First Published: Spartacist Canada No 8, September 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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“Oppose the Two Superpowers! Safeguard Canada’s Independence!” proclaimed the banners of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) at a June 29 “public” forum held to celebrate the rallying of the Toronto Workers’ Unity collective to CCL(M-L)’s brand of “Marxism-Leninism-Mao-Tsetung Thought. ”
Despite being the first widely-advertised event held in Toronto by a component of the (now disintegrating) Canadian Revolution editorial collective, CCL(M-L)’s paean to the independence of the bourgeois Canadian state from the United States and the Soviet Union managed to draw no more than about fifty assorted adherents of competing Maoist tendencies for several disspirited hours of speeches and “revolutionary culture.” But while CCL(M-L), the Bolshevik Union, the Toronto Communist Group and sundry other Maooid groupuscules continue to squabble over the “correct” application of the Great Helmsman’s thought to Canada, all are able to achieve unity on what is for them the essential question – the need to muzzle, at any cost, revolutionary Trotskyist criticism of their bankrupt Stalinist politics.
A CCL(M-L)-organized bully-boy squad’s rather pathetic attempt to live up to the Stalinist tradition of physically intimidating left opponents was utterly unsuccessful in preventing a Trotskyist League sales team from disseminating revolutionary literature. Only when the Maoist goons’ pushing and shoving tactics threatened to escalate into a fistfight – an invitation for police intervention – did the TL withdraw. This attempt by CCL(M-L) to physically exclude revolutionaries in order to proceed with “disseminating Marxism-Leninism” in suitably cloistered surroundings stands in complete contradiction to the Leninist tradition of workers democracy. CCL(M-L)’s subsequent breast-beating (see The Forge, 1 July) about the “forceful defeat” inflicted on the Trotskyists would be laughable if it were not such an obvious attempt to cover up for political cowardice.
Just what was the political line CCL(M-L) felt the need to “protect” from communist criticism? Inside the forum, CCL(M-L) spokesmen detailed their strategy for constructing a broad, multi-class alliance against the “two superpowers” – primarily through building the bourgeois Canadian army. The fact that such an obviously anti-working-class political line could be presented to those assembled as “ authentic Marxism-Leninism” bears eloquent testimony to the utter bankruptcy of contemporary Maoism.
Unlike the United States and other countries, the decomposition of the largely China-oriented Canadian New Left in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s threw up no new Canada-wide “hard” Maoist formations. There was no Canadian equivalent of the U. S. October League or Revolutionary Communist Party except for the bizarre cult around Hardial Bains known as the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninst). Leftover Maoist fragments elected to adopt a perspective of ultra-economist localized trade union “practice” with a Canadian nationalist bent.
Despite every turn deeper into liquidationism, these Maoist fragments became increasingly isolated. Their isolation combined with pressure from the larger and more left-wing Quebec Maoist milieu caused elements of such EngliSh-Canadian formations as the Vancouver Western Voice collective and Toronto’s Right to Strike Committee to reassess their past practice. From the time of its founding early last year, the journal Canadian Revolution sought to provide a focus of discussion and regroupment for these elements. The first several issues of CR featured an orgy of hypocritical “criticism/self-criticism” from long-time right-Maoists and defined “party building” as the central task of the period.
With the consolidation of CCL(M-L) (founded in Montreal last fall) and En Lutte! (In Struggle!) as the main Quebecois Maoist poles of attraction, the disparate elements gathered around CR beganeither to orient centrally to one of these groups, or to retreat back into localized irrelevancy. The formal decomposition of Canadian Revolution began early this year with the resignation from the editorial collective of the left-posturing Bolshevik Tendency (now Bolshevik Union – BU), which was at that time in the orbit of En Lutte! The adherence of Workers’ Unity in Toronto to CCL (M-L) followed shorly thereafter.
Of late, the pages of En Lutte! and CCL(M-L)’s The Forge have been replete with polemics against economism and right opportunism on questions of “domestic” import. Thus the same CCL(M-L) supporters who last year in the Right to Strike Committee were uncritically building platforms for trade union bureaucrats like Yvan Charbonneau of the Quebec Teachers Federation today denounce the labor officialdom as class-collaborationist traitors from the floor of the CLC convention. Yet the leftward shift in Canadian Maoism is both ephemeral and exceedingly hollow.
Radical-sounding rhetoric has gained a certain currency among Canadian Maoists primarily as an empirical response to the sharply increased level of working-class struggle in Canada in the past period. While ostensibly Trotskyist formations like the Revolutionary Marxist Group and the now-fragmented International Socialists have responded to increased labor combativity by shifting rapidly to the right, most Maoists have embarked on the opposite course, seeking to provide a fake-left ideological pole for newly radicalizing workers. As the hoped-for rapid gains fail to materialize, however, a flip back to the right can be expected. (The most recent issues of the The Forge and En Lutte! have already shown the beginnings of such a rightward slippage, with fewer polemical articles and significantly more economist “reportage” on workers’ struggles.)
But the key to understanding the continued reformist nature of the new Maoist regroupments lies on the terrain of the international questions discussed by CCL(M-L) at the June 29 forum. For in their continued slavish adherence to the foreign policy of the Chinese deformed workers state as the model for “proletarian internationalism,” the Mao-sycophants are compelled to adopt positions allying them with the right-wing of the imperialist bourgeoisies, above all with the sabre-rattling chieftains of the U. S. capitalist class.
What has been implicit in Chinese foreign policy for several years has since the first Nixon visit to China become explicit: that the Chinese bureaucracy is prepared to ally with anyone – from the West European capitalist states and NATO, to the venal apartheid South African regime, right up to the imperialist kingpin itself, the United States – against the supposed “number one enemy, ” the USSR. The incredible position expressed in a leaflet distributed at CCL(M-L)’s forum by the Bolshevik Union succinctly expresses the kernel of the contemporary Maoist worldview:
Those who find a United Front with the Second World countries of Europe, and possibly with the United States, inconceivable, do not understand what it means to say that the USSR is IMPERIALIST, FASCIST and THE MAIN DANGER TO THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD! (emphasis in original)
And what is the logical strategic conclusion for Canadian Maoists? The BU continues:
The Bolshevik Union takes the position that to properly prepare the Canadian people for war means not just preparing them for direct threats against Canadian sovereignty, but also preparing them for the possibility of Canada’s active participation in a United Front against fascist (i.e. Soviet] military aggression in Europe....
The Bolshevik Union calls unequivocably for the immediate reinforcement of Canada’s defence capacity under maximum Canadian control. (emphasis in original)
Mao-Tsetung Thought, circa 1976, means just that: slanderously equating the Soviet degenerated workers state with Hitler’s Germany and calling for a social-patriotic international holy alliance to crush the gains of the Russian Revolution.
These dregs of the New Left’s decomposition have no political future. Their genuflections at the altar of Maoist foreign policy have implicated them in a de facto U. S.-China bloc against the Soviet Union, a state that differs from the Chinese only in that it is a larger bulwark against imperialism. Like the Stalinists of the 1930’s, the CCL(M-L) is compelled to swallow every twist and turn of their bureaucratic mentors. But where Stalin attempted to conciliate imperialism by selling out socialist revolutions in other countries, often in the name of the “anti-fascist peoples’ front, ” Mao and Co. now curry favor with the imperialists by branding the Soviet Union – the living, though degenerated, embodiment of the Russian Revolution – as “fascist,” “social imperialist,” and “the principal enemy of the peoples of the world.”
Stalin predicated his counterrevolutionary foreign policy on the defense of the bureaucratic parasitic caste resting on proletarian property forms from both direct imperialist military attack, which would sweep away the bureaucracy by overturning these property relations, and from international proletarian revolution which would also sweep away the bureaucracy by eliminating the conditions for its self-preservation: the national isolation of the Russian Revolution and the demoralizing effects on the Soviet working class that this produced. The Chinese Revolution, while expropriating capital and introducing proletarian property forms, brought to power a narrow, nationalist bureaucratic caste qualitatively similar to that which was the end-product of the degeneration of the Russian Revolution.
Today Mao seeks to “defend” the Chinese deformed workers state by encouraging the worst imperialist chauvinists to strangle and destroy what remains of the gains of the Russian Revolution, just as Stalin sought to defend the Russian degenerated workers state by drowning the Chinese Revolution inblood in 1927. But if there was an actual capitalist restoration in the USSR, a restoration which is encouraged by China’s consorting with NATO and U. S. imperialism, the historic gains of the Chinese Revolution would soon be wiped out. Sycophants of the Chinese bureaucracy are cast in the contemptible and contradictory role of drumming up anti-Soviet hysteria while masquerading as “communists” and defenders of the Chinese deformed workers state.
Only the program of Trotskyism, calling for unconditional defense of all the deformed and degenerated workers states against imperialism or counterrevolution while struggling for proletarian political revolution to oust the nationalist bureaucratic rulers, can show the way forward for militants seeking international working-class unity and an authentically revolutionary road. We reprint below an excerpt from the TL’s June 29 leaflet, detailing the treacherous social-chauvinist, pro-NATO politics of Maoism, both nationally and internationally.
CCL(M-L) takes great pains to emphasize the supposed “contradiction between the two superpowers and the Canadian people as a whole.” This gem of Mao-thought translates into a call for a broad, class-collaborationist alliance of the “whole Canadian people” against the United States and (especially) the Soviet Union. Thus it is only logical that The Forge (3 June) should see the strengthening of the mainstay of the bourgeois Canadian state as “positive... if they are used for territorial defence against the voracious appetites of the superpowers.”
CCL(M-L) then attempts to cover this revision of the fundamental tenet of Marxism that the bourgeois state and its repressive apparatus must be destroyed with the reformist argument that the proletariat “can force the bourgeoisie to use its army for defence purposes.” Thus CCL(M-L) would load the gun held at the head of the proletariat and oppressed masses, all the while assuring them that it should only be used for defense of the “fatherland” and “democracy.”
In 1915, at the Zimmerwald Conference during WWI, Lenin and the Bolsheviks outlined the only Marxist policy on defense of the bourgeois fatherland:
They [the capitalists] say: ’The war is necessary for the defense of the fatherland, it is waged in the interest of democracy.’ They Lie! In not a single country did the capitalist class start the war because the independence of their country was threatened, or because they wanted to free an oppressed people. They led the masses to slaughter because they want to oppress and to exploit other people.” – Draft Manifesto Introduced by the Left-Wing Delegates at the International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald (emphasis added)
As it was in Russia, a second-rate imperialist country in 1914-17, so it is in Canada today. The Bolsheviks under intense pressure voted against war credits, against defense of the fatherland, while CCL(M-L) today castigates “its” bourgeoisie for not strengthening its apparatus for territorial aggrandizement and internal repression in the name of defense of the fatherland. This is how the opportunists “uphold Marxism-Leninism”!
CCL(M-L)’s treacherous politics flow directly from its chosen role as Canadian mouthpiece for the counterrevolutionary Maoist bureaucracy in Peking. This reactionary nationalist clique which sits atop the historic gains of the Chinese deformed workers state has, ever since the U.S.-China rapprochement of early 1972, sought to build an international “united front” of sheiks, colonels and imperialist chieftains against the supposed “number one enemy,” the Soviet Union.
The Maoists have been campaigning hard for strengthening NATO, that imperialist “united front” of 300,000 troops for preventing “Communist aggression” and socialist revolution in Europe. Lining up with their new-found “friends” in the right wing of the American imperialist camp, the Chinese bureaucracy is advocating an increased direct military threat to the USSR.
“NATO – Need for Improved Military Forces,” blared the headline in one Peking Review (21 December 1973). A Sino-French communique printed in the 21 September 1973 Peking Review called for military unity of the NATO countries “for the preservation of their common security.” Numerous articles in the Chinese press throughout 1975 reported favourably American defense secretary Schlesinger’s insistence that U.S. troop levels be maintained in Europe, the Near East, the Persian Gulf and Asia.
When Schlesinger was sacked by U.S. President Ford in November of last year, the Maoist tops released through the official Hsinhua news agency an unprecedented, lengthy statement criticizing the dismissal as a concession to the Soviet Union and a dangerous weakening of U.S. imperialism. Favourably quoting jingoist Senator Henry Jackson, the Hsinhua release mourned the ouster of Schlesinger as “a loss to the nation in the pursuit of a prudent defense and foreign policy” (quoted in New York Times, 9 November 1975).
For the sake of its “peaceful coexistence” and “socialism in one country,” the Chinese bureaucracy is willing to be the drummer boy for imperialist militarism, while CCL(M-L) pathetically toots along on its tin whistle. The arms of NATO, which the imperialists today seek to use to destroy the historic gains of the Soviet proletariat, will tomorrow be turned against the Chinese worker and peasant masses and their bureaucratic mis-leaders.
For the Unconditional Defence of the USSR, China and All Other Deformed Workers States Against Imperialist Attack!
For International Communist Unity against Imperialism through Proletarian Political Revolution from Peking and Hanoi to Moscow and Havana!
Extend the Revolutionary Gains – For International Socialist Revolution – For the Rebirth of the Fourth International!