Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Reject all models

by a collective of Montreal members

First Published: In Struggle! No. 270, November 3, 1981
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

We would like to apologize to the people who attended the October 18 conference in Montreal for the poor presentation of our positions by a comrade from our collective.[1] We think our text “Reject all models” [2] reflects and explains our positions better.

Having said this, we nonetheless consider that despite the current confusion (it was fairly obvious at the conference in Montreal), the debate is well under way in our ranks. We all agree that IN STRUGGLE! is faced with serious ideological, political and organizational problems requiring major changes. But we are still far from achieving any unity on the scope and precise nature of the changes needed.

Should theoretical tasks be central?

Despite all the questioning and challenges that now confront us, we still think that most of the men and women active in the Organization can agree on a certain number of questions and a certain way of functioning. If this is not true, IN STRUGGLE! will in all probability disappear in the fog. This is the heart of the problem. To deal with the many questions facing us (and they are certainly no minor questions; they are things like: What kind of society do we live in? Is the working class really the leading force in the struggle for socialism? Has there ever been a genuinely socialist country? And so on), some people think we should emphasize theoretical tasks. These would become our central task, and we would stick with our current programme and constitution until the theoretical work generated some conclusions. This is what the Central Committee’s April resolution on tasks means.

There are several problems with this orientation. The first is that the problems confronting us (and we are not alone in facing these problems) will not be salved in the short run or even somewhat more than the,short run. Nor will they be solved through “pure” research, for history – life itself – has not found answers to these questions. Marx did not invent the Paris Commune, and Lenin did not invent the soviets. They simply analysed what was happening in their era and drew lessons and generalized them for progressive and revolutionary forces as a whole. So we should not be idealist.

In the second place, the approach was proposed by the CC without any rigorous analysis of the current situation having been done and without any evaluation of how that same approach had been applied in the past year. For you have to wear blinkers not to see that in practice, our central task has already been modified for the past year. At the base, members are more open to and involved in mass struggles and organizations, while the leadership (and in particular the national leadership) has taken up theoretical tasks with the purpose of summing up the struggle for socialism. The result of this work was the series of supplements to the newspaper on the history of the struggle for socialism and the education sessions on revisionism that drew so much criticism. Why? Look at what Charles Gagnon says in his pamphlet on the crisis in the Marxist-Leninist movement (on p. 2): “The research and political education work was getting off into the realm of theory and history without tying those things back. in any way to the Organization and its work. The research and study programme were not in fact linked to serious immediate political questions like the workers’ revolt in Poland...” And then they try to tell us that the theoretical work should be the Organization’s central task! Wait a minute!

In the third place, it is clear that the various mass movements and struggles will develop as the Crisis gets worse. Unless we challenge this conclusion, we have to take part in and support these different movements with the object in mind of supporting these movements and at the same time studying and analysing them so as to draw out the main political lessons that can be inferred from them. Some might be tempted to see this as a position of the WCP, but there is an important difference: we should not concentrate on trying to amend and sub-amend draft collective agreements or the tactics of various specific struggles. Instead, the point would be to see how, for example, we can start from the experience of the women’s movement in Canada and throughout the world to develop a revolutionary theory that incorporates this queition in an integral way. Another example: start from the movements for more democratic and Canadian unions to determine who constitutes the labour aristocracy and how we should treat workers’ control (the relationship between the full-time staffers and the rank and file). How do the anti-racist movements help us understand and envisage the unity of the multinational Canadian proletariat? This is how we would work at developing a genuine revolutionary theory and work to unite progressive and revolutionary forces around a political plan. This work can and should be done by the bases, which means by the membership as a whole, and not by specialists who do not take part in these movements and do not work with the masses in general. As a matter of fact, in an organization that defines itself as an “organization of struggle”, everybody should have a practice in the masses, not merely half of the organization, as is the case now. We think, then. that we should continue our mass work and use our entire membership to develop our line and the theoretical questions we are currently faced with.

This does not, however, exclude the possibility of using collectives to do more fundamental research on topics like the history of the international working-class and communist movement, imperialism today, and so on. But this would not be the sole form of research work, as it is now.

Organize democracy

Organizationally, we want to ORGANIZE DEMOCRACY, namely give the base more power – to develop the political line; to decide and influence decisions at all levels of the Organization; to have levels of leadership where the base is represented and where the practical questions are examined; this also involves rotating cadre, a leading role for men and women workers, ensuring an equal role for women, a considerable reduction in the number of full-time workers and the size of the apparatus. etc.[3]

In this respect, it is also clear that there should be major amendments to our constitution to include the principles just mentioned and to make our organization flexible and accessible to as many revolutionaries as possible. Our programme must also be rewritten to express what today constitutes thi basis of agreement for our organization – what it is sufficiently sure of to require that its members adhere to.

We want to have a political organization of the proletariat and the masses that has a mass character, that is open and closely linked to the masses in Canada and that works to the best of its ability and knowledge to move forward both immediate struggles and the struggle for socialism in Canada.

Lise-Anne Rheaume and Guy Simard for the collective


[1] We are a collective of men and women members of IN STRUGGLE! in the Montreal area. Most of us have belonged to the organization right from the beginning and have been mainlyactive at the base. We disagreed with the April decisions of the CC and so we came together this fall to write up our differences and circulate them to as many people as possible. So far, the concrete forms this has likes were the production of text “Reject all models” and our participation in the October 18 conference in Montreal.

[2] The text has been distributed solely to members in the Montreal area. We hope it will be available to everybody soon.

[3] Our point of view is presented in more detail in the part of “Reject all models” that deals with organization.