Left Opposition Movement Growing in Canada

(October 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 44, 29 October 1932, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The period following the last plenum of the Communist League has marked the definite expansion of the Left Opposition in Toronto. Indices of this political and organizational progress are manifest in the several fields of education and agitation, trade union contacts, literature sales, youth work, and branch recruiting, all of which strengthens the premises for a more comprehensive program of action. In appraising this activity it must not be forgotten that the Communist movement in Ontario has been declared by the courts to be illegal, and the revolutionary organizations are subjected to the most rigorous police persecution.

Educational Work

One of the outstanding undertakings of the branch has been the organization of a class in Marxism, under the direction of comrade Maurice Spector. The importance of theoretical training of cadres of the younger generation, cannot be overestimated. Reference to this urgent need was among the most conspicuous points in L.D.’s letter of greeting to the first (Chicago) Conference of the Opposition. Continuity of revolutionary Marxian thought must be maintained – never more so than in the present period of Stalinist falsification of Bolshevik history and corruption of theory in the Comintern.

The class was launched in the hottest season of the year but drew an attendance of between thirty-five to forty, throughout, although as a matter of policy (in the interests of a selection that would be stable) no effort was made to recruit in the highways and byways. The predominant element was naturally the youth, but there was also an adult proletarian element with trade union experience and connections. The first part of the course dealt with the theoretical system of Marx, the next with the strategy of the proletariat in the struggle for power, and the concluding part is to take up the problems of socialist-Soviet construction. The lectures were supplemented by mimeographed readings from the revolutionary classics, and the organization of a lending library.

It may be stated without exaggeration that as a result, the revolutionary movement has gained a number of keen, energetic and loyal militants, who have accepted the full implication of the dictum that Marxism is no dogma but a guide to action.

It has been decided to continue the class throughout the winter and to draw in fresh elements.

Trade Union Activity

The events in the Montreal needle trades which precipitated the revolt of the rank and file in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union against the Hillman bureaucracy, also revealed the sterility of the “third period-social-Fascist” trade union strategy of Stalinism. The leadership of the “Industrial Union” (RILU) was so thoroughly satisfied with itself and the structure and objectives of the union as the final word in revolutionary engineering, that it remained blissfully unaware of the actual ferment that was going on among the “backward” masses in the Amalgamated. As a result, despite the fact that the Industrial Union had been in existence for three years it was isolated from the discontented mass in the older union, and the workers anxious to throw off the chains of the Hillman machine, set up a new union. Instead of striving for relations of close and comradely solidarity with a movement that was genuinely of the masses, the officialdom of the Industrial Union adopted a truculent, ultimatist position of antagonism. Their attitude was one of “Caesar or nothing!

Join us or we will smash you.” The strength of the Industrial Union did not suffice to prevent the new union from consolidating itself in Montreal but it did suffice to retard the organization of a similar mass movement of revolt under Left wing leadership against Hillmanism in Toronto. The Hillman officialdom have for the time being got the situation in hand and are busily quoting the articles of the “Industrial Union” strategists to prove that it is hardly worth while to break away from the Amalgamated for a union that is not as unqualifiedly revolutionary as the RILU.

The “third period” trade union tactics did however meet with resistance from a sector of the Left wing which rejected the ultimatist attitude. With these comrades the Left Opposition established contact and embarked on a course of friendly collaboration. The basis of this collaboration was clearly defined from the very beginning. This group of Left wing trade unionists, most of whom have passed through all the experiences of the TUEL, reject the Stalinist slander about the Opposition. They agreed that an organized Left wing, its policies proceeding from the recognition of the class struggle, is the prerequisite to any militant program of action.

Literature – The MilitantUnser Kamf

The sales of the Militant, which had slumped prior to the plenum, have tripled. There is a growing demand for our pamphlet literature, with the satisfaction of which the rigid censorship interferes. The Customs confiscates our material and the Militant is prohibited entry in the West, as being Bolshevik propaganda. Apparently the capitalist authorities are not convinced by Stalin’s assurances to contrary. The sale of Unser Kamf is similarly increasing and the branch has taken steps to knit the sympathizers of this paper into a stable organization.

Organization and Agitation

The branch has been increasing its membership steadily. We put into effect the principle “from each according to his abilities”. No merely passive allegiance is allowed. No one is permitted to wear the badge of the Opposition by merely giving verbal adherence to its principles. Our comrades are active in defense work, trade union work, literature distribution, etc. Comrades MacDonald and Spector, to the great distress of the Stalin officials, have been called upon to speak to the various Workers Associations, forums, etc. The Stalin organ has consequently become more venomous in its falsifications. Rumors are circulated that “MacDonald opposed a demonstration in Queens Park” (in connection with a deputation from Workers and Producers Conference to place its demands before Premier Henry). Or in connection with a previous deputation for the repeal of section 98 “Spector was afraid to address the Premier”. But such lies out of the whole cloth are punctured as soon as the workers read our press and see us in action.

A Canadian Organ of the Opposition

To deal more effectively with the problems of the class struggle in the Dominion, we are preparing to publish the first number of a monthly organ of the Opposition to coincide with the celebration of the October anniversary.

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