The question of unity amongst the Marxist-Leninists is being widely discussed in North America at the present time. This topic is up for debate and discussion at the present time and has been for several years before this. On what basis should the Marxist-Leninists unite? In the sixties, various anti-revisionist individuals would sit together to find the basis of unity by discussing a “document of political programme”. Unless they reached full agreement on the document they refused to unite. Those who did unite on the basis of the document later split up, finding innumerable reasons for dividing and splitting with one another. It was exasperating for the younger Marxist-Leninists to see these individuals fighting, splitting and dividing. Historical experience has rejected this method of uniting as moribund and utterly useless in dealing with the problems of consolidating the communist revolutionaries into one concentrated and well-organised force.
The Second Congress put forward the method used by us in uniting the Marxist-Leninists. An analysis of the Congress in terms of its formality, its ability to deal with the practical problems of leading the revolutionary mass movement, and its clarity in terms of the theoretical positions it adopted, reveals a very definite style and method of organising the Party, of leading the revolutionary mass movement and of uniting the Marxist-Leninists. This method is based on uniting on the basis of political line. In this style and method, even though agreement is required on the general political, ideological and theoretical questions, the decisive factor is the attitude a Marxist-Leninist takes towards the political line. If a Marxist-Leninist implements a specific political line, then the unity with other Marxist-Leninists executing the same tasks comes easy and gets strengthened in practice. Similarly, if there is disagreement as to the tasks, then there is no possibility of unity even though there is agreement on the general political, ideological and theoretical questions. For lasting unity, the question of political line is decisive.
What is political line? Political line is the sum total of tasks an organisation sets for itself in order to advance its over-all general tactical and strategic work. The organisation develops around the political line and those who implement the political line get united in the organisation which is being built for the purpose of executing that particular task as well as for the purpose of advancing from that stage to a higher stage. For example, when the Internationalists were founded in March, 1963, the political task they set for themselves was the building of a discussion group on the campus. This task of building the discussion group was decisive in advancing the revolutionary movement amongst the students. At the same time, the Internationalists were also engaged in all sorts of other tasks. For example, the Internationalists were the first student organisation to take a clear-cut stand against modern revisionism, dating back to 1962-63; the Internationalists were the first to oppose the U.S. imperialist war of aggression in Vietnam in August 1964, as well as before; the Internationalists also participated in reformist struggles, struggles to support the worker’s struggles, etc. But of all the struggles waged, the decisive struggle was whether or not there was to be a discussion group through which the progressive and democratic forces could present their views to the broad masses of the students and faculty, and which could smash the monopoly of the bourgeois ideas, political line and theories. It is this struggle which transformed the campus. All the other struggles had their place but were, in no way, decisive in building the revolutionary youth and student movement. Those who supported this political line united with one another and advanced, while those who opposed it split and divided.
As the Internationalists further developed, they immediately saw the necessity of taking a disciplined attitude to their work and for three years (1964-67), they fought to have a disciplined group with a clear political direction as the basis of developing the revolutionary youth and student movement. The more the work advanced on the question of building the disciplined group, the more the Internationalists developed. At the same time, the Internationalists participated in many, many other struggles – for instance: in reformist struggles, in opposing the U.S. aggression in Vietnam, in supporting the strike struggles of the workers and in opposing the decadent bourgeois educational system. From August, 1967, the political line adopted was to strengthen the theoretical basis of the organisation, strengthen discipline, disseminate revolutionary literature and begin the process of building the instruments of working class propaganda. As of August, 1967, to the reorganisation of the Internationalists in May, 1968, to the period of establishing the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), the political task was to establish the instruments of working class propaganda. From the time of the founding of CPC(M-L) in March, 1970, to the convening of the 2nd Congress of the Party, the political line was to advance the resistance movement and establish the centralised organs of the Party. Now the political line is to strengthen the centralised organs of the Party and lead the actual struggles of the masses. So the decisive factor in the development of the revolutionary mass movement is the strengthening, expanding and deepening of the centralised leadership of the Party and the leading of the actual struggles of the masses. Unity amongst the Marxist-Leninists can only be built on this political line. There can be no political line other than the decisive task facing the revolutionary organisation. The revolutionary organisation can only be built around this decisive task.
The composition of the 2nd Congress proves the correctness of this analysis. Throughout the entire ten-year period since the founding of the Internationalists, those who through their own revolutionary experience came to the conclusion that a particular task was decisive in developing the revolutionary movement during a particular period, came forward to unite, while others stood on the sidelines or divided or opposed the Marxist-Leninists. In the 2nd Congress, there were comrades who had participated in the reformist struggles against fee increases, the struggle against U.S. imperialist aggression in Vietnam and the struggles to support the strike struggles of the workers. One of these comrades is Comrade Bains who participated in various struggles during the period of Fall, 1962, to March, 1965 in Vancouver and later on in other cities. There are other comrades who came out of the revolt of the intellectuals against the bourgeois culture. There are comrades who came out of the movement to democratise the university. They participated in sit-ins and occupations at McGill, at Simon Fraser University and various other universities. There are comrades who came out of the struggle to oppose the use of universities by the U.S. imperialist war machine. There are comrades who participated in the struggle against racism at Sir George Williams University. There are comrades who came out of the struggle for national liberation in Quebec, who supported the struggle of the taxi workers against Murray Hill monopoly at Dorval Airport. Comrades came out of all the struggles of importance which have taken place and all were represented at the Congress. There were comrades who came out of the reformist-terrorist past and many women comrades who participated in the women’s liberation movement. What does all this show? It shows that all these comrades, at one time or the other, decided through their experience that building the Party is decisive in leading revolution. And they recognised this necessity either during the period of building the discussion group, the period of building the disciplined core group, the period of building the instruments of working class propaganda, the period of building the centralised organs of the Party or during the present period of strengthening the centralised leadership of the Party and leading the actual struggles of the masses. It is their recognition of the necessity of executing that particular political line which has welded them together and united them with other comrades and not some “allegiance to a political program” in the abstract, or to some general political, ideological and theoretical positions. The entire Congress was full of comrades who had participated in these various struggles and they all unanimously agreed that the best way to unite is on the basis of political line and that the political line is determined by the task which becomes decisive at a particular time. That decisiveness is in no way independent of the over-all tactics and strategy but is absolutely dependent on it and, in fact, the over-all tactics and strategy reflect and present themselves through that decisive task during that period. Any other way of attaining unity brings about that false unity that will not last long. Unity can only be strengthened through struggle, and struggle can only be waged through a common political line. Any other way of unity is the unity of the bourgeois radicals and bourgeois socialists. They talk about unity purely for the sake of advancing their particular brand of interest and when they no longer need support for that brand they disunite and nicely continue their counter-revolutionary path.
The unity based on “agreement on the political document” first and unity later, much later #8211; that is #8211; never, is the unity demanded by chance individuals, the centrists #8211; those who flatter themselves as “great” Marxists and demand unity on the basis of “their line” and not on the basis of the demands of the objective world. The 2nd Congress reflected total opposition to this sort of unity. The delegates and alternate delegates who participated in the 2nd Congress considered themselves to be the representatives of the proletariat (and not of themselves) and the advanced representatives, for that matter. They came to the 2nd Congress in order to strengthen the fighting headquarters of the Party of the proletariat, CPC(M-L), and for no other reason and they gloriously participated in doing just that. Analysis of the actual proceedings of the 2nd Congress shows that the entire delegation was united as one to deal with the problems of the Party. They had total rights to deal with the problems of the Party and no other rights. They opposed anyone who desired to take up other tasks than the tasks of the Party. This entire attitude strengthened the centralism in the Party as well as the democracy in the Party. The centrists (and there were some) were completely in retreat and in hiding. They did attempt to present themselves as the problems of the Party and asked questions in order to “enhance their understanding” as a devious method of opposing dealing with the political line of the Party.
Why was the 2nd Congress so hostile to centrism? The answer to this is straightforward when we look at the composition of the 2nd Congress and the origin of the delegates and alternate delegates. There was a large contingent of comrades from Vancouver. Many of them have suffered at the hands of the centrists within their own organisation before they joined CPC(M-L). Vancouver is also the seat of the chief and most notorious centrist, Jack Scott. They despise and hate centrism because it saps the revolutionary energy, promotes disintegration of the revolutionary movement and diverts the communist revolutionaries from the task of building the Party and leading the masses. Jack Scott’s notoriety in this respect is all too well known to all our Vancouver comrades including Comrade Bains and Robert A. Cruise who both had direct experience with the technique and method used by him. Centrism is opposed to anything alive and growing. Centrists become panic-stricken at the mere thought of some comrades being interested in building something alive and vigorous. Centrists are like high-priests of the dead, of the have-been, and past revolutionary movements. They tell stories, spread gossips, confuse young comrades, and absolutely oppose any revolutionary advance.
There was also a large contingent of communist revolutionaries from Quebec. Montreal is the seat of another notorious centrist, D. Varma. This delegation also despised him and had utter contempt for his counter-revolutionary splittism and divisiveness. When D. Varma was inside the Party he was vigorously criticised for not leading others on the basis of political line. He used others to engage in some “political discussions”, but he failed to unite with others to execute political tasks. He desired to build an organisation which participates in organising backward elements and sideline events from time to time. He was thoroughly opposed. Once all possibilites of manoeuvre and chance of spreading the centrist poison finished, he split. He whined: “There is no democracy in CPC(M-L).” D. Varma shed tears on the shoulders of notorious opportunists, confessed his crimes and swore that he will never support the Party again. By democracy, Varma meant space for manoeuvre whereby he could have his line and the Party would not excercise discipline over him. He also moaned: “There was too much criticism!” For a centrist “too much criticism” means that criticism which dictates to him that he must change and which is not merely satisfied with pointing out the faults of a centrist. Centrists are quite happy to be criticised as long as the criticism does not lead to transformation. No sooner is transformation demanded, than the real bourgeois beast snarls from out of the centrist and he takes up the thoroughgoing anti-communist crusade, taking upon himself the mission of “liquidating” such a Party which had demanded transformation from him. This is what Varma did. Our comrades from Montreal have just emerged from the struggle against the centrist Varma and they were not about to tolerate anyone of his type at the Congress.
From Toronto also, the delegation had ample experience with the centrists. Centrism circled in Toronto around an “ex” Castroite who has always used the name of the working class to push his anti-Marxist-Leninist lines. For him the proletarian revolutionary line, that is, the political line of the revolutionary proletariat, is insignificant and worthless, while reformist and bourgeois political lines are everything. He pushed the “working class” line, that is, the “working class minus its advanced section” line. In August, 1969, he used this line to split and divide. He was pushed out of the organisation for this crime. He came back, offered sham self-criticism and split again. He was pushed out again recently and he has been approaching the Party to present another sham self-criticism. The Toronto delegation was totally aware of the activities of this centrist. From Winnipeg also the comrades have experience of the splitting activities of the centrists.
With so much experience with the centrists, it is no wonder that the 2nd Congress was vigorously hostile to centrism. The Congress took a deep-going stand against centrism and the centrist method of fooling the masses by claiming that “agreement on the political program” must come first and unity later #8211; much later. It is a device to stop the advanced sections of the proletariat from organising. The analysis of the 2nd Congress shows not only by the composition of the delegates that unity can only be built on the basis of political line but also by the delegates’ deep-going sentiment against centrism that they were not going to tolerate any centrism inside the 2nd Congress.
Behind centrism is the line of informality. The centrists give an appearance of being formal but, in fact, any formal agreements made with them they trample underfoot and arrogantly smash when it suits them. They are anarchists when it comes to formality. Take for example the document signed between the Internationalists and the Progressive Workers Movement in February 1969. Before the ink was even dry on this document which approved the establishment of one Marxist-Leninist centre in Vancouver, the PWM unilaterally violated the spirit and letter of it. They began spreading rumours and slanders about the content and never engaged the Internationalists in a formal decision to terminate it. Jack Scott showed the same attitude in the winter of 1972. He was given a document in February, 1972 containing the basis of unity with CPC(M-L). It was requested that he study the document for a week. After the week was over, in a formal meeting, duly witnessed by various comrades, he agreed with certain proposals and disagreed with others. Soon after the agreement, however, Jack Scott played the same bourgeois trick. He broke the agreement unilaterally and used our spirit for unity with him as a device to get some revolutionary status. This sort of attitude was also reflected by Varma and other opportunists and revisionists. The 2nd Congress put an end to informality for this period. The 2nd Congress was led by an extremely formal presidium. The Congress opposed informality and considered it alien to the spirit of the proletariat. Informality in executing political tasks can only undermine their effect. Because the delegates were all field organisers and had themselves suffered immensely due to the informality practised by the bourgeois individualists of all hues, they vigorously opposed it in the Congress. The centrists oppose formality and thus oppose the unity of the Marxist-Leninists. Formal attitudes are extremely necessary and decisive for building unity amongst the Marxist-Leninists. A formal attitude goes against gossip and slander, cuts down confusion and unites Marxist-Leninists to fight the centrists and others who oppose the building of the Party.
The analysis of the 2nd Congress further revealed that the proletarian concept of centralised leadership is extremely necessary for the unity of the Marxist-Leninists. The centrists and other opportunists oppose centralised leadership. The concept of centralised leadership is opposed to the concept of all centralism and no democracy or all democracy and no centralism or a ’balanced centralism with democracy’. These attitudes are alien to proletarian democratic centralism. The Congress rejected these alien notions and adopted the basic proletarian revolutionary line that both centralism and democracy must serve the proletariat and that the question of the extent of centralism or democracy is determined by the political line and that democratic centralism must always be based on political line. Sometimes centralism assists the basic interests of the proletariat and at other times democracy is much desired. The extent to which a Party practices democratic centralism in a given period is determined by the political line. Centralised leadership makes sure that both centralism and democracy are practiced in the Party to fulfill the political tasks and not independent of them. For example, before the 2nd Congress we still practiced more democracy and less centralism. Local and regional branches could make decisions as to their work and’the Central Committee encouraged this all over the country. The 2nd Congress has decided that in order to continue democracy there must be a period of vigorous centralism and that local and regional branches should be deprived of any decision-making powers. Instead, the entire Party is mobilised around the Central Committee operating from the central office in Montreal, and all local and regional policy is entirely governed by the CC. Those who oppose building unity on the basis of political line also exhibit woodiness and sterility in exercising democratic centralism. They are mechanical in their approach and as their entire line begins from their own view of the world and not from the laws governing the real world, they adhere to democratic centralism of “their sort” which is total fascism and anarchism and goes from one extreme to the other. This question of democratic centralism is very much tied up with the attitude one takes towards uniting the Marxist-Leninists. Delegates from all over the country vigorously denounced the centrist view of “democratic centralism” and approved the line of democratic centralism based on the political line.
Further analysis of the Congress shows that delegates opposed all ideas of hegemony as a method of the centrists to build many centres inside the Party. Struggle for hegemony is alien to the spirit of proletarian revolution. Centrists always advocate hegemony. Marxist-Leninists oppose the theory of hegemony. Unity of the Marxist-Leninists can be built through example and by actually leading. Setting an example and actually leading come out of executing the political line, and not out of a demand for hegemony on the basis of agreement on a “political program”. The delegates had suffered much from this attitude of the centrists and they opposed this line. The entire Congress proceedings were lively and reflected the spirit of unity and solidarity on the basis of political line and opposition to hegemony. Party comrades from Vancouver and Montreal have actually dealt with the theories of hegemony advocated by Varma and individuals like him. The theory of hegemony is based on the conspiracy theory. Around this line one finds the communal atmosphere of “unity based on friendship”. The centrists cultivate small fiefdoms in order to wage struggle against the Party.
The composition of the 2nd Congress shows that the delegates came from over twelve organisations which had either merged with the Party or produced comrades who joined the Party. These comrades joined because the Party set an example of staunch proletarian spirit and practices the policy of leading which invigorated the communist enthusiasts and won them over. Had CPC(M-.L) pursued the line of hegemony it would have degenerated along with the many organisations which covetously pursued this counter-revolutionary policy.
The composition of the 2nd Congress further showed that CPC(M-L) is growing and consolidating itself because it follows the line of building itself on the basis of a political line. The total number of delegates, alternate delegates and observers to the Congress were 190 as compared to 38 in the 1st Congress. During a period of less than two years the numbers have increased nearly five times. During the 2nd Congress the number of delegates and alternate delegates was 57, which is far more than the 32 during the 1st Congress, and the number of observers was 133, which is far greater than the 6 who participated in the 1st Congress. Not only has the quantity of delegates increased, but also the quality. Our comrades are more vigorous, more experienced, more united and more loyal to Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought than ever before. This can only happen if the correct policy of organising the Party around a political line is followed. The centrist organisations have shriveled up. In those circles where the number is so-called “increasing”, it is the increasing number of backward and reactionary elements which are joining them and not the advanced elements. The advanced elements are leaving the centrists in increasing numbers.
Further analysis of the composition of the 2nd Congress shows that over 80% of the participants are engaged in mass work in the community and at the place of work. Less than 20% of the cadres are in the educational institutions. This shows that with the development of the political line, the shift from the university to the community and the place of work is also completed and the stage is set for the further consolidation of the centralised leadership of the Party with the advanced workers as the main force. This entire line has further consolidated the unity amongst the Marxist-Leninists, while the centrists like Jack Scott who began their work from the working class are eking out their political subsistance from the universities.
The centrists deny the existence of class struggle on the basis of actual political line. For example, whether to build a discussion group or to remain aloof or to oppose it is not class struggle for the centrists but a mere difference in point of view. For them, class struggle is something intellectual: “labour versus capital” in the abstract and not as this struggle is concretely reflected in every cell of the society. The entire composition of the Congress shows that those who did not take up the class struggle to execute the Party’s political line were not in the Congress and were either removed in their local areas or expelled by the central organisation. To suggest that class struggle does not exist on the question of executing the political line is to suggest that class struggle is not the universal basis of change, development and motion in every cell of the society. To deny class struggle in every area of work is to deny the possibility of forward motion. The centrists deny class struggle as the basis of moving forward. Because the Party waged class struggle on the basis of political line it eliminated anyone opposing it and for this reason there was a spirit of unity prevailing in the Congress.
Further analysis of the Congress shows that the centrists exaggerate the role of the individual and are against proletarian leadership. They have utter contempt for proletarian leadership. For example, the centrists despise the leadership of Comrade Bains. You ask these worthies, “If you do not like the leadership of Comrade Bains then why don’t you lead. It is those who actually lead the Party that will be the leaders of the Party.” They cannot answer this and they are reduced to spouting anti-communist attacks of “personality cult” and “one-man dictatorship”, while all the so-called personalities and petty dictators flatter themselves in that role in practice. Because they are “personalities” and petty dictators, they hate proletarian dictatorship which as a first principle smashes their personalities and dictatorships by exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat. They also deny the historical experience of the masses. For example, how can Jack Scott be such a “Marxist-Leninist” when his own organisation degenerated and he has not given any self-criticism or led a campaign of learning from past mistakes in order to avoid future ones. While the Internationalists have flourished, are moving forward and are learning from their experience, this bourgeois reactionary is slandering and opposing from the sidelines. The centrists also oppose the role of the masses in changing history. They cannot see how the youth and students in the 1960’s moved things forward, or how workers make daily contributions, or how CPC(M-L) has changed the political scene and is leading the proletariat in making revolution. For them, “individuals are everything while the masses are nothing”. For this reason, they cultivate themselves as big shots, sneer at the masses and refuse to assist them to move forward. They also put detail in command of the over-all and use differences for the purposes of splitting and dividing and not for the purpose of uniting. Their line of “agreement on the political program” before unity reflects their line of splitting and dividing the ranks of the revolutionaries and paralysing the entire revolutionary movement. Apart from these qualities, they deny the role of conscious participation in changing the world and give the revisionist theory of bourgeois culture #8211; revolutionary politics. They oppose making themselves the target of revolution and transforming themselves. The entire concept of building unity based on political line is opposed to centrism and the 2nd Congress further concretised and concentrated this concept. Unity can only be based on political line and the 2nd Congress united all those who see the urgent necessity of centralised leadership and the necessity of actually leading the struggle of the masses.
(This article first appeared in People’s Canada Daily News, Vol. 2, No. 69, April 6, 1973)