Due to the pressure of other practical work—the press campaign for the Socialist Action, the organization of an anti-Fascist united front, study clases, etc., the P.C. has been able to give little time to a lengthy evaluation of the entry. It believes that the question merits only brief consideration, however, as a long drawn out rehashing of old dead issues, and revived mutual recriminations between those for and against entry would be not only academic and fruitless, but actually harmful to the conduct of our political work. An evaluation is useful only if it reviews the facts of the entry, its weaknesses and actual results, in order to clarify our present position and guide us in our future course.
The W..P. of C. (Workers Party of Canada -ed.) dissolved itself as an independent organization in Ontario, May 1937. The majority of its members entered the C.C.F. as individuals after negotiations with John Mitchell had gained assurance that our applications would be accepted and that revolutionaries had a place in the C.C.F., so long as they abided by its discipline and program. This maneuver was strictly tactical and in line with the international policy of our movement at that time to strengthen itself by accelerating and capturing the leftward trend within the social democracy.
In Canada it was hoped to crystallize a left wing within the C.C.F.—a national mass labor party of several thousand workers with considerable following, especially in the West, and members in Federal and Western provincial parliaments—at a time when our own organization was becoming increasingly discouraged and demoralized because of our isolation from the main stream of the workers. Unfortunately for Canada, our application of this policy was delayed and disastrously weakened by the prolonged factional struggle preceding entry. After several months of bitter internal friction, we entered the C.C.F. at the beginning of the summer season, so that it was not until the fall and winter of 1937-38 that we could integrate ourselves and begin to gain a hearing by virtue of our work in the organization. Our activity suffered immeasurably not only from the loss of valuable time, but more important from having been hamstrung by insufficient members for fraction work. The unbolshevik behavior of the minority comrades who were unable to discipline themselves and abide by the majority decision and work loyally to carry out this decision must bear a large measure of responsibility for the limited results accruing from the entry.
Handicapped in these ways, we were unable to overcome the added handicaps of the predominantly middle class composition of the C.C.F. in Ontario and Toronto, and the strong grip of the right wing bureaucracy on the organization. In the pre-convention discussion of the winter 1937-8, we were able to a send forward several progressive resolutions passed by a few of the Toronto clubs in which we were influential. The formation of the S.P.G. (Socialist Policy Group -ed) the open left wing of the C.C.F. and the publication of the special war bulletin of Soc. Action for the convention marked the climax of the entry. The Easter-38 convention however was a triumph for the right wing bureaucracy. It had managed to clear up organizational grievances of the membership (Humbercrest split, Bob Burry, etc.) before the convention, and by smart maneuvering, prevented any political discussion of resolutions forwarded by the clubs, so that it further tightened its stranglehold on the organization.
Our stay in the C.C.F. was now approaching its close. The summer and fall of 38 witnessed regular publication of the internal Socialist Action, and especially of the transitional program for the C.C.F, advancing for the first time in an intimate first-hand way, hitherto impossible, the program of the 4th International within the C.C.F. ranks. The wider benefits from distributing our program in Ontario and B.C. have yet to be felt. (…3 lines deleted)--2--
While not able to crystallize and break off a revolutionary left wing in the C.C.F. the entry had certain positive educational features for our comrades. I) It gave us a valuable inside knowledge of the C.C.F. set-up, personal contacts with its membership and first-hand experience with its bureaucracy. 2) More important, we have gained a strong talking point against the “democracy” of the democratic socialists, and can point to our treatment at the hands of the right-wing bureaucrats in answer to workers who demand to know why all socialists cannot unite into one organization. 3) The tradition of being the expelled left wing of the C.C.F. also gives us a more “native” background, in eyes of Canadian workers. 4) At a time of serious decline in our organization, when we were isolated and unable even to publish our paper regularly, let alone carry on the tasks of a party, the entry kept our organization alive and active. To a certain degree we were able to break through our isolation, and find a medium in which to work. Within the C.C.F. we were for the first time in constant contact with a large number of organized workers with whom we could discuss and put forward our point of view. 5) The necessity of carrying on secret fraction work under the right wing bureaucracy (who act as the bourgeois police agents in times of stress) itself has been of immense value for the education and practical experience of our comrades in preparation for illegal work in the critical days ahead. 6) The necessity of familiarizing ourselves with Canadian problems in talking to advanced Canadian workers in the C.C.F. has been of considerable value in preparing and advancing our own program of transitional demands as against the C.C.F. program.
Certain criticisms might be leveled at the way our fraction was conducted. Perhaps too long a period was taken for integration into the C.C.F. doing the everyday Jimmy Higgins jobs and keeping relatively silent on questions of principle. This was in large measure due to the lack of discipline and unserious attitude of our members to the new type of work in the C.C.F. During the summers when the C.C.F. went to sleep, more could have been done to keep our own membership active, study groups organized and internal education kept up. Although the financial and other difficulties were great, the “democracy” of the C.C.F. should have been stretched to a greater extent than was done by meetings on Spain, Moscow Trials, etc, especially in the summer, when open air meetings were possible. The S.P.G. should have been organized much before the Easter-38 convention, and a fuller program than the incomplete war bulletin prepared, so that we could have utilized the pre-convention discussion period more fully for advancing our viewpoint and got a more complete statement into the hands of the provincial delegates. This resulted from slow integration, itself the direct result of the failure of minority comrades to co-operate and failure of the fusion resulting from the American Chicago convention.
In pointing out that the entry did not fulfill our hopes, it is not fair however to conclude that it was unjustified. We are now launched once more on independent existence, and it is fruitless at this point to debate whether it was right or wrong. It cannot be denied though, that our efforts would have been more productive, if, once having taken the decision, our whole membership had been disciplined, and entered as a united body.
S.W.L. of Canada (Socialist Workers League of Canada—ed.)
Feb. 16, 1939.
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