First Published: In Struggle No. 71, September 30, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In January of this year, the militants of the Toronto Communist Group, as well as a certain number of other militants, have been engaged in an integration process with our group.
This process has been very significant for IN STRUGGLE!, because it represents an important step in our transformation from a provincial group operating only in Quebec, to a group taking up the struggle to realize the four conditions for the Marxist-Leninist organization across Canada. It is also very important for it represents a positive development in the struggle for unity of the Marxist-Leninists of the two nations of our country. Our long delay in producing a public statement on the rallying of militants in Toronto reflected a serious underestimation of the importance of public exposure of this process and its lessons. Therefore, IN STRUGGLE! is taking this opportunity to present the history and lessons of this struggle for unity, so that militants and conscious workers may learn from this experience to intensify our common efforts to create a single Marxist-Leninist organization of struggle for the Canadian proletarian party.
Our organized work in Toronto began in the spring of 1976 with the rallying of militants to our group at the end of the integration process. But the roots of this work lay in the period of intense ideological and political struggle among Canadian Marxist-Leninists during the previous year. With the appearance of the journal Canadian Revolution produced by militants in Toronto, there began for the first time in many years, study of documents and polemics among the entire Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, particularly between the militants of Quebec and English Canada. This period forged the beginning of significant points of unity, particularly on: The building of the party as our central task, the identification of economism as the main deviation in our movement, the necessity of proletarian dictatorship for building socialism, and the repudiation of the phoney ’CPC-ML’ as a neo-revisionist group devoted to splitting and wrecking the movement. This period of debate and struggle also elevated the Marxist-Leninist groups and circles out of their strictly local concerns, and focussed attention on the essential question of the struggle to build a country-wide communist (m-1) party.
During this period of country-wide ideological struggle, militants from the Toronto Communist Group had discussions with IN STRUGGLE!, with the three groups who formed the CCL-ML, and with many militants from across Canada. TCG came to the conclusion that IN STRUGGLE! has correct positions on: the struggle against economism, on the tasks and stages in building the party, and on the Canadian bourgeoisie and American Imperialism as the two main enemies facing the proletariat in its struggle for power. But before this important unity could be consolidated in common organization, we encountered two important obstacles that had to be overcome; two deviations in ideological and political line that had to be rectified to build our unity on a solid basis.
The first to be identified and rectified was the nationalist deviation of IN STRUGGLE!. While our group had clearly identified the need for a common struggle of the Canadian proletariat in Creons (Dec. 74) and the necessity of a single Canadian party in “Tasks of the ML Movement” (May 75), we had not clarified our views on the question of a single country-wide organization of struggle for the Party, and had confined our practical work to Quebec and our publications to the French language. The important unity, developed in discussion with Toronto comrades, and the growing struggle and unity in the movement across Canada, stimulated us to rectify these deviations. We began the bilingual production and country-wide distribution of our documents with Against Economism (Sept. 75) and made plans to develop a bilingual country-wide newspaper through the transitional step of publishing an English language digest in January of 1976. And we proposed to our Toronto comrades that they rally to our group as an important step in building a country-wide group struggling to develop the conditions for a single Canadian organization of struggle for the party.
This proposal in turn revealed another important deviation to be rectified – a tendency of the Toronto comrades to separate the question of organizational unity from ideological and political unity and to defend their backward organizational forms as necessary until there had been more common practice and ideological debate in the country-wide movement. In practice this tendency was revealed in a proposal for common collaboration on a country-wide newspaper with IN STRUGGLE! and with other militants, without the organizational unity discipline, and application of democratic centralism necessary to achieve this. These deviations were very important to rectify and overcome. Not only because they were a barrier to unity with these comrades, but because in our experience we have found them to be typical of certain erroneous tendencies among English-Canadian militants – especially those with a one-sided analysis of their negative experiences historically in the application of democratic centralism.
In discussion and struggle we pointed out to the Toronto comrades that their erroneous views on the question of organizational unity and their proposal for a country-wide newspaper as a form of common practice without discipline, were a defense of localism and amateurish forms of organization. This was rooted in ideological confusion on the question of democratic centralism. We pointed out that the development of our practical work among the masses requires discipline, the carrying of a common line which can be tested in practice and summed up based on the criticisms of the masses. We also explained the importance of democratic centralism as a method of centralizing the correct ideas of the masses and of the militants of the group. Further development of our political line can thus take place as a reflection of the contributions, knowledge and practice of all militants, and does not remain on the level of debates among tiny isolated groups. We also stressed that our organizational unity at this point was not in contradiction to continuing and sharpening the polemics over differences of principle in the movement. But where principled unity existed at this stage, we must consolidate this organizationally to intensify our work of agitation and propaganda among the masses and make principal our demarcation against the false solutions of the social democrats, the trade union bosses, the revisionists and the trotskyists who confuse the masses with their false solutions and prevent the conscious workers from taking up the struggle for their party.
Based on this struggle, members of the Toronto Communist Group self-criticized for the deviations and agreed to liquidate their collective and, build the basis of a Toronto unity of our group under the leadership and discipline of IN STRUGGLE!. Very shortly after, a two line struggle against the economist deviation broke out in a study circle in Toronto which had been set up by the former Workers’ Unity (Toronto). In this struggle several militants began to sharply criticize the views of the CCL-ML (defended by Workers’ Unity) on the stages and methods of building the party, and to study the outlook of our group on these questions. Although these persons had never had the opportunity to meet or discuss with representatives of IN STRUGGLE! they became convinced through their study and debate that our views were fundamentally correct and that the backward organizational form of the study group was an obstacle to carrying out the tasks of struggle for the organization. These people then, along with an individual militant who had become convinced through study that the line of our group was correct and that disciplined organization was necessary, rallied to IN STRUGGLE! and joined in the work of building a unity in Toronto.
The struggle for unity in Toronto, and its first successful results in organizational unity, laid the basis for important changes in the country-wide practice of our group. With the participation of our Toronto comrades in the ’regroupement’ for March 22 in Ottawa and in leafletting for the mass demonstration of Ontario workers against the crisis measures of the Ontario government on April 28th, we took our first steps of communist agitation and propaganda outside of Quebec. With the production of the bilingual newspaper and the aid of the Toronto militants in reporting from English Canada, we began the regular distribution of our paper to the industrial proletariat of Toronto and intensified the struggle to transform this organ into a real country-wide agitator, propagandist, and organizer. Of course these initial steps are limited and amateurish; they are only the beginning of a long journey to carry our line across the country and to transform our agitation, propaganda, and organization to accomplish this. But these small steps are the beginning of an important process in our history. Along with the work of the CCL-ML in Toronto, they represent the first diffusion of a communist line after many years among the masses, by Marxist-Leninists of our two nations, united in order to struggle for the unity of the Canadian proletariat.
With the establishment of IN STRUGGLE! in Toronto, there has also been an opportunity to take up the struggle for unity of Marxist-Leninists in this city in a direct and regular way. In this area of work we made certain errors at first we one-sidedly emphasized our mass agitation and propaganda and therefore did not treat the local struggle for unity with the priority it deserves; we also made the dogmatic error of confusing security about the details of our organization with secrecy about the public presence of our group, causing unnecessary confusion in the Marxist-Leninist movement locally. But the large number of Marxist-Leninist militants and progressive individuals who have sought out our group in Toronto for discussion and struggle, quickly forced us to treat the question of unity of Marxist-Leninists as an urgent priority in practice and, to examine the sectarian mistakes that had been made on this question. The afternoon conference on the unity of Marxist-Leninists on Oct. 2nd will be our first public step in correcting these errors. It will be an opportunity for all Marxist-Leninists in Toronto and in southern Ontario to debate and criticize the positions of our group on the question of unity, and to intensify our common struggle to create a country-wide organization of struggle for the party.
Along with intensifying our struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists we must also intensify our work of agitation and propaganda among the masses, particularly in relation to the Oct. 14th ’day of protest’ against the Trudeau wage freeze and the organization of a general strike against the crisis measures of the capitalists and their State. These two questions are not separate; we struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists precisely in order to intensify our efforts of communist agitation, propaganda, and organization among the masses and to win the conscious workers to join with the Marxist-Leninist movement in the struggle for the party. Because of this the Oct. 2nd conference in Toronto on the unity of Marxist-Leninists will be followed by an evening meeting of mobilization for October 14th as a day of united struggle and preparation for the general strike.
Our work in Toronto has also revealed the necessity of a bookstore as a source of Marxist-Leninist propaganda and as a public contact point for our group. This will be established by IN STRUGGLE! as soon as possible.
We believe that this first attempt by our group in developing unity, practice and organization on a country-wide basis has important positive lessons for our young and growing movement. It shows the importance of the unity of Marxist-Leninists for the development of communist work that will unify the proletariat in its struggle to resist and to end capitalist exploitation. It shows the special importance of the unity of Marxist-Leninists of our two nations in order to overcome the national divisions of the proletariat of our country. In this struggle it was necessary to rectify certain nationalist deviations of IN STRUGGLE!, but this was only the first step in a larger struggle. That is, the struggle of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement to fight both bourgeois nationalism in Quebec and, more importantly, the great nation chauvinism fostered by the Canadian bourgeoisie toward the oppressed nation of Quebec.
The struggle for unity with our comrades in Toronto was a principled struggle over questions of ideological and political line, a struggle that required rectification of deviations on both sides in order to lay the basis for organizational unity. But once this basis was laid it was essential to unite organizationally in order to continue our work on a higher basis, on the basis of discipline and democratic centralism. It was absolutely necessary to break with the regionalism, localism, and circle spirit that has dominated our movement for too long, in order to take up our historical tasks in the struggle for the proletarian party and the struggle to end capitalist exploitation. This has already been confirmed by the practice of our group; the unity developed with our Toronto comrades has been a great stimulus in developing our country-wide political and organizational line; and the practice of the militants in Toronto has developed rapidly among the masses and in the Marxist-Leninist movement since they broke with their backward organizational forms and localism and rallied to our group.
Comrades, in order to see clearly the future perspectives for our work we must have a correct analysis of our present situation and the problems and obstacles to overcome in the struggle for the party. The increasing unity and struggle of the working people of Canada, especially the proletariat, is revealed in the resistance to the crisis measures of the capitalists and their State. The mobilization for the general strike will greatly increase the possibility of fusing scientific socialism (Marxism-Leninism) with the workers’ movement and intensify the need for communist agitation, propaganda, and organization among the masses. But it will also reveal even more clearly to the conscious workers and the Marxist-Leninist movement, the need for proletarian leadership in the struggle against capitalist exploitation; the urgency of creating a country-wide proletarian party. The first step we must take in this process is the creation of a country-wide Marxist-Leninist organization of struggle for the party. But the Marxist-Leninist movement which must create this organization remains divided and weak; not only divided on certain questions of ideological and political line but also organizationally divided and splintered relative to the real and growing ideological unity that is being forced in debate and practice and struggle. Therefore the question of the unity of Marxist-Leninists becomes a question of urgent necessity, the key link at this time in the chain of the tasks to create a Canadian Marxist-Leninist organization of struggle for the party.
Comrades, IN STRUGGLE! has no intention of pretending that the rallying of militants to our group in one city in English Canada, has created a country-wide group or organization or, that the rallying of militants to our group or any other, will in itself create the organization we are struggling for. No group can claim to be the leading centre in this struggle until we have overcome the divisions and disunity of the Canadian Marxist-Leninists in line and in practice. There is no room in scientific analysis for such posturing; and no need to blind ourselves to the many obstacles to the creation of the organization that still must be overcome. We rally militants to our group on a principled ideological and political basis precisely in order to reinforce, deepen and extend our struggle to create the organization on a country-wide basis. We are presenting this public statement on the establishment of our group in Toronto so that the Marxist-Leninist militants and conscious workers can learn from and criticize our practice in the struggle to create the organization. And our group will learn from this experience in order to deepen and intensify our efforts in the struggle for the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, the key link at this time in the development of the country-wide organization and the creation of the proletarian party.