Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Alive Production Collective Editorial: A New Flowering of Alive’s Anti-Imperialist Spirit and Determination


First Published: Alive Magazine No. 126, March 10, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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On August 18, 1978, a major political struggle broke out within the Alive Production Collective. This struggle followed the discovery of a formal faction within the Collective. This faction was created and led by Edward Pickersgill, the leading member of the Alive Production Collective and the official editor of Alive Magazine.

The faction consisted of two hard core members and two peripheral members. Edward Pickersgill and Michelle Landriault formed the hard core of the faction. One of the peripheral factionalists had been forced to leave the Collective by Edward Pickersgill, a few months before the struggle broke out. The other peripheral factionalist took up a position alongside the other Collective members, in opposition to factionalism and in support of anti-imperialist revolutionary politics.

The discovery of this secret faction was the result of Michelle Landriault’s flight from the Collective on August 15, 1978. As a parting shot at the faction’s head, she revealed the existence of the faction to another comrade. This inner factional contention quickly turned into collusion as Michelle Landriault jumped to Edward Pickersgill’s defence in the ensuing struggle. On September 7, 1978, Michelle Landriault formally resigned as a member of the Collective.

Edward Pickersgill, the faction’s chief, attempted to avoid the struggle as soon as it was launched on August 18, 1978. Delving deep into his reactionary bag of tricks, he threw up numerous smokescreens. He viciously attacked innocent comrades in the hope of diverting the focus of criticism. He made false self-criticisms, only to turn around and continue on his rotten line. In sum, he absolutely refused to do honest self-criticism and transform his practice despite the steady and patient encouragement of the Collective.

After it was plainly stated to Edward Pickersgill that he was no longer considered to be the leading member of the organization, he gave up all pretense of interest in waging a political struggle. Instead he began to raise financial and business matters as the primary issues demanding resolution. The Collective stood firm against these ruses, stating that the political issues at hand were the only subjects demanding immediate attention.

Finally, on September 7, 1978, Edward Pickersgill also resigned from the Collective. He took with him $18,000.00 from the organization, which he had been secretly salting away under his own factional control over the months prior to the struggle.

Since these two hard core factionalists split they have widely broadcast their own distorted version of the struggle inside the Alive Production Collective. This action went in direct contradiction to a specific warning to Edward Pickersgill by the organization against making such public attacks.

Given the public slander campaign being waged against our organization by these two renegades we were forced to make our own political statement. We did this in as deep-going and extensive a way as possible.

Our statement on the recent struggle inside the Alive Production Collective is contained in Alive 125. This is a special 240 page issue of the magazine which gives extensive, in-depth presentation of the facts of the case and political analysis of the errors committed.

Alive 125 had a limited distribution in that the Alive Production Collective was careful to not put this special issue into the hands of people who were not already familiar with the magazine. Alive 125 was not sold in direct sales campaigns on the streets or the universities, neither was it given the wide store distribution. (The store distribution that did take place was delayed one week after the distribution to regular readers, supporters and subscribers.) The reason for limiting the distribution is that the in-depth special issue of Alive could have been quite confusing to anyone not already familiar with the regular magazine. The present issue of Alive is receiving much wider distribution and thus the reason for this article’s recap of issue 125 and the political struggle inside the Alive Production Collective itself.

The recent struggle is an extension of numerous struggles waged throughout the life of the Collective against Edward Pickersgill’s incorrect political line and his authoritarian style of leadership. Issue 125 reviews the history of the development of this struggle throughout the life of the Collective and looks in detail at the events of August and September, 1978, when this contradiction reached an acute stage, demanding prompt resolution.

In line with our belief that “self-exposure is the best exposure” we have included all the documents written by Edward Pickersgill, Michelle Landriault and their legal agents in issue 125 of Alive. Readers can judge for themselves the correctness or incorrectness of the hard core factionalists’ position by reading their own words.

Alive 125 also includes an account of one aspect of the faction’s activity, written by a former member of the faction who has done self-criticism for her errors and has united with the Alive Production Collective on the correct political line.

The bulk of the previous issue of Alive deals with Edward Pickersgill’s rotten practice and reactionary world view.

Edward Pickersgill was an opportunist who hoped to use the Alive Production Collective to serve his own selfish ends. He treated comrades with utter contempt, viewing them as worthless, disposable commodities whose lives could be trampled underfoot in order to advance his own position. He had contempt for these comrades who were dedicated to anti-imperialist revolution in Canada, because he had contempt for revolution itself.

Edward Pickersgill was an ideological ignoramus. Viewing the five great teachers of Marxism-Leninism with contempt, he refused to read their works. Edward Pickersgill judged the “correctness” of a political line by how well it served his own immediate aims. He was not interested in serving the Canadian people.

Inside the Collective Edward Pickersgill worked hard to stifle democracy and set himself up as an autocrat. This petty despot treated comrades like enemies, subjecting them to both verbal and physical abuse. Calm, reasoned explanation and convincing argument was a method alien to Edward Pickersgill when dealing with contradictions between comrades. Instead he would rant and rave, hysterically pinning labels on those who refused to toe the line and kowtow to his every whim.

Edward Pickersgill was a social degenerate. He fell deep into the decadent, bourgeois culture and refused to move out of this mire Entrenched in this rotten world outlook, he viewed women as sexual commodities. This reactionary line on women led him intc sexual promiscuity.

Edward Pickersgill had been formally recognized as the leading member of the Alive Production Collective for five years prior to August, 1978. The length of time he was able to hold this position despite his rotten practice, is a reflection of his own “skill” as a deceiver and illusion monger, and also a reflection of a weakness inside the organization. We should have stood up sooner. Too often we let things go by in the hope of being able to press forward with the political work. Since August, 1978, the Collective has examined these errors deeply and, in a process of self-criticism, worked hard to root these out.

Since the overthrow of Edward Pickersgill there has been a great upsurge of enthusiasm, democracy, and spirited exchange of ideas. Comrades have been liberated from an oppressive situation. A great weight has been lifted from our shoulders. Some people may ask how the “loss” of the leading member of the Collective will affect our work. The fact is that we have not lost a leading member of our organization. We have lost a reactionary element who promoted the illusion of himself as “the leader” of the Collective. This is no loss. It is a significant gain. No longer do we have to contend with an internal saboteur, constantly trying to retard our political work and lead us off on numerous, long detours and down dead end streets.

The validity of our statement about Edward Pickersgill can be judged by our readers through watching our practice. We state that Edward Pickersgill was not and has never been the driving force behind Alive Magazine. The spirit and strength of the magazine always has been and always will be rooted deep in the hearts and minds of those in the organization who are truly dedicated to anti-imperialist revolution in Canada. It is these people who now compose the organization. The proof of this claim will be seen over the months and years as Alive Magazine continues to be published with determination and spirit.