First Published: People’s Canada Daily News, Vol 6, No. 79, October 4, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The student newspaper at the University of Waterloo, the Chevron, has come under attack by a small clique of reactionaries who are driven to a frenzy because the newspaper staff is led by communist students of the Anti-Imperialist Alliance. The Marxist-Leninist line has won leadership in the paper because it is the only line which consistently upholds and defends the basic interests of the students. After certain police agents launched a hitlerite attack on the paper, and attempted to close it down, the AIA put out a leaflet to explain the issue to the students.
The leaflet made it quite clear that: on the one side there stands an imported American subversive who isn’t even a student and who has been mobilized by the monopoly capitalist state to split the students and keep them from uniting against the state; on the other side stands the AIA, composed of Marxist-Leninist students who always uphold the basic interests of all the students by uniting the students’ struggle with that of the working class against the attacks of the monopoly capitalist system.
The AIA leaflet points out that the struggle which the Chevron staff is waging in defence of its democratic structure, is a just struggle which enjoys abundant support. The vitality and spirit of critical inquiry which characterizes the new Chevron will defeat the petty bureaucrats who sponge off the students and stifle the movement at Waterloo. The AIA is giving full support to the fighting Chevron staff. The attacks on the Chevron staff by the reactionary clique of the imported American subversive proves not only that they are nearing political extinction, but that the progressive stand of the AIA and the Chevron have become an increasing threat to the interests that they represent. Chairman Mao has taught that:
It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that not only have we drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work.
The contradictions at Waterloo can only become sharper in the next few days and weeks. While the reactionaries are manoeuvring to use the Students Federation to attack the Chevron and the AIA, the struggle is far from over. In fact, it is through such struggle that the students will defeat the influence of the reactionaries in the Federation. Only then will they be able to focus their struggle against the Ontario government and its programme of education cutbacks.
The AIA issued its leaflet in answer to several questions which have come up amongst the students in the struggle to defeat their newspaper. Many new people on the campus did not know what the AIA was, so to them the whole campaign against the AIA seemed to be mere tilting at windmills. To illustrate the nature of the attacks on itself, the AIA found it necessary to explain what it is, why it came into being and what it stands for. The reactionaries who want to purge the AIA from the Chevron deliberately mystify the main question – what does the AIA hope to accomplish? To answer the questions, the leaflet briefly explains the history of the AIA. It points out that the Anti-Imperialist Alliance is a revolutionary organization of students, staff and faculty at the University of Waterloo, which is led by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Founded on October 2, 1974, the AIA ushered in a whole new era of political activism on the campus. This was part and parcel of a new upsurge of youth and students against the monopoly capitalist system and its state. From a very broad organization, the AIA developed through struggle, into a unified group with a Marxist-Leninist political line and an active external programme.
In the years before the AIA emerged, the dominant trend on the University of Waterloo campus was one of cynicism, pessimism, and despair. Many students and professors felt oppressed by the degenerate bourgeois culture in Canada. Just as the economy had become stagnant, and was entering a period of severe crisis, so too, the cultural and intellectual atmosphere was becoming stagnant, oppressive and rife with self-serving careerism and frustrated pleasure-seeking. At the same time, many students were encountering increasing financial difficulties because of the education cutbacks, and they also faced worsening job prospects after graduation. There was a widespread feeling of a necessity for change.
In the fall of 1974 a new trend began to emerge. People were beginning to recognize that a bright future was possible for the world. At this time there was no revolutionary organization on campus, but a strong progressive trend was emerging at Renison College in the course of a struggle for democratic rights of students, faculty and staff.
A mass meeting held at University of Waterloo to support the Native People’s Caravan was attended by over 500 people, demonstrating widespread support for progressive politics in the Waterloo area. After this event, a large number of activists gathered together to form a group which was to carry on activities against the capitalist system, which they saw as being the source of their problems and the difficulties of the Native people as well. This group became the AIA. It gained rapid support when the progressive faculty at Renison were abruptly fired.
At this time the AIA lacked direction or an analysis of the situation in Canada. This situation changed rapidly when it organized a meeting on “China, the Superpowers and the Threat of World War”, at which Comrade Hardial Bains, Chairman of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), spoke. Comrade Bains presented a clear line on the world situation and the necessity for revolution in Canada. Once this line was adopted by the AIA, it was attacked by a motley assortment of “leftists” and other people who wanted only to split and divide the revolutionary movement.
Through practice, the AIA learned of the importance of waging struggles in coordination with other progressive and revolutionary people across Canada, since its struggle was not simply to implement change at Waterloo. The AIA was part of the nationwide struggle to transform Canada into a socialist state by overthrowing monopoly capitalism. Consequently, it voted in March of 1975 to come under the leadership of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), and in November of 1975 became a unit of the Canadian Student Movement, the student wing of CPC(M-L).
In 1976, the AIA organized activities against the Trudeau wage control scheme, against education cutbacks, and in support of national liberation struggles in Azinia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Palestine and India. It also initiated a series of AIA Forums to study Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, and expanded its efforts to distribute revolutionary literature in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
The allegation that the AIA is trying to turn the Chevron into its own propaganda organ is a deception promoted in the vain hope of purging all progressive political views from the newspaper. The AIM view has always been that the Chevron should serve the interests of the majority of students at the University of Waterloo by thoroughly investigating and reporting the situation on campus, by mobilizing people to resist education cutbacks, by providing a forum for vigorous, wide-ranging discussion, and by printing the truth about events in Canada and the world. This can best be done by mobilizing large numbers of new people to work on a paper whose policy is decided through democratic discussion among those who do the work. The Chevron should have a mass character, should be a democratic, dynamic newspaper.
The AIA thinks that the Chevron should not be a Marxist-Leninist paper. In Canada there already is such a newspaper, Peoples Canada Daily News, which is sold on the University of Waterloo campus.
The leaflet says that Chevron policy will come to reflect AIA’s political line on mass student newspapers because it is daily winning more progressive staff members over to its position. AIA leads by giving a clear and correct line supported by scientific analysis and convincing argument, not by issuing orders to a bunch of mindless robots, as the American subversive’s gang claims. It is precisely this success in mobilizing new activists which has set the occasion for this latest attack on the AIA and the Chevron.
The AIA points out that the present lively atmosphere in the Chevron has come about because the hegemony of a bunch of opportunists who used to dominate the newspaper has been smashed. Although many articles in the old Chevron had a “radical” veneer to them, in essence they opposed revolutionary struggle. They put up pretentious airs by criticizing capitalism, but they never organized anything practical against the rich, and confused honest people who wanted to do that.
Only a year ago, the situation in the Chevron was quite uninspiring. Local opportunists were flooding the paper with long, boring features reprinted from a variety of pseudo-Marxist journals, but there was a scarcity of material on student or campus issues. There were no regular, serious staff meetings, and many of the key decisions were made unilaterally by the editor. During this period, AIA members and supporters had many articles rejected. An AIA member was hired as news editor in the fall of 1975, but another comrade with excellent journalistic skills was rejected as editor in April of 1976, in favour of a man of questionable competence.
The AIA leaflet explains that this man soon showed his true opportunist colours, and a summer-long struggle between the opportunist clique and the AIA began. Long reprints attacking AIA were submitted as features, and he supported them. In the sharp debate on these reprints, the AIA discovered that he was a supporter of the Soviet-backed MPLA regime and the Cuban troops in Angola. Open antagonism resulted. The AIA denounced this man and his cronies for supporting the butchery of black Angolans by foreign mercenaries. When AIA delivered a stinging rebuttal to the Angola article, he went wild, claiming that AIA was backed by the CIA and concocting other slanders.
The AIA explains that there was intense struggle on this issue. But the opportunists back an unjust cause and enjoy diminishing support. Hence the need for them to attack progressives hysterically in order to cover up their shameless service for Soviet social-imperialism. After an entire summer of “pressure”, both AIA and the opportunists adopted plans for the fall. The opportunists prepared to abandon the Chevron to the AIA and then liquidate, it, assuming AIA would be isolated and vunerable. The former Chevron editor sold out to the administration by becoming a reporter for the expanded Gazette, and several more of his clique gave up the fight and became passive. Federation executive members began calling for a purge of AIA.
But, says the leaflet, the AIA adopted a plan which events have proven correct. AIA was confident that ordinary students would not support the opportunists and would instead oppose their under-handed tactics. They would learn from their own direct experience who was honest, who served the people and who wanted progressive change. Accordingly, the AlA proposed that the Chevron launch a vigorous recruiting campaign in September to mobilize an entire new force of young and energetic people and new faces began to appear in the Chevron office, ready for work. A new Chevron began to grow. The fights with the editor stopped because he became isolated. Full of enthusiasm, the new students began to scour the campus for news. Production nights saw many new students joining in; more than there had been for several years. The old had been superseded by the new.
Freedom for the rich to exploit workers negates the workers’ freedom from exploitation. Freedom for some bureaucratic elite to invoke Roberts’ Rules means restriction of ordinary students’ right to give their views.
The AIA explains that it has had long experience with this phony’s campaign for “democracy”. He has consistently taken the position of democracy for reactionaries, no democracy for revolutionaries.
As far back as February 1975, the AIA saw the true colours of this man, who is not even a student! A small sect of trotskyites had come from New York to disrupt the programme of the AIA by barging into meetings and provoking AIA members. Their leader gave a public speech attacking the line of AIA on uniting the students to fight education cutbacks. Enraged by the ravings of this provocateur, a majority of the audience passed a resolution banning these trotskyites from campus.
The AIA explains that the American subversive used a meeting of the Board of Education which he chaired, to threaten to ban AIA. He claimed that only the Federation can deny a person or group speaking privileges. He also invited the trots back to speak again. In other words, he wanted freedom for this toady opportunist from the U.S. to attack the AIA while denying freedom of progressive University of Waterloo students to oppose the attacks. Democracy for the microphone revolutionary, no democracy for the people.
In March of 1975 the AIA organized the Political Economy of Canada conference with Comrade Hardial Bains, Chairman of CPC(M-L), and Leo Johmon, History professor, as speakers. Another group of trots refused to register and was told to leave the conference. They refused, and instead threatened to have the Federation ban the AIA from campus. After their ejection, none other than the American subversive organized a squad of seven people to march smack into the middle of ongoing discussion at the conference, with him shouting at the top of his lungs, all under the fraud of “investigating” the previous ejection. When these buffoons refused to depart from the conference, they too were evicted. The American subversive and his clique then launched an anti-communist tirade against AIA and CPC(M-L) with the assistance of the city media. He persuaded the Students Council to cut off all support to AIA and launched a big campaign of rumours to cover up what had really happened. The reactionary Council set up an investigating committee after taking punitive action against AIA, but this committee never investigated the facts and never released a report: typical Federation “democracy”. The reasons for this were clear enough from a report by a lawyer whom AIA consulted, “... we believe on your information, that you have evidence to lay an information for causing a disturbance and unlawful assembly under the Criminal Code. You may also have reason to lay an information for conspiracy and for common assault.” Nonetheless, various opportunists continue to gossip to this day about how AIA presumably caused the disruption and was “coercive”.
Still more crimes are exposed as the AlA explains how in December of 1975 when one of its members, a professor in the Department of Human Relations, was fired by the UW administration, the American subversive showed up at the rally called to oppose the firings, and, true to form, praised the administration for dismissing her, in spite of the overwhelming support shown by her students.
Then, the leaflet continues, in January of 1976, the American subversive conducted his entire campaign for Federation president against AIA and “Maoists”. His platform included this gem: “In the past year, a small clique of self-styled ’Maoists’, purporting to represent students and in control of groups such as the Anti-Imperialist Alliance (AIA), has exploited issues for its own opportunistic and political purposes. The result has inevitably been to confuse the issues, divide students and give all students a bad name in the community ...
“The Federation’s student council at its March 1975 meeting responded to the undemocratic and coercive actions of the AIA by cutting off all assistance to the group, both financial and moral...
“Exposing the AIA on the basis of its undemocratic methods will mean that I’ll receive a great deal of abuse from the group during the course of the campaign...
“Needless to say, political opportunism and coercive tactics don’t constitute responsible leadership ...
“In sum, the students at UW have a hard enough time promoting their concerns without having their credibility undermined by a small naive faction.”
Let this social-fascist now choke on his own words, the leaflet continues. To this nazi logic, for the AIA to evict disruptors from a conference is “coercive and undemocratic”, whereas him closing down the Chevron in a dictatorial manner is to guarantee “democracy”. For him, any attack by some reactionary on communists and progressives is “democratic”, but revolutionaries who respond tit-for-tat to these scoundrels are “coercive”.
But now the mask is off. This American subversive’s entire case against the Chevron boils down to one thing – the views of AIA now appear regularly in the newspaper, whereas before, his opportunist clique could conspire to keep them out. His complaint against the Chevron news editor is that he quoted a passage from a news story in People’s Canada Daily News. This attack is blatant anti-communism, and nothing more. If you take away the American subversive’s fear and loathing of AIA and CPC(M-L), he has no case at all against the Chevron.
The AIA explains that, like all reactionaries, he has packed up a rock, only to drop it on his own foot! Full of arrogance, he marched with three security police under his command down to the Chevron office to keep staff members out, but then fled in panic when confronted by the resolutn resistance of AIA comrades. Faced with the overwhelming and militant opposition of the staff of the new Chevron, who have defied him at every turn, the American subversive is now running scared.
In the January 1976, election campaign the AIA took an unambiguous stand on this man.
“In a desperate move, the American subversive has chosen to campaign, not against the Davis government and the education cutbacks which are having serious effects on all students, but against ’Maoists’ and the Anti-Imperialist Alliance. He is trying to divide and liquidate the AIA as well as the growing opposition to the education cutbacks by using McCarthyite tactics to isolate the most militant and politically conscious students from the broad section of the students. By publicly issuing lies and slanders against the AIA, the American subversive has irrevocably declared himself its enemy, thereby splitting the student movement at a time when unity in action is absolutely necessary in order to defeat the government’s plans. He has done this because his historical mission is to ensure that no serious activism develops among students in Waterloo.”
The leaflet concludes that everything that has transpired since then has only reinforced AIA’s correct evaluation. This leopard will never change its spots. The AIA calls on progressive and democratic-minded students to run this social-fascist, parasite, and traitor off the UW campus. It says that as long as splitters and wreckers like him and his ilk infest the Federation, the struggle against education cutbacks and for democratic rights of students will be retarded. However, the increasing number of new students becoming active in campus politics is posing a very real threat to the hegemony of the old student hacks. As the new Chevron ’ consolidates it position, it is inevitable that further exposure of the American subversive’s gang will appear. The AIA is confident That before too long a number of progressive and democratic-minded students will be on the Federation council and that the focus of struggle will move to council chambers.