First Published: In Struggle! No. 221, October 7, 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Editors’ note: This is the fourth and final article in a series on the decisions reached by the last meeting of IN STRUGGLE!’s Central Committee. It deals with what life is like within our organization. A number of the CC decisions on this were already made public in the July 1st editorial (issue 211). In issues 216, 217, and 219 we explained the positions adopted on our view of winning over and recruiting workers to our line and organization, our work in the unions and in the women’s movement.
This last article takes up a matter which will be a priority issue in the next period: improving the rhythm of work for members, especially women and proletarians, as well as for the newly recruited people.
IN STRUGGLE! will be putting a bigger stress on internal study and political education. The study will deal in particular with the history of the struggle for socialism and the phenomenon of revisionism. Debates will be held on these issues from now until our next Congress. The public debate has already begun in our press and we are hoping that lots of progressives and revolutionaries will get involved in that.
Q: The last CC meeting decided to pay more attention to the problem of the rhythm of work of IS! members. What does that mean in practical terms?
A: I am tempted to say “less but better” and just leave it at that. It is an issue that affects many aspects of our work. To begin with, in the past, and especially in the last year, we have not spent enough time and attention in recruiting new members into the Organization. We have not expended sufficient energies in dealing with the questions of people with which we have come in contact. We have not taken the time to invite them to join a readers’ circle or to explain what work the Organization is doing, its history, programme, tactics, how it works, the constitution and so on.
We also have failed to concentrate enough energies in giving practical support and leadership to those same contacts in the struggles and mass organizations within which they work.
The same goes for study and political education. It takes time and effort to study, debate, think over, develop and defend a point of view. The problem was not that we failed to put such things into our various plans of work. What happened usually was that we got involved in a lot of struggles and just did not have time left over to spend as much time on it as it is necessary for all key aspects of our work.
We also want to eliminate the inequalities which persist within the Organization. An analysis of the situation and the criticisms which have been centralized both indicate that we have not paid enough attention in practice to the situation of female members nor to the development of the leadership abilities of working-class cadre.
Q: What are the goals of this rectification campaign?
A: Many working men and women or housewives play a leadership role in their workplace, union or community organization. If they don’t play such a role yet they are certainly ready and able to do so and it is an important responsibility to fulfill. Furthermore, it is often by doing that that people develop confidence in themselves and in their overall leadership abilities. We did not look at that closely enough in the past. People in that situation found themselves overloaded with tasks and responsibilities. And in most cases the same people had lots of family responsibilities or lousy working conditions that need to be taken into consideration also.
Those are the people whose workload we are particularly going to ligthen with this campaign. However, the changes will come for all members with the goal being to strengthen our links with the masses and improve our recruitment.
Q: What concrete measures are being implemented to apply the CC decisions?
A: The regional and local levels of leadership will be implementing specific things on the basis of their analysis of the concrete problems in their part of the country. It will include setting up regular schools for worker members. Those will be on top of the regular study and debate sessions planned for all members. We want to make it possible for women to get together within their cell and committee to discuss their situation and make proposals for changes to the different levels of leadership. And we want to progressively replace women with men in those jobs which have in practice been “women’s jobs”. Meetings will be organized with active supporters and contacts to investigate with them the reasons why many of them do not wish to become members. We must activate and use all the structures we have for winning over and recruiting people. A pamphlet is being written up which will explain what IN STRUGGLE! is all about and how to join it... as you can see, we have lots of things to do! In this matter as in all others, we have to set some priorities and move ahead step by step. We are planning on working systematically on all this for the next year.
Q: Why did the CC choose this moment to make these decisions?
A: There are many reasons. First, it had become evident that the problems we have had to do with methods of work and leadership and the difficulties face by our women and working-class members were related to the problems that held back the recruitment of a lot of supporters. You may remember how we responded to the criticisms and questions formulated by many people in public conferences (issues 187-189) by launching a democratization campaign which gave the supporters more opportunities for information, debate and involvement.
We have reached a turning point, our tactical plan is increasingly concrete and sophisticated. The programme is tried and true. We have a fairly large number of experienced cadre who have been tested in battle. Thus we are in a position today to do more in the way of recruiting people who will be able to continue on working in the milieu where they are already active. We can recruit more men and women workers. Political work can be done in better conditions than existed before.
Q: Why pay special attention to women?
A: We are focussing our attention back again on the condition of women in our Organization and it is not unrelated to the fact that we have increased our contact with women’s organizations across Canada and have made some progress in combatting the dogmatism and sectarianism in our own ranks on this issue. The CC had received a lot of letters from women members and heard lots of views expressed in internal meetings on this issue. It became evident to the leadership that we had neglected the struggle against male chauvinism and women’s oppression within the Organization. We had acted as if such problems simply disappeared the day you came into a Marxist-Leninist organization or indeed simply because we are a Marxist-Leninist organization.
Finally, we have decided to fight against idealism on all fronts. That means taking account of concrete inequalities and inequities which must be overcome. This is where our collective theoretical effort to study the historical and material conditions within which the struggle for socialism has been waged has borne fruit. It has had a positive impact on our style of work and has made us pay close attention to the questions and hesitations of the active supporters and the concrete conditions they face.
Q: Do you think that it is normal for MLOC IN STRUGGLE! to have run into these problems? Are you not running quite a risk of hurting the Organization by revealing it all publicly?
A: Do not forget that all these questions and problems do not exist in a vacuum. They are problems in a Marxist-Leninist organization in Canada in 1980 in a struggle being waged against capitalist exploitation and oppression. And right now the bourgeois power structure is still hanging tough and has its teeth firmly on the big end of the stick. More precisely, the problems are those which have come up in the course of the growth of a Marxist-Leninist organization which is trying to create the necessary political and organizational conditions to establish the party of the proletariat in Canada. There is no such party around now as you know. We will resolve those problems by fighting for those political, objectives collectively, consciously in a step by step way. That is why we came together in the first place after all isn’t it?
The fact that we pose these problems squarely and that we are addressing them is a sign of our strength and political unity in my opinion. It is also a sign of our very democratic internal workings and a style of work which encourages and listens to criticisms. The readers of Proletarian Unity have already experienced one example of how democratic centralism works in our Organization. They saw for example (in issue 19 on page 48) how we organized ourselves to prepare for and carry out our Third Congress where the Programme and Constitution were adopted. We have never been afraid of debate or of admitting our weaknesses. The Programme was adopted after a pretty impressive series of public meetings and internal debates which involved thousands of people. We act this way because IN STRUGGLE! has always seen unity as a highly important matter. If we want political and practical unity to be genuine and to be based on revolutionary principles it must come out of democratic debate. Free expression of all viewpoints, a leadership which knows how to draw the correct lessons from the debates, and collective efforts to overcome problems – that is how we are going to make strides forward in our work.