First Published: In Struggle! No. 286, May 4, 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The debate within the organisation, particularly during the last few weeks, leads us to put forward the suspension of IN STRUGGLE!’s programme in its present form. However, this suspension should be accompanied by elaborating as specifically as possible a platform of unity based on the fundamental points we still consider valid in the programme and the amendments we can already make to our line. This basis of unity is indispensable if we want to continue the debate in our ranks, not to choose between a glass that is half full and one that is half empty. What we propose is to look at the contents of the glass of water right away, in other words mention common action.
All this merits being explained! We became aware through discussion with comrades that to pose the question simply in terms of rejecting or maintaining the programme ran a great risk of leading us into false debates, debates on form. It is not unusual to see two militants of IN STRUGGLE! say about the same things one to explain why he rejects the programme but wants to continue upholding those ideas which remain correct and the other to conclude that he wantsto maintain the programme which he thinks must be seriously amended. In other words militants have an increasing impression that they must,they must choose between a glass that is half full and one that is half empty. What we propose is to look at the contents of the glass of water right away, in other words, at the conceptions which according to us should underly communist intervention in class struggle.
But there’s more to it than that. We consider the errors and weaknesses in the programme are serious enough that it can’t simply be amended. It would take too long to review the correct criticisms of the programme. Let us just remember its real lack of understanding of women’s oppression, its origins and consequences; its simplistic explanation of the failure of socialism in the world; its underestimation of significant characteristics of the way advanced capitalist societies function (we’re specifically thinking here of the role of ideology and the reproduction and behaviour in a society likeours); the conception of the single party put forward by the programme and its mechanical vision of revolutionary strategy.
On the other hand we think that many of the most basic principles underlying our programme are valid and are an indispensable basis to elaborate any new basis of unity. These foundations are inspired by a communist vision of our present society and of building socialism, a vision which demarcates us from other forces who also say they are struggling for social change and which, in certain cases, do in fact struggle effectively for it. And it is precisely because we want to maintain these revolutionary orientations that we prefer to speak of suspending the programme rather than the simple rejection of it.
Thus we come directly to the basis of unity we propose. We think it should include the following elements, (please note that this is a resume of a paper that is quite a bit longer and therefore some formulations are very summary):
1) A radical criticism of capitalism as being a system of exploitation and oppression for a large part of the world’s population, as a system that inevitably leads to crises and war.
2) An awareness that the system we live in is not only capitalist but also patriarchal, that is that it is based on a deep-rooted practice of male privilege and domination.
3) The statement that a system with such contradictions leads objectively to revolutionary confrontations. The transformation in depth can never be done by a simple addition of reforms or progressive changes. Revolutionary violence is an inevitable necessity for which the masses should be prepared adequately.
4) A vision of socialism as a society of transition towards communism (a society without classes or patriarchy) as a society where class struggle continues in a new way and under new contradictions and restraints. The working class and masses should employ all means, including repression to prevent the exploiting minority from taking popular masses from taking power back. This process should, however, be accompanied by the broadest democracy for the entire people, the broadest popular and working-class power.
5) The recognition of the working class as the principal force for social change. This class is not composed only of producers of surplus value, but also includes housewives, proletarians from the service sector, those who are excluded temporarily or permanently from the labour market (unemployed, welfare recipients, handicapped, retired people).
5. The analysis of Canada as an imperialist country where the bourgeoisie can no longer play any progressive role whatever for the masses and which must be regarded as an enemy in its entirety. This is the bourgeoisie controlling the State with which it exercises its dictatorship, even if it is masked, over the masses.
7) An internationalist view of the struggle for socialism and against capitalism.
8) The need to build an organization or political party in which the militants who make it up are active (within the organization) which has the task of putting forward a revolutionary leadership and providing direction to class struggle. The party or organization’s specific role with respect to other organizational forms adopted by the people is to defend the interests of the whole working class, to take an interest in the whole (working) class movement.
9) To recognize the existence of many nations and national minorities and the full right of self-determination for all nations.
10) The need to get involved in the immediate struggles of the working class and the popular masses.