At its Second Congress, our Organization had already concluded that the reformist parties, like the NDP and PQ, are doing all they can to sow division in the working-class movement, and that a lasting victory over the Canadian bourgeoisie requires the profound unity of the proletariat. Our Organization therefore adopted a Report, during its Second Congress, that placed the objective of the unity of the working class of Canada at the very heart of its objectives for the present stage.
Our Organization has defended this line in the past two years. First there was the campaign against the crisis measures, which included the Wage Control Act. Then came the campaign on the Quebec national question. These two campaigns, and especially the first one, constituted the major part of our agitation-propaganda activities. Both campaigns were based on the struggle to unite the proletariat. By doing this, we clearly opposed two ideological trends that have grown very strong in our country, especially in the past fifteen years: great nation chauvinism (which often simply consists in ignoring the question of national oppression because, for example, unemployment is supposedly a more important problem that concerns everyone, including the national minorities) and nationalism.
Today, more than ever, the unity of the proletariat and working people remains a very concrete and important objective, because the division of the people’s forces is a trump card that the bourgeoisie clearly intends to use to establish a reactionary regime characterized by the open repression of the working-class movement.
As the Report to the Second Congress also indicated, it is on the level of the Marxist-Leninist line for the proletarian revolution that we have sought primarily to achieve unity, including the unity of communists.
To achieve this, the struggle on programmatic questions and for the distribution of the communist programme has really been placed at the heart of our preoccupations in recent years, particularly with the publication of our Draft Program in November 1977.
The concrete results of this intensification of our work are important and numerous. Not only has the newspaper IN STRUGGLE! become a weekly, but circulation has increased regularly in the past year-and-a-half. The journal PROLETARIAN UNITY is published every two months and its quality has greatly improved since its creation. The number of different publications has grown steadily. Regional and national conferences have been genuine successes. The number of different kinds of public meetings at all levels is growing. Even more significantly, the composition of the Organization is increasingly working-class, while the overall membership has grown in number and diversity.
We have also undertaken the task of making our Organization and our line known abroad. At the same time, we have given ourselves the means to improve our knowledge of the communist movement in other countries.
This considerable progress was only possible because we finally devoted the necessary efforts to the organizational questions that had long been secondarized in the Organization. In practice, we worked hard to correctly apply democratic centralism.
In this respect, our first concern after the Second Congress was to provide the Organization with stronger and better-structured centralized leadership.
Real successes were also achieved after we accorded the necessary attention to giving our Organization a more Canadian and less exclusively Quebecois character. The country was divided into four major regions, each with its own leadership.
Much energy has also been spent on the organizational consolidation of our basic organizational units, where a better division of work has been implemented. There as well, we have sought to establish stronger leadership at the same time as we have tried to ensure collective leadership over the cell’s work and greater democracy.
Last, but not least, financial questions as well as questions of the Organization’s infrastructure were given special attention, and important progress was made on this level as well.
All this progress, which has been both very real and very concrete, has been accompanied by concrete steps forward in developing our line and deepening our understanding of Marxism-Leninism.
To a certain extent, we can say that the difficulties we have faced in our country, the obstacles raised by the reformists and revisionists to hinder the development of our action among the proletariat and masses, have forced us to go even further in the denunciation of the erroneous positions circulating in the working-class movement. We have thus been led to develop and present the proletarian line in a better way.
In the same way, the extremely serious events which have taken place in China, where totally degenerate and thoroughly revisionist leaders have taken power, confronted us squarely with our responsibilities. Was the working class doomed to see its historic victories disintegrate one after the other? Were we, an inexperienced Organization, doomed to see the parties whose past has been and remains, one of our main sources of inspiration, sink into revisionism one after the other?
These questions, which we must admit are quite troubling, were correctly and seriously tackled by our Organization. Answers are being found as we deepen our understanding of Marxism-Leninism and the working-class movement, and as we achieve a better understanding of the contradictions of capitalism and the demands of the revolutionary struggle.
Obviously, this progress was not accomplished without difficulty, and sometimes we made important mistakes. It is in the perspective of basing ourselves on our successes and drawing lessons from our errors that we should now examine more closely all of our activities. We will do so by examining more closely the most important points.
At the turn of the century, when the social-democratic party, which had been broken up by Czarist repression and which was marked by substantial divergences among its members, had to be rebuilt in Russia, Lenin declared: “No revolutionary movement without revolutionary theory.” History had proven him right. All the revisionist splits which have so far marked the history of the international communist movement and the movement in different countries have always coincided with the emergence of errors and deviations from Marxism-Leninism on fundamental questions.
According to Marx, Engels and Lenin, the founders of Marxism-Leninism, the programme must sum up the essential elements of the “theory of the proletarian revolution” in each country and on a world scale. Marx and Engels did not content themselves with writing the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848; they took an active part in the debates on programmatic questions waged within the German party to which they belonged by criticizing the Erfurt and Gotha programmes. Lenin also played a key role in the writing of the programme of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) and in its revision after the October Revolution.
From its creation, the Communist International recognized the necessity of giving itself a programme, and did so at its Sixth Congress in 1928.
Since the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943, even Marxist-Leninist forces have paid relatively little attention to the question of the “communist programme”. Often we prefer to talk about the “general line of the international communist movement”, which is supposed to include the general principles and conjunctural political conclusions that communists should base themselves on at any given time. Today, for instance, the “general line of the international communist movement” allows us to criticize the “three worlds theory”; or, more precisely, the criticism of this “theory” is an integral part of the “general line”.
Our Organization does not share this point of view. The question of programme is a question of principle, and the history of the international communist movement is striking confirmation of this principle. Since the dissolution of the Comintern and the gradual abandonment of all reference to the communist programme, the movement has proven to be incapable of rebuilding its unity, and revisionism has continued to ravage its ranks.
The “general line” of the international communist movement cannot replace the programme for two major reasons. First, it most often takes the form of an analysis of the current situation at a given time and a criticism of the main anti-Marxist points of view at the time. This is one of the characteristics, for example, of the Letter in 25 points issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which during the 1960’s and even the 1970’s was considered by many communists to be the rallying point for all genuine Marxist-Leninists.
Secondly, nobody really knows what makes up the “general line” of the international communist movement, and everybody is free to include whatever they want in it. We couldn’t find a better source for all sorts of deviations if we tried. In our country, the example of the Bolshevik Union (BU), which claims to be inspired by the “general line” of the international communist movement on each and every occasion, is quite convincing in this respect. This sect is never caught unprepared; given any question, it bases itself on this “general line” which, depending on the situation, can be a quote from Lenin, a passage from Marx, or a speech by Hoxha. With such a developed “general line”, almost anybody can take almost any position on any question: you just have to find the appropriate quotation!
Needless to say, this in no way resolves the problem of the path of revolution in our country – that is, the question of the communist programme as the fundamental instrument for the demarcation of Marxism-Leninism from all the distortions it has been subjected to during the past century and which it is still subjected to today.
The Organization IN STRUGGLE! has given the programme a central place in its work since its Second Congress (1976), even if it hasn’t been the most fashionable issue within the international communist movement. We did so because the history of the past thirty years has proven that the subordination of the programme to more burning current issues does not lead to decisive victories for Marxism-Leninism over revisionism.
Those who yesterday adulated Mao Zedong as the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our era and who today spit on him as a miserable figure who led a party which was never really communist, are apparently very much up to date. We have to concede that they demonstrate a great capacity to take a position rapidly.
But their inexplicable about-face is not, in the long run, going to advance the class consciousness of the proletariat. We should not imagine that the working class is going to take up the struggle for socialism simply because great men have worked for this cause, or that it is going to abandon an erroneous position because this or that great man who defended it is finally not as great as we once thought.
The first duty of communists with regard to the proletariat is not to provide it with heroes, myths and superhuman models, exempt from all weaknesses whatsoever, who never make mistakes on any question... because such heroes do not exist. Nor is it to create counter-heroes or renegades so “perfect” that the mere mention of their name proves without the shadow of a doubt that everything they ever said or did was profoundly wrong.
Instead, the first duty of communists is to present the proletariat with the theory of revolution and to have it share it. This is how we should understand Lenin’s phrase, “No revolutionary movement without revolutionary theory”. And this is how we should understand Enver Hoxha’s phrase, “The masses make revolution, the party makes them conscious”.
We have placed the communist programme at the centre of our activities for more than two years now, with the goal of arming the Canadian proletariat with the theoretical and political foundations of Marxism-Leninism, with the goal of furnishing the necessary instruments to confront all opportunist positions, no matter what their nature. In other words, we have waged a campaign on programmatic questions.
The writing, distribution and defence of our Draft Program have been at the heart of our activities in the past two years, as the Second Congress had decided should be the case. We did not content ourselves with studying questions of social classes, imperialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and so on, and summing them up in a programme that could have taken the form of the encyclopaedia that some call a programme.
Instead, we waged the struggle on the question of the programme and on programmatic questions within our own ranks and within the masses. This means that we worked to determine our positions on all fundamental line questions, that is programmatic questions; as well as studying the question of the programme, that is the nature and role of this tool in the process of the struggle for the party.
All of these questions were broadly and publically debated. All the groups and organizations that claimed to be Marxist-Leninist were formally invited to criticize our positions during public conferences that brought together as many as 2,000 people at a time. A significant proportion of the participants in these conferences were workers. The Draft Program was also debated in many readers’ circles. It was distributed at nearly all the labour conventions across the country and in many community groups. As this Report is being written, the distribution of the Draft Program is estimated at 15,000 copies published mainly in French and English, but also in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Greek.
The Organization’s two official organs, PROLETARIAN UNITY and IN STRUGGLE!, have also been used to make the programme known and to stimulate the readers’ interest. Indeed, the main function of the journal has been to deepen the questions of programme that are the most controversial in the movement, including the questions of the imperialist nature of Canada, social classes, Native peoples, the international situation, and the “three worlds theory”, as well as the debate on the very nature of the communist programme. The newspaper waged the same struggle at another level.
The campaign around the programme was a great success. It permitted the communist point of view to be more widely known in a succinct way. The demarcation between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism has become more concrete and, as we will see further on, this has been a determining factor for political unity within the very ranks of the Organization.
At the stage of party-building, no question is more important than the question of line and programme. We have defended this position since the creation of the Organization, and we continue to defend it. It is a question of principle; and Lenin’s teachings and, before him, those of Marx and Engels, are most convincing on the subject.
The question of the programme constitutes a fundamental line of demarcation between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism, including its Trotskyist form. Our local revisionists, both old and modern, are quick to accuse IN STRUGGLE! of revisionism or Trotskyism. But it is significant that none of these groups or parties which claim to be Marxist-Leninist have paid any attention whatsoever in practice to the question of the programme, even though we are going through a period when the demarcation from revisionism, Trotskyism and other forms of opportunism in the working-class movement is a central concern. How else is the party of the proletariat supposed to distinguish itself from all these phonies which are fighting for the favours of the working-class movement?
Because it is a correct application of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of our country, our Programme in fact constitutes as it should, the decisive instrument for demarcating from all opportunist, revisionist, and Trotskyist positions on the path of the proletarian revolution in our country.
IN STRUGGLEl’s communist Programme is based on a rigorous analysis of capitalism and the characteristics of its present stage, imperialism. This is already a demarcation with so-called socialists who reduce imperialism to a matter of powerful countries that have colonies and that oppress foreign peoples through the force of arms, etc. With the positions of groups like Red Star Collective (RSC), we saw that this petty-bourgeois conception of imperialism found followers not only among admitted social-democrats and revisionists, but also among people who claimed to be Marxist-Leninist.
The question is one of obvious practical interest when it comes to defining the nature of Canadian society and Canada’s political status. Our country is an independent capitalist country which has reached the stage of imperialism; it is not an “economic colony” nor a neo-colony of the U.S.A. At the same time, Canada is not a superpower. It has a’lways developed with the help of other more important powers, first Great Britain, and then the U.S.A. This permits us to see the erroneous nature of the League’s position, which presents the U.S.S.R. as the greatest enemy of the Canadian people because it is a superpower on the rise, while the U.S.A. is a declining superpower . This position completely contradicts the reality of the close links which unite Canada and the U.S.A.
IN STRUGGLEi’s Programme pursues its analysis of capitalism right through to its ultimate conclusion: this mode of production doomed to disappear because of the insoluble contradictions which characterize it and which continue to grow steadily sharper. Communism is the form of society which will result from the resolution of capitalism’s contradictions. Socialism is not the final goal of proletarian revolution; this goal is communism, classless society, free from the exploitation of man by man. This is another point of demarcation for Marxism-Leninism. All the so-called socialists and revisionists have forgotten about communism, so to speak. And yet this is the fundamental reason why the proletariat continues to struggle to abolish capitalism.
Communism is obviously of no concern to the revisionists, who apparently are not even very sure about socialist revolution anymore. They are content just to demand that capitalism undergo certain reforms.
Here again, the Marxist-Leninist positions are clear and precise: the proletariat’s fundamental goal is not to obtain reforms while waiting for the miraculous birth of socialism. The revolution, the overthrow of bourgeois power, is the only path to socialism and communism. And subsequently, the new society will not be built on the basis of the “democracy for the bourgeoisie” which exists today; it will be based on the dictatorship of the proletariat, the only way to proceed with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and to ensure decisive victory for the revolution.
This clearly distinguishes Marxist-Leninists from revisionists and Trotskyists, whose obsession today is democracy. More specifically for the members of the Fourth (Trotskyist) International, socialism means a higher degree of democracy than capitalism. A vast mystification of bourgeois democracy is hidden behind these words, which seem so progressive but which are in fact profoundly reactionary, because they are aimed at disparaging the dictatorship of the proletariat under the pretext of criticizing “Stalinism”, as the Trotskyists put it.
This is a profoundly opportunist manoeuvre because it distorts the fundamental objective of the revolution, which is not the broadening of democracy but rather the abolition of social classes. Communists do not try to hide the fact that the abolition of social classes will result from the dictatorship of the proletariat, not from broadening democracy in general. Needless to say, on this the modern revisionists are in total agreement with the Trotskyists; when their programme doesn’t reject the dictatorship of the proletariat outright, it simply avoids talking about it.
The communist Programme also affirms that in Canada the first objective of the proletarian revolution is to overthrow bourgeois State power and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. This means that in our country there is no question of preliminary stages before the dictatorship of the proletariat, which accounts for most of the labour force. Nor can there be any question of fixing democracy and independence as objectives for the revolution in Canada, which is already an independent country and a bourgeois democracy.
This is, however, what the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), CPC(M-L), does when it says that we must wage what it calls a “democratic anti-imperialist mass revolution”. Applied to Canada, at least, this has absolutely no meaning, except that Hardial Bains one day tripped over this expression somewhere in the “general line” of the international communist movement.
The Canadian revisionist party (the CP) reveals its abandonment of Marxism-Leninism when it sets its objective as the broadening of democracy in Canada, the establishment of a new constitution and more severe control over the economy, and in particular the monopolies. This is an essentially reformist programme which advocates proceeding by stages and which, like the CPC(M-L)’s programme, puts proletarian revolution off till Doomsday.
Despite appearances, the League’s “programme” – which, incidentally, it has not taken the time to write, preferring a great quantity of platforms instead – consists, at the present time, in preparing the Canadian people for the next world war, and in inciting the Canadian proletariat to support “its” bourgeoisie in the face of Soviet threats to Canada’s sovereignty. Of course, all this is put forward in the context of the united front of the “second” and “third worlds” against the U.S.S.R. It seems that given its rapid and “inevitable”decadence, the U.S.A. will wind up in the “third world”, alongside China and Japan! 
Finally, IN STRUGGLED Programme establishes the immediate demands around which we must build the camp of the revolution in Canada. These demands, which represent the current interests of the working people, furnish a clear demarcation with the Trotskyist conception of programme. The latter puts forward a “programme of transition” between capitalism and socialism, thus demagogically deforming Marx and Lenin’s point of view on socialism as a transition to communism. The Trotskyists locate the transition before the socialist revolution! Further, their programme is in fact nothing but a series of radical demands which, according to them, are characterized by the fact that they are impossible to attain under capitalism. Why put them forward? To educate the masses on the impossibility of reforming capitalism, answer the Trotskyists. We have seen how an impossible demand like workers’ control of factories in Chile greatly succeeded in educating the masses: Pinochet educated the Chilean masses by bombing the worker-controlled factories! In fact, the transitional programme has but one goal: to eliminate the basics of Marxism-Leninism on the dictatorship of the proletariat, under the cover of a programme which has the cruel advantage of presenting the struggle for socialism as a simple struggle to improve the material conditions of the proletariat and working people.
For more than a year now, the Organization IN STRUGGLE! has distributed a communist Programme, the only one which has been presented to the Canadian working class and masses in the past thirty years. We should be fully aware of the historical importance of this event. Moreover, we did not simply distribute our Programme; we also defended it on all of the most controversial points in our press and in many public conferences.
We have every reason to be proud of this great victory. However, the victory of the communist Programme over all forms of revisionism remains to be achieved. There can be no question of minimizing the importance of this question or of slackening our efforts in this matter. On the contrary, we must intensify them and find ways to greatly increase the number of people who have access to the communist Programme and who can, on this basis, identify the erroneous points of view present in the Canadian working-class movement on the question of the struggle for socialism.
At a time when the question of rallying the vanguard of the Canadian proletariat to communism has become crucial in the struggle for the creation of the party, it is important to remember that rallying must be done on the basis of the communist Programme, if we don’t want to end up with a new opportunist political formation whose members are there for various different reasons, depending on which platform they happened to read.
With regard to old and modern revisionism, Trotskyism and all the other forms of petty-bourgeois radicalism, like terrorism, the communist programme remains as essential and central an instrument in 1979, for any real and lasting demarcation from these distortions of Marxism-Leninism, as it was in the 19th century, the time of Marx and Engels, and in the first half of the 20th century, in the time of Lenin and the Comintern.
Our Second Congress, held in 1976, ended with a call to turn our action towards the masses. This orientation was not fruitless. Indeed, we can say that our action has radically changed in the past two years, if we compare it with the Organization’s action during the months that preceded the Second Congress, when the Organization was turned in on itself.
At the turn of the century, Lenin indicated that it was through agitation and propaganda that the merger of the movement of proletarian revolution and the working-class movement could be achieved. The history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), CPSU(B), written under the leadership of Stalin in the 1930’s reiterated this conclusion by asserting that from the moment that communists start to do agitation in workers’ struggles, they also start to establish practical links with the working-class movement and to effect the merger of Marxism-Leninism with the working-class movement.
In spite of its obvious limits, IN STRUGGLEI’s experience during the past two years enables us to draw the same conclusion. Indeed, the programme for the proletarian revolution, the programme which clearly demarcates Marxism-Leninism from revisionism in all its forms, takes on its full meaning to the extent that it becomes an instrument for the transformation of the various struggles of the masses into a powerful unified struggle of the proletariat and the masses. This united struggle should be oriented towards the seizure of State power, the overthrow of bourgeois power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The means to achieve this are agitation and propaganda.
Agitation and propaganda are the only way the communist programme can reach the working-class movement, penetrate its most advanced sectors and convince them of its correctness, convince them that it alone offers a real way out of capitalism’s insoluble contradictions and miseries.
The masses learn from their own experience, as Stalin said. They learn to draw lessons from their living conditions and their struggles when they learn to analyse them in the light of Marxism-Leninism.
Lenin, drawing the lessons of the October Revolution, established that the victory of the proletarian revolution requires the union of two types of factors, objective factors and subjective factors. Lenin said that the objective factors for revolution exist when the bourgeoisie (in a more general way, we can speak of the ruling classes, which in some cases also include the remnants of the feudal class and representatives of foreign imperialism) becomes incapable of ruling the country: the day they start to collapse under the weight of their own contradictions, and the day the masses cease to accept the ruling class’s power. To have a more concrete idea of what this means, think of the situation that prevailed in Nicaragua last fall or, better still, that which has been developing in Iran for several months now.
But to make revolution, objective factors are not enough; subjective factors must also exist. By subjective factors, we basically mean the consciousness and organization necessary for the proletariat and the masses to actually overthrow the power in place and establish revolutionary power, the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is obvious that the party of the working class is the key subjective factor for revolution. But it isn’t enough for the party to exist formally. In other words, the subjective conditions for revolution are not met simply because two dozen militants proclaim themselves the leaders of the revolution. The party must really be the leading force of the proletariat and working people. It cannot be proclaimed, it cannot be improvised; it can only be built in the course of the struggle.
It is not up to the proletariat, let alone the communists, to create the objective conditions for revolution. Essentially, these result from the contradictions of capitalism itself. The proletariat’s and masses’ action can obviously contribute to bringing about a revolutionary situation, but it will be on the basis of the concrete conditions created by capitalism. However, only the class-conscious proletariat, only communists, can work methodically and successfully to develop the subjective factors for revolution. And here is where agitation and propaganda come in. It is through these activities that the communist point of view will penetrate the masses and win their adherence.
An organization which does not do agitation and propaganda work and claims to be Marxist-Leninist clearly shows that it understands nothing of Marxism-Leninism. Bolshevik Union has been the prototype of the Marxist-Leninist organization so “advanced” that it cannot stoop so low as to take an interest in the common, ordinary immediate struggles of the proletariat for wage increases or the repeal of certain laws. It took the opportunists of IN STRUGGLE! to denounce the Trudeau “government” and its Wage Control Act and especially to call on workers to mobilize for its repeal!
On the contrary, if IN STRUGGLED work is to be criticized in this respect, it’s not for having been linked too closely to the immediate struggles of the masses, but rather for not having been linked closely enough.
There is, however, more than one way to do agitation and propaganda work. Revisionists do it; Trotskyists and right-wing extremists too. The League does agitation and propaganda in workers’ economic struggles: it says that these struggles must be radicalized and coordinated. It also does agitation and propaganda on political questions: it invites the Canadian proletariat to support the “united front” of China, the U.S., the “third world”, Western Europe, and Japan against the U.S.S.R., which is more and more isolated in the “first world”! This is how the “unavoidable” war can be avoided and how the Canadian people can support the country’s bourgeoisie in the event that foreign bourgeoisies, namely the Soviet bourgeoisie (which is bigger and badder than all the others put together) ever threaten Canada’s sovereignty. It is clear that an alliance of the Canadian proletariat with Yankee imperialism to safeguard Canada’s independence is a crazy strategic line. The League has indeed unlimited resources: Beijing Review is published once a week!
The League also does agitation on the Quebec national question: it denounces the PQ for its wishy-washy positions, accusing it of compromising the “blooming of the nation” by not instituting compulsory French for all those living in the Quebec territory. And long live the national oppression of the minorities!
Therein resides the source of equality and unity. The League is also interested in and does agitation and propaganda on democratic issues: it adopts the same arguments proned by L’Heureux, vice president of the CNTU, for giving priority to “economic repression”.
In short, the League does agitation and propaganda for the right, for reactionary forces, for the bourgeoisie. How? By putting the defence of the homeland in the foreground, by remaining silent on the rise of reactionary forces in our country, by attacking communist forces by all means including reactionary violence, by enrolling its members in a fascist-type organization where political questions are reduced to a series of memorized slogans, completely unjustifiable from a communist point of view.
The CPC(M-L) also does agitation and propaganda – just like the League in fact. It bases itself on the principle of “believe it... or else” and on an equally nationalist line. The revisionist CP and the Trotskyists also do agitation and propaganda.
Agitation and propaganda are not just a series of methods, tricks or flashy red bill of goods. Rather, it is a question of political line and programme. And for two years now, it is the line of the unity of the Canadian proletariat and working people which has guided our agitation and propaganda; for in this country, the factors of division are numerous, and considerable, and date back a long time. As long as the proletariat has not overcome them, the outcome of its struggle will remain uncertain.
The Organization IN STRUGGLE! has stepped up its agitation and propaganda work in recent years, thus applying the Second Congress’s call to build the party in the masses, through action among the masses and in their struggles.
Our Organization has distributed thousands of leaflets, been present on dozens of picket lines, intervened in a number of union conventions, organized dozens of public meetings, set up many study groups and sympathizer units, and greatly developed the distribution of the newspaper.
The Organization’s practical activities have developed most on the level of the newspaper. This is very stimulating because, as we have emphasized since 1974, the newspaper must become our main instrument of agitation, propaganda and organization.
Let’s take a closer look at this. From September 1974 (the newspaper’s second year of publication) to September 1976, distribution statistics remained approximately the same, with ups and downs fluctuating between 1800 and 3200 on special occasions like May Day and IWD. But from September 1976 to September 1977, distribution doubled. The call issued by the central leadership during the spring of 1977 was not left unanswered, because from September 1977 to March 1978, distribution doubled again. The publication of a weekly did not cause a drop – on the contrary – although it doubled the tasks linked to the distribution of the newspaper.
This is a great success, but it would be a mistake to be satisfied with these results. Our goal should be to distribute our newspaper by hundreds of thousands soon. To do so we will have to show even more imagination and determination. We will have to break with the dogmatic conception which sees the distribution of the newspaper as selling three copies an hour and reciting its contents the rest of the time, regardless of the circumstances. It’s an excellent idea to explain the newspaper’s contents in a readers’ circle, a kitchen meeting or during a break at work; but it’s an error to want to repeat this in front of a subway station at five o’clock in the afternoon when thousands of workers are coming and going in a hurry.
Using our imagination means discovering new methods, creating distribution networks in neighbourhoods, factories, universities, colleges and schools. This has already begun: we must continue along these lines. We have to reach the point where those who take three copies today, will take nine or twelve tomorrow because their contacts will have agreed to distribute as they do.
If the newspaper is selling more, it is no doubt because it is more interesting. It analyses the political situation, at home and abroad, in a more lively way; workers’ struggles are presented in a less stereotyped way; it reports more on the Organization’s activities, advances specific slogans for every circumstance; opens its pages to readers who have things to report on, or opinions to express; and finally, it is becoming more Canadian (instead of simply Quebecois).
We have to point out, however, that in terms of its content, information on international affairs is still scarce. The coverage of Native peoples’ struggles is also limited. Finally, struggles of the youth and their living conditions are generally completely ignored in the newspaper. This shows that we have neglected too much this social stratum which must be own over to Marxism-Leninism. The time has come to study this question and, in this aspect as well, break with the narrow point of view that is only concerned with the rallying of workers and forgets the rest of the people. As for young people, many are already workers and others will be soon, although many, may be unemployed for a while. But then and again, the unemployed are not part of the bourgeoisie!
The newspaper, however, is only one of the many agitation-propaganda instruments we have distributed. Besides the journal PROLETARIAN UNITY, published every two months and which deals in more depth with the more difficult programmatic questions, we have published many pamphlets and reprinted certain classics of Marxism-Leninism.
Much attention has been paid to the distribution and defence of the Draft Program (November 1977), even in the specific struggles we have supported. The distribution of the Manifesto Against Bill C-73 and Wage Controls, published in March 1977, was also very successful, and we had to reprint it too.
Although the progress of the newspaper and other publications is most remarkable, it is not the only progress achieved in the field of agitation and propaganda. In past years, considerable work has been put into supporting many struggles waged by people and workers: strikes, the struggle for daycare centres, associations of the unemployed, some student struggles, the struggle for equality for women, struggles to unionize, democratic struggles; and, of course, the wider struggles against the crisis measures, for Quebec’s right to self-determination and, more recently, the struggle begun with Operation Liberty in Quebec to fight against the development of a “police State” in our country.
Our support for workers’ struggles has indeed developed in the last two years in both quantity and quality. It has taken various forms, from articles in the newspaper identifying what was at stake to the collection of funds, picketing, publicizing struggles with leaflets, mobilizing for demonstrations, organizing meetings and participating in support committees.
Generally speaking, through these various interventions, we were able to support specific struggles, make our press as well as our Programme known, and sometimes recruit workers for readers’ circles or as active sympathizers carrying out tasks for the Organization.
Furthermore, many comrades have started intervening in their workplaces and leading other workers to action. But this is still the exception to the rule, for this type of agitation has not been systematically organized. Distribution blitzes, door-to-door or in shopping centres, were intensified, while distribution at factory gates was sometimes somewhat neglected by comparison.
Readers’ circles and study circles continued to develop with ups and downs; often the use of new work methods has led to abandoning – for no specific reason – older methods. Setting up workers’ units in workplaces is still rarely done today, although they would no doubt constitute an excellent means of integrating workers and would allow us to experiment concretely with ways of creating factory cells.
The campaign against the crisis measures, from January 1977 to April 1978, was certainly the most important of the Organization’s activities among the masses. It was in fact a renewal of the campaign taken up on the same subject not long after the proclamation of the Wage Control Act, Bill C-73, in October 1975.
We made an assessment of this campaign in our newspaper last spring. We said that the analysis that led us to state that wage controls were central in the Canadian bourgeoisie’s attack in the present crisis period was correct; we declared that the struggle against these measures was the main grounds on which to build the unity of the proletariat and working people in Canada against their main enemy. These conclusions have been confirmed by subsequent developments. Even the opportunists from the League and the union bosses are forced to admit today that the bourgeoisie’s attacks on the workers’ movement and the unions have increased these past years and that fundamental democratic rights are more and more threatened, at the same time as the masses’ living conditions deteriorate with unemployment, rising prices, the devaluation of the dollar, etc.
Repression developed with the Wage Control Act. This act gave final decision-making power on all collective agreements to the Anti-Inflation Board (AIB), which had jurisdiction not only over wages but also over all clauses in collective agreements with monetary repercussions. In practice, there was no point in workers waging struggles: the AIB could invalidate everything won by the workers, and it did not hesitate to do so. This situation led to demobilization, for the labour bosses lost no time in advising moderation, collaboration and... court proceedings, without any mass, country-wide mobilization.
Only the doctrinaires of Bolshevik Union still talk about the capitalist crisis in general, considering that concrete forms of the crisis in our country at the present time are of no importance and that the proletariat’s struggles against these specific manifestations of the crisis are of no interest. Today, Bolshevik Union says that IN STRUGGLE!’s error is obvious because the Wage Control Act has been repealed and Bill C-24 (the reactionary immigration law adopted not long after Bill C-73) is still there! What logic! Why doesn’t BU also point out that the Revised Statutes of Canada (all the country’s laws) is still there and that it constitutes the backbone of bourgeois power? No use struggling against this or that law, there are so many others that there will always be some left. We’re lucky that the subtle tacticians from BU aren’t the leaders of the workers’ movement, because the workers would have to wait for all the bourgeois laws to collapse simultaneously... and read Lenin’s What is To Be Done? to kill time in the meantime.
The Wage Control Act no longer exists, but its effects are still making themselves felt. IN STRUGGLE! has undertaken a campaign on this subject to alert the proletariat and working people to the bourgeoisie’s manoeuvres and to call on them to unite in the struggle to stop this movement – we are interested in the fate of the masses today, not just under socialism tomorrow – and especially, to advance in the building of the popular forces, guided by the party of the proletariat, which alone can crush bourgeois power.
This key tactical principle has guided IN STRUGGLE!’s action in the masses, particularly since the Second Congress. It is on the basis of this principle that we decided to focus our agitation and propaganda on the struggle against the Wage Control Act.
However, the results of this campaign disappointed many comrades or, to be more precise, raised many questions. The “struggle committees” against Bill C-73 put forward by IN STRUGGLE! weren’t a great success, we must admit. And, after the general strike of October 14, it’s undeniable that the mass movment of resistance was not sustained, except in some very local struggles. The union bosses gained the upper hand and multiplied the struggle fronts. Above all, they intensified their support for the NDP, which they claimed was the only party capable of solving the Canadian economic crisis.
The first thing to remember is that “The masses make revolution, the party makes them conscious”. In the enthusiasm of the struggle, we tended to forget this principle and to judge our action as if the struggle of the working-class movement depended mainly on our work. Our aim isn’t to substitute ourselves for the working class or to take up the struggle in its place. Our aim is to work for the development of the proletariat’s class consciousness by making known our analysis of Canadian capitalist society, by explaining the insoluble nature of the contradictions of imperialism and the necessity of socialist revolution.
That’s not only a question of correct theory, of well-documented and well-argued general analyses, nor of well-articulated criticisms of specific situations arising out of the contradictions of capitalism. It’s also a question of practical struggles, concrete and specific struggles. We have long since broken with our academic style and the doctrinarianism which led to making fine analyses to prove our great knowledge. The central problem of revolution is seizing power: bourgeois power will not fall under the weight of Marxist-Leninist analyses of the Canadian situation. It will be crushed by the unified, organized, and firmly-led action of the masses and particularly of the proletariat. Thus, it is important to resolve the question of the unity of the proletariat and the mobilization of the masses, or else communists will remain marginal.
The proletariat’s class consciousness, its political unity, and the mobilization of the masses do not develop outside of current struggles. This was established within the Bolshevik Party at the beginning of the century, when Lenin said that the merger of Marxism with the working-class movement began when communists started doing agitation and propaganda work in workers’ struggles.
These theoretical questions don’t seem to be problems for our Organization anymore. A few doctrinaire individuals who had only contempt for immediate struggles left or were expelled from our ranks in the spring of 1977 and joined the ranks of BU. BU took advantage of this situation to move the centre of its organization to Quebec, since in English Canada it was already well-known as a small fringe group of opportunists and dogmatists who had turned up in Canada like UFOs, and who had all the characteristics of professional saboteurs of the struggle of the working-class movement.
It is true, however, that our agitation and propaganda work has suffered from important weaknesses and been accompanied by real errors. We neglected to give practical and centralized leadership to our own campaign in the winter of 1977, and this led to waffling and hesitations within our own ranks. Moreover, we often committed the error of reducing the struggles of the working class and masses to the sole question of the Wage Control Act. Instead of educating the masses on the basis of their conditions and struggles – the specific role of agitation work – we tried to do agitation on the sole grounds of the wage controls.
As a result of this, we often presented a biased analysis of the contradictions which the different strata of the people faced. We tended to see wage controls in an economist way, namely as a measure from which all the other economic aspects of the crisis, including unemployment, were derived. This led us to distort the nature of the general crisis of capitalism and the specific crisis of the years from 1974 on.
Since the Wage Control Act was supposed to be at the heart of all our work, we also dealt with support for specific struggles by considering them with regard to wage controls and by trying to force, so to speak, workers to adopt this point of view. It would have been more correct to support the struggles for what they were, in accordance with the objectives defined by the workers, and within that context to do agitation on the crisis, the crisis measures and capitalism itself, the source of crises.
Even if the problems identified in our assessment of our campaign against the Wage Control Act and the crisis measures have not all been solved, real progress has been made in the past months. But first, we should take a look at another “campaign” which had important weaknesses: the information campaign on the question of Quebec. As opposed to the campaign on wage controls, this was to be a short campaign, without complex, long-term plans.
The tour on this question in March and April 1978 was a success, especially in Quebec. It gave us the opportunity to present our positions in many meetings, debates, and even on radio and television. However, due to a lack of sufficiently systematic organization, the signing of the Declaration on the right of the Quebec nation to self-determination was not taken in hand seriously.
As a result of all these difficulties, we have more recently adopted a more correct attitude in our activities of agitation and propaganda. Support for the postal workers’ struggle and, more generally speaking, for public sector workers is well under way. The newspaper, which is distributed more extensively and systematically among the workers of this sector, reports regularly on what is at stake in the struggle. Moreover, concrete objectives are set and practical slogans are put forward, giving practical leadership to our support work. But we have not tried to take the place of the postal workers, and we have not acted as if the entire working class throughout the country should spontaneously recognize the central nature of this struggle for the unity of the proletariat in resistance to measures of repression.
Among struggles against particular forms of oppression, our intervention on the women’s question has been the most important apart from the question of Quebec. Although some comrades have severe criticisms of our action on this question, it was more extensive than our work with national minorities, immigrants and young people, for example.
As in the past, we have continued to accord special importance to the celebration of March 8, International Women’s Day, in the same way that we accord special importance to May Day, International Workers’ Day.
Difficulties arose mainly in more regular work with women. First of all there was a problem of orientation. We had to break with the line of “special methods” in work with women, for this line could very well have led in practice to a “special organization” for work related to women’s oppression.
On this question as on all others, the line adopted at the Second Congress of turning our work towards the masses is also relevant. We present our Programme to the women of the proletariat; we are active in the struggles and in the organizations where they are present, and we support their demands. We do this in the perspective of defending the communist point of view that the cause of women’s oppression today is capitalism and that, because of this, women have every reason to become actively involved in the revolutionary struggle.
If we look at the results of our work in terms of recruitment, it is clear that our work with women has not been of a lesser quality than our work with the working class in general, since women presently make up half our numbers, and this proportion has so far been maintained. It remains to be seen whether the present rate of recruitment of men and women workers is satisfactory.
Our most important task now and in the coming period is to effect the merger of Marxism-Leninism and the working-class movement, and to make progress in winning over the vanguard of the proletariat, men and women alike, to communism.
Although we have made undeniable progress on this level, it is still unsatisfactory, very unsatisfactory. At the present time, a little more than a quarter of our membership is proletarian, including industrial and production workers and workers in transportation and commerce, as well as what is commonly called the “services”. This situation contrasts sharply with the situation at the time of our Second Congress in November 1976, when only 11% of our members were from the working class. Furthermore, among new adherents to the Organization in the past few months, approximately one out of three are working class. This illustrates that the working-class composition of the Organization is developing noticeably. And this has absolutely nothing to do with petty-bourgeois members becoming workers: the men and women workers in IN STRUGGLE! are not students, professors and lawyers who have traded in their briefcases for overalls!
Difficulties nonetheless persist. As of 1977, the central leadership wanted to know why workers were not rallying to the Organization in larger numbers. At the time, it became clear that the work methods of too many intellectual comrades had a lot to do with it. Efforts were undertaken to eliminate student and petty-bourgeois methods from our work – long meetings, discussions constantly rehashed, missed appointments and chronic lateness.
The continuation of the inquiry permitted us to realize that workers who joined the Organization were sometimes hesitant elements who ended up leaving sooner or later. This forced us to revise our recruitment methods, which until recently were very individualized. To a certain extent, workers were joining the Organization to stop being pestered. When they refused to join, the result was more visits from the Organization, more pressure... This too has been corrected. It is out of the question to force individuals to rally to us: it’s a question of providing favourable conditions for rallying, in particular, for the most advanced, class-conscious, and determined elements.
This certainly means an increased involvement in workers’ struggles, because that is where working-class leaders are active. This also means stepping up activities and forms of activities that are likely to attract these workers. Finally, this means supple organizational forms and non-bureaucratic methods of rallying. We must diversify the ways in which workers can collaborate in the work of the Organization and we should try to see that this collaboration be done in their habitual milieu, at work or in the community. In this context, the constitution of core groups of workers in factories and other workplaces must be considerably developed.
But more generally speaking, the key to success is the Organization’s capacity – and this means the capacity of its basic organizational units and even its working committees – to give correct leadership to the struggle of the working class, not only in a general way but also, and perhaps above all, in terms of the leadership given to the daily struggles of the woiking class and masses.
We must therefore accord greater importance to our agitation and propaganda activities, because they are our link with the working-class movement. They are the key to success in the essential task of rallying the most advanced workers to communism and to IN STRUGGLE!.
To sum up, we can be pleased with the considerable progress we have made, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in our agitation and propaganda work; and this, particularly in Quebec, where we have held many more activities and where we have intervened more frequently in workers’ struggles. We were also much more active in unions, including union conventions, where we took up the task of distributing our general positions and especially the Draft Program, as well as taking stands on the questions on the agendas of the different conventions.
The increase in the sale of our newspaper and other publications, and the fact that growing numbers of workers are attending our activities and rallying to our Organization, are the results of this effort. They are proof that Marxism-Leninism is penetrating the Canadian working-class movement.
We should also note that the quality of our work has improved. We have been able to learn from our mistakes and gradually correct them. We have only to think back to the extreme slowness with which the campaign against the Wage Control Act got underway and the time it took to set up the struggle committees. By contrast, during the postal workers’ strike in the fall of 1978, we were able in a matter of days to organize our support in all regions, by using the newspaper, as it should be used, as the instrument of political and practical leadership for our work across the country.
On the basis of these successes, we must now take up the task of broadening our intervention across the country and making up for the delay in penetrating English Canada as soon as possible. It is on the basis of these successes (which are closely linked to a better application of democratic centralism, as we will see further on), that we must take up energetically the task of winning over the most advanced strata of the proletariat.
In this respect, two things should hold our attention. On the one hand, we should increase our interventions in workers’ struggles so as to be in touch with the most active, class-conscious, and dedicated workers; we must display the greatest flexibility when it comes to presenting them with the ways in which they can contribute to our work. On the other hand, we must never agree to lower the theoretical and practical conditions we have set for the admission of new members to our Organization. In particular, we must make sure that the men and women workers who join us have the necessary means at their disposal to acquire a solid communist education. This is a question of principle on which we can make no concessions. We want to create a party of the communist vanguard of the proletariat, not a party of petty-bourgeois elements who co-ordinate the struggles of the working-class movement. It must be clear that there cannot be two “classes” of communists: those who develop the line, and those who apply it, often without understanding it. We have enough negative examples of this scandalous situation in different organizations and parties around us, including some of the most pretentious ones, to spur us to extreme vigilance on this matter.
The working class, both men and women, must make up the core of our Organization and of the party. This is why the recruitment of workers, and consequently support for workers’ struggles, must be a priority. This does not mean that we should build a fence around the working-class movement and close our eyes to certain particularly oppressed strata of the people which have every interest in joining the revolutionary struggle. We have already mentioned women fighting oppression; we should also mention the young people who are greatly affected by the crisis in many ways, as well as the national minorities whose rights are trampled underfoot in many respects.
This is the way to long-lasting success in party-building. The proletarian and revolutionary nature of the party depends on it, and therefore the success of the revolution itself.
In December 1974, following its First Congress held in the fall of 1974, IN STRUGGLE! made known its political line in a document that was also a call to action: Create the Marxist-Leninist Organization of Struggle for the Party, presented in the form of a supplement to the newspaper IN STRUGGLE! . In September 1976, IN STRUGGLE! published the first issue of its theoretical journal PROLETARIAN UNITY, mainly devoted to an analysis of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist forces, and called once again for the unification of Canadian communists in a country-wide pre-party organization. At that time we indicated the main steps to be taken to reach this objective. These steps consisted mainly in a series of public conferences on the fundamental questions of the communist programme and the struggle for the party.
The conferences were held, and there were even regional conferences on most of the themes in various cities. The subjects treated in these conferences included the unity of Marxist-Leninists, the path of the revolution in Canada, the international situation and the tasks of communists at the stage of the struggle for the party. A Fifth conference on the Draft Program (published in the fall of 1977) was held in June 1978.
But one element of the “plan of struggle for unity” was not realized. After the last conference, there was to be a founding congress of the organization regrouping all the groups adhering to a common line. In fact, all the groups that adhered to the line presented at the conferences had rallied to IN STRUGGLE! as early as the Fourth Conference. Thus, the proposed congress would only have been a congress of IN STRUGGLE!, since it was clear at that time that neither the CCL(M-L), Bolshevik Union or the Red Star Collective could unite with us. The conferences did, however, have the advantage of considerably clarifying the differences between these groups and IN STRUGGLE!.
In fact, the League and the RSC withdrew from the conferences, which they afterwards denounced for the most futile and opportunist reasons. The real reason for their behaviour was their incapacity to answer IN STRUGGLE!’s criticisms of their errors and deviations. Unable to debate, they chose instead to take refuge in the petty denunciations that have been their trademark since then.
The League wanted to debate alone with IN STRUGGLE!, the other groups being in its opinion “confused elements”. Reality was a different matter, since in Vancouver it invited us to its conferences only when it was almost certain that we wouldn’t be able to participate. In Regina, we are still waiting for its final reply with regard to a conference on unity, a reply that was due in June 1977. In reality, the League was interested in debating until it discovered that learning Beijing Review by heart was not enough to solve the problems of the revolution in Canada.
The RSC withdrew from the conferences under the pretext that since it was a small group that did not exist in Montreal, it needed twice as much time as the other groups to make sure its point of view would be well understood! Today, we know that the RSC needs a lot of time to formulate its point of view; to our knowledge, it has not even published a single leaflet for approximately one year now, at a time when the communist movement is going through one of the most critical periods in its history.
Bolshevik Union had to be expelled from the conferences. This group, also incapable of carrying on political debate, turned towards sabotage, especially since the conferences of IN STRUGGLE! were the only occasions it ever had to address persons other than its own “affiliates”, as it calls them.
Since the other groups that had participated in the conferences rallied to IN STRUGGLE!, it would have been a sheer formality to hold the proposed congress. Actually, for IN STRUGGLE! the June 1978 conference on the programme was the occasion to make known its positions on all fundamental questions and to gather the criticisms of the masses. The adoption of the definitive version of IN STRUGGLEJ’s Programme by the Third Congress will represent the final form of this struggle, which has lasted over two years.
The country-wide Marxist-Leninist organization that we advocated in December 1974 now exists. It is fully engaged in the struggle for the party, a Marxist-Leninist party of the proletariat, one and the same party for all of Canada. It is through the reinforcement of this Organization, through its broader development in all the major regions of the country, through its political consolidation and greater penetration of the working-class movement, that we will bring about a situation favourable to the creation of the party.
In April 1977, our Organization declared that “(from now on) to reach the unity of (Canadian) Marxist-Leninists, we must intensify the struggle against opportunism”. This was an important clarification of our line on the unity of the communist forces in Canada, a clarification that was long overdue according to some people and that would take just as long to put into practice.
Since the creation of IN STRUGGLE!, the question of unity has always occupied an important place. We have always worked in a spirit of achieving the greatest unity possible. At certain moments, we even kept silent on differences in order to achieve the broadest unity possible of progressive forces in common struggles and to allow the penetration of Marxism-Leninism in their ranks.
We need to pay particular attention to this question since, even today, it is dealt with in an erroneous fashion not only in our own ranks but also in various countries.
Not so long ago, certain comrades in our Organization still thought that unity would be achieved through the unification of various groups, organizations or parties, as was the case in 1975-76. Today some wonder instead if the question of unity is not outdated since we are united with all those with whom unity is possible.
Actually, the unity of communists – within our country of course, but also on the international level – must remain a constant preoccupation in our action; it will remain so even after the creation of the party. The struggle for unity can take two principal forms: that of the unification of all communist forces that may be isolated or outside the ranks of the Organization or party, and that of the purification of the Organization or party by the exclusion of opportunist elements. In other words, we seek the broadest possible unity, but this unity must be based on one, and only one, decisive criterion: the firm adherence to the Programme and its practical application in accordance with the Constitution. There can be no compromise whatsoever on this; to act otherwise would mean adopting the opportunist line of the Trotskyists regarding the right to dissidence, fractions, etc. Leninism tolerates no compromise of this kind.
However, the constant search for unity and an iron discipline has nothing in common with sectarianism, doctrinarianism, and petty-bourgeois pettiness. If unity is based on one, and only one, criterion, namely complete adherence, in theory and in practice, to the line and Programme, there is a possibility that tomorrow we will be united with persons who are today outside our ranks. What we seek is the unity of all authentic communists, and not only of those who have been members of IN STRUGGLE! since time immemorial.
With regard to the development of our Organization, there is a point of view according to which we were marked by opportunism in our struggle for unity. Incidentally, this point of view is regularly encouraged by the League and Bolshevik Union – which, like the CPC (M-L) (which remains their guide in many respects) have of course never committed any errors, whether they be right-wing or “left”-wing errors. We were supposedly opportunist in uniting with groups that were not really Marxist-Leninist. Another example of our opportunism is supposedly our silence on the founding of the League for several months, and then the fact that we criticized its sectarianism first instead of the right opportunism which was already blatant in the Statement of political agreement for the creation of the CCL(M-L), published during the fall of 1975. Some people even criticized us for being sectarian when we criticized the League’s sectarianism in the summer of 1976.
These points of view refer to real facts which should not be denied. The groups that joined IN STRUGGLE! in 1975 and 1976 were far from being experienced Marxist-Leninist groups with a complete and utterly proletarian line and programme. It is true that the creation of the League left us somewhat astounded for a while. It is true that the foundations of the League’s doctrinarianism and opportunism are already present in its Statement of political agreement. It is also true that during our conferences on the questions of programme, between September 1976 and September 1977, we admitted groups whose intentions were already dubious, and in particular Bolshevik Union.
If all these gestures were to be evaluated in the light of today’s prevailing conditions, no doubt we would conclude that we were indeed opportunist. The League’s fundamental errors are today much too evident to be ignored, as is BU’s counter-revolutionary nature; and the political level of many of the groups that rallied to IN STRUGGLE! in 1975 and 1976 was very low. But if we keep on reasoning like this, we would end up admitting that we should never have founded IN STRUGGLE!, let alone l’Equipe du journal  because the eminent communists present on these two occasions...well we are still looking for them! It should be emphasized, as has already been said, none of the Canadians known to be “born communists” are members of IN STRUGGLE!; they are all members of the League, BU and the CPC(M-L); we might as well admit it once and for all.
That’s how ridiculous the idealist conception of history still promoted among communists can get. We must take care not only to avoid judging the past in terms of criteria based on today’s reality, because reality changes; but regarding IN STRUGGLE!’s line and practice on unity, we must also keep in mind that from its creation to the autumn of 1976, our Organization placed the struggle for unity at the forefront. We considered that given the primitive level of the movement as a whole, several demarcations that had been raised to a level of principle were in fact simply the expression of the dogmatism and sectarianism of novices who needed to recite their classics to gain self-insurance. Today BU is still at that stage, for it has gotten into the habit of analysing the ’Native peoples’ situation by relentlessly spouting quotations taken from the classics of Marxism-Leninism.
Until the winter of 1976-77, we consciously worked at uniting the greatest number of those who, throughout the country, demonstrated their willingness to work for the creation of a party that would base its action on Marxism-Leninism. In our opinion, this point of view was correct. We invite all those who, like BU, only abide by the positions found in foreign books and journals and who accuse IN STRUGGLE! of opportunism, to inform themselves on the point of view of certain comrades from other countries on the struggle for the unity of Canadian communists. Experience generally leads to a less simplistic attitude regarding the resolution, over a period of time, of certain contradictions.
Since the winter of 1976-77, we have modified our practical attitude, our tactic in the struggle for unity. We have not modified our line but in applying it we have taken into account the changes in the situation. The conferences organized by IN STRUGGLE! and other groups on fundamental questions of political line from September 1976 on, brought about a rapid development in the demarcation of positions within the Canadian communist movement. It very soon became clear that certain groups wanted unity, while others did not. It also became evident that major differences existed on fundamental questions. In other words, it was evident that opportunist and revisionist positions were hidden behind Marxist phraseology. In the spring of 1977, we published the April 3rd Communique from IN STRUGGLED Central Committee on the unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement. This communique stated that to achieve unity of Canadian communists, we had to intensify the struggle against opportunism. It is also during this period that we ourselves reached a clearer understanding and further developed our conclusions on the major questions of programme.
This was an important step forward. It was then that we started to break with the narrow conception that in the beginning characterized our plan of struggle against opportunism. We came to understand that opportunism and revisionism did not only characterize groups considered to be within the “movement”. We opened our eyes and saw that the NDP, the CP, the CPC(M-L) and many other groups were telling the proletariat that they were struggling for socialism; we saw that there were a multitude of opportunist organizations misleading the working-class movement.
We therefore raised the level of our agitation and propaganda, and paid more particular attention to all the erroneous political trends present among the masses, to combat them and to destroy their influence.
There is no need to revise our line on unity. We must continue to unmask the opportunists and revisionists of all kinds, with the very specific aim of ensuring the penetration of the proletarian programme in the working class and thus destroying the influence of the reformists, nationalists and revisionists who, together, still hold a dominant position within the Canadian working-class movement.
This is why IN STRUGGLE!’s Programme becomes the central instrument of struggle both for rallying workers and developing the unity of communists in Canada, beginning with the political and organizational unity of our own Organization.
It goes without saying that IN STRUGGLE! does not seek unity with any of the existing organizations in the country that claim to be communist, such as the CP, the CPC(M-L), the Canadian Party of Labour (CPL), the CCL(M-L), BU, the RSC, or the different Trotskyist sects such as the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL), the Groupe socialiste des travailleurs quebecois (GSTQ), etc. There are indeed, fundamental programmatic differences with all these organizations on which no compromise can be made. These groups are, in one way or another, deeply marked by modern revisionist deviations. It is thus still correct to affirm that to achieve the unity of Canadian communists, we must intensify the struggle against opportunism and, more especially, deepen the struggle against revisionism.
But considering that we now have a Programme and since we acknowledge that the struggle for unity must be carried on even after the creation of the party, why don’t we decide to create the party now? Comrades in the Organization IN STRUGGLE! sometimes raise this question; and sometimes comrades from outside the country also ask the same question.
On this point, as on all others, we must above all avoid tying our hands in future situations; for communists base their actions on the concrete analysis of the concrete situation. And it does not seem advisable to create the party in present conditions.
But why? In many countries, wasn’t the party created by organizations less developed than IN STRUGGLE! is at the present time? Indeed, in many countries, including Canada, many parties claiming to be Marxist-Leninist have been set up. In several countries, there are two, three, or even more parties. We cannot evaluate the situation in all cases but we do know that many of these parties are not the party of the proletariat. Nor can they hope to become so. They have only superficially broken with revisionism, and in spite of their great claims, they are simply mouthpieces of modern revisionism, be it Russian or Chinese, or else they’re trying to hide their opportunism behind the glorification of the PLA.
We reject the theory that says we should “hurry up and create the party”, because the creation of a communist party, a revolutionary party, is not a game for intellectuals full of half-baked ideas gleaned here and there; nor is it a game for intellectuals more concerned with distinguishing themselves and scoring points against opposing cliques than with serving revolution.
The creation of the party will only serve the interests of the Canadian proletariat when it is recognized by the proletariat, when the proletariat can see that it is not simply the umpteenth small clique declaring, “follow us, we are the party!”
One of the conditions that has to be fulfilled before creating a Marxist-Leninist party is that of a real demarcation with modern revisionism. This still remains to be done in our country and in many other countries.
In Canada the very uneven penetration of Marxism-Leninism in Quebec and English Canada is another good reason for making haste slowly when it comes to declaring ourselves the party of the revolution. The cause of the unity of the proletariat would not be served by the creation of a party that would inevitably, under current conditions, be seen as “something purely Quebecois”. The history of the revisionist CP is very telling on this point: for a long time many Canadian workers, and even more Quebecois workers, saw the old CP as an organization of communist immigrants – and they were not entirely mistaken. This had serious consequences, such as the split by Quebecois members in the 1940’s.
Moreover, there is no serious reason to believe that the party must be created right now. Some people say that a party is needed to wage the struggle against revisionism – this is how the CPC(M-L) justified the creation of that party in 1970. But look at what has become of dozens of the parties founded around the world in the 1960’s with the declared aim of fighting modern revisionism. Today they are nothing but parrots of Peking bickering with the parrots of Moscow.
The correctness of our line, on the one hand, and the confidence of the Canadian proletariat in our Organization, on the other hand, do not primarily depend on our name.
Substantial organizational development has been achieved through a dynamic application of democratic centralism.
Despite the considerable uneveness in the development of our Organization in Quebec and English Canada, the fact remains that IN STRUGGLE! is now active in major cities throughout the country, and even in some smaller towns and in the countryside in Quebec. Hence, for the past two years we have been carrying on our agitation and propaganda work from Vancouver to Halifax. We have now begun the merger of Marxism-Leninism and the working-class movement on a country-wide scale. In all the cities where we are active, the communist point of view has attracted growing attention in the working-class movement.
These results would have been impossible had we not taken up the task of consolidating our Organization, which had major weaknesses, immediately after the Second Congress. This struggle was waged under the banner of democratic centralism which remains the key to the development of any communist organization or party.
Consolidation took place on various levels from the reinforcement of the central leadership to the reinforcement of the collective leadership of the basic organizational units over the work of their members in all sectors. Our finances were considerably improved, and our infrastructure greatly transformed.
This progress was not easy, far from it. Each step forward came only after hard, and often prolonged, struggle. Different forms of resistance were encountered. Old habits of liberalism had to be broken with, but the results were very stimulating. In fact, our steady progress in agitation and propaganda was the direct consequence of our progress in organizational matters.
Communist organizations or parties are quite often described as extremely centralized and hierarchical political formations, totally obedient to an all-powerful leadership. They are considered to be formations where democracy is reduced to zero. Over the past 50 years, the Trotskyists, for example, have undertaken to spread this vision. This is what they mean when they describe communists (Marxist-Leninists) as “Stalinists”.
In fact, a communist organization or party acts with the greatest unity and discipline. It should not be forgotten that communists pursue a revolutionary objective and that to achieve it will require a great deal from them. However, discipline and unity in action are not prerequisites; they are rather the result of the very high level of political unity which is to be found in any communist organization worthy of the name. And the source of this political unity is the democracy which exists in such an organization. Proletarian democracy really has very little to do with bourgeois democracy, where those who are most powerful use mystification to rule the majority in the interests of a minority. Proletarian democracy is real because it goes hand in hand with centralism, which is ultimately its best guarantee.
Often anarchy or simple running off at the mouth are confused with democracy. Democracy supposedly exists when everyone can express his point of view and stick to it. But of the two, three or five different points of view, which one is going to win out in practice? Won’t it be the point of view of the strongest, the point of view of those who are already in power? Bourgeois parties are considered to be democratic because everyone is free to stand up and say whatever pops into his head. Communists are said to be anti-democratic because they take positions on proposals which have been formulated in advance, which they have had time to study and have thus had time to form an opinion on.
Where is democracy to be found? In the unlimited expression of opinions which in no way lead to a decision binding for all members of the organization? Or in discussion which results in the adoption or rejection of proposals known in advance and clearly understood and which, once adopted, must be applied by all since they then represent the position of the majority?
This is what we conceive democratic centralism to be. It is the unity of action assured by a sole leadership mandated to apply democratically-adopted positions. It is quite evident that democratic centralism as an organizational principle requires discipline and unselfishness, because the militant action of communists does not always correspond to the tastes and aspirations of the individuals who must accomplish it. There is no place within communist ranks for individualists who want to “dabble in politics” for their own personal satisfaction.
The discipline and unselfishness required of communists does not only involve applying decisions. They are first and foremost qualities required for making decisions. The process for the adoption of our Organization’s Programme is a good illustration of how democratic centralism works. At our Second Congress, held in November 1976, the leadership proposed a first draft version of the programme. After discussion, the Congress decided not to adopt this programme, and mandated the new leadership to rewrite the programme and publish it in draft form, to organize the study of the programme within the Organization and among the masses and to return to the next Congress with a definitive version. By the end of this year’s Congress, we will have a programme that will have been attentively examined in detail by everybody, and criticized and amended by this Congress. It is this Programme that each member will have to make known and defend.
Obviously, not all decisions involve such an lengthy process, because not all decisions have the same importance.
Our Organization has always attached great importance to democratic centralism, because very early in our development we realized that its firm application was an essential condition for the success of our action. Decisions which are poorly applied or not applied at all are an obstacle to our work and more often than not, a source of sorry failures. In the same way decisions made without clarifying and discussing what is at stake are generally poorly applied, when they aren’t quite simply bad decisions.
Today, we have new reasons for being especially concerned with the correct application of democratic centralism. A study of revisionism reveals that many of the parties that broke with Marxism-Leninism also drifted away from a rigorous application of democratic centralism: decisions were either not applied or applied in a bureaucratic way; or else power was in practice concentrated in the hands of leadership that did not submit its action to the criticism of the party. Such mistakes are to be found in the history of both the Soviet and Chinese communist parties.
Already, considerable progress has been made in the development of our Organization as an organization of struggle able to provide increasingly effective leadership in the struggle of the working class and masses, and able to surmount the different obstacles put in its path by a resourceful bourgeoisie.
To sum up the major steps in this struggle, we can say that immediately after the 1976 Congress our first concern was to build the central leadership, to have the Central Committee play its role, to build the leadership capacity of the Political Bureau and to organize the various national commissions. Afterwards, more direct attention was given to strengthening the regional leaderships by holding regular collective sessions. Finally, in the summer of 1977, we turned our attention to consolidating the cells.
At the same time, more attention was paid to matters of infrastructure and finances – in particular the latter, since even dues had been dealt with in an anarchic way until then.
In the winter of 1978, an important step forward was taken in the development of our Organization when the Development Plan was implemented. This Plan led to more efficient leadership over the work by dividing the country into major regions, each with its own leadership.
Democratic centralism was and still is an important focus for struggle in our ranks. It took some time before we were able to ensure democracy and flexibility in our way of functioning on the one hand, and firm and efficient leadership on the other. Sometimes our activities were compromised because lower levels of leadership did not correctly apply the decisions of the central leadership. At other times, they were compromised because the central leadership did not take decisions it should have.
Democratic centralism becomes less abstract when it is translated into practical forms and measures. The application of democratic centralism is based first and foremost on the application of the Constitution, which is the concrete expression of this organizational principle. This is now fully understood, and we have only to draw the logical conclusions and refer regularly to our Constitution to resolve the new and varied problems that constantly crop up in the daily life of an organization such as ours.
Although we have been successful in consolidating our Organization and although, consequently, our capacity to carry Marxism-Leninism to the masses has considerably increased, we still have many battles to wage, especially in matters of infrastructure.
How is this situation to be explained? The first problem is probably the relative lack of attention given to these questions for a long time by all levels of the Organization, beginning with the central leadership. Furthermore, when these questions were studied, it was often in an idealistic way. People looked for the general solution that would solve all the problems at one blow. It was after waging the struggle against this idealism in organizational matters that the most progress was made. We will have to continue along the same lines, giving less time to elaborating various “overall policies” and more to solving the most acute practical problems.
IN STRUGGLE! is now a Canada-wide organization active in the major centres of the country from Halifax to Vancouver, with the exception of Newfoundland and the Native areas in the North. This is a substantial change, given that at the time of the last Congress, IN STRUGGLE! had scarcely begun to work outside Quebec, and that the English-Canadian comrades there had just joined the Organization.
The adoption of the Development Plan in January 1978 was the starting point for a systematic struggle by our Organization to reduce the unevenness of the development of the work in Quebec and English Canada. Up to then, our efforts had been quite disorganized. One of the major points emphasized in the Plan was to give priority to work in English Canada. More specifically, the priority is Ontario, and after that British Columbia and the Maritimes.
The Plan upheld the principle of building the Organization from the top down, and so work was first concentrated on setting up solid regional leaderships.
However, the imbalance which persists between the development of the work in Quebec and in English Canada remains a major problem. Not all of the necessary practical solutions have as yet been found. The correct resolution of this problem is of decisive importance in fulfilling the conditions for the creation of the party.
When study sessions on revisionism were held at all levels of the Organization in recent months, some comrades indicated that they would like similar sessions to be held more frequently and regularly. There can be no doubt that the political and practical education and training of the cadres is of decisive importance for a communist organization. There can also be no doubt that we still need to make some progress in this regard. It is important to realize, however, that the overall situation in this respect is far from negative. There have been cadre schools, public conferences, the journal and many pamphlets, not to mention the various sessions involving local and regional levels of leadership and the cadres involved in different sectors of our work. It is obvious that methods of education have not been lacking in the past two years.
The problem is located at another level, in what could be called the “systematizing” of education within our ranks. Experience has shown that simply having an ample range of educational materials is not enough. We also have to organize how they are to be used, taking into account our goal and prevailing conditions in the Organization.
It would be wrong to think that education and training is adequate if and when everyone can correctly accomplish their specific tasks. The result of such an attitude would be to accentuate the existing inequalities between worker and intellectual cadres, or between those specialized in material support tasks and those specialized in tasks involving study, for example. The goal of educating our members is to enable each person to understand, evaluate and take a stand on all the fundamental questions raised by our work and its development. At the present time, it is of vital importance that everyone clearly understand what is at stake in the struggle against revisionism.
It will, of course, take time to realize this goal. That is why we must first of all organize the education of our members, and see that study materials and methods of education are systematically made available on all the fundamental questions. Moreover, it is essential to take into account the conditions required for studying in the daily, practical organization of the work. Secondly, the organization of education should take into account the differences and inequalities between the members themselves, and stress study for those whose education is less advanced.
This is how we will orient our work in this respect in the coming years. This is how we will make our Organization an authentic vanguard composed of members utterly committed to serving the proletarian revolution and armed with a conviction based on a solid knowledge of scientific truths, and not simply on slogans learned by rote and parroted at the drop of a hat.
In the past two years, some comrades have resigned from the Organization. In a few cases, those who resigned were individuals who had joined the Organization without really sharing its objectives. The fact that these people have left is a good thing. But in some cases, those who have resigned were very definitely sincere comrades who had not, however, succeeded in committing themselves to serving the revolution with the necessary degree of abgation. In some cases, the comrades were influenced by the very serious events that have occurred in the international communist movement in the past two years, with the victory of revisionism in China.
We must point out to these comrades that it is the very contradictions of capitalism that make socialist revolution inevitable. This means that regardless of the setbacks in the struggle that have been or will be encountered, our cause is a just cause. It is a cause that ultimately cannot fail, a cause whose victory will result in immense progress for all of humanity. This scientific conviction should arm us to struggle firmly against the demobilization of our comrades or ourselves.
During the past two years IN STRUGGLE! has continued to advance on the road towards the creation of the party. Its most important achievements are surely the publication of the Draft Program and all the other documents it distributed to explain the theoretical foundations and concrete analysis on which the Draft Program was based.
The proletariat has been deprived of its revolutionary party for more than 30 years now. This explains a great deal. In particular, it explains why the Canadian working-class movement has been so influenced by revisionist, reformist and nationalist ideas.
For more than five years now, Marxist-Leninist forces have been in the process of rebuilding, but they have had to start practically from scratch. The reason for this is that hardly any of the militants who have left the revisionist CP since the 1940’s have taken up the task of combatting its bourgeois programme of parliamentarianism and gradual reforms of capitalism. Generally speaking, they have abandoned all political activity or else joined other bourgeois parties, such as the NDP or even the PQ.
Despite these unfavourable conditions which meant that the new communists have had to learn everything by themselves, without being able to rely on more experienced communists, the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement has made enormous progress since the time when a few small groups started to apply the teachings of Marxism-Leninism to the struggle for socialism in Canada.
IN STRUGGLE! is very proud, and rightly so, of the key role it has played in this struggle. Our Organization has been a driving force in the struggle for the principled unity of communists. Our Organization has waged the struggle against opportunism on a clearly Marxist-Leninist basis. For two years now, our Organization has made the unity of the proletariat and resistance to the rise of reaction central in its tactics for the current period.
Because of all this, we can indeed say that IN STRUGGLE! has played a vanguard role in the struggle to rebuild the proletarian party on the solid rock of Marxism-Leninism.
IN STRUGGLE! has also considerably broadened its activity in the masses. As a result, a limited but growing number of workers now adhere to communist ideas, and some workers are now joining our Organization. These results have been obtained through more extensive distribution of the newspaper, interventions in the immediate struggles of the working class, and calls to action on political issues that are crucial for the future of the revolutionary struggle in our country, such as the resistance to the crisis measures, Quebec’s right to self-determination, the defence of our democratic rights and the struggle against the rise of reactionary forces.
These results were made possible because IN STRUGGLE! consolidated its organization in a decisive way. It started by giving itself strong central leadership. It took up the task of applying democratic centralism. It laid the foundations of a country-wide organization. It has paid growing attention to organizational matters.
But there are still limits to these important successes. IN STRUGGLE!’s capacities to mobilize the masses around specific struggles are still quite weak, the rallying of workers has barely begun, the Organization in English Canada is still poorly developed, and IN STRUGGLE! has still not achieved all the basic organizational elements that go towards making an organization invincible. An enormous amount of work still needs to be done to realize all the conditions for the creation of the party. We refuse, however, to make a list of those missing conditions as if they were ingredients in a recipe. The creation of the party can only be decided on the basis of the concrete analysis of a given situation.
In present circumstances, we intend to intensify the struggle for the party by orienting our work in the following ways:
1. Focus our work on the penetration of the communist Programme in the working class. Our specific goal is to sufficiently loosen the hold of revisionist and social-democratic ideas to allow the vanguard elements of the proletariat to break completely with these ideas and take up fully the tasks of building the party of proletarian revolution.
2. Give priority to the development of our activities and Organization in English Canada, so that we can considerably reduce the existing uneven development between Quebec and English Canada.
3. Intensify the struggle to make our Organization an invincible vanguard capable of confronting the bourgeoisie on all levels, under all conditions.
4. Develop our capacities to do agitation and propaganda work in the spontaneous struggles of the masses and develop our capacities to mobilize for the struggles that we put forward ourselves, on the basis of the general political situation in the country and the world; and so as to do this, continue to pay special attention to building the communist press, in particular by distributing it more widely.
5. Continue the political and organizational consolidation of the Organization at all levels, and especially at the levels of regional and local leaderships. Ensure that the theoretical and practical education of members and probationers is organized on a more regular and systematic basis.
 In its Draft Program, published in May 1979, the League adopts a different position on U.S. imperialism.
 Since this Report was written, the League has in fact published its Draft Program. In it, U.S. imperialism occupies a more important place than ever before, among the enemies of the revolution in Canada. Nonetheless, the League also maintains its “united front“ line. This “united front” opposes all peoples and countries to the U.S.S.R. This, of course, does not simplify matters!
 The newspaper was published in French only at that time. An English edition of this document was published in Western Voice, November 1976, pp 29-58.
 The collective that was to found and publish the newspaper IN STRUGGLE! from May 1973 to December 1974 was called the Equipe du journal (the Newspaper Team). The First Congress of the Group IN STRUGGLE! was held in the fall of 1974.