Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

In Struggle!

The rectification of The Forge on the question of the army

A superficial self-criticism that covers fundamental errors!

First Published: In Struggle No. 81, February 17, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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WHEN the professors of self-criticism self criticize

On page 10, Vol. 2. No. 2 (January 20) of The Forge, the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) acknowledges that it made right opportunist errors in its position on the Canadian army. We congratulate the comrades of the League for having undertaken the struggle for this rectification; for in fact, its positions on the army, like other positions put forward by the League which tend towards favouring collaboration with the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie, constitute a direct threat to the proletarian revolution.

However, the superficial nature of the self-criticism leaves’us worried; this self-criticism unfortunately serves more to camouflage the fundamental errors in the political line of the CCL(M-L) than to demonstrate a firm application of Marxist-Leninist principles. Once again, the League, so inclined to demand self-criticisms from other groups, uses a self-criticism of its own errors as a formal act enabling to rectify the most evident deviations without ever going back to the source of the error, a political line strongly marked by opportunism.

The self-criticism is superficial

The League acknowledges that it made errors when it supported the reinforcement of the Canadian army, when it affirmed that “the problem with Canada’s defence policy was that it was oriented towards defence against only one of the two superpowers, the USSR, and not, also against the USA.” But in spite of these serious errors, the League insists, that “The positions of the League on the Canadian bourgeoisie, its state and army have always been in the main correct.”[1]

So the League in this article claims that an error as serious as this one is only an accident, and has nothing to do with the general line! Such an assertion leaves us puzzled as to the depth of the self-criticism of the League. The truth of the matter is that the error that the League today recognizes on the question of the army is based on a general error of this group on the fundamental question of the relationship between the struggle for peace and the struggle for socialism, in other words, the relationship between imperialist war and proletarian revolution. But before going into this question, one that we discuss in detail in the second issue of PROLETARIAN UNITY, it is worth going back to the League’s denunciation of IN STRUGGLE’S “right opportunism,” opportunism which makes us unable to acknowledge the “positive aspects” of Canadian imperialism: “En Lutte negates the positive character of certain attitudes of the Canadian bourgeoisie, in particular in a February 19th article... throughout the whole article En Lutte denounces Canadian imperialism (which, in itself, is not wrong) and presents the rapprochement between Canada and the Third World as a basically negative thing... this attitude is characteristic of En Lutte on many such questions. ”[2]

Yes, indeed, one of our strong tendencies is to denounce Canadian imperialism! And far from being “wrong in itself”, it is the principal task of Marxist-Leninists. To act otherwise, comrades of the League, is to barter away the proletarian revolution in exchange for collaboration with the enemy. It is to exchange Marxism-Leninism for revisionism. Like the thief who cries, “Thief!” the League denounces our so-called right opportunism, worse, in the last little while, our revisionism. But those who take the trouble to search for the truth in the facts will see that the principal carrier of right opportunism in our movement is the League itself!

In fact, the positions taken by the League show a tendency in its line to assume a ’tailist’ position in relation to the Canadian bourgeoisie. We say a “tendency” because the analysis of the League is fraught with a constant ambiguity on the questions of war and revolution. The League’s line is characterized by what we could call a “centrist” position, a continual oscillation between proletarian revolution and a social-chauvinist position (socialist in words, chauvinist in fact) which puts proletarian revolution off until a week with three Sundays, in favour of an alliance with the Canadian bourgeoisie in the struggle against the superpowers. [3]

This is how the League subordinates the principal contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, to the benefit of secondary contradictions, and calls on the proletariat to support the actions of its main enemy... to fight its secondary enemies! If we follow the same line of thinking, the Quebec proletariat should make an alliance with the PQ on the pretext that nationalist elements of the bourgeoisie in Quebec are also subject to national oppression!

This position was once defended by the old RCT [4], which accorded tactical support to the PQ. The position was exposed and condemned. Nonetheless, support for the Canadian army and for the “positive moves” of Canadian imperialism in relation the Third World fit in perfectly with this same social-chauvinist logic.

Take advantage of the conference of Marxist-Leninists to fight opportunism in our ranks!

Important errors that are not corrected through self-criticism run the risk of being repeated[5]. The right opportunist positions of the CCL(M-L) that have a tendency to favour “tailism” in relationship to the Canadian bourgeoisie, that underestimate the importance of American imperialism and that exagerate the place or Soviet social-imperialism among the enemies of the Canadian people, preach despair in the face of the danger of a Third World War, refuse to accord support to peoples of the Third World in struggle against their own exploiters like in Iran [6], and abuse the principles of proletarian internationalism... these are all positions linked to each other by a common source: right opportunism, which, in this case, tries to base itself on a mechanical application, a dogmatic application, of the analysis of the Communist Party of China on the division of the world into three.

The comrades of the League have always had trouble understanding that you cannot struggle against right opportunism without struggling against the ideological deviations it is based on. In particular, the League comrades have always cast aside with the back of their hands the criticism of dogmatism that we have addressed to them. They should remember the criticism that Mao Tse Tung made of those who wage the ideological struggle in a one-sided fashion: “The formulation should be this: struggle against revisionism, which means struggle against empiricism and dogmatism, because both of them are a revision of Marxism-Leninism. You cannot talk about one and omit the other.”[7]

The League has sought to isolate its rightist errors on the question of the army from its general line which is still “fundamentally correct” according to what it says. Even more, the League has denounced the article in the journal PROLETARIAN UNITY (no 2) which demonstrated how the line of the League on international questions is strongly tainted with right opportunism in the form of social-chauvinist tendencies. The League quickly put aside our criticisms, which had already been put forward in the pages of our newspaper, by screaming about our so-called compromise with revisionism – on the basis of the text below one of the photos. As well, it is worth noting that in the articles dealing with Comrade Enver Hoxha’s report to the Seventh Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, the League forgot(!) to publish precisely those passages which constitutes a criticism of the social chauvinist tendencies which are current in the international Marxist-Leninist movement, including the fatalistic conception of the “inevitable war” which the people, it seems, can do nothing about stopping. On need only compare No. 14 of The Forge (p. 12) with No. 77 of IN STRUGGLE (p. 10) to see how the League seriously slants the report of the great Marxist-Leninist leader Enver Hoxha by presenting only one aspect of his speech, the one that analyzes the development of the dangers of war.

Strange, too, to see the manoeuvres of the League designed to dodge the line struggle and to take itself out of the arena of the criticisms which might show that its “correct line” is in reality strongly marked with opportunism. It is without doubt the same logic that incited the League to launch a boycott campaign against the Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists on the path of the revolution in Canada. It is without doubt, as well, that the same logic explains the fact that in’the last few issues of The Forge, there have been a series of quiet, low-key modifications of its positions on the army, World War, the true nature of Canadian imperialism in the Third World, and the revolution in Iran... Canadian Marxist-Leninists will certainly be happy about the rectifications the League has undertaken to correct the overly obvious manifestations of its opportunist line. Nevertheless, Canadian Marxist-Leninists should also understand that the champions of self-criticism do not hesitate to use the worst type of opportunist manoeuvres to camouflage before the masses, including its own members and sympathizers, the cracks in its “correct line” and to justify its hasty and subjective throwing of other Marxist-Leninist groups over into the swamp of opportunism and revisonism.

Comrades of the League, the second conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists will be the ideal occasion to publicly defend your positions and to demarcate them from those of other groups. The struggle for unity demands that the demarcation around line, that criticism and self-criticism be frank and profound. Mao formulated a principle which draws a clear demarcation between the defenders of the proletarian line and those who defend the bourgeois line within the Party: “Practice Marxism and not revisionism; work for unity, not division. Be frank and above board. Do not plot and contrive.”[8] The fundamental interests of the proletariat and the masses, the building of a single Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in Canada, and the proletarian revolution demand that we apply this principle rigorously.


[1] The League says: “We have always explained the three aspects of the Canadian army” It is true it has already explained that the army has three roles, but the three roles presented now are not the same ones it put forward in the past. Does the necessity to defend “the correct line” justify a falsification of the League’s own history?

This is how the League now presents these three roles the principal role of the army is repressive role apinst the proletariat: secondly, “against the peoples of the Third World” and thirdly “to protect the interests of the bourgeoisie against for foreign aggression.”

But In the past, the League presented this third role in another way. “The bourgeoisie also uses its army to defend Canadian territory. In the context of the current world situation, at a time when the United Stales and Ihe USSR are preparing a war and are threateneing the independence of countries of the Second World like Canada, this role of defence of national independence is a positive aspect for the Canadian people” (our translation) You don’t need, a diploma from a military college to grasp the fact that there is a big difference between an army that defends the interests of the bourgeoisie, and one that defends national independence in the interests of the people!

The IN STRUGGLE! article criticised here by the League appeared in No 55 (vol 3. no 14) of IN STRUGGLE! February 19, 1976. p. 8

[2] The Forge vol 1 no. 8 p 10.

[3] Thus, in its Statement of Political Agreement (p 48) the League states: “Our task is to develop a united front of the Canadian people for the defence of the national independence of the country against the two superpowers, and in particular against the danger of war.” Elsewhere (in the Statement... p. 54) “It is in the interests of the whole people, except for a handful of agents or traitors, to fight against the two superpowers...” But who exactly is this handful of traitors and agents? Are Canadian imperialists traitors? Or would they be our allies in the struggle apinst the two superpowers? for this is where Ihe analysis of the League leads.

[4] RCT: grouping of workers’ committees An opportunist and revisionist group in Quebec which no longer exists.

[5] In its self-criticism on the army, the League says that its position has been rectified since No 14 of The Forge. However, on page 5 No. 16 II says the Canadian bourgeoisie “ends up by reinforcing the struggle against the superpower” by actions “like its firmness over Bill C-58”. And again in No. 21. p. I5. The Forge talks about actions designed “so that the bourgeoisie will become part of the united front against hegemonism” (our translation)

[6] See in particular PROLETARIAN UNITY no 2 p. 37.

[7] These two quotes translated by IS from Pékin Information, French edition of Peking Review. Pékin Information, no. 4 1977. p. 28

[8] Pékin Information no 4.1977. p. 29.