis of the communist program, not to rally entire unions and community organizations on the basis of reformist platforms. The program must not force workers to agree with every detail and comma. Workers must agree with the essential goals and tasks of communists”.
The question of rallying vanguard workers was debated at great length, and is linked to another important question also raised In the workshops – that of the relationship between immediate struggles and the revolutionary struggle. A comrade had this to say on this matter: “IN STRUGGLE! isn’t opposed to economic struggles, struggles waged by workers every day. But this is not the way we will merge the working-class movement and Marxism-Leninism... The economist line strengthens the radical tendency within the working class and tries to do what the workers themselves are already doing. Such a line has disastrous consequences: It puts off the struggle tor the party”.
Then, another added: “We must always link the strategic objective to the struggles we are waging. In our struggles we must aim at weakening the state. This Is why the struggle against the Wage Controls is so important. In a strike, we must explain the various political tendencies which show up. We must demarcate from the NDP, the “C”PC, the Party of Labour... We must educate, raise the level of consciousness of workers and thus strengthen ourselves. Revolution is a very concrete thing”.
Elements of response to this question were also brought up at the closing plenary: “Communists must serve the masses. It is true, It Is a capital question. But how do we serve the masses? There are several ways: we can struggle against the cost of living, for, a network of public daycare, for better wages... But the only real way for communists to serve the masses is to place foremost in their concerns the necessity of rallying to the cause of proletarian revolution, of rallying the advanced elements of the proletariat to the communist program.
Among the questions and points of view which have been expressed at the conference, these were the focal point of the debates. The enthusiasm of the participants amply demonstrated that these debates have clarified the work of communists in the various areas where the masses are in struggle so as to move the task of rebuilding the party forward.
 This speech, as well as other speeches and the main interventions made during the conference will be published shortly in the form of a pamphlet
 ORHAP: Organisation revolutionnaire d’action patriotique, Revolutionary Organization of Patriotic Action.
 MEAM: Mouvement des etudiants africains a Montreal, Montreal African Student Movement.
 RCP-USA, Revolutionary Communist Party of the United States.