First Published: In Struggle! No. 92, July 7, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The struggle to develop a revolutionary program is advancing rapidly. The polemics within the Marxist-Leninist movement on fundamental questions of program have developed considerably in the last year and the national and regional conferences of Marxist-Leninists have already begun to play an important role in identifying essential differences and stimulating comradely debate. The newspaper and journal of our group have begun to properly play their role in explaining and justifying our programmatic views and in exposing the deviations and errors of other groups and tendencies. The draft program project of IN STRUGGLE! is being prepared by our central leadership and will be presented publicly for study, criticism and debate in the early fall. All of these developments are an encouraging sign that the question of the program is rapidly becoming a central question within the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement and its sympathizers.
But there still remains an important and dangerous tendency within the Marxist-Leninist movement to secondarize or even to ignore the importance of the question of the program and its vital place in the stuggle for the party. Today this tendency is represented most clearly by the Canadian Communist League, which has decided to boycott the national conferences on the questions of program, which has remained silent for many months now of the fundamental programmatic questions presented by our group and others, which has seemingly decided that the road to a revolutionary program is through the mechanical repetition of their Statement of Agreement and the constant multiplication of ’class struggle platforms’ for each of the particular fronts of struggle of the proletariat and its allies. Today the League and its sympathizers are rapidly moving toward the creation of their self-declared ’party’ without a program, without the unity of Marxist-Leninists, and without winning the the advanced workers to a communist program. This is a dangerous road, a road that has already been travelled in our country by the counter-revolutionary self-declared ’parties’ such as the CPC-ML and the CPL. It is a road that the League and its supporters must abandon if they are to properly undertake their historical tasks in creating a single Canadian Marxist-Leninist party to lead the Canadian socialist revolution.
It is because of this dangerous tendency to secondarize the question of program that we are today publishing the introduction to our program project. We want to prepare our readers with our views on the program question once again , to aid them in relation to the central task in the struggle against opportunism,which is to strengthen the polemic on the questions of program. We are convinced that only by concentrating the line struggle on the questions of program can we prevent the struggle in the movement from stagnating, from degenerating into a struggle conducted mainly on tactical questions or even on the basis of photo captions or abbreviated and misleading quotations. We are also planning to postpone the conferences on the question of the program until several months after our program project has been published, so that there can be the largest possible debate in the movement and the masses and a real demarcation of views at the conferences. And finally at this time we want to make a special appeal to the League and its supporters to reconsider their views and to take up the struggle for a single party on the basis of a Marxist-Leninist program.
The development, debate, and defence of a Marxist-Leninist program for the Canadian socialist revolution is today the central task in building the party. Why is this so? Our strategic task at this stage of the Canadian revolution is the reconstruction of a Marxist-Leninist party; and the building of the party involves three main tasks: the development of the party program, the struggle for the unity of all Marxist-Leninists, and winning the advanced workers to communism. It is when we consider the relation of these three tasks at this time that we can see why the struggle for the program is central in building the party.
The unity of Marxist-Leninists can only be achieved through the victory of the Marxist-Leninist ideological, political, and organizational line over the influence of counter-revolutionary ideologies, especially modern revisionism, and over right and left opportunist tendencies in the Marxist-Leninist movement, especially economism, social-chauvinism, and sectarianism. And this victory over opportunism must be concretized by the unification of communist workers and intellectuals on the basis of a program that provides a real demarcation with these errors and deviations, tendencies that are still dominant in the workers movement and very strong within the Marxist-Leninist movement itself.
At the same time the rallying of the vanguard workers to communism must take place through their unreserved agreement to and in defence of a communist program. Otherwise we reduce the process of winning the advanced workers to winning their support for various militant struggles and reformist platforms, and we reduce the leadership of the communist workers to their practical leadership in the daily spontaneous class struggle.Unless we win the advanced workers to the understanding and defence of the communist program we in fact will liquidate the task of winning them to communism and we will quickly fall into economism and revisionism. The most important task of the advanced workers at this time is certainly not, as our comrades in the League claim, to ’...struggle for the co-ordination of their different struggles into a powerful class movement...’ . It is to participate in the immediate struggles of the working class and its allies as communist leaders who will defend the communist program in relation both to the immediate and the fundamental interests of the revolutionary proletariat The Marxist-Leninist party will not be reconstructed through the organizational fusion of self-styled communist intellectuals with militant workers who adhere to some form of so-called ’class struggle platform’. The party will result from the organizational unity of all communists, including a significant portion of communist workers, on the basis of a communist program to guide the socialist revolution.
By putting the question of the program central in our work therefore we put central the struggle against opportunism, in the workers’ movement and in the Marxist-Leninist movement. By putting the question of program central we follow Lenin’s slogan of ’demarcate in order to unite’: demarcate against opportunism in order to unite on the basis of a communist program within a single party.
What kind of program do we need in order to accomplish our strategic task of building the party. The program we need is not simply the ’basis of unity or ’manifesto’ of any particular Marxist-Leninist group; and it is certainly not a series of militant “class struggle platforms” that obscure the question of proletarian revolution. The program we need is the explanation of the revolutionary tasks of the proletariat and its party to achieve the socialist revolution in Canada. It is the scientific summation of the immediate and future revolutionary tasks of the Canadian proletariat, based on the universal lessons of Marxism-Leninism applied to the concrete conditions and contradictions of Canadian society.
The program must be a relatively brief document, a synthesis of the essential views and tasks of the proletariat and its party that can provide a tool of agitation and propaganda among the masses as well as a guide to the work of the Marxist-Leninists. But the explanation of the program must also be relatively complete in the justification basis of its theses. At the present time in Canada, with the complete revisionist degeneration of the former CommunistParty and the corresponding growth of reformist illusion and bourgeois ideology among the masses, all of our programmatic views must be systematically presented and defended against opportunism. Our understanding of the historical development and present contradictions of Canadian society in the world, our understanding of the nature of socialist revolution and proletarian dictatorship, our strategy and tactics and immediate struggles and demands in order to build a revolutionary movement, and our tasks in rebuilding the party must all be fully clarified.
The program project we will be presenting corresponds to a scientific understanding of the nature of a party program as well as to the need for a full explanation and defense of our programmatic views. The program project is divided into two parts: the first is the draft program itself, which is a brief summary of our essential views and main theses; and the second is the explanation of the draft program, which provides the justification of our programmatic positions in relation to our concrete analysis of Canadian society, the historical basis of our positions in the experience of the international communist and Canadian movement, and the demarcation from opportunist views of the questions of the program .
– Section I is on the nature of Canadian society in the world today: divided between. part 1. on the historical development of Canadian society and part 2. on the special features of modern Canadian society in the world.
– Section II: outlines the nature and tasks of the socialist revolution and the proletarian dictatorship as the solution to the fundamental problems and exploitation and oppression of the working people of Canada.
– Section III: outlines the road to socialist revolution:including part 1. on the class basis of our strategy and tactics, describing the camp of the revolution, the camp of reaction,the vacillating strata and important domestic and foreign reserves of the revolution; part 2. describes our man strategic weapons (the party, the armed struggle, the united front in Canada and the world) and the principles and elements of our tactics.; part 3. describing the immediate struggles and demands of the proletariat and its party.
– Section IV: outlines our tasks in reconstructing the party, divided between part 1. on the degeneration of the former Communist Party and part 2. describing our tasks in building the party: the role of the program, the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists, and the struggle to win the advanced workers to communism.
This program project we are presenting is an instrument of \struggle. It is an instrument to intensify the struggle in the whole Marxist-Leninist movement for unity on a common program. It is an instrument of struggle against reformism and revisionism in the workers’ movement and opportunism in the Marxist-Leninist movement. It is an instrument that will guide the agitation, propaganda and organizational work of our group and that we propose as a common guide to the whole movement, in our common struggle to rebuild the party.
But in order to fulfill its role the program project must also be an instrument of debate and investigation. We are presenting our draft program project to the masses and to the Marxist-Leninist movement at the same time as we present it to the mem-bers of our group so that the future adoption of the draft pro-gram can reflect the knowledge and criticisms of all those engaged in the struggle to recreate the party. We call upon the workers to take up our program project: to study it and criticize it; to contribute your views on the basis of our experience in the class struggle, of your knowledge of the treachery of the union bosses and the social-democrats and of your own practice in resisting the attacks of the bourgeoisie. We on our own part will continue our agitation and propaganda and organizational work within the working masses and their struggles on the basis of a more and more rigourous application of the line and program of our group. We also call on all Canadian Marxist-Leninists to seriously study and criticize our program project and to unite on the basis of our progam in so far as you recognize that it correctly defines the revolutionary tasks of the proletariat and the path of the revolution in our country. On our part we will continue to intensify our struggle for the unity of the whole Marxist-Leninist movement on the basis of a common Marxist-Leninist program.
The program project we are presenting will be our most important instrument in the struggle to develop a revolutionary program,but it will not be the only one. We will continue to organize open debates through national and regional conferences, as we have been doing for a year now; and we will include in our plans special conferences on the program itself as we announced in April. We will also continued through our press to explain and defend the basis of our programmatic views more deeply that in the program project itself, especially in areas of important disagreement or confusion in the Marxist-Leninist movement. And we will continue and intensify our efforts to use our press to permit the publication of criticisms of our programmatic views, so that the whole Marxist-Leninist movement and the masses can fully judge the correctness of our views on the basis of the widest and most thorough debate.
And in relation to our comrades in the League, we adress a special appeal on the question if the struggle for unity on the basis of the program. We ask them to abandon the path of trying to create the party without the program, without the unity of Marxist-Leninists, and without rallying the advanced workers to the defense of a communist program. We ask them to stop pretending that the multiplication of “class struggle platforms” constitutes a program, or that the rallying of a small number of workers (mainly in Quebec) constitutes the rallying of the advanced elements of the Canadian proletariat to communism. We ask them to place themselves without reserve in support of our plan to struggle for unity on the basis of a program, before falling into the adventurist and anti-worker trap of ’self-delcaration’ of the party.
And in so far as the League continues to insist on its “special status” within the movement, we, IN STRUGGLE!, are prepared, in the overriding interests of the unity of the whole Marxist-Leninist movement, to accept their proposition for debate with the spokespersons of the League on the questions of program. We will accept their proposition necessarily on certain conditions: that the League at least makes an attempt in its press to respond to our basic positions instead of continuing its practice of phoney polemics based on secondary differences or outright distortion; and that we have the assurance that the members and sympathizers of the League will participate in the debates in large numbers instead of being reduced to the role of reading the reports in The Forge as has happened already with the conferences. We have no interest in oratorical games between “big leaders” We are interested in the line struggle, a principled struggle on questions of principle, a struggle conducted in front of the masses and with the participation of the masses.
FORWARD IN THE STRUGGLE FOR THE BUILDING OF THE PARTY!
FORWARD IN THE STRUGGLE FOR A REVOLUTIONARY PROGRAM!
 The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), a neo-revisionist organization, and the Canadian Party of Labour, a neo-trotskite sect.
 For a more complete explanation see Proletarian Unity No. 4.
 The Forge, May 26, p. 14.
 This outline of the content of the program is somewhat different than what we presented in Proletarian Unity No. 4. as a result of our initial work and debates on the program project.