First Published: In Struggle No. 84, March 24, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Why unity? because it is in the interest of the proletariat; because it is necessary for the creation of the Party, without which the proletariat is condemned to stay a victim of capitalist exploitation. Why unity? To put an end to small groups and amateurish forms of struggle and organizations; to transform the movement into a real political force capable of defending the interests of the proletariat and to make them triumph. (Proletarian Unity, no. 1, p. 31)
In two and a half weeks, on April 9, 1977, the 2nd Conference of Canadian, Marxist-Leninists (M.-L.) will open. Since the first Conference, the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement has evolved rapidly. On one hand, we can say that this first Conference was a positive factor which accelerated the rallying of groups to the League and IN STRUGGLE! respectively. On the other, we also saw the League go up a notch in its sectarianism, by calling this demonstration of the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninistss of the two nations a “show”. Today, we are witnesses to the logic of this sad and pitiful sectarianism, that is, the League’s refusal to participate in the 2nd Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninist and even more, its contemptible call to boycott this manifestation of the struggle for unity.
18 groups were invited by IN STRUGGLE! on the basis of the criteria defined in the first issue of Proletarian Unity. Since several have rallied IN STRUGGLE! or the League, there remains a possibility of 10 groups and of these, 8 have accepted. They are: Long March Collective, May First Collective. October Study Group. Red Star Collective, Wednesday Study Group, all from Vancouver, Worker’s Unity of Edmonton, Regina M.-L. Collective and Bolshevik Union of Toronto. Since then, other groups have turned up such as a group from Guelph, Ontario and a study group from Moncton, New Brunswick. We will invite them to participate to the extent that they meet the criteria for belonging to the Marxist-Leninist movement and that the Conference itself will be a place of experimentation to determine who is and who isn’t Marxist-Leninist. As we go to press, the Black Study Group of Toronto has not yet given us an answer.
Here is how the Conference is going to proceed. Remember that it will last two days: April 9 and 10.
1. Opening of the Conference: The President of the Conference (a member of IN STRUGGLE!) will open and explain the procedure for the two days of the Conference, and will give the necessary information, etc. The opening will be followed by a brief polemic presentation by each group of its positions, either to state its agreement with a position or its disagreement with another etc. It is important that this presentation not repeat all of the positions already known and available, but rather that it address itself to what the group considers to be the principal point, the conception that it must demarcate from etc... and that it be brief: 10 minutes maximum per group!
2. Afterwards-workshops: There will be three workshops. Thus, they are not the usual workshops that had been envisaged, such as for the 1st Conference, for example. The formula that we have adopted was inspired by the large panels where the representatives can dialogue with the participants. Thus, depending on their choice, the groups can send one representative to the three workshops or to a single one. The workshops chairpersons, basing themselves on the Conference Discussion Guide, will present the workshops’ theme and will allow the group spokespersons to briefly expose their point of view on the theme. After that, the debate will be engaged among the groups’ representatives and between them and the audience. All participants can use the microphones which will be available in the hall, to criticize the positions of one or another group and to take position themselves. The role of the workshop chairpersons will be to assure that the debates are rigorous, that the interventions, deal with the subject and respect the Discussion Guide. They must direct and equalize the interventions coming from the groups’ representatives and the participants. The workshops will last 6 hours – 2 periods of 3 hours each. We believe that in this way the workshops will permit more systematic confrontation and debate of the positions of each group, as well as assuring the participation of the masses in the debate.
3. Afterwards we will return to a plenary session. The plenary will serve to report on the syntheses of the workshops that will be presented by the President of the Conference. This will be followed by a period where the groups can once again take the floor to express their opinions on the main points of agreement and disagreement that they expressed during the debates in the workshops. This plenary session will include interventions from the floor presided over by the President of the Conference. Finally a spokesperson from IN STRUGGLE! will synthesize the lessons from this conference and will end the conference with a closing speech.
IN STRUGGLE! has already published a bibliography of the texts of the different groups which touch on the path of the revolution in Canada in number 82 of its newspaper. The discussion guide which will be used at the Conference is also published in this special issue. These are important instruments. All those who wish to intervene in the workshops should prepare written interventions, be they questions, criticisms or positions on any subject, in such a way that the debate be as articulated and fruitful as possible.
Comrades, is this the program of a “fraud”, of a “big show”,of “endless discussions and opportunist conciliations ”? We don’t think that to organize a Conference which assures the participation of the masses is, by the very fact, a “show”. But perhaps what disturbs the League (from whom we have borrowed this vocabulary) is that it is not the only star on the stage? It’s quite possible, but IN STRUGGLE! doesn’t intend to abandon its recognition of the contribution of the other groups and of the masses in the struggle for unity, in order to please the League. This contempt for the masses is increasingly becoming a part of the League’s line at all levels and the entire Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement must start opening its eyes to this and struggle against this sectarianism which leads these comrades to refuse to debate.
We must demand that the League debate and firmly defend its positions before the masses and among the masses!
The Conference can be a success, it must be a success. The Canadian proletariat is calling for increasingly correct leadership and this is only possible by the unification of Canadian Marxist-Leninists around a correct line. This is what the Second National Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists seeks to do: by line struggle, by the confrontation of viewpoints, to define the path of the revolution in our country, to raise our knowledge of the reality of our country, of its classes to a higher level and to establish the correct strategy to put an end to the camp of the reaction in Canada.
To end, it might be a good idea to reply to a “question” that many comrades still are asking. The conference will not end with a “vote” on the path of the revolution. Let the League be reassured! However, it will be a precious indication of the unity which will be achieved on this question within the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. That is why the League’s action of not coming to defend its positions is so serious and in practise, retards the struggle for a correct political line. It is not the group IN STRUGGLE! which is attacked by this sad boycott, it is the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, it is the Canadian proletariat. And its the Canadian proletariat which today is increasingly demanding an accounting for this sectarian and contemptuous line and which will one day sweep away this opportunist pettiness.
Forward for the preparation on the Second National Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists!