First Published: In Struggle No. 66, July 22, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Is it hay fever, or food-and-mouth disease or perhaps ... Olympic fever? We don’t know. But one thing is for sure, though, the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) is not feeling well. Perhaps the medical attention it has so generously dispensed in the last little while to a variety of groups, all so ill from the cancer of opportunism, has led it to regrettable excesses and dangerous overwork which threaten its own health? Lacking extra-sensory perception, we’ll have to leave it to history to tell us why the League has exhibited such hostility towards IN STRUGGLE! in the past few months. And why wuch agony permeates their texts whenever they deal with the question of the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, as well as why they do the unjustifiable things they are doing.
Let’s get right to the point: the methods used by the League in the past little while do not favour the unity of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. In fact, their methods can only lead to division and splits, as well as to a sharpening of the contradictions which exist within the movement.
That is why we will soon be publishing a brochure detailing the sectarian methods of the League on the unity question and the opportunism which underlies this sectarianism.
For the moment, however, we would like to reply briefly to the slanderous article which appeared in No. 14 of The Forge (July 1, 1976 p. 11) entitled “IN STRUGGLE!’s plan sidesteps political line. No easy shortcuts to unity”.
We think this article is “slanderous” because it is packed full of fallacious declarations; because it is based on facts reported in a slanted and misleading fashion, and on a text attributed to IN STRUGGLE! but never actually identified; and because it draws radically false conclusions about IN STRUGGLE!’s position on the question of unity.
The League’s foolishnessness of the last few months has. gone on long enough. It’s about time it grasped a correct conception of the polemic between Marxist-Leninists. It’s about time it stopped blathering on with foolish remarks about IN STRUGGLE! and other Marxist-Leninist groups. It’s also about time it stopped taking itself for the universel umbilical cord and took the time to look around and study reality, including the reality of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, which, in its excessive subjectivism, it is in the process of reducing to itself alone.
Let’s clarify one thing: IN STRUGGLE! has not distributed “... a draft text... containing its new plan for unity of Marxist-Leninists and the formation of a Marxist-Leninist organization.”
Aside from the speech given on May 1st in Montreal all our positions on unity in the past several months have appeared in the newspaper. If the League really has in its possession an authentic document from IN STRUGGLE! on the question of unity, it must be one of our internal documents.
First: The League is lying when it affirms that IN STRUGGLE! has distributed a “unity project” to “several groups and individuals in Quebec”. A lie is a lie.
Second: if the League has in its hands a text – which we don’t know where it got – that is indeed from IN STRUGGLE!, and if it is an internal document from our group, their way of proceeding is quite simply demagogic and thoroughly contrary to the most elementary principles of struggle over line between Marxist-Leninists. On one hand, the League does not know and does not say what became, or what could become, of the document it says it has: it could have, for example, been rejected by the group. On the other hand, the League addresses itself to the entire Marxist-Leninist movement in its criticism of IN STRUGGLE!, based on a text nobody is acquainted with.
That way, it has the leisure of interpreting the document as it likes, and interpreting it wrongly. This possibility is all the more likely since for some months now the League has not been shy in interpreting the entire Marxist-Leninist movement as well as the actions of various groups in its own peculiar way, a way which is often foreign to the basic principles of dialectical materialism and of historical materialism, not to speak of the facts.
Thus, based on a few scattered facts, on snatches of sentences and on a mysterious “draft text” attributed to IN STRUGGLE!, the League comes up with a fantasy of an “analysis” which ends up stating that, on one hand:
“Communists do not object in principle to the method of rallying communists around a Marxist-Leninist unity platform and calling a Congress to officially form an organization”.
But on the other hand, the League objects to IN STRUGGLE!’s proposal because of its opportunist platform, and then goes on to conclude in such a way that rejects this “method” in practice:
The League has always put forward its willingness to move towards the unity of all genuine Marxist-Leninists around a correct political line. Any other kind of “minimal” line or a souped-up version of this line, must be condemned as opportunist our emphasis.
The League’s way of proceeding is both disgraceful and degrading. It criticizes at its leisure a platform it attributes to IN STRUGGLE! which no one is acquainted with and which cannot be from us, because not only have we not distributed such a “unity platform”, but we haven’t even completely finished writing one for internal debate. At the same time, the League bases itself on the opportunist character of the so-called platform (the “improved” version or not) to reject in practice and without a shred of evidence, a method of struggling for unity which it considers correct in principle “under certain circumstances” although it does not bother to go into detail on which circumstances.
The League logic is as follows: the method of acheiving unity advocated by IN STRUGGLE! is wrong, not in and of itself because, in fact, this method can be “correct” in principle; but because one of the elements involved in this method is wrong and opportunist. And which element is wrong? The platform, according to the League. Except that this platform doesn’t exist yet.
What do you call hocus-pocus like this that allows the League to criticize the opportunism of IN STRUGGLE! based on suppositions while remaining in complete silent on the reasons why the method advanced by IN STRUGGLE! for building unity among Marxist-Leninists is not correct in the conditions present in the Canadian communist (Marxist-Leninist) movement. If the League considers this as a polemic carried out according to the principle “unity-criticism-unity”, we ourselves consider it “outrageous demagoguery”, demagoguery befitting Real Caouette who attributes intentions (or worse still statements) to his adversaries and then vigorously denounces these same intentions (and statements) thus neatly dispensing with the necessity of addressing the real nature of what is being put out forwad by his adversaries. What could be more odious?
The League claims to base itself on the public declarations of IN STRUGGLE! In fact, it refers to an “April 26 editorial” and to the “right opportunist line” on unity in it. What does this refer to? Once again, we aren’t sure: IN STRUGGLE! did not publish an editorial on unity on April 26. We assume, therefore, it is referring to our“ Statement of IN STRUGGLE!’s direction” (not the editorial) published April 29 (not April 26). See, IN STRUGGLE!, no. 60; April 29, 1976 p. 4-6).
Despite the limits of the present article, we would like to deal with one of the “ambiguities” (to use a polite term) created by the League, which states the following in its most recent article (again, the term is a polite one) about IN STRUGGE!:
What happened to ideological and political line being decisive? Obviously, IN STRUGGLE! doesn’t think it is. And so in the mad scramble for unity at any cost, line gets thrown by the wayside. Etc.
Either the League doesn’t know how to read and should learn, or else it obviously doesn’t care at all about what IN STRUGGLE!’s real positions are and is only interested in making political capital at our expense. Because in this “Statement from the leadership” mentioned above, we said, among other things:
At this moment, the capacity to attain the political unity of all the groups, cells, circles and individuals that now compose the Canadian communist movement, is the first conditions to the creation of a nationwide communist organization. (p. 5)
Only an organization formed from a large debate led throughout the country, on the line and program to be advanced, will be able to assume the role of leading the movement towards the party. (p. 6)
The Canadian Marxist-Leninists will only unite, and unite they must, on the basis of a program that they will share, a program on whose elaboration they will have totally participated.(p. 6)
Rather than stupidly repeating that IN STRUGGLE!’s proposition is opportunist because it puts unity above political line, the League should set about proving that its conception of unity is the only just one under the present conditions. Because on one hand, it is clearly false that we put unity above political line; on many occasions we have repeated that organizational unity must be based on political unity, unity around a program. On the other hand, the League is wasting its breath when it states our platform is “minimal” because this platform has not yet even been published. In passing, we would like to note that this is the second time that the League criticizes IN STRUGGLE!’s opportunism by basing itself on a platform it has never seen: last February the League gallantly (!) denounced our platform on the woman’s question before seeing it (See IN STRUGGLE!, no. 56; March 4, 1976, the Supplement devoted to this question)
Let’s hope the League changes its attitude. To date its ultimatums, and its raving, demagogic commentaries have not been framed in such a way as to have convinced us that our position on the unity question is erroneous.
We will be presenting our position in a more complete form before the movement as a whole in the coming weeks. As well, we will be putting forward our platform. And if it serves to calm the League’s hysteria, let it take note that we have no intention of preclaming the creation of the Party or the Canadian communist (Marxist-Leninist) organization. We can assure the League that it will have plenty of time to criticize all the aspects of our positions based on official, public statements, and not on fanciful projections.
We have already said that the creation of the organization cannot take place before there is a wide debate throughout the movement. And we have every intention of participating fully in this debate, without being moved by the League’s strutting, and prattling. And if the League feels the overwhelming need to “polemic”, perhaps it should exercise its talents by doing a criticism of Against Economism published by IN STRUGGLE! last Fall, which dealt with the line of the group which later founded the League; or even De quelques questions brūlantes sur la ligne tactique (“Some burning questions on tactics”) published by the Cellule Militante Ouvriere (CMO) one of the component groups of the League, in June 1975. There you have some examples of public positions well known in the movement... which the League has been less talkative about than about “the opportunism” it so generously attributes to IN STRUGGLE based on its own dreams... or nightmares.
 “Statement from IN STRUGGLE!’s leadership” would have been a better translation of the title.