First Published: Spartacist Canada No 57, March 1983
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Not with a bang but a whimper – the’Maoist Workers Communist Party (WCP), which little more than three years ago bombastically declared itself “the general staff of the Canadian working class, the proletarian vanguard,” has, it seems, just disappeared. The WCP’s Forge was last seen in December 1982 when a report on a Quebec conference of its then-remaining members was introduced under the headine “Months of Paralysis” with the statement: “For the past three months, the party has been gripped by a profound crisis which went to core [sic ] of its fundamental beliefs.”
Indeed it seems the only thing that was debated was not whether to liquidate but how.
Many delegates rose to call for the dissolution of the WCP declaring they were going to quit anyway. Others hankered after some good old “M-L” unity with “other progressives” as a way to stem their demise. In the end apparently a “new minimal basis of unity” was decided upon. Minimal indeed – no one has seen hide nor hair of these Maoist Cold Warriors since.
The WCP is walking down a well-trodden path to Maoist oblivion. The past two years have seen the spectacular collapse of North American Maoism. Klonsky’s pro-Peking Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) in the U.S. bit the dust. Last May In Struggle! threw in the towel. In the pages of The Forge some put the crisis down to “the weaknesses in the development of Marxism and the problems of socialism” (19 November 1982). In Toronto the closing of the WCP’s bookstore was explained away as “due to financial difficulties.”
But the real source of the WCP’s decline is to be found in its links to the ruling bureaucracy of the Chinese deformed workers state and its deepening alliance with U.S. imperialism. Since its inception, on every key international issue – from Angola to Afghanistan to Poland – the WCP saw its task as stiffening the resolve of Western imperialism to fight the “main enemy,” Russian “hegemonism.” In 1976 they denounced the junior partners of U.S. imperialism in Ottawa for not adequately arming against “Soviet social imperialism” and ran a photo in their press of a Canadian destroyer chasing a Soviet fishing trawler with the caption: “Despite the weaknesses which the Canadian bourgeoisie imposes upon it, the Canadian navy makes an effort to defend our coast”! (Forge, May 1976).
As their role as anti-Soviet Cold Warriors, somewhere to the right of the liberal bourgeoisie, increasingly turned the WCP into an isolated and despised sect, the crisis set in. In a desperate effort to revive the “fighting unit for socialism” together with its anti-gay bigotry and one-time call to strengthen the Canadian army whose troops had occupied Montreal in 1970 under the War Measures Act – doubtless the WCP was a cesspool of chauvinism. But the “three chauvinisms” theory was the codeword for a headlong rush into the feminists’ “Moral Majority”-style “anti-porn” campaign. And at the same time Quebec premier Rene Levesque was out-Reaganing Reagan with his massive, unprecedented union-busting laws the WCP was making ritual “self criticisms” of its “sectarian” attitude towards bourgeois nationalism for not calling for a “yes” vote in Levesque’s 1980 referendum!
Deeply discredited by China’s counterrevolutionary alliance with U.S. imperialism and demoralized by the prospect of hard struggle in the right-wing political climate of Cold War North America, the degenerated Maoists of the WCP go with the tide of reaction. For our part we certainly shed no tears for the passing of those cynical anti-Soviets who loyally parroted every line of their Peking masters, from supporting the CIA-backed 1975 South African invasion of Angola to cheering on China’s 1979 attempt, in collusion with U.S. imperialism, to teach Vietnam a “bloody lesson.” And the WCP in English Canada attracted some of the worst of this genre.
But in Quebec the organization once claimed close to 2,000 members many of whom were undoubtedly won to the WCP’s opposition to Quebec nationalism (which was born not out of any perspective of revolutionary class struggle but anti-Sovietism). Those who looked to the WCP for answers to the burning questions of national and social oppression got instead anti-Sovietism, demoralization and depoliticization. Against those disintegrating Maoists who march to the drum of Cold War reaction and still others who look for refuge in bourgeois nationalism, it is the revolutionary internationalist program of the Trotskyist League, sympathizing section of the international Spartacist tendency, that can lead the way forward to North American socialist revolution.