Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Canadian Party of Labour

Revisionism and student struggle

First Published: Canadian Worker, Vol 1, No. 5, August, 1969
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Many militants in the student left have been unable to understand the insistence of the Canadian Party of Labour that the struggle against the revisionist Communist parties is a principal task for revolutionaries throughout the world. Some have, echoing Castro, characterized the struggle as a Byzantine quarrel that only serves to injure the ’unity’ of the left; others ackowldege their support for the positions of the Chinese Communist Party in the international sphere but refuse to struggle against revisionism in Canada; still a larger group reject the struggle as an illegitimate intrusion into the politics of the student movement. All three approaches reflect an inadequate conception of what it means to be a revolutionary – an almost child-like innocence of politics – as if revisionism in the Soviet Union or the Canadian ’CP’ had nothing to do with Stanley Ryerson, the friendly, affable, open-minded creature who was standing next to the platform at the Sudbury CUS conference.

He was pandering to all the bourgeois attitudes of students towards Marxism-Leninism by telling them that it isn’t a dogma, or we shouldn’t be schematic or overconcerned with definitions. Behind all these truisms there emerges a definite political line ’ a depreciation of an essential function of the revolutionary party: ideological leadership. Sure Stanley Ryerson is a nice man and a ’scholar’ – that’s not the point. The point is that millions of lives have been lost and countless struggles wasted because of bad political lines and unscientific defintions from such nice scholars. Marxist-Leninists stress ideological clarity because Communists act on the basis of analysis.

It is therefore a welcome occasion when the Revisionist Party of Canada begins to elaborate a political line for the university struggle. This provides revolutionaries with the opportunity to clarify for students who have not yet solved the more general political questions, the reformist and counter-revolutionary role of the Revisionist Party. No longer is it a matter of a friendly individual but rather a political force which is seeking to win the student movement to a disastrous political line – that is to say, a political enemy.

The political line which the Revisionist Party is presently pushing is the line of struggle against the Americanization of the Canadian university. In other words, Canadian students who are presently struggling against the class domination and function of the university should abandon their struggle in order to fight to, in effect, ratify the status quo – give or take a few American professors. Translated into a political goal the fight against the ’Americanization’of the Canadian university can only mean the fight for a few more Canadian professors (hire more John Crispos) and a few more Canadian textbooks (more royalties for Hayakawa). By implication the Canadian high school system with its vicious class discrimination, its bourgeois ideology and political repression stands as a shining example to revolutionary students – it’s 100% Canadian!

More to the point, this formulation completely ignores the fundamental question for revolutionaries. Whose class interest is being served by this struggle? In fact, this approach represents a crucial deflection from the properly revolutionary tasks of Canadian students. The question is not whether or not Canadian students should fight against American professors but rather on what basis the fight should be waged. CPL intends to struggle against any professor, Canadian or American, who systematically miseducates students. We intend to do so on the basis of a struggle against bourgeois ideology and in the construction of a Worker-Student Alliance. One of our prime targets will be the Centers for Industrial Relations that are headed by ’eminent’ Canadians Crispo and Neufeld. Canadian construction workers (who are exploited by Canadian capitalists) have recently seen what Canadian professors can do. Witness the Crispo-Goldenberg Report on Industrial Relations in the Construction Industry, with its recommendation that the government enact legislation to prevent individual contractors from breaking the bosses’ front in strike situations. To propose a struggle which will protect the right of John Crispo to legitimize the bosses’ strategy for the heightened exploitation of Canadian workers is to enter the camp of counter-revolution.

The specificity of Canada will not be respected in a struggle to strengthen the bourgeoisie’s hold on the university but rather by revolutionaries realizing that in a country with totally capitalist relations of production the only revolutionary struggle is the class struggle of the proletariat for socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Anyone who pursues a national-democratic struggle in a nation which has solved the two internal class tasks of the national-democratic revolution – the land question (peasantry) and the democratic question – has no internal class struggle to provide the motor for a ’national liberation’ struggle. Revisionism is the deadly enemy of the Canadian working-class. The general political line – national-democratic revolution, and its reproduction on the university level Americanization, will receive the rejection they so heartily deserve.