First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol 5, No 3, April 20, 1973
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Tim Buck, the man who was General Secretary of the Canadian Communist Party from 1929 to 1962, died on March 11. The Tribune, his Party’s paper, carried an obituary statement on March 14 by the Central Executive Committee. In the same issue, on the editorial page, there appeared a specially selected quote from Engels concerning the death of Karl Marx. The editor must have been sleeping. The difference in tone and outlook in the two memorial statements speak volumes on the revisionist decline into nationalism and “respectability” of the Party Buck had done so much to build.
To begin with Engels points out that “... Marx was the best-hated and most slandered man of his age”. He was villified by the bourgeoisie “both conservative and extreme democratic”.
That can’t be said of Buck. The CBC television account of his death was practically sentimental. They ran footage of Buck telling an audience of comrades “We fight for Canada!” Following the speech the CPers joined hands and sang “O Canada my home and native” etc. No wonder Diefenbaker, the darling of Canadian reaction, found it in his heart to praise Buck as a man of principle.
Engels emphasized that Marx was a great internationalist. “Governments, both absolutist and republican, expelled him from their territories...” and he would be “... mourned by millions of revolutionary workers from the Siberian mines over Europe and America to the coast of California...”.
The notice on Buck didn’t mention revolution in any form. It refers to his “outstanding contribution to the struggle of the Canadian people for Canadian independence, seeing in that struggle the pathway to socialism in Canada”. They declare: “Canada has lost an outstanding Canadian”. Again, it is easy to see why the ex-leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, far from reviling Buck, threw him a little bouquet instead. The PCs, remember, appropriated (you might say nationalized) the slogan of the Communist Party, “Put Canada First”!
Engels didn’t call Marx an “outstanding” German, nor an “outstanding” Jew. Lenin is not remembered by revolutionary workers as an “outstanding” Russian. Neither was Stalin an “outstanding” Russian (he wasn’t even called a “terrific” Georgian).
Incidentally, when Stalin died in 1953 Buck gave the eulogy at a packed Massey Hall and he had everyone crying like the St. Laurence river. But in 1956 Buck joined the “Oyez” chorus when Nikita Krudeshove (sic) turned the air blue denouncing Stalin.
Thanks to the Engels quote we can see the distance the revisionist CP of Canada has travelled from the revolutionary internationalist path of Marxism-Leninism, that outstanding ideology of the working class. Way back in 1953 the CP launched that infamous slogan “Put Canada First”... and they have been running last ever since. When Buck was a pallbearer for the Quebec Party leader Paul Delisle in 1935, 5,000 workers marched in the procession. A couple of weeks ago the CP was in a tug-of-war with the Mao Mao party for last place in a by election in St. George riding. But in 1935 the masthead of their paper still bore the lines from Marx, “Workers of the World Unite” ! as does the Canadian Worker today.
The Canadian Party of Labour is a Communist Party that is on the “bad side” of the capitalist class and will stay that way. On the very day this “outstanding Canadian” died the office of CPL was broken into and sacked by reactionaries. We regard the attack as a negative tribute to our determination to build a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party capable of leading that class that knows it has nothing to lose but its chains and “a World to win!”