A typed document found in a1935-40 file, evidently written in 1939, with notes and changes (italicized in brackets) not in RD’s hand (presumably Clark’s), and signed by Clark & Dowson on page 4 (appears to be Ross’s handwriting -ed.) (One note “see over” in Ross’s hand bottom page 3)
We formally made a decision to enter the CCYM last Ju1y and by September all our members with the exception of a few of the more prominent were in the CCYM.
Just before the Provincial convention we sent an open letter to the PEC (CCF “Political Executive Committee” -ed.) explaining our intentions and asking for admittance as individuals. The convention obviously under the control of the PEC rejected us by a vote of 19-6. Also they made it quite plain that no political discussion would be carried on at the convention, first by pointing out that a prov. convention does not discuss political policy and secondly by voting against the idea of a national convention of delegates.
Of necessity we then we have to consider our next move, whether it is correct and possible to attempt a back-door entry into the CCYM via the idea of the Socialist Youth League, or whether a serious analysis of the present situation leads us to the conclusion that we must take for our perspective for the immediate future the preparing of a split in the CCYM with the purpose of building anew an independent revolutionary youth organization on the basis of the program of the 4th. Int.
Most of the former opposition to entry came not (did not come) from a principled consideration—(that is considering that at no time and under no circumstances is it correct for a revolutionary organization to enter into reformist or centrist groupings for the purpose of winning recruits to a marxist program) but on the contrary came from the point of view of tactical opposition—(entry was pre-mature-there was no left-wing base already existing from which we could direct our attacks on the bureaucracy, no left-wing on which we could have decisive influence: and that due to this fact we would not be accepted by the CCYM (prevented from carrying our rev. propaganda in the C.C.Y.M.)
However when the final decision was made, those who had opposed entry from that standpoint accepted the discipline of the majority and collaborated loyally both in the EC (SWL Executive Committee -ed.) and in the membership in carrying out the decision as effectively as possible. Despite all our efforts, however, we were formally refused. Whatever the individual actions of our comrades that have caused some criticism, it must be recorded that this refusal primarily (was) due to the present state of affairs in the CCYM and it is on this that we must base ourselves (our perspective.)
First let us consider why we enter reformist or centrist organizations generally: we enter the reformist and centrist organizations in the first place because they are experiencing an influx of workers breaking away from the bourgeois influence and at the same time powerful leftward developments are taking place in these parties, while on the other hand we are comparatively isolated from the main stream of the labor movement. We enter in order to win as large a number of recruits as possible for our progam, and although we may spend the first period entrenching ourselves, it must be recognized that in order to carry our tasks we must have an increasing amount of freedom to express our point of view. As this will entail a struggle with the bureaucracy and right wing it is quite obvious that unless there is a left-wing tendency already existing (perhaps not grouped around a definite program but of whose existence there cannot be the slightest doubt) on whom we can not only base our work upon and try to influence after entry but whose existence is an essential prerequisite to (for) effecting (successful- deleted) entry we stand very little chance of successfully combatting the right-wing. For as soon as a revolutionary grouping enters a reformist or centrist grouping the right wing inevitably organizes itself and begins a fight to isolate and expel the revolutionaries, and as they are in control of the apparatus it is absolutely necessary that we have a real “native” (left-wing) base from which to work.
It was precisely the lack of this base on the one hand and on the other considerable doubt as to “the ever-quickening flow of workers into CCYM and CCF” that was the basis of our opposition to, entry last July (/omit) and it is precisely the lack of this left-wing native base at the present time coupled with the obvious fact that the CCYM is following (the road of -deleted) disentragation that makes it necessary that we reject the perspective of the CYM for the present and the immediate period ahead. For the past year the CCYM has steadily declined, neither of the developments foreseen by Kennedy took place- on the one hand the rapid influx of young workers did not take place and on the other hand the native left-wing tendency did not develop to any appreciable extent.
It is for these reasons that we no not consider it correct to orient ourselves towards this now obviously decaying organization until such times as the young workers really begin to come into the CCYM, until such times as a left-wing tendency begins to develop but (even Kennedy-deleted) (no one) can produce evidence to show that there is the slightest trend in this direction.
Now as to the immediate perspective (outlined in the theses drawn up by com. Kennedy)—that of building a Socialist Youth League-building an organization reformist or centrist in nature, affiliated to the CCF either through the CCF district units, or through the a1ready existing Socialist Youth Club and to work for future fusion with the CCYM on a democratic basis.
Taking the general analysis of the IS (International Secretariat of the Fourth International -ed.) which states that in this period the parties of social democracy and centrist groupings will experience a rapid influx of workers who are becoming class-conscious and that powerful left-trends will make their appearance in these parties and that revolutionaries cannot isolate themselves from this movement, Kennedy mechanically applies this to the Canadian scene at the present time. That such a movement will take place is quite probable and perhaps even inevitable but that does not mean by a long shot that the CCF and the CCYM are the organizations that will receive this influx. On the contrary the fact of the matter is that these organizations have been disentragating ever since the Federal Election and show no signs of checking this downward trend. This is due not only to the fact that this movement of workers away from the bourgeois parties has not reached considerable proportions as yet, not only to the internal situation in the CCF and CCYM, but is due very much to the fact that there is a much more powerful reformist grouping in Canada, with just enough revolutionary background to capture the imagination of the masses—the CP—a factor which Kennedy did not even bother to consider. He states that we must get in on the “ground floor” but to get in on the ground floor necessitates a foundation in the first place for the argument and that is precisely what is lacking-there are no signs that would indicate of this movement (in)to the CCF and the CCYM. He thinks that the fact that we cannot get into the CCYM officially matters but little, “the CCYM is bound to grow” therefore we must get in the back door-via the Socialist Youth League. He sees a small grouping in the East end of Toronto of perhaps 10 members at the most that broke away from the CCYM PEC on the question of dues (Back payment) formed a Young Socialist Club, whose activity centers around dances and has a very poor social composition, an organization that has absolutely no idea of building a socialist youth league as opposed to the CCYM nor is particularly interested in getting back into the CCYM or of conducting any serious socialist activity and it is towards this group that Kennedy suggests we orient ourselves in the forth coming periods, but he says “the potentialities are there"- what potentialities that exist only in Kennedy’s mind. There is no evidence, no signs, at all that any serious minded marxist can claim as proof of these potentialities.
In other words there are no reformist groupings that we can enter at the present time, there are no centrist groupings at all so as the CCYM must grow (although everything but Kennedy’s imagination points that the opposite is true) we must get in on the ground floor of the centrist groupings (which do not exist) in order to achieve back-door entry into the CCYM which is steadily disentragating and shows no signs of checking this.
Then too, to successfully build the Socialist Youth League to any size would require the ("mothering hand”—deleted) (approval) of the CCF over its head, Kennedy in thinking this a possibility grossly underestimates the connections between the CCF and the CCYM as if the former did not know of and approve our exclusion from the CCYM.
What then is the perspective that must be adopted- generally speaking it is this to begin immediately to prepare the ground in the CCYM for a split, towards the reconstitution of the SYL. In other words to orient ourselves on the bases of the above analysis, away from the CCYM and towards an independent revolutionary youth organization.
This split cannot take place overnight, it must be carefully prepared, leaving all members in the CCYM at present, recruiting to the Bunch (the SWL Branch? -ed.) as rapidly as possible, and carrying out the split in the most dramatic manner possible. As for those who cannot officially get in, their cases should be taken up separately as to their individual merits.
What does preparation of the split mean -it means opening up more political propaganda in the CCYM forcing issues, recruiting to the bunch at an increased rate of speed. It means a very careful scrutiny of every event so as to determine its .significance; so that we wil1 be able to determine the exact time when to carry out the above intention and set up an independent revolutionary youth organization.
Will this not interfere with the WPC and the CCF orientation?
A CCF orientation in the first place does not necessarily mean entry (at this stage), in reality it means orientating ourselves towards the advanced workers and by that recognizing that our main emphasis at the present time is put on propaganda activity. In the second place what has been said of the CCYM also applies to a greater or lesser degree to the CCF. Since the Federal elections (it) has been steadily decaying and no left-wing, can be discerned. Underlying the whole matter is this- the development of this movement that the IS thesis spoke of is a dialectical one; that is on the one hand you have the workers who are becoming class-conscious under the pressure of events breaking away from the bourgeois parties and flowing into the social democratic and centrist organizations and on the other hand the development of powerful left-wing trends inside these organizations. These two developments take place side by side and mutually interact on each other and on the organization as a whole, a revolutionary kernel entering into this stream can crystallize this movement around itself as the nucleous despite the efforts of the bureaucracy to prevent it.
The point that we make is that this movement has yet to take place in Canada particularly in Ontario where most of our forces are concentrated and even when it does it is not at all certain that the CCF and CCYM will be the organizations affected. We make no prophecies beyond saying that perhaps new centrist trends will spring up or perhaps because of the peculiarities of developments in Canada the CP will attract because of its left coloration the majority of those who are breaking away from the Capitalist parties.
The chief reason why the left-wing trends have been so slow in developing in the CCF and the CCYM is because of the lack of influx of workers during the past 12-16 months and also one of the reasons why this did not take place was due to the internal structure of the CCF and CCYM.(Note by Ross D.: “see over")
That is why briefly we cannot orient ourselves towards the CCYM or enter the CCF at the present time and a1so why we must continue the present independent existence of the WPC and prepare immediately for a split in the CCYM and the reconstituting of the independent revolutionary youth organization on the program of the Geneva Congress of the 4th.Int.
(Signed) Clark Dowson
(handwriting indicates Ross -ed.)
That is, to work on the basis of the Socialist Youth League, with a perspective of building an organization, affiliated to the CCF either through the district CCF units or through the existing Socialist Youth Club. And working (for) fusion at a future time with (the) CCYM and on a democratic basis.
Generally speaking we go into reformist and centrist organizations in order to win their membership for our program, we go in to disentregate these brakes on the workers movement, not to build them but to break them. ©2004 ~ 2007 Forward Group Last updated: Monday, April 14, 2008, 12:26 PM
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Generally speaking we go into reformist and centrist organizations in order to win their membership for our program, we go in to disentregate these brakes on the workers movement, not to build them but to break them.
©2004 ~ 2007 Forward Group Last updated: Monday, April 14, 2008, 12:26 PM