Over the years, there has been discussion going on the following question: on whose shoulders must we build the Party. The revisionists and opportunists of all colours answer this question in different ways but, in essence, it comes to the same view: on the shoulders of the backward elements of the bourgeoisie. To build their groups on their shoulders, the revisionists and the opportunists carefully avoid putting into practice the proletarian revolutionary line and engage in giving concessions and winning over the backward sections of the bourgeoisie. Their constituency is the constituency of “influential” individuals and they must win those individuals over to their side in order to liquidate revolution. Apart from building their organisations on the basis of backward individuals, they also promote reactionary theories as to which class is the revolutionary class. According to one set of the opportunist ideologues, “youth as a class” is the revolutionary class. According to another set, the lumpen proletariat constitutes the revolutionary class. With the defeat of these obviously idiotic theories, the same bourgeois radicals and bourgeois socialists have clung to the theory of “working class as the revolutionary class” in the abstract. They identify the most backward qualities of the bourgeoisie in the working class as the quality of the working class and from that point of view they, on the one hand, preach that the “working class is not interested in revolution. It is satisfied with cars and homes, etc.” and, on the other hand, they pontificate that only the working class in the abstract is the “revolutionary class” and “without workers revolution is not possible”. They develop their bourgeois reformist programs on the concocted thesis that “workers are not ready for revolution” and they opposed inseminating the advanced ideas of the working class by saying “workers won’t understand.”
There is a grain of truth in these statements but it is only a grain and nothing more than that. It is true that the working class is weighed down and kept in bondage by the capitalist class and that the capitalists spread backward ideas in the working class and use that as one of the methods of keeping them down. But the experience of the international proletariat as well as the fighting history of the Canadian working class has shown that the working class has never accepted this as a fait accompli. They have risen in various ways and fought and their basic sentiment is to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes. Their sentiment to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes is many times converted into attempts towards overthrowing the reactionary ruling classes. This class struggle goes on continuously and without any let-up and it necessarily leads to the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The revisionists and opportunists hide these facts. The advanced elements have always arisen in the working class and among other oppressed people and they have taken up the road of class struggle on a conscious basis and have striven to overthrow the capitalist system. The overthrow of capitalism was tried in 1871 in France. Capitalism was actually overthrown in Russia in October, 1917. Several other countries like China, Albania, and Rumania overthrew capitalism and feudalism. Over fifty years of the history of the Canadian communist movement and over a century of history of the international communist movement proves this to be true. The revisionists and the opportunists deny this historical experience. Because they are bourgeois radicals and bourgeois socialists, they parasitise on the revolutionary capacity of the masses and do not lead the masses to victory over the reactionary rule of the capitalist class.
The 2nd Congress opposed all these revisionist and opportunist theories. The 2nd Congress was called by the advanced elements of the proletariat, the organised section of the advanced elements, those who are gloriously building the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). The task of building the Party must rest in the hands of the advanced elements of the proletariat and no one else. These advanced elements come out of the class struggle and are dedicated to the proletarian cause of overthrowing the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat. The analysis of the composition of the Congress showed that the advanced elements of the proletariat dominated the Congress and were in the majority while the bourgeois individualists and other chance individuals were only an insignificant minority.
For us, the main force of revolution are the working people of one type or another (who comprise over 80% of the population) and the most revolutionary portion is the industrial proletariat (35% of the population). The leading force of revolution is also the working class and the stage of revolution is the struggle against foreign imperialists and for proletarian revolution. There is no mystery or confusion as to which class is the revolutionary class. Knowing this, should we use the theory of economic determinism and suggest that “only workers are revolutionary and no one else”? No, we will do no such thing. The composition of the Congress showed that what united the entire delegation was their advanced outlook, sentiment and proletarian social practice and not what class backgrounds they came from. The communist cadres are known for their dedication to overthrow capitalism and building communism and nothing else. The building of the Party will rest on their shoulders and no one else. It is altogether bourgeois philistinism to suggest that “workers will build the Party” because their is no such a thing as a worker in the abstract. A worker is either a communist worker or a social fascist worker or a fascist worker or a non-revolutionary worker or a worker with a low political consciousness and so on and so forth. All the workers have the imprint of the basic ideas of one class or the other. To suggest that any ordinary worker will build the Party is absolutely incorrect and to suggest that no one else but a Marxist-Leninist of working class origin will build the Party is equally wrong. What is correct is that Marxist-Leninists will build the Party and they may come from all classes, and especially during the relatively peaceful period the number of non-proletarian activists who join the Party is greater than the proletarian cadres. But the main force, in the course of development of revolution and the Party, will come from the working class. The decisive and differentiating characteristic determining which individual or group or section will lead the building of the Party is not economic determinism but political allegiance, class consciousness, and social practice. The advanced element in the society is not a matter of discussion, interpretation or definition but a matter of being concrete, real, objective, alive and active communist cadres whose role in class struggle can be verified and who will make the leading as well as the main force. The 2nd Congress used this as the method of differentiating who is advanced and who is not and only permitted advanced elements to be part of the Congress.
The reason why revisionists and opportunists give the economic determinist line is so that they themselves do not have to change and make themselves the target of revolution. They shy away from making a clean departure with the bourgeois outlook, habits and method of thinking and stubbornly refuse to advance to the level of leading others to oppose the bourgeoisie on that front. While they themselves refuse to make themselves the target of revolution, they browbeat others to become “Marxists” and “communists” and put forward careerist and bourgeois notions for doing so. Revisionists and opportunists always mobilise the backward elements of the society.
The revisionists and opportunists confuse the leading force with the allied force and usually promote the allied, non-revolutionary force as the leading force of revolution. There are many democratic and progressive individuals in Canada. But they are not Marxist-Leninists. Why then recruit them into the Party? Why don’t they become allies and friends of the Party and the task of building the Party and leading the revolution is left to those who come out of actual struggles, have deep desire to be communists, actively make themselves the target of revolution and dedicate their lives to overthrowing capitalism and building communism. By giving the allied non-revolutionary force the illusion that they are also communists and recruiting every chance individual who comes along for the purpose of increasing their numbers, the revisionists and opportunists sow a lot of dissension and confusion in the revolutionary ranks and among their allies. The revisionists and the opportunists have earned much notoriety on that front. The 2nd Congress dealt with this question quite thoroughly.
The 2nd Congress accepted the credentials of various delegates, alternate delegates and observers on the basis of their participation in actual struggles, their history as to whether they came out of the spontaneous movement or the revisionist and reformist movement or the general revolutionary movement, and then repeatedly looked into whether they have a deep desire to 1) Support the centralised leadership of the Party and 2) Lead the actual struggles of the masses. Ten years since the founding of the Internationalists has shown that those individuals who did not come out of definite struggles and were just chance individuals never made any significant contribution and they were the most vacillating and unreliable comrades. The 2nd Congress did not include these cadres in the basic delegation and instead laid great stress on those who came out of actual struggles.
The 2nd Congress summed up the revolutionary experience and presented the view that the root cause of rightist and ultra-left errors is the comrades who do not come out of struggle and are detached from the masses. They build the branches in accordance with “their” view and not on the basis of what is desired to advance the class struggle. They are usually more interested to carry out some activity in isolation from the masses than to pay close attention to the needs of revolution. As a result, mistakes occur and we have paid quite dearly for recruiting such comrades who have been foolishly pursuing such policies. The 2nd Congress took measures to oppose the recruitment of such comrades by insisting on building the Party in very definite struggle areas and particularly in the places of work. The 2nd“ Congress wiped out those branches which were detached from definite material bases. Such a policy is now being implemented as the centralised leadership is strong, the inner-Party apparatus is functioning and there are guidelines by which we can lead the cadres much better. Without the centralised leadership and a stable central organisation this was absolutely impossible.
The errors committed by us, especially the error of paying more attention to recruiting individuals than to developing actual struggles in definite areas, originate from the lack of revolutionary leadership left over from the old Party. We had to learn everything on our own accord. Those who did come out of the old Party were incapable of teaching anything. Immaturity and inexperience gave rise to various errors of emphasis as well as errors in handling contradictions inside the Party and dealing with the over-all revolutionary work. For example, too much emphasis was put on mobilising old comrades. This entire campaign of recruiting older comrades, those who had been in the old Party, gave rise to total disaster in certain types of work and the entire campaign failed miserably. There was hope somewhere in our minds, especially in the younger comrades that those who have been around for some time in the old Party are “better” and could “lead” the revolutionary movement. It was the reflection of a good sentiment on our part but poor judgment and lack of scientific analysis. From 1968 to the beginning of the 2nd Congress, we followed the policy of mobilising the relatively older comrades who had experience with the old Party. During this entire period, these individuals turned out to be the most backward, rowdy and disruptive, bourgeois individualists and intellectuals and more interested in building some fiefdom for themselves than in organising revolution. They were the architects of many, many inner-party squabbles and fights. Through great struggle, over the last five years, we have eliminated these individuals. We have, however, paid quite dearly for this serious error. The 2nd Congress put an end to this policy and affirmed that the Party must be composed of the advanced elements of the proletariat. The 2nd Congress also terminated the theory of “exceptions” in terms of exercising discipline and reintroduced the old Internationalist spirit of testing all comrades in practice, recruiting them on the basis of merit, closely building revolutionary public opinion as to what it means to be a communist and arousing the masses to decide who is a communist and who is not. The other error made was too much emphasis on tasks which were sideline tasks and neglecting the main tasks. In this category comes the question of producing a revolutionary, agitational political affairs newspaper on a regular basis. This neglect caused many problems as the revisionists and opportunists inside the Party were able to build counter-revolutionary public opinion on certain issues and give rise to splittism. This mistake also occurred because there were no older comrades who had a clear theoretical understanding of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought and had adequate knowledge of this country and were themselves engaged in actual practical struggles. Another mistake which must be attributed to our lack of experience and immaturity is the lack of vigorous working class politics. That is the politics centering around the struggles of the workers at the place of work and in the communities for better living conditions and also the revolutionary politics of winning over the workers to the anti-imperialist socialist revolution. Apart from immaturity and inexperience, this mistake also was due to the slow pace with which we moved from the universities to the working class. The 2nd Congress also took measures to rectify this situation.
The 2nd Congress took action against the pernicious influence of those engaged in building cliques in the local areas rather than building the centralised leadership. Chance individualism and recruitment of backward elements takes place when the local areas pay more attention to fattening their own little groups than executing the political tasks. Conservative thinking and competitive spirit takes over and the entire question of leading the revolution is put to one side. By demanding that the comrades build the Party in order to execute political tasks and for no other reason (and that the political tasks are set by the Congress and by no other body, and that the Central Committee is the leader and commander when the Congress is not in session and that the demand that the lower bodies must follow the higher bodies is an irreconcilable demand) the 2nd’ Congress inaugurated the trend of developing revolutionary work under the centralised leadership of the Party. Consistent with this trend, the Central Committee took definite measures to develop definite agitational areas and sent their best comrades into those areas. The Party, out of the struggles in these areas, will emerge more proletarianised, more revolutionary and more capable of executing the historical tasks of organising the anti-imperialist-socialist revolution.
The concept that the Party must be built on the shoulders of the advanced elements of the proletariat is a revolutionary and a Marxist-Leninist concept. The 2nd Congress established the basic concept of recruiting new comrades into the Party, training the old ones and getting rid of absolutely useless elements. Inside the Party, the advanced elements are those who are gloriously supporting the centralised leadership of the Party and are actively taking measures to lead the actual struggles of the masses. Outside the Party, those who are supporters and friends and desire to join the Party, the advanced elements are those who assist the centralised leadership of the Party and assist the communist cadres who are engaged in leading the actual struggles of the masses. Those inside or outside who do not wish to take up these tasks cannot be considered advanced elements of the proletariat and cannot be relied upon in building the Party. If they are friendly and enthusiastic to support the Party in a general way, that is, donating money or assisting from time to time in a specific area of work, then they can be characterised as revolutionary but not Marxist-Leninists or communists or advanced elements yet. There are others who also call themselves “advanced elements!’. Can we call jack Scott an advanced element when he pushes the revisionist line that material conditions are not ripe for building the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and that comrades have to wait for some independentist party to arise first and then out of that the party will emerge later, much later? No, we cannot say that Jack Scott is a part of the advanced elements. Anyone who denies the leading role of the Party cannot be considered an advanced element. To be an advanced element one must share the advanced experience of the international proletariat and follow that experience without hesitation and use it as a guide to action. Is it not the experience of the international proletariat that even to lead an independentist struggle to victory, the leader and commander must be the proletarian Party? And that the Party must organise itself independently of all other trends and use the proletarians and oppressed masses as the main force of that struggle and the theory of Marxism-Leninism and the proletariat as the leading force? That is the experience of the international proletariat. Chairman Mao teaches us: “If there is to be a revolution there must be a revolutionary Party.” How can Jack Scott be an advanced element when he opposes this basic teaching in practice. Moreover, can there be any sort of transformation without a revolutionary party in this era? No, there can be no revolutionary transformation without a revolutionary party. Jack Scott believes in that moribund revisionist theory in practice and for this reason, we cannot say in all honesty that he is an advanced element. If he is not an advanced element then what is his role in the revolutionary movement? Can an individual like him also play a positive role in the revolutionary movement? Yes, he does play a positive role in the revolutionary movement in the sense that he is a great teacher by negative example. We can learn from this negative example. In this manner he teaches us not to make mistakes and plays a positive role.
The entire modern revisionist and opportunist trend which individuals like Scott, Varma, Taylor, Perly and Gagnon are attempting to float is a teacher by negative example. We can call them teachers by negative example. In this respect, they are making a contribution to the revolutionary movement. An advanced element can learn from the teachers by negative example and make sure not to make their mistakes and not to fall into their swamps. In this respect, they are helping us to unite and keeping us on the right track.
The 2nd Congress considered an advanced element as one who 1) comes out of the actual class struggle, 2) sees the necessity of the Party playing the leading role in further leading that class struggle, 3) considers the masses of workers and oppressed people as the real heroes and the reserve of new cadres, 4) is enthusiastic to strengthen the centralised leadership of the Party, 5) is actually leading the struggles of the masses, and 6) makes self the target of revolution and the masses the target of revolutionary propaganda. For the bourgeois intellectuals calling themselves “Marxist-Leninists”, the advanced element is one who “knows” Marxism, especially the one who “knows” lots of it and has read all the Marxist books. The 2nd Congress eliminated these elements from the Party, put an end to their nestling inside and gave political power to those who are the actual communist cadres. The 2nd Congress put an end to looking towards some “geniuses” or “heroes” for leadership and guidance and put into the leading positions those who can rightly be described as communist revolutionaries and fighters. The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) is being organised on the shoulders of these comrades. They are the advanced elements of the proletariat. It is they who are struggling to apply the science of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought to the concrete conditions of Canada. It is they who are struggling to build the Party on the theoretical foundations of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, on the ideology of class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the basis of actual class struggle in this country.
It is they who will bring about the anti-imperialist socialist revolution.
(This article first appeared in People’s Canada Daily News, Vol. 2, No. 70, April 7, 1973)