First Published:The Forge, Vol. 1, No. 17, September 9, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In a letter to its old subscribers at the beginning of September the Agence de Presse Libre du Quebec (APLQ) announced its dissolution. We are printing extensive extracts of their letter below.
The APLQ was founded in Montreal in 1970 and began to distribute Bulletin Populaire in 1973. It took on a revolutionary front from the beginning. But fundamentally, it always defended a right opportunist line – bourgeois through and through.
Its analysis of union struggles never overstepped “radical” trade-unionism; it steadfastly dragged behind the labour movement and liquidated the struggle for an authentic Marxist-Leninist party. It was the same story for all the other issues. For example. APLQ supported a narrow nationalist position and liquidated the question of social-imperialism.
With the development of the Marxist-Leninist movement, the APLQ’s line received criticism from every angle. The internal contradictions of the group became more sharp, to the point that the group finally decided to suspend its publication the Bulletin Populaire and its other activities as well.
The struggle against right opportunism concerns all Marxist-Leninists as well as the labour movement. The dissolution of the APLQ is part of the struggle undertaken to destroy the consolidated right opportunist trend in Quebec. Another important opportunist group in Quebec, the Regroupement des Comites de travailleurs (RCT) has also dissolved, and a fraction of its militants is doing its self-criticism under the direction of the League (we will soon publish extracts). Militants from these two groups will then rally to the League on an individual basis.
Mobilisation, an important stronghold of the opportunist movement in Quebec, which has done a profound self-criticism of its opportunism, has also recently taken the decision to rally to the League. But, contrary to what some people are saying, this process has not yet taken place. Before such a ralling on an individual basis can occur, the important political and ideological issues, which remain in dispute between the two formations, must be settled.
In this struggle against right opportunism in Quebec. In Struggle played an important role in the past. Since its founding, the League firmly undertook the struggle In fact, there can he no compromise or conciliation with opportunism. But as is shown by the example of APLQ, this point of view is not shared in practice by all Marxist-Leninists. In the course of discussions with APLQ, In Struggle weakened in the struggle against right opportunism and moved to reconciliation with it. It held that APLQ’s March self criticism was “a step forward in the Marxist-Leninist path”. But according to the ex-APLQ, its recent references to Marx, Lenin and Mao didn’t change anything fundamentally: the group’s line remained as opportunist as ever.
The process of dissolution of political groups, their self-criticisms and the integration on an individual or a collective basis to another ML body can not be done without the movement’s knowledge. Opportunist groups and Marxist-Leninist groups can’t just exist one day and disappear the next without the political reasons for their dissolution and the political basis of their agreement with another group have not been clearly explained.
On this question In Struggle encourages silence and secrecy. This is what it did when it announced the rallying of about 10 groups this spring. Not one self-criticism, only vague references to the process.
This led to the point where the members of the former Toronto Communist Group denied their integration into In Struggle until this summer.
As for us. we will continue to inform the movement publicly of the developments that will take place on the question of the unity of Marxist-Leninists and the dissolution of opportunist groups
The first part of the letter deals with the halt in the practices of the group and the struggle that went on. It was a question of, determining whether the Agence should maintain its unity – and on what basis? – or whether its militants should dissolve the group and do their self-criticism. It’s the latter point of view which won out. So, “all the members of APLQ, decided to meet with In Struggle and the League in order to find out their point of view on the best way to dissolve APLQ, do a self-criticism and rally their organization.
We met twice with In Struggle and during these meetings they presented us with their opinion about how we should proceed. Essentially their proposal came down to the idea of doing a self-criticism independently.
(...) The basis for the proposal comes from an evaluation of the past of our group. In Struggle was dead-set on proving that APLQ had been part of the Marxist-Leninist movement until 1974 and that afterwards the group was excluded because of its upholding and deepening of economism. In Struggle added that in the last texts published by our group, a step along the path of Marxism-Leninism had been taken. Seeing things in these terms, they were lead to consider our group as being able to undertake a thorough and independent self-criticism. And this is what they proposed...
On the nature of the struggle to be undertaken, on what the self-criticism had to concentrate on, it was the struggle against economism. In Struggle reduced our errors to principally those on the level of economism. They proposed that we orient our struggle around this and suggested the main texts of In Struggle as a guide in the criticism.
From this independent self-criticism, oriented towards the struggle against economism, would result group-to-group debate over line. Our group should then rally to the group with which agreement over line was possible.
Briefly – an independent self-criticism directed towards a struggle against economism and debate between groups.
Such a proposal coming from a Marxist-Leninist group has serious implications. In Struggle neglects the role of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism and falls into complete subjectivism when it comes to defining who is and isn’t Marxist-Leninist. From our perspective, we reaffirm that APLQ was never Marxist-Leninist and that the changes in its political line were nothing but the more refined version of the same bourgeois line. The”development of the Marxist-Leninist movement forced us to put up a more subtle front.
In Struggle’s proposal also reduces the struggle against opportunism to a struggle against one of its facets: economism.
Moreover, In Struggle’s proposal stressed very little study of Marxist-Leninist principles. The representatives of In Struggle stressed the danger of “dogmatism” in the kind of self-criticism we wanted to do.
Finally, In Struggle’s proposal amounts to defending the unity of an opportunist group, reinforcing small group mentality, and leaves the direction of the self-criticism in the hands of opportunists. This proposal leads towards the continued existence and consolidation of APLQ’s bourgeois line and its organizational basis.
We believe that the In Struggle comrades’ position is perfectly opportunist, encourages small-group mentality and liquidates the determining role of ideological and political line and retards the unity of Marxist-Leninists. With such a position, the Marxist-Leninist group In Struggle falls into conciliation and appeasement and renounces the firm struggle that Marxist-Leninists must wage against opportunism. By extending its hand to opportunists, as it did to APLQ, In Struggle falls into conciliation and appeasement and renounces the firm struggle that Marxist-Leninists must wage against opportunism. By extending its hand to opportunists, as it did to APLQ, In Struggle risks causing divisions where it wants to build unity, that is. inside the Marxist-Leninist movement.
We met a second time with the representatives of In Struggle in order to tell them of and explain to them our rejection of their proposal. They then recognized that APLQ was never Marxist-Leninist but it seems more like their backing down was a tactic intended to soften us. In fact, according to the In Struggle comrades themselves, this about-face doesn’t modify the essence of their proposal to APLQ.
In our opinion, the comrades of In Struggle had an incorrect attitude towards APLQ which raises serious questions about their analysis of the Marxist-Leninist movement and about their concept of the unity of Marxist-Leninists.
As for the League, it has adopted right since its own creation a firm stand, based on Marxist-Leninist principles, towards right opportunism. The League fought without letting up against the incorrect line of the RCT and Mobilisation, and has allowed numerous militants to join the ranks of the Marxist-Leninist movement.
The League maintained this same position towards the APLQ. Despite the new image that Bulletin Populaire tried to give itself, the League criticized it severely and refused to sell copies in its bookstore. The members of the League also lead an undaunted ideological struggle with the members of APLQ and this contributed to the development of contradictions within the group, precipitating the defeat of the opportunist line in our ranks.
After stopping our practice, the meetings which we had with the representatives of the League left no room for ambiguity.
The League maintained that APLQ had never been Marxist Leninist; the political line of APLQ is a right opportunist line, antagonistic to Marxism-Leninism and the interests of the working class; it’s the task of communists to direct the sincere individuals of APLQ in the struggle to unmask opportunism; it’s the task of the League to direct this struggle because the criticism of the opportunist line of APLQ can not be done abstractly. On the contrary, this criticism demands a firmness of principles and a correct political line for the revolution in Canada.
The League then proposed to the members of APLQ, the liquidation of the group and the undertaking of thorough self-criticism under the direction of the League. The self-criticism should allow the members of APLQ to begin to grasp Marxism-Leninism, to unmask the bourgeois line developed by APLQ. At the end of this self-criticism, the members of APLQ hope to rally individually to the League.
The self criticism has now begun because all the sincere individuals of APLQ have rallied to the correct position of the League and have severely criticized In Struggle’s proposal. Under the leadership of the League, the members of APLQ undertook a study of Marxism-Leninism and its application to the Canadian situation. The objective of the self-criticism is to unmask the opportunist errors of APLQ, to understand its causes and manifestations with the help of Marxism-Leninism, the science of the proletariat. The results of this self-criticism will be circulated in order to destroy as much as possible the influence of the bourgeois line of APLQ.
To get complete copies in French of Luttons contre l’opportunisme de l’APLQ. write to The Forge.