First Published: In Struggle No. 73, October 28, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In the last issue of IN STRUGGLE! (no 72) we launched a call for the unity of action of Marxist-Leninists on October 14. We then proposed two forms of unity of action: a common declaration of the Marxist-Leninist movement on the occasion of the October 14 general strike and the organization of common actions on regional basis. It was following the correct criticism of the Vancouver Marxist-Leninist coalition that we launched this call on October 1. On October 10, representatives of 17 Canadian Marxist-Leninist groups met in Montreal. The results of the decisions taken during this meeting appear on the appendix table [MIA note: not reprinted here]. We intend here to render an account of our acts in order to learn from this experience and invite workers and Marxist-Leninists to express their opinions.
Concerning the regional common actions, they were held in Montreal through the organization of a common assembly during the evening of October 14. The groups that united in a Marxist-Leninist coalition in Montreal were the Noyau des militants m-l Centre-sud, Le regroupemeat des militants m-l de l’ex-groupe d’Intervention Quartier (GIQ), the Cercle communiste (m-l), IN STRUGGLE! and the Groupe pour la revolution prolétarienne. In Vancouver, common action on a regional basis was made through the distribution of a tract and by the organization of a common assembly by the coalition of Marxist-Leninist groups of this city.
As we already said it in the call, our delay to propose such a project for the 14 is highly criticable. This shows that small group mentality is still present in our group and that, in this particular case, it took the form of an hesitation to put the proletariat’s foremost interest clearly forward despite the difficulties that would necessarily stem from the realization of the tactical unity of the communists.
The delay brought about negative consequences. What are they? For example, the Halifax Communist Group, the Regina Communist Group and the Regina M-L Collective only received the convocation and the declaration project on the eve of the October 19 meeting and thus had no time to discuss it in their own group. This is why the representatives of these groups refused to sign the declaration even through they didn’t fundamentally disagree with its content. Other examples, certain groups, as those of Vancouver, didn’t receive the declaration in time; and though they were able to read it in mass assemblies and demonstrations, they were unable to massively distribute copies of it.
Concerning this fact, the most developed groups must assume the greatest part of responsibility. For they were clearly late in taking up their duties.
There was an important debate on the characterization of our country. Vancouver’s Marxist-Leninist coalition refused to endorse the declaration if it included that Canada was an imperialist country. In spite of it’s clear opposition to this point of view, IN STRUGGLE! didn’t made it a sufficient reason to withdraw from the project. Our position was dictated by the strict application of our political line that defines what unites the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement today. The movement as a whole doesn’t acknowledge the imperialist character of the Canadian bourgeoisie. And even if we, as a group, defend it, we must admit that we and those who share our point of view on this question have not yet completely proven to the whole movement. The debate concerning this question was taken up in the journal Canadian Revolution but was never carried to its end. Thus, it would be erroneous at the present time to claim that the movement is composed only of those who recognize the imperialist character of the Canadian bourgeoisie. In the present conditions, we can’t demand that all communists take a definite stand on this question. It is a question that a future conference of Marxist-Leninists concerning the path of revolution will have to necessarily deepen.
The Cercle Communiste (M-L) and the Bolshevik Union considered the declaration project as fundamentally economist. We completely disagree with this point of view. The declaration reflects the common will of Marxist-Leninists to lead a communist political agitation during an historical moment of the proletariat’s struggle and in this way, it can’t be considered as a platform that would define all the points of agreement between the Marxist Leninists who have united in this action. The declaration’s content itself dearly shows the proletariat the stake of its present struggle. This stake is not only immediate, but also aims to weaken the camp of the reactionary bourgeoisie in order to destroy its State power and to replace it with the proletariat’s dictatorship. Moreover the proclamation indicates the immediate means to take in order to abolish wage controls as well as the necessity for the Canadian proletariat to build its own Marxist-Leninist Party. It goes to the heart, to the essential, without compromising the principles, and it’s in this way that communists must assume on their responsibilities during such moments of mobilization of the workers and of the people.
The CCL (M-L), one of the most influential groups among the masses, categorically refused to participate in any common action on October 14. Among the reasons given for its refusal, there is the one according to which IN STRUGGLE! wishes to mask the ideological struggle in the Marxist-Leninist movement by tactical common actions. In other words, that IN STRUGGLE! would be opportunist. This must be categorically refuted. Not especially to clear IN STRUGGLE! but in order to base the soundness of the struggle for the greatest possible tactical unity of communists when the conjuncture demands it. One thing must be clear. For IN STRUGGLE!, conjunctural unity of action is a secondary form of the struggle for unity. The main form being public and private, debate and polemic and the implication of workers in this struggle. This was clearly stated in the call itself and this is why we are amazed to see the. CCL (M-L) once again drag up the same fallacious argument. But though secondary, tactical unity is nonetheless necessary in this struggle for unity itself and this is what the League’s sectarianism prevents it from seeing. On this points too, the call was clear, and we invite the of the League to reread its last three paragraphs.
But what is important is that our practice proved the contrary of what the League accused us. Indeed, how can one claim that IN STRUGGLE! masks the ideological struggle behind common practices between Marxist-Leninists, when one knows the importance given in our newspaper and our journal to polemics among the Marxist-Leninist movement at present. When we just organized a public conference concerning the means to be taken to unify the Marxist-Leninist movement. This argument is pure nonsense!
There you have, comrades readers, the principal aspects of the struggle waged for the national tactical unity of communists on October 14. In spite of our delay to launch the project and the negative consequence that followed we still believe that it was correct to do it. For the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists has sense only if it unites the struggle of the proletariat and the masses and if it resolutely leads it towards the destruction of the capitalist system. If this struggle is waged outside these principal moments of combat, it is badly waged and then refrains the unitary spreading of the proletarian point of view within the masses. As for us, we undertake to struggle for the tactical unity of communists each time that the interests of the masses will demand it. And thus, we will work to correct our errors in order to attain even greater success in the rallying of the proletariat to the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement.