First Published: Progressive Worker Vol. 1, No. 6, March 1965
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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A meeting of the National Committee of the C.P. was held recently for the purpose of electing a national leader as successor to the late Leslie Morris. According to reports the session was a lively one with several aspirants hotly contesting the election. One of the most ambitious nominees, who failed to make it, was the B.C. leader, Nigel Morgan. Morgan’s wounded feelings were soothed with a seat on the national executive: A strange appointment since he lives three thousand miles away from the centre and is quite unable to participate properly in the work of the executive.
When the smoke of battle had cleared the man on top of the heap was found to be Bill Kashtan who has spent a lifetime as a party functionary. What will be the direction in which Kashtan will lead the party? We believe the answer to this question can be found in the report he made to the National Committee meeting held in June 1964. Here are some very revealing quotes from the report:
We need to make clear that the social democrats are our long term, durable allies in the struggle for socialism even up to the period of communist construction, that we will advance to socialism together with them.
“Social democracy in the past represented a much greater danger to the revolutionary processes at work than present day social democracy”. There is much more, of an even more fundamental nature, in the report. It all adds up to the conclusion that the national committee has elected a social democrat to lead the party; and not even a left winger at that. If Kashtan is serious in his contention it can only mean that he believes social democracy is capable of leading the working people to a socialist victory; in which case he will be compelled eventually to take the final step; Advocate the liquidation of the party and its merger with the social-democratic movement.
In the course of giving an interview lo the mass media, Kashtan expressed a great deal of pessimism on the party’s future. He stated that there was no hope of success for any party candidates in the next election and was rather vague on when they might be able to make some gains in this field. This is a rather important point since the party leaders insist that they will bring socialism into being by a majority vote in parliament. A prospect even Kashtan admits to be of the hopeless variety, at least for some time to come.
Replying to questions from journalists the new national leader expressed the opinion that we might have socialism in Canada in twenty years. This brings to mind that, at a meeting in Vancouver in 1946, the then General Secretary, Tim Buck, predicted Canada would have a socialist government in “ten to fifteen years”; That is by 1956-61. Mr, Buck proved to be up to ten years out on his reckoning to date and now Kashtan tacks on another twenty. If Kashtan should prove to be as far out as Buck we can look forward to some national leader telling us, forty years from now; “we will have socialism in 50 to 75 years”: and the workers can bend their backs in sweated toil, happy in the knowledge that relief is on the way: A century or two off, but on the way.
These prognosticaters should make a small investment in a first class crystal ball; Or perhaps join British-Israel in deciphering the prophecies of the pyramids, and so come up with a definite date on when we can expect the glories of socialism to appear in the heavens and descend upon the heads of the marvelling multitude; capitalist and proletarian alike.
We can tell Mr. Kashtan when we will have socialism. It will be when the working masses become sick to death and thoroughly disillusioned with the present social order; When they are at last determined to put an end to the misery and degradation wrought by an economical and social system founded on the exploitation of man by man; When the masses organize to make a revolutionary change in society by overthrowing the present social system and replacing it with a system based on socialist principles. Then, and not till then, not a day sooner and not a day later, will we have socialism.
But Kashtan and his ilk could never accept this proposition for to accept it would mean giving up exercises in futility, such as predicting the certain downfall of capitalism but doing absolutely nothing to bring about that downfall while impeding the efforts of those who are actively working for a victory for socialism. It would mean abandoning the path of treachery and betrayal which they have chosen to travel, and getting back on a correct Marxist-Leninist road.
We predict that Kashtan will continue to predict the downfall of capitalism, and we also predict that all his dire predictions will not cause a single capitalist to tremble or lose a wink of sleep. Those symptoms will appear only when the masses begin to move forward determined to achieve a better life, and when that day dawns they will have no time to give heed to Mr. Kashtan’s silly predictions.