First Published:The Forge, Vol. 1, No. 12, June 3, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In its March 11 issue, The Forge devoted two of its pages to a polemic directed towards Mobilisation entitled Mobilisation most choose: Climb out of the opportunist swamp or drown
The Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) then undertook to support the honest elements of this group in their willingness to break with their opportunist past for good. This support consisted first of distinguishing what was Marxist and what was not.
In this way, we showed how the political line and practice of Mobilisation were foreign to Marxism-Leninism and should be liquidated. In this perspective we put forward the need for a frank, severe and complete self-criticism on the part of the sincere comrades of Mobilisation.
Recently, under the direction of its Provisional Central Committee, Mobilisation published its self-criticism. This document is entitled Liquidate spontaneism, opportunism and economism. (At the moment this document has only been published in French. All the English translations in this article have been prepared by The Forge.) Today the League is presenting its position on this text.
Based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-Tung Thought, the self-criticism of Mobilisation presents a correct and deep criticism of its past line. As Lenin teaches us: “Frankly admitting a mistake, ascertaining the reasons for it, analyzing the conditions which led to it, and throughly discussing the means of correcting it, that is the way it should perform its duties, that is the way it should train the class, and then the masses.”
We believe that the comrades of Mobilisation grasped this lesson in order to formulate a self-criticism which constitutes an important contribution to the struggle which all real Marxist-Leninists must wage against right opportunism. The self-criticism of Mobilisation touches all aspects of its political and ideological line, as well as the practice that this group defended. Let us now turn to the major points raised in this document.
“Since the beginning, despite very vague references to Marxism and to Leninism, Mobilisation was deeply marked by different anti-Marxist currents in vogue...”(Liquidate..., pg. 12). “...Mobilisation was led to reject the universality and the science of Marxism-Leninism and to advance the absurd theory that it must ’create’ its own revolutionary theory.” (Ibid., pg. 48)
By underlining many times in their self-criticism that their group never had Marxism, Leninism and Mao Tsetung Thought as their fundamental line, the comrades of Mobilisation correctly identified that by not basing one’s political line on the universal teachings elaborated by the great teachers of the proletariat, one inevitably falls into opportunism.
We cannot correctly determine the road of the proletarian revolution in Canada without a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the world situation. Proletarian revolution is national in its form, but internationalist in its essence.
In the past, Mobilisation rejected the analysis that Lenin made of the epoch of imperialism. As the the self criticism shows, Mobilisation “dangerously underestimated the danger that social-imperialism represents for all the peoples of the world” (Liquadate..., pg. 24). The comrades correctly point out that this attitude serves the aims of social-imperialism.
To support this statement they mention that in the past Mobilisation adopted positions in support of the revisionist Portuguese party (“C”PP), thus misunderstanding the real nature of modern revisionism. These traitors, in effect, wave the red flag in order to better stab the people in the back. Following the USSR’s interference in Angola, Mobilisation also gave credence to the revisionist thesis of the “USSR, friend of all peoples.”
Carrying through and deepening their self-criticism on this point, the comrades of Mobilisation show how their positions were fundamentally opportunist. They conclude by stating that their line on the international situation should be destroyed because it serves the enemy and fools the people.
Marxist-Leninists recognize that society evolves and develops through class struggle, and also accord great importance to correctly grasping class contradictions in their country. The exact definition of the principal contradiction in Canada thus constitutes the keystone of revolutionary strategy in our country.
On this crucial question for the Marxist-Leninist movement, the comrades of Mobilisation present a profound self-criticism of their incorrect past position and develop the argument that leads to the correct conclusion that the principal contradiction in Canada is that which opposes the Canadian bourgeoisie to the Canadian proletariat.
Criticizing the thesis which holds that the principal contradiction in Canada opposes the Canadian proletariat to the Canadian bourgeoisie allied to American imperialism (a thesis held notably by En Lutte!), the Self-criticism states: “This thesis is basically anti-Marxist and undialectical, because it fuses two qualitatively different contradictions into one. It thus rejects the necessity of resorting to two qualitatively different methods to solve these two contradictions, as the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) has shown.” (pg. 31)
A little further on they explain how this thesis on’the principal contradiction in Canada proceeds from the anti-Marxist theories of ultra-imperialism and imperialist economism: ”...by supporting the thesis that the principal contradiction in Canada opposes the proletariat to the ’alliance’ of two imperialist bourgeoisies, based on an ’integration of Canadian capitalism into North American capitalism’. Mobilisation fell into the opportunist and reformist theory of ultra-imperialism... This thesis is nothing more than a version of the theory of ultra-imperialism developed by the opportunist Kautsky to combat Lenin’s theory on imperialism.” (pg. 34)
Moreover, “in relation to the strategy of the revolution in Canada, the thesis of the alliance of two bourgeoisies falls completely into imperialist economism. This theory, developed by Bukharin, while having many of the characteristics of the theory of ultra-imperialism, in some ways constitutes its ’left’ opposite. It consists of confusing the economic essence of imperialism with its political tendencies. It leads to completely liquidating the political tasks of the struggle for democracy in general and more particularly the struggle for national defence, under the pretext that imperialism makes the realization of these tasks ’impossible’.” (pg. 35)
By criticizing its past position. Mobilisation thus furnishes arms to those who are ready to correct the , same opportunist conceptions.
The comrades of Mobilisation also make a self-criticism for having supported the Trotskyist theory of “continental revolution.”
By rectifying its position on the principal contradiction in Canada, Mobilisation has begun to criticize and rectify its definition of the most important secondary contradictions in Canada, notably that between the Canadian people and the two superpowers, particularly American imperialism, and the Quebec national question.
In the past, Mobilisation propagated a completely spontaneist and opportunist theory on party building. This theory “building the party”, was the cornerstone on which rested a completely economist practice.
This is what the comrades of Mobilisation criticise: “Because Mobilisation did not base itself on Marxist-Leninist theory, because it renounced the education of the most advanced elements of the class, because it had a spontaneist conception of the class struggle (in general and in all its aspects), and that it developed a practice characterized by opportunism, it developed a notion of ’building the party from the bottom up’, which in all points enters into contradiction with the fundamental teachings of Lenin and Stalin” (Liquadate... pg 66).
Showing how its theory of building the party from the bottom up was founded on revisionist teachings, Mobilisation firmly critizes the conception that it spread widely and which acts as a brake on the development of communist work.
The direct result of the past line of Mobilisation was opportunism and economism. The self-criticism correctly underlines that Mobilisation had a practice which came from a worship of the spontaneity of the masses.
In order to justify not doing communist agitation and propaganda. Mobilisation pretended that class consciousness developed by stages, from trade-unionism to Marxism-Leninism. This absurd theory led Mobilisation to apply all the economist principles refuted by Lenin in What is to be done? In fact, by its work, Mobilisation only reinforced bourgeois ideology among the masses.
By raising several practical examples in their self-criticism, the comrades of Mobilisation illustrate and denounce different forms of economism which always come down to the same thing: trailing pathetically behind the workers’ movement.
These criticisms of Mobilisation are all the more important in that they deal with a practice which was very influential in Quebec and which many currents still hold onto. In this respect, the self-criticism of Mobilisation constitutes one more weapon in the struggle against economism and more particularly against the economist errors which communists commit in work in the workplace.
The self-criticism of Mobilisation certainly contains weaknesses, for example, concerning the process of the restoration of capitalism in the USSR; but it is its seriousness and depth that characterize it. This is what we have tried to emphasize in the preceding sections.
We would like to insist once more on the necessity of seeing the struggle against right opportunism and economism not simply as a struggle against practical errors but as a struggle concerning the whole ideological and political line. This is why we believe that the self-criticism of the comrades of Mobilisation goes to the root of the matter. To want to first struggle against economism in order, in a later stage, to deal with strategic questions, is not to see the forest for the trees and to go tilting at windmills, that is, to wage a useless struggle...
What is the principled position of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) with regard to the process of breaking with the past, undertaken by sincere militants in Mobilisation? This is the question our readers will ask us. And here, briefly, is the answer:
Mobilisation is a group whose whole history has been dominated by opportunism. Under the leadership of its Provisional Central Committee, its sincere militants undertook to firmly denounce and rectify their past errors. However, as an organization Mobilisation cannot be considered as a Marxist-Leninist group, even though its present militants firmly base themselves on Marxism-Leninism to wage their self-criticism.
The self-criticism of Mobilisation is the fruit of many months of intense struggle over line in its ranks. This self-criticism represents an important stage in this struggle over line; it must serve as a sharp weapon to defeat the erroneous ideas that Mobilisation spread in the past. This self-criticism must in effect allow the education of members of Mobilisation and of the masses contaminated by its line.
Today Mobilisation must deepen this process of rectification. To do this, its militants must, by basing themselves solidly on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, take positions on the questions on the agenda of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada. This with the goal of determining which Marxist-Leninist organization presents the most correct ideological and political line. It is by seriously and honestly accomplishing this duty that the comrades of Mobilisation can engage in the struggle to rally to a real Marxist-Leninist organization.
That is to say, the League considers that only the work inside a communist organization can complete the process of rectification undertaken by the comrades of Mobilisation.
In concluding their self-criticism, the comrades of Mobilisation state that they must choose between rallying to an existing Marxist-Leninist organization or creating a new one. This is a very important choice, not only for the comrades of this group, but for the revolutionary proletariat of our country.
The creation of a new Marxist-Leninist organization is not to be desired, and could only be harmful for the development of the Canadian revolution. Indeed, unless there are profound and very serious divergences over political line with one or the other of the present Marxist-Leninist organizations, it would be a serious error to create another organization.
The interests of the working class being fundamentally one, there must be in our country one single Marxist-Leninist party. This implies for the comrades of Mobilisation, as for all sincere Marxist-Leninists in our country, that they must frankly take a position on the questions being debated in the ML movement to engage in a principled debate with the organization whose positions they essentially share.
This debate must be carried out in the spirit of unity-criticism-unity and must include a correct demarcation at each stage of the process of struggle to arrive at a higher unity which can only serve the interests of the revolution.
The CCL(ML) issues a call to the comrades of Mobilisation, as to all real Marxist-Leninists in Canada, a call to struggle for unity on the basis of ideological and political line. This struggle must allow the sweeping away of obstacles to the development of the essential conditions for the creation of a real communist party, the obstacles of the circle spirit and the spirit of “independence at all costs.”
The comrades of Mobilisation have taken a real step in the struggle to liquidate their serious errors of the past. They should rest assured of the communist support of the League as long as they continue to want to correct their errors and to follow the road of building an authentic Marxist-Leninist communist party in Canada.